Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: How to handle your gay friend’s smelly boyfriend, and why we’re getting dumber

Good morning Matt, I just read the following in Drudge Report: “Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who has waged a battle against a proposed super-tax on millionaires in his native country, has been granted Russian citizenship.”Apparently, Russia has a flat tax of 13 percent. Last night while driving home and listening  to the Mark Levin show,  the stand-in for Mark said our tax code is over 70k pages. He described congress cleverly as “The Mandarins with their long fingernails.” My question: Why do obvious solutions have so much trouble gaining traction? Is this a new phenomena? Should we expect things to get better?  Will we become wiser? You have the gift of wisdom. Please shed your light where we now have darkness. – Paul Edmonson

I will answer your questions in order of importance:

1. No, we should not expect things to get better. While I didn’t pay much attention in Physical Science during the Laws of Nature chapter, Murphy’s Law did grab my attention. And both our executive and our legislative branches are its walking embodiment. That’s not cheap cynicism. That’s regretful realism.

2.  No, we will not become wiser. If experience has taught us anything, it is that we will ignore all prior experience so that we can make stupid mistakes anew. Every successive generation has that many more data points to play with. And more information, instead of clarifying, often tricks us into thinking we’re special, and that history’s lessons don’t apply to us. Some in the ‘90s for instance, believed we’d reached such unprecedented levels of prosperity that we’d never know recession again. Ooops.

3.  While I salute Mr. Depardieu’s one-man tax revolt, I tend to break with Mark Levin, or at least with his stand-in. Yes, it’d be nice if our tax code wasn’t 70 thousand pages. Yes, it would be great if we had a 13 percent flat tax. But with the current climate of rapacity –  both Obama’s and Congress’s apparent conviction that what’s yours is theirs, that the only way we can grow wealth and cover our profligate tabs is to pick your pockets in ways big and small – I maintain that a complicated tax code with lots of loopholes and exemptions is the only hedge we currently have against these sticky-fingered knuckleheads. Plus, at least we’re creating more wealth for our accountants. Somebody ought to promote job growth, since the government sure seems to have no interest in it.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.