A subsidy is a cash grant from the government. … government intervention enables people to obtain money they were not entitled to; the flip side is that someone else is deprived of money he is entitled to, or that he would have had legitimate access to.
In contrast, when someone is given any kind of “tax break,” he keeps money he is entitled to. … if a person retains some of his own money because of a government action, we should not condemn this as a subsidy.
Subsidies should be opposed. Opportunities to keep one’s own money should not.
Needless to say, government can create great mischief by determining who can and cannot keep his own money. If mortgage interest is tax-deductible but rent is not, government encourages home buying. It is not the government’s function to decide the best way to live and then to use the tax system to manipulate people into living that way. …
No one should be begrudged the opportunity to keep his own money. In the face of a discriminatory tax cut, we should point out that it ought to apply to everyone (who pays taxes), and not just a narrow group of taxpayers. Efforts to widen exceptions may not succeed, since that would defeat the politicians’ purpose, which after all is to manipulate private behavior. But at least we can pound home the point that it’s better for people to spend their own money for their own objectives.