Dave Loves the Gas Tax (and So Do Economists)

Planet Money Episode 387: The No-Brainer Economic Platform may be four years old, but it's more relevant today than ever-- the show presents a "six plank" platform on which economists from across the political spectrum agree, but the problem is that no presidential candidate will ever espouse these things, as they are political poison; here they are, no particular (or political) order, and I've paraphrased the arguments from Planet Money and added some of my own:

1) get rid of the mortgage interest deduction . . . readers of this blog, who I am guessing are mainly educated, middle class homeowners, will NOT want to hear this one at all, but it's true-- the interest deduction distorts housing prices, it subsidizes mansions and second homes, it encourages people to take risky loans, it doesn't help renters (who are vital when there is a recession because they can move and adjust to changing job markets) and it's generally unfair in its distribution of wealth;

2) reform the tax code . . . eliminate all the loopholes and deductions and, like Thoreau said, simplify, simplify, simplify . . .  this  would put all the accounting firms out of business, but allow the government to do a much better and more equitable job of collecting taxes;

3) eliminate taxes on corporations  . . . progressives hate this one, but it behooves the country to allow corporations to reinvest tax free income into things such as hiring more employees, improving product lines and R&D, instead of hiding it overseas or distributing it as dividends to rich people;

4) decriminalize drugs . . . it's extremely expensive to fight the war on drugs, and it's even more expensive to let underground criminal syndicates collect all the drug revenues . . . plus, it's costly on many levels to keep people in jail for nonviolent drug offenses;

5) stop subsidizing health care . . . health care is not taxed as income for the user, nor is the provider taxed . . . so people who are given health care by their job are incentivized to use as much of it as possible (I have NOT been taking advantage of this, stupidly-- I should be getting acupuncture, going to the podiatrist, getting check-ups and physicals, and generally spending this money that is part of my salary) when there should be various plans, some more expensive, some less expensive, some with higher co-pays;

6) we should stop taxing good things and start taxing things we want to discourage . . . so end the payroll tax and income tax-- because creating jobs and working is good-- and increase taxes on cigarettes and pollution and carbon emissions . . . which is why I'm totally in favor of New Jersey's gas tax increase-- cheers!-- because it might discourage driving, and should help with infrastructure;

sadly, the only candidate who supports several of these measures is Gary Johnson, but he's not into taxing carbon emissions and he doesn't know what's going on in Aleppo . . . and I have an inordinate fondness for Aleppo . . . so I'm not voting for him; anyway, listen to the episode, it's fantastic, especially the fake presidential speeches introducing all these wonderful new reforms, and remember: no one actually wants to fix anything, they just want to act sanctimonious when their candidate trounces the opposition.


Al DePantsdowno said...

So I'm going to drive less because it costs me one cent more per mile to get to work and bring my kids to soccer practice? I don't think so. This gas tax increase was just an excuse to increase state revenue and have people like you think it's to "improve infrastructure".

zman said...

This is more than one sentence.

Dave said...

we shouldn't tax run-on sentences. and a high enough gas tax will eventually lead to some decisions about how far to commute, where people choose to live, etc. which would decrease traffic. in the meantime, maybe the state will make enough money to fully fund my pension. less traffic, more pension money-- i'm looking out for number one!

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