Monday, May 30, 2005

Here's a Tax We Can All Agree On

The greatest pleasure of running a country (although no politician will admit it) is getting to tax people. We Republicans decry exactions and imposts and espouse minimal outlay by the sovereign power. But we control all three branches of government. This won't last forever. Let's have some fun while we can. Moreover, the federal deficit is--contrary to all Republican principles--huge. Even the most spending-averse among us wouldn't mind additional revenue.

America's media and entertainment industry has a gross (as it were) revenue of $316.8 billion a year. If we subtract the income derived from worthy journalism and the publishing of serious books, that leaves $316.8 billion. Surely this money can be put to a more socially useful purpose than reportage on the going forth and multiplying of Britney Spears.

What is the least damaging way to tax the media and entertainment industry? The first response that comes to mind is "Who cares?" Everybody in this business hates us except Rupert Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal editorial page editors, and Bruce Willis. Private bills in Congress having to do with Bermuda incorporation can take care of that. Still, we don't want to tax profits. After all we're Republicans. And as that great Republican think tank, the Bible, puts it, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose" . . . the next election.

An indirect tax is best, being proportional in its effects and producing "flat tax" outcomes. I propose a tax on raw materials. Continue here (The Weekly Standard, 30 May 2005)