John Stossel

"We projected that we would get $4 billion, and we actually got well short of it," he says.

Art Laffer, the economist who has a curve illustrating this point named after him, isn't surprised.

"It's just economics," he says. "People don't work to pay taxes. People work to get what they can after tax. They'll change where they earn their income. They'll change how they earn their income. They'll change how much they earn, when they receive the income. They'll change all of those things to minimize taxes."

We can see it in the statistics. In 1960, federal revenues were 18.6 percent of total output. Over the next 50 years, that percentage has rarely exceeded 20 percent or fallen below 17 percent. As Laffer says, people adjust their activities to the tax burden.

Donald Trump, who knows something about making money, says of course the rich will leave when hit with higher taxes. "I know these people," he told me. "They're international people. Whether they live here or live in a place like Switzerland doesn't really matter to them."

You haven't left, I told him.

"I haven't left yet. ... Look, the rich people are going to leave. And other people are going to leave. You're going to end up with lots of people that don't produce. And then that's the spiral. That's the end."

And that's another good reason for us to get on with reducing the size of government.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate