The FairTax Book
I just finished reading The FairTax Book, by Neil Boortz and Georgia Rep. John Linder. The book was written to support Linder's proposal, H.R. 25, to replace income, payroll, estate, and gift taxes with a consumption based tax-a.k.a. a sales tax.
The book is pretty short at under 200 pages and an easy read. Definitely not some thick and dense tome that you'd normally expect on tax policy. The book does a good job of providing an overview of the history of the income tax and how the important parts of today's tax system came into being. This is followed by a look at how much the current tax system costs-in terms of time spent preparing tax forms, in terms of how much it costs to comply wiht the tax code and how the tax code warps the business decision making process, and in terms of businesses moved outside the country to avoid-completely legally-tax liabilities.
This book really, in all honesty, probably wasn't aimed at people like me. I already hate the current tax system and favor the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment and the abolition of all the taxes Boortz and Linder want to get rid of. But this book did provide me with some information that I didn't know. Like the fact that Americans lose out on $24 billion in potential interest (assuming they bought T-bills) on the money withheld by Uncle Sam from their paychecks (pg 46). Assuming my math is right, that's roughly $160 per taxpayer-enough to buy two Mosin-Nagant M44s or 91/30s on BAG Day. Or a buttload of ammo for National Ammo Day. But I digress. Or that, on average, 22% of everthing you buy-both goods and services-consists of taxes or tax compliance costs (pg 53). Or that a graduated income tax was Number Two on Karl Marx's ten steps to Communism.
I do have two major bones to pick with Boortz, Linder, and the rest of the FairTax folks. As they admit, the first is a matter of semantics. They say the FairTax sales tax rate would be 23%. But this would be inclusive, as opposed to exclusive, the way every state/local sales tax I've ever encountered is. What inclusive means is that, if your bought something with a total cost of $100, $23 would be FairTax. If you work this out the more traditional, exclusive, way, the rate is around 30%. Like I said, it's a point of semantics, but, especially given the way most people think about sales taxes, it would be more honest of them to quote the exclusive rate.
The other issue I have isn't so much with the book as it is with H.R. 25, the FairTax bill itself. It doesn't, as far as I can tell, repeal the 16th Amendment. Which, in my view, means it doesn't go far enough. Now, the authors might say that repeal of the 16th would be a bridge to far, but I think it is necessary-in fact, I can't completely support any national sales tax that doesn't eliminate the 16th, for the simple reason that, if the 16th is still there, Congress can still create an income tax simply by passing a law to do so. Repeal the 16th, and it would become much more difficult for them to do so.
One thing that I think Boortz and Linder missed, which I think is a point in their favor. The FairTax would also eliminate the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and place these programs in the general fund. This would, in my opinion, expose these programs for what they really are, welfare for old people, instead of what most people think they are, and pension plan and medical insurance. Which, in turn, would make reforming, or, ideally, killing them entirely, much easier to do.
Overall, I recomend the book. Buy it. Loan it to friends and relatives. Beat liberals and socialists (that's redundant, isn't it?) over the head with it.
The Worst TV Show Gun-Related Writing Ever
Or, if it isn't, it has to be a close contender. Fear mongering bias and general ignorance so bad even my wife could spot it. I'm talking about Wanted on TNT.
Let's start at the beginning of this week's episode. One of the cops is reassembling her pistol-presumably after cleaning it-a pistol that, as far as I could tell, was an HK USP. She's having trouble getting the slide to fit back on the frame. ATF guy walks in and tells her the "recoil spring's upside down." Excuse me? Now, I've seen some pistols where the spring could be put in backwards, although it wouldn't stop the slide from going back on. But the USP's spring is quite well attached to the guide rod, and not removed for cleaning. Plus, if you don't put it back in correctly, it won't go in at all. So it's pretty muchy impossible to "put it in upside down."
Next comes the fear mongering. When they're summarizing the bank holdup/assassination scene, they say "The first cops at the scene were met by armor piercing bullets." No, dumbass, they were met by standard rifle bullets-.223 fired from M4geries and 7.62x39mm from a Kalaskniklone-which go through standard police soft body armor with no problem. They're not armor piercing, they're not high-powered, they simply a class beyond what normal cop body armor is built to stop. Later, when our heroes walk through said crime scene, one of them picks up a cartridge and pronounces it a "cop killer" bullet.
Then, for even more fun with ignorance and/or fear mongering, the aforementioned ATF guy finds one of the M4geries used in the crime, and pronounces that it was converted to full auto with an upper receiver kit. OK, dude, whatever you say. Of course, an ATF agent who doesn't know jack about guns is probably about par for the course. Now, I'm not totally sure, because I think there are some differences between full and semi only AR bolt carriers, but I'm pretty sure most of the differences are in the lower receiver guts.
Then our friendly ATF dunce and another of his compadres go galavanting off to terrorize the gun shop owner-without a warrant, since these are tough cops who just do whatever they need to do to get the bad guys. The ATF moron tells the FFL that "ATF records show that you sold 8 of these guns." Actually, ATF has no such records. Last I checked, the ATF only got 4473s after an FFL quits the business, and this one was obviously still working. Firearm traces have to start with a serial number (which our heroes didn't have a complete one), go to the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the FFL, and then to the buyer. Then the ATF guy puts on his jack boots and yells, "I'm ATF, I can do whatever the hell I want." Actually dude, you can't, especially not without a warrant of any sort.
Then for one final dose of ignorance: three more people get killed. The only weapons shown being carried by the killers are semi-auto pistols. When they're flashing through the crime scene, they show a shell casing on the ground. A rimmed shell casing, fired through revolvers.
I dont' think I'll be watching this show anymore, although it's because their writing sucks, not because of their ignorance and bias on firearms.
Moved into the new/old house (I own it, it's the same one I lived in when I was stationed here from 2001-2003), Internet up and running.
Carnival of Cordite #25 is up over at Gullyborg's place...dang...it's been around for almost 6 months already.
On the eminent domain front: for all of us who thought we were safe in Washington state, think again. I saw a story yesterday in the dead tree edition of the Seattle Times that a court had approved some town (I want to say Woodinville, but I'm nowhere near sure) to use ED to seize property to make way for high end condos and retail. I couldn't find a link to the story online, but if anyone out there has it, I'd appreciate it.
And last but not least: both Saturday's I've been here, I've seen folks outside Ft Lewis on the freeway overcrossings waving flags to support our troops. Yesterday, they were not only occupying their usual post at Exit 122, but Exit 119 as well. Blue state my ass...