Vital Signs

Dr. Pangloss on Taxation

The IRS and the federal tax code have enabled the blessings of government on a scale never envisioned by the Founding Fathers.  Consider the vital contributions to the current status of the federal government and its future prospects for growth made possible by the tax code, generally, and progressive taxation, in particular.

First, the incredible growth of the federal government over the course of the 20th century would not have been possible without the bountiful confiscations of all-encompassing, progressive income taxation.

Before the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913, social activists and internationalists had the “yen, but not the ken.”  Income taxation was the necessary breakthrough.  Expenditures of the federal government grew from 3.6 to 25.6 percent of national income over the course of the 20th century.  By the end of the century, income taxes provided 80 percent of federal revenues.  Those who love government should revere our all-encompassing system of income taxation.

Second, the federal tax code was designed to promote “social justice” by redistributing income through progressive taxation of incomes and inheritances of the wealthy to reduce the burden of the poor.

In practice, the redistribution of incomes from progressive taxation over the past 40 years has failed to materialize; as the share of income taxes on the...

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