Taxation & Statesmanship

Daniel Henninger has a devastating column in today's WSJ: Panama Bernie (behind the paywall, but it was also at RealClearPolitics this morning; currently some kind of glitch or hack is interfering with that link for me, but presumably that will resolve shortly).

His thesis is that while Bernie, Hillary & the President rail on about rich people and "offshore accounts" it's government policies that cause them.

Spare me the crocodile tears over the immorality of tax avoidance. Panama is an indictment of government greed..... 
Most governments, including ours, overtax their citizens to feed their own insatiable need for money. Then the legal thieves running the government and their cronies, unwilling to abide the tax levels they created, move their wealth offshore to places like Panama. Arguably, all the world’s people should be able to move their assets “offshore” to escape governments that are smothering economic life and growth, which has stalled in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Blah, blah, blah. Not that I disagree with the point, but given how ticked off I am with the hypocritical, corrupting, cronyist, cowardly, virtue-signaling and bullying business community, I can't muster any fellow feeling for the individuals who head its companies. Big Business deserves anything negative it gets as far as I'm concerned.

The important point he makes, though, is that it's not just rich people who dodge high taxation. EVERYONE does.
Suppressed for generations by high tax rates and regulatory minutiae, most Europeans survive in an economic half-life of gray and black markets, with their assets protected by cash-only transactions, bartering, and endless hours devising off-the-books deals involving family real estate, inflated art prices and anything else they can hide from the taxman.
This is the point that not only progressives, but also many distributists and sincere social justice types, miss. No government, whatever its form, has infinite power to simply plan an economy and gain compliance from its citizens. To paraphrase Jurassic Park's Dr. Malcolm, people find a way. Wise law-givers --even on the rare occasions where they actually are more far-seeing than their citizenry-- are nonetheless bound by what their people will actually bear. 

It's nice that you think tax rate "x" or regulation "y" will contribute to the common good, but if it's so onerous that no one will pay it or abide by it, all you have done is create black markets and inventive ways to skirt the law. And every time you do that, you make it easier for people to beak the law again next time. 

Corruption is the main problem in Third World countries. Progressivism is just the West choosing voluntarily to become more and more corrupt -- all the while blathering on about immorality. 

As Menninger concludes: 
When private capital is under public assault, it will hide. From the wealthiest to the poorest, it creates a world of chiselers, not productive citizens.