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Book Review: The FairTax Book

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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.

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About Capn Ken

  • Did you just republish this review? I thought I saw it a while back

  • Aaman – maybe that was for a different FairTax book (I guess it’s become a hot topic), and it wasn’t by me.

    This book was just published last Tuesday.

  • James

    I would greatly disagree. As good as the FairTax plan is on its own; Boortz is just the guy to get the information out to the mass public. His entertaining style was perfect.

  • Larry Melton

    Neal did not writ the Fairtax Book.
    Neal was a co-author with Congressman John Linder and Congressman Linder helped write the FairTax Bill H.R.25.
    This book is derived from years of research by lost of very smart and informed people that have spent Millions of dollars and millions of hours to develop the FairTax Law Bill H.R.25.
    Now that Congressman Linders name is on the book the Government and Congress had to review and research the content of the book before it could be released to the public.
    Steve Levitt dose not know a think about the FairTax and or dose Steve know the first thing about writing a book about the FairTax.
    In fact Stevy dose not know much about the current tax code.
    Ask Stevy about code 861 and you will hear a babbling like you have never heard before.
    Larry Melton
    Springfield Missouri

  • >>Now that Congressman Linders name is on the book the Government and Congress had to review and research the content of the book before it could be released to the public.

    You realize this is complete BS, right? There are no security issues with proposed tax policy (or even current tax policy)

  • RC

    This topic is growing pretty big. This book is the #1 non-fiction book in america right now.

  • To clear up some things:

    1) Larry – check the big type of Neal’s name vs. the small type of Linder’s on the cover. Who would you say wrote it? Yes, it was written jointly, but the tone is obviously Boortz.

    2) Yes, this notion of the government clearing the book is total B.S.

    3) I did not say Steve Levitt knows anything about the FairTax. I merely said the book would have been more useful and engaging if written by someone who is an entertaining economist, not a blowhard talk-show host (and I say that as a fan of Boortz).

  • The description in the article sure sounds like a description of Boortz’ style. It comes across well on the radio but doesn’t work as well in book form. He tends to lecture. Doesn’t mean he’s not right, but it can be off-putting.

    However, the Fair Tax is such a hot topic that it alone is enough to make the book premier this week at #1 on the NYT bestseller list.

    Personally I like the idea of the tax, but the implementation seems needlessly complex and convoluted. Advocates will argue for it like Democrats will for Social Security, but the truth is that there have been other flat and national sales tax plans which make just as much sense and are easier to explain and to implement.


  • Common sense will not be tolerated. =p

  • jimmy

    Boortz’s name gets the big print b/c his name is more marketable than Linder’s. This does not mean Linder had any less to do with the project. Also, I read the book in no time. Even as a primer to the FairTax concept, it could have been more engaging and more complex. We’re not dumb. If we’ve already at least picked up the book, chances are we can handle the heavy stuff. If Boortz missed his mark on this one its b/c he didn’t drive the idea home as hard as he should have. You suggest the book would be better conveyed by an actual economist, but Boortz is not out to make a technical economist’s argument for the FairTax here. His goal is to relate the idea to the masses and simply make us aware that this FairTax plan exists and that it is a good thing, a goal perfectly suited for a day time talk radio host.

  • Jimmy:

    I’m not sure if you’re backing my point or disputing it. You said the book was too simplistic, but then you said it wouldn’t have served its purpose if it were more complex?

    If you’ve read Freakonomics, that’s the kind of writing I’d wish for. Somebody who can actually get into more involved analysis but can do it in a way that’s engaging.

  • Gynnie Ann De Jesus

    I loved this book. Excellent Idea. One sure way of getting rid of every single illegal aliens in the United States.