Idiotic Punditry Of The Day

Ken AshfordEconomy & Jobs & Deficit1 Comment

Jonah Goldberg (of course):

Personally, I have never understood liberalism's blind spot for liberty when it comes to taxation. A 24-hour waiting period before a teenager can have an abortion is an allegedly grotesque violation of individual freedom, but a federal government that takes vast amounts of your money — the means by which you exercise your every freedom — to distribute as it sees fit is "progressive"? The USA Patriot Act, whose threat to privacy was somewhere between entirely theoretical and nonexistent for the overwhelming majority of Americans, shocked the liberal conscience. But our income tax system — made idiotically complex by both parties — that demands countless hours of preparation and requires law-abiding citizens to reveal (and document!) many of their most private decisions to government inspectors every year is "reasonable." Yet many liberals even think complaining about this is a sign of right-wing dementia.

It certainly does border on dementia, if only because it doesn't ring true to any American who takes a mere moment to reflect on the veracity of what Goldberg writes.

The Goldberg premise is that spending money is a "freedom", and when your money is taken away, your "freedoms" are taken away.  Okay, Jonah.  So you think I should be able to buy heroin then?  Seriously, it's MY money, right?  Why am I not free to spend it on whatever I want?  How can the government forbid me to buy a brick (or whatever heroin comes in)?

The reason I can't spend my money on heroin is because we, collectively, as a society, through our government, have decided that there is a social cost to legal heroin.  Or, put another way, a social benefit to banning heroin use and sale.  So we make it illegal to sell or purchase that substance.

You see, this is where conservative thinking goes off the rails.  The love to use the phrase "we the people" without acknowledging that the government IS "we the people".  It's how "we the people" defend our freedoms — by, among other things, providing for a common defense and promoting the general welfare, whether it be by funding wars or banning the sale of heroin.

You see, reasonable people can disagree on how much the government should tax and spend.  Even more reasonable are differences in opinion on what the government spends that money on.  But Goldberg isn't making that argument.  He's basically saying that government shouldn't be taxing at all, because doing so impinges our freedom to accumulate wealth (a freedom not in the Constitution last time I checked).  One wonders where his "freedom" would be if the government simply stopped collecting taxes and abandoned the War On Terrorism.

And take, for example, Goldberg's objection to the Patriot Act, where the government is allowed to wiretap American's phones without a warrant.  Does Goldberg see privacy concerns there?  Yes, but it isn't in the wiretapping, which he deems as "theoretical" at best. No, for Jonah, the privacy is invaded when one has to spend "countless hours" (really, Jonah?) filing tax returns that pay for those wiretaps.

I'm sorry, but that it IS demented.