We often hear talk from candidates about keeping the revenue of the federal government to its 'historic average' of 18 or 19 or even 20%. This has always seemed odd to me for a few reasons.
- There is no set of natural forces that has kept revenue at this level, except the performance of the economy and a series of political decisions. Other decisions are possible.
- The history used is rather short - essentially since the Great Society. Why not go back further?
- It seems a bass-ackwards way of approaching budgeting - here's how much we can get, now what shall we spend it on? The question should always be 'what do we need to do, and can we afford it?' (Since every rise in tax is a diminution of liberty.)
So let's take a look at the Federal Government back in 1890-ish, just before the disease of progressivism insinuated itself into both parties and everyone's life. The US had just become the richest country in the world. Laissez-faire had delivered the best period of economic growth in the country's history. What would you miss from the responsibilities the Federal Government has taken on since then? Any of these?
- Interstate Commerce Commission
- Sherman Antitrust Act
- Federal Trade Commission
- Food & Drug Administration
- Income Tax
- Federal Reserve
- Minimum Wage
- Wagner Act
- The Departments of Commerce, Labor, HHS, HUD, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veteran's Affairs and Homeland Security
- etcetera, etcetera, etcetera