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The unreasonableness of anti-tax ideology

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, September 9, 2008 1:48 EDT
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The Dust-Up between myself and Katherine Mangu-Ward is about Sarah Palin and feminism, so I didn’t really have the time and space to denounce Mangu-Ward’s scare tactics around taxes. Which is too bad, because she insinuates, in the piece, that it’s in her self-interest and the self-interest of a majority of Americans to vote for McCain for tax reasons.

Mangu-Ward does work for the libertarian magazine Reason, and libertarianism is funded way out of proportion to its popularity with the general public, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’s drawing a bigger income than a lot of her peers in the political writing world. But I’m guessing she makes less than $250,000 a year, and so unless she’s an heiress who will inherit an estate valued at $3.5 million or more, then she’s simply wrong that Obama is worse for her pocketbook on taxes than McCain.

Considering that the bottom line on taxes is the same for Mangu-Ward with both McCain and Obama, does that mean that it’s a wash for her and with the average American who doesn’t like writing a check to the IRS? Only if you don’t care if you get good value for your tax money. But sensible, and dare I say, reasonable people do want to get good value for the money they spend. Under Democrats, you simply see more of the money you spend on taxes come back to you in services. You’re seeing value in student financial aid, housing programs, infrastructure maintenance, food and drug safety enforcement (which we’ve been light on recently, if you haven’t noticed), safety net spending, environmental programs, scientific research, aid programs of various sorts that either come straight to you or people in neighboring communities, raising the quality of life in your area. And that’s just a smattering of ways that it comes back to you. With Republicans, you get to see your hard-earned money get flushed down the toilet or hand-fed to war profiteering corporations in that debacle called the Iraq War, which McCain and Palin are big fans of continuing indefinitely, as they clearly stated. If I’m giving you my $5 bill, I do prefer if you buy me a hamburger with it instead of wipe your ass with it. On taxes for the middle class, the two parties are in agreement—they should be taxed. Where they differ is what those taxes should be for. Democrats think the taxes should be spent on the people, and Republicans are pulling a reverse Robin Hood—stealing from you to pay off cronies. So, we can conclude that either Mangu-Ward is horribly misled about the taxing and spending policies of the two candidates, or that it’s her job as a professional libertarian to get taxes cut for the very wealthy by feeding misinformation to the not-wealthy. I remain agnostic on this question.

But what I will say is that the commenters at Reason seem both to be a lot more welcoming to having their phones tapped by the government and the police throwing women in jail for fucking than I would have thought people who consider themselves “libertarians” to be. I know that libertarians are good and sincere and wonderful people—they always show up in the comments here to swear so, after all—but gosh, they sure do appear to the untrained (and trained) eye to be people who approve of authoritarian right wing governments, but also know that conservatives aren’t cool, and so concoct a phony identity for themselves in order to have their cake and eat it, too.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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