Culture and Taxation

It is certainly possible for Liberals and Conservatives to engage in a public policy debate about what items should be collectively purchased, like armies, through government taxation, and what items, like luxury cars, should be a matter of individual purchase, money for the item directly out of the consumer’s pocket rather than out of the tax dollars paid into the general fund for the government to spend as it wishes. There are difficult cases. Should the upkeep of a car be included in the welfare budget for a rural person who needs a car to get around, much less to get a job? Should everyone pay for parks even if only some people use them? The issue of what is the proper kind of purchase arises at the moment with regard to building infrastructure. Should it be by the government through what would at the moment be very low interest bonds? Or should it be by private investors who use tax incentives to go into the business of building toll roads? I would prefer direct government purchase of roads, and that is the Liberal preference, though until recently it was also the Conservative preference, Eisenhower having financed the interstate highway system in the Fifties with government money, even if the building of the railroads some seventy-five years before that was only indirectly financed by the government because the government provided free or very cheap and very broad rights of way to the railroad barons of the time.

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