Gas Tax Holiday

By now, everyone knows that the proposed gas tax holiday is a dreadful idea. Economists uniformly think it’s a rotten idea – except for one. Bryan Caplan has an article supporting the holiday, but not for the reasons you might think. His logic is this: when the public is frustrated, politicians have a strong incentive to “do something”, even when the best approach would be to do nothing. Given the range of options politicians have to work with, the “tax holiday” is relatively harmless.

Saint Augustine wrote about the benefits tolerating minor sins in order to avoid greater sins in public life.

Of course, such small transgressions automatically generate the usual refrain from the party in opposition: “You’re not doing enough”.  Which is in turn met with “Let’s wait and see how this works”.

The gas tax holiday is a dumb idea, but it might keep our leaders busy enough to avoid even greater mischief.


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