My good friend Lee – a Vietnam veteran and proud gun-toting conservative – recently declared to me that the FairTax is a great idea that will never actually happen. Because I am a true Reagan conservative – one full of optimism and faith in the American people – I respectfully dissent. And I write today to explain exactly how we will win the war against the I.R.S. and make the FairTax a reality.
We can all agree that the FairTax movement is a grass roots effort that must prevail over the resistance of politicians and lobbyists who have a powerful interest in maintaining the status quo. But this does not mean that every supporter of the FairTax must dedicate a significant amount of time volunteering to make the dream of abolishing the I.R.S. a reality. There is something retired veterans like Lee can do, which will require little time and money and will virtually guarantee the success of the FairTax movement.
The idea comes to me from a former student who was waiting on me the other night at the bar of a seafood restaurant in Wilmington. I had a beer in one hand and my copy of FairTax: The Truth in the other when an Obama supporter asked the following: “Why do you support the FairTax? We just need to change the tax code to punish corporations that are sending our jobs over to China.”
Armed with FairTax: The Truth, I responded with the following: “I’m from Texas as is Representative Bill Archer. He testified in front of Congress about the results of an interesting study of 500 companies in Japan. When asked what they would do if the U.S. abolished its present tax system and went with a consumption tax, 80% said they would build their next plant in America. The remaining 20% said they would relocate to America altogether. Now that’s change you can believe in!”
Clearly, my response gave the young man something to think about. But so did my waitress and former student. She jokingly said “Dr. Adams, you probably aren’t even reading that book. You’re just trying to provoke a debate.”
Of course, I really was reading the book but it gave me a very good idea. I decided to keep carrying it with me everywhere for a week after I finished reading it just to see whether that would be a good way of provoking debate on the issue. The very next day it produced the following exchange with a flat tax supporter:
Supporter of the Flat Tax of Yesterday (SOFTY): Sorry, I support the flat tax.
Adams: How often do you change your underwear?
Adams: I assume you change your underwear every day?
SOFTY: Yes, what the hell does that have to do with it?
Adams: That means you’ve changed underwear 8036 times in the last 22 years.
Adams: And the I.R.S. has changed the tax code 16,000 times in the last 22 years. They change the tax code twice as often as you change underwear. How long do you think a flat tax would remain flat?
Adams: Would you like to borrow my book?
I’m sure SOFTY was still thinking about the FairTax the next day while he was (hopefully) changing his underwear. Meanwhile, I was sitting at a bar having this exchange:
Badly and Desperately Pessimistic Realtor (BADPR): I know the FairTax is going to kill people in my line of work.
Adams: I think you’re exaggerating, to say the least. I’m about to buy my fourth house and my first new house.
Adams: So I’m like a lot of people out there. Most of our home purchases are not of new homes.
Adams: And the FairTax only applies to new home purchases.
BADPR: Can I borrow your book?
Adams: Sure. And be sure to read the portion on embedded taxes, too. It may convince you that new home purchases will be impacted to a lesser extent than you imagine.
BADPR: I will.
Adams: Finally, and in the interests of full disclosure, I do know someone who bought four new homes in a row. He was a very wealthy former student of mine. Before he went to prison he bought four new homes. But he never paid income tax on the cocaine he sold on his way to becoming wealthy. Too bad we didn’t have a consumption tax like the one you will read about in the book I gave you.
Some conversations were a little more cumbersome. Like this one I had with a young fellow who was drinking Budweiser at 12:35 p.m. in a pizza place in Wilmington:
Bud-loving unemployed drunk dude (BUDD): What are you reading?
Adams: FairTax: The Truth.
(The portion of the conversation talking about our waitress’ tattoos is deleted).
BUDD: If I thought it would get me a job, I’d be all for it.
Adams: Here, take my copy. Make sure you read the chart on page 131. It shows how states with high income taxes fare relative to states with no income taxes in terms of economic growth.
BUDD: Are you just giving me this?
Adams: Yep. I’ve been making good money on the speaking circuit this year. When people have more money they are more charitable. See the statistics on page 166. If you agree with it, buy a copy for someone else.
My little experiment with FairTax: The Truth convinced me of a few things. First, it convinced me that it’s an easy way to get people talking about the FairTax. It also convinced me that most people who oppose the FairTax do so because they are insufficiently educated about all of its benefits. I read Boortz and Linder’s first FairTax book twice and thought I understood it well enough to explain all of its benefits. But after I read Fair Tax: The Truth I realized there were more benefits than I had imagined previously.
I don’t have much time to volunteer to the FairTax cause. But I do have time to briefly discuss it at the coffee shop in the morning, the diner in the afternoon, or the restaurant at night. That is why I’ve decided to extend my experiment by carrying FairTax books with me every day for the next year. I’ve also decided to give my copies away to anyone who promises to read them.
I plan to write off all these FairTax books as “charitable contributions” on next year’s tax return. If you join me today, I won’t have to do it again.