More Taxes for Thee…

Megan McArdle hits the nail on the head (partially, if you can hit a nail partially on the head) in reference to people who think taxes should be raised:

What most of us are really in favor of is higher taxes on other people. If we wanted higher taxes on ourselves, we’d give the money to charity.

She’s absolutely right that people who want to raise taxes don’t mean that they want to pay more themselves. But the evidence of that isn’t in our charitable giving. We already give a lot to charity; Americans are some of the most charitable people in the world. If we wanted higher taxes, we’d just send more money to the government.

What we wouldn’t do is spend so much time and effort trying to minimize our tax bill. We wouldn’t itemize our deductions, or save our receipts, or hire accountants, or anything like that.

Our entire tax system is based on the obvious truth that people don’t want to pay more taxes. When the government wants change the behavior of the people, how does it do it? By offering us the chance to pay more taxes for owning a home, or raising children, or buying a hybrid car? Oh boy! I can’t wait to pay my exorbitant Prius levy! No, when the government wants us to do something, it gives us a tax break. And people take it every time they get the chance.

So yes, anybody who says “we” should pay higher taxes is full of it. What they mean is, “Anybody who has more than I do should pay more, and I should get a big tax credit for my solar powered bar-b-q grill.”