A flat tax: Now that would be class warfare


I have no love for the current tax system, and in fact would benefit from a flat tax, but I don't think people arguing for flat taxes realize they actually significantly benefit the rich, hurt the middle class and absolutely punish the poor unless the poor are subsidized.

There is just no way 155 million workers earning less than an average of $55,000 (I believe it is more like $45,000 to $50,000) while subsidizing the poor can be taxed at an average of 15 percent -- which is the IRS average for anyone under $75,000 -- and still take in the $1.25 trillion in income tax that the IRS takes in today.

As for the rich? On average, they pay roughly a 29 percent income tax today, again according to the IRS, so their tax burden would basically halve unless the middle class were to see an increase. Russia's implementation of a flat tax system (at 13 percent, which is not feasible here without further budget cuts) has been a boon to the rich and a curse to the poor.


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Wouldn't it be wonderful to use the KISS design method (keep it simple, stupid)?

With a tax system using value-added tax and/or straightforward income tax rates without all the deductions, exemptions and credits, we could have transparency, fairness, consistency and predictability (good for taxpayers, investors and governments). This would also save money on tax preparation and compliance.

But how to go from our complicated system to this new world without major adverse economic impacts or material changes in tax revenue collections?

We could adopt a five-year phaseout (using percentage reductions) of deductions, exemptions and credits and a phase-in (incremental reductions) to lower tax rate brackets. An orderly transition period would allow taxpayers and the government to plan and take actions to assimilate a new tax system.

Also, to make this system work, lawmakers would need to be prevented from implementing public policy (economic, social, environmental, etc.) through the taxation system, a major contributor to the highly complex and disliked system we have now.


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Flat-tax proposals ... flat-earth proposals ... they look to be headed for a similar history.


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Negotiate? When one side holds all the cards?


Some might argue that the United States should, in fact, veto Palestine's bid for statehood today at the United Nations. The most compelling argument is that peace in the region can be established only through direct negotiation between Israel and Palestine.

The fact is, though, that Palestine has nothing to negotiate with. Israel simply holds all the cards. Israel has monopoly on war power in the region, in no small part because of the weapons that the United States gave it.

The Palestinians cannot hope to win their freedom through war, only through legitimate channels.

The United States must not veto their statehood bid at the Security Council, if for no other reason but to level the playing field between a legitimate, albeit weak, people seeking self-determination and a militarily dominant nation, suppressing a people in favor of an artificial sense of security.


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Taking union fears to their illogical extreme


In discussing the union potential for family child care providers, some have raised the fear of compulsory membership. That is just not going to happen. The state could theoretically require union membership.

It could require a minimum age of 50, for the mature judgment. It could require a maximum age of 50, for the vigorous health and strength. It could require us to wear a uniform. But none of things is going to happen. Common sense?

The state needs a healthy array of child care options for its workforce. Because licensing costs money, some people would like to increase the burdens until providers all quit and go "underground."

Because children are our future, some people want to keep resource options open and available, and a union would be one additional resource for providers.


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We feel for you, but watch your language


When I first heard about Gophers football coach Jerry Kill's seizure, I empathized with him, because my son also experiences seizures. However, after hearing Kill's interview on TV, I was less than supportive.

His language during the interview was upsetting. An article came out in the paper called him "feisty," but I would call him "crude." At least the paper cleaned up his language a bit.

This thought came to me: If he talks like that during a live interview, I can only imagine the language he probably uses in his position of coach.

I do wish him well in getting the seizures under control. Now I wish he would get his tongue under control.