Two bits on "Woody's" rant / FairTax

Jeff Bone jbone at
Thu Apr 10 00:40:43 PDT 2003

First, I'm endlessly amused that I got gender-switched w/o my 
knowledge.  "Ms Bone" indeed.  Gosh, I feel all pretty now. ;-)

Second, a little bit of personal background on FairTax:

It's not a Republican initiative, and my biggest concern about Tom 
DeLay lining up behind it is that it might be a credibility-losing 
proposition.  I met the one of the guys behind it --- Grover G. Jackson 
--- at one of Michael Rothschild's Bionomics conferences back in '96.  
The general ideological constituency at that conference could probably 
best be described as "Libertarian" --- Virginia Postrel was also there, 
for example.  (A speaker list can be found at [1], including yours 
truly.)  The economic brainpower at that conference was unrivaled in my 
experience.  And Mr. Jackson was well received.

In several conversations with Mr. Jackson during that conference, I 
voiced many objections to the FairTax idea.  My immediate, knee-jerk 
reaction was very negative.  Mr. Jackson had reasonable answers that, 
in fact, were very, very well-researched and well-supported.  More to 
the point, he was questioned much more intently by folks who, frankly, 
were a lot better equipped than I was at that time to debate tax policy 
with an expert.  And for years, I've tried to find problems with the 
FairTax proposal.  Bottom line, I've become convinced through several 
years of consideration, discussion, and research on these issues.  That 
shouldn't convince anybody else, but at least it should hopefully 
demonstrate that this is an informed --- albeit possibly misinformed 
--- opinion.  Wrong, maybe --- naive, no.  Understand the options, 
research them thoroughly, understand the consequences, and make your 
own decisions.  That's all I've attempted to do.

Bottom line:  I believe all taxes are theft.  But I've become a 
pragmatist in my advanced age. ;-)  I've decided that holding out for 
an ideal that will never materialize is rather stupid;  better to have 
practical, realizable incremental improvements.  There are really only 
three possibility for tax reform (or non-reform) that we are likely to 
see in our lifetime:

    * status quo
    * flat income / withholding tax
    * FairTax

Finally --- it's odd to me that people who are opposed to taxes 
ideologically --- as our friend Woody appears to be, and as am I modulo 
pragmatism --- so often line up on the side of status quo when faced 
with the above alternatives.  I guess change is scary, after all.



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