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Libertarian Taxers?

At Economist.com, Jonathan Rauch is identified as a libertarian who (it is suggested wisely) believes that taxes might need to be raised.

Regardless of your opinion of libertarianism, at its core is a philosophical and moral commitment to individual freedom and, hence, to scaling government way back. Accepting the political reality of the welfare state might be good politics, even for a rejuvenated G.O.P., but it is not genuinely libertarian.

Also, if I understand what Rauch is arguing, even if it is politically pragmatic to accept the welfare state, it does not follow that taxes should not be cut. Unless Rauch is willing to argue that Uncle Sam’s $3-plus trillion dollar budget is largely full of worthwhile programs and spending, he can argue for maintaining the welfare state and for tax cuts: get rid of the gargantuan amounts of wasteful (indeed, harmful) spending and transfer it instead to welfare programs.  Problem solved.

If Rauch does not agree that most of Uncle Sam’s current budget is wasteful, then he’s not remotely close to being a libertarian.  (I don’t know Rauch, but I admire his work and believe that he probably truly is a libertarian.  So he should recognize that government can get more revenue for program A not only by raising taxes but, instead, by cutting spending on programs B and C.)

(HT Karol Boudreaux)


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