Thursday night and the ever popular guest commentary! I am pretty happy about having tonight’s guest commentary. As I often tell everyone here, this blog is certainly my thoughts, but I never wanted it to be a place where other ideas and thoughts are not welcome. I am always hoping that people will submit stuff from the opposite side of the political spectrum from mine. And tonight we have a guest commentary from a commenter that you all know, Chris Devine! I won’t attempt to define his political stance for him, but I have always viewed Chris as someone from the left, and we all know that is the polar opposite of where I stand. But true to form, Chris has offered a guest commentary topic that is interesting and well thought out. I look forward to seeing what everyone thinks of his idea and hearing what pitfalls people might identify.
Before we continue, I have also noticed that things have heated up here at SUFA a little bit while I have been largely MIA during the daytime hours. I ask that everyone take a deep breath, and remember that the point of the site is for us to better understand opposing viewpoints. When we begin throwing insults back and forth, we become no better than the Huffington Post or any other harsh site out there. I am not looking to single anyone out or even to “crack down”, but I am asking that everyone remember that there really is only one HMFIC at SUFA, and he says there is to be no personal insulting in the debates here. I understand the passion we all have for these subjects. If you cannot debate with certain people then I suggest you simply ignore their posts and move on to those that you find stimulating in a positive way.
It is important to remember that we have great problems in America, and the real problem, in my opinion, is that the politicians have done a tremendous job of dividing us and making us so hostile with one another that we cannot have a conversation and figure out that they are not on our side. All this garbage of personal insults, from both sides, does no one any good. And more important, it is not necessary. I would say that there are times when I feel Matthius or TexasChem or BF or whomever are not applying the proper logic to their conclusion, and I have told each one of them so when I think so, yet I would hope that I can say that none of them have felt that I have attacked them personally. Because it isn’t personal, it is merely a difference in perspective.
I have my own perspective. So does Chris Devine, Matthius, Buck, JAC, TexasChem, BF, Cyndi, G-Man, D13, Anita, and everyone else. If we refuse to learn from each other, then the site serves zero purpose. I am not interested in running a site where everyone simple agrees and pats each other on the back. I am also not interested in running a site where people cannot disagree without resorting to personal attacks on character or intelligence. There are plenty of each of those types of sites out there, and I don’t need to waste my time simply offering another one. SUFA is my passion, and I love what it has become because the personal attacks are not permitted, and we learn from each other. So everyone calm down and remain civil, because damnit, if I have to pull this blog over and come back there, there is going to be trouble.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program:
Before you rush to judgement (as I know some of you are doing simply because it is Chris and therefore you don’t believe that you can possibly agree), I submit that the proper path is to have a listen to what Chris has to say and then put some thought into it for a moment or two. For my part, I humbly request that we evaluate his idea without delving into the expected discussions about whether taxing as a premise is wrong. I know that some believe it wrong and others believe it right, and that is not going to change simply because someone presents a different way to tax. So let’s not waste our time debating the merits of taxing. Instead, let’s discuss the method of taxing that Chris has presented here. It is the first time that I have ever read something along these lines, so I will also be taking some time to think about it and come up with questions about it.
Tangible Asset Tax
by Chris Devine
Get rid of income taxes. It’s our last progressive tax and the one that causes the most heartache amongst the rich and poor (mostly the rich). In its place I suggest two taxes:
1. An end-user sales tax and
2. A Tangible Asset Tax (TAT).
What is a TAT? It’s a tax on the things you own. That’s it. No fancy jargon. No legalese. Nothing more than a tax on the physical objects that you possess. Simple, right?
What makes a TAT so good? Well, taxes are meant to be the dues we pay for living in a society. Those dues are supposed to be used to protect and maintain the necessities of our society (e.g., fire and police services, national defense, regulatory agencies, research grants, individual assistance for the needy, etc.). Without those services we wouldn’t have a stable economy and we would be under constant threat from enemies, both foreign and domestic. By taxing the things you own we could apportion the amount each of us owes in accordance with the amount we own that needs protection. If you have a lot that needs protecting it only makes sense that you pay a bigger share (and vice versa). Still with me?
You might ask how on Earth are we going to get people to be honest about what they own so they don’t cheat. Simple, tax them on what they insure. If it’s worth enough for people to insure, then it’s probably worth public protection. Also, if people are willing to avoid insuring something to avoid paying taxes, then why should we protect it? Some people will probably gamble on that, but after a few yachts and Ferraris get stolen (or bass boats and Chevys, if you prefer) without any way to recoup that loss, people will presumably wise-up and pay their dues.
Without an income tax we could dispense with all the arguments that say people have a disincentive to work harder. If you bust your ass to earn overtime and a bonus, why should you just see it disappear into the federal coffers before you even had a chance to put it into your savings account? However, if you use that money to buy things that need protecting then it seems obvious (to me anyway) that you should save a little bit to make sure it doesn’t vanish through accidents or crime. Similarly, if you are quite willing to live simply and save all your money, then why should you be punished for being prudent and frugal (we won’t tax investment income either so please pump that money back into the machine to keep it running smoothly)? But what if you just don’t make that much (or care to) and can’t save (or own) as much as the next guy? Well, the only tax you’ll pay is a sales tax.
But wait a minute, isn’t that regressive? Won’t those who have to spend their whole paycheck on necessities suffer? Perhaps, unless you offer exemptions for things like food, shelter and basic transportation. If you only pay taxes on the things you buy and keep (food is only borrowed for a little while) then you can avoid paying taxes altogether if you don’t want to splurge on luxuries, however modest. But if you like to shop ‘til you drop, then expect to cough up some change when the basket is passed. If you want to keep it safe then you’ve got to help.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s thought of this and I’m sure there would be a great deal of pressure from the insurance companies, but I think I’m on to something here. With your help I’m sure we could work out all the kinks and propose a new tax model that does what it’s supposed to and minimizes all the bickering. What do you think?