With tax time just around the corner, have you ever wondered how anything that consumes so much of our lives as the income tax ever became law? (I know, some dispute that it ever did.) I think the answer is incrementalism.
With incrementalism, a bad law gets passed because it doesn't affect very many people. Once it's in place, it is watered and fertilized by bureaucrats. Soon it begins growing. The growing plant nourishes the bureaucrats with more staff and budget, and they in turn tend to the growing plant's needs. Like last year's crop of dandelions, more and more people find it springing up in their yards. Perhaps if we had The Washington Post, the New York Times, the network newscasts and CNN telling us what a fine lawn dandelions make, we might eventually begin to believe them about that, too.
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So how did the income tax become law? You can probably answer that question yourself by consulting the tax table below. Compare it with your tax rate as you fill out your return this year. It's unlikely that many people ever saw themselves being affected by the income tax. I am indebted to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER, Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230) for the information: