Monday, December 13, 2010

The tax psychosis

The prevailing attitude toward taxes in this nation--at least so far as the mainstream media are concerned--may best be described as a psychosis, that is, a derangement characterized by a loss of contact with reality. This disease has grown over the past 30 years, to the point where it now dominates our politics.

Reality is that the nation faces great challenges: an educational system that has been overhauled and surpassed at all levels by countries in both Europe and Asia, the immense financial burden of war, a deteriorated infrastructure, a high-tech sector that is losing ground daily to foreign competitors, and a dependence on foreign energy sources that is only increasing, to name a few. Yet every serious attempt to deal with these problems--and to restore the United States to a position of leadership--is crippled by a reflexive refusal to consider any increase in the levies on those who can easily afford to pay more, who are also those who by every measure get the greatest benefits from government.

Not surprisingly, the tax psychotics are also bullies. Anyone with the courage to question their delusion is bullied and shouted down. They have to do that, because no rational defense of their position can be mounted.

Like many sane people, Democrats have been hesitant to challenge the delusion. Instead of calling the tax psychosis was it is--crazy--Democrats have temporized, tried to avoid conflict and attempted to reason. To no avail.

The anti-tax movement did not start out by being loony (although elements of the movement got there quickly). In the hands of its initial proponents, opposition to taxes was an expression of a belief that government was too large. And there are still those who espouse the need for smaller government, although few indeed are the members of this camp whose positions are consistent. But even the "starve the beast" camp of Grover Norquist et als has been obscured by a simple, reflexive and complete rejection of any tax hike, no matter how needed or equitable it might be.

The tax psychosis has crippled the United States. It distorts the debate about vital national issues and limits the range of solutions to problems that have have led to our national decline. It empowers the forces of reaction and fear.

Unless and until the progress of the tax psychosis is reversed and room for a healthy, real debate about tax policy created, there will remained hobbled, at home and abroad.

Future posts will pose some suggestions about how to counter the tax psychosis. Your suggestions will be welcome.

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