At The Washington Examiner, Philip Klein proposes to abolish the mortgage interest deduction, arguing from what seems like a sound first principle. "The purpose of taxes is to raise money to finance government services, not to manipulate human behavior or economic activity." Here's where understanding a little economics is useful.  Attractive though it might be to invoke a philosophical principle, such as "humans are not gerbils running a maze for rewards," or "simpler is better," a tax, like any other price, functions to allocate resources.  Thus taxes can be changed in such a way as to allocate resources with the least loss of efficiency, or not.

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