Liberals use the tax code as a social-engineering device to shape people’s behavior in order to manipulate society as they see best. Bruce Walker asks, tongue mostly in cheek, why don’t conservatives do that?
If conservatives simply threatened to tax politically unpopular leftist behavior, that might well be enough to get the left to accept the premise that federal tax law should not be used to punish behavior.
The Supreme Court has determined that abortion is a right, but so is drinking an extra-large soda or smoking a cigar. Abortion, though legal, is not popular, and polls have consistently shown that more Americans think that abortion is immoral than moral. Taxing patients for abortions might not be a popular tax, but what about taxing abortionists? Impose a transaction tax per abortion which is high enough so that few, if any, doctors could make money murdering unborn babies.
If abortion is unpopular, pornography is extraordinarily unpopular with Americans. The Supreme Court has made it very difficult — indeed, almost impossible — to ban pornography, but nothing would prevent a 200% federal sales tax on all films, magazines, or other published materials which involve nudity and appeals to prurient interests. Draining the profit from pornography would make it much less common in society.
Taxes per transactions could also be imposed upon body-piercing, out-of-wedlock births, acts of prostitution, and countless other socially corrosive activities which may be legal (or at least not a federal offense, as in the case of prostitution) but which the rest of society pays for and which ought to be just as subject to taxes intended to discourage bad behavior as taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, and alcohol.