MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Alexander Bidenton’s Standing IRS Army

Posted by M. C. on August 16, 2022

By Thomas DiLorenzo

Federal tax evasion is a felony, and felons cannot legally own firearms, nor can they vote in at least a dozen states.  Biden’s standing army of tax collectors can therefore, in theory, kill three or four “deplorable birds” with one stone, so to speak.  One wonders:  What would Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison think of this?  And what would they do about it?

The Biden administration’s “Inflation Reduction Act” will increase inflation with hundreds of billions in additional government spending and money creation by the Fed while making supply chain problems even worse with onerous new corporate taxes, especially on energy, and myriad new “Green New Deal” environmental regulations.  Increased government spending and reduced production will cause higher prices, not lower.

To collect all the new taxes for this latest election-year spending binge the administration is proposing to spend some $80 billion to more than double the number of IRS agents, hiring 87,000 new ones, 70,000 of which are reported to be armed.  The Democrat party wants a standing army of armed tax collectors to enforce its will.

Americans once fought a revolution over such acts of tyranny.  Among the abuses by King George III listed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence were that he “sent hither Swarms of Officers [i.e., armed tax collectors/enforcers] to harass our people, and eat out their substance” and “He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, standing armies . . .”  That is how King George III collected the notorious stamp tax.  He sent armed soldiers into the homes of the colonists to demand that they prove they had paid the stamp taxes on all of their documents, a stamp being essentially the receipt for taxes paid.  And that was just for the stamp tax.  They also confiscated firearms and deprived the colonists of civil liberties.  It is little wonder that the founding fathers adamantly opposed a standing army in peacetime, only allowing for two years of funding for the army in the original Constitution.  “A standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen,” declared James Madison.  It is “the bane of liberty,” said Elbridge Gerry.  History proves that standing armies have caused “havoc, desolation, and destruction” wrote George Mason.

Jefferson’s nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, may have been a war hero but after the war, as America’s first treasury secretary, he tried to resurrect an American version of King George’s standing army of tax collectors.  In the early 1790s Western Pennsylvania farmers protested the first federal tax on a commodity, a distilled spirits tax known as the whiskey tax.  The farmers distilled much of their grain into alcohol and even used whiskey as a medium of exchange.  They felt discriminated against since there was no similar tax on tobacco, rice, etc. and so they refused to collect and pay the tax, even tarring and feathering federal tax collectors when they showed up.

Since the whiskey tax was his idea, Hamilton talked President George Washington into getting the governors of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to provide some 13,000 conscripts to ride into Western Pennsylvania to enforce the whiskey tax.  A large standing army of tax collectors, in other words, larger than the army that defeated the British at Yorktown.  George Washington himself led the army of tax collectors into Western Pennsylvania but the protesters had all but vanished when they got there.  About twenty of the leaders of the tax rebellion  — some of whom were elderly Revolutionary War veterans — were rounded up and “run through the snow in chains,” wrote William Hogeland in The Whiskey Rebellion.  Washington apparently got bored by the whole affair and went home, leaving Hamilton in charge.

Hamilton ordered local judges to render guilty verdicts against all the men who were eventually imprisoned and, if Hamilton had his way, would have been hanged.  Only two out of twenty were convicted, however, and President Washington pardoned them both, putting an end to America’s first British-style imposition of a standing army of armed tax collectors.

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