Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Simple Answers in a Complex World

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Simple Answers in a Complex World

Article excerpt

Such a reasonable question - two questions, really. And such an interesting reply. Who said chicken dinners have to be dull? Travel to San Antonio in late September, and a sudden rain-and-cold snap will make you forget the Alamo, not to mention those party barges on the San Antonio River. But the weather can't stop the talking, not when the professionally opinionated gather.

At last week's annual convention of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, it was conversation pretty much nonstop, with the occasional break for food and beverage, or to hear from some outside force with something to say.

The majority leader of the House of Representatives, for instance. Dick Armey came home to Texas to share a meal, tell a few jokes, make a few points. In the soft light of the chapel of the former Ursuline Academy - now the Southwest Craft Center - Armey brought the group the latest news from Washington, where the dismantling of the welfare state was proceeding with vigor.

Armey himself was less than vigorous at the podium: no shouting, no Newt-like outbreaks of superheated rhetoric. Instead, he methodically set out the accomplishments of the Republican Congress - the hardest-working, most effective, most revolutionary Congress in memory, he claimed - and the outlook for the closing days of the session.

He fired the requisite shots across the already-listing Democratic bow - they've gone, he suggested, from "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" in FDR's day, to "the only thing we have to offer is fear itself" today.

He talked philosophy. How the market, freed from government interference, can perform miracles. How, beyond a few insignificant exceptions, what a person earns in life squares with how hard a person has worked. How, given their respective contributions to society, the high-school football coach deserves to be paid more than the high-school English teacher.

And he pushed one of his pet ideas: the "flat tax." Why should Taxpayer X and Taxpayer Y be treated differently by the IRS just because they earn different incomes? Toss the current tax code, with its deductions and its complicated calculations, into the garbage. …

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