Saturday, December 1, 2012


Phil Jimenez, 2003. Via Wikipedia.
Old Brooksie has been too much for me of late, almost epically frolicsome, if you can say such a thing, as he attempts to display his indifference to President Obama and current events in general.

Last Friday he decided to enumerate rising stars of the right-wing literary legions, listing a total of 20 writers and bloggers from (Mc)Ardle to Zingales, including some South Asian and other exotic names. There were some precious Brooksisms; of Rod Dreher and Daniel Larison he wrote one of his most hilariously sub-meaningful lines ever,
Dispositionally, they are more Walker Percy than Pat Robertson.
(Googling around to get an idea what it might mean, I learn that Percy was a lay Benedictine brother, whereas Dreher has left the church of Rome for Eastern Orthodoxy after concluding that the pedophiles problem in Catholicism was caused not by pedophiles but by a Lavender Mafia of gay priests. No, that doesn't explain anything about what Brooks said, at least I don't think it does, but it's sort of fascinating.)

But I felt it would take me 20 posts to get through the column in all its glory.
Planet X Forecast.
Then on Tuesday he tried out for domestic advice columnist, taking his text from the Crews Missile, a recently surfaced document of English decadence in which a crusty dad (Royal Navy, Ret.) berates the children he has neglected for 40 years, by email, for neglecting their own children in turn. Suffice it to say that the email is much more interesting than anything Brooks has to say about it (which consists of nostrums of the catch more flies with honey than vinegar variety).

Today he is offering himself up to the ranks of Jack Kemp and Malcolm Forbes, Jr., as an advocate of one of those tax systems that proposes to be progressive and regressive at the same time. This one is the Mysterious X Tax devised by the late David Bradford in 1986 and recently championed in a book by Robert Carroll and Alan Viard. (They also produced a little Readers Digest version for the Atlantic, last July, which is where I got all my information on it, and presumably also where Brooks got his.)

On Planet X, you pay your income tax at a progressive sequence of marginal rates, just like here, but only on what your boss gives you; any income from what you have squirreled away, in the bank or on the equities market, is tax free. There is also a direct consumption tax, but you don't pay that—the store does. It's their income tax, also at progressive rates, which every business pays on their receipts, except again for savings, and also for capital investments, which the business deducts in total the year that they are made instead of as a series of depreciation deductions.

So it's a moral hazardist's wet dream of a tax system that taxes only the rude, sweaty money of hunger and desire, wages and goods, and none of the sweet parthenogenous money of compound interest. And then at the same time it's "progressive"! As long as we leave out the fact that since you and I can't save a dime, while Willard Mitt Romney never has to touch his vast principle, we'll be paying taxes on 100% of our income and Romney on 1% of his.

There's more to say about this one: it's going to be instructive to see how Brooks assembles his argument, and I hope to work out some idea of why he's bringing it up just now (it isn't, for a change, something that could have just slipped into the Kindle). But not tonight...
Man from Planet X, dir. Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951. From

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