The general belief among proponents of social programs is that the best way to pay for them is to tax those with more money. Yet there is a model for funding such programs that passes the cost onto the consumers, so that they pay for services in a more direct manner.

This would be the Scandanavian model. In Norway, for example, the purchasing cost of regular goods is significantly higher. But there’s a reason for it: it’s heavily taxed to pay for the many social programs, including universal health care and free education, including college.

That same article points out that such direct taxation is being used on a much smaller scale right here in the U.S. at the local level, funding social programs in towns and cities. It also suggests that such a taxation model could work for this country on a larger scale.

I highly doubt it. While this model might work on a smaller scale, such as small towns funding something they’ll use locally, I don’t see people going for such funding at a statewide or national level. Simply put, the attitude of “Why should I pay for someone else?” is all too common in America, even if the thing they complain about actually benefits them as well as others. Same goes for the overall distrust of government programs, however illogical.

But it’s not just a perception problem; high taxes can be a legitimate burden. I wrote recently of the high taxes driving residents from Illinois. Additionally, Illinois is raising taxes just to keep the state from going bankrupt. I imagine that a state instituting such a tax experiment will be met with a similar exodus, no matter how well-intentioned the reason for the tax may be.

That’s not to emphatically state that the Scandinavian model is bad. On the contrary, I’m all for members of a community working together to help each other. I just have my doubts that that sense of community extends far enough for it to work on a much larger scale such as states.


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