James Beach

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Nonfiction and More


Why the Flat Tax is an idea that sucks donkey balls. In a bad way, if that wasn’t clear.

A flat tax is the idea of taxing incomes at a flat percentage. In essence, those making $20,000/yr and those making $200,000,000 a year pay the exact same percentage of their income.

Here’s what’s wrong with a flat tax.

a) it puts a disproportionate amount of the cost of running a country on the shoulders of those least able to afford it,

b) it discourages consumption which, like it or not, is what actually drives our capitalist production-based economy.

Regarding a: “How is it disproportionate? It’s the same percentage for both the highest and lowest taxed incomes.”

A reasonable question to ask. Here’s why: because the costs of living are not proportionate to income. The costs of living are relatively fixed.

The costs of water, food, shelter, and medicine don’t increase due to income. So, all other things being equal, someone paying a flat tax in a lower bracket will have a much larger portion of their income taken up by these costs than someone in a higher taxed bracket.

Even further, not just survival but nearly all other costs important to life and its improvement don’t rise 1 to 1 with increased income. They remain also relatively fixed. College and post-grad tuition costs can crush the poor or middle class, and be less than a rounding error to the very rich. Same for transportation, doctors, court costs, and on and on. These are relatively fixed costs, regardless of the tax bracket paying them.

So, because the amount of money needed to live and thrive does not rise in a 1 to 1 ratio with income, a flat tax disproportionately harms the lowest tax-paying bracket in favor of the higher tax-paying brackets. It leaves the lower tax-paying brackets with disproportionately less resources to improve their lot in life, after they’ve paid what they need for their survival.

This is especially clear if the flat tax was instituted in a blunt fashion, where for example %15 is taken from any income after expenses. But this remains true even if a tax on only “disposable” income, after living expenses, is put in place. The lowest paying brackets have less to save for unwanted emergencies, general investing, better schools, or any other “optional” spending necessary to improve one’s lot in life.

Now, the other extreme from a flat tax would be to tax the highest income earners until they have the exact same amount of disposable income as the lowest. But that would be unfair as well as bad for the economy. It would utterly discourage any incentive to work harder, and it would reward success and failure equally poorly.

So the best solution, as has worked for every first-world democracy throughout the 20th century, is a progressive income tax that distributes the burden of paying for government resources in an equitable and adjustable fashion.

Regarding b: “How does it discourage consumption? People in the highest income brackets buy things too. “

This is true. But those at the highest income brackets don’t have to spend money  to live. They can save it, invest it overseas, or if they want just pile it up in bricks.

That right there is why supply-side economics, AKA Reaganomics, AKA Voodoo Economics, simply does not work. And never actually has.

Whereas when the lower tax-paying brackets receive money, they must spend it to keep going. So giving them more money to spend is not only beneficial to the least wealthy, its beneficial to the entire economy.

This is known as Keynesian economics, AKA demand-side economics. It is what the overwhelming majority of economists and economic historians agree got us out of the hole of the Great Depression. It is also what contributed mightily to the 1990’s economic boom.

Also regarding b: “But giving more money to the highest income brackets gives them more money to hire people.”

Okay. But why would they hire more people? They wouldn’t do it just because they can.

The only compelling reason for a business to hire people is to make more money. What makes businesses more money is more demand for their products. What makes this increased demand possible is more people with money to buy them.

And the overwhelming amount of products and services in our economy are aimed at and bought by the poor and middle class.

So just giving the highest income tax brackets more money doesn’t necessarily result in more hiring. Those who want to keep businesses running will only spend money if they think it will make them more money. And the only thing that makes businesses more money is more demand for their products.

To sum up

A flat tax doesn’t work morally because it is puts too much of the burden on the lowest tax-paying brackets; it doesn’t work pragmatically because it lowers consumption and inhibits the economy; and no first-world nation does it.

But  besides those reasons, a flat tax is a great idea.


Crafting and wielding effective resumes

This article came out of an email to a friend. It’s my basic principles for writing resumes that result in actual interviews and (hopefully) work.

Since the addition of the Internet to everyone’s information diet, people have become increasingly bullet-headed. Most people, and most especially those hiring, tend to want the information as fast and as simply as they can get it.

So with that in mind, I recommend that you who are creating resumes/CV’s:

A) break down information the information about you into different, discrete sections.

1. List the software programs you know how to use.
2. List the specific job skills that you have – design, management, traffic coordinator, art director, UI expert, foreign languages
3. List specific dates and companies that you have used the above job skills
4. List college education, awards, and/or milestones

B) Then, put the above lists in the specific order of what will be most important to the person seeing your resume. For example, if temping put the software skills at the absolute top of the resume. If a full-time higher-level corporate gig, experience with the needed software programs is generally assumed – so put it at the bottom, **but definitely still put it**.

C) If several different kinds of positions would interest you, then create a different resume from the above material for each position. Then, slant that resume directly towards that position. For example, if you were seeking work as a photographer then slant your architecture degree towards “how you visually view large spaces”. If seeking work as an information architect, relate architecture to “designing how people will intuitively move through space”.

In this way, consider a resume like a mini-novel about you as a working professional. To create this novel, take true individual facts and create a work that presents the truth of you in the most effective way for that job. Worthwhile fiction has truth in it, or it isn’t worth reading. Resumes are also shaped truth – truth that gets you hired.

After all, in the final analysis you KNOW you will do a fantastic job for any company that hires you. It’s just about giving them the information they need to realize  it.

D) Don’t get hung up on the length of the entire resume. The rule used to be “get all the information on one page”. But today most people don’t print out resumes, they read emailed copies or internet postings.

So definitely DO have all the key information for that job in the first HALF of the first page – ideally even the first quarter – but continue to fill out the resume from there, if needed. This is good also because a lot of people will go to job sites and keyword search – so if you have listed in your resume that you’ve been in sierra leone, they just might be looking for that in a web designer.

E) Use the Internet like you never have before. There is always something new to find that will help you land a job. I can’t recommend enough getting on at least 3 different job sites. As of this writing, the biggest ones are careerbuildermonster.com, and hotjobs. There are also job aggregation sites such as kijiji.com and indeed.com, which are great to check as they loop in newspapers and other odd sources. And even damn old craigslist.

I also heartily recommend getting a Linkedin.com profile if you haven’t already. If you have, it’s time to improve it. Make more connections, get more testimonials and more recommendations. Even if you don’t receive a job interview via LinkedIn, the person hiring is extremely likely to check you out on Linkedin before proceeding.

F) Maintain a job-hunting routine. It is now your job, 8 hours a day, to look for a new job.

When job hunting, which can happen quite frequently in the current contracting environment, I send out a minimum of 5 job postings or resumes each day, every day. It’s a fair amount to find openings for, but it works. Like jogging 4 miles a day, it’s the persistence over time that does the trick.

Good hunting.


All my stuff at Red Bubble

Various visual works that I’ve had great fun creating, are available for sale on RedBubble here:



Transgender at 6? Or douchetastic parents?

So this story showed up:


There’s a larger issue to me – whether or not a 6-year-old is mature enough to know if they’re ‘transgender’.

People can know if they’re gay, or at least have a guess, that early. That doesn’t surprise me. But I don’t see how a 6-year-old kid is even developed enough mentally, let alone physically, to claim being transgendered. It seems much more likely to me that the parents are projecting their own politics onto the kid. Which makes them the awful example of liberal parenting that, as a liberal, makes me freaking cringe…



Psyched. I’ve finally got this creative outlet squared away: T-Shirts and bumper stickers. Available here, including:

The Grand Ol’ (zombie) Party
Hug Life
Hug Life


Papal Enemy

“You treat it like Pope on a rope ’cause the beats and the lines are so dope.”


The Steubenville rape case, and the Mass Media’s syndrome of misplaced sympathy

Re: Steubenville – I think I understand a) why so much of the mainstream media was so bizarrely sympathetic with the attackers, and b) why so many in positions of power at the town and the high school itself would probably have allowed the whole thing to slip under the rug. It’s both for the same reason:

Young football players are supposed to be winners. And harsh things just aren’t supposed to happen to winners. Winners are supposed to be a separate class – where everyone wants to be, where everyone can feel insulated from the difficulties of the rest of the world.

There is this just this weird feeling in many societies, but perhaps especially in America, that winners should be treated especially well. They should be given extra leeway, extra benefits of the doubt, and when something harsh happens to a *winner*, that’s an extra tragedy that goes beyond something happening to, say, some probably-a-loser little peasant girl.

That’s why crack users can get years in prison for being caught addicted, while drug money launderers can get bonuses while fines are deducted from their banks’ profits. That’s why stealing $100 can put you in jail, but stealing $1 billion from the economy can get you a corner office. People just aren’t comfortable, somehow, with the idea that perceived winners should be treated just as harshly as anyone else. Or, alternately, that losers should be treated just as well.

And that’s why when the attackers get sentenced, there isn’t a dry eye among nearly anyone in the major media about the horrible effect this will have on *their* lives. How this will hurt their careers. Gee, how they will have to carry the damage of this sentence their whole lives – and on and on – there isn’t enough irony in the *world* to describe the ridiculousness of this position.

I do think this concept is changing, but it’s going to continue to take a lot more work on everyone’s to fix the individual situations, and the overall pattern as well.



Here is some of my art, gathered together in calendars.

The Cars of San Francisco calendar


Nonfiction eBooks

Here are a list of my nonfiction ebooks which I will soon make available:

Ancient Anomalies [Release date TBD]

The Angry Primate’s Book of Quotes [Release date TBD]