The most interesting thing on the Harvard Crimson Web site this morning is not the paper's coverage of the university's decision to double the size of its governing board, the Harvard Corporation, to 13 (a step apparently so urgent that the university expects to complete it "within two to three years") but rather an interview with the president of American for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist:
I want to drop the government in half over the next 25 years, and then drop it in half again. The government's about 33 percent of GDP, 33 percent of the economy. We want to take it down to 16 and a half percent, then take it down to eight percent, all of which would take us to where we were at the turn of the century.
The Keynesian economic theory runs as follows: a government's going to take a dollar from somebody who earned it and give a dollar to somebody who didn't earn it and we're all going to be richer, and we're going to do this 800 billion times. After you do that 800 billion times, you have in fact taken money from people who earned it and given it to people who are politically connected, but how in the world do you believe that that leads to economic growth?
Our personal tax rate, now at 35 percent, should go to 25 percent. Serfs in medieval Europe were taxed 20 to 25 percent. I don't think we should be taxed higher than serfs.
The Crimson asked Mr. Norquist if he was concerned about income inequality. Answer:
No, because it's not any of the government's business who earns what, as long as they earn it legitimately....No forced wealth redistribution. I'm all in favor of, you know, rich people wanting to contribute money to somebody else. One of the things that's interesting is none of the rich liberals actually believes in government. Warren Buffett, who says he's a big liberal who liked Obama, he has millions of dollars. If he thought any of the United States government spent money better than he does, he could make a contribution to the federal government. And he never does. He gives all his money to private charities, because he thinks he can spend his money better than the government can, but he wants everybody else to have higher taxes because he thinks the government can spend your money better than you can. This is not an endorsement of government. It's an expression of contempt for you.
Maybe they should put Mr. Norquist on the Harvard Corporation. One can quibble. I don't think "take us to where we were at the turn of the century" is necessarily the best way to articulate the case for small governmen. And if you believe in some safety net for the deserving poor, there will be some redistribution of wealth involved. But overall, Mr. Norquist's statements are pretty strong stuff. The Harvard announcement on expanding the Corporation says, "Confidential advice and nominations may be directed by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to Harvard Corporation Search, Loeb House, 17 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138."