Throw out and replace the entire tax system. The present tax system sends the wrong messages to virtually everyone, it encourages waste, it discourages conservation, and it rewards consumption. It taxes what we want to encourage – jobs, creativity, payrolls, and real income – and ignores the things we want to discourage – degradation, pollution, and depletion.
The present U. S. tax system costs citizens $500 billion a year in record-keeping, filling, administrative, legal, and government costs – more than the actual amount we pay in personal income taxes.
The entire tax system needs to be incrementally replaced over a 20-30 year period by “Green Fees”. These would be added to existing products, energy, services, and materials so that prices in the marketplace more closely approximate true costs. They must be absolutely revenue neutral so that people in the lower and middle classes experience no real change of income, only a shift in expenditures. Eventually, the cost of non-renewable resources, extractive energy, and industrial modes of production will be more expensive than renewable resources, such as solar energy, sustainable forestry, and biological methods of agriculture.
Under a Green Fee system the incentives to save on taxes will create positive, constructive acts that are affordable for everyone. As energy prices go up to three to four times their existing levels (with commensurate tax reductions to offset the increase, the natural inclination to save money will result in carpooling, bicycling, telecommuting, public transport, and more efficient houses. As taxes on artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel go up, again with offsetting reductions in income and payroll taxes, organic farmers will find that their produce and methods are the cheapest means of production (because they truly are), and customers will find that organically grown food is less expensive than its commercial cousin.
Eventually we will find ourselves in a position where we pay no taxes, but spend our money with a practiced and constructive discernment. Under an enlightened and redesigned tax system, the cheapest product in the marketplace would be best for the customer, the worker, the environment, and the company. That is rarely the case today.
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