I have a piece today in the Philadelphia Inquirer [registration required] on the “starve the beast” theory of taxation and fiscal discipline.

The philosophical thrust:

For many libertarians and conservatives, cutting taxes is about more than efficiency; it’s about morality. We have a moral claim to the fruits of our labor. Every cent the government takes from us beyond what is strictly necessary to secure our basic rights is a token of injustice. Cutting excess taxes is rectification, a way of making abused taxpayers whole. Therefore, for many proponents of smaller government, passing up a chance at a tax cut, or, worse, defending a tax increase, is a willing perpetuation of injustice.

However, if further tax cuts would accelerate deficit spending, justice would be threatened. Under present conditions, further tax cuts would largely be tax shifts, moving the burden of government spending to future generations. And there is nothing notably moral about raising taxes on the future to subsidize the present.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center