Former Timesman David Cay Johnston speaks some wise words in his Tax Analysts column today ($link):
Buying jobs with tax credits, tax cuts, and giveaways of tax money is costly. It is also not market economics, but corporate socialism. That owners of capital need state subsidies tells us that many of our markets are not competitive, but rigged. And in time, having government pick winners and losers will make us poorer, because while government is crucial to overall well-being, it is not so good at allocating capital.
Oddly, he does so in a column taking unwarranted cheap shots at the Tea Party protests, saying they were “tinged with racist overtones and a few examples of threats of violence.” That’s absolutely wrong, unless criticising the current President is now racism per se; Mr. Johnston doesn’t bother to list any of the “examples.” He can find what real protest violence looks like easily enough.
Yet if you could write a manifesto for the inchoate Tea Party movement, Mr. Johnston’s four sentences about corporate socialism would fit right in with only minor editing.
It’s dangerous to try to say what the Tea Parties stand for in too much detail; the movement isn’t that mature, and it lacks a central leader or ideological commissar, Limbaugh-phobes notwithstanding.
I understand the Tea Parties as a reaction against the huge increase in government size, spending and borrowing (and inevitably, in future taxes). It’s not a protest against the tax system in place on April 15, 2009, as much as a protest against the consequences (including much higher future taxes) of the massive increases in the role of government in the economy and society being put into place now — just the sort of thing that Mr. Johnston warns us against, when he’s not warning us about those Tea Party yay-hoos.