Steve Forbes has a dream, but it may be the nightmare of the common man.
With the flat tax as his main platform issue, Mr. Forbes, millionaire magazine mogul and heir to the Forbes fortune, intends to spend $25 million of his own money to further his bid to gain the Republican presidential nomination.
But is this a good idea?
Forbes' plan would eliminate all personal income tax deductions, transforming taxes from a time and labor intensive chore to a quick and easy way to give the government 17 percent of your earnings.
Capital gains taxes would no longer be an issue - as the theory goes, taxes have already been paid on those earnings by the businesses that made the money. Inheritance taxes would also be eliminated, which is, coincidentally, pretty convenient for someone who inherited approximately $485 million.
Self-interest aside for a moment, is it fair to make someone working at McDonald's pay taxes in the same income bracket as, say me, since I earn approximately $6.9 million for every article I write? Well, no - but that's OK, because people like me, we hav e accountants on our side.
I have a deal worked out with the corporation that publishes the Wildcat that gives me a salary totaling exactly $12.35 and gives me the rest in stock and pork futures. It's tough for me to forfeit that two dollars and ten cents, sure ... but I'm a good A merican and I pay my taxes.
I think, however, that Steve has overlooked the most terrifying implications of his tax reform plan. No complex tax structure, no I.R.S. "Nifty," you're probably thinking. "I hate the I.R.S." And hey, who doesn't fear and loathe the Internal Revenue Serv ice?
But we've got 'em just where we want 'em.
Think about what happens when the CIA furloughs their trained killers - what do they know in life, but killing? Keep the auditors busy with menial labor and they won't roam the streets causing trouble.
Just imagine gangs of men dressed in black suits and trenchcoats, armed with AK-47's and calculators, taking 33 percent of whatever's in your wallet. And, unlike our benevolent government, the criminal underworld isn't likely to offer you a refund if they screw up.
No horror movie imaginable could compare with the terror of a drive-by audit. Just imagine Jason with thick glasses and two briefcases full of death.
Steve ... he looks like an accountant. He's one of THEM, and this is his secret plan. He doesn't have to actually win the presidency to convince people that this is what they want; he'll view the debauchery from inside the heavily defended Forbes Family C ompound in Kennebunkport, Maine, all the while making capital gains profits on every copy of Forbes sold to sly businessmen who want to dodge the tax system.
The Internal Revenue Service is like a zoo. We've rounded up all the kids who tricked you out of your milk money in school and put 'em in one place. Or, perhaps it is more like a volcano perpetually on the verge of erupting. Instead of tossing virgins int o the molten inferno to appease Pele, we toss the dogs a few taxpayers and we keep the rumbling to a minimum.
Tremors are always a good predictor of an impending eruption - I saw the news coverage on CNN of the government shutdown and the subsequent I.R.S. employee protests.
Those I.R.S. workers - they're not like you and me. They're vicious and scheming. You could see it in their eyes and hear it in their plaintive wails. They were foaming at the mouth, ready to work, and furious with the bureaucrats who denied them fresh me at.
Right now the 1040EZ is all that keeps this horror from being unleashed on the innocents of our great country. Please keep America safe.
Jon Roig is a Wildcat arts reporter.