"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
-Samuel Adams

the Misanthropic Humanist:


16 July 2008

Taxes are Tyranny

Our country was founded on a disdain for taxes. Sure, the rallying cry of the time wasn't against taxes themselves, but a much more reasonable "no taxation without representation". Well, we've got the representation today, and a whole lot more taxes to boot. Even after independence, George Washington himself had to come out to Pittsburgh to quell the Whiskey Rebellion. But that wasn't about whiskey, it was about taxes on whiskey. Why taxes?

Doesn't the whole situation seem a bit quaint in today's world? I mean really, does dressing up like Indians and throwing tea into Boston harbor because you're mad about taxes sound like a civilized thing to do? One gets the idea that when most folks look back they find the tax issues almost unseemly against the backdrop of higher ideals that this nation was founded on. When compared to concepts such as equality before the law and freedom of self defense, freedom from unreasonable taxation just doesn't sound quite as sweeping or high-minded, especially when confronted with all the "good" that our tithings to the church of government are supposed to be doing.

I vehemently disagree. My money is my freedom. Every dollar that is taken from me to be redistributed to somebody else is a dollar that I cannot use in my own pursuit of happiness. Every hundred dollars that is forcibly taken from me for social security is another four hundred dollars that I cannot receive from my own investments. Even typing this, I can see that some people think I'm being selfish... that this is just money-grubbing, and that I should want to help others. Well, a pox on you and yours (to use a quaint term). I'll donate my own time and money as I see fit, and I don't need you to do it for me, thank you very much. What I do with my money is live. I drive to work, I feed my family, I pay for my house, and I enjoy my life. Our constitution guarantees freedom of movement without restriction of the state or federal governments. Yet, if 40% of my money goes to taxes (and really, it's more than that), is that not restricting my movement? If I make $70,000 per year, but my real income without (all) taxes would be nearly $117,000, don't you think I might be able to use that additional $47,000 to pursue some happiness? Perhaps I'd use it to improve my family's situation, perhaps I'd use it to travel freely. I could use some of that additional money to promote the political ideas that I care about. I could invest in a business or perhaps start my own. I could buy a small airplane to free myself from the insecurity and humiliation of commercial aviation. I could lose it all in Vegas. Doesn't matter. The point is that no matter what I chose to do with that money, it would provide me with additional freedom.

Let me put this a different way: Let's say that you have a hankering to go watch your sister's college graduation. She's a smart kid who's going places, and you are very proud of her. Problem is that you live in New Mexico, but her graduation is in North Carolina. In the US today, What's more likely to prevent you from going, a heavy-handed government of jack-booted thugs asking for travel papers, or the money you don't have to travel because you just funded unemployment benefits for somebody you don't know in Minnesota? Is your barrier to travel the intrusive border crossing between New Mexico and Texas, or is it the money that you paid to subsidize already lucrative corn farming in Nebraska? The answer is that it doesn't matter. You still can't go, so it doesn't matter which method the government used to prevent you.

You spent at least 18 good years of your life learning how to be a productive citizen. Now you spend at least 40 hours a week applying yourself to whatever skill you think you are best suited to (and therefore most efficient at). The money you earn from that labor and investment is what you use to live your life. It is the conduit of your freedom, and every dollar that is stolen from you is a moment of your time and a limit on your horizon. Now let me say that there is a legitimate function of government and yes, even for taxes. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing the federal government should be doing is supplying a military, conducting foreign policy, and settling interstate disputes. You know, pretty much what the constitution says it should do. Everything else is local, and even that should be limited to the absolutely necessary things that cannot be provided any other way. Welfare is not necessary. Unemployment insurance is not necessary. Payroll taxes are not necessary. When you vote, remember that every single dollar that is taken from you is another 10 miles that you cannot drive your car, that each time a politician says "the government needs to do" something he really means that you need to pay for something, and remember that no matter what you hear on television, the government really can do with less. Because if it can't, you will.


  1. This is a great post M.H.!

    However, I think there is one more thing government should provide. That is internal and external security, so that we can move around as freely as you implied. Law enforcement is necessary to keep civil order wherever people congregate and live close to one another. Border enforcement (which might be covered by your assertion of the government supplying a military) is necessary to ensure the sovereignty of any state. Otherwise we might get overrun by invaders and next thing you know, you are not just paying for that poor slob in Nebraska but also for his illegal wife and five children. Oh wait, you already are ...

    Well, just thought this might be something to consider in your crusade against any and all government intervention. I love the premise of everything you wrote about.

  2. Patriot Girl,
    No doubt you're right to some extent. The internal security is part and parcel with the courts (without cops, how would we get to the courts). But even the use of civil force is drastically limited by a free and well armed society with clear rules of behavior. Thanks for the comment. You're my first!

  3. Some thoughtful and passionate writing. Thank you for it!

    Don't forget that a major cause of discontent with the taxation during the revolutionary period was that the taxes were not being spent in the interests of the Colonies. They were being funneled to Great Britain, along with much of the rest of the world's wealth during the colonial period.

    If our taxes are focused on American interests, then aren't we comparing proverbial apples and oranges? For example, regarding your discussion of travel: wouldn't the government be a barrier to your travel if it failed to provide a well-kept infrastucture of roads for you to travel on, funded by your tax dollars? Would sickness prohibit you from traveling if the government failed to provide adequate sewage systems and vector control, funded by taxes?

  4. Traveler:

    Are you assuming that the government is the only institution to spend your taxes on roads and sewage efficiently?

  5. Traveler: Thanks for the post... it's a new blog and it's nice to have it read. You make a fair point so far as that yes, there is a legitimate function of government. To what degree roads fall under that purview is debatable (patriot girl makes an excellent a point). While I've got specific ideas and opinions about what might work best in a particular situations such as roads, my broader point still stands: that we're taxed unreasonably, and that the level is onerous. If this was roundly recognized and understood, I'd love to hammer out the most efficient way of supporting transportation. My lament is that the burden of taxation is not more recognized. My beef is that the taxation is not focused on our collective well being, but that of those doing the taxing. And that's VERY similar to our nation's revolutionary discontent!