Putting the Bite Back in Tax Enforcement


Lew Rockwell has written about u201CRed State Fascism,u201D the shift of conservative state bourgeoisie from mind-your-own-business libertarianism to u201Calmost totalitarian statist nationalism.u201D The Detroit Free Press (u201CMichigan Falls Off In Pursuit Of Tax Cheatsu201D) of July 10, 2006 would have us believe an offsetting libertarian trend has occurred in blue state Michigan over the same period of time, as the newspaper cites an alarming decrease in the number of criminal tax investigations by the Michigan State Police. How alarming? Read them and weep (or laugh, you tax-hating libertarians!):

By the numbers

The number of criminal tax investigations by the Michigan State Police major-case team is dwindling.

















’06 (through May 31)


There you have it. In a state of over six million individual and business taxpayers, the number of cases has dropped from 29 in 1999 to only 9 in 2005; if current trends continue, only five investigations will take place in 2006.

In the article, tax expert and attorney Michael Indenbaum argues that lack of u201Ccriminal enforcement undermines the entire tax system.u201D He means that government agents, entrusted with collecting “contributions” at the point of a gun, have failed to wield that gun in a sufficiently menacing manner. This limp-wristed approach, not surprisingly, has failed to meet with the full cooperation of taxpayers reluctant to part with their hard-earned cash. How will society build the jails to house pot smokers, prostitutes and 19 year-old beer drinkers? Who will finance baseball stadiums for billionaire welfare queens? Civilization itself hangs in the balance.

The tax attorney further argues that when tax enforcement grows lax, the rest of us have to pony up more dollars to make up the shortfall. In so doing, he perpetuates a myth that belies his status as tax expert. As the great Ludwig von Mises once observed, “In public administration, there is no connection between revenue and expenditure.” Does anyone with a grasp of reality really believe otherwise?

No doubt Mr. Indenbaum would hasten to remind the tax haters that u201Cfreedom isn't free.u201D And he'd be quite right. Freedom, in fact, is the opposite of freedom. Freedom is theft, fraud, extortion, violence, threats of violence, conscription, surveillance, kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, torture and incarceration. All that matters is that those otherwise distasteful activities be carried out by the proper democratically elected officials advancing the public good, as defined by those same democratically elected officials.

In concluding, the Free Press notes that our state-sanctioned protection racket is a system “based on voluntary compliance” and “the hammer of criminal prosecution.” You might say it’s “free and compulsory.” You might also say George Orwell’s immortal words never rang so true: “To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.”

September 22, 2006