We all know the lyrics. They’re buried deep in the DNA of a generation:
Let me tell you how it will be/There’s one for you, nineteen for me/Because I’m the taxman, yeah/I’m the taxman.
The Beatles, of course, knew whereof they sang. If anyone had tax problems, they did, just as did a lot of my old Hollywood cohorts, mega-liberals (almost) all, whose attorneys and business managers urged them the minute they started to strike it the slightest bit rich, or even before, to form a loan-out company for their services to (drastically) reduce their tax bill. If you, by some obscure chance, don’t know what a loan-out company is, look it up. Your dentist probably has one.
And if you’re looking for the very bleeding heart of liberal and progressive hypocrisy, look no further than our tax structure, not to mention the appalling political misuse of our Internal Revenue Service that has yet to be corrected. Just ask Lois Lerner.
Meanwhile we have a tax code that is proverbially the size of the Manhattan telephone directory, not that anyone looks at that anymore. Nevertheless, almost everyone agrees, and has for a long time, that something must be done about this bulbous mess.
Thank Donald Trump again — who introduced his tax plan Monday — for bringing this to our attention. When Donald does something, everyone pays attention, even the aging boys and girls at 60 Minutes. Pro or con, the man is box office. If he doesn’t win the presidency, he should be the anchorman for the evening news on NBC, CBS and ABC simultaneously. He would single-handedly bring back the networks.
But what about his tax plan? It’s not bad, and neither are the less-publicized plans of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. All three advocate something that should have been done years ago — lowering the corporate tax rate. That U.S, corporation taxes are among the highest in the world is sheer self-destructive stupidity that only someone as out-of-it as Bernie Sanders could approve. It’s as if we deliberately want to drive our businesses — and jobs — overseas.
Actually the Trump, Bush and Rubio plans are not all that dissimilar and, once they came through the legislative process and the numbers got jockeyed up and down, might amount to substantially the same thing. They all want to simplify the tax code, as they should. Yes, there are differences that I will leave to tax geeks far more experienced in these things than I am, but what interests me is that they all, to one degree or another, work under the assumption that the poor should pay no taxes.
On the surface, this seems just. And the poor don’t have much money to pay so it’s almost irrelevant anyway, at least as far as the national treasury is concerned. It’s what Barack Obama likes to call “fair.”
But is it? Ben Carson — the candidate from the most impoverished background of all (Rubio comes in second) — approaches it differently. Coming from his religious heritage, the doctor wants everyone, whatever their financial status, to pay something close to the tithe the church recommends (slightly more, actually). What this does is give every citizen, as the saying goes, “skin in the game.” No matter how poor you are, even if you are on other forms of assistance, you contribute something to the common good. The rich, even the ultra-rich, only pay that same percentage.
At first I was put off by this conception of Carson’s. I’m not a religious person and the use of the word tithe made me uncomfortable. But then I started to see what he was after. The people on the streets of Baltimore need to participate, not just receive handouts. Their self-respect demands this. We have all seen the results of forty years of top-down welfare-state economics on our minority communities, the so-called War on Poverty. Time to try something different. Time to treat them as equals, not as poor relations incapable of taking care of themselves. Equals pay too. Give them, as I said, skin in the game. We’re all in it together, after all. I guarantee you they will feel better about themselves too. And the results might surprise everyone.
Now I don’t know if the numbers add up. Someone should try to figure that out. Where is Arthur Laffer when we need him? Or Steve Forbes and his flat tax, not to mention Ted Cruz?
Anyway, to reference another Beatles song, “You say you want a revolution…?”
But back to “The Taxman.” Here’s a great version from George Harrison and Eric Clapton. All together now…
Roger L. Simon – Co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media and PJTV – is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and multi-award winning novelist. He is covering the election at Diary of a Mad Voter. You can find him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.