Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flat Tax Now!

There is nothing like doing my taxes to get my political wonk up.

Why does it have to be so freaking complicated? We have created a system so complex that it takes several days a year of record-keeping and calculating just to pay our government. There is never absolute agreement on how to prepare a single return, even among the accounting experts . . . so how can we expect the IRS to find the errors and outright scams?

It gets back to what I wrote about earlier . . . our insatiable need to try to engineer society. We want to encourage some behaviors (like giving to charities and driving hybrid cars) and discourage others (jump in and out of stocks, tap into your retirement savings). The tax code is a convenient lever on the populace, since nearly everyone pays taxes and would like to pay less.

And yet . . . is it really working? I mean, I'm a trickle-down supply-side kind of guy, and even I have to wonder sometimes if the tax code is really changing enough behavior to be worth it. Do more people save for retirement, because they get the tax break for doing so? Does the system reward the just, or just the clever?



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