April 1, 2014

Let's get jacked up over jacking up taxes on "nonparents."

I'm just going to link to Instapundit, who links to Reihan Salam at Slate, where there are over 1,000 comments, evincing what an Instapundit commenter calls "horrifying Deep Fever Swamp Leftism."

I don't want to get too deeply into fever swamps on the left or the right. I just want to say:

1. The phrase "jacking up" normally goes with opposition to taxes, so it's a humorous flip to use it when you're actually in favor of more taxes. I'll never forget the time, back in 2010, when we watched the Obama rally from the TV set up on the Union Terrace, in a big enthusiastic crowd of mostly students. I wished I'd caught this one guy on video. Upon some mention of taxes, he stood up facing the crowd and yelled "Taxes?! I say jack 'em up!!!" He did this with a big, clownish, full-body gesture that ended with arms aloft and thumbs up. Meade and I have been imitating that guy for years. For the drunk-on-beer/drunk-on-Obama Terrace crowd, maybe it all seemed like a dream or a joke. Need money? Get money! Jack 'em up!

2. But Salam is doing the humorous flip in the humble-altruistic form that says: Jack up my taxes. I deserve it.  Except he's not just talking about himself. He's talking about a lot of other people too. He's saying people like me need to be punished/penalized/tapped. That gives some creditability to the demand, but only to a point. Years ago I got into a disturbing conversation with someone who became so impassioned over how evil human beings are that he declared that the nuclear holocaust — which he was certain was coming — ought to come soon because we deserved it! His presence in the category of those declared to deserve it did not do much to bolster his authority.

3. Who are "nonparents"? Some "nonparents" are people who don't want children and are relying on others to do the work of making the new generations that will carry on civilization and serve us and benefit and keep us company as the years pass. But some "nonparents" are people who don't have children yet, perhaps because they are careful and conservative controllers of reproduction. I was one of those people in my teens and twenties. I waited until I had reached a level of financial stability before I had my first child at the age of 30. If I had never reached that level, maybe I would never have had any children. Jacking up taxes on the childless would function as a way to shift childbearing to those who don't worry so much about home economics. Eventually these new generations will take over government power, and what economic policies will seem like a good idea to them? I picture a horde of millions making a big, clownish, full-body gesture and yelling "Taxes?! I say jack 'em up!!!"

67 comments:

Wilbur said...

To paraphrase the J.G. Wentworth commercial: "It's your money and I want it NOW!"

rhhardin said...

Differing tax rates creates new groups of people able to vote themselves money without paying more themselves.

That gives an unstable political system.

It might be better to leave the children a stable economic and political system.

cubanbob said...

Forget about this particular piece of idiocy and lets go full monty and tax people on how they vote. The more to left you vote the more you pay. The more to the right you vote and the less you pay. And those who don't pay don't get to vote. Covered all the bases with piece of nonsense and with this scheme everyone gets to put their money where their mouth and vote is.

Freeman Hunt said...

We already get child tax credits below a certain (high) income.

If you want to help us out, give us educational vouchers for use at schools, enrichment activities, and to buy educational materials instead of automatically funneling property taxes into local schools. Parents who pay for any of these things not only fail to benefit from the money spent on the educational system, the expenses are not even tax deductible.

Brando said...

So nonparents should pay more taxes because the parents are raising the generation that will improve the world in which that future generation lives, and this benefits the long-dead nonparents how exactly?

I do enjoy reading Slate as it's sort of like an intelligence palate-cleanser.

elkh1 said...

Definitely a discrimination against Blue Staters.

chrisnavin.com said...

I'm still waiting for my gov't check/invitation to come live in a verdant, ethnically diverse co-operative of artists and non-judgmental dreamers writing code, consciously-coupling and uncoupling and working the one tractor in the community garden.

Don't you get micro aggressive or bullying with my bi-monthly status report on victimhood trends in the community.

No more wars!

Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"If I had never reached that level, maybe I would never have had any children. Jacking up taxes on the childless would function as a way to shift childbearing to those who don't worry so much about home economics. Eventually these new generations will take over government power, and what economic policies will seem like a good idea to them. I picture a horde of millions making a big, clownish, full-body gesture and yelling "Taxes?! I say jack 'em up!!!"

Well stated. A great scientist called Darwin figured this out over 100 years ago. To be viable, any political or moral system must adjust for Darwin's laws. IE, the Shakers may have had an excellent moral system, but it didn't have survival value and it has almost completely died out by now.

Altruism is good but in the long run it is not altruistic to enhance the reproductive success of people who are not able to function successfully in a competitive society at the expense of those who are very more successful.

Hagar said...

This is all B.S.

As is more money for schools, or nutrition, or whatever.

I grew up in Norway before they found oil in the North Sea, and it was a "poor" country. Worst roads in Europe next to Spain.
Still we had a better educational system than we do in USA today, and the us kids were healthier too.
And poor as we were compared to the US, we still were incomparably wealthier than just our grandparents, not to mention our great-grandparents, who knew real poverty, and still they survived and thrived.
And it was a lot colder then too.

This thinking you are going to get better quality of anything by throwing more money at it is just Liberal Democrat B.S.

rehajm said...

Implicit in jacked up taxes theory is the premise the jacked up taxes group is sufficient in numbers and resources to achieve the objectives of the tax jacker group.

It is a false premise.

tim maguire said...

I'm having trouble seeing what the big deal is. We already have a tax deduction for dependents. If he thinks it should be bigger, well good.

I have no sympathy for the babies here and on Instapundit who have failed in their primary duty as citizens and yet complain about the people around them who do better, who work extra to make up for their selfishness.

Marshal said...

people who don't want children and are relying on others to do the work of making the new generations that will carry on civilization and serve us and benefit and keep us company as the years pass.

Let's not pretend the benefits are so ephemeral. Those children will grow up and pay for the Medicare and Social Security of the childless. Or not.

realwest said...

And some "nonparents" don't have children because they are biologically unable to.
And by the time the doctors specializing in infertility figure it out, adoption services say you're too old.
Been there, done that, will not pay any higher or lower taxes because of it.

joucas said...

Parents raise the kids that will be paying your social security in retirement. Who will be working and paying the taxes to keep a productive society working. Absolutely parents should be a better deal on taxes than non-parents.

Jane the Actuary said...

In various European countries, you do get a bump in your Social Security benefits if you've had kids. As a mom of 3, this would work for me.

But the problem is this: are we really ready to start giving "irresponsible reproducers" (the poor single mom with a half-dozen kids with different fathers) the same benefits we middle-class parents get?

chickenlittle said...

A validation of social opprobrium (rather than a fight against it) might help here.

For example, calling a DINK a DINK. That's what used to work.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Brando said...

So nonparents should pay more taxes because the parents are raising the generation that will improve the world in which that future generation lives, and this benefits the long-dead nonparents how exactly?

Unless you plan on dying shortly after retirement, the quality of the world you live in will be greatly effected by how well parents raise their children.

paul a'barge said...

I don't want to get too deeply into fever swamps on the left or the right

I just want to vote for Barack Obama and not have anyone hold me accountable for it.

Freeman Hunt said...

They should change it so that child tax credits don't phase out at high incomes. That's clearly unfair.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Children raised to be productive adults are needed to pay for social security, medicare, the national debt, and underfunded pensions at the state and local level.

I don't agree with the tax jacking. Instead, just roll back all the programs that are funded on the backs of my children, and leave it to children to support their own parents in old age. This would greatly incentivize the raising of children into productive adults.

Rae said...

Slate is trolling again.

Rusty said...

I think there should be a 5% surtax on all public employees making over 100,000 dollars.

jimbino said...

>> Who are "nonparents"? Some "nonparents" are people who don't want children and are relying on others to do the work of making the new generations that will carry on civilization and serve us and benefit and keep us company as the years pass.

WHOA!

We who have forgone breeding are helping solve global warming. We don't need to pay for others to do the "work" of breeding since there are lots of "the new generation" around the world who are clamoring to get in to help us.

Indeed, Amerikan kids are worthless and over-expensive, considering we nowadays import foreign workers, already literate and potty-trained, to get our lawns mowed and our leaves blown.

They are better company than kids, who shun living near or visiting their own parents. And who wants to carry on a "civilization" that steals from the prudently child-free to feed the breeders who are polluting the world with kids, cats, dogs and greenhouse gases?

Fortunately, we have the safety valve of emigration that enables childfree rocket scientists, aircraft inventors, computer programmers and the like to use their skill to improve the lives of the current generation without paying their pound of flesh to support the breeders.

Anglelyne said...

Jacking up taxes on the childless would function as a way to shift childbearing to those who don't worry so much about home economics. Eventually these new generations will take over government power, and what economic policies will seem like a good idea to them? I picture a horde of millions making a big, clownish, full-body gesture and yelling "Taxes?! I say jack 'em up!!!"

What do you mean, "eventually"?

Non-parents subsidizing parents to some degree (say, for public education) works in a cohesive society with a shared "we're all in this together" culture, and where there is a stigma attached to having children you expect other people to feed, clothe, and shelter. (Assuming, that is, that public goods like schools are actually fit for purpose.)

It doesn't work (or not for long) in a society where the financially responsible, who postpone or entirely forego family formation, and limit family size even if they would like more children, are nonetheless forced to bankroll the reproduction of "those who don't worry so much about home economics".

To answer your question about "what economic policies will seem like a good idea to them": the same ones they think are a good idea now. What, you think a society that selects for people who think "those other guys" should pay for everything is going to have an economic epiphany?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

My kids are grown now and leaving the nest, but when they were growing up I got large tax benefits from having them, including dependent deductions and child tax credits. It's redundant to require non-parents to pay more.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Fortunately, we have the safety valve of emigration that enables childfree rocket scientists, aircraft inventors, computer programmers and the like to use their skill to improve the lives of the current generation without paying their pound of flesh to support the breeders.

Don't let the safety valve hit you in the ass on the way out.

Phaedrus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phaedrus said...

Remember it is April 1

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Wait a minute, kids. Is this Salam's April Fools' joke?

BDNYC said...

April 1.

But yeah, nonparents already subsidize the costs of educating of children of others.

Biff said...

In all seriousness, there are people who have no business at all having children. (I'm talking about abusers, neglecters, the seriously disturbed, etc.) Should we use tax policy to encourage them to have kids? Maybe we should just stick to using taxes in a general, neutral way, rather than using them for moralizing or for social engineering purposes.

PS. My own mother was someone who had no business having kids.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Remember it is April 1

The column is actually dated March 31.

Bruce Hayden said...

We who have forgone breeding are helping solve global warming. We don't need to pay for others to do the "work" of breeding since there are lots of "the new generation" around the world who are clamoring to get in to help us.

Well, the more people rant about global warming, the more obvious it seems to be that it is a fraud. Most recently, it was pointed out that the warming in the 1940s is statistically essentially indistinguishable from the warming in the 1980s that forms the basis of the AGW theories.

And, the types of people around the world that are clamoring to get in here, and are on the Administration's protected list, provide little to our high tech economy due to most of them lacking much formal education. The current Immigration Reform proposals would give a pathway to citizenship to anyone here illegally with a 3rd grade education, but just increase the quotas for H-1B recipients, many of whom have advanced STEM degrees.

My point there is that if we are going to allow increased immigration, we shouldn't go for those with little education, and large families, but rather, the best and the brightest around the world, which is the opposite from what seems to be happening. The best and the brightest are the ones who are most likely to actually increase our national wealth, while those lacking much education are likely to just be a drain on us.

Sigivald said...

And then there's the absolutely mad idea that maybe it's not the Government's job to "make" people have more kids by taxing them for not doing it.

Why must these people see the State as the solution to whatever thing they've decided is a problem?

(And it's usually a "problem" because they wanted the State to fix some other "problem" and now that first solution needs a little "help"...)

Bruce Hayden said...

We do have a demographic problem in this country. Traditionally, most of us have bred the generations that are going to take care of us in our retirement. But, in our society today, the incentives are such that the middle class can often not afford very many, if any children, while the poorer classes get subsidized for having children, and, esp. in fatherless families. So, the middle class is subsidizing these of the lower economic class, fatherless families, where the boys tend to end up dead or in prison, and the girls start having the next generation when they should be finishing at least high school.

I think that the solution is to first reform (again) welfare, to push fathers back into the families, and to maybe condition welfare for families with having a father in the household, instead of the opposite. And, then we can talk about these other problems.

Henry said...

Freeman Hunt already nailed the issue in her first comment.

I'm always surprised by how little Federal Income Tax I pay. Three children is a lot of tax credit. Throw in a mortgage and the tax bill really gets tamped down.

My marginal rate is high, however, so an economist could work with that.

Worse is self-employment tax. Any freelance work I do for extra income, and any part-time teaching and consulting jobs my wife does incur a huge marginal tax rate.

If you want to help the working class poor and people with children, let people freelance -- full time or part time -- without getting crushed by self-employment taxes.

Anglelyne said...

jimbino: Indeed, Amerikan kids are worthless and over-expensive, considering we nowadays import foreign workers, already literate and potty-trained, to get our lawns mowed and our leaves blown.

And who wants to carry on a "civilization" that steals from the prudently child-free to feed the breeders who are polluting the world with kids, cats, dogs and greenhouse gases?

Lol. Your noble imported lawn mowers and leaf blowers are now breeding at higher rates than they did back home, just as they are contributing more to pollution and greenhouse gases here than they did back home. And those of us who don't use their services are paying for their medical care, their children's education and nutrition, etc., etc., etc. Not being "over-expensive" is the dirt-bag pseudo-libertarian hypocrite's euphemism for "other people should subsidize my services" and "it's terrible that a Randian god like me should have to pay lesser beings for their labor".

I'm pleased that you're not reproducing - the world doesn't need any more "libertarian" parasites. In the meantime, get off your lazy ass and mow your own damned lawn instead of expecting the rest of us to subsidize your preferred lifestyle.

cubanbob said...

I think there should be a 5% surtax on all public employees making over 100,000 dollars."

Rusty you are far too generous. It should be at least a 50% surcharge. Even at a 50% surcharge at least 80% of the gubmint workers workers will stay on the job. Afterall it isn't likely they will get more in the private sector.

themightypuck said...

This is clearly an April Fools joke.

tim in vermont said...

"And last night socialist President Francois Hollande – whose rule has become synonymous with a 75 per cent top rate of income tax – admitted to mistakes and said his priority was now to cut taxes"

After getting drubbed in the local elections...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2593556/Frances-Socialist-PM-entire-government-quit-following-electoral-meltdown-Hollande-set-hand-job-interior-minister-Manuel-Valls.html#ixzz2xbemkZj0

MadisonMan said...

Speaking as someone whose kids are again out of the child credit, I agree that it's a great way to dampen the tax bite. I miss it.

The Education Tuition tax credit still does some work for me.

When my kids are successfully launched, in a couple years (I hope), the tax bite will go through the roof at my house. That's obviously when I should quit my job and start working at Target or something like that.

Unknown said...

How about your taxes after your kids reach adulthood (18? 23?) being based on your kids income? If you have children that contribute to society or at least pay more taxes (as indicated buy income), then you benefit -- if you raise kids that don't contribute, you pay for it. Might include a college break as indicative of higher potential.

This is a bit of fall back to "my kids are my retirement plan."

tim in vermont said...

I wonder if, in a hundred years or so, they will have museums dedicated to these non breeders. Kind of like the Shaker museums that live on after the non-breeding shakers died off?

cubanbob said...

Let's see Social Security and Medicare taxes are paid by those employed under the age of retirement as a form of payback for those who raised them. Following Slate's logic those who choose to be childless should continue to pay those FICA taxes as a payback but shouldn't receive those benefits at retirement since they are having kids to payback for them.

Jim Gust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

As far as I am concerned, those of you who remain childless are welcome to the services provided by the generation of children I contributed to, as you age.

As for the idea that Americans should commit some kind of voluntary genocide because "Amerikan" kids are worthless drags on the planet. Well, evolution will forget them as it always has forgotten the childless. That is how evolution works. It is not always about being able to outrun a tiger.

Jim Gust said...

"Years ago I got into a disturbing conversation with someone who became so impassioned over how evil human beings are that he declared that the nuclear holocaust — which he was certain was coming — ought to come soon because we deserved it! "

Didn't that guy go on to write the script for Noah?

Jay said...

who became so impassioned over how evil human beings are

A good portion, perhaps a majority, of leftists feel this way about humanity.

Jay said...

jimbino said...


We who have forgone breeding are helping solve global warming.


Hysterical.

Very good April Fools Day post!

Unknown said...

Interesting; I've understood "jack up" as raise the price of something; I guess if you consider "government" a product, it might fit. I've used & heard "jacked up" as broken for the past prob. 15 years. So I looked up (online):

"jack up"

1.To raise, hoist, or lift a thing using a jack, or similar means.  

2.(informal) To raise, increase, or accelerate; often said of prices, fees, or rates.

3.(colloquial) To ruin; wreck; mess up; screw up; sometimes as a bowdlerized substitution for fuck up.

4.(obsolete, transitive and intransitive, dialect, West England and Australia) To give up; to abandon (something); to jig up, throw up, chuck up (give up, concede); to discontinue; to leave a job, break a contract; to jack in  

5.(New Zealand) To organise something.

CStanley said...

I'm for a simpler tax code, so I'd oppose this.

One logical point in favor that I didn't see the author making (I skimmed quickly so apologize if I missed it) is that the current structure of FICA taxation is unfair to parents. The future generation pays the way for the retirees, so if a couple invests in raising children then they've contributed a hell of a lot more than childless couples do. So maybe a simple way to accomplish what the author wants to do would be to eliminate SS benefits and reduce Medicare benefits for people who reach retirement age without having "contributed" any new wage earners to the system.

gerry said...

working the one tractor in the community garden.

Electric, right?

mccullough said...

Freeman

I don't know if you itemize your deductions, but local property taxes are deductible on federal income taxes (and some state income taxes).

Also, can't your boys play on the school sports teams if they're home schooled? You can get some value from that.

mccullough said...

I think this taxing the childless will become more of a battle cry as the shortfall in Social Security and Medicare starts to squeeze the country more. The first cuts to benefits will be to the never had children group.

Jim said...

More than anything, I'm amused at the outrage of the Slate readers who otherwise are perfectly happy to "jack up" taxes on any behavior/citizen who they deem to have behaved in a way they have decided is socially unacceptable.

Smokers? Tax 'em!
Beer drinkers? Tax 'em!
Liquor drinkers? Tax 'em!
Wine drinkers? Well, no. Wine is civilized and it has health benefits, you see.
Make too much money? Tax 'em!
Vote the wrong way! Tax 'em!

But, when the "tax it if we don't like it" mentality comes falling down the second that these childless narcissists (speaking of Slate readers, not all childless people) might themselves have to pay.

I agree that taxing behavior or choices is wrong. But if we're going to play the game, then why shouldn't it apply to the choice to have children or not? If we're going to be in the business of deciding "fair" and "not fair" by penalizing citizens with the tax code, then there really isn't any limit to what "should" or "shouldn't" fall into that category.

Either get out of the business of the government declaring winners and losers through tax code oppression or accept the consequences.

rhhardin said...

Worse is self-employment tax.

That's just the employers' half of your SS tax, which everybody pays but the other-employed don't realize it.

A slight advantage is that the employers' half doesn't count as income, but they equalize that by making the SE tax deductible.

So there's no difference working for yourself or working for somebody else, taxwise.

Birches said...

As others have mentioned, the Child Tax credits are already very, very generous to those of us who are inclined to have more than one child...

I feel sorry for married people who don't get the tax benefits of having children in some ways. It's immoral how much more they pay than those of us who have children. Some successful friends of ours were paying 40% of their income to taxes after maxing out their 401Ks. They were saving up for in vitro. But they found it more cost effective to have the wife quit her job BEFORE she got pregnant to save more money. There's something wrong with that.

Henry said...

So there's no difference working for yourself or working for somebody else, taxwise.

It makes the marginal tax rate on extra work explicit. If a parent with a full time job works overtime, the tax implications are hugely different than if an otherwise full-time parent picks runs a part-time personal business.

Brando said...

You want to get into what's really outrageous? How about the fact that it can cost tens of thousands to adopt a kid in this country, and then of course wait years to get the kid. In a country where there are so many awful parents who have no business raising kids, the idea that we discourage adoption to such an extent is appalling and offensive.

You want to improve the next generation? Do something about that.

jr565 said...

If you're rich and feel that rich people aren't paying enough in taxes do your part and pay more in taxes. Simple.
Don't wait for govt to come up with the optimal levels, pay your fair share because its' the right thing to do.

Kristen Bell was one of those actresses demanding that the rich pay more. So pay more.
And to echo cuban bob, if you're calling for higher taxes, then your taxes should go up, especially if you're rich. So, lets look at Kristen. How much did she make on Veronica Mars. Lets assume she made a million just for round numbers sakes.

Is 85% of taxes on that movie fair for her? So, she can still keep a hundred and fifty thousand. That might still be high since the average salary is 32,000. So, how about twice the average salary. The rest goes to taxes.
Is Kristen ok with that? I Certainly think its fair.
So, if she doesn't pay that amount voluntarily we should just take it from her. For the greater good Kristen.

jr565 said...

Jim wrote:
Make too much money? Tax 'em!


The best example of this hypocrisy was Roseanne who said that rich people should be reeducated and decapitated if they didn't agree to turn over the funds (don't remember her exact quote but it was close this) Rich people being people who earned more than her. Even though by all standards she is filthy rich.

So, her idea of rich fat cat is those who earn more than she. Those are those ones that need to face the guillotine. She's one of the common people. her and her multimillions.

tim in vermont said...

Rosanne said nobody should have more than 100 million dollars. She is only worth in the neighborhood of 80 million. Not just that they shouldn't have it, but if they did, they should be beheaded.

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/multimillionaire-rosanne-barr-behead-rich/

jr565 said...

I think no one should have 80 million and if they have it they should be beheaded. I have 60 million

Fritz said...

"working the one tractor in the community garden.

Electric, right?


Wind.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

At least for me, having kids is its own reward. More taxes, fewer taxes, neither one would have influenced the number of kids I chose to have.

cubanbob said...

Worse is self-employment tax.

That's just the employers' half of your SS tax, which everybody pays but the other-employed don't realize it.

A slight advantage is that the employers' half doesn't count as income, but they equalize that by making the SE tax deductible.

So there's no difference working for yourself or working for somebody else, taxwise."

Really? Wanna piss off every employee in America change the FICA employer tax portion to a salary bump to the employee and let the employee pay the 15.9% FICA tax and to further turn the screw bump up the employee for the unemployment tax and let the employee pay that as well.

cubanbob said...

Beer drinkers? Tax 'em! "

Geez Jim don't give the bastards any ideas! Wait a sec, ObamaCare is a tax on non-activity. That means everyone who doesn't pay sin taxes because the don't participate in these activities should be taxed for their non-activity. It's only fair. Why should these people deprive the governments- federal, state and local of their fair share of revenue?