Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Tradeoff


All of which is just to emphasize a point I’ve been making a lot over the past few months: there’s no way to have a progressive renaissance in the United States unless progressives find some politically feasible way of directly making the case that higher taxes for better services can be a good trade. And it’s worth trying to be honest about this. The other American journalists I’m traveling with, all lefty environmentalist types, can’t stop complaining about how expensive basic consumer goods are here. And it’s true, stuff’s expensive! But college and preschool and doctors and hospitals are all free, and the carbon emissions are low. This is, I think, a good trade but it really is a trade. Low taxes plus cheap dirty energy and large numbers of poor people will give you cheaper restaurants.

1 comment:

Claus von Zastrow said...

My whole extended family lives in Europe. Yes, they pay more in taxes, and they have fewer television sets than your average American does. But they don't have to worry about health insurance, complete loss of income that attends job loss, or even retirement. That's what floors me. I know people in Europe who are guaranteed their full salaries for life, even after they retire. They don't have to save! Their blood pressures are much lower.

Big question, though: It's not clear that even their tax structures can sustain those benefits as their populations age.