Megan McArdle has a lot more patience than I explaining to a writer at Crooked Timber why artists don't get special tax deductions that aren't available to anyone else.
But what I thought was amazing, was the fact that they seem to blame an overbearing and over-reaching IRS on .... markets and capitalism. I'll give one example of the general tone:
One of the days, I’ll get around to reading the copy of Sandel’s ‘What Money Can’t Buy; The Moral Limits of Markets’. It’s even made the exquisitely painful cut of being one of only two dozen books brought on our three-month sojourn on the south coast of England. When I do read Sandel, I hope to acquire a greater appreciation for exactly how market thinking has permeated and corrupted so many aspects of human life.
One surprising place a weirdly attenuated and manically zealous form of market thinking has popped up is in the Minnesota tax office. (via BoingBoing) They’re running a quite unhinged vendetta against Lynette Reini-Grandell and Venus DeMars, a married couple who make music, art, poetry and teach English. The taxman running their audit says Reini-Grandell and DeMars’ creative activities don’t make enough money, and haven’t for years, thus proving the artists are mere hobbyists who shouldn’t get a tax break. Either they should turn a consistent profit by now, or have given up already and gone back to being good little consumers.
I am exhausted with people with people equating free markets and capitalism with the crony corporate state we have today.
By the way, I am the first to acknowledge that the government does not consider non-monetary benefits in many parts of their legislation. Just one example is minimum wage legislation. For a teenager without work experience, being able to have an internship where they can prove they are reliable and learn how to work in an organization has tremendous value. But these huge non-monetary benefits (so large many teens and low-skilled workers might take a job for free, at least to prove themselves initially) cannot be counted in the minimum wage calculation.