Fair Not Flat: How to Make the Tax System Better and Simpler

By Edward J. McCaffery | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION
Toward Glass Teamwork,
Not Glass Conflict

People think taxation is a terribly mundane subject. But what
makes it fascinating is that taxation, in reality, is life. If you
know the position a person takes on taxes, you can tell their
whole philosophy. The tax code, once you get to know it, em-
bodies all the essence of life: greed, politics, power, good-
ness, charity. Everything's in there. That's why it's so hard to
get a simplified tax code. Life just isn't simple.

—Former 1RS Commissioner Sheldon Cohen, quoted in Jef-
frey H. Birnbaum and Alan S. Murray, Showdown at Gucci Gulf

THESE ARE INTERESTING, HOPEFUL, YET PRECARIOUS TIMES in America. Notwithstanding the occasional market downturn, the U.S. economy is flourishing—we're the richest nation in the history of nations. But our wealth is not evenly spread. Our rich are getting richer, often unburdened by taxation altogether. Yet most ordinary Americans are working harder than ever just to get by, highly burdened by taxation on all sides. This is not a fair or stable situation; it's a situation that's ripe for class conflict.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can fix our tax system and put all Americans—rich and poor—on the same side. We can have a social and economic model built on class collaboration, not class confrontation.

This book is about tax, but tax, as Sheldon Cohen suggests, is about life. Tax shapes how we live and who we are. Tax today is part

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