Radical Reform and the 28th Amendment

Nelson Hultberg

November 19, 2017

A frequent objection often encountered in trying to launch radical reform for America’s political system is that in today’s world it will be impossible to induce radical change because the people just don’t care. They are mesmerized by their SUVs and all the goodies that Consumerland has brought them. They are already bought and paid for with the bread and circuses government perpetually sends their way and will not give a damn as long as government promises to take care of them.

This way of thinking assumes that radical reform of the system requires a general consensus among the people in favor of it before it can be accomplished. But this is not true at all as the rebel firebrand, Samuel Adams, so dramatically told us in the build-up to the Boston Tea Party in 1773: “It does not take a majority to prevail…but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

The American Revolution was fomented by just such a minority of irate, tireless, principled patriots who saw the radical truth of “political freedom” and were willing to commit their lives in the fight for it. The so called “people” of that day were quite comfortable being British subjects, content with the lifestyle of their day. They were not interested in “radical change” in the system. But the rebels of that day who became our nation’s Founders saw things differently and acted accordingly. The result was the creation of the greatest country in the history of mankind.

Things today are no different. Radical change in our political system is desperately needed, to which the bulk of American citizens (Democrat and Republican) are opposed. But just as in 1773 there is a minority of irate, tireless patriots rising up who realize that radical change must come to America, or we will not survive as a free nation. Such patriots see that government is hideously out of control and must be reigned in.

The Primary Solution

It is our contention at AFR that the most important way to reign in government is to end its power to confiscate the earnings of productive citizens and pass them out to millions of less productive citizens (via subsidies, privileges, favors, programs and pork) so as to buy their support on Election Day. This is how government grows – by redistribution of wealth! And it must be ended if we are to ever have a chance to restore the American republic to what it was meant to be.

This means “progressive tax rates” must be abolished from our tax code. This does not mean promoting mildly flatter tax rates as the RINOs and moderates of the GOP wish to do. It means that America must adopt a TOTAL FLAT TAX, i.e., equal tax rates for every citizen above the poverty level. This is the basis for AFR’s proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution. It will abolish “progressive tax rates” from our tax code totally. For a thorough explanation of this theme from both a practical and moral perspective, see our 12-page Tax Report, Ending “Progressive Tax Rates” in America.

Why take on the task of an amendment, you may ask? Why not just work to pass a FLAT TAX into law, which is much easier than getting a constitutional amendment ratified? The reason is that this needs to be a permanent policy change. Thus an amendment is needed to keep Congress from reverting back to progressive rates once liberals regain power.

In addition this approach greatly dramatizes the issue. It makes it a matter of morality and constitutionality. By employing an amendment strategy we can, thus, attack our present tax code as “immoral and unconstitutional.” All lofty aims of history have a MORAL connotation to them. Tax reform is no different. We need to make use of this crucial aspect.

If we are going to employ an income tax as our means to sustain government, this is the only form that is compatible with America’s undergirding principle of justice – EQUAL RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW. Productive people are no different legally than those who are less productive. The only fair way to tax people’s incomes is to do so proportionally, i.e., with equal rates. Equal rights mandate equal rates.

This is the primary solution to the problem of government aggrandizement and the political ruin it is bringing down upon us. This is something that the entire rotted structure of Democrat-Republican politics lacks – a rational solution to the hideous growth of the federal government. Equal rights must be applied to our tax code.

So objection to AFR’s 28th Amendment challenge of the income tax as too radical to be accepted in today’s apathetic society does not hold up. Such a radical challenge is the only means to bring about genuine reform.

Samuel Adams and his fellow rebels in 1773 are dramatic testament to this, as was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the USSR throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These revolutionary leaders knew that entrenched authority has to justify itself morally and philosophically. This is something that today’s Democrat-Republican elites cannot do. They are terribly vulnerable. They are rotted from within and ripe for a challenge just as the British royalty and the Soviet Politburo were ripe. The Democrat-Republican mega-state can be brought down.

Ultimate Goal is Abolition of the Income Tax Itself

The other objection to AFR’s 28th Amendment cause is that just eliminating the “progressivity” of the income tax will never do. The income tax itself is tyrannical, and needs to be abolished totally. We at AFR certainly agree that income taxation is a disastrous way to tax people in a free country, and it must be ended. The dilemma is how to design a means to bring about its end. We can’t just wave a magic wand and have the income tax suddenly voted out of existence. We must create a strategy to motivate the people to want to end it. And that is what the 28th Amendment will do.

As we show in Ending “Progressive Tax Rates” in America, by ending tax progressivity we will generate the necessary desire among the populace to end the income tax itself. The reason the tax is tolerated today by the American people is because only 50% of the voters pay it because of the special favors, exemptions and breaks that have been written into our tax code. In other words, we have only a 50% tax participation rate among the people. But by abolishing all the special favors, exemptions and breaks we will increase that “participation rate” to 80% (everyone above the poverty level). Once this is done, then the people who are presently paying zero taxes will have to pay their fair share. As a result they will no longer support the income tax itself and will be much more favorable toward replacing it with a National Sales Tax.

The National Sales Tax

Many Americans today have endorsed the idea of a sales tax as far superior to an income tax. I agree as to the superiority of a sales tax. The problem is that at today’s level of government spending it requires a 15%-23% rate (depending on whether replacement of FICA taxes are factored in), which is a very tough sell to add on to the state sales taxes of 6%-8%. In fact it is psychologically unsalable to the voters.

I worked for Citizens for an Alternative Tax System in the 1990s, and we found it impossible to sell just a 15% consumption tax to the voters. Yet today’s Fair Tax movement promotes a 23% consumption tax. Both sales tax rates are unsalable because there is a psychological hurdle in the human mind that gets in the way. The people won’t tolerate adding 15%-23% to their 8% state sales taxes, which means they would have to pay a total sales tax of 31% on a $30,000 auto purchase. This means the car costs them $39,300.

While it can be shown that though they pay $9,300 more for their car and more for all the other purchases of their lives, they will still pay less in the overall picture by not having to fork over 10%-40% of their earnings to the IRS, the voters still will not buy a “national sales tax” that adds 15%-23% to their purchase of goods and services. Such a tax and rate are simply psychologically unsalable. The stubbornness of human nature at work.

But the National Sales Tax would be salable if its proposed rate can be lowered. AFR’s 28th Amendment plan is the means to do this. Ending “progressivity of rates” for the income tax will bring about a steady reduction of government spending, which will allow us to reduce the tax burden from 15% every year eventually to 10%. See Ending “Progressive Tax Rates” in America, pp. 2-5, for more detail. Once this takes place the income tax could then be replaced with a tolerable national sales tax of 8% plus a 2% tariff on imports if the people desire it. In other words, an 8% national sales tax would be salable to the people; a 15%-23% national sales tax will never be.

An amendment to the Constitution could then be passed that banned any and all taxation of income for all individuals and businesses. Voila! The income tax and the IRS would no longer be a part of America. Incrementalism in politics at work. But we must foment a rational, workable plan to bring it into being – a plan that will comport with “equal rights” and reduce its 15% rate over time to 10%, which will allow us to pass a National Sales Tax. This is what AFR’s 28th Amendment cause is all about.

Implementing an Equal-rate Income Tax

If we are to enact an “equal-rate income tax,” we would begin the enactment at 15% with the elimination of whatever wasteful government programs and spending is necessary to make the budget balance within a 3-year period. See Cato’s Chris Edwards, A Plan to Cut Federal Government Spending, June 23, 2017 for how to do this.

Our proposed 15% equal-rate income tax would run a deficit for the first three years as the excess spending is cut. To assure that such spending is cut, the unnecessary programs in Edwards’ plan would be written into “sunset legislation” whereby they are automatically axed within three years.  

Hopefully the reader is beginning to grasp that in order to have political justice in this country, we must have “equal rights” in our tax system. It is the cardinal principle upon which we were formed as a nation. It is what marked our political system as the ideal in all of history.

To help promote the 28th Amendment, an educational organization for its support has been launched with the above 12-page Tax Report: https://www.afr.org/pdfs/EndIncomeTax.pdf. In addition, AFR is presently creating a 9-minute video to explain the reasons, both practical and moral, for the Amendment. It should be out in January 2018.

In order for all this to happen, however, you the reader must take action. Beliefs and ideals have to be acted upon if they are to reform our society. So don’t let this message languish. Pass it on to friends and associates. This is how they did it in Thomas Paine’s day – neighbor to neighbor – and we can do the same. In fact we have it much easier than Paine’s contemporaries, for we have the Internet and Mr. Gates’ marvelous little window to the world.

To sum all this up, the most important thing we can do to end mega-statism in our lives is to stop the government from confiscating our earnings with arbitrary tax rates. Allow those who earn their money to keep it. Cease from passing it out to those who covet it. This is how our overlords in Washington build their power structures and expand the endless spending programs that buy the millions of votes that keep them ensconced in power. This must end, or America will die.

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