One response, of course, is that people who don’t pay income tax still pay other taxes, like Social Security payroll taxes, Medicare, and various federal excise taxes. That’s true, of course, but it misses the point. The point isn’t whether people are “freeloaders” who don’t pay any taxes. It’s whether people have “skin in the game.” If you take me to an expensive restaurant for dinner but let me put money in the parking meter out front, that doesn’t provide me any incentive not to order the lobster. Splitting the check, on the other hand, will cause me to think twice. It’s like health insurance, where experience shows that even a small co-pay makes a difference in what people spend.

With the likelihood of some sort of tax reform in the next four years, we should look to structure things in ways that discourage overspending, and over borrowing, by your elected leaders. Giving everyone some skin in the game might do that.

I’d like to see a system where everyone pays some minimum amount of tax — enough to notice, say 2%-5% of gross income. And that amount should go up noticeably when the federal government spends more, and go down noticeably when it spends less.