retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB took note yesterday of a Washington Post report saying that there are at least some in Washington, DC, who are pushing for a national sales tax. Such a tax – called a Value Added Tax (VAT) in other countries – has long been “politically taboo” in the US, but the Post writes that “advocates say few other options can generate the kind of money the nation will need to avert fiscal calamity.”

The Post writes, “A VAT is a tax on the transfer of goods and services that ultimately is borne by the consumer. Highly visible, it would increase the cost of just about everything, from a carton of eggs to a visit with a lawyer. It is also hugely regressive, falling heavily on the poor. But VAT advocates say those negatives could be offset by using the proceeds to pay for health care for every American -- a tangible benefit that would be highly valuable to low-income families.”

Not surprisingly, this generated a lot of email.

One MNB user wrote:

The fiscal calamity has already taken place and the more you try to fix it with your taxing ways, the more people(actual people) will suffer and become poorer.

MNB user Cal Sihilling wrote:

You think at some point it might occur to someone to stop increasing spending?

Another MNB user wrote:

With regards to this blurb about the national sales tax, could you do a follow up mentioning that a national sales tax has been called many names but has many variations? The way I perceive this blurb, one would associate a value added tax is the only definition of a national sales tax. However, the most progressive and fairest definition of a national sales tax is the proposal in congress today (HR Bill 25) supported

I am trying to create a state Fairtax in New York similar to the federal program. I love New York but I hate being taxed to death and after death (i.e. the estate tax)! We live in a society that wants representation without taxation instead of taxation with representation! Taxes are a necessary evil, but I just want to be taxed “fairly!”


MNB user Steve Lutz wrote:

Absolutely! What we need in this economy is not only more taxes but new ones! That’s sure to help get our U.S. economy back on the fast-track of growth. Of course, any VAT needs to be made “fair” so as not to unfairly burden any particular group of people. Perhaps it could be modeled on our highly desirable federal income tax system where the top 10% pay 70% of all the taxes and 40% of people pay nothing at all! How great would that be! We just have to figure out a system to help merchants identify the fat cats at retail so we can make sure they start paying their fair share. Color coded ID cards might work, but I’m open to other ideas like armbands and window stickers for high earners. Let’s get out of this economic malaise together!

By the way, where do we sign up for the free health care?

MNB user Jose Cannon wrote:

Welcome to Canada, long live socialism and subpar health care.

Finally, I liked this email from MNB user Geoff Harper:

In case you missed this in the Boston Globe story about the Dow chairman supporting Democrats in their climate change bill:

"The crass political answer is that you're either at the table, or on the menu," said Peter Molinaro, a spokesman for Dow.

Sounds like the circle of life.
KC's View: