I keep reading that Trump and Congress need to do something about taxes.
This really isn’t difficult. You’ve got a majority in both houses, put through a flat tax law that removes all deductions and loopholes, assesses a low and fair tax on every dollar earned by every person working in the US (which I’d like to see no more than 10%, but probably should be about 15%), essentially guts the IRS, and cuts us back down to a three-line postcard for a 1040 if you were a good boy or girl and had the tax withheld at the time you were paid. (How much you earned, how much tax you paid, and the difference (net income).) And everyone files as an individual — no more joint returns for marrieds, and thus no more marriage penalty. Got minor kids who have income? They file their own (or you file it for them, as their guardian). Do it all online, no more mailed forms, and for God’s sake, up the website and data security so tight that it squeaks.
I’m tired of all the pissing and bitching about this causing a disproportionate impact on lower-income people. Fuck that, they probably don’t pay any taxes anyway; almost 50% of the American public has no tax liability, anymore, what with EIC and welfare and all that other bullshit nanny-state crap.
The thing that really gets me, though, is that prior to 1913, nobody saw a need for a personal income tax. The personal income tax started as a Progressive Era grab for more money to fund the expanding Federal government. The 16th Amendment was required for this purpose because the Constitution did not actually give the Federal government power to tax individual income.
Before 1913, the government was funded by tariffs, customs duties, and fees levied for specific purposes and services as enacted by Congress. It wasn’t much money. We struggled to keep a Navy afloat, and usually drew the Regular Army down to ridiculous levels in peacetime. Civil servants were paid like shit, and even after the income tax was ratified, for many years they had PX privileges on military bases because they barely made starvation wages.* The federal government was small and the likelihood that a mere citizen would ever draw its attention or need its services was vanishingly small.
Today, the federal government is swollen with pelf stolen from the citizenry with absolutely no attention paid to the parts of the Constitution that are supposed to inform the federal government that it has no damn business doing most of the things it has arrogated unto itself. It lays down so many rules for citizens that we have little or no choice but to deal with it in some fashion in nearly every activity of our lives. Its agents are nosy and intrusive and in many cases have the power to make our lives a living hell, when, as the former blogger Velociman once pungently put it, “No public servant should ever be able to threaten a citizen with anything other than a poor shoe shine.”
There are more federal felonies than you can shake a stick at, plus the stick, and certain eminent attorneys and lawyers have long opined that we probably all commit at least three felonies a day and don’t even know it.
And people wonder how a guy like Donald Trump can be elected president.
The fact is, I’m still wondering why his polls are as high as they are. And I’m wondering what Paul Ryan is still doing holding onto his Speaker’s gavel, since he can’t manage to get major portions of Trump’s agenda past the rock-ribbed conservatives on his side of the aisle — although I also think those rock-ribbed conservatives need to lighten up.
The one thing I’m sure of is that we didn’t get into this mess overnight. It’s been happening slowly over the past century plus, and sadly, one of my favorite presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, was just as guilty as all the rest in putting the modern bureaucratic federal state on the rails. Wilson and Teddy’s illiberal cousin Franklin just ran with the ball, and things got even worse under LBJ in the ’60s.
There are a lot of things that need to be reversed, but it’s going to take time to reverse them, just like it took time to put them into place.
But if you want to kill a monster, one way is to starve it to death. And a flat tax bringing in less revenue (which it would) is one way to put the monster on a diet.
So why don’t Trump, Ryan, and McConnell get the fuck all over that? Tell me it’s not because Rand Paul is one of its major proponents. Not that I think Rand Paul is worth even the proverbial bucket of warm spit, but every clock is right two times a day. And he’s right about the flat tax.
* FedCo, or “Federal Employees’ Distributing Company”, was originally started in 1948 by 800 Post Office employees to provide lower-cost household goods to Federal employees and their families, for precisely this reason; federal employees were paid, as I said, like shit. I actually got to visit a FedCo store back in the early ’80s when I was visiting friends in Los Angeles. At the time, it was a completely new experience to me, as we didn’t have things like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, to say nothing of Costco, in Indianapolis until the 1990’s. (We had Ayr-Way, which was eventually bought by Target, and K-Mart and so forth, but Wal-Mart was a major game-changer for local department stores when it arrived.)