Daily Archives: August 27, 2007

National “Fair (sales) tax”: Scientology gone mainstream

from Kevin Drum :

Bruce Bartlett shreds the idea of a national sales tax in the Wall Street Journal here. New things I learned: the idea orginally came from the Church of Scientology (“The Scientologists’ idea was that since almost all states have sales taxes, replacing federal taxes with the same sort of tax would allow them to collect the federal government’s revenue and thereby get rid of their hated enemy, the IRS”) and public support for the idea is wobbly to say the least (“public opinion polls have long shown that support for flat-rate tax reforms is extremely sensitive to the proposed rate, with support dropping off sharply at a rate higher than 23%”).

The upshot of this is that sales tax advocates universally claim that their plan can eliminate all federal taxes at a rate of — surprise! — 23%. The real number, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, is north of 60%. But public opinion polls say it has to be 23%, so 23% it is.

This, of course, is the Mayberry Machiavelli theory of the modern Republican Party: policy analysis doesn’t matter. Only politics matters. If the peepul support a rate of 23%, then who cares what the eggheads say? We’re looking for votes here, not tax policy that actually works.

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Filed under economics, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Karl Rove:Bush's brain or Bush's as'hole?, Politics

Art project scrapped; would have shown sea level rise

SANTA BARBARA, California: A global-warming activist has withdrawn a proposal to paint blue lines across a swath of the city depicting the level the ocean could rise to if Greenland’s ice sheets keep melting.

The project, known as “lightblueline,” had attracted criticism from some residents who feared their properties would lose value if they were located on the wrong side of the predicted flood zone.

“If you’re below the line, there’s a stigma,” resident Jerry Beaver told The Los Angeles Times for its Sunday edition. Beaver is a real estate developer who owns property that would be deluged if sea levels rise 23 feet (7 meters) — a scenario predicted by some scientists if Greenland’s ice continues to thaw.

Bruce Caron, the activist behind the project, disputed residents’ concerns the line would have impacted property values.

“That’s totally bizarre logic,” Caron told The Times. “When’s the last time that a temporary public art project affected real estate values anywhere on the planet?”

….The line was to have been made up of a series of foot-high blue waves painted at street corners on 68 blocks of the city.

Carson, who said he was inspired by Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth,” withdrew his project Thursday.

“The conversation we were trying to have here would have become more and more a shouting match,” Caron said. “And the whole purpose in doing this would have been lost.”

The City Council had earmarked $12,000 (€8,800) for the project after approving it in July, but after some residents complained about the use of public funds, a councilwoman raised the money from private sources.

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Filed under Al Gore, global warming/environment, Politics