By Phil Hinson.
One of the giants of our movement has passed on. Neal White was involved in this struggle long before most of us ever heard of the NRST (National Retail Sales Tax) or the FairTax®. During the early 1990’s Neal was heavily involved with an organization called CATS (Committee for an Alternative Tax System). That organization designed the initial sales tax proposal and then recruited then House member Billy Tauzin to serve as the primary sponsor. Mr. Tauzin was a Democrat who subsequently changed his party allegiance to the Republican side. This initial sales tax proposal differed slightly from the FairTax, which was introduced several years later, primarily in that it did not replace payroll taxes and the rate was therefore lower (15%).
When the FairTax came along in the late 1990’s, Neal and others formed an organization called National Retail Sales Tax Alliance (NRSTA) which supported both sales tax bills. Neal related to me that during those early days they were spat upon, cursed at, and verbally assaulted on several occasions. Neal was part of a small group which called Atlanta radio talk show host Neal Boortz on the air and convinced him that this was an issue that deserved his attention. In those early days, many sales tax supporters were very concerned about becoming a target for the IRS. Not Neal White. He went on radio talk shows and anywhere else he could get an audience, patiently explaining the benefits of this revolutionary proposal.
When I originally met Neal in around 2001, he was living in a rented house in Fairfax (rhymes with FairTax), VA with several others who wanted to be close to “the belly of the beast,” our national legislative capital. He and several other NRSTA leaders were joint residents. Neal and the others spent countless hours on the thankless job of trying to persuade our federal legislators to set self-interest aside and do what was clearly in the best interest of the nation as a whole. Neal never sought personal recognition, any title, or even any compensation for his many hours of sacrifice. He simply lived out the immortal words of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
Neal was involved in other organizations over the years whose primary aim was the preservation of our Constitutional principles. Among those were the Madison Forum and GOOOH (Get Out Of Our House). However, his driving passion always remained tax reform and the elimination of our job-destroying and freedom-eroding income tax. He was a source of inspiration to those of us who were privileged to call him a friend. His quiet dignity in the face of fierce and sometime emotional opposition showed us the demeanor that we should all emulate. Neal read extensively and was always talking about something that he had gleaned from his latest book. He viewed learning as a life-long endeavor and never stopped trying to educate himself to higher levels. Neal understood that, as an advocate for change, knowledge was his most potent weapon.
Neal will not be replaced within the movement. He was truly a unique gift and a resource for us all. Even more than his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of this movement, his enduring faith in the American people and his steadfast belief that we were on the right side of history will be missed. We can only hope to carry on the struggle and ultimately prevail against very long odds. That would be the greatest tribute that we could pay to this very special man.