Read carefully between the lines of the typical conservative invective, and you find that George Will actually believes a few things that are accurate.
First, he believes that a Value Added Tax has merit, at least under certain conditions. (He doesn't mention that all members of the European Union -- including (gasp!) France!! -- have a VAT. There's only so much truth the average Will reader can bear in a single column.)
Secondly, he admits that the "Great Recession" resulted in a fiscal shambles. (He doesn't mention, of course, that the Great Recession was caused primarily by lack of regulation and capitalists pursuing the American Dream, both legally and illegally. See rationale for this omission in previous paragraph.)
Thirdly (hold onto your keyboards, my friends), George Will admits that "some taxation is necessary." OMG!
Alas, these kernels of truth are sandwiched between the usual poisonous slices of egregious eyesores of expedient and excruciatingly erroneous evasions of rational thought.
Without eliminating the income tax, Will says, "a VAT would be just a gargantuan instrument for further subjugating Americans to government" (emphasis added). In other words, we poor freedom-deprived Americans have already submitted to the giant altar of government control and interference in our lives -- lives that should instead be full of liberty. Yes, every time I drive on a taxpayer-financed road and obey the regulations imposed by traffic signals, I get sick to my stomach.
Manipulating the concept espoused by President Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Will recklessly charges that the Obama administration believes that "a crisis is a useful thing to create." But I will sleep well tonight, knowing that intelligent conservatives will easily see the difference between taking advantage of a crisis created by someone else and deliberately creating your own.
Democrats pushed health care reform, according to Will, because of liberals' tendency to "lunge to maximize government growth." Presumably, it was irrelevant that insurance companies were acting like bandits, taking policy-holders' money and then withholding services when people got sick, and that millions of Americans were dying prematurely because they didn't have access to quality medical care.
Will refers several times to the "political class" without defining it, but obviously, from the context, he considers it less desirable than, say, the club that backdates stock options. Members of this class "delight" in the "stealthiness" of incremental tax increases, show favoritism (by exempting "green" goods from VAT taxation, for example), and engage in "bossy" behavior by using the government code to regulate social behavior (e.g. taxing cigarettes and outlawing murder).
Finally, catastrophizing beyond the scope of any disorder described in the DSM (that's the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for you non-psychologists), Will claims that introducing a VAT without repealing the income tax "would be the obituary for the Founders' vision of limited government." Presumably he means the government that was created to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." Correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like a pretty tall order -- one that requires people who want it to be successful to be willing to help foot some of the bill.
By the way, it is possible to write an article about the VAT that is informative and balanced. Witness "Much To Love, And Hate, In a VAT," by N. Gregory Mankiw, in the business section of Sunday's New York Times
Ronald Wolff publishes the blog Musings from Claremont, where this article first appeared. Republished with permission.