Friday, April 16, 2010

A MeanMesa "Quickie" - Simplifying the Tax Laws

Perhaps one of the most common of all the parroted "talking points" floating around in both Tea Bagger riots -- but also, in more mature discussions of taxpayers who are actually concerned with our nation -- concerns the unworkable "complexity" of our taxation laws.

Now, MeanMesa italicizes the term "complexity" because its formal definition is so severely strained when the word is used in this way.  "Complexity" usually implies that the nature of something has very many, so to speak, delicately balanced "moving parts," each of which must function correctly for the whole "complex" thing to work.

For example, both an airliner's turbine engines and a quadruple heart valve replacement surgery are, inarguably, "things with great complexity."

However, when the term "complexity" is applied to the existing tax laws, the implied meaning tends to migrate a little.  Although many Americans assume that the thousands of pages of our tax laws are, somehow, the result of a concerted, coordinated effort at legislation, the facts show something actually quite removed from such a premise.

US tax law is a "helter skelter," jumbled monstrosity which has been thoughtlessly constructed by simply piling one "special favor" upon another until the resulting document is incomprehensible, chuck full of tax dodging opportunities for the recipients of the "special favors" and 6,000 feet thick -- even when printed on both sides of every sheet.

Further, it is rather unfair to simply dump the entire blame for this cash gobbling creature on the legislators current residing in the US House and Senate.  This process was well underway a century ago.  The major changes which have been enacted during all this time have had to do primarily with "adjusting" special favors in one way or another for the most current club of "special friends."

Given the fact that our current government isn't able to so much as "clean the carpets" without the predictable neo-con rampages and filibusters, the prospects of anything very good emerging from an effort to reform tax laws can barely catch its breath amid the inevitable "dust storms."

MeanMesa would like to propose a starting point which might serve as a foundation for the reform we need.  Of course, we can all assume that any suggestion whatsoever will immediately incite all parties to a screaming tantrum of hair pulling and episodes of overly dramatic, "end times"  apoplectic fainting spells.

In any event, here's the plan.

Pick a number, say something around twenty but absolutely no higher than thirty.  This will be the entire list of possible categories of incomes -- from any kind of business action.  The rule would be simple enough.  Every dollar that anyone -- whether Exxon or the local dog catcher -- receives from anyone will be classed into one of these twenty income categories.

There would be categories for wages, dividends, short sales, real estate profits, interest and good old commercial retailing.  Every possible "avenue of revenue" would be ruthlessly included somewhere amid the choices on the list.  The categorization of every nickel of every flow of revenue would be so complete that not a single check could be written or cash register receipt printed which could not fit into this "chart of taxation accounts."

The problem we face today is largely based on the fact that this is precisely what we are not doing.  The carefully synthesized, artificial "complexity" of the mess we are currently using contains every sort of possible -- or debatable -- ambiguity imaginable.  

It is more than an "unfortunate coincidence" that those who should be paying lots of taxes pay at a lower rate than those who should be paying very little.  Most of the opportunities these tax dodgers exploit -- with the help of their "wholly owned" Congressmen both now and in the past -- derive from just these same ambiguities.  When such opportunities are magnified through the cautious corruption of decades of law makers, we arrive at where we are now.

Legislators would remain quite free to debate and alter the tax regulations for any one of these categories of revenue, but public opinion would prohibit them from simply introducing mountains of contradictions and other confusions in hopes of maintaining the present set of "nation crushing" loop holes we see today.

Just thinking...

By the way, exactly these concerns will be the "battle ground" when new legislation is proposed to regulate the Wall Street gangsters.  Oooops.  Don't know who the "Wall Street gangsters" might be?

Just look for the fellows with an extra $5 trillion dollars in their pockets from their latest "looting" spree.  All of that new wealth of theirs used to be your money.

If we want another episode of that, we can, uh, do nothing.

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