No Taxation Without Justification

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Greetings Walter Lippmann,

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Would you please examine an idea for improving our democracy by making voters both better educated and more demanding?
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First, all of the caucuses and primary elections for the Presidency and Congress should be rescheduled so they always happen at least one week after April 15th.  Our caucuses and primary elections take too long to conduct.  They make people both angry at our government and bored with democracy.  But if the caucuses and primary elections for our federal government were rescheduled so people voted after they had paid their taxes, more people would be happy to vote.  Moreover, they will probably want to vote for fiscal conservatives.  Which could explain why none of the ostensibly conservative politicians that I have written to have been willing to support my proposal.  (The liberal politicians that I wrote to were apparently not persuaded by my reasons for why poor people will benefit the most from this proposal.)  Unfortunately, our government of the people, by the people, for the people is actually controlled by lobbyists and special interest groups.  And our popularly elected politicians are afraid to challenge the people who really control our country.
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Second, an annual one week town hall meeting for our entire country must be created with a new paid vacation day for government employees — or with a rescheduled Presidents Day.  The new or improved holiday will always be celebrated on the Monday closest in the calendar to our average rate of taxation.  (29.5% = April 18, 2022)  The new or improved paid vacation day for government employees will make most taxpayers madder than an unregulated firecracker during the week of the holiday.  And their anger will create an annual one week surge in demand for information about our federal, state, and local governments.  Which should make it very profitable for the news media to supply an annual seven day series of audits and analyses during the week of the holiday.  Just like the surges in supply and demand for firecrackers with the 4th of July, turkeys with Thanksgiving, toys with Christmas, nothing with Presidents Day, and flags with Memorial Day.  And a one weekend review could be published during the weekend before people in November.  Then the demand curve for audits and analyses could be maximized by every newspaper and local television station creating a Whistle Blower of the Year award for their respective market niches.  With a little bit of luck, the award will result in fewer abused children being killed by a parent or government employee.
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Third, every newspaper should use one day of the one week annual review our country’s de facto social contract to publish their best divide and conquer investigative journalism.  With this business strategy, the largest newspaper in every state will publish an annual comprehensive one day report on its senior Senator to Washington, D.C. and his most important committee assignment.  Then the second largest newspaper in the state will publish an annual comprehensive one day report on its junior Senator to Washington, D.C. and his most important committee assignment.  And in every Congressional District, the largest newspaper that is not investigating a Senator will publish an annual one day comprehensive report on its Congressman and his most important committee assignment.  (As for the newspapers that are not investigating the federal government, they can publish a one day report on the Senators in their respective state legislatures.  This will enable weekly newspapers to participate in reforming our country.)  Because of the divide and conquer  journalism, some voters will be inspired by their patriotism or their egos to become expert voters on one aspect of the federal government.  As a result, they should become swing voters in the districts and states of every Congressman and Senator.  Which will be the best way to reform our government of the people, etc, etc.
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For example, the federal tax code.  There have been many news reports on the tax code since the 1986 reforms by Ronald Reagan and every voter knew that the tax code was being repeatedly corrupted by lobbyists and special interest groups.  But the voters never did anything to stop Congress from creating new tax deductions for everyone with enough money for many large campaign contributions.  So all of the hard work by many reporters was a complete waste of time.  Their only positive accomplishment was the money they earned from entertaining their customers and our politicians with gotchas.  But with the divide and conquer investigative journalism, the power of lobbyists and special interest groups will be neutralized in the same way that the bridge to nowhere was cancelled.
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The bridge had been approved by Congress when a single sound bite in a national magazine forced nearly every Congressman and Senator to vote against it.  Their constituents were so insulted by the bridge that they were forced to cancel the pet project of a very powerful Senator.  Which almost never happens in Washington.  Well, the divide and conquer investigative journalism will do that every year with the expert swing voters in every state and Congressional district.  They will become so insulted and so angry at the corruption in the tax code that the Congressmen and Senators serving on the relevant committees will be forced to line up in circular firing squads where they have to shoot at the lobbyists and special interest groups supporting another Congressman or Senator.  This will start a political war of attrition where the taxpayers always win and the lobbyists and special interest groups always lose,,,  in the long run.  Even government regulators will be forced to regulate the industries that usually capture the government regulators because the Congressmen and Senators who supervise the regulators will want to avoid being embarrassed by the regulators not doing their job.  After all, most politicians know that they can not survive politically they insult their constituents or they become embarrassed in front of their constituents.
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Fourth, every newspaper should republish their annual one review as ebooks or print on demand paperback books so the voters can buy an annual photographic memory of our country.  The largest newspapers could maximize their profits from these books by including books reviews for the one hundred most important books of the previous year.  Reading a good book review can make an ordinary person feel like a genius.  Reading one hundred books reviews every year should make many people feel like they should become a stateman.  A fantasy they will want to nurture by reading more newspapers.  Medium to small sized newspapers could maximize their revenue from their yearly textbooks by including the all of the prices and addresses for residential real estate sold in the previous year.  This is the information that is used for levying property taxes.  So it should make the annual books very popular.
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Fifth, it will be both cheaper and more effective to reschedule Presidents Day as a Taxpayers Holiday instead of creating a new paid vacation day for government employees.  That should make my proposal more acceptable to many Republican politicians because they won’t have to worry as much about offending their constituents who insist that none of the previous tax cuts by Republican politicians will be cancelled with increases in taxes.  Any changes in our taxes or the economy could be handled by scheduling each holiday twenty years into the future based on a twenty year moving average.  Therefore the holiday for 2042 could be scheduled according to the average tax rate for 2002 to 2022.  (The holidays for 2022 to 2041 would be based on the same rate)  And the holiday for 2043 would be based on the average tax rate for 2003 to 2023.  And the holiday for 2044 on the average rate for 2004 to 2024.  These procedures would make it easier for people and businesses to plan for working or celebrating on the holiday weekend.  As for the morality of rescheduling a holiday meant for honoring our Presidents, I think George Washington would approve of celebrating on a three day weekend dedicated to fighting for freedom with ballots instead of bullets.
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Stanley Krauter  (aka The Czar Of New Ideas)
Lincoln, Nebraska
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P.S.  Here is a simple proposal for newspapers to promote patriotism and American History at the same time?
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The most important step will be for American newspapers to publish a two page flowchart of American History every year on the 4th of July.  With that date of publication, the information in the annual flowcharts should quickly change into the minimum amount of information that every American should know.  Even children will realize that they are going to be expected to know most of the information before they graduate from high school.  And the social pressure on the 4th of July to become better educated Americans could even be made enjoyable by the newspapers also publishing news articles from one hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, three hundred years ago, and four hundred years ago.
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Then the social pressure to become more patriotic could be made more serious by the newspapers also publishing on the 4th of July an exam with multiple choice questions and short essay questions.  The multiple choice questions would mainly be about information in the flowchart.  The short essays should cover problems that were exemplified in the real and simulated newspaper articles from one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, and four hundred years ago.  Hopefully some pride in our country will be generated every year by stimulating people to think about the reforms that have been made since the beginning of our country.  And maybe some guilt about the reforms that haven’t been made.  Either way, many people will be stimulated to love America more passionately by our country’s struggle to become a kinder and gentler place to live.  And that kind of love is the most important ingredient in patriotism.  And even if people only read the questions in this section, and not the answers, that could still be enough to affect their attitudes when they are lighting firecrackers.
Finally, another improvement could be made by the newspapers publishing book reviews of some of the most important history books published in the previous year.  And these book reviews should be more effective at promoting patriotism than the books they discuss because the reviews will always be very short and usually very well written.  So they will be read more often than the book they discuss.  But some of the books will be read because people were stimulated by the reviews to read the books.
Which will increase the education level of the average American.  And that should stimulate some people to buy more newspapers.
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(If a newspaper is too small to publish all four elements of my proposal, maybe it could publish just a one page flowchart and some newspaper articles from the previous centuries.  That would be enough to create the social pressure to become better educated about American History.  And the increase in patriotism should inspire many people to fulfill their civic responsibilities to both vote more often and vote more intelligently.  And that should also stimulate some people to buy more newspapers.)
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Ironically, a better understanding of American History could convince a majority of Americans that our Founding Fathers believed in positive rights of freedom.  Which is a pseudo scientific term for the welfare state.  But the first almshouse in colonial America was built in 1644.  And I can’t remember any complaints by our Founding Fathers about the principle of income redistribution for qualified individuals.  They may have been worried about destroying the incentives for poor people to save money for bad times and their retirement.  But they didn’t attack the principle of income redistribution like modern day conservatives are doing.  And the Founding Fathers also believed in socialism when capitalism failed to work.  Indeed, our mail system is still not an example of Darwinian capitalism.  One of the arguments by modern day conservatives may be that even though the Founding Fathers approved of almshouses, they wouldn’t approve of our modern day welfare state.  However, that is as logical as saying that the Founding Fathers wouldn’t approve of women voting because women were not allowed to vote in the early days of our country.

Would you please consider an idea for promoting a new infotainment product for newspapers?

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The new product will be four to five flashcards that are printed every week on Sunday.  The flashcards will provide factual information about the most important or most entertaining controversies from the previous week.  And the best flashcards will be the cards that people will want to print on 4×6 index cards and save in a special flashcard holder.  Then the flashcards can be used later on for making impromptu speeches that will impress or scare other people.  This kind of accomplishment usually requires memorizing the relevant flashcards.  And that will be done best by saving the flashcards and periodically reviewing them until they are memorized.  You know, just like the recipe cards that people make by cutting them out of newspapers and magazines and then periodically reviewing them whenever it is desirable to impress or scare other people with a really great meal.

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But most people will never print and save any flashcards until they have been inspired by a really hot controversy like the Ukrainian War.  Or until newspapers have found other ways to make people excited about becoming a more educated voter.  One of those ways could be to always publish the flashcards on the Sunday editorial page.  That is the page that the best educated voters almost always read.  So maybe they will occasionally print and save some of the flashcards because they will want to become even better educated voters.  And by always publishing the flashcards in the space normally used for editorials written by the newspaper’s editorial staff, the job of writing flashcards can be given to the reporters who would have normally written the editorials.  Therefore the newspapers won’t have to hire more people.  Which could inspire some newspapers to publish flashcards for at least one year as a clickbait experiment.  That is how long it may take for people to develop a habit of routinely looking at the flashcards and then deciding if they want to print and save any of them.  And this pattern will be reinforced by newspapers making it possible for their subscribers to save the flashcards they like on the newspapers’ computer system.

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Another way to inspire people to save flashcards is to call the Sunday column “A Poor Man’s Library.”  This marketing strategy might be the most effective with the Joe Sixpacks and Wanda Winecoolers of America.  At first, they will probably only print flashcards about controversies like the Ukrainian War.  But later on, they may print and save flashcards that answer questions like “What are President Trump’s biggest accomplishments?” and “What are Trump’s biggest failures?”  Then if they ever lose a debate about President Trump, they will go home and immediately study the relevant flashcards in their Poor Man’s Library so they can win the next debate.  That will make them better educated voters.  Which will inspire them to at least briefly look at the flashcard column every Sunday so they can be better prepared for a debate about other issues.  As a result, the Poor Man’s Library will become a status symbol for every socioeconomic group in America.  From rich people to poor people, from political activists to apathetic voters, almost everyone is going to have one of these flashcard collections sitting next to their easy chair.  Or on top of a bookcase where other people can see them.  Which will further increase the demand curve for reading newspapers.

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(The Joes and Wandas of America will not use their flashcards as a substitute for books.  Indeed, they will be inspired to buy and read books that they never would have bought because they will be more curious.  And the Sunday flashcards will probably increase the number of newspaper articles they read because they will be better educated.  And their curiosity could be stimulated by writing flashcards for some newspaper articles.  Consider the Vietnam War.  At one of my jobs, the parents for one of my younger coworkers came to America as part of the Vietnamese boat people.  But the Vietnam War was fought more than fifty years ago.  So I had to give some of my other coworkers a very brief history of the Vietnam War.  And they were amazed by what I told them.  Which is why I believe that many young people would be very eager to print flashcards about the Vietnam War when a newspaper publishes a story that enables the newspaper to write a flashcard about the war.  And this reaction and behavior could be produced with many other issues.)

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Another way is to publish a weekly quiz that would cover both flashcards in the previous week and flashcards from earlier weeks and months.  This could change studying flashcards into a game.  But it will be a deadly serious game because people hate politicians.  And it will be a game that voters can win by printing and saving flashcards published by their favorite newspaper.  Then most voters will be enabled to make better educated and harsher judgments about their politicians.  Which when combined with the increase in newspaper sales should eventually improve our fragile democracy.  As should be expected, a similar game of mixing information and entertainment is used by many teachers for the same reason that most reporters are writing tabloid journalism and horse race journalism and happy talk journalism and gonzo journalism and inadequately vetted medical research reports ad nauseum.  Students and voters learn more when they enjoy learning.

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However, no one in the journalism profession seems to be interested in experimenting with flashcards.  None of the reporters, editors, columnists, professors, and think tanks that I have written to have responded to my emails.  Everyone must think that the status quo is acceptable.  Or maybe I am being ignored because I am just not important enough to be listened to.  This attitude in the journalism professor can even be found in books and other media written by Walter Lippmann and his peers that were written more than one hundred years ago.  Is that the reason why I am being ignored?  What do I have to do to become good enough for people like the reporters and editors of your newspaper?  Do I have to buy the whole damn thing?

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