Friday, January 27, 2006
This article explores whether conservatives, in particular classical or institutional conservatives, should support the radical tax reform currently being promoted by various elements of the Republican party, or should instead support continuation of progressive income taxation. The article looks first at the different types of conservative thought prevalent today, and then briefly reviews both the current progressive income tax system and the various, mostly consumption-tax based, reform proposals. The article then compares the current system and the proposed consumption-based reforms based on the main tenents of classical conservative thought as set forth by Russell Kirk. The article then argues that the progressive income tax is consistent with natural law; that it does not in practice promote a narrowing uniformity or a classeless society (and in fact does promote social peace); and that it does not destroy private property to any significantly greater extent than any other form of taxation. The article concludes by pointing out that tax reform advocates are all tradition-destroying utilitarian economists at heart, and that prudent institutional conservatives should thus resist change and support an institution, our current income tax, that successfully raises revenue and keeps the social peace.