Lydia Austin Adam - came across this when I was researching for this article, I think it provides a good jumping off point for having a conversation about what the elimination of an income tax would (or would not) do for NC http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/338875/states-income-tax-repeal-revolution-francis-deluca
Lydia Austin Zack, I totally agree with you that this debate needs to be had on the national level, with a broad scope of participants figuring out exactly what we want our tax system to be! So much of it is cobbled together and doesn't reflect anyone's vision of government, which is disappointing. I agree with you on the consumption tax being beneficial as well - it's disappointing that we are one of the only countries in the world to not implement an effective tax policy.
Lydia Austin If one's goal is to reduce the size of government, I think the best way to achieve that would be to cut government spending directly. Unfortunately, many Americans really like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, and don't have an appetite for reducing these programs significantly. Further, there is some evidence that "starve-the-beast" strategies don't work: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/the-new-republican-tax-policy/ (I realize it IS the New York Times, but Bruce Bartlett should add to its credibility). Would you consider relocating to somewhere with a lower income tax for this reason?
Lydia Austin Eliminating the personal income tax is not inherently bad - but taken together with other policies Governor Brownback has implemented, in this case it serves to place most of the tax burden on middle- and low-income families. The size of the government itself could be reduced without hurting those at the lower end of the earning scale.
Lydia Austin Very true - and Le Pen has done a great job of branding herself as not an "extremist." She is definitely pulling together the nationalist sentiment that is prevalent in French culture - particularly recently. Thanks for pointing that out!
Lydia Austin That definitely seems like a possibility! That is probably contributing to Sarkozy's desire to paint himself as a strong leader, someone who is able to effectively communicate with Chancellor Merkel and make decisions about international incidents. A strong leader - someone who will help France become more important in international affairs - is, in my opinion, what the French people are looking for. I suppose time will tell what they end up with - so far Chancellor Merkel has proven herself a strong and decisive leader.
Lydia Austin Great point about a president shaping a country's perception on the international stage, I definitely agree. What's interesting is that Hollande, the PS candidate, wants to re-negotiate the Greek debt deal, maybe in an attempt to insert France more concretely into the discussion. It would also be interesting to see how Sarkozy's international politics change (if at all) if he's re-elected. But I think that Germany will continue to play a large role in shaping this debate, and any French president will have to deal with that. I'm interested in your point about the United States' debt and international perceptions - maybe that relates more to Greece and its place in the world? I'd love to hear more on that though.
Lydia Austin I agree that any change in political party will be accompanied by (attempted) domestic reforms, however I believe these reforms will be tempered by European Union stipulations regarding immigration, taxation, etc. This could constrain what a socialist government plans to implement, but like you mention, should not be overlooked. Your points on Germany's economy are well made, Germany definitely has a vested interest in keeping Greece part of the Eurozone - in my opinion probably why they are pushing such hard austerity measures. I do think the fact remains that Germany will continue to lead the Eurozone's (though maybe not Europe's) economy and thus have a large influence in economic political decisions.