That Mayor Bloomberg believes that “tax policy is the way government uses capitalism… to encourage the right behavior” is shocking. It belies a fundamental ignorance of capitalism while revealing the mindset of a dictator.
Capitalism is the system wherein the government exists solely to protect the right of the individual citizen to make his own choices based on his own judgment, so long as he abstains from violating the equal rights of others. A dictatorship, by contrast, is the system wherein the government forces the individual citizen to follow the judgment of a single political leader.
Of course, we don’t yet live under a dictatorship or anything near one. What we live under is a mixed economy, i.e., a mixture of capitalism and statism that is currently drifting towards the latter. In this context, the brazen assertion that the purpose of taxes is to influence behavior, rather finance government, represents yet another principled step away from our country’s founding principles.
Under capitalism, a political leader is not endowed with superior wisdom and the right to enforce it on the citizenry through tax policy, law, or any other means. Not in theory, not in fact, and not in a country founded on the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”