In a far away world lived a king who governed well with roads, bridges, and protection from foreign enemies. The kingdom was known as Tomatoland because the sole industry was the sale of tomatoes which provided for the people’s needs.
The king gathered a tax of tomato seedlings each year at the beginning of planting season. These were exported to fund his kingly projects. The families would then plant what was left and from the harvest would supply themselves and their workers for the year. If tomatoes were left over, they were either shared with those more needy or converted into savings, helping to grow investment capital and the economy.
One day the king’s daughter married a man from Freeland, a nearby country, and the new son-in-law came to dinner. The son-in-law had spent a day touring the kingdom, and he offered the king a suggestion: “Instead of taxing the people’s seedlings which reduces their crop and thereby their potential, the wealth of the kingdom, and the welfare of the people, why don’t you take tribute in tomatoes? Each seedling,” he explained, “can be converted to many tomatoes by the people. “In other words, what is only a single seedling to the king may be a bushel of tomatoes in the hands of the farmer.”
The king was ecstatic with the idea. Here was a way he could continue to fund his kingdom but at a lower economic cost to his kingdom. The people could grow more tomatoes, making his tribute less burdensome. Even after the tomato tax, there would be more tomatoes to invest or give away because the value of the tomatoes would be so much greater than that of the seedlings. The king couldn’t wait to tell his Court.
As he shared this powerful economic idea with his Court, however, he was distressed. Their faces grew stern with resistance. Many of them had spent time and money on the old system of seedlings and couldn’t see how they would personally benefit from the change. Others thought it unfair because the farmers with larger farms would benefit more - they had more acreage to plant the untaxed seedlings. The Court seemed oblivious to the king’s appeal that the large farms would need more laborers because of the larger plantings, increasing employment and wages. Since they were employed by the king and had no personal interests in the fertilizer dealerships, the irrigation companies, or the processing plants that would benefit from increased productivity, the King’s Court refused the change.
Disappointed, the king returned to his castle, his son-in-law departed to share his idea with other kingdoms, and Tomatoland went on taxing the means to wealth instead of the use of it. Some subjects moved to other lands who were prospering and growing by adopting the new system. Some devised a way to join the king’s Court and win personal benefits from the old system. What was left of the kingdom just endured. I pity those whose plight was to just endure; I condemn those who used the king’s court to benefit themselves over the people; I blame the king for not trying harder.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Emery offers fairy tale to explain fair tax proposal
In his latest capitol report, Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, offers a story to illustrate why he believes the fair tax is the way to go: