TAX GIVE-AWAY: Everyone's complaining about the $400 billion bribe that Bush is offering to old people in exchange for their votes, but no one has any outrage left for the ridiculous child tax credit that's paid to people with children. Under Bush's new plan, an average family of four will see their taxes cut by $1600. An average family of one -- like me -- will see their taxes reduced by a lot less. I can't even find a source on the web that will tell me how much I'll save... every article gives numbers for "a family of four" that will save "ten gajillion dollars!"
What this setup means is that single people and people without children are subsidizing tax breaks for married people and people with children. The situation hardly seems fair. Families with children consume more public services, not less, and there's really no reason that society should create a financial incentive for people to have children. The problem is that, as Donald Sensing points out, politicians "take money from the demographic groups of people who vote less and give it to the groups who vote more."
Most people either have children, have had children, or plan to have children in the future, and so they think it's great that at some point they'll benefit from these tax breaks. I plan to have children someday, too, but I'm critical enough to realize that the child tax credit really is nothing more than a bribe that's so entrenched that it's never going to go away, regardless of how unfair and unbalanced it may be. (Some might make the same claim about tax-deductable mortgage interest, but this is a very different issue. As I've mentioned before, promoting property ownership is a valid interest for a democratic society to promote because it strengthens the sense of individual ownership of the society.)
I favor a flat tax rate with a poverty-line deduction of, say, $20,000, and deductions for charitable giving. I would also favor -- as an alternative -- a flat consumption tax. The current income-based tax structure is nothing more than a social engineering tool that those in power use to manipulate and control the population.