In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 22, 2011 / 20 Tammuz, 5771

The Terminology of Taxation

By Jonah Goldberg

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Every political movement has its rhetorical strengths and weaknesses. The right can wax poetic about liberty and freedom, the left about the nobility of the poor and downtrodden.

Nowhere do these differences come across more starkly than on the subject of taxation.

(Note: This is not a column about the debt-ceiling negotiations. I would have put this warning up top, but I feared that immediately seeing the phrase "debt-ceiling negotiations" would cause many readers to face-plant into their breakfast tables or computer screens.)

Ask almost any Republican politician, from lobster-roll-eating Northeastern "Rinos" (Republicans in name only) to flinty, leather-skinned Westerners with calluses on their trigger fingers, to explain why high taxes are bad, and they'll do a pretty good job of selling it.

Ask almost any Democrat to explain why high taxes are bad, and you will get hit with the velvet fog, minus the velvet. First they'll explain that while they do favor "increasing revenues," they don't favor higher taxes if by "high taxes" you mean taxes that are "too high." They favor "smart" tax rates that are "targeted" (i.e., "higher"). Then they'll explain that they don't want to raise your taxes; they want to raise taxes on your boss, your employer and the companies that sell you gas, cars, cigarettes, food, clothes, electricity and various "unnecessary" surgical procedures. They leave out that those taxes get passed on to you.

Then, they'll rush to safer territory: all of the wonderful things government does. Government, don't you know, is just the word we use for all the things we do together. So every time you cut a check to the IRS, an angel gets its wings.

Not all of those arguments are necessarily wrong. My point is that there's no poetry to them. The sizzle doesn't sell the steak.

Barack Obama has tried to explain that higher taxes are "neighborly." That "spreading the wealth around" is noble. That taxation is a vital application of the biblical requirement to be our "brother's keeper" that the Bible doesn't require.

George Lakoff, a prominent linguistic consultant to Democrats, has tried a different tack. He says that "taxes are what you pay to be an American. ... Taxes are your dues -- you pay your dues to be an American."

For all the money Lakoff gets for being original, it's funny how he's just plagiarizing FDR, who said, "Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society."

Some ideas won't die, however. So there was Faiz Shakir, editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress.org, expanding on this idea on C-SPAN the other day.

"We should change our conception of what taxes mean," Shakir sermonized. "Most people who join country clubs, or gyms, or other exclusive entities in America, feel ... proud to pay that monthly due, because they want to be part of that special privileged community in which they receive wonderful resources and benefits." Americans "should feel that same kind of awe and respect for paying taxes ... we shouldn't have an aversion to paying some amount of taxes."

Give him points for trying. But let's take out our red pens.

First, one senses that when Shakir says "some amount" he means "any amount." As for this idea that people should feel the same "awe and respect for paying taxes" as they do when they belong to a gym, I've got to ask: What gym does this guy go to?

The fundamental problem with marketing taxes as dues or fees is, well, they're not dues or fees. Dues are voluntary. Fees can be withheld for bad service, and whatever "awe and respect" one feels comes not from paying the fee but from getting good value for it.

Moreover, most "exclusive entities" don't charge wildly divergent rates to different customers based on their incomes. In fact, vast swaths of Americans don't pay the "dues" (income taxes) at all. They do pay the "fees" (sales and payroll taxes), but they get back more from government than they pay into it. And don't get me started on how illegal immigration fits this country club metaphor.

The "exclusive entity" analogy actually supports not higher and more progressive income taxes, but a flat tax. Everybody pays X percent of their income. Everyone has the same share of skin in the game.

In fairness, Republicans successfully sell their anti-tax message not because they have better orators or buy craftier linguists, but because taxpayers don't feel they're getting a lot of value for their dollars, and most suspect they could feel the same "awe and respect" for half the price.

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