Favors ‘Fair Tax’

I remember when a young co-worker received his first paycheck and was upset. He went to our manager and asked why his paycheck was not the value he knew it should be. It became clear that he did not understand taxes, and our manager proceeded to explain it to him. He was livid. Not only because he felt his money had been taken without his consent, but also because there was nothing he could do about it. At the time I thought it was crazy that he didn’t understand what was happening. Today I think it’s crazy that we are not upset about what is happening with respect to income taxes.

The history of the income tax wouldn’t surprise you. Sold to the public as one thing, and then changed over time into something much more powerful — the codification into law that the income you earn belongs to the government. Don’t believe me? Consider the fact that Congress could increase the income tax to 100 percent and it would be completely legal, given that no limits were placed in the language of the 16th amendment. However unlikely that is — given that Congress has many mechanisms to confiscate wealth for itself — the principle is established. But this wasn’t enough.

People might push for a change if they saw exactly what they were paying every year in income taxes. The idea of withholding took care of that. Your money is taken out of your check before you even get your check. Additionally, every year we file under penalty of perjury, as if we are doing something wrong. And at any time the IRS could come after us with their enormous power and unlimited resources. Does a system like this make you feel that you are the owner of your property (income), or a temporary steward holding on to property of the government?

Who among us would say that this is a good system, or the best we could come up with? The only way this system continues to exist is because we don’t think about it. And I don’t blame anyone for that. After all, what could we do about it anyway? I’m here to introduce you to a viable alternative method for funding the federal government — The Fair Tax. The basic idea is to replace the current system with a consumption tax on the retail sale of new goods and services. While I am constricted by time and space to go into details, the purpose of this piece is to open people up and to questioning the current system. And luckily for us, most of the work has already been done. We have an opportunity to push existing legislation in Congress right now across the finish line in the form of HR 25.

Human nature suggests to us that most people do not like, and even resist change. Even our own declaration of independence reflects this philosophy when it states “all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” But change can be a good thing — especially when based on the right principles. With all this in mind, I would like to to make the case to you, my fellow countrymen, for the adoption of “The Fair Tax.”

At this point there are no doubt many questions and concerns, just as there are many more benefits to be discussed. If you have been at all inspired by this series, I will be hosting a discussion on the subject matter at a time and place to be announced. Until then, further information and resources can be found at Fairtax.org, read the full text of HR 25 at congress.gov and I highly recommend both books by Neal Boortz and John Linder “The Fairtaxbook” and “Fairtax: The Truth.”

Steve Leahy

Fairfield 

Addiction to taxing

In Governor Lamont’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. His predecessor Dan Malloy twice insisted that he wouldn’t raise taxes, and a matter of days after each promise he gave us the two largest tax increases in our state’s history.

Before the election Ned Lamont said he wouldn’t resort to tolls for all vehicles, and only a few short weeks after the election he broke that promise.

Breaking promises is a symptom of addiction, and make no mistake about it, Connecticut politicians are addicted to spending taxpayers’ (our) money.

Now, to feed their habit, they’re proposing taxes on sports gambling and marijuana, taxes on barber shop and beauty salon services, taxes on veterinary services, legal fees, accounting fees, contractor fees for home renovations, dry cleaning and vehicle trade-ins.

We’re hearing proposals for deposits on liquor and wine bottles, taxes on plastic grocery bags, taxes on nip bottles, taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, taxes on electronic-cigarette liquid, higher taxes on hotel stays, taxes on parking, massage therapists, horse boarding, taxes on waste collection, boat repairs, boat storage, digital downloads, nonprescription drugs, newspapers and magazines, college textbooks, and child car seats.

You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to see that Connecticut politicians have a serious addiction to taxing and spending. To cure this addiction we need to put our state government through withdrawal and not allow any more mainlining of taxpayer money.

Grant Monsarrat

Easton

Skip annual increases for teachers?

I enjoy reading David Brooks in the imes, [this morning, March 22, 2019], even as I frequently disagree with him. In “What Rural America Has to Teach Us,” Brooks argues for the positive values that rural Americans struggle to maintain. While I second his view, I wonder about my town, Fairfield, as a mainstream town in a suburban county.

I do not advocate that we leave our cars unlocked because we so trust the neighborhood as to deem it possible to leave our cars and homes unlocked. While that sort of thing and other examples like this one are still possible in a small town or in middle America, our local police are not likely to say it is recommended. Freedom has its limitations.

While rural areas appear more likely than suburban areas to sacrifice and trust for the common good, it is rather unlikely, that sacrifice will always prevail; for example, school boards and their constituencies, teachers, parents, civic and community leaders, elected, selected and appointed, may work together in concert with the community to keep costs and taxes down,   but here in our suburban communities with ever increasing taxation, and the need for towns to generate among community employees an empathy such that it were possible to arrive at a budget, and, therefore, a mill rate that would be acceptable to all, means a call upon all in education, from a to z, from custodian to superintendent to make substantial sacrifices.

As this is so obvious, it is unlikely to happen right away. But sacrifice, after all other measures have been exhausted, has to come about somehow. The elasticity in the budget system has been spent. There is little or none to be found. So, what is the solution?

It may be that the teacher salary schedule which is based upon teacher/school board driven contracts, is largely but not exclusively responsible for annual budget increases.

What if teachers were to skip annual increases in favor of bi-annual salary increases, thereby skipping a year in their contract, forgoing a full year’s scheduled salary increase as listed in a contract. Would a town or union bargaining unit allow this? Could that be a model for town officials to use to help the town to negotiate increasingly difficult bargaining demands while fighting  stasis at the same time? As a bargaining chip, perhaps, future superintendents would be paid less than current superintendents are in the county, just for starters, for here, what’s needed in is a good manager of the fundamentals and not an educator. There are cadres of others to manage the teaching.

Many will call this crazy, yet, as every school district hereabouts must deal with the systemic, scheduled, contractual bargaining while building a budget , it may be time to revisit bargaining in terms of what communities can afford to sustain. And there must be a measuring stick or formula to help a town manager measure the ability of a town to sustain what it so much craves, all of the time, which is a good, sustainable plan for all.

There will come a breaking point when the struggle between local budget, teacher contracts and incremental pay schedules will bring about not only serious but catastrophic clashes between the demands of educators and the ability to pay. That’s been a given for a long time.

That the State of Connecticut and prior administrations are mostly responsible for this mess does not lessen the problems that all serious people in local government and education must face.

This is not an invitation to combat for the sake of contrariness. It is just a way of approaching what appears, to me, to be a problem in local governments in this State.

Gerard Coulombe

Fairfield