Saturday, December 02, 2017

A thousand butterfly effects

Since around the 1980s, when spending government money to solve problems fell out of favor, one major way that Congress has allocated money to address problems has mostly been by fiddling with the tax code. If you want to encourage home ownership, it is politically impossible to just people a government stipend if they buy a first home. So instead, Congress passes a rule that they have to pay less taxes when they buy their first home, even though it is equivalent to a direct government payment. The tax code is filled with stuff like that, reflecting decades of attempted social engineering that has shaped our economy in profound, if often unseen, ways. Entire businesses have sprung up around obscure corners of our tax laws. Long established institutions have plotted their development around the weird contours of the internal revenue code.

Last night, the Senate voted to sweep away a ton of tax breaks =with no consideration of how those changes will affect our economy and society. If this thing becomes law (as it look like it will), it is going to have all kinds of unforeseen consequences.