Op-ed: Math, history and tax reform

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Tuesday, October 3, 2017 2:20pm
  • Opinion

In school, I liked math the least and history the most. Both can be useful in the coming debate over President Trump’s proposed tax reforms.

The one thing I learned in math class is that if the formula is wrong, the answer will be wrong. In history class I learned we are not the first people to occupy the planet and that the experiences of those who came before us can be helpful when considering contemporary issues.

Since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the left has presented government as the answer to every problem. The increasing taxes needed to finance that whimsy saddles hardworking taxpayers with the burden of paying a modern-day version of Roman tribute to inept rulers never satisfied with the amount. Failure, of course, never seems to be a reason to slow government growth, much less reduce its size and reach. For the left, any failure is attributed to the evil rich who don’t pay enough.

There is another formula which, when tried, has succeeded. It worked for John F. Kennedy, who cut taxes; ditto for Ronald Reagan (yes, he also raised taxes but by then economic growth was such that they did not have a negative effect).

And it worked for Calvin Coolidge whose philosophy, life and presidency has much to teach us today, but those addicted to government need to go to rehab to break their reliance on Washington and improve their lives.

In Robert Sobel’s biography, “Coolidge: An American Enigma,” these quotes from the 30th president are highlighted: “I am convinced that the larger incomes of the country would actually yield more revenue to the government if the basis of taxation were scientifically revised downward.”

That was Reagan’s belief long before “supply-side economics” acquired its name.

Then there is this Coolidgeism: “I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. That is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can re-establish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very distinct curtailment of our liberty.”

About public debt, which has just passed $20 trillion and would have appalled him, Coolidge said: “Public debt (is) a burden on all the people.” Coolidge left office with a surplus.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has brought out the familiar liberal playbook, demonizing the “rich” and claiming they will benefit most from any tax cut. People who have acquired their wealth honestly through hard work and wise decisions should be role models, not demonized as if they have stolen from others.

President Trump should start reading the indecipherable tax code aloud at public events and say, “This is what your Congress has done to you.” He should bring people on stage to tell their stories of how high taxes have harmed, even ruined, their businesses. These should include people who have lost family farms handed down through generations because of the estate, or “death tax,” which forced them to sell the land in order to pay the government.

Public testimonies can be more effective than debating economic philosophy.

Washington always assumes we aren’t sending it enough of the money we earn. President Trump should say we are going to start telling Washington how much of our money we intend to let them spend.

The left hasn’t had a new economic idea in 70 years. Its old idea of more taxation and spending is the wrong formula, and it’s producing harmful results. History can show us a better way. We can start with Coolidge.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

t
Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Down to the wire: Be prepared before you vote

Remember your voice counts and all votes matter

Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge. (Courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: We must refuse to reward ugly political tactics

With our vote we have to show that extremism and dishonesty do not win the day