No articles yet, hopefully later. Should they happen, links will be posted here. Writing one big, comprehensive article is not viable for a topic as extensive and complex as the FairTax, better to attempt short articles, each focused on some particular aspect. Here’s a list of intended blog entries (to be later turned into short articles):
About the meaning of civilization
A society that doesn’t ensure a bare minimum level of consumption for all its members is not fundamentally different from a jungle, and therefore cannot call itself civilized. How difficult can it be to unconditionally provide one bread, one apple, and one liter of clean water per day to all members of society? The proposed system will achieve just that, in a simple and efficient way. We’re not willing? Well, then it’s survival of the fittest, and to achieve that there is no need for progress… we could simply go back in time to the stone age.
Luxury => exploitation
Luxury is both the incentive for, and the result of, exploitation. Exploitation deserves to be taxed at 100% but, in a global market where capitals can move freely, that can't work. A highly effective workaround is to tax, not exploitation per se, but instead its ultimate purpose, which is luxury. And there is no smarter way to do it than the FairTax!
Triggering a domino effect
In a global economy with free moving capitals, countries compete to attract them. Since under the FairTax both companies and their owners are exempts from ANY tax, it follows that the FairTax cannot be bested by any tax system in terms of capital friendliness. Not even tax havens can compete with the FairTax, since they exempt dividens and capital gains but not corporate profits or payrolls. Therefore, one country adopting the FairTax will exert unbearable pressure on other countries to do the same, triggering a domino effect.
What's the appropriate way to deal with panhandling?
The strong/lucky should help the weak/unfortunate. But giving money to beggars at street corners is not the way for two reasons: 1) only nice, selfless people give; and 2) many needy people are too shy to beg. The proposed system gives an equal check to everybody and makes everybody contribute in proportion to his/her consumption. Nobody gets humiliated (last thing you need when you are down), and everybody receives a tangible proof that society cares.
Without the FairTax, charity work faces strong headwinds
Meaningful charity work lifts your mood and can be fun, yet very few people do it. Why? Because most people are never far from financial trouble (getting sick, losing job, skipping mortgage, ending on street). And advertisers will cunningly both stoke and pander to people's pride, making people feel unhappy about not owning stuff they actually don't need (the subliminal message is almost always that "you're not cool if you don't own what we sell, so the Jonese will look down on you"). The combined effect is that nice people postpone charity work forever. The FairTax will change all this in a relatively short timeframe, by diminishing financial worries (the monthly check should help some), and, more importantly, by changing the social perception about what consumption level an appropriate lifestyle entails.
Are you exploiting or being exploited?
As long as capitals provide a real return, capitalism is inextricably linked to exploitation. A corporation’s profit (beyond what’s required to cover inflation) is the result of such exploitation. While it’s obvious that passive shareholders are the ones exploiting, it’s less clear who are the ones being exploited. It’s likely that most low-income employees are being exploited, and possibly the end consumers as well (to some extent). Most people own shares and work for some company, so they exploit and, at the same time, are being exploited. But what’s the net effect? What would be a good, practical test that anyone could (in good faith) run in his head to determine whether, overall, they exploit or are being exploited?
Modern economics seems mainly concerned with making selfishness work (tweaking capitalism to maximize welfare). Looking at economics from an ethical viewpoint could lead to a throve of insights.
Long term effects on quality of life
The monthly check from the government (sales tax prebate) will shift economic resources away from pointless luxury and toward basic necessities. In time, this will shift downward society’s perception of what constitutes a “modest but decent” living standard, while at the same time making such standard more widely accessible (since free markets are great at finding innovative solutions and the monthly check will refocus such talent on basic needs).
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