Thanks for introducing me to this principle, I hadn't heard of it before.

Two thoughts:

1) You use 2021 spending data, which skews thing, since the federal government spent enormous amounts on unemployment during that year because of COVID. Might be useful to look at this graph of the last 5 years: https://datalab.usaspending.gov/americas-finance-guide/spending/trends/

2) "The reality is it is not our unwillingness to tax, but the federal government’s willingness to maintain sizable mandatory spending commitments, brought about by the general public’s sacrosanct treatment of certain transfer payment systems." That seems to be doing a little slight of hand of Smith's argument. The assumption you're making is that we are fine with the tax levels we have, and that if it only weren't for welfare payments, we'd pay for all our military spending. When it seems equally likely, if not more so, that absent our welfare commitments, we'd lower taxes even further and continue to skimp on military spending. Or am I misunderstanding you here?

Expand full comment