Flat tax: not so simple

Here is the weirdness of the Internet: We now have more information at our fingertips 24/7 than even the most brilliant scientists had a few decades back. With one touch, we can explore world religions, orangutans or the physics of a curve ball. Once upon a time, we gathered in bars for hours to debate things like, “Whatever happened to Scott Baio?” These days, some jerk just whips out his iPhone. Case closed. Fun over.

And yet, this instant access to superficial knowledge about everything seems to be killing our interest in deeper knowledge about anything. If a concept can’t be reduced to a tweet, many of us can’t be troubled to take it in. Perhaps that explains the pronounced appetite among voters for tax plans that might have been scratched out in the margin of a newspaper while the candidate’s coffee cooled.
9-9-9. The flat tax.    

The appeal is obvious: They sound simple. They sound like an antidote to all the complexity that plagues us in our cell phone bills, insurance plans and whatever that stupid discount program is at the grocery store.

But reforming the tax code, even if you think that is a spectacular idea, is inherently complex. Rick Perry practically knit­ted his brow into a cardigan this week, when he noted that the current tax code is made up of tens of thousands of pages.

Exactly. Tax policy analysts say thinking that such a vast system can be easily reduced to a stack of postcards, without seismic shifts in what we get from and give to our government, is naïve.

Republicans and Democrats alike try to sell such ideas all the time as the very essence of simplicity; whether talking about job creation or trimming the debt. They know pithy statements grab head­lines and are easily posted on Facebook.

But voters need to know that such claims, especially with regard to the tax code, are almost always misleading. Those same tax analysts say making such changes would not be like repainting the Capitol, but rather more like replacing the foundation. And as much as we may want it to be simple, it would instead be hugely complicated and full of wild uncertainty.

– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/www.ac360.com and “The Situation Room.”
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…