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Debt and Taxes (Bodyworks)
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The papers on taxation are divided into four categories: public choice, earmarking, tax limitations, and fiscal constitutionalism. The dominant theme is the shortcomings of orthodox public finance theory, as observed from a public-choice perspective. Public finance-based tax theory tends to neglect the expenditure side of the government budget. Public finance focuses too much on outcomes, whether of justice or efficiency or economic growth, and not enough on the process by or rules under which these outcomes are obtained. And public finance theory tends to not adequately consider the political setting within which collective choices are made. In short, public finance is interested in what's best for government, while public choice is more interested in what's best for individual citizens.
Buchanan's views on public debt finance can be summarized as follows.
(i.) Public debt constitutes a burden on future generations (we do not "owe it to ourselves"). This is unfair because those future generations end up facing a financial burden that is the result of spending and borrowing decisions in which they had no participation.
(ii.) The tendency in elective majoritarian democracy becomes for government to borrow and spend rather than tax and spend, and to spend much rather than little.Read more ›