The Corner

Taxes for Thee but Not for Me

Two thoughts on the Senator Kerry embarrassment. Was it really a “judgement call”? It seems to me a pretty open-and-shut case of tax evasion, in the manner of the Timothy Geithner’s illegal write-offs and FICA avoidance. When an average taxpayer tries to avoid paying sales tax on his car or boat by the sort of machinations that Kerry employed, is the state franchise tax board (or, in some cases, the IRS) so silent?

Second, there is a disturbing pattern here: Those who are most adamant in pressing for higher taxes, rather than emphasizing spending cuts, themselves seem to be the most ready to cheat on their own taxes — think of a Dodd, Geithner, Kerry, or Rangel. That narrative of hypocrisy ties into a larger and disturbing trend: Could it be that leftist populists who rail against the unfairness of the system and activists who call for radical political and lifestyle changes are motivated by a need for psychological exemptions for their very concrete indulgences?

Surely if one were to collate what John Edwards has said about two Americas, what Al Gore has said about frivolous consumption and its effect on the environment, and Tom Friedman’s eloquent warnings about unsustainable Western lifestyles, one would never imagine the thousands of square footage in living space that each sees as essential to his own existence.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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