Sunday, September 21, 2008

'Tax and Spend' Epithet Nonsensical

The common use of this phrase as an epithet (1) (2) runs contrary not only to the Article 1, Section 8 powers conferred by the U.S. constitution (3), but also the causal relation between outlays (i.e., 'spending') (4) and taxation . Spending, of course, naturally follows taxing. In fact, in a counterfactual whereby spending were not to follow taxation, we would arguably have a much worse condition on our hands. "Where'd all the money go?" some might ask. "You taxed it, why didn't you spend it?" others may inquire.

Of course, the inverse relationship (whereby spending is an antecedent to taxation, or exists altogether independently) is a common occurrence. War appropriation supplementals and other forms of non-authorized or deficit spending are a veritable tradition of federal politics. However, this does nothing to invalidate the relationship in the original model between taxation and spending. In fact, the relation between taxing and spending is so strong as to allow itself to take the form of a modus ponens argument:

P1 If funds are taxed, then the taxed income is spent.
P2 Funds are taxed.
C Taxed income is spent.

Whatever the alternatives and whatever the motivation, using the phrase 'tax and spend' in a pejorative manner will remain a stupid idea.

(1) Hodge, Scott. "Tax and Spend: Who Wins." New York Post, March 29, 2007.
(2) "Torries attack tax and spend Brown." BBC News, March 17, 2004.
(3) United States Constitution. Article 1, Section 8.
(4) United States Senate Glossary. Entry for "outlays."

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