Not All Tax Increases are the Same

August 18, 2002

by Bruce Walker

Not all pork is the same. Spending money to make our military strong and our public safety agencies robust is good. In the same way, not all tax increases are the same. Our opposition to tax increases is based upon the generally accurate statement that taxes reduce productivity, but this really depends upon what is being taxed and upon what we consider “productivity.”

While liberals sniff around for new, punitive taxes to impose, conservatives should abandon our general opposition to all tax increases and instead make a pitch for taxing those vices and power centers which work against our values and our nation.

Why not slap a twenty dollar per issue tax on pornographic magazines like Hustler? Conservatives have tried to criminalize this sort of revolting material, but why not shift the argument to the general social damage this sickening pornography causes, and levy a hefty tax upon it? Larry Flynt - that champion of our liberties! - cannot assert his rights as a criminal defendant when the taxman comes calling on him.

Would leftists say these creepy people who sell sex - operators of “exotic” clubs, pornographers, and the like - cause no harm to society? Which leftist would want to suggest this, in the wake of horrific acts by child predators? Would leftists suddenly discover that using taxes to promote certain values is bad? We can agree, if they will make this a universal principle. Would leftists try to defend sleazy people like Larry Flynt? That would be interesting!

Why not slap a two hundred-dollar federal tax on each act of prostitution? The Internal Revenue Service already prosecutes prostitutes and pimps who do not pay their income taxes, but a separate sales tax would greatly increase the cost of this immoral behavior. If leftists insist that the poor prostitute ends up paying this tax, is that not precisely what happens when lower income people buy cigarettes? Fertile conservative minds could come up with many types of vice which could be better controlled through federal taxation.

But why stop there? Republicans have tried for years to enact reasonable tort reform as a way of reducing the costs of medicine, commerce, technology and many other productive activities. This campaign, however, focuses attention on the little guy victimized by the big guy. Who wants to keep parents from suing for negligence that might have led to the death of a child? Who wants to defend giant corporations whose malfeasance has caused irreparable harm?

Shift public attention by proposing a ninety-five percent tax on all contingent fee awards exceeding two hundred thousand dollars. Force Democrats and other leftists to defend those lawyers who have received hundreds of millions of dollars in contingent fees, rather than having Republicans defend those corporations that paid billions in awards.

While the public is thinking about the greed of executives in privately held corporations, shift the focus to the greed of executives in giant “nonprofit” organizations. The term “nonprofit” does not apply to the salaries of these executives, whose salaries are often enormous. Why not propose a ninety-five percent tax on all salaries and other benefits of executives of any nonprofit organization who make over two hundred thousand dollars a year?

Suddenly leftists will have to defend huge salaries and perks for college presidents and professors, professional activists, and similar people who insist that they are “not in it for the money.” Not only that, but the nominal salaries of these executives would have to skyrocket just to be the same as they currently receive.

Why not propose a ninety-five percent “wealth tax” on all assets held by individuals or nonprofit organizations in excess of five billion dollars? This one time tax would level the uneven playing field that allows the vast private wealth controlled by leftists to fund crazy research projects, perverted programs and silly causes, while conservatives scrounge to find a few dollars to support the Boy Scouts.

Liberal Democrats would oppose this tax, of course, but we should not let them off the hook easily. Instead, conservatives should force leftists to abandon class warfare rhetoric by raising the “wealth tax” proposal every time the left talk about “the rich.”

Tax cuts have become less popular as fewer Americans share in the tax burden. It is time to change strategies; we must show liberals why tax increases are bad. How? Make our own proposals for popular tax increases or, as the Gipper once said, “If they do not see the light, then we will make them feel the heat.”


Bruce Walker has been a dyed in the wool conservative since, as a sixth grader, he campaigned door to door for Barry Goldwater. Bruce has had almost two hundred published articles have appeared in the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Law & Order, Legal Secretary Today, The Single Parent, Enter Stage Right, Citizen's View, The American Partisan, Port of Call, and several other professional and political periodicals.

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For more of Bruce's articles, visit his archives.

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