Tax Freedom Day and War

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Tax
Freedom Day is the date after which we no longer work to pay taxes,
and we typically view it in the abstract; i.e., by measuring the
number of days we toil for the growing Leviathan. It is liberation
day.

But
this year reminds us of the role war plays in bloating government,
and how war has energized the creeping movement of Tax Freedom Day
from January to April.

American
taxpayers toil for more nearly three months to pay their federal
and state tax bills. Historically speaking, much of the former has
bankrolled war.

Tax
Freedom Day And War

In
the early 1900s, the Tax Foundation reports, tax freedom day was
January 20. It stayed there for years, until 1917, when it was Jan.
22. Then World War I broke out, which pushed Tax Freedom Day to
Feb. 6 in 1918, then Feb. 20 in 1921.

In
1917, Americans worked seven days to pay federal taxes. In 1921,
they worked 32. “In the years after World War I,” the foundation
reports, “America’s tax burden fell significantly, but it never
reached its pre-war levels.”

After
Franklin Roosevelt and his light-fingered, socialist boodlers hatched
the New Deal, Tax Freedom Day crept further into the year. By 1940,
it was March 3. Then came World War II; by 1946, Tax Freedom Day
was March 31. Americans worked 72 days to pay federal taxes that
year.

Again,
Tax Freedom Day never returned to pre-war levels. Then came more
domestic government and another war in Korea; Tax Freedom Day crossed
into April. After that, we got the Great Society and Vietnam: “The
Vietnam War, coupled with the Great Society programs of the 1960s,”
the foundation avers, “increased the total tax burden to well over
quarter of the nation’s income, pushing Tax Freedom Day back to
April 16 by 1970.”

During
the Era Of Clintonian Socialism, Tax Freedom Day jumped to April
30, although it has improved slightly since then. This year it is
April 19. Americans will work 74 days to pay federal taxes.

What
It Means

Conventional
conservatives blame welfare and public education for big government,
but they are only partly correct. Being militarists, they deny the
connection between big military budgets and Leviathan’s growth.
They won’t finger America’s unconstitutional wars and global meddling
as a coequal culprit in the confiscatory taxation that not only
robs hard-working Americans but also diminishes their liberties.

Liberals,
again partly right, view it the opposite way. They bemoan military
spending, but want more unconstitutional welfare loot to bribe their
constituencies, principally militant minorities, frightened old
people and indolent freeloaders.

The
real truth: Warfare and welfare are symbiotic. One complements the
other.

During
the Bush years, government spending has increased at least $800
billion. Health spending soared 106 percent; education spending,
32 percent. Who knew we were that sick and stupid, but in any event,
some time soon, the full bill for the war in Iraq will come due,
as will the bill for the new homeland security bureaucracy.

Already,
the war has cost at least $80 billion. Over the next six years,
the president wants to spend more than $2 trillion on the Pentagon,
presumably for the rest of World War IV.

Barring
a radical change, Tax Freedom Day will never be what it was before
war socialism became settled public policy.

As
Randolph Bourne said, “war is the health of the state.”

April
16, 2003

Syndicated
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail
] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.


     

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