4-25-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Flat in More Ways Than One?

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are floating the idea of a flat income tax, the same idea Steve Forbes campaigned on twenty years ago.

"Moving to a simple flat tax and just padlocking the IRS -- I think that is a powerful populist issue," Cruz said Friday on The Adam Carolla Show. [format edits]
Neither candidate has spelled out details, but they are already running into resistance from the left.

I see the flat tax as a possible way to begin phasing out taxation, but am leery about it outside such a broader context. As I realized (or had pointed out to me) back in the mid-nineties, a likely outcome would be only a nominal rate reduction for the more productive -- with lots of wealth-sheltering "loopholes" removed. This would be on top of the fact that, absent momentum in favor of a reigning-in of government, new exemptions and "breaks" would merely be added later as future politicians sought to buy votes from various constituencies.

The proposal is slightly less bad in today's context than another, a sales or value-added tax. I am sure that if either of those were enacted, we'd end up with it and (rather than instead of) the income tax.

Weekend Reading

"It's healthy to occasionally have time to yourself." -- Michael Hurd, in "The Desperate Need to Stay in Touch" at The Delaware Wave

"Why do some of us fly in the face of indisputable evidence by placing our loved ones and possessions in jeopardy by leaving our doors and cars unlocked?" -- Michael Hurd, in "The Psychology of 'It Can't Happen to Me'" at The Delaware Coast Press

Ayn Rand on Tax Tact

On the way to hunting down an Ayn Rand quote about taxation, I accidentally clicked a link on tactfulness. As usual, the quote is brimming with insight:
Do not confuse appeasement with tactfulness or generosity. Appeasement is not consideration for the feelings of others, it is consideration for and compliance with the unjust, irrational and evil feelings of others. It is a policy of exempting the emotions of others from moral judgment, and of willingness to sacrifice innocent, virtuous victims to the evil malice of such emotions.

Tactfulness is consideration extended only to rational feelings. A tactful man does not stress his success or happiness in the presence of those who have suffered failure, loss or unhappiness; not because he suspects them of envy, but because he realizes that the contrast can revive and sharpen their pain. He does not stress his virtues in anyone's presence: he takes for granted that they are recognized.
Just a moment's thought reveals applicability to a couple of common phenomena in our culture. Considering the first paragraph, it is easy to see how most members of the "tone police", so common on internet forums, are actually bullies. Considering the second, I now have a better understanding of part of why I am especially put off by people who sound self-congratulatory. (But let me stress that this is not the same thing as someone discussing an insight and mentioning what that insight has helped him accomplish.)

-- CAV

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