Taxes play a fundamental role in the development and maintenance of society. Indeed, they determine history, as we will be reminded next month when we hear the familiar story of the poor couple that had to travel to Bethlehem to register for a tax. One might be inclined to say that the history of civilization is the history of taxation, yet for all that, taxes are treated almost like a joke. "There’s nothing certain but death and taxes," we are told with a laugh, as though it were true, and taxes a mere annoyance.
There is much more to taxation, however, than simple theft under color of law. There is an underlying philosophy of taxation, both in the minds of the rulers and the ruled, that enhances the iniquity.
At the very soul of taxation is the belief that your property is yours only to the extent that the rulers allow it. Taxes are a frontal assault upon private property, which is a basic human right second only to the right to life itself. No government has ever existed without taxation, which is to say that no government has ever existed without the rulers claiming that what is "yours" is, in fact, theirs. You may quite reasonably point out that you need to replace your roof, repair your cracked foundation, and re-pave your driveway, and thus cannot spare any money for the rulers, at least this year. Your remarks will fall upon deaf ears, as their claim upon "your" income, or savings, precedes and takes precedence, over your own. Continue to ignore their demands, and you will discover that "your" property has, hey presto!!, suddenly become theirs to dispose of as they wish. Vendors from whom you purchased goods or services, for which you did not pay, could not accomplish this, but the rulers, from whom you sought nothing, do it all the time. They are the rulers, after all. Public servants!!
Moreover, in many instances, the theft by the rulers is just that, even by their own laws, which they write, administer, enforce, and adjudicate. If you have had any experience with state or federal tax collectors, you probably have realized that their actions are totally without the law, and often flagrantly so. The internet has made it easy for anyone to research the laws, and many have, only to discover that what the tax collectors are doing is not justified by the law, and often contradicted by their own procedural guidelines. But they do it anyway. They are the rulers, after all!
Where is the legal profession while this obscene violation of human rights, and the law, is taking place? Well, remember, the lawyers are licensed and regulated by the rulers. They must be circumspect. Your lawyer may tell you that your position is admirable, idealistic, and principled, but if you persist, you will be severely punished, the law notwithstanding. The rulers will simply not tolerate disregard for their demands, and they own and operate the courts, should you be foolish enough to carry your protests that far. Your attorney could place his career in jeopardy if he made himself obnoxious to them. They are the rulers, after all!
And there is a further point made by your attorneys: their fees may exceed the amount demanded by the rulers; making your attempt to retain "your" own property doubly expensive. Not only will you spend on your defense more than has been demanded, you will probably lose anyway, and thus ending up paying your opponent’s expenses, also! Well, they ARE the rulers!
So: among the great mass of people, the abomination of taxation is simply accepted, like that of illness, or natural disaster. They’ve given the subject as much study as they have cancer, diabetes, or tsunamis. Among those who are awake and sentient, the realization quickly dawns that what is clearly written in the laws means absolutely nothing, if it would limit the rulers’ demands. They are quick to realize that the somnolence and indifference of the slumbering masses, and the impotence of those who are alert and aware, can be exploited in other ways as well. In short, government, which is what the rulers like to call themselves, can do exactly as it wishes. It is bound by nothing and no one. Once a people accept the idea that strangers have a right — lawful or not — to their property, anything goes.
And thus, terrorism. People who perceive themselves as helpless, oppressed, without any recourse, and deprived of the most fundamental human rights, may resort to it, whether it be as relatively innocuous as destroying a cargo of tea, or a couple of skyscrapers. I shouldn’t have to point out that killing innocent people to make a political point is utterly wrong, absolutely despicable, and far beyond what is acceptable, even if disguised as a religious jihad. But it is understandable! Pressure can build only so high before there is an explosion, and then passing strangers may suffer.
The power to tax is the power to destroy — and the impetus to the destruction of the tax-collectors themselves, and the society in which they exist.