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Insane Musings

Things on my mind
Friday, February 18, 2005

National Sales Tax
This is a pseudo-response to Appalachian Intellectual, who pointed me to information on a National Sales Tax. I appreciate the reference information and have skimmed it (can't profess to have read it in-depth just yet).

I understand the benefits of a national sales tax strategy, and I understand as well the poverty-level adjustment to address the regressivity of most sales taxes. My concerns are really outside of the letter of the national sales tax as laid out in the link you provided (and which I have re-linked above for anyone else who wants to check it out). First, I don't buy the (in my opinion) secondary point that the site makes that income taxes somehow lead to exports on jobs. The exporting of jobs is a complicated issue and eliminating income tax would in no way eliminate job exportation. Our trade policies (for example, a willingness to import goods from countries where human rights abuses occur in the workforce) as well as our internal wage and worked policies (unions, minimum wage, etc.) and our lack of willingness to control the cost of benefits contribute much more to the average cost of workers in the US vs. overseas. Eliminating an income tax isn't going to keep jobs in the US - if only it were that simple.

Another issue I have is with the very consumption-orientation of a national sales tax as the sole means of financing the Federal government. Understand before I say this that my educational background is economics, so I think like an economist when these issues arise. Economies are, by their nature, cyclical. We'll have cycles where consumption is high and not very price-sensitive and we'll have other cycles where consumer confidence and therefore consumption is relatively low even as prices and employment remain stable. That puts the government is a position of being dependent on the consuming (and not saving) nature of the average American - makes them almost invested in the idea. The US government should not be as volatile as the average consumer goods markets - it would create havoc and instability and would dramatically affect our ability to compete economically with other nations as well as secure credit when required in more difficult times. It's just too narrow an approach with too much exposure from my perspective. Sorry to disagree so strongly, but there's so much about it that is wrong that I can't possibly put myself behind it - though I do appreciate the opportunity to learn about it, and thank you for that.

The "Jeff Gannon" Files
Is it only me who is watching the Jeff Gannon issue with such shock? I'm stunned in some respects that the MSM hasn't grabbed ALL the details of "Jeff Gannon" more feverishly. For those who don't know, quick overview:

"Jeff Gannon" (this turned out to not be his real name) was getting daily White House press passes to attend White House press briefings. The White House exclusively vets who receives any kind of pass, permanent ("hard") or daily. The guy worked for Talon News, and online news service now known to be underwritten and directed by the founder and financier of GOP USA. Further, talon News hadn't been in existence for more than 90 hours prior to "Jeff Gannon" receiving his credentials. That's an eyebrow-raiser right there. Then "Jeff Gannon" lobs his very softball question at the President of the United States and the gloves are off - as near as I can tell the reason why it drew such attention was because it was factually incorrect. One thing leads to another and it's discovered that "Jeff Gannon" is a pseudonym, that his news organization is a GOP mouthpiece, and the humdinger: "Jeff Gannon", aka Bulldog2, was, as recently as 2003, an gay prostitute. Here's the best part: some bloggers out there have diligently searched and discovered archives of his "escort" ads and associated pictures.

I don't have an issue with his being gay or even with his having been (being?) a prostitute. I do have an issue with his having so easily made it through the credentialing process. It smacks of "shill" and at least begs the question as to whether or not the White House is seeding its briefings with "friendlies". When you add to this the other recent information about radio personalities and others being paid by the administration to advocate certain programs, you have to wonder how deeply they are manipulating the press and whether or not this is ethical. I've never much respected their willingness to speak when they feel like it and fall mute when they don't, but if they're deliberately skewing news coverage and attempting to make it look legitimate, it's a whole new level of abuse.

It will be interesting how this plays out. My prediction is that it will continue to pick up steam - blogs like Daily Kos and others have gotten hold of it and continue to turn over new information on "Jeff Gannon". The White House and others will, when they feel the time is right, vilify the liberals for persecuting "Jeff Gannon" because he is gay. They'll try to take the gay issue and (seemingly) gay advocacy for themselves in an effort to try to baffle us with bullshit and get our attention away from other more potentially costly questions - who gave this guy credentials and why? Why would you give a gay prostitute access to classified information on the Valerie Plame case? Don't lose sight of these real questions no matter how deep the BS becomes.

posted by RenaRF @ 4:37 PM,


At 5:06 PM, Blogger The Appalachianist said...

Oh Rena, theres a Libertatarian just waiting to burst out of you. My only thing to say about a National Sales tax is the Government will just have to get used to not WAISTING our money...Grand Dragon Byrd wants something else named after him in West Virginia? Tough!...you were a Gymnast wern't you?


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