The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Remind Me Again Why The Income Tax Is A Good Idea?

Posted on | February 22, 2012 | 13 Comments

by Smitty

Looking at “Obama approaches the key 50% mark” at Legal Insurrection, I’m wondering: given all the class warfare grief it brings on, as well as the opportunity for graft, what is the argument in favor of the temporary income tax again?

It’s not like taxing income is some key input to balancing a budget. We no longer have serious budget input from the executive, or input at all from the Senate. And even in the old days when we had budgets, it’s not like any party in power really balanced them–I’m not sure Newt’s claims to have balanced the budget aren’t delivered without significant mental gymnastics. Let’s say the budget isn’t balanced in any over-all, common sense sort of way.

So, other than keeping a few thousand IRS agents off the street, and the ‘industry’ that’s grown up in tracking the Byzantine hijinks of the tax code, just what is this monstrosity doing for us, again?

One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code.
Ken Thompson

Load the shotguns and start pumping rounds into this tax code, say I. Its undead existence cannot continue.


13 Responses to “Remind Me Again Why The Income Tax Is A Good Idea?”

  1. Pelletman
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:32 am

    “Income” tax?

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    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:30 am

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  3. Christy Waters
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

    The income tax penalizes productivity. In a sane world, you don’t penalize the behavior that you want more of, but we haven’t done anything in a sane sort of way in this country for many years. I’m a Fair Tax supporter, but enacting it would take a significant amount of power out of the hands of the ruling class, and put it into the hands of the “common riff raff”, which is why so many from both parties resist doing away with the income tax.

    One of the reasons I miss Herman Cain’s presence in the GOP primary, whether you agreed with his 9/9/9 plan or not, he at least forced a debate on comprehensive tax reform, which no one in the race seems to be talking about now. No wonder I can’t find a candidate to give my vote to.

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  5. Finrod Felagund
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

    Love the Ken Thompson quote.

    And may I just add: FairTax FairTax FairTax– it’s the one tax plan that gets rid of the 16th Amendment for good.

  6. DaveO
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    Seniors haven’t see Obama’s budgetary maneuver to triple their taxes on dividends.

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  8. Adjoran
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

     Really?  Because according to the Constitution, you need a 2/3 vote of both House and Senate and then ratification by 38 states to get rid of an Amendment.

  9. Adjoran
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

    You don’t need 20,000 pages to have an income tax.  All those deductions and schedules and credits are just ways to get some people to subsidize others.  Any sound tax policy should address the revenue needs of government only, not be a tool for social engineering.  So you could eliminate a large portion of IRS by just simplifying the code.

    But you cannot get rid of the income tax without repeal of the 16th Amendment.  Without that, it will rise again, starting with a very tiny % on only the very rich – just as it did 100 years ago – and grow from there, little by little.


    When people say “Fair Tax” I assume they mean the Boortz nonsense, which never added up anyway.   You just can’t exclude as many components of GDP as it does and come up with the same revenue, which means it would require a much higher rate than advertised.

    Conversion is also a problem, as that plan erroneously assumes all savings from the old ways will instantly be passed along to consumers by businesses.  This is a fallacy.  Eventually competition will force those savings to be (substantially) passed on, but it will take a long time.  Rockets and feathers for you ECON 101 students.

  10. Finrod Felagund
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Part of the FairTax plan is that after a certain number of years from implementation (3? 5? I forget), if the 16th isn’t repealed, the FairTax  automatically repeals itself.  If the FairTax works, the 16th will get repealed, because no one but tax attorneys will want to go back to the old system.

  11. AngelaTC
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    I’m not an income tax wonk, but I believe it was passed under the guise of paying for a war. 

    There ya have it – the war party isn’t cheap.

  12. Dandapani
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    Smitty, you’re such a geek.  I used to work for Bell Labs.  I once had Dennis Ritchie play System Administrator on a Cray super computer for me.  I asked him to install VI. Those were the days.

  13. Pelletman
    February 24th, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

    The 16th amendment changed NOTHING!  If it wasn’t taxable before, it wasn’t taxable after.  Direct taxes must be apportioned among the states.  See Brushaber V Union Pacific. Please.