Archive for fairness

More Annoying Political Comments

Posted in Deregulation, Economics, Fairness, Government, In the News, Patriotism, Politics, Propaganda, Running for President, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2012 by Xajow

I really should be leaving this stuff alone, but certain things just irk me. This time, it is a quote from the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker. Continue reading

Some Comments About Leadership

Posted in Christianity, Fairness, Government, Morality, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by Xajow

A lot of people try to use the Bible as an excuse for promoting authoritarian policy in government. Moralists from the left and right promote their political agenda to control other people because it is supposedly what the Bible tells us to do. As you might guess, I have a problem with that. Not because I do not believe in the Bible, but because I do. Many people argue that we need government to feed the poor or tax the wealthy or protect marriage or keep prostitution illegal or any number of other things because the Bible in some way says we should. I do not agree.

What sort of government did God establish for Israel in the Old Testament? Was it one with a strong, central government that planned and controlled people’s lives? No, it was not. It was largely decentralized. When Israel demanded to have a king, God gave them a warning against it, and still they wanted a king. Getting one did not make them better in the long run.

Jesus taught that to be great and even to be a leader, is to be a servant first. One of several places in the Gospels where Jesus answers His disciples arguments about who among them would be the greatest, is Luke 22:24-27.

Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. (NKJV)

Back then, rulers and leaders often gave themselves titles like ‘benefactor’ as a way of promoting the idea their leadership and control was necessary for the nation. Today politicians do the same kind of thing. They proclaim themselves champions of the people and insist their political ideas are the only way to help people. Jesus contrasts those who want to be in control, i.e.  those who would sit at the table and command the servants, with those who serve. Jesus mentions those who exercise authoritarian control and then tells His disciples, “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”

Keep this in mind when you look as Jesus’ admonitions to help those in need. Did Jesus teach that we are to tax (i.e. forcibly take money from) other people to feed the poor? No. He told individuals to give of themselves. Of whom was Jesus most critical? The Pharisees because they served their own interest in power and had made Jewish laws into a tool of oppression and control.

Matthew 5:20
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)

Matthew 23:1-7
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (NKJV)

Matthew 23:23-28
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV)

These are just a few examples of Jesus’ about the Pharisees. And there is one often overlooked passage I would like to add to this discussion.

Matthew 17:24-26
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”

25 He said, “Yes.”

And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”

26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.”

Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”

My point is that while many people try to use the Bible to justify their support for various political policies they want to be enshrined in law, they are wrong. I believe Jesus makes clear that morality is about individuals making moral choices as individuals, not about forcing other people to obey laws.

If you want the government to have more of your money, then your responsibility is not to demand higher taxes, but to give your money to the government.

If you want to help the poor, then your responsibility is not to see that other people pay for a government run program, but for you to help the poor.

If you want more wealthy people contributing to programs that aid the poor and needy, then your responsibility is not to demand the government take more of the money from the wealthy, but to convince the wealthy to voluntarily give their money to help the poor and needy.

Your responsibility is not to use authority to take by force, which is what taxation does. You responsibility is to serve. Not to have the government make other people serve. Rather, for you to serve.

Yes, I know. No individual can do it alone. No one is arguing otherwise. No one is saying you cannot or should not get people to help you. What I am saying is that voluntary cooperation is moral and coerced action is not. There is no morality in paying taxes to help those in need because I have not made a choice to give or to help, only to obey the law. 

Lead not by ordering people to submit and comply, but by you engaging in the act of serving. If you want to see good done, then do it.

So when political leaders speak of making other people “pay their fair share” because we have an obligation to help the poor, the sick and the needy, they have missed the point. And when political leaders have opportunity to give more and they refuse to do so, it calls into question their fitness to lead.

Tax “Avoidance” by Apple Computers and President Obama

Posted in Economics, Fairness, Government, In the News, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Xajow

A few days ago, The New York Times ran a lengthy article about, according to the headline, “How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes”. There is some predictable whining in there about how Apple Computer is avoiding paying taxes. Where was the whining about President Obama avoiding paying taxes?

Although the Times article itself is interesting, there are some spots of sad cluelessness in it. For example:

A mile and a half from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters is De Anza College, a community college that Steve Wozniak, one of Apple’s founders, attended from 1969 to 1974. Because of California’s state budget crisis, De Anza has cut more than a thousand courses and 8 percent of its faculty since 2008.

Now, De Anza faces a budget gap so large that it is confronting a “death spiral,” the school’s president, Brian Murphy, wrote to the faculty in January. Apple, of course, is not responsible for the state’s financial shortfall, which has numerous causes. But the company’s tax policies are seen by officials like Mr. Murphy as symptomatic of why the crisis exists.

“I just don’t understand it,” he said in an interview. “I’ll bet every person at Apple has a connection to De Anza. Their kids swim in our pool. Their cousins take classes here. They drive past it every day, for Pete’s sake.

“But then they do everything they can to pay as few taxes as possible.”

Yeah. Of course Apple tries to pay as few taxes as possible. Anybody with a modicum of income and sense does. (And, oddly but not surprisingly, that includes President Obama.) The California budget crisis has pretty much nothing to do with what Apple pays in taxes and everything to do with massive California government spending. But once again we see this odd attitude that if people and/or businesses cared about their city/state/country, they would pay more taxes. The question I want answered, and which the article does not address, is: does De Anza College president Brian Murphy claim deductions on his personal income taxes? In other words, does he do everything he can to pay as few taxes as possible? If so, he is a hypocrite to then complain about Apple.

Some days back, President Barack Obama’s tax records were released, and apparently he paid about 20.5% of his income in taxes, which was, we were assured, slightly higher than the rate paid by his secretary. Somehow this proves we need to raise taxes on the wealthy. I suggest that this proves first that the taxes the secretary pays is probably too high, and second that Obama is choosing to claim deductions on his taxes. The reason his tax rate was so low, we were told, is because he donated lots of money to charity. But those deductions are voluntary. No one forced him to claim those deductions on his tax return. So if, as we were told, Obama believes he should pay more in taxes, then why did he not do so? Even if he had someone else prepare his tax return, he could very easily tell that person to claim no deductions. Apparently he did not do this.

So what about Obama contributing money to the U.S. Treasury? As I pointed out the other day, President Obama is not going to do that because, according to David Axelrod anyway, that is not the way things are done. Yet Obama says the wealthy, including himself, ought to pay more taxes to the government. Why they must be forced to do so rather than choosing voluntarily to do so, no one has yet explained.

Back to the Times article and Mr. Murphy’s whining:

“When it comes time for all these companies — Google and Apple and Facebook and the rest — to pay their fair share, there’s a knee-jerk resistance,” Mr. Murphy said. “They’re philosophically antitax, and it’s decimating the state.”

Again we come to the “fair share” argument. Fair is entirely subjective. Apple does actually pay billions in taxes and contributes millions of dollars to various organizations and charities. Were I a betting man, I would bet Google and Facebook and Intel and Cisco do the same. The idea that somehow the financial crisis is all their fault because they’re just not paying enough in taxes is silly. That is sort of like a person who makes a $50,000 per year salary spending $70,000 and then blaming his massive debt on his employer for not paying him more.

In any case, again and again and again I have to come back to the idea that if you want government have more of your money, then you should give the government more of your money. Take responsibility for yourself. If Obama and Warren Buffet want the government to have more of their money, why are they not writing checks to the U.S. Treasury? I’m not sure what Buffet’s problem is, but I can guess at Obama’s motivation. He is, after all, a politician.

In Obama’s case, the obvious answer is that what he wants is for government to have more control. He probably also wants to be able to claim he cares about middle-class voters by sticking to the wealthy. He does seem to like his class warfare rhetoric. But mostly, in my opinion, he believes the government needs more control. His intentions may well be entirely good. But good intentions are not enough. Good intentions do not mitigate bad and unintended consequences. The problem, in general terms, is that Obama and people like him believe the solution to everything is more government control. And all the evidence that more government control does not help in the long run (and often not in the short run either) is simply ignored.

If you think this is somehow not about controlling other people, then I will point again to Obama not choosing to take zero deductions on his taxes and his choosing not to give more money to the U.S. Treasury. If he genuinely believed the government needed to have more of his money, he would have given it to the government. People act on what they believe. When they say one thing and do another, they indicate a lack of belief in what they say. There is a word for this. I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an h and ends with ypocrisy.

“We don’t run bake sales”

Posted in Economics, Fairness, Government, Morality, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2012 by Xajow

Back on Sunday (April 15, 2012), David Axelrod, the chief Obama presidential campaign strategist, was asked if the President would voluntarily give money to the U.S. Treasury in light of the fact that the President’s secretary paid a higher percentage tax rate than the President did. Let’s go the transcript.

WALLACE: It turns out that [President Obama] paid a tax rate of 20.5 percent, which is a lot less than the 30 percent he talks about and yes, it is lower than what his secretary pays.

AXELROD: It is.

WALLACE: And the president has — if I may, David, the question I have for you is: if the president feels so strongly about tax fairness, is he going to he contribute money to the Treasury and they have a special department just for this, to help with the deficit?

AXELROD: Listen, Chris, first of all, the reason that his tax rate was so low was in part because 22 percent of his income was donated to charity, mostly to these Fisher Houses around veteran hospitals. So —

WALLACE: Mitt Romney contributes a lot to charity as well. It’s not the issue.

AXELROD: That’s right. Not quite yes. But there’s no proportionality there. 

But here is the larger issue: the president’s proposal would have him pay a higher rate of taxes in the future. Governor Romney’s proposal would make him pay a lower rate in the future. So, that’s fundamentally different.

We are arguing for a system that is fair. He’s arguing for a system that would exacerbate the great gaps that we have in our system today.

WALLACE: I take it that he’s not going to contribute money to the Treasury to help with the deficit.

AXELROD: Listen, well, that’s not the way we operate our tax system, OK? We don’t run bake sales. It’s not about volunteerism. We all kick in according to the system. And the system allows that — look, the fact that Mitt Romney pays 14 percent on $20 million income is not the issue. The issue is that the system permits it and he would perpetuate that and he would enhance it.

Got that? The President is not going to voluntarily donate money to the Treasury because that just is not the way things are done. Wow. What a pathetic excuse. Maybe, just maybe, the President of the United States of America could show some leadership and donate some money? Why is that so crazy? But no, that just is not the way we do things around here, young man.

This is just one more piece of evidence that Obama and his team believe they are better than everyone else. They are guilty of hubris. Not crazy cool hubris like the Rat Pack, uncool tyrannical hubris that believes they deserve to tell you how to run your life. “It’s not about volunteerism.” It should not be a choice, the man is saying, but it should be a coerced action. This is why I do not believe these people give a flying leap about fairness. They want control, not fairness. 

Lies My President Told Me (part one)

Posted in Argumentation, Deregulation, Economics, Fairness, Government, Morality, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by Xajow

In my previous post I mentioned the bit about the President claiming we pay money for tax cuts. That came from his April 14, 2012, weekly address. The video is available at Your Weekly Address, and the transcript is also available at “the press office”. So since this is my blog, let’s go over some of the other things I think are wrong with what the President had to say.

First up, the first sentence of the address.

One of the fundamental challenges of our time is building an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.

So many things wrong just in that one sentence. The federal government cannot build such an economy. Only individuals working cooperatively and voluntarily something like that. There is nothing voluntary about government taxation. “[E]veryone does their fair share” according to whom? By people like Obama who know what is best for you is what he means. “[E]veryone plays by the same rules.” Except that Obama is not actually promoting that everyone play by the same rules. He is promoting one set of rules for these people, the poor, another set of rules for those people, the middle class, yet another set of rules for this other group, “the wealthy”, and still yet another set of rules for yet another group,“the wealthiest Americans”. And that is just with rules about income taxes. In no way, shape or fashion has he proposed anything resembling everyone playing by the same rules.

same
adjective

  1. being identical in amount, type and/or kind
  2. being identical to or being the thing mentioned
  3. unchanged in condition, nature or character
  4. very similar or identical manner

What about progressive tax rates and the “Buffet Rule” and things of that nature is everyone playing by the same rules? Answer: nothing.

And as many Americans rush to file their taxes this weekend, it’s worth pointing out that we’ve got a tax system that doesn’t always uphold the principle of everyone doing their part.

According to whom? Who is deciding what qualifies as someone doing his or her “part”? The top 50% of tax payers pay something like 98% of all money the IRS takes in. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay something in the neighborhood of 2% of all the IRS takes in. Who is not doing their part?

Now, this is not just about fairness.  This is also about growth.  It’s about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs.  And it’s about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.

No. This push the President is making is not about fairness at all. And it is not about “whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.” It is about deciding to forcibly take more money from some people because it will make Obama and people like him feel better. That is what they mean when they talk about fairness. They have decided on a subjective and probably arbitrary idea of what seems fair to them, and they want to force other people to conform to that idea. That is not fair, nor is it compassionate or moral or most of the other gussifications (words to gussy up) they want to hang on such ideas.

In a perfect world, of course, none of us would have to pay any taxes. We’d have no deficits to pay down.  And we’d have all the resources we needed to invest in things like schools and roads and a strong military and new sources of energy – investments that have always bolstered our economy and strengthened the middle class.

But we live in the real world, with real choices and real consequences. Right now, we’ve got significant deficits to close.  We’ve got serious investments to make to keep our economy growing.  And we can’t afford to keep spending more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them.

What he means is, he believes the people in the federal government (who agree with him) are the ones who have to plan and shape the economy and society to keep them from breaking down, and some how getting at best about $100 billion (and then probably only in the short term) from wealthy people is somehow going to magically make a $15 trillion (with a ‘t’) debt crisis go away. Understand that 15 trillion is 15 thousand billion. One billion is this: 1,000,000,000. One trillion is one thousand of those. $100 billion is not going to make a $15 trillion debt managable. Let me put this in smaller terms. Zack gets himself in debt to Judy for $15,000. Zack then says, “I know. I will get $100 dollars from Steven, and that will take care of the debt.” Obviously, that is not enough. But that is pretty much what Obama is selling. Snake oil if ever I saw it.

Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men in the world.  But he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  That’s just the way the system is set up.  In fact, one in four millionaires pays a lower tax rate than millions of hardworking middle-class households.

As Warren points out, that’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense.  It’s wrong that middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires.

I will agree with that. The tax rate for most people should be dropped considerably. But then there is also the something like 45% of the U.S. adult population which does not pay any taxes at all. For many of them, their tax rate should go up. I mean, we are talking about people doing their part, paying their fair share, right?

It’s simple:  If you make more than $1 million every year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do.  On the other hand, if you make less than $250,000 a year — like 98 percent of American families do — your taxes shouldn’t go up.

I have a better proposal. Close the loop holes and tax almost everyone with an income at a rate of no more than 10%. I think 8 or 9% would probably be enough. And, of course, every tax payer pays the same rate. You know, everyone playing by the same rules.

That’s all there is to it.  It’s pretty sensible.  Most Americans support this idea. One survey found that two-thirds of millionaires do, too.  So do nearly half of all Republicans.

This is what government should protect us from, not what it should be doing. Popularity does not make right.

I know they’ll say that this is all about wanting to raise people’s taxes.  They probably won’t tell you that if you belong to a middle-class family, then I’ve cut your taxes each year that I’ve been in office, and I’ve cut taxes for small business owners 17 times.

I wonder how much we “paid” for those tax cuts? Anyway, how is the “Buffet Rule” not about raising taxes?

But the thing is, for most Americans like me, tax rates are near their lowest point in 50 years. In 2001 and 2003, the wealthiest Americans received two huge new tax cuts.  We were told these tax cuts would lead to faster job growth. Instead, we got the slowest job growth in half a century, and the typical American family actually saw its income fall.

If I may use one of Obama’s favorite excuses, “It would have been worse if we hadn’t.” Maybe not, but I could not resist. Anyway, as I recall, in 2001 and 2003, almost everyone got a tax cut. My father did, and he is certainly not one of the wealthiest Americans. He is not a millionaire, and only makes a five digit salary. And slowest job growth in 50 years, eh? You mean like how the unemployment rate went up past 9% after the stimulus (spending) bill that was supposed to prevent that was passed? Oh wait, that happened on Obama’s watch. Which is to say, Obama’s record on job growth is not the high ground he would have you believe.

So what about job growth? Yep, it sucked under Bush and Obama. We also got massive increases in government spending and, despite what some will claim, a lot more regulation. This has a significant effect on job growth. Making operating a business more expensive is not going to help job creation growth.

On the flip side, when the most well-off Americans were asked to pay a little more in the 1990s, we were warned that it would kill jobs. Instead, tens of millions of jobs followed.

We were told the stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 9% too. Anyway, this is a severe over simplification. The 1990s also saw NAFTA passed, which was a tiny step in the right direction. Less protectionism helps job growth. Bush and Obama have done the opposite. The 1990s also saw an increase in a lot of businesses moving jobs overseas. Lots of things happened in the 1990s that had positive and negative effects on job growth. We also had economic bubbles, like the tech bubble that popped, which first lead to job growth and then to job losses when the bubbles popped. What I’m saying is, Obama is not giving you the whole story.

You know how “scientific” studies by tobacco companies that “proved” smoking cigarettes was not harmful are highly questionable? The President’s comments here are questionable for the same reason. He is only telling you the part that helps his case and ignoring anything else. And for about the same reason: self-serving bias.

So we’ve tried this trickle-down experiment before. It doesn’t work.

We’ve tried flying before. The flying machines all crashed. Flying doesn’t work. What I mean is this thing where government tries to control the trickle-down effect does not work because that is not how trickle-down actually works. Leave people alone, and it works just fine. If it did not work, no one would being buying boats and fancy cars and designer clothes. But people do buy those things. And the people who make those things buy other things. And so on. Yes, it does work. It is not speedy, neither is it a cure all, nor a get rich quick plan. But that does not mean it does not work. 

And middle class families have seen too much of their security erode over the past few decades for us to tell them they’re going to have to do more because the wealthiest Americans are going to do less.

Security eroded thanks in large part to a meddling government, who thinks propping up economic bubbles in definitely is somehow how capitalism is supposed to work; and who thinks massively spending the country in trillions of dollars of debt that the government promises it will eliminate in 30 years is some how a good plan for the economy of the nation; and who thinks that the government coercing banks into “affordable housing loans” (i.e. subprime lending) not working out is somehow all the fault of Goldman-Sachs; and who thinks the people who provide 98% of the federal government’s tax revenue are somehow doing less than those who pay 2% of the federal government’s tax revenue. Okay, I am starting to get a bit sarcastic, but hopefully you get my point. Obama’s comment is a bit like an alcoholic accountant with a gambling addiction saying, “I know I wasted most of the money you gave me before now, but this time, this time I’m really going to make things right.”

Also, Obama is basically arguing that letting you keep your money is not as good for you as the government taking it from you and spending it as the government sees fit. It’s more of that “government knows best” hubris.

We can’t stop investing in the things that will help grow our economy and create jobs – things like education, research, new sources of energy – just so folks like me can get another tax cut.

From my admittedly very libertarian position, those are not things in which the federal government should be investing. But beyond that, the very arrogance of Obama’s comment almost makes be nauseous. He says this as if only the federal government can invest in these things, which is, of course, not at all true. To be sure, America in general should not stop investing in these things. We should just stop trusting the federal government to do it for us.

So I hope you’ll ask your Member of Congress to step up and echo that call this week by voting for the Buffett Rule. Remind them that in America, prosperity has never just trickled down from a wealthy few.  Prosperity has always been built by a strong, thriving middle class.  That’s a principle worth reaffirming right now.

He is almost right. Prosperity has never just trickled down from a wealthy few. Much has been made by people working from the bottom up. Something that requires freedom, not hobbling. But the thing is, prosperity is made by many things working together in an unplanned order, arising organically and voluntarily as desires and necessities and whims direct. Of course it is never made just by the trickle-down effect. It is never made by any one thing alone. Which is why the government can never effectively control it.

This is a lesson made painfully and demonstrably obvious by history. Which is what makes the lies from the President so particularly execrable. He should know better. And I cannot help but wonder if he does. Or is he like the Richard Attenborough character in the movie “Jurrasic Park”? Believing that he can control life even to the point of thinking after each disaster the next time he can finally get control. Either way, he is entirely wrong.

John Hammond: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now, the next time everything’s correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.

Ellie Sattler: It’s still the flea circus. It’s all an illusion.

John Hammond: When we have control again—

Ellie Sattler: You never had control! That’s the illusion!

There is value in liberty. There is value in being free from the coercive control of others. There is value in recognizing the illusion of control does nothing to make us safer. There is value in voluntary cooperation with others. There is value in a free society. Those, Mr. President, are values worth recognizing and reaffirming right now.

More “Fair Share” Nonsense

Posted in Argumentation, Economics, Fairness, Government, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Xajow

According to a Yahoo News/ABC News article:

“The president’s secretary pays a slightly higher rate this year than the president on her substantially lower income, which is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, told Yahoo News by email.

Sigh. There is no question of whether or not perhaps the secretary’s taxes are too high. Which to me would be the obvious question. Why does the secretary have to pay a higher tax rate? No, the White House says we need to “ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share.”

Fair according to whom? Why is what the POTUS paid in taxes deemed unfair but what the secretary paid deemed fair? If what you want is fair, then have a simple flat tax of no more than 10%. No loopholes, no constant fiddling with the tax code, no tax credits, none of that. Anything over a base income of, say, $20,000 per year, is taxed at 10%. Period. That would be fair. Because fair is to treat people the same. Punishing people for having more money is not fair. 

And don’t give me that “but the wealthy ought to pay more” silliness. What is 10% of 20,000? Answer: 2000. What is 10% of 200,000? Answer: 20,000. What is 10% of 2,000,000? Answer: 200,000. And 200,000 is more than 2000. In fact is it 100 times more. So if the person making $20,000 is taxed at 10%, and the person making $2,000,000 is taxed at 10%, then the person making $2,000,000 is already paying more. Ta-da! The wealthy pay more, and the tax code remains actually fair. Problem solved.

So if the goal is fairness then why is the Obama administration not pushing for something like that? Because fairness has nothing to do with what the Obama administration wants. What the Obama administration wants is more control. The purpose of the current tax code is to provide government with control. And the Obama administration wants more of that.

No, it is not a vast conspiracy. It is simply what government does. Right-wing or left-wing, all politicians do it. Tax breaks for this. Tax credits for that. Reward for this. Punishment for that. All about control. Listen to the politicians talk. They want to buy votes. They want to control society. One way to accomplish this is via the tax code. Tax breaks and tax credits, reward this, punish that, all so they can control things. And they want to control things all for your own good. And it almost never actually is any good.

And we refuse to learn from this. We keep electing the “electable” candidate for “practical” reasons. Why rampant corruption of the republican (small ‘r’) process and ever more control in the hands of a minority which should rightfully be called the political class is considered “practical” when it produces demonstrably disastrous results over and over and over again, I do not know.