Hey everyone, grab your flannels and Doc Martens because it's (apparently) 1994 again! Perhaps you should rock the hell out to "Mr. Wendal" or some Candlebox in order to fully appreciate the time-altering experience that is Terry Paulson's masterpiece, "Time for CA Flat Tax." The flat tax? Hey Terry, Steve Forbes called and wants his dad's collection of antique gay porn stale-ass idea back. Anyone want to come over later to watch Melrose Place? OK, I've had my fun with the early 90s jokes. But seriously, the party that hasn't had a new idea since the Taft years has no use for concepts like time. Conservatism is the Rock of Gibraltar of ideologies, changing at a glacial pace, one grain of sand at a time, over centuries. Its ideas are simultaneously old and new, outdated and cutting edge. So why not drag the flat tax out of its stable for one last romp around the track before it takes its final trot down to the glue factory.

Ready? Let's do this.

CA Governor Jerry Brown is pushing for serious budget cuts and a tax extension plan, but Republicans are blocking his efforts to bring his tax plan to a June vote.

Well since they did only get half of what they wanted as the minority party – substantial budget cuts – I can see why they would push back.

They’ve seen what happens to Republican politicians who vote to raise taxes!

Ha ha! Isn't it funny how the party now consists entirely of rabid, teabagging idiots unwilling to listen to anything resembling a reasonable argument and bloated plutocrats playing them like the morons they are? It's like watching Andrew Carnegie and a couple of hobos in a Rolls-Royce on the way to a fried mayonnaise eating contest featuring the works of Vivaldi performed by Insane Clown Posse.

Without such a vote, more cuts will be needed. Instead of trying to get Californians to vote for another "temporary" tax extension, why not try an innovative proposal he once believed in. To be specific, if Gov. Brown wants to get Republicans to sign on to giving Californians a choice that will help balance the budget, let him propose a flat-tax like he did in his 1992 Democratic presidential campaign.

"Innovative" does not mean what you think it means, Terry. But as a shipping magnate and oil baron, I'm intrigued by the idea that a 50% tax cut for high earners could be the answer. Tell me more.

Steve Forbes, author of "How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets are the Best Answer in Today's Economy," was a Republican presidential hopeful in the same year.

Boy was he. How did that work out?

Since then, both men have discussed the flat-tax concept and how it could work in the country and in California. Forbes said, "If done right, it would profoundly and positively change the economy in California. A low single-digit rate would unleash creativity," and boost the beleaguered state economy.

And now we're apparently taking advice from Steve Forbes. What, was Bob Dornan busy? Pete Wilson got deleted from your speed dial? Grover Norquist's mouth was too full?

But why should all Californians vote for such a plan?

This is an infomercial quality setup. Only worse. Terry Paulson is the guy who asks the host "But how can the Magic Knife cut paper-thin slices of this soft tomato right after bisecting a human femur lengthwise?" and looking on in mock amazement as the host explains the revolutionary engineering technology that makes Magic Knife so amazingly sharp, cut after cut.

1. As FDR said, “Taxes…are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.” It’s time for a truly “fair tax” that lets all pay the same “dues” rate!

He was actually paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes, but more to the point what in the hell does that quote have to do with the subsequent statement? And do Real Professional Columnists use exclamation points? Here, let me take a crack at my own Terry Paulson column:

1. As the Marquis de Condorcet said, 'Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.' It's about time we coated our naked bodies in creamy alfredo sauce and played jai alai!

I'm a natural.

With a uniform sales tax, when you buy more, you pay more. With a flat tax, the more you make, the more you pay, but all pay the same percentage!

"Two Magic Knives PLUS the genuine mahogany storage case for just $19.95? Who authorized this???"

Seriously, I'm warning you about the "!" usage. Serious writers do not use those embarrassing Fail Marks to convey enthusiasm. If you need to end it with "!" to get the point across, re-write it.

2. A flat tax replaces itemized deductions with one standard deduction (based on dependents) that is large enough to allow the poorest to pay no taxes and the rest to pay the same percentage on all earned income above that deduction. Although the popular deductions for mortgages or contributions would end, the lower tax rate would leave more for taxpayers to spend and donate.

A plan that allows "the poorest" to pay no taxes…sort of like our current tax scheme? Ah, but the Flat Tax alone has the added bonus of giving everyone in the top brackets a massive tax cut an opportunity to "spend and donate" so much more. Now I see the benefits.

3. Max Baucus said, "Tax complexity itself is a kind of tax." With the hours and dollars invested in figuring out taxes and finding tax-evasive strategies, imagine the joy of filling out your state taxes on a postcard. Simplicity is in! Let’s make taxes simple and lead the way for a national flat-tax.

This argument baffles me. Utter and complete bafflement results.

First, I am a reasonably intelligent non-expert in tax related matters. I fill out a full 1040. It takes me an hour, tops. My wife, prior to marriage, was filling out a 1040EZ. It took five minutes. Unless you are A) functionally illiterate or B) an American partner in a limited liability corporation based in Botswana, this just isn't that hard. FREE computer programs do it for you. If you get anything wrong, the IRS corrects it for you. We are not asked to split the atom here.

Second, how does flat tax = simplicity? We will need the exact same bureaucracy to administer it, unless of course we're going to go on the Honor System for people to report all of their income and assets.

4. Tired of watching special interest lobbyists vying for exceptions and special breaks? Taking away tax complexity makes their involvement unnecessary. Former press secretary and columnist Tony Snow said in a USA Today column, "A 'pure' flat tax–no deduction beyond the standard exemption–would…turn the Washington establishment on its ear. It would guarantee fairness and neutrality by demanding that everybody above a certain income level pay the same tax rate on each new dollar earned. Economists call this the marginal tax rate. It would starve the lobbying community by eliminating its reason for being." This would turn Sacramento on its ear!

I swear to god, one more exclamation point…even the warming presence of former Bush Press Secretary Tony Snow won't be enough to save you, TP.

The goal of taxation is not "fairness" or "neutrality." The goal of taxation is to fund the activities of government. And "fairness", when applied to the idea of treating the poor, working, middle, and upper classes the same, is called SOCIALISM, isn't it?

5. With everyone paying the same flat-tax rate, more voters would be cautious about electing politicians who waste taxpayer money on inessentials. When it’s your money they’re playing with, you pay attention.

I promised my dad I would stop swearing so much on here, but this makes absofuckinglutely no sense whatsoever. None. Are tax dollars currently collected from…someone else?

When it’s your neighbor’s money, why not elect big-spenders!

Again, no sense. Not one lick. Even by Townhall standards this is nonsensical. The logic at work here is the kind I would expect to find upon emerging from the other side of a wormhole, or the kind that would make sense to me if I cleaned my ears with a power drill.

6. If you want private sector growth, vote for a flat tax!


Currently, the more productive people are, the more they’re taxed.

Yep, nothing says "productive" quite like being Sam Walton's kid. Nothing contributes to society quite like trading mortgage-backed derivatives. Wealth and productivity: they go together like peanut butter and Robitussin.

A flat tax removes the penalties for success and encourages everyone to be as productive as they can be. That means new small business growth and more jobs!

I appear to have underestimated Terry Paulson's zeal for using exclamation points.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: if the prospect of the marginal tax on your next dollar of income rising from 30% to 35% "discourages" you from "being as productive as you can be", maybe it's time to stop re-reading Atlas Shrugged and, I don't know, go camping or get laid or something.

Now that getting federal legislators from 49 other cash-strapped states to provide a Washington bailout for California’s fiscal mess is becoming less and less likely, it’s time for bold leadership!

Wow. I guess you still aren't deterred. I'll go home and put on a wing tip. We'll see how exclamatory you feel after that. Also, it's nice to see someone like T-Paul admit that "Washington bailout" is clearly the preferred option.

Proposing a CA flat tax just might unleash bipartisan support in a state known for a never-ending partisan budget impasse. It’s time to let the California Dream soar again on the wings of a flat-tax plan!

Oh yeah. I can just feel the wave of bipartisan support for this thing. It is massive and powerful, like an enraged shark.

This is one of the strangest things I have ever read. It starts from the flawed premise that this is a novel idea and then proceeds to make innumerable ridiculous, unsupported claims using the writing style that seems like a hybrid of the erotic writings of Ludwig von Mises and a Cathy comic strip. I can only compare this experience to the first time I saw Waking Life or listened to hippie jam band music: I have no idea what this was supposed to be, but irrespective of intent it's pretty clear that I am looking at a steaming pile of crap.

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  • Ah yes, because the rich are abandoning California from Marin to Rancho Santa Fe. Because the state with a GDP comparable to that of Italy and one of the highest patent rates per capita is so lacking in productivity. Yes, it is our anti-rich tax policy that is the source of all California's woes!

    I love it when rich, whiny fucks cry about our state. They all stay here, of course, but God help them, if they just had the means they'd flee to Kansas so fast we wouldn't know what hit us!

  • Best. FJM. Ever.

    (BTW, I'm borrowing, "Wealth and productivity: they go together like peanut butter and Robitussin." for my signature on Kos, if that's alright with you.)

  • Long time reader, first time commenter. This is my favorite FJM so far. A little bit shorter on the humor and… well shit, you didn't even really need to debunk anything. What a ridiculous and poorly written piece of shit.

    A little Googling reveals that people pay this guy money (American Dollars even) to speak in front of crowds of people. If not for this stutter and propensity for adjusting my package every few seconds, I too could be rich and feel okay about a flat tax. Fuck me.

  • Steve Forbes called and wants his dad's collection of antique gay porn stale-ass idea back.

    This was so funny I nearly ended up spraying Surge out through my nose. Bravo, sir. Well done.

  • Busy day. Thought I'd swing by to just sit still for five minutes and de-stress.
    Only got to "But how can the Magic Knife cut paper-thin slices of this soft tomato right after bisecting a human femur lengthwise?".

    Gonna save the rest for later, when I can properly appreciate it.

    Mmm… hilarilicious.

    I love FJM!

  • mother earth says:

    I agree, never stop swearing.

    I think it's the Reagan 100th birthday edition. Bring out all of your tired old ideas that didn't work/fly the first time around and see if the mullets will buy it this go round.

    Great post…..still laughing.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    The reason he makes the "taxes are so complicated" argument is that the entire Flat Tax song-and-dance is aimed at people who know absolutely nothing about the tax system.

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    I liked Northern Exposure during the 90s! I loved Janine Turner's short hair and long dresses!

  • Monkey Business says:

    "It's like watching Andrew Carnegie and a couple of hobos in a Rolls-Royce on the way to a fried mayonnaise eating contest featuring the works of Vivaldi performed by Insane Clown Posse."

    That's the most apt description of the modern GOP I've ever heard.

    And I completely lost it at that last exclamation.

    Seriously though, the flat tax is fucking retarded. Guess what? If you have more wealth, either through working for it or acquiring it through inheritance, you have to pay more taxes. Why? Because you have chosen to live in a society where we allow you to have that wealth, instead of just seizing it because it's too much fucking money. These rich fucks should thank their lucky stars we're lazy as shit, otherwise we would have long since risen up and come at them like a bunch of rabid spider monkeys hopped up on Mountain Dew.

  • This is the best FJM ever! (sorry, couldn't resist)

    And tell your dad to go fuck himself (Kidding!!)

  • I should have known better than to include a link in my last comment attempt. Anyway, in case it doesn't make it through, I was praising Ed's superior FJM skills, and suggesting that this "It’s time to let the California Dream soar again on the wings of a flat-tax plan!" made me think of Ashcroft's "Let The Eagle Soar."

  • The tax code is a joke. Of course it should be overhauled. Citing how easy it is to fill out a 1040 as a declaration of “Why is everyone else an idiot” is complete nonsense. Try starting a business. Or, buy a house, have kids, or work as an independent contractor. I challenge you to work as an independent contractor in IT and then claim that taxes are easy. Try itemizing then tell me how easy your taxes are. Sure, my taxes were easy when I was 18. The reason that your tax filing is so easy is because you don’t have any extensive obligations or financial considerations To make the claim that software does it all for you is absurd as well because you have to know what to put into these fields prior to initiating the software UI. Or, what if you are uneducated and have no idea how to do this or to employ software to help you? Oh wait, poor folks don’t pay taxes because they make so little. Sounds like a GOP argument to me all of a sudden. The middle class get hosed by our complex tax system. The system should be overhauled for no other reason than to prevent the rich from exploiting loopholes because they have the money to employ attorneys to do just that. On a personal note, the IRS, a criminal organization, sent me a letter last month asking me why I paid so much Maryland tax. If we pay taxes to fund government, why am I doing the IRS’s job in informing them of Maryland tax code policies? When you reach 50 years of age, write this piece again.

  • Peanut-butter and Robitussin -> really great. I've argued with the Flat Tax folk before and they just don't get it. So the calculation is income * tax rate. But what is income ? That's the hard part and they just don't see that most of the tax code is the definition of that little number…..

  • "I love it when rich, whiny fucks cry about our state. They all stay here, of course, but God help them, if they just had the means they'd flee to Kansas so fast we wouldn't know what hit us!"

    Ooh, yeah. The parasitic rich banking fucks here in CT do the same song-and-dance routine. "Why if you dare raise the top income tax rate to levels that would still be lower than NY, NJ or MA, we'll all start commuting to Manhattan from Tennessee!"

    "Try itemizing then tell me how easy your taxes are."

    As Jim has indicated, itemizing deductions has nothing to do with calculating the taxes on your net income. Virtually all Americans look up the tax on their net income in a table, rather than using calculus or whatever the fuck it is Steve Forbes thinks middle-class people's armies of accountants are doing. Dragging in how hard determining one's net income is in support of a flat tax is a red herring. Again: calculating taxes on one's net income requires looking up a number in a table. Allowing people to use one percentage no matter how rich they are doesn't save any time or effort. But it does allow rich people to get another tax cut and further defund government, aka "win-win."

  • Why attack the messenger if the message is appropriate? Of course we should defund large portions of this government. We can't do so effectively until we fix the screwed up revenue stream. I challenge you to work here in DC for one day and come away at the end of the day still thinking that the government works. If we are going to enter the way back machine to the 90s to parody the initial flat tax proposals, then let's ride that machine back to the 30s to parody the concept that the government is our savior. When are the liberals and the conservatives going to get off their old political stumps and start thinking of new concepts to ameliorate our problems? The liberals rail against the over funded military while saying we need to pay or taxes. How stupefying is that?

    See link below as an example as to what I am talking about. Oh Wait. Coburn is quoted so it must be a lie. God help me. I can’t figure out who bothers me more: The knee-jerk big government liberals or the Family Values Christian “I hate gays but still like it in the butt from time-to-time” “conservatives. My only reaction now is to voluntarily vomit in mouth and look for property in Montreal:


  • Yeah remember when those international investment bankers threatened to leave the UK over the bonus tax?

    I wondered if any did. Finally saw a story headlined "UK bankers flee to Switzerland to avoid taxes." OMG that's 'awful!! The story says "BRITISH bankers migrating to Switzerland surged by almost a third last year, as its low personal and business taxes lured workers to the alpine territory."

    And then you read that this represents "a total of 328 British citizens."

    OH. Well, considering London alone is a world financial center, let alone other UK cities, I'd say 328 citizens leaving is not exactly a crisis.

  • "My only reaction now is to voluntarily vomit in mouth and look for property in Montreal"

    Sooooo, you're upset because our government is too big and taxes are too high, so you want to move to a country with bigger government and higher taxes?


  • No, I want to move to a country where folks don't have their heads up their asses. At least the Canadians, for the most part, are not fucking hypocrites like most moronic Americans. And I suspect that their government isn't remotely as large as ours. Between the average GS-8 and the President in this country there are at least 50 levels of bureaucratic control. I seriously doubt that the Canadians can even match us for our level of bureuacratic complexity and size. Next.

  • LucyTooners says:

    Da Moose Says: The tax code is a joke. Of course it should be overhauled.

    The tax code is complicated by design and distraction. You are correct it is this way so that the underpriviledged have to pay the largest portion of the taxes. The wealthy can get the best CPAs and Tax Attorneys that money can buy to keep their tax bills the lowest beside hiding money in offshore banks. The middle class must either poney up for a CPA, become educated on tax preparation or be taken. Although, I have seen it where the IRS will revise a tax return if it was not done properly and send out notices. This happens both if you owe money or if you are overpaid. I worked for a CPA and do agree the IRS is a mess. It is that way for a whole hosts of reasons but mostly due to the fact that the most talented do not work for the IRS they are in private practice. I have known a couple of people including my mom that worked for the IRS. It is a hell hole.

  • Or, what if you are uneducated and have no idea how to do this or to employ software to help you

    The State of California had a plan that solved that problem. For 90,000 people, the State send them pre-filled tax forms based on their income. If it was correct, all the people had to do was sign the form. There's no reason that this can't be duplicated for everyone who can fill out a 1040 EZ.

    The Governator discontinued that program, at the lobbying behest of Jackson Hewett and H&R Block.

    My only reaction now is to voluntarily vomit in mouth and look for property in Montreal:

    So your response to not liking the US Tax code is to move to Quebec. Ok…

  • @Da Moose: I suspect the reason Canada's government is smaller is because they don't have 300 million+ residents, or the world's largest military, or the world's largest economy.

  • WhiskeyTango says:

    Absolutely astounding! The only real effect of a flat tax, and the only real reason that anyone would advocate it, is to provide a fat tax cut to folks who pay the top marginal rates. And incidentally, a tax increase to the middle class.

    All of that other stuff they say is a shit storm of obfuscation, which some people are willing to buy because they're so dumb that they believe they pay 25 or 32 (or whatever) of their gross in federal income tax.

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