For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization

Charles Adams, Author, Lorenz Books, Author, Alvin Rabushka, Designed by Madison Books $29.95 (318p) ISBN 978-0-8191-8631-7
This sweeping anecdotal survey of taxes through the ages aims to support the author's libertarian attacks on the current U.S. tax system and his call for a flat tax of 10% to replace the current income tax system. Tax attorney Adams ( Fight, Flight, Fraud: The Story of Taxation ) considers taxation a vital force in molding history; his discussions of civilizations ranging from that of ancient Greece to the French ancien regime are sometimes intriguing. For example, he suggests that the offer of tax immunity, rather than religious ideology, may have fueled the spread of Islam in the seventh and eighth centuries. But Adams does not engage other historians to argue his ideas, and he can be inaccurate with facts--forgetting Hugo Black, he writes that by the time of Nixon's presidency, the Supreme Court ``had not had a Southerner for a hundred years.'' Some of his proposed reforms seem worthy--establish a crime for tax extortion, decriminalize the tax law--but others are dubious, such as the suggestion that members of Congress and federal judges be ``immune'' from the IRS. Moreover, his argument that low taxes were crucial to the ``miracle economies'' of Asia is simplistic; still more glaring is his failure to assess the impact of the Reagan administration's tax policies. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/28/1992
Release date: 12/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 551 pages - 978-1-56833-024-2
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