Friday, February 20, 2009

When a Tax Isn't a Tax

I'm with Atrios when he says he doesn't understand why people think it'd be politically easier for the government to track everyone's mileage than to just raise the gas tax.  But I'll go one further: I don't understand the idea that people will be happier to pay taxes, just as long as you call it something else or collect it in a different way.

Like the people who are in love with the Flat Tax or Fair Tax or National Sales Tax or whatever alternative to income tax they can devise.  They're all a bunch of filthy liars.  For as much as they cite high principles for wanting to abolish the income tax in favor of these other systems, their primary goal is for them personally to pay less in taxes.  That's all that it's about.  They somehow imagine that these other schemes will allow them to pay less tax, so they support it.  

And you can bet your bottom dollar that if they determined they'd end up paying more through one of these other systems, they'd most certainly oppose it.  That's why proponents of these alternatives always lowball the number, as it's the only way that it sounds preferable over our current system.  They're told that a 17% flat tax would pay for everything and if you cite experts who say it'd have to be much higher, they'll insist that you're wrong.  To even discuss the higher rate undermines their entire argument, so they refuse to even consider it.  Because again, all they're interested in is lower taxes, not a fairer system.

And the whole thing is just retarded.  Seriously.  Because if you decrease tax revenues without cutting spending, you just get deficits.  Government can't be drowned no matter how high the deficits run.  And so we'd need to raise just as much money no matter which tax scheme we developed.  And then we'd be back into the business of robbing Peter to pay Paul, which is the exact sort of thing that these guys were bitching about in the first place.  They take a principled stand against using the tax code to implement social policies, yet any scheme they devise will have that exact effect.

Tax Games

And I've got the same problem with toll roads too.  I suppose I'm not against the building of tollways if they're special purpose ones being solely designed for a specific clientele; particularly if the people who'd use it most aren't the ones who'd pay for it otherwise.  But the taxing of existing roads, as they're doing here in Austin, is simply outrageous.  It's just a way for Republicans to tax people without it being called a "tax."  But a toll is a tax, no matter what you call it. 

And these guys play these sorts of games all the time.  They've been trained to hate the word "tax" but still can't get around the fact that Americans want an effective government and an effective government costs money that can only be collected through taxes.  Even Republicans don't really want the crappy government that they profess to support and expect the government to take care of them just like everyone else. And so they develop silly principles to justify tax schemes that they imagine will let them pay less taxes, or simply change the word so it's not "tax."  

But our society requires a certain level of tax revenue no matter what you call it, so all these silly games are not only annoying, they're dangerous.  And you end up with horrible situations like California Republicans playing chicken in support of principles they don't really believe in.  And in the end, they're not really against the idea of good government.  They just want to make sure they're not the ones paying for it.


TRUTH101 said...

It's how the poor are made to help pay for their share of the American Dream. The flat tax insures they pay even more while being fair to the wealthy that don't get their fair share considering how much their taxes are. It is a privilege, not a right to live in America. The poor must pay more for this privilege. It's only fair. Right?

Doctor Biobrain said...

But that's the thing, I understand why rich people support these tax alternatives. It's the populist dummies who support this stuff that I don't understand. They honestly believe that these alternative tax schemes will make the rich pay more and they'll pay less. And nothing will convince them otherwise. Trust me, I've debated with them for years and nothing can convince them they're wrong. Even when you point out that rich people support the plans, they STILL think rich people will pay more.

The rich can support any tax scheme they want, but without the populist libertarian-types, then nothing will come of it. Of course, if Congress seriously tried writing these laws and people saw how high the real tax rate would be, the plan would be dead in the water. The real goal of this rhetoric isn't to actually get a fair, flat, or any other kind of tax. It's just to convince populists to support Republicans because Democrats want to steal all their money.

But it's absolutely impossible that these plans will get passed. I'm telling you, once the populist libertarians realized their tax bill would go up, they'll bail on it. They'd probably imagine that Congress was screwing them over or something, and still believe that a true ideal of their plan would work. But they won't support any real plan that would ever be implemented. And that's because all they're really interested in is paying less in taxes; and that's just not going to happen.

TRUTH101 said...

They want their wars and occupations. They want good roads and police and fire protection. They want regulation as long as it's only unions and others being regulated. As long as somebody else pays for these things. That could either be the poor. The middle class or future generations. I've always believed tax cuts mean higher taxes down the road. Bush policies will mean the biggest tax increases ever. The right wing turkeys will blame Obama. Clinton. Carter and FDR before they admit it was Bush and their blind devotion to St. Ronald Reagan that caused such misery and redistribution of wealth to the wealthiest.