Any time a debate about taxes arises, the terms progressive and regressive get thrown around like popcorn in a food fight. Whether or not those speaking, even know, or care about the definitions, implications, and repercussions are different topics and one I will not hazard a guess. My intent here is to help you know and better understand the terminology as we discuss the broader topic, sales taxes. Please note, since the early 1900s, the word progress has been twisted by tyrants, plasticized by the media, and manipulated into means one thing to one person and a different thing to a politician. Of all the terms plasticized for tyranny, progress is one of the most egregious examples. Just like the term “Buffalo-wings.”
Progressive and progressivism is a political philosophy that empowers a more extensive and more intrusive government, a government without any shred of decency, and a government that is as intrusive as possible into your daily life. Progressivism has been the catchphrase for all sorts of political hooliganism and liberty theft at all levels of government. These abuses by the government have been made possible because, as everyone knows, progress, the root of progressivism, is a good thing.
Progress is defined as moving forward or onward towards the desired destination. Also, progress can be advancement or development towards a better, or more complete, “modern condition.” Archaic definitions sometimes provide critical insight into a word, and in this instance, the archaic meaning of progress was a state journey or official tour, especially by royalty.
Without the political connotations, Progressive means something relating to or characterized by progress, making use of new ideas, findings, or opportunities. In the classroom, progressive relates to an educational theory marked by an emphasis on the individual child, informal class procedures, and encouraging self-expression to the point of sacrificing educational opportunities. The meaning of progressive also refers to making progress, moving forward or advancing, increasing in severity or extent, expanding the base rate of something, and a few other definitions specific to the sciences of computers and lenses for glasses.
President Woodrow Wilson (D) was a progressive, and many of his political detractors were regressive. The distinction was drawn on a political scale to aid in differentiating and scorning political opponents who were concerned about the spread of government. We need to be clear, any time anyone talks about progressive taxes, they are discussing expanding the base tax rate. Making tax increases sound more pleasant is a key to twisting the meaning of words and exercising tyranny on a population.
As you might have probably guessed, regression is the exact opposite of progression. Regressive as an adjective relates to the production of regression, decreasing the rate as the base increases, and is characterized by simplification of structures in an evolutionary process. Regression is the action of regressing, and regressing relates to the act of reasoning backward, moving backward to a previous, and possibly worse or more primitive state, but it is also a privilege of going or coming back to something.
Emotions and Language
The terms progressive and regressive are a perfect example of how emotions and language mix. Without knowing all the definitions of a word, people will choose to use the sound of the word to decide whether the word sounds harsh or pleasant. For example, progression sounds good, and regression sounds bad, but progress has roots in royalty taking a trip, and regression is a privilege or returning. Hence, one of the main themes in these articles has been and continues to be how to control your emotions to improve your decision-making, the need to read, the opportunity to learn and keep learning words to empower conversation and knowledge.
When emotions rule, people like President Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Bush II, and many others with conspiring congresses get away with fundamentally destroying the fabric of America. One of the tricks used against the citizens of America and in many democratically elected governments across the globe has been using language and emotions to enact reigns of tyranny. Let us face facts, the IRS and the Federal Income Tax are not progressive; America did not move forward by paying a tax that fundamentally hurts people in their wallets. Education reform and progressive schools did not improve America’s ability to compete globally on reading, writing, and arithmetic. The progressive ideas from the late 1800s to shut down literacy among government-mandated schools did not improve America! Frankly, we should count ourselves lucky to have the opportunity to regress on these fronts.
Of all the progressive ideas needing to be eliminated, the sales tax sits at the highest pinnacle for regression. Consider this, in states with the highest sales taxes, the sales tax is a pyramid where the final consumer winds up paying taxes on business-to-business transactions, dynamically increasing the price of the final goods or services delivered. Business A buys raw goods from Business B and sells these goods to Business C to make small parts. Business A buys these goods from Business C and sells them as finished goods to a consumer. In a sales tax pyramid, the government gets paid at the end of every transaction; thus, a product in Vermont will be less expensive than a product in South Dakota, due precisely to the sales taxes paid by Businesses AB, B, and C during the manufacturing process. Thus, the top five states in the United States with the highest sales taxes have a tax pyramid scheme in place, and the end consumer pays through the nose for everything!
In states with a less broad sales tax base, the sales tax remains egregious but more silent in how it steals your money! According to the states with tax pyramid schemes, those with a less broad sales tax base are considered regressive, and those with the highest sales tax base are called progressive. Either way, the sales tax continues to be the silent killer of ingenuity, innovation, job growth, and so much more. Because people expect to pay a sales tax as a condition of making a purchase, the sales tax has become the majority of the fuel price paid to power a car, the hinge upon where jobs are produced, and part of the reasoning for populations to flee from.
From an article on sales taxes by the Tax Foundation, we find the following important information:
“Narrow sales tax bases reduce collections, but more importantly, they make the tax less neutral and less economically efficient. Many states exempt certain goods (like groceries or clothing) from the sales tax for political reasons, excluding many consumer services (such as dry cleaning, haircuts, or tax preparation) largely by historical accident. Most states instituted their sales taxes during the Great Depression when services made up a much smaller portion of the economy. Since then, the portion of total U.S. personal consumption dedicated to services has grown significantly, while the purchase of goods has declined. This trend has contributed to the erosion of states’ sales tax bases over time, an unintentional base narrowing that puts upward pressure on sales tax rates.”
Remember, sales taxes going up are considered progress. Reducing or eliminating the sales tax, which is the right path forward, is deemed to be regressive, based solely upon the sound of the terms being used. Broader tax bases are not equitable, but many economists, especially those Keynesian Devotees, will claim broader tax bases and pyramid tax schemes are progressive, equitable, and helps the rich pay their “fair share.” How can a person tell that sales tax schemes do not work to make “equitable” tax bases; “Curiously, a policy expressly designed to inject progressivity into sales taxes—an exemption for groceries—largely fails to accomplish its purpose. Studies suggest that the exclusion of groceries beyond the necessary exemption for food purchased using SNAP or WIC does not favor lower earners.”
While the Tax Foundation does an admirable job pitching for “right-sizing” the tax base to make sales taxes more “equitable,” they miss the forest for the tree. Sales taxes are a silent killer and need to be regressed from American purchases at the earliest opportunity! Taxes never produce progress! Write that on your hand, and use that hand to correct the behavior of politicians who want “progressive taxes,” a “federal sales tax,” or want to improve tax burdens progressively. When did American goods stop being traded, and manufacturing jobs were exported when the income tax started! Why do people not want to live where they pay high sales taxes because of the progressive nature of sales taxes, the other progressive tax structures, and the only entity winning is the government.
America, we need to regress from the state where the income and sales taxes have taken us. We cannot afford the government largess stolen from workers anymore. We cannot afford the size of local, county, state, and federal governments. Until the taxes are regressed, which would be a huge opportunity to realize, we will continue to be treated as the property of the government, and I, for one, am done being owned and forced into indentured servitude just to pay for the government who abuses me!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
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