Author Archives: Dean Machin

Are you talented? Well, how like soccer is your profession?

Sport, in particular soccer in England, can shed some light on how important individual talent is to success in different careers.

For more than a generation the England soccer team has been ethnically mixed. Some of the best players we have produced are non-white. But the ethnic mix of coaches and managers is less impressive.

Currently, there are three black managers in professional football in England. This is 3% of the total and is broadly typical of the last 20-30 years. About 20-25% of professional footballers are black; and this has been the case for about 20 years.

Racism may well explain this anomaly but, if so, another problem arises: if soccer is racist why are there so many black players? Here is one speculative account: talent operates at the level of players but not, or at least significantly less so, at the level of managers. Let me explain.

It is relatively easy for non-experts (or ‘fans’) to determine whether individual players are competent. While many players do ‘unseen’ work, you don’t need to be an expert to differentiate between Ronaldo and Ricky Lambert.

To put the point more starkly: the chairman of your soccer club could hide his talentless son on the Board and no-one may be any the wiser. But if the manager were forced to put him in the team, within one or two minutes several thousand people would have a fairly accurate view of Chinless Wonder’s abilities. And they would happily express their findings.

Second, there is a lot at stake: managers get sacked often. Since about 2002 the average tenure of any professional manager has been below 2 years. In 2012 it was about 1.5 years.

A manager would have to be a complete idiot to refuse to pick non-white players. Frankly, some managers would consider picking a fan-eating alien if it shored-up the defence.

Third, the competition is fierce and there are few barriers to entry. A lot of people want to be professional footballers; it is a global game and it is cheap. Poor kids are just as able to develop the skills as rich kids.

But it is a lot less clear what a good manager is or does. We can point to exemplars – Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho. But all we know is that they have been successful. It is very hard to establish why. It is even harder to determine who, given the opportunity, will be successful or who will be successful in a different context. The turn-over of managers is evidence of this.

In the appointment of managers, then, there is a lot more room for hunch, gut instinct, bias or just straight-forward prejudice.

Does your profession fit the management or playing model?

One common argument in favour of high-reward careers like banking is that, like soccer players, bankers have rare talents and operate in a competitive market.

But, whatever happens in the future, it will not turn out that Ronaldo could not play soccer – that somehow all those free-kicks flew into the net because of ‘favorable external conditions’. But, as it did turn out, (formerly Sir) Fred Godwin was an abysmal banker. And no-one seems to have known this in real time.

Equally, compare investment banking’s barriers to entry to soccer’s. A potential investment banker from a favela can fall by the wayside at any level of education simply because the school system is poor – not because of his latent ability. If he does get to a university he needs to hope that it is one from which investment banks recruit – and the probability is against this.

Banking does not operate with anywhere near the same competitive pressures as soccer. But let us not indulge banker-bashing.

How might we tell whether a profession operates on the basis of soccer-style talent?

The mix test: one test has already been alluded to: what is the ethnic mix? To this we can the gender mix and socio-economic mix. If a profession is full of white middle-class men with the same backgrounds, we have reason to believe that hunch, gut instinct and bias determines appointments, not individual talent. For instance, only 19% of FTSE 100 board-members are female.

The inheritance test: if you watch the soccer scores live on a Saturday afternoon the sheer profusion of new and different names is amazing. While there have been Churchills in parliament for over 140 years there have been very few Berahino’s in professional soccer. It is hard to hand on the relevant talent and, as noted, the market is competitive.

Let’s add a second test then: the higher the proportion of second- or third-generation individuals in a profession the less likely it is that individual talent determines success. Connections or cultural fit may be doing significant work.

Politics is one profession that seems to do relatively badly by these metrics. In the UK most legislators are white middle-class men and quite a few are the descendants of legislators. In The Son also Rises: surnames and the history of social mobility Gregory Clark claims that until

‘1800 Norman surnames were eight times more likely than the typical surnames to appear among MPs.'(254-5)
‘[E]ven in the twentieth century, Norman surnames remained over-represented among English and Welsh MPs.'(255)

It does not follow that legislators are selected for reasons other than talent. Perhaps soccer’s conception of talent is inapt in politics. But we are owed an account that explains why.

If talent is decisive for politicians how is this ‘talent’ compatible with failing the inheritance and mix tests? Why, for instance, does it seem difficult to hand on soccer-talent but easier to hand on politics-talent?

There may well be good answers to these questions. I would certainly like to hear them.

We are all political philosophers

Political philosophy is an attempt to get a deeper understanding about political and moral principles and the relationship between them.  For instance, is ‘freedom’ a single idea or are there different freedoms that can clash? If they do clash on what principled basis can clashes be resolved? Do some freedoms trump others?

People seem to think so. While some object that taxation limits their freedom they also think making homosexuality illegal or banning certain religions would limit freedom much more severely.

Political philosophy is taught as part of the ‘theory of value’ the other main element of which is moral philosophy or ethics. A simple way to grasp the difference is that moral philosophy is about the principles that should guide our conduct towards other individuals – is it, for instance, ever OK to lie?

Political philosophy is about the principles of public institutions. There are two main aspects. What should be the principles that should shape and regulate public institutions? Should our laws protect free speech? Should our tax system re-distribute from rich to poor?

The second element is about the principles that politicians and public officials should adhere to in their individual conduct. You might think you should never lie to a friend or to your spouse. But you may think that sometimes politicians should lie to other world-leaders or even to the electorate. Sometimes this is called the problem of ‘dirty hands’; it is often associated with Machiavelli.

You might be very un-Machiavellian and believe that no-one should ever lie. But, if so, you are offering the same answer to two different questions. Private and public moralities are different.

Who does political philosophy?

Political philosophy is not the sole domain of professional political philosophers. We all do it. Children are especially good. When they claim that the toy tiger is theirs they are making quite a complex claim that they have certain entitlements over Tiger, one of which is the permission to exclude others from touching, using etc. Tiger.

In a democracy it is also part of a citizen’s duty to engage with political ideas, and so political philosophy. One topical example is immigration. Before we can decide to limit non-EU immigration we must think about some philosophical questions.

  1. What are our own duties to people from poor African countries or towards refugees?
  2. If we don’t want to discharge our duties (whatever they are) by allowing potential migrants into the UK, are other things permissible?
  3. Is financial aid an adequate replacement? (If so, how much?)

Engaging with philosophical ideas is also common in people’s professional lives. Take ‘big data’. While this sounds dry and technical, the most difficult issues it creates are moral: what permits private companies and governments to use citizens’ personal data? Must citizens consent? Can they ever be said to fully understand what they are consenting to? Can we replace actual consent with some idea of ‘hypothetical’ consent? To what use of their data would citizens agree if they were fully-informed and fully rational?

For several centuries political philosophers in the social contract tradition have wondered whether we can justify the state and the obligations it creates along similar lines. Philosophers’ arguments are relevant to the big data debate.

Is political philosophy mere opinion?

John thinks that capitalism makes people free while Ruby thinks capitalism im-miserizes workers. Is one right and the other wrong? One response is that right and wrong are inapt here: John and Ruby just have different opinions.

In the background is some dis-analogy with science. It would be odd to say ‘in my opinion, gravity doesn’t exist’. There are, what can be called, mind-independent facts about gravity. Your opinion is irrelevant. More importantly, in order to be ‘successful’ you need to respect these mind-independent facts. The world has a way of sifting-out people who refuse to accept gravity.

In contrast, you can treat people abysmally and not suffer at all. Indeed, you may get everything you ever wanted. And while gravity will operate in an unpeopled universe, it makes no sense to say that capitalism can be good or bad in a similar situation.

While these are important differences, they do not imply that disagreements about political ideas are the same as disagreements about pronunciations of ‘tomato’. And we should be glad of this. If political ideas were merely opinions, then, when someone said that homosexuality is an abomination, they would be open to no more criticism than if they had expressed a liking for lager.

We can test claims about political ideas

Is Ruby correct that capitalism im-miserizes workers? To answer this question first we must bring some precision to ‘im-miserization’: we can say that someone is im-miserized if they cannot satisfy their basic needs or if they are made appallingly subservient to other people. Then we can (i) see whether certain features of capitalism will always, or generally, lead to im-miserization; or (ii) look at actual capitalist societies and see whether workers can satisfy their basic needs.

The correct conclusion (I suspect) is that workers can be im-miserized in both capitalist and non-capitalist societies, and that changes to capitalism over the years (principally the addition of a welfare state) have significantly reduced workers’ misery. But whatever conclusions we ultimately draw, we can intelligently discuss, debate and test political ideas. And, perhaps like Ruby, we may find that our views are incorrect.

In short, we are all political philosophers. Our only choice is to engage with political ideas well or badly, better or worse. If, in the face of criticism of our deeply-held values, we retreat to the seemingly-safe realm of ‘opinion’ we must also accept that opening this particular door may invite in all sorts of unwelcome guests.

What’s wrong with political lobbying?

Many people think that lobbying is unhealthy. Can political philosophy help to make sense of this sentiment?

The political realm is special

Our public laws are supposed to be based on the general or common good. I might find taxation annoying. But to persuade others to change the law, I need to invoke something slightly more general than my personal feelings. I need to explain how others might benefit from any change. For instance, with lower taxes I might be more productive or give more money to worthy causes.

Another important feature of politics is that it should be insulated from the effects of economic inequality. People who are perfectly happy with the general ‘ripping’ of markets don’t think that vote-buying is acceptable or that those with the deepest pockets should get their political way.

In addition, every eligible citizen is entitled to one, and only one, vote, no matter how esteemed, wealthy or indeed stupid or poor they are. And we only give people votes. We don’t think ‘interests’ (like the City) or institutions (like the universities) should have representatives in parliament.


In short, politics is about the common good, based on the idea of people’s fundamental equality, and should be insulated from economic inequalities. By these standards how does lobbying fare? Frankly, not well.

With some simplification, we can understand lobbying as follows: some private company (X) hires lobby firm We-Can-Fix-It to influence etc. minister Y to make decision Z because Z favours X’s own interests.

What seems wrong here? First, X’s private interests may not coincide with the common good. Second, lobbyists charge and not everyone can afford their fees. Third, is secrecy. We-Can-Fix-It is unlikely to publish the content of its meetings with minister Y. And even if it wanted to, the minister would probably not let it. The citizens, then, may never know that any lobbying has occurred.


While this might seem like an open-and-shut case against lobbying we should not be so quick. Private companies may lobby for their own advantage, but many are experts in their field. Take banking reform. Banks’ input is vital here to test what might, and what will not, work.

In short, lobbying enables expertize to be heard and so can improve political decisions. But a problem remains. Banking illustrates it well. The aim of banking reforms is to make the sector work better for customers and society at large. The aim of Barclays or Santander is to increase its own profits. These difference may unconsciously bias a bank’s disinterested expertise. We should remember that after a generation of banks lobbying for self-regulation we had the largest economic crisis for over 60 years.

One way to reduce experts’ bias, and correct their errors, is through publicity and transparency. This implies the prompt publication of details (with minutes) of lobbyists’ meetings with ministers and other decision-makers.

A right to lobby

For some, expertize has got nothing to do with the permissibility of lobbying. Like voters, businesses have a right to lobby. We might understand this right as follows: individuals club together and transfer their democratic rights to some group such as We-Can-Fix-It to exercise their rights for them.

In reply, two points: as you can only transfer a right that already exists only voters can have this right to lobby. Non-voters, and this probably includes the heads of many major businesses, are excluded. Second, remember democracies represent people. Institutions – whether they are run by voters or not – are not people and so don’t have any democratic rights which can be transferred.

So, should the head of Barclays be able to meet the PM? Her or she is certainly entitled to the respectful reading of a well-crafted (open) letter. But if there is a meeting, minutes must be kept and published promptly. Of course none of this will happen. But it is important that someone explain why it shouldn’t happen – and we need to remember that any such explanation must be couched in terms of our common good and compatible with our political equality.

English votes for English laws?

The September 2014 vote on Scottish independence put a spotlight on the UK’s untidy constitution. Most attention has focused on the so-called West Lothian Question and its companion idea that only MPs who represent people in England should vote on matters that only affect people in England.

The idea that only those who are affected by a law should have a say in making that law has sound philosophical credentials. Artlessly, it is often called ‘the affectedness principle’ but it makes sense. A traffic-calming measure in Dumfries does not affect my life, so on what basis could I claim a right to a say in the matter?

Of course, philosophers like to complicate things. What, after all, does it mean to be ‘affected’ by something? Is a virgin monk affected by an abortion law? Not in any personal sense but Catholics do feel their voice should be heard in this debate. Or let’s take climate change. This definitely affects everyone, and as traffic calming measures increase emissions (due to speeding up and slowing down), perhaps I should have a say in the Dumfries matter.

Putting these difficulties aside, we will focus on the substance: is ‘English votes for English laws’ the best way to realize the affectedness principle and so address our constitutional problem? Table 1 can help us here.

Table 1: Percentage of votes and seats (in parentheses) in the 2010 general election

Labour Conservative Lib Dem Nationalist
England 28.1% (191) 39.6% (298) 24.2% (43) N/A
Scotland 42% (41) 16.7% (1) 18.9% (11) 19.9% (6)
Wales 36.2% (26) 26.1% (8) 20.1% (3) 11.3% (3)
Source: BBC news website. Northern Ireland is excluded because it has no MPs from any of the major parties.

The table shows why the Labour Party is wary of English votes for English laws. The Conservative Party has a massive majority of England’s MPs.

But a closer look tells us something else. The Labour Party has by far the most MPs in Scotland (41 versus 18). Why aren’t they in control of Scotland’s parliament? One answer is that if you ask people a different question, they will give you a different answer. When electing people to Scotland’s Parliament voters were asked who should make Scotland-only laws? But in a general election they were asked something like who should make UK-wide laws? For Scotland-only laws the Scots prefer the SNP, for UK-wide laws they prefer Labour.

By analogy, just because voters in England elected a majority of Conservative MPs at a general election, it does not follow they would do the same if they were asked who should make England-only laws. Of course, they might but, to find out, we would have to ask them. In short, while some laws only affect people in England, it does not follow that England’s MPs are the people best-qualified to make those laws.

One objection is that ‘English votes for English laws’ is a less bureaucratic and more efficient solution than, say, creating an English parliament. But this won’t wash. If it is not clear that an English parliament would return a Conservative majority, the fact that Conservative rule would be more efficient is no argument. Efficiently governing in ways that don’t represent the people’s views is worse than representing the people inefficiently.


An English Parliament?

None of this is an argument for an English parliament but it is relevant to the constitutional problems the UK faces. Jeremy Waldron (Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University) describes the general problem here as the problem of authority: who should make the law? And, why should they make the law rather than some other group of people?

Waldron notes that we profoundly disagree about what the law should be and who should make it. We live, as he says, in the ‘circumstances of politics’. In Waldron’s view, this implies that we cannot legitimately appeal to partisan considerations when addressing constitutional problems like the UK’s.

Several points follow. First, the circumstances of politics implies that no political party should address our constitution problems through solutions that just happen to make it more likely that they will get the laws they want.

Second, any constitutional changes must stand the test of time and adequately address problems that have not yet arisen or been imagined (Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘unknown unknowns’). This is one of the remarkable features of the US constitution; it is still going strong after more than 225 years whereas Scottish devolution is fraying after a little over 15. In large part this is because, up until now, the anomalies which Scottish devolution created have been ignored.

Finally, ‘English votes for English laws’ is not the only democratic problem in the UK. For instance, many local councillors are of low quality and most council officials are yet to accept the principle of public accountability. We should take this constitutional opportunity to reform our democracy more systematically and thoroughly.

This will take time and (in my view) implies that politicians who have to keep supporters onside, and worry about the next election, are best excluded from the process. There is little chance of this happening and as we lack a Madison, Jefferson or Franklin, we are in a little trouble. Where does this leave us? To quote the proverbial local when asked for directions ‘if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here …’

Inheritance tax: a tax on the living not on the dead

Most people don’t like tax but the tax that seems to create most moral outrage is the tax levied against fewest people: inheritance or ‘death’ tax.

On the face of it, this is odd. Tax reduces your income. No-one likes this. But as you only pay inheritance tax after you have died it cannot affect how much you have to spend. There is, after all, no ‘you’ anymore.

And while everyone should have some say in what happens to their estate, no one thinks you should be able to dispense with it in any way you choose. I know of one case in which a spouse pre-deceased his wife and stipulated in his will that she leave the family home of over 50 years within six months of his death. Unfortunately, the house was in his name only. Should his children have respected his wishes and should the state force them to? I have not yet met anyone who says yes.

‘the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead” (Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison, 6 Sept 1789)

While Jefferson was talking very generally his comments apply to inheritance tax. We should certainly not dismiss the wishes of the dead but we are not required to do as they ask: it all depends how their wishes affect the living.

And it is surely unremarkable to note that, without some inheritance tax, individuals’ life-chances are likely to be determined by their lineage (possibly a talented or lucky ancestor) or by their ability to ingratiate themselves to the mighty. Such transparent unfairness is morally unacceptable and historically has not been tolerated.

According to John Rawls, who attributes the idea to John Stuart Mill, we should view inheritance tax as a tax on those who remain rather than those who die. ‘Those inheriting and receiving gifts and endowments pay a tax according to the value received and the nature of the receiver.’(Justice as Fairness, p.161)

We should do this to ensure that success in one generation does not fix the social competition for several subsequent generations and to ‘encourage a wide and far more equal dispersion of real property and productive assets.’(ibid.) Table 1 below illustrates how this might work when someone dies leaving an estate of £1 million.

In the first scenario the inheritor is a single individual and top-rate UK tax-payer (45%). In the second scenario, there are one hundred inheritors who are given £10000 each and who pay 20% income tax.

Table 1 Amount of tax Amount received by beneficiaries
Scenario 1 £450000 £550000
Scenario 2 £200000 £800000 (or £8000 each)

Table 1 shows that Rawls’s Mill-inspired idea makes inheritance tax very sensitive to the number and nature of any beneficiary.

Thinking in these terms also enables us to explain what is wrong with current UK inheritance laws. First, in most cases, inheritance tax is paid out of the deceased’s estate before any beneficiary receives anything; it is ‘not common’ for recipients to pay. Second, while no inheritance tax is paid on estates worth less than £325000 (in 2014-15 values), in most cases, anything above that amount is taxed at 40%.

Simplifying a little, under the current rules a £1 million estate is liable to a tax of £270000. It does not matter who the recipients are or how many there are. But surely we would prefer a single high earner inheriting £1 million to be treated differently from 100 average earners jointly inheriting the same amount. A tax of £270000 would reduce the average amount received in scenario 2 above by £700 each. Not a lot to a top-rate tax-payer but a reasonable amount to most people.

One worry – particularly in the UK – is unrealized assets (principally property). If I were to inherit a £1 million house would I be liable immediately for a tax of between £200000 and £400000? This seems a little tough. But any tax could be made payable when the asset is realized – although on the tax rate effective at the time the property is inherited (this will prevent attempts to delay or bring forward sales to take of advantage of any tax rate changes).

There are other issues to resolve but we must stick with the big picture: inheritance taxes are necessary but the current UK inheritance rules are a mess. Changes must occur before the baby is thrown out with the bath-water and inheritance taxes are abolished or reduced to trivial levels. The suggestion outlined here is one way of retaining a clean baby while dispensing with dirty bath-water.

Is tax avoidance morally wrong? (Part II)

In a previous post (scroll down) I looked at the UK’s tax rules and suggested they might be unfair. But even if I am right, it does not follow that we should criticize people for avoiding tax. So, can people be criticized for doing something perfectly legal?

The state cannot legitimately fine or imprison lax-abiding citizens but neighbours or friends may be entitled to criticize. For instance, while the state should not mandate attendance at your children’s school plays, you should go to them and you are open to criticism if you do not. Is tax avoidance like this?

Let’s start with train fares. Is it morally wrong to avoid paying your train fare? The answer here cannot be ‘yes, because it is illegal’. I presume that most people who think that we should pay our train fares don’t believe this only because the law says so. If the law changed, they would not automatically become fare dodgers.

Surely whether others can criticize you for failing to pay your train fare depends on the circumstances. Some stations are unmanned and their ticket machines don’t work. If you travel between two such stations you have to seek out ways of paying your fare. Only the very virtuous would traipse up and down a train seeking high and low for a ticket inspector. And if you give up after a minute or two you are surely not at fault for getting a free ride.

Then there are the times in which you fully intend to pay at your destination but, at the last minute, you see open barriers. You go through. Naughty yes, but there was no plan to cheat.

Finally, there are cases that require effort: inventing a story about a conversation with a ticket inspector on the train (‘he said it would be OK…’); or crawling through a gap in a fence. We can even nuance this last possibility: you may calculate that the costs of the snags to your coat are smaller than the savings in ticket fares. Only real rotters would go this far I suspect.

It seems that our criticism of people who don’t pay train fares is dependent on the effort required either to pay or avoid the fare. We can use this analogy to think about tax avoidance. But how might we measure the ‘effort’ tax avoidance requires? It may involve little more than Gary Barlow saying ‘yes’ to his accountant. But, as Aristotle said, money is the measure of all things. How long does it take for high net worth individuals to earn the money to pay their accountants?

For instance, it might cost UK comedian Jimmy Carr a week’s gigs to pay his accountant’s fees. This makes him sound quite a lot like someone who crawls under a fence to avoid paying a train fare. Seldom do people say ‘I didn’t realize’ when told they had just done a week’s work.

We might apply a similar method to large corporations. How many extra employees could Google fund from the amount it spends on its tax advisers? How much extra growth could be expected from these additional employees?

This is quite speculative and I simply do not know how much actual tax avoidance is like crawling under a fence at a train station. But if anyone has the time and inclination I have outlined a rough method of how they might find out.

Is tax avoidance morally wrong? (Part I)

Claims that tax avoidance is morally wrong are immediately countered by claims that no-one pays more tax than they have to and, its more specific companion, we’ve all paid the builder cash-in-hand. So are complaints about tax avoidance unthinking or, even worse, hypocritical?

There are two things to look at: the tax rules and people’s behaviour. In this blog post I will focus on the tax rules. In the next I will look at whether individuals can be criticized for avoiding tax.

Unfair tax rules

If we’ve all paid the builder cash-in-hand one thing is true, we all have similar opportunities to evade tax. But not everyone can avoid PAYE by setting themselves up as a company or convince HMRC that they are Luxembourgeios. Even worse, most people who can do this are at the top end of the wealth scale. Opportunities to avoid tax are not equally available to rich and poor.

Political philosopher John Rawls argued that economic inequalities are justified only if they benefit the least well-off (his so-called ‘difference principle’). For many this is too heady an egalitarian sauce. Why should the poorest have a veto on the acceptable level of other people’s income? But our tax rules seem to be based on an even more heady principle: opportunities for tax avoidance should favour big corporations (over small businesses) and high net worth individuals (over you or I). This hardly seems fair. Of course, tax rules are not purposely designed to be unfair but they do seem to have this effect; and this is a reason to object to them.

One general reply is that it makes no sense to focus on tax avoidance when tax evasion (such as cash-in-hand payments) costs far more. But objections to tax avoidance need not based on the amount of money involved. Moral outrage about tax avoidance (whether justified or not) is shared across the political spectrum – from little Englanders who have a soft spot for Nigel Farage to dyed-in-the-wool socialists who think that Marx has just not been right yet.

These people may not agree on anything else and some will think that the money lost is not the state’s to claim anyway. But what they can agree on is that whatever the rules are they should be fair.

In addition, the debate on tax avoidance becomes confused if we focus solely on the amount of money involved. It makes it sound as if the problem is that the system is inefficient. Money is falling through the cracks! This frames the problem in somewhat dry, technical terms that should be turned over to economists or perhaps bureaucrats to solve.

But moral sensibilities are seldom provoked by technical inefficiencies; and making the tax system more efficient would not address people’s sense of injustice.

Moreover, thinking of the problem in terms of fairness – and explicitly separating fairness from economic issues – helps us to pose important questions. What would a fair tax system look like? What would be the costs – either to individuals or in terms of reduced tax receipts? It has been said that Amazon’s business-model would not survive fair competition with high-street bookshops so one cost may be more expensive books.  Are these costs worth it for fair rules?

John Rawls said that ‘laws and institutions no matter how efficient …must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust’. As unfairness is a form of injustice he was clear that a society with fair rules is more important than a society with a large tax take – even if that money is re-distributed to poorer citizens.

People disagree with Rawls but, I think, one thing is true: if a tax system and its tax rules are insensitive to fairness, it will not command the loyalty of citizens indefinitely.

So what should be done? Advice is not my purpose here but I think the tax avoidance debate would be more fruitful if it were re-framed in terms of fairness. This would require accepting the possibility that a fair tax system might have economic costs and arguing that those costs are worth it. This is not an easy task but it can be done.