Economy | Making Words Count


As I mentioned earlier, I recently had the opportunity to attend an event where Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes Media, and John Schlifske, CEO of Northwestern Mutual, spoke on the Power of a Game Plan.

Forbes is a well-known advocate for simplifying the tax code and implementing a flat income tax.

To make his point, he cited some quick word counts for pivotal documents:
Gettysburg Address: 272 words
Bill of Rights: 462 words
Declaration of Independence: 1363 words
US Constitution: 4440 words

The most stunning figure is this:
US Tax Code & Regulations: 9,000,000 words

Yes, you read that right: 9 million words. (A year ago it was estimated at 8 million.)

It's a bit puzzling, isn't it? The US has the shortest constitution of any country in the world, but one of the longest and most complex tax codes. The official code contains 16,000 pages. Add in IRS rulings and the total jumps to 70,000 pages.

The Founding Fathers used 6265 words to declare independence, define essential rights and launch a nation. Today, that nation devotes 9 million words to one issue, income taxes.

Dare I say it? When it comes to making words count, it appears the IRS could at minimum use a good editor.

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