Getting out of the Echo Chamber
An echo chamber is an enclosed space where sound reverberates. But when people speak of echo chambers in a broader sense, they mean an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own so that their existing views are reinforced, and alternative ideas are not considered. People today are said to be living in partisan and ideological echo chambers. Modern media brings on much of this problem. We need to appeal to people outside our belief system, such as the crazy uncle or the college student who hears the refrain of greedy corporations exploiting the poor.
As a FAIRtax volunteer, there’s a good chance that you are going to be stereotyped as a hard core conservative. If your audience is in an echo chamber that reflects a different ideology, they may decide that you’re not worth listening to before you even say a word. Unfair as this may sound, that’s just the way it is with a lot of people. So, how do you break through and connect with them? Here is a thought.
You need to meet them where they are, not where you want them to be. Progressives are about fairness and do not like sales taxes. They argue that sales taxes are regressive because taxing groceries at the same rate for everyone impacts the single mom on SNAP far more than it does Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. If you want to connect with your audience, agree with them. Acknowledge that sales taxes as generally applied are indeed regressive. That may get their attention and make them more willing to listen to more of what you have to say.
Then, take them to the payroll tax, which impacts the minimum wage earner more than Elon or Jeff. The FAIRtax removes this tax for the minimum wage earner and the income tax for any W-2 employee.
So, what about predatory corporations? How about a tax that taxes them no better than it taxes mom-and-pop businesses? The FAIRtax does this. That point might draw attention better than the contention that only people pay taxes.
It may be challenging to convince progressives that pretax prices will drop because businesses no longer pay employer wage tax or business income tax. Progressives will counter that rapacious corporations will clutch their windfalls like pearls. The best you can do with that argument is to point out that rapacious corporations can try, but competition and elastic demand (demand sensitive to prices) will force them to lower their pretax prices. Corporations like to maximize market share and will get there by reducing prices.
You can let your progressive friends know that when the FAIRtax began in 1999 as HR2525, each cosponsor was to bring a cosponsor from the other party. The Republican sponsors brought on Democrats Collin Peterson, MN; James A. Barcia, MI; Ralph M. Hall, TX; and Gary Condit, CA. Unfortunately, the current Democratic caucus leadership discourages its members from cosponsoring Republican-sponsored legislation. That needs to change.
I knew two gentlemen whose politics were progressive who embraced the FAIRtax. They thought the plan was fair.
Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin clearly has read the FAIRtax. He has proposed a sales tax – with “prebate” - and an income tax only for incomes over $100,000. We may disagree with the second part of his proposal, but we can see that his thinking is going the right way.
None of these comments should dissuade FAIRtax volunteers from reaching out to the so-called low-hanging fruit in traditionally "red" states. We have serious efforts underway in Nebraska, Alabama, and Georgia to replace their state income taxes with a state level FAIRtax. We are justifiably proud of our colleagues for their progress in these efforts.
But the FAIRtax message remains to welcome supporters from all groups, conservative and progressive, whose goals are legal and ethical. Anyone should feel comfortable at a FAIRtax gathering.
I would love to hear your proposals for keeping our movement away from an “echo chamber” and appealing to progressives whom we traditionally have had difficulty reaching.
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