NOTE: This is a book review, not an advocacy piece for the FairTax.
Libertarian radio talk show host Neal Boortz and U.S. Rep John Linder (R – GA) released their national retail sales tax manifesto – The FairTax Book – this week. Both men acknowledge the goal of the book is to raise awareness of the FairTax idea, which both have supported for many years.
But the book – thin at 182 pages – treads too close to Boortz’ “I’m right, and you’re a moron if you don’t get that” tone to be given serious consideration as a thoughtful advocacy of the tax reform proposal.
Perhaps it’s that Boortz couldn’t manage to separate his “talk-show” tone from his “author” tone.
The book’s early chapters trace the history of income taxes in America, the burdensome requirements of tax compliance in the U.S. today and the negative effect the current income tax system has on our economy. It then moves into specifics of the FairTax plan and its promised benefits before answering some common skeptical questions about the plan and urging readers to act.
To be sure, there is a problem with our current income tax system, and the FairTax proposal has some intriguing benefits. And for someone unfamiliar with the plan or who has heard the anti-FairTax propaganda, it might serve as a good basic primer.
In the end, though, the complex economic dynamics of the current system and the proposed FairTax would have been better explained by somebody other than Boortz. Maybe if the writing had been handed over to somebody like Steven Levitt (Freakonomics) who can handle economic topics with the right balance of information and engaging style, the end result would have been more satisfying.