Friday, January 2, 2015

Could Saying "Thank You" Help With The Deficit ?

Originally published on

My friend James (not his real name) doesn't like the limelight.  He has some great ideas though.  He keeps bugging me to tell Steve Forbes about them, so somebody who is good can write about them, but I've finally convinced him that he is going to have to settle for me.  James and I have had similar careers, except that his has been more checkered.  We both have this fondness for historical analogies, that I have learned to restrain.  James on the other hand has never learned that telling a managing partner he is acting like Hitler is not a good career move, even if you do it in a nice way.   Here is our latest conversation, where he explains to me how to solve the deficit.
James: I figured it out.
Me: You figured what out ?
James: The problem with the deficit.  The problem with the deficit is me and you.  What's that Learned Hand thing you always like to quote ?
Me: Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one's affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.
James: That's the problem.  People think it is irresponsible to pay too much in taxes.  They spend too much on cars and houses and college tuition and they think that shows they are successful.  Look at the fancy car you drive.
Me: I drive a Subaru Impreza.
James: Yeah but it's brand new.
Me: The 2012 gets better mileage.
James: Never mind.  I forgot you're almost as bad as I am when it comes to that stuff.  You got further than me by just knowing when to keep your mouth shut, not by playing golf and buying fancy suits
Me: So what has this got to do with the deficit ?
James: Oh yeah.  The thing is if they could get people to think that paying a lot of taxes was a luxury that they could feel good about rather than a stupid irresponsible mistake , they would collect a lot more.  I mean you've got that picture of the President giving Warren Buffett a medal for saying he wants to pay more taxes.  How about a medal for the people who do pay more taxes ?

Me: So how do "they", whoever they are, do this ?
James: You thank them.
Me: Thank who ?
James: The top taxpayers.  Here is how you do it.  After the statute closes on a year, the IRS writes to the top 100 individual taxpayers.  They thank them.  Then they tell them that they can stay anonymous if they want, but they have another option.  The other option is that they can come to Washington for the President to thank them personally.  Then they get a meeting with anybody they want to meet with in the whole federal government to tell them whatever is on their mind or to just tell them how much they appreciate whatever that person is doing. Think about all the cool people that work for the federal government - fighter pilots, astronauts, forest rangers, scientists.  One of them gets a call from the President, who says one of our biggest customers wants to meet you.  I want you to kiss his ass. The whole thing is either public or private at the taxpayers option.
It is a very a simple concept.  Any businessman knows you have to take your biggest customers out and kiss their asses.  Well those 100 people or couples are the federal governments biggest customers .  For the estate tax you have to do it a little different though.
Me: That would be because, being dead and all, you can't go to Washington to have lunch with an astronaut.
James: Right.  What do colleges and hospitals do for the really big donors ?
Me: They name buildings after them.
James: Exactly.  And the federal government doesn't have just buildings.  They have ships and tanks and planes.
Me:  You'd like to have a tank named after you ?
James: That would be awesome.  Remember that comic book the Gray Ghost.
Me: So James if you were one of the top 100 would you go to Washington for the President to thank you ?
James: Absolutely.
Me:  I suppose you would want to talk to the head of the FCC to discuss your idea for making more money off the spectrum.
James: Nah.  I want to meet the Navy SEAL who convinced Osama bin Laden that it is a really bad idea to get people to fly airplanes into our office buildings.
You can follow me on twitter @peterreillycpa.

No comments:

Post a Comment