Boudreaux on tax ‘giveaways’

Don Boudreaux writes about calling tax cuts ‘giveaways’:

(As an aside, I refuse to go along with the common-in-many-circles description of such a tax cut as a “gift” or a “giveaway” to Smith and other high-income earners.  Smith is the person who earned the income.  It is his property.  This income belongs to Smith.  The government takes it away from him.  For the government to reduce the amount of money that it takes away from Smith is not properly called a giveaway to Smith.  But let’s here say no more about this particular linguistic battering of reality.)

Then he provides an apt analogy:

Suppose that freedom of the press were reported in the same way as are tax cuts “for the rich.”  In particular, suppose that a government that, until now, routinely suppressed the freedom of the press announces that it will be less censorious.  What would you think of a reporter who describes the change as a “giveaway to the press”?

Most people, of course, do not own newspapers or other media outlets.  Most people aren’t reporters or editors or paid pundits.  So a reduction in press censorship might be said to help only the relatively few people who own and who work for the news media.

But clearly the case for freedom of the press is not centered on the benefits such freedom has for press barons, news reporters, and paid pundits.  The core of the case for freedom of the press is that it bestows benefits society-wide.  When the press is free, the chief beneficiaries are the general public.  Anyone who assesses changes in the press’s freedom exclusively by how such changes affect “the press” would rightly be called out as missing the point.

Yet, regrettably, far too many mainstream-media assessments of changes in tax policy focus exclusively on how such changes affect those who earn the incomes and who own the wealth that is legally subject to the tax changes.



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