A recent Impromptus tells two interesting tales of political religion:
In his article for the forthcoming NR on the Jo-burg jamboree, Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute tells a story about Julian Simon, the late and great economist.
He was at some environmental forum, and he said, “How many people here believe that the earth is increasingly polluted and that our natural resources are being exhausted?” Naturally, every hand shot up. He said, “Is there any evidence that could dissuade you?” Nothing. Again: “Is there any evidence I could give you — anything at all — that would lead you to reconsider these assumptions?” Not a stir. Simon then said, “Well, excuse me, I’m not dressed for church.”
I love that story, for what it says about the fixity of these beliefs, immune to evidence, reason, or anything else.
It reminds me of an experience that I’ve had with left-liberals about taxation. Now, you and I know that, in history, if you’ve cut tax rates, you’ve increased revenue to the government. But left-liberals, of course, don’t accept that.
So I’ve played a little game with them. “Suppose,” I say, “that you were presented with irrefutable evidence that if you cut tax rates, revenue to the government would increase.” They always balk, and I say, “No, really. I know you think this is nonsense. But just humor me. If you knew for sure that cutting tax rates would increase revenue to the government — for social programs, whatever — would you do it?” And they say — many of them — no.
Beautiful. I take this as proof positive that what they’re really interested in is punishment: taxation as punishment, for wealth-creation, innovation, enterprise, luck, and so on. They favor higher tax rates for moral reasons, if you will. They favor those tax rates as sanctions, not for the money they might bring in.
And it’s funny how many, when pressed, will admit it.
Wow. It would indeed be funny if it weren’t so awful.
Next time I run into a liberal speaking about politics, I’m going to play this game with them. I wonder what sort of justification they might offer for their punish-the-productive views.