Nixon's Law -- WAY OFF-TOPIC

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Nov 27 17:34:25 UTC 2002

In a message dated 11/27/02 7:00:03 AM Eastern Standard Time,
abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET writes:

> Personally, I favor...a flat tax

Before you decided you favored the "flat tax", did you ponder on Nixon's Law:
"Every change to the tax code helps somebody and hurts somebody."

Never heard of Nixon's Law?  Of course not.  I just now invented the name.

Why give the honor of the name to President Nixon (who, incidentally, and to
the surprise of a certain contributor to ADS-L, did more for the environment
than any other US President except perhaps his fellow Republican Theodore

Because while many other politicians have pondered this Law, only Mr. Nixon
ever actually designed a tax based on this Law.  Specifically early in his
administration he proposed replacing the existing welfare system with a
"Negative Income Tax."

I will grant that the idea of a Negative Income Tax quickly passed into
oblivion, forgotten even by Nixon's supporters.  I will cheerfully grant that
the very speed with which it was forgotten is strong evidence that it was a
Bad Idea to begin with.  However, that is beside the point.  Nixon should
receive credit for having made an imaginative (albeit eminently forgettable)
proposal to use the very philosophy of the tax system in order to help the
citizenry of the United States.

Come to think of it...had the Negative Income Tax been put into effect,
should those people receiving money from the Federal Government under this
system be referred to as "taxpayers"?

       - James A. Landau

P.S.  Come to think of it, the Negative Income Tax had a very un-GOP
philosophical basis.  Putting Welfare under Revenue implies that Welfare is a
purely financial transaction---"Mr. X is entitled to a payment from the
government because his income is such-and-such"---and also implies that
non-financial incentives, or disencentives, to get a job are not relevant.
Treating Welfare as a Topic Unto Itself (or in President Reagans very
felicitous metaphor, "safety net") gives you a lot more flexibility in
thinking how to implement a welfare system, e.g. you now have the
philosophical freedom to argue for---or against---requiring welfare
recipients to work.

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