Excellent piece by Cato's Daniel Mitchell. I agree completely: support for a VAT is a conservative version of a classic Liberal mistake. It assumes practice will match the theory. It probably won't.
Having a vision of a free society doesn’t mean libertarians are incapable of common-sense political calculations.
For example, the long-run goal is to dramatically shrink the size and scope of the federal government, both because that’s how the Founding Fathers wantedour system to operate and because our economy will grow much faster if labor and capital are allocated by economic forces rather than political calculations. But in the short run, I’m advocating for incremental progress in the form of modest spending restraint.
Why? Because that’s the best that we can hope for at the moment.
Another example of common-sense libertarianism is my approach to tax reform. One of the reasons I prefer the flat tax over the national sales tax is that I don’t trust that politicians will get rid of the income tax if they decide to adopt the Fair Tax. And if the politicians suddenly have two big sources of tax revenue, you better believe they’ll want to increase the burden of government spending.