Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Impertinent Observations

Yes, I took the family to hear Boortz last night. If one is familiar with his positions on the issues of the day and conversant in the concept of the FairTax, his speech contained nothing new, but was fun nonetheless. See coverage here, here, and here.

Public Service Commission Chairman Bobby Baker recently won that civil suit challenging his residency. The victory comes as no surprise, as the suit seemed more of a nuisance action than a legitimate complaint.

My hometown SCHS Indians posted a 20-7 win over Hart County last Friday, the third ranked opponent to fall before the Indians this season. SCHS (9-0, 5-0) is currently ranked #3 in the AJC AAA poll and rounds out the regular season against Elbert County (1-8, 0-5) this coming Friday evening at the Granite Bowl

For what it is worth, my wife and I have decided to support Mike Huckabee in the GOP presidential primary. We have been sporting Huckabee car magnets for about a week now. More on presidential matters later.

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Ian said...

Mike Huckabee is an adroit public speaker. He communicates his message in life-like, cogent terms, with compelling examples like the story he told (at the Ames Straw Poll) of what his then-11-yo daughter entered into the "Comments" section of a Visitors Book after visiting the Yad Vashem holocaust museum: “Why didn't somebody do something?” Very effective.

Huckabee is all about calling his listeners to "do something," to awaken them to their own empowerment, and summon them to action in order that "Main Street," and not "Wall Street," will prevail in guarding the values and beliefs upon which the Republic was founded.

Huckabee puts his listeners at ease, and reassures them, articulating clear concepts in a natural, easy style (no doubt something well-cultivated as a pastor). He’s not as “mechanically-scripted” as Romney, nor angry or demanding, like a Ron Paul, and his large brown eyes, peering through a humble demeanor, draw a striking contrast to a unconvincing, tired-looking Thompson. One can easily imagine sitting comfortably with Mike over a cup of coffee at the Main Street Cafe.

Most importantly, perhaps, Huckabee convinces many that he is ONE with the FairTax grassroots movement. While many - like Romney, and others, who are invested in the current income tax system - seek to demagog the well-researched FairTax plan, its acceptance in the professional / academic community continues to grow. Renown economist Laurence Kotlikoff believes that failure to enact the FairTax - choosing instead to try to "flatten" what he deems to be a non-flattenable income tax system - will eventuate into an irrevocable economic meltdown because of the hidden aspects of the current system that make political accountability impossible.

Romney's recent WEAK response to FairTax questioning on “This Week with Geo. Stephanopoulos” drew a sharper contrast between Huckabee and all other presidential front-runners who will not embrace it. Huckabee understands that what's wrong with the income tax can't be fixed with "a tap of the hammer, nor a twist of the screwdriver." That his opponents cling to the destructive Tax Code, the IRS, preserving political power of granting tax favors at continued cost to - and misery of - American families, invigorates his campaign's raison d'etre.

Of the FairTax, Huckabee asserts that it's...

• SIMPLE, easy to understand
• EFFICIENT, inexpensive to comply with and doesn't cause less-than-optimal business decisions for tax minimization purposes
• FAIR, FLAT, and FAMILY FRIENDLY, loophole-free, and everyone pays their share
• LOW TAX RATE is achieved by broad base with no exclusions
• PREDICTABLE, doesn't change, so financial planning is possible
• UNINTRUSIVE, doesn't intrude into our personal affairs or limit our liberty
• VISIBLE, not hidden from the public in tax-inflated prices or otherwise
• PRODUCTIVE, rewards - rather than penalizes - work and productivity

A detailed benefits analysis of the plan (from The FairTax Book) explains Huckabee's ardent advocacy:

For individuals:
• No more tax on income - make as much as you wish
• You receive your full paycheck - no more deductions
• You pay the tax when you buy "at retail" - not "used"
• No more double taxation (e.g. like on current Capital Gains)
• Reduction of "pre-FairTaxed" retail prices by 20%-30%
• Adding back 29.9% FairTax maintains current price levels
• FairTax would constitute 23% portion of new prices
• Every household receives a monthly check, or "pre-bate"
• "Prebate" is "advance tax payback" for monthly consumption to poverty level
• FairTax's "prebate" ensures progressivity, poverty protection
Finally, citizens are knowledgeable of what their tax IS
• Elimination of "parasitic" Income Tax industry
• Those possessing illicit forms of income will ALSO pay the FairTax
• Households have more disposable income to purchase goods
• Savings is bolstered with reduction of interest rates

For businesses:
• Corporate income and payroll taxes revoked under FairTax
• Business compensated for collecting tax at "cash register"
• No more tax-related lawyers, lobbyists on company payrolls
No more embedded (hidden) income/payroll taxes in prices
• Reduced costs. Competition - not tax policy - drives prices
• Off-shore "tax haven" headquarters can now return to U.S
No more "favors" from politicians at expense of taxpayers
• Resources go to R&D and study of competition - not taxes
• Marketplace distortions eliminated for fair competition
• US exports increase their share of foreign markets

For the country:
• 7% - 13% economic growth projected in the first year of the FairTax
Jobs return to the U.S.
• Foreign corporations "set up shop" in the U.S.
• Tax system trends are corrected to "enlarge the pie"
• Larger economic "pie," means thinner tax rate "slices"
• Initial 23% portion of price is pressured downward as "pie" increases
No more "closed door" tax deals by politicians and business
• FairTax sets new global standard. Other countries will follow

Passionately supporting FairTax, Huckabee understands that, if elected President, Congress will have to present the bill for his signature. His call to action goes beyond his candidacy: Main Street will have to demand that their legislators deliver the bill.

(Permission is granted to reproduce, in whole or part. - Ian)

Anonymous said...

"7% - 13% economic growth projected in the first year of the FairTax"

Yep, an economists w/ an ax to grind --or a plan to push-- are never wrong in their predictions (kind of like politicians w/ a war to push ;-) ), right?

Ian said...

Naysayers railing against the FairTax become, ipso facto, defenders of the INCOME TAX system. Prof. Larry Kotlikoff believes that the current tax system IS bringing the country to nothing less than an "economic meltdown" by virtue of the invisibility of actual taxes paid. If Americans do not understand the true cost of their government, they're unlikely to hold Congress accountable - thus the enabling mechanism to continued profligate spending.

Even with the foregoing notwithstanding, do FairTax naysayers really believe:

• Workers love having their pay confiscated, hourly, through gov't withholding and don't mind getting their money back by involuntary servitude - to the tune of 50 hours/year (on average) - preparing an annual tax return?

• That certifying the number of persons in your family (annually, and, ancillarily, upon change in household) is an abrogation of our freedom - more intrusive and complex than filing a tax return every year subject to threats and intimidation by theIRS.

• It's better to have theIRS fishing through citizens' income transactions (complete with audits, interest, penalties, and threats against individuals, families, businesses as well as confiscation of their homes, property, and bank accounts) rather than - Gawd forbid - issuing a gov't check to an individual (while pretending that Social Security payments disbursement logistics really can't work for "prebates")?

• That an monthly advance tax rebate is the same thing as "being on the dole" ? (Only lobbyists, special interests, and business deserve "handouts" ? - the politician gets a payoff from a lobbyist, the lobbyist gets a payoff from its client, and the citizen gets higher taxes and/or prices that pay for it all.)

• "Hidden taxes" in higher prices are fine because they're not "taxes," per se? (Hey, forget that families are really paying business's costs for complying with a business income tax code - staff, consultants, submittals, etc.)

• It's far better to have a gargantuan tax collection "service" in Washington, than to have 50 decentralized, smaller, leaner state collection agencies collecting taxes from fewer sources?

• That the work by notable economists (paid tens of millions of $'s by Americans for Fair Taxation) doesn't carry weight because it was paid for by private funds instead of some gov't / quasi-gov't enterprise?

• That FairTax's backing by many economists doesn't carry any weight because (the Brookings') Wm Gale's testimony before the President's Commission on Tax Reform is - somehow - above all that?!

(NOTE: The Commission/Gale made up their own "consumption tax" requirements, as if that constituted a legitimate rebuke of the FairTax plan. Dr. Kotlikoff has requested - but never received - Gale's technical "modus operandi" which would definitively explain just how Gale's conclusions can be reconciled with Kotlikoff's well-documented technical work.

Let us work, together, to end the enslavement of the Tax Code and to restore Liberty to America's working families.

America's working families are paid because the companies they work for sell goods and services. Let's pay for government the way America's families are paid - when something is sold!

Anonymous said...

I don't think naysayers probably like those things any more than anyone else, and few people seem to like paying taxes period --though they are quite happy to complain when THEIR kids' schools are underfunded, when THEIR water is polluted, when THEIR roads' potholes don't go fixed etc.

But the idea that the fair tax will solve all our problems is just pie in the sky rubbish. Get rid of the IRS and govt bureaucracy? Who's going to be processing all those "prebates"? Whose going to be collecting the sales tax revenue? Come on, it will be just as big a bureaucracy. So, given that the reduced bureaucracy argument is a straw man/ woman/ person, then what are we left with? An alternate way of collecting revenue. Personally, I prefer an income tax (and a tax on "unearned" monies like profits made from speculating on the stock market) to a consumption tax (aka glorified sales tax) because the latter is regressive --those who are poorer pay a bigger proportion of their income than those who are wealthier. Call me a class warrior if you like, though I am no more that than those who want to see the tax burden shifted away from the wealthy --which is what this flat tax, fair tax et al nonsense is all about.

Also, there is no guarantee that all those wealthy people who used to pay income tax here will continue to pay consumption taxes here --they are just as likely to buy their yachts, private jets etc overseas, which means that the good old US of A gets absolutely diddly of their income.

I suggest that we learn from Watergate --follow the money and you will see who benefits from any plan. In this case the pushers of this are generally wealthy and Republican --Laffler (Reagan's supply-side guru) has pushed much of this, as he is pushing the Glenn tax here in GA. Nuf said.

Now, does the current system need reform? You betcha. For starters, we need to get back to a progressive income tax system, we need to cut out a bunch of the special tax breaks for a whole slew of dubious things that only got put in there because some powerful pol pushed them (whether Rep or Dem) but for which the rest of us pay. We need to increase the personal allowance on federal and state income taxes, which will really help people at the bottom. We need to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which will help people in the middle. We need to increase the Earned Income tax Credit.

What we don't need to do is throw the baby out w/ the bathwater.

Ian said...

Anon, I've taken the time and done the dog-labor on this FairTax plan.

There is no reasonable equity of distribution under the current INCOME tax system. What's more, the Tax Code has become a "tinkerer's paradise" for 53% of the lobbyists who game it in Washington DC. It's a lucrative business, and the U.S. TAXPAYER pays for ALL of it in higher prices (i.e., a hidden tax which is incomprehensible to the average working person).

Prices after FairTax passage would look similar to prices before FairTax - not "30% higher" as opponents contend - competition would see to it. So, the FairTax rate (figured as an income-tax-rate-non-comparative, sales tax) on new items would be 29.85% (on the new, reduced cost of items because business isn't taxed under FairTax - thus lowering retail prices by 20% to 30%), or 23% of the "tax inclusive" price tag - this is the way INCOME TAX is figured (parts of the total dollar).

The effective tax rate percentages, that different income groups would pay under the FairTax, are calculated by crediting the monthly "prebate" (advance rebate of projected tax on necessities) against total monthly spending of citizen families (1 member and greater, Dept. of HHS poverty-level data; a single person receiving ~$200/mo, a family of four, ~$500/mo, in addition to working earners receiving paychecks with no Federal deductions) Prof.'s Kotlikoff and Rapson (10/06) concluded,

"...the FairTax imposes much lower average taxes on working-age households than does the current system. The FairTax broadens the tax base from what is now primarily a system of labor income taxation to a system that taxes, albeit indirectly, both labor income and existing wealth. By including existing wealth in the effective tax base, much of which is owned by rich and middle-class elderly households, the FairTax is able to tax labor income at a lower effective rate and, thereby, lower the average lifetime tax rates facing working-age Americans.

"Consider, as an example, a single household age 30 earning $50,000. The household’s average tax rate under the current system is 21.1 percent. It’s 13.5 percent under the FairTax. Since the FairTax would preserve the purchasing power of Social Security benefits and also provide a tax rebate, older low-income workers who will live primarily or exclusively on Social Security would be better off. As an example, the average remaining lifetime tax rate for an age 60 married couple with $20,000 of earnings falls from its current value of 7.2 percent to -11.0 percent under the FairTax. As another example, compare the current 24.0 percent remaining lifetime average tax rate of a married age 45 couple with $100,000 in earnings to the 14.7 percent rate that arises under the FairTax."

Further, per Jokischa and Kotlikoff (circa 2006?) ...

"...once one moves to generations postdating the baby boomers there are positive welfare gains for all income groups in each cohort. Under a 23 percent FairTax policy, the poorest members of the generation born in 1990 enjoy a 13.5 percent welfare gain. Their middle-class and rich contemporaries experience 5 and 2 percent welfare gains, respectively. The welfare gains are largest for future generations. Take the cohort born in 2030. The poorest members of this cohort enjoy a huge 26 percent improvement in their well-being. For middle class members of this birth group, there's a 12 percent welfare gain. And for the richest members of the group, the gain is 5 percent."

It's well past time to scrap the tax code and pay for government the way that America's working men and women are paid - when something is sold.

(Permission is granted to reproduce in whole or part. - Ian)

Anonymous said...

Beware of Greeks (or, in this case, flat taxers/ fair taxers) bearing gifts.

As I said, I'd rather have an income tax than a consumption tax. For every statistic you can throw at me I can throw one right back at you --remember, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. In the end, I think, it just comes down to a fundamental philosophical difference concerning how govt should generate revenue, who should pay etc. I am just not as scared of "big, bad" govt as you appear to be. Sorry!