Jonah Goldberg

So, look, if the intelligent and sophisticated position is that your budget numbers don't have to add up, can't we do a lot better than this? Over the last 10 years the federal government doubled in size, in terms of spending. Doubled. Do you feel like you're getting twice the value out of government you got 10 years ago? Is it really so absurd to suggest that we didn't live in a state of government-deficient anarchy in the year 2001? I mean, it wasn't quite Thunderdome, was it?

Opponents of radical changes to the tax code -- say, the Fair Tax, or a flat tax, or VAT system, or some other variation -- whine that such schemes wouldn't raise enough revenue. It seems to me there are two reasonable responses to this. First, no one really knows if that's true. A truly radical change to the tax system that doesn't punish work or savings just might generate massive growth (or at least a lot more growth than the non-growth we have now). A lot more growth, even with lower tax rates, would generate a lot more revenue. Certainly the one thing we've all learned from the last few years is that no expert is infallible, and the ones who've defended the status quo are very fallible.

Second, the current system is doing a pretty terrible job already. Seems to me that if it's OK to take in $1 for every $1.40 you spend, that leaves a pretty big margin of error for us to try out a better system, right? I mean, surely we can bankrupt ourselves less expensively?

While I don't think you can throw seniors currently dependent on the system under the bus, it's time to think big. Really big. But that requires leadership that amounts to more than talking "Yes We Can!" while walking "No We Can't!"

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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