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Liberty Language: Instead of “Sales Tax”

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 20, No. 10 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

As Mark Twain famously observed, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is Lightning Wordsreally a large matter — ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

The political words and labels we use are vitally important. I’m always looking for new, more effective political wording — political “lightning words” that will open minds and stimulate thinking.

Here are a couple more excellent mind-opening word suggestions from economist Mark Perry, who writes the excellent blog Carpe Diem. (We looked at his thoughts on alternative wording for the minimum wage in my previous column.)

These suggestions concern the sales tax.

Most of us think of the sales tax as spare change, or a nuisance, most of the time — a few pennies or dollars per purchase, and the occasional more painful amount on big-ticket purchases. Yet the total amount Americans pay over the course of a year in sales taxes can be a significant percentage of their income. In California, for example, state and local sales taxes can hit a whopping 10%. And sales taxes on the necessities of life — food, clothing, transportation, etc. — can hit the poor and struggling especially hard.

The way the sales tax is collected, in daily small amounts, muddies and hides the impact of this tax and who pays it. So does the innocuous name “sales tax.”

Perry suggests two alternate terms to make people think. He suggests it’s more accurate to call the sales tax “the consumer tax” or “the buyers’ tax” so that “the ultimate payer of the tax is recognized.”

I like both of these, and I’m especially fond of “buyers’ tax.”

And here’s one of my own: “customer tax.”

Try them out. You may find they open minds and lead to fruitful discussions.

TV and Film Star Rob Lowe: Is He a Libertarian?

in Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Celebrities by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Renowned TV and film star Rob Lowe is promoting his new Is Rob Lowe A Libertarian?autobiography Love Life. And he’s been making some very libertarian-ish statements along the way.

In an interview with the New York Times, he described his politics this way:

“My thing is personal freedoms, freedoms for the individual to love whom they want, do with what they want. In fact, I want the government out of almost everything.”

He sounded even more libertarian during an April interview with Bill O’Reilly, though he seemed determined not to let O’Reilly stick a label on his views. Here is the relevant portion:

BILL O’REILLY: You also have said in your promoting of this book that you want less government intrusion. Is that correct?

ROB LOWE: I do. Yeah.

O’REILLY: But your pinhead friends in Hollywood, they don’t want, they want equality for everyone, which takes a massive government.

LOWE: Well, I’m — equality for everybody is great. That would be amazing. I just think that individuals usually do a better job than collective big government.

O’REILLY: So you don’t want the government to be telling you how to live, that’s kind of a libertarian position.

LOWE: Well, that’s funny, does that make me a libertarian? I’m a Hollywood pinhead, Bill, I don’t know about political labels.

O’REILLY: The libertarians want less government and more personal freedom, which I think is what you are saying.

LOWE: That is what I’m saying.

O’REILLY: So now you’re a libertarian?

LOWE: So all this time shedding the dogma of political labels and you’re telling me now I have to go back to living under political labels.

O’REILLY: No, no, it’s not bad. You just have to hang out with Stossel which is very, very difficult.

LOWE: Well then I take it back.

O’REILLY: You know, I think, look, I’m not a libertarian but I don’t think that the government can solve the problems that the government purports to be able to solve.

LOWE: And just for the record we do need government for a lot of big ticket items. Not total.

Libertarian, or libertarianish, positions aren’t new to Lowe. In 2012 he defended Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged on Twitter, tweeting: “Can someone explain the vitriol whenever Ayn Rand comes up? ‘Atlas’ is the greatest motivator for the individual that I can imagine.”