17 April, 2009

My unfortunate 15μs of fame

A few days ago, David Frum's* NewMajority.com solicited ideas from readers on how to reform the tax code. Frum wrote,

Please email your ideas to Editor@NewMajority.com, and we'll post a sampling of the most compelling in this space over the coming days.
I took a few moments to write an email containing a few ideas, none of which I've discussed with anyone in particular detail (maybe an allusion or two at Clemens' website), but two of which I do care somewhat about: indexing deductions to the local cost of living, and a means-tested, non-refundable tax credit for sending one's children to private school.**

I've done this sort of thing before with other political websites, and sometimes I'm able that way to contribute to the discussion. Generally I've been quoted as "a reader", and that anonymity is exactly how I like it.

Not in a million years did I imagine that Frum would reproduce the body of my letter verbatim on the website, along with my name, position, and place of employment.

If I'd known that, I never would have sent it in.—Well, maybe I would have, but I would have tried to make it more presentable, and I would have requested anonymity. They wrote merely that I'm a professor, which makes me feel not a little pretentious. Had they said that I'm a professor of mathematics, then readers could at least know that I don't really know what I'm talking about! It would at least excuse any economic ignorance in my proposals.

On the bright side, it does imply that someone respectable, with some influence, considers these ideas compelling. Too bad I never see the bright side through my obsidian-colored glasses.

*David Frum and Jonah Goldberg have been much maligned by talk radio, which I find ironic inasmuch as I've generally found their arguments to be well-considered, even when demonstrably wrong. You can't say that about most pundits and expers, who as Clemens recently reported (twice, no less) are usually wrong without the merit of having thought very well about what they said. (You didn't hear that in the mainstream news, did you? ;-)) As for talk radio, I explained my distaste for those clowns a while back.

**In case anyone's wondering: neither of these would actually benefit me, so I'm not shilling for my own good. As things stand right now, I don't pay income taxes, and amazingly enough it's all legal, thanks to the child tax credit. If the credit for private schools were refundable, I would stand to benefit, and poor parents would benefit more, so I don't object to that if anyone wants to go there, but that's not what I proposed.

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