What politicians could learn from Steve Jobs

By Tom Quiner


Steve Jobs was a genius because he developed products that not only did cool things, they were easy to use. “Elegant” is the word consistently used to describe the MacIntosh computer, iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

Do you remember the first iPod? It had one button.

One button!

It seemed like it would be impossible to top the ease of using an iPod with one button. But then he went and did it with the iPhone, a device that can do about everything except make chicken soup. And it is so easy to use.

What does this have to do with politics?

People on all sides of the political spectrum think our system is inelegant, that it is broken.

The Occupy Wall Street crowd feel like the rich are gaming the system.

The Tea Party thinks government is gouging the middle class.

They seem to think that the way we tax is seriously flawed.

Here’s what we know about the tax code, according to the Government Printing Office:

It consists of 20 volumes.

These 20 volumes contain a total of 14,872 pages of tax code.

They weigh about 36 pounds.

They will cost you $1,080.00 to purchase a set.

Former Congressman, J.C. Watts, expressed the problem well:

“The heart of IRS abuse lies in the existing tax code. Most of the folks who work for the IRS are good people just trying to do their job, but they are caught in a bad, overextended tax system. At 3,458 pages, twice the length of the Bible, it’s impossible for the average taxpayer to know, understand, and accurately apply its provisions. The length is twice that of the Bible! Even tax experts cannot do so reliably.”

[For the record, the tax code has grown substantially since Mr. Watts made this quote.]

Steve Jobs would mock a system this complex. Do you know what’s crazy? The vast majority of Americans yearn for a simpler, fairer, more constructive system of taxation than the abomination that we’re currently stuck with.

To his credit, Herman Cain has taken the lead in proposing a plan, his 9-9-9 Plan, that simplifies our system while taxing in a fairer way. Let us be clear, every form of taxation has its drawbacks. Mr. Cain’s plan is under attack by his fellow Republicans who point out correctly some of its flaws.

One of its flaws, the addition of a new, national sales tax, worries conservatives that this opens a Pandora’s Box for a Congress always looking to spend more of our money. How long would it be ’til the 9-9-9 Plan is a 15-15-15 Plan?

You can understand the concern.

There is one plan which is not on the table by any candidate in this election cycle that I suspect Steve Jobs would appreciate.

It is a plan that is simple.

It is elegant.

It is fair.

It empowers tax payers while keeping Congress accountable.

It is a Fair Tax. Watch the video above for a quick overview.

The Fair Tax eliminates all other taxes and replaces them with a national consumption tax. Rather than tax income, which is subject to accounting manipulation, complexity, and fraud, it taxes consumption.

The plan is revenue neutral.

Its sheer elegance would unleash productive elements of society who have to invest heavily in complying with our destructive and complex existing tax code.

The plan is also progressive.  In other words, the poor are not unduly burdened. The plan would issue monthly “prebates” to Americans that covers tax exposure at the poverty level. But the wealthy would pay more in taxes because they consume more.

What I like about this plan is America’s earners retake control of their productive efforts as seen in their paychecks. There will be no more deductions with the government taking a slice out of your check before you get it. You are empowered to control your taxing destiny by the way you consume.

Politicians will be deterred from spending too much, because the political price to raise the Fair Tax would be high. Every consumer would feel the pain of a tax hike with each purchase.

If you’re looking for elegance, fairness, and simplicity when it comes to taxation, support the Fair Tax.

I bet Steve Jobs would approve.