Tax Slavery Day Approaches Ö
(Ruminations on Ownership)
Tax Slavery Day approaches and I assemble the pieces of paper necessary
to account to Uncle Sam for every penny I earned last year, I find
myself with a number of questions. (Tax Slavery Day, by the
way, is Yatesspeak for April 15, which comes as regularly as Christmas
and Easter, but with far less celebration.)
owns the individual? Do I own my life and the fruits of my labors,
or does it all belong to the state? Isnít self-ownership one of
the necessary conditions for true liberty (as opposed, perhaps,
to "democracy")? We no longer have self-ownership in America.
Not even close. As I look at these forms, I am compelled to admit:
given what a Marxist would call the actually existing conditions
prevailing today, I am owned by the state.
Founding Fathers wanted to keep the state as small as possible.
They did not trust concentrations of power. So they provided for
dual sovereignty a central government plus statesí rights. They
further divided the powers of the central government into those
of executive, legislative and judicial branches. Itís all in the
Constitution was not perfect. The so-called Antifederalists thought
it created a central government with too much power. History has
proven them right. Taxation is written into the Constitution (Article
I, Section 8). A tax on your personal income is not. But the loophole
was there, and when those who want power see a loophole they instinctively
know how to exploit it.
domain (Bill of Rights, Article V) was another colossal blunder.
If the federal government can take your property for any reason
other than in retaliation for your initiation of force or fraud
against others, then you donít own your property. Not really. The
eminent domain loophole has become a nightmare. Originally, government
could seize your property for its uses. Today, government
and a corporation can work together and invoke eminent domain to
have your property taken and given to the corporation if it promises
to increase the tax base. You, the putative property owner, receive
a note that says, "We want to buy your property; here is our
offer." Only the transaction isnít voluntary. You can fight
it in court, at least in principle. But today few ordinary people
have the resources to fight a large corporation, especially if the
corporation has the government on its side. You can give the corporation
a minor-league headache, but odds are, you wonít win. Legal fees
could leave you flat broke.
who really owns your property?
the federal government is literally everywhere. It has its nose
in everything. Last year I created the Worldviews
Project. I needed to open a bank account separate from my personal
account so the handful of donations Iíd received had somewhere to
go. To create the account, according to the law I needed a tax ID
number from the IRS. When I asked why, my banker specifically cited
the USA Patriot Act as the source of this law Iíd never heard of
true-believers have been known to argue that if you oppose the Patriot
Act and federal behemoths such as the Department of Homeland Security
then you must not care about the possibility of terrorism on U.S.
soil. In answer, the Patriot Act is chock full of provisions having
nothing to do with terrorism. I stumbled across just one. Other
people have stumbled across others. It often happens when for some
reason you need to move money around. The feddies have made it impossible
to do so outside the gaze of their prying eyes. So who really owns
your money money youíve either worked for or convinced others to
donate to you voluntarily for a private project?
one time, starting a business or setting up a research project was
your own affair. Not anymore. Now itís the federal governmentís
business. Our power-hungry political class is scared to death someone
might actually earn an honest dollar.
more exactly, a radically devalued dollar. The dollar has lost 96
percent of its value since the Federal Reserve central banking system
was created in 1913. Most of that loss has occurred since 1971,
the year President Nixon took the country completely off the gold
standard and declared, "We are all Keynesians now."
John Maynard Keynes is an economic fairytale holding in essence
that we can spend our way into prosperity. Keynes encouraged government
spending to "stimulate" economic growth. Everyone should
spend, spend, spend, "to keep the economy moving." Saving
for the future is bad. "In the long run," Keynes famously
observed, "we are all dead." In other words, debt may
go through the roof, but itís some future generationís problem.
government is expensive. None of it is free. When the Progressives
at the last turn of the century began to defend activist government,
what they were really saying was that government should forcibly
seize the earnings of some and distribute it to others especially
the IRS was created (also in 1913) the feds couldnít do this efficiently.
They didnít have the resources. The IRS created a machinery to give
them the resources. The 16th Amendment was hoked up to
make it all look constitutional.
havenít owned your life or the fruits of your labors since.
your earnings government went on expanding, up through FDRís welfare-warfare
state, up through Lyndon Johnsonís Great Society, up through todayís
post-9/11 power grabs. Over 90 years have gone by, which means that
probably no one is alive who remembers a federal government that
didnít have the institutional machinery to help itself to your money money
the central bankers were busy devaluing (inflation, of course, is
just one more hidden tax). Meanwhile, the IRS has become the most
feared federal agency in U.S. history. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson
who said that when the government fears the people there is liberty,
but when the people fear the government there is tyranny.
who owns your health?
following the sad and scary Terri Schiavo train wreck these past
two weeks, I occasionally found myself wondering how the federal
government ever got involved in that. But rightly or wrongly, the
federal government was involved, via Medicaid. In most respects
Gary North hit the nail on the head the
other day. The feds ordered Terriís feeding tube removed not
because of something she supposedly said to her husband which no
one can verify but because it is getting too expensive to keep such
people alive. No one in the political class will put it this way,
of course. But why not simply turn responsibility over to her parents,
who were presumably willing and able to pick up the tab, or allow
others to give her food and water if this was their voluntary choice?
Because that would mean acknowledging that private individuals could
do the job better. Private individuals, of course, can do almost
anything better than the federal government. The feds screw up everything
they touch. Health care is a perfect example.
seeds for socialized medicine were planted in 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt
ran on a platform that included health insurance. The seeds began
to sprout with the intergenerational socialism of the Social Security
system in the 1930s. Then came the 1960s, Medicare and Medicaid.
We began to hear about entitlements to a certain "quality of
life." Health care has been getting more expensive ever since,
even when adjusted for inflation particularly as advancing technology
has extended the human life span. As the country ages and the baby
boomers march into retirement, watch out! Anyone who thinks the
cost of health care is high now, in the immortal words of Bachman
and Turner, you ainít seen nothiní yet!
fact that we no longer own our lives or the fruits of our labors
has had all these unintended consequences, which are gradually destroying
health care in this society. The problems will worsen as the population
ages, especially as it becomes increasingly evident that Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not sustainable. Add to all
of the above our societyís frenzy for litigation. Malpractice insurance
costs are driving doctors from the medical profession. Very likely
there will be a shortage of qualified doctors in the near future.
to the age of state-sponsored euthanasia, the legacy of the Schiavo
case on top of nine decades of expansionist government. Weíre on
a runaway train. If the federal government continues to expand and
health care costs continue to climb, thereís no way off. Eventually
people will be triaged, because there wonít be enough doctors to
treat them, the feds wonít have the resources to keep them alive,
and their families will have exhausted theirs paying taxes! I think
of a term the Nazis used: "useless eaters." Weíre inching
closer to Nazi territory just a little at a time.
may thank those who have expanded the federal behemoth. With money
you earned. What the government owns, the government can take away.
If the government owns the fruits of your labors, it can take the
fruits of your labors away. If the government owns your life, it
can take away your life and use police power to prevent others from
sustaining it! That is the scary legacy of the Terri Schiavo
are my thoughts as I muddle through the W-4ís in front of me, working
on accounting to my owners in Rome on the Potomac for every cent
I took in last year. By the way, folks, please save your emails
about how the 16th Amendment wasnít properly ratified
or how there isnít a specific law that says I have to pay an income
tax because the tax is "voluntary" or that my wages arenít
really "income," etc., etc. Itís not that such claims
are necessarily invalid or wrong, but that they are irrelevant.
Our political class stopped taking them seriously them long ago.
Bringing them up is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Frivolous
is the catchall term for all the legal and constitutional challenges
to the income tax I am aware of. This is governmentese for, "Weíve
got the upper hand and we damned well know it, so forget about it
and go back to being good little sheep." Our political class
does as it pleases rather like every other political class that
has ever existed. (So much for American "exceptionalism.")
advice to the leading edge of the boomer generation: when you get
older, donít get sick. Or disabled. Donít have a stroke or get Alzheimerís
disease or anything. Your tax dollars notwithstanding, the feds
who lay claim to the fruits of your labors are effectively broke
and massively in debt. The official books amount to a colossal effort
at concealment. Your kids wonít have the money to take care of you.
Most will be too busy trying to survive themselves. Your life will
be at risk of the government-designation not-worth-living.
The feds wonít call it that, of course. Theyíll probably retain
some variant on the "dying with dignity" euphemism.
said, howeverÖ As I recall, we baby boomers have been the most vocal
generation in U.S. history, for better or for worse. We have never
refrained from letting our views be known. I think this fact alone
portends a real donnybrook down the road. People who have been coerced
into financing intergenerational socialism their entire working
lives are going to demand a return on their investment. They will
get very upset if the political class canít deliver. That may not
be sound economics, but itís human nature. I make no predictions
when the social explosion will occur, but if you are young enough
to be in the work force you may well live to see it.
April 2, 2005
Yates [send him mail]
philosophy at the University of South Carolina Upstate and the University
of South Carolina Union. He also owns the Worldviews
Project, and his new book Worldviews: Christian Theism Versus
Modern Materialism will be published in late spring or early
summer. He has moved to Greenville, South Carolina. Read his blog
© 2005 LewRockwell.com