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The less you make, the more they take.

I loved Esquire's "The More You Weigh, the More You Pay"--proposing that Americans get weighed at a federal weigh station so they can be assessed a flab tax--by Joshua Foer. It was a spoof, of course, but executed with enough wit to make a good point. It reminded me of an article Taylor Branch wrote for this magazine in 1971, proposing that we cancel the national debt.

Branch put his proposal in the form of an official memo to the secretary of the Treasury, and he did it so skillfully, that quite a few people thought it was a genuine government document.

Of course, it too was a spoof, but we had a serious point in mind. At that time, the savings bonds held by the average American paid a very low rate of interest compared to that offered on the treasury notes, bills, and long bonds, largely held by wealthy individuals and financial institutions.

We wanted to dramatize this disparity. So we proposed to exempt savings bonds from cancellation, so that the average man would be repaid. Only the affluent would suffer. Branch did his job well enough that his point got across. The interest on savings bonds was increased substantially by the Carter administration.

It's time for another Joshua Foer or Taylor Branch to propose abolishing the payroll tax. Someone needs to dramatize how unfair and regressive this tax is, falling heaviest on working people. For those with wages or salaries of less than $70,000, it takes a bigger bite than the income tax.
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Title Annotation:Taylor Branch
Author:Peters, Charles
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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