Mises Wire

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon
Home | Blog | John Galt Lacks Appropriate Neural Firing

John Galt Lacks Appropriate Neural Firing


Tags Taxes and SpendingCalculation and KnowledgePhilosophy and Methodology


From the University of Oregon comes this: A psychologist and two economists have conducted a study that proves that we, as good little citizens of the regime, are made happy by the extraction of our wealth in the form of taxes. In fact, this particular form of theft sets off the firing of the little happy centers in our brains.

Researchers found that two evolutionarily ancient regions deep in the brain — the caudate nucleus and the nucleus accumbens — fired when subjects saw the charity get the money. The activation was even larger when people gave the money voluntarily, instead of just paying it as taxes. These brain regions are the same ones that fire when basic needs such as food and pleasures (sweets or social contact) are satisfied.
..."The surprising element for us was that in a situation in which your money is simply given to others — where you do not have a free choice — you still get reward-center activity," said Ulrich Mayr, a professor of psychology. "I don't think that most economists would have suspected that. It reinforces the idea that there is true altruism — where it's all about how well the common good is doing. I've heard people claim that they don't mind paying taxes, if it's for a good cause — and here we showed that you can actually see this going on inside the brain, and even measure it."
...The study, Mayr said, reflects the balancing act that every society must face. "What this shows to someone who designs tax policy is that taxes aren't all bad," he said. "Paying taxes can make citizens happy. People are, to varying degrees, pure altruists. On top of that they like that warm glow they get from charitable giving. Until now we couldn't trace that in the brain."

Accordingly, when your neural activation centers aren't "lighting up" at the thought of funding the state's wars or its redistribution agenda, you are an "egoist." Orwell, hello?

Karen DeCoster, CPA, has an MA in economics and works in the healthcare industry. She has written for an assortment of publications and organizations, including LewRockwell.comMackinac Center for Public PolicyTaki's MagazineEuro Pacific Capital, and the Claire Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Her website is KarenDeCoster.com.

Image source:

Add Comment

Shield icon wire