I've never been sure which would be less objectionable, the Flat Tax or the Fair Tax, as both exempt people whose income falls below the "poverty line," and both eliminate favoritism. Senior Editor Tim Cavanaugh's article ("Fair Tax or Foul?" August/September) left my opinion unchanged. When one gets down to a full analysis, no tax can really be fair. The question is which means of financing government is least disruptive to society and its economics. In that respect, the current tax system leaves much to be desired. The closest we can come to a truly fair tax system is to make the government for which the tax pays as unobtrusive as possible.
Kenneth H. Fleischer
Los Angeles, CA
Let me add another major drawback to the Fair Tax. During the transition from an income tax to a national sales tax, older Americans get screwed with double taxation. Those who have paid progressive income taxes all of their working lives and still managed to save money for retirement count on paying lower taxes in retirement, since they won't be earning a salary. With the Fair Tax, they will find themselves facing high taxes on their consumption as they spend their savings.
Since I fall into this category, I would vigorously fight the Fair Tax out of self-interest. I would also fight it as a libertarian, because most tax revenue, no matter how collected, goes to illegitimate and immoral income transfers and not to the constitutionally limited purposes of the federal government. Theft is theft, no matter the form it takes.
Will there be fewer rules under the Fair Tax than we have now? I think the answer is "hell, yes," and that's enough for me. I strongly support removing as much government intrusion from my life as possible, but given the stated reason for the prebate element of the plan—to reduce the regressivity of a pure sales tax—I can live with the government depositing X dollars in my account to make the whole thing work. The positive economic impact of the Fair Tax is worth the effort. And it would (almost) eliminate the government intrusion, favoritism, and social engineering that runs rampant within the existing tax code.
San Luis Obispo, CA
Senior Editor Brian Doherty is the recipient of the 2011 Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, in the general category. The award, bestowed by the Center for Independent Thought for pro-liberty work by an individual or organization, includes a $1,000 prize and plaque. Previous winners include Senior Editor Jacob Sullum.