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How To Respond To The Geezer Tax Revolt

Dana Goldstein over at TAPPED links to this op-ed in the Arizona Republic, which describes how retirement communities in Arizona (like the famous Sun City) are trying to opt out of their end of the "intergenerational compact" by de-funding schools, parks, and other public services used by families with young children. Dana argues that this is a good reason not to fund schools through local property taxes, since doing so makes it easier for affluent, childless communities to relieve themselves of the educational tax burden.

Relying heavily on local property taxes to fund schools certainly has mixed effects, but this doesn't strike me as a good argument against it. Trying to convince people to tax themselves to pay for services they don't use is really hard! Instead of forcing young families to pay for affluent retirees' entitlement benefits and forcing affluent retirees to pay for young families' educational expenses, why not just reduce the volume of transfers and, to the greatest extent possible, let each demographic group fund the services it uses? (Tyler Cowen had some similar thoughts in the New York Times this weekend.) I'd sure like to cut back on entitlement spending for future residents of Sun City and instead send that money to inner-city schools in Phoenix. Wouldn't you?

--Josh Patashnik