Tilting at Windmills

The first of the month brings bad news (rent is due), and good — Charles Peters' new "Tilting at Windmills" column is online at The Washington Monthly.

Last week, Salon thawed out Camille Paglia — the worst thing to come out of Philadelphia since Mannequin II — for an interview. Paglia made the bizarre claim that her gratefully defunct occasional column for Salon was "the first true blog."

Now and then one sees the claim that Kausfiles was the first blog. I beg to differ: I happen to feel that my Salon column was the first true blog. My columns had punch and on-rushing velocity. They weren't this dreary meta-commentary, where there's a blizzard of fussy, detached sections nattering on obscurely about other bloggers or media moguls and Washington bureaucrats. I took hits at media excesses, but I directly commented on major issues and personalities in politics and pop culture.

Inasmuch as one can glean a coherent standard from Paglia's description of what constitutes a "true blog," Charles Peters would seem to have a better, and a prior, claim as a kind of proto-blogger in his "Windmills" columns.

Of course, using Paglia's standard, the proto-blogger with a much earlier claim would be another Philadelphian — Ben Franklin and his "Poor Richard's Almanac." (Franklin invented everything else, so why not credit him for this too?)

Anyway, here is Peters firing a characteristically quixotic volley at one of my own favorite bugbears — the payroll tax:

The worst tax

Employment picked up in September, but the increase in jobs, reports David Leonhardt of The New York Times, "was still not large enough to match the growth of the population." This means "the percentage of adults with jobs fell to the lowest level in ten years."

More than 9 million Americans are officially unemployed. Many more would seek jobs if they were available. How are we going to solve this problem? The best solution, I believe, is to get rid of the payroll tax. It discourages employment. I know because for 32 years I ran a small business, namely this magazine. It also falls heaviest on those who need tax relief the most-for people making less than $70,000 a year, it is the largest tax they pay.

Bill Drayton and Bob Walker of the Get America Working! organization propose to replace the payroll tax with taxes on materials, energy, and land. Whatever substitute is found will take great courage to enact. Proponents will be accused of tampering with Social Security, which the payroll tax is supposed to fund, and the mere possibility of having that charge made against them is enough to panic a good many politicians. This is why I admire John Kerry, Bob Graham and Carol Moseley Braun for having the moxie to propose at least some moderating of the tax.

Bonus points for use of the word "moxie."

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  • Charles

    Oh come on, where’s your sense of irony? Paglia was poking fun at Kaus’ ridiculous claim by making an equally ridiculous claim of her own. And besides, everyone knows the first two blogs were the Netscape “What’s Cool” page and Ric Ford’s “Macintouch.”

  • tate

    Weblogs were invented by… Plato!

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