Ron Paul's campaign website declares that, as president, he will support a constitutional amendment to abolish the federal income tax. Now, I'm a big fan of lower taxes. Who isn't?
But I'm a bigger fan of an idea that I call "closing the circle." The term itself simply means that all of us should think about the possible effects or possible outcomes of whatever it is that we are going to do. Above all, we should think about the logical trajectory of our impulses.
Good examples of "closing the circle" in national policy are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In those misadventures, would it not have been a good idea to have had both entrance and exit strategies? And what about the means to pay for those wars without borrowing?
More personal examples would be to think about how we plan to pay mortgage or credit card bills that will be way beyond our ability to pay -- even if we have a job. Or whether I should get that big tattoo stating that "Tim Loves Gloria!" Closing that circle would mean that I would have to consider the possibility that I might marry a woman named Pat.
Yes, I know -- this kind of thinking can be a "buzz killer." Still, I keep plodding on, evangelizing as I go.
Which brings me back to Paul. I like him because he's quixotic and a little weird. He gave up doctoring many years ago to become a member of a much more deeply reviled group -- the federal Congress. And now he hopes to become president. He doesn't seem to be having much success. But, like me, he keeps plodding along in his mission.
Now, it is true that Paul's campaign website does briefly allude to other means of revenue extraction -- like a "flat tax." Still, it seems to me a tax by any other name is still a tax and will still have to be based on some form of personal and/or business income.
But let's close the circle regarding the literal notion of a "zero income tax" -- which, as noted above, would logically have to include other forms of taxation on any kind of income.
As contemporary conservatives would say, the idea would have the added attraction of being dear to the hearts of our "founding fathers." And they, like Paul and others, would eagerly look forward to the day that income taxes of all kinds would disappear. To be replaced by what? Remember now, we're closing the circle and following the logical trajectory of the idea. Import duties and fees? National membership dues? Sales taxes? Nothing? Nada? Zero?
Zero federal income taxes sounds like a great idea! Let's set the date when the zero tax amendment would go into effect. How about picking one at random three years into Paul's first term as president: July 4, 2016. Tax Independence Day!
As it happens, July 4, 2016, will be a Monday. Now ask yourself: What happens on Tuesday?
Timothy R. Allan is a member of the History Department faculty at Fredonia State College.