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Sunday, February 10, 2013

WSJ: Ben Carson on the Flat Tax

Wall Street Journal editorial, Ben Carson for President:  The Johns Hopkins Neurosurgeon Has Two Big Ideas for America:

Whether this weekend finds you blowing two feet of snow off the driveway or counting the hours until "Downton Abbey," make time to watch the video of Dr. Ben Carson speaking to the White House prayer breakfast this week.

Seated in view to his right are Senator Jeff Sessions and President Obama. One doesn't look happy. You know something's coming when Dr. Carson says, "It's not my intention to offend anyone. But it's hard not to. The PC police are out in force everywhere."

Dr. Carson tossed over the PC police years ago. Raised by a single mother in inner-city Detroit, he was as he tells it "a horrible student with a horrible temper." Today he's director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and probably the most renowned specialist in his field.

Late in his talk he dropped two very un-PC ideas. The first is an unusual case for a flat tax: "What we need to do is come up with something simple. And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he's given us a system. It's called a tithe.

"We don't necessarily have to do 10% but it's the principle. He didn't say if your crops fail, don't give me any tithe or if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithe. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one. Of course you've got to get rid of the loopholes. Some people say, 'Well that's not fair because it doesn't hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10.' Where does it say you've got to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don't need to hurt him. It's that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here building our infrastructure and creating jobs."

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Comments

Obama's no brain surgeon.

Posted by: Woody | Feb 10, 2013 7:19:59 PM

Actually the Tithe operation is more of a Land Value Tax, than an anti-capitalist sales (and thus work tax).

Posted by: AC1 | Feb 11, 2013 8:51:39 AM

The rich spend only a small part of their income on consumption. The rest is seed corn. It's invested in something that will be wanted.

If somebody says "At some point, you have enough money," he's suggesting distributing the seed corn and eating it, so that everybody can eat more, rather than noticing that extra money is capital.

Posted by: rhhardin | Feb 11, 2013 9:02:08 AM

One thing one has to conclude here is that the WSJ is no longer able to find real economists to support its unsupportable positions on tax policy, and so must turn to a neurosurgeon.

Dr. Carson's proposal would amount to a massive tax increase on low and lower middle income families, and a massive tax decrease on high income families (of which we will assume Dr. Carson is one of), but if that's what God wants, well so be it.

Here's a proposal. If Dr. Carson will refrain from practicing tax policy we professional economists will refrain from doing neurosurgery, or at least restrict ourselves to weekends and holidays.

Posted by: David R. | Feb 11, 2013 9:37:09 AM

He may have some good ideas, but that's no reason to rally around him for president. Anybody can have a few good ideas. Enough with the hero worship in search of a hero.

Posted by: Tim maguie | Feb 11, 2013 9:51:43 AM

Never going to happen.... not enough opportunity for graft.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 11, 2013 10:23:10 AM

Dr. Carson's proposal would amount to a massive tax increase on low and lower middle income families, and a massive tax decrease on high income families

Horseshit, your honor. He proposes a proportionality affordable by everybody, poor included. That is automatically progressive - higher earners pay more. The truth of so-called 'progressive' (that's the political, not the proportional term) taxation is that it deliberately hurts the wealthy - who've already 'put a billion in the pot'. Dr. Carson is absolutely right, that we don't need to hurt them. It's only the cynical greed of the 'progressives' that relishes inflicting that hurt - and relishes the corrupt government spending of the loot thereby extracted.

Posted by: Insuficiently Sensitive | Feb 11, 2013 11:33:57 AM

Dr. Carson's proposal would amount to a massive tax increase on low and lower middle income families

Yes, that would be horrendous... they might actually realize that the free stuff they keep voting for themselves isn't free! THEY MIGHT ACTUALLY SUPPORT SMALLER GOVERNMENT!!!!

The horror.

Posted by: Deoxy | Feb 11, 2013 11:46:38 AM

"One thing one has to conclude here is that the WSJ is no longer able to find real economists to support its unsupportable positions on tax policy, and so must turn to a neurosurgeon."

Apparently you didn't realize that WSJ did not invite the doctor to speak at the prayer breaksfast, they simply covered the speech. Furthermore, I've never heard WSJ advocate for or against a flat tax, have you?

Posted by: willis | Feb 11, 2013 11:52:48 AM

@ David R.
Well first, it would be useful if the 'professional economists' could present a cogent and logical explanation, including a discussion of the moral component, as to why it is "fair" that the guy who earns $1,000,000 should pay at a marginal rate of 40 odd percent on the last dollar, while the guy who earns $10,000 above the personal exemption level pays maybe 10%. Just why is it morally "fair" that one person gets 40% taken away and another pays less.
A flat tax makes everyone pay at the same level on every dollar.
Yes, there needs to be a personal exemption: the tax must be leveled on 'net taxable income'.

And while you are being a 'professional economist' you might wish to set out why you think taxing corporations is a *good* idea, when corporations do not bear the incidences of the taxes they remit.

Posted by: Dyspeptic Curmudgeon | Feb 11, 2013 12:03:35 PM

"Some people say, 'Well that's not fair because it doesn't hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10.' Where does it say you've got to hurt the guy?"

This is what I have been wondering all these years.

Posted by: Blacque Jacques Shellacque | Feb 11, 2013 12:24:16 PM

David R. wrote, "If Dr. Carson will refrain from practicing tax policy we professional economists will refrain from doing neurosurgery, or at least restrict ourselves to weekends and holidays."

Thanks to Obamacare, you economists will have more control over medicine than doctors will have over tax policy.

Posted by: Nate Whilk | Feb 11, 2013 1:14:59 PM


Dr. Carson rightly alluded to special interests as a 4th branch of government.
Influence peddling by K Street should not
be a factor in who gets taxed what.
Economic and social needs can be met
on the spending side of government.
A truly flat tax requires both
a flat tax base and a flat tax rate,
applied to all taxpayers alike,
like Dr. Carson's tithe example.
Here's a suggested approach in 290 words

FreedomIncomeTax
Money Received x Tax Rate = Tax Payable
flat tax base x flat tax rate = tax certainty

This tax opperates as a bank software program
promotes growth of private and public sectors
guts the tax code and saves $535 billion year

Demonstration:
Before debate on it's merits, "dry run"
practice simulations of this software program
will be conducted to demonstrate:
1. Size of the tax base,
2. Tax rate needed for income tax revenue, and
3. How this software will calculate, collect,
and precisely account for this tax.
These practice simulations will be perfected
in one, then all banks.

Basics:
1. No filing, no reporting, and no paperwork.
Software calculates and collects this tax
in real time with precise accounting to
the government and the taxpayer as money
transfers through the banking system.
2. The tax base, taxable income, is defined as
money received from whatever source derived
Precisely accounted for by bank software,
taxpayers now receive over $200 trillion
annually. Check and electronic receipts
total 98% of money received. Cash receipts
most being quickly re-deposited, are 2%.
3. The tax calculation is:
Money Received x Tax Rate = Tax Payable
4. A 1% tax rate:
$200 trillion x 1% = $2.0 trillion revenue,
more income tax than collected by tax code.
$ 10,000 x 1% = $100
$ 100,000 x 1% = $1,000
$ one million x 1% = $10,000
$ one billion x 1% = $10 million
5. Tax certainty is priceless:
Legislation for any tax base exclusion,
or any tax rate increase,
shall require a 100% senate majority.

Freedom is our strength. Freedom Works.
See FreedomIncomeTax website


Posted by: Sector Senate | Feb 11, 2013 1:16:55 PM

Anybody else reading the thought balloons over the President's head?

Actually, I think his thoughts were pretty biblical: "Be fruitful and multiply." Just not in those words.

Posted by: Laka | Feb 11, 2013 4:58:29 PM

Do you know that Christin Griskie and Dr. Ben have something in common as part of their stories?

Posted by: Christin Griskie | Feb 11, 2013 8:49:43 PM

Dr. Ben Carson On Criticizing Obamacare: "Somebody Has To Stand Up To The Bullies"

"There are a group of people who would like to silence everybody and have everybody go along to get along, but that's not going to be very helpful for us in the long run, in terms of solving our problems. And somebody has to be courageous enough to actually stand up to, you know, the bullies. ....

"One of the things I also said during the speech is there will be some people who will say, 'but you’re a doctor and you’re a surgeon, you should be sticking to that.' And I mentioned the fact that five physicians signed the Declaration of Independence and were involved in the framing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and several other things.

"There’s absolutely no reason at all that physicians, scientists, shouldn’t be involved in things that affect all of us. We’re people who've learned how to make decisions based on facts, empirical data, rather than on ideology, and one of the geniuses, one of the real things that made us a great nation, is that we brought people from all backgrounds into the legislative process. So that all of us would be able to place our interests there and we've gone significantly away from that.

"And no one goes up to a lawyer and says why are you getting involved in this, that and the other thing. I don't see why they would say it to a physician, who has more education than anyone else in society."

Posted by: Woody | Feb 12, 2013 9:49:54 AM

Here's the nonsense from the Obama-lackey media that Dr. Carson has to fight, as it tries to shut him up. -- CNN's Crowley Asks Panel If Dr. Carson's Speech Was "Offensive"

Posted by: Woody | Feb 12, 2013 9:58:16 AM

"something inherently fair about proportionality" - I tend to agree but would the guy with 10 billion be ready to put in 1 billion in the kitty? I think not.

Posted by: Form 34B | Mar 2, 2013 1:37:23 AM

Taking $1 from the person who earns $10 hurts him more than taking $1 billion from the person who earns $10 billion, because the person who earns $10 needs that marginal doll

Marginal utility matters, and especially so at the lowest incomes.

At the same time, it is just as wrong to tax higher incomes at punitive rates as it is to tax subsistence incomes at rates which are effectively hurtful.

Millions of Americans work hard for low wages and pay taxes without receiving entitlements or handouts; a childless adult working full time at minimum wage pays over $500 in FIT plus over $1000 in payroll taxes, without qualifying for any handouts or tax credits.

Why not tax discretionary income at a flat rate, with a nominal minimum tax (say, $500 per person) to ensure everybody pays something?

Posted by: Terry | Mar 19, 2013 1:58:06 PM