Taxes are the price we pay for civilization, wrote the great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes. Some would vigorously dispute this assertion, citing the incivility of the states implied threat of violence against tax dodgers. Few, however, would contest Holmess implication that taxation has risen with the development of modern civilization. Correlation, however, is not causation.
Independent Institute fellows have offered deep analyses of the rise of the modern state and its fiscal habits. Robert Higgs, for instance, has developed a large body of work showing that national crises often leave governments with greater powers to tax and spend than they had possessed before the crises. Other Independent fellows have focused on the incentives and constraints that contribute to increases in the national debt or to the enactment of regressive excise taxes. Some have even debated the philosophical underpinnings of taxation.
These analyses provide a powerful framework for analyzing contemporary fiscal problems, and a foundation for specific tax and budget reform proposals. Our fellows have, for example, have noted that some balanced budget proposals offer better fiscal discipline than others. Our website MyGovCost.org is dedicated to making sense of taxation and government spending.
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June 24, 2015