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Posts Tagged ‘Taxation’

TGIF: Inflation Is Evil | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on October 16, 2021

Imagine if the government had to fight its decades-long wars with open taxation. Would Americans stand for global intervention if every penny of the trillion-dollar military had to be paid to the Internal Revenue Service? The poor military contractors might have to find other things to produce, maybe even things that consumers really want.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/tgif-inflation-is-evil/

by Sheldon Richman

When will Americans demand that the government denationalize money and free the market to do what it does better than anything else: serve the general welfare rather than the special interests?

It’s hard to know what it would take to bring this about, but inflation talk is once again in the air, and that’s bad. Worse, it’s in the shops. It had to happen after years of Fed Reserve’s money creation, through the banking system, in the name of stimulating this or stimulating that. Forget the printing press. All the Fed has to do is buy up oodles of bank assets (government debt and bad private assets), leaving those institutions with billions of conjured-up dollars in their computer accounts. Eventually the funny money would get out among us and do its damage. It had to happen sooner or later. Only the schedule was in doubt.

So why was the monetary system ever trusted to politicians and their bureaucratic appointees in the first place? The idea that a free society cannot provide sound money was an article of faith based on no evidence, like the idea that a free society cannot provide roads or law and order. The alleged failures of market-based money were really the result of government intervention. The “authorities” could never resist tampering whenever they saw the chance. Power is a strong drug.

Inflation is insidious. When central-bank policy robs people of their purchasing power by reducing the value of money, life gets harder. It’s obviously worse for the most vulnerable: the low- and fixed-income members of society, who can least afford the rise in the cost of living. But inflation does so much more. Savings melt away for most people, wreaking havoc with their ability to plan and to take care of themselves.

Even that does not exhaust the ways that the government’s central bank harms us. Prices rise, but not uniformly as though the “price level” were a real thing rather than a construct. What counts are relative prices (interest rates are prices too), which in the unmolested market reflect the relative changing of supply and demand. Market prices are indispensable for signaling that some things are being overproduced and while others are being underproduced. Since Fed-created money enters the economy at particular points in society, it changes relative prices in ways that differ from what would have taken place with market-based money. More havoc in the planning of production that would otherwise have served the general welfare.

Expectations change because of Fed policies, and those new expectations lead to employer and employee decisions that will turn out to be wrong when the inflation ends. When the Fed becomes nervous that things are getting out of hand, it will, as the saying goes, step on the brakes. Then many people will suffer anew from the recession, the great revelation of all the mistakes made under the government-distorted signals. And that’s not the end: the recession will be the excuse for new government interventions, which will only introduce further distortions. Never let a crisis pass without increasing power–that’s the politicians’ motto.

Does this sound like fun? Of course it doesn’t, but that’s what the state has done to us over and over. It keeps happening because government officials gain (though not necessarily in the traditional way), and they are good at blaming others for the bad effects. Economics is not intuitive, especially monetary economics.

Can we hope that the politicians and those who profit from their interventions will let go of the power? Why would they unless they had no choice? Inflation is magic: it, along with the power to borrow, enables our rulers to keep the support of constituencies without the explicit taxes they’d have to levy if the central bank did not exist. (Borrowing might still be an option but also might be more limited without central banking.) To put it another way, inflation is taxation by stealth, embezzlement rather than armed robbery. We pay for the largess the government bestows on special others, but much of it appears from thin air. When people pay the bill at the retail counter, most of them won’t know the government is to blame. That’s just evil.

Imagine if the government had to fight its decades-long wars with open taxation. Would Americans stand for global intervention if every penny of the trillion-dollar military had to be paid to the Internal Revenue Service? The poor military contractors might have to find other things to produce, maybe even things that consumers really want.

We owe it to ourselves and future generations to change this madness once and for all.

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Consent of the Governed? | Robert Higgs

Posted by M. C. on June 19, 2021

I raise this question because in regard to the so-called social contract, I have often had occasion to protest that I haven’t even seen the contract, much less been asked to consent to it. A valid contract requires voluntary offer, acceptance, and consideration. I’ve never received an offer from my rulers, so I certainly have not accepted one; and rather than consideration, I have received nothing but contempt from the rulers, who, notwithstanding the absence of any agreement, have indubitably threatened me with grave harm in the event that I fail to comply with their edicts.

To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so.

https://blog.independent.org/2010/06/01/consent-of-the-governed/

Robert Higgs

What gives some people the right to rule others? At least since John Locke’s time, the most common and seemingly compelling answer has been “the consent of the governed.” When the North American revolutionaries set out to justify their secession from the British Empire, they declared, among other things: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” This sounds good, especially if one doesn’t think about it very hard or very long, but the harder and longer one thinks about it, the more problematic it becomes.

One question after another comes to mind. Must every person consent? If not, how many must, and what options do those who do not consent have? What form must the consent take ― verbal, written, explicit, implicit? If implicit, how is it to be registered? Given that the composition of society is constantly changing, owing to births, deaths, and international migration, how often must the rulers confirm that they retain the consent of the governed? And so on and on. Political legitimacy, it would appear, presents a multitude of difficulties when we move from the realm of theoretical abstraction to that of practical realization.

I raise this question because in regard to the so-called social contract, I have often had occasion to protest that I haven’t even seen the contract, much less been asked to consent to it. A valid contract requires voluntary offer, acceptance, and consideration. I’ve never received an offer from my rulers, so I certainly have not accepted one; and rather than consideration, I have received nothing but contempt from the rulers, who, notwithstanding the absence of any agreement, have indubitably threatened me with grave harm in the event that I fail to comply with their edicts. What monumental effrontery these people exhibit! What gives them the right to rob me and push me around? It certainly is not my desire to be a sheep for them to shear or slaughter as they deem expedient for the attainment of their own ends.

Moreover, when we flesh out the idea of “consent of the governed” in realistic detail, the whole notion quickly becomes utterly preposterous. Just consider how it would work. A would-be ruler approaches you and offers a contract for your approval. Here, says he, is the deal.

I, the party of the first part (“the ruler”), promise:

(1) To stipulate how much of your money you will hand over to me, as well as how, when, and where the transfer will be made. You will have no effective say in the matter, aside from pleading for my mercy, and if you should fail to comply, my agents will punish you with fines, imprisonment, and (in the event of your persistent resistance) death.

(2) To make thousands upon thousands of rules for you to obey without question, again on pain of punishment by my agents. You will have no effective say in determining the content of these rules, which will be so numerous, complex, and in many cases beyond comprehension that no human being could conceivably know about more than a handful of them, much less their specific character, yet if you should fail to comply with any of them, I will feel free to punish you to the extent of a law made my me and my confederates.

(3) To provide for your use, on terms stipulated by me and my agents, so-called public goods and services. Although you may actually place some value on a few of these goods and services, most will have little or no value to you, and some you will find utterly abhorrent, and in no event will you as an individual have any effective say over the goods and services I provide, notwithstanding any economist’s cock-and-bull story to the effect that you “demand” all this stuff and value it at whatever amount of money I choose to expend for its provision.

(4) In the event of a dispute between us, judges beholden to me for their appointment and salaries will decide how to settle the dispute. You can expect to lose in these settlements, if your case is heard at all.

 In exchange for the foregoing government “benefits,” you, the party of the second part (“the subject”), promise:

(5) To shut up, make no waves, obey all orders issued by the ruler and his agents, kowtow to them as if they were important, honorable people, and when they say “jump,” ask only “how high?”

Such a deal! Can we really imagine that any sane person would consent to it?

Yet the foregoing description of the true social contract into which individuals are said to have entered is much too abstract to capture the raw realities of being governed. In enumerating the actual details, no one has ever surpassed Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who wrote:

To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. (P.-J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, trans. John Beverley Robinson. London: Freedom Press, 1923, p. 294)

Nowadays, of course, we would have to supplement Proudhon’s admirably precise account by noting that our being governed also entails our being electronically monitored, tracked by orbiting satellites, tased more or less at random, and invaded in our premises by SWAT teams of police, often under the pretext of their overriding our natural right to decide what substances we will ingest, inject, or inhale into what used to be known as “our own bodies.”

So, to return to the question of political legitimacy as determined by the consent of the governed, it appears upon sober reflection that the whole idea is as fanciful as the unicorn. No one in his right mind, save perhaps an incurable masochist, would voluntarily consent to be treated as governments actually treat their subjects.

Nevertheless, very few of us in this country at present are actively engaged in armed rebellion against our rulers. And it is precisely this absence of outright violent revolt that, strange to say, some commentators take as evidence of our consent to the outrageous manner in which the government treats us. Grudging, prudential acquiescence, however, is not the same thing as consent, especially when the people acquiesce, as I do, only in simmering, indignant resignation.

For the record, I can state in complete candor that I do not approve of the manner in which I am being treated by the liars, thieves, and murderers who style themselves the Government of the United States of America or by those who constitute the tyrannical pyramid of state, local, and hybrid governments with which this country is massively infested. My sincere wish is that all of these individuals would, for once in their despicable lives, do the honorable thing. In this regard, I suggest that they give serious consideration to seppuku. Whether they employ a sharp sword or a dull one, I care not, so long as they carry the act to a successful completion.

Addendum on “love it or leave it”: Whenever I write along the foregoing lines, I always receive messages from Neanderthals who, imagining that I “hate America,” demand that I get the hell out of this country and go back to wherever I came from. Such reactions evince not only bad manners, but a fundamental misunderstanding of my grievance.

I most emphatically do not hate America. I was not born in some foreign despotism, but in a domestic one known as Oklahoma, which I understand to be the very heart and soul of this country so far as culture and refinement are concerned. Moreover, for what it is worth, some of my ancestors had been living in North America for centuries before a handful of ragged, starving white men washed ashore on this continent, planted their flag, and claimed all the land they could see and a great deal they could not see on behalf of some sorry-ass European monarch. What chutzpah! I yield to no one in my affection for the Statue of Liberty, the Rocky Mountains, and the amber waves of grain, not to mention the celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County. So when I am invited to get out of the country, I feel like someone living in a town taken over by the James Gang who has been told that if he doesn’t like being robbed and bullied by uninvited thugs, he should move to another town. To me, it seems much more fitting that the criminals get out.

Robert Higgs is Retired Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Founding Editor of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
Posts by Robert Higgs | Full Biography and Publications

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How Empires End – Doug Casey’s International Man

Posted by M. C. on April 20, 2021

Taxes, taxes, taxes

https://internationalman.com/articles/how-empires-end/

by Jeff Thomas

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

Histories are generally written by academics. They, quite naturally, tend to focus on the main events: the wars and the struggles between leaders and their opponents (both external and internal). Whilst these are interesting stories to read, academics, by their very nature, often overlook the underlying causes for an empire’s decline.

Today, as in any era, most people are primarily interested in the “news”—the daily information regarding the world’s political leaders and their struggles with one another to obtain, retain, and expand their power. When the history is written about the era we are passing through, it will reflect, in large measure, a rehash of the news. As the media of the day tend to overlook the fact that present events are merely symptoms of an overall decline, so historians tend to focus on major events, rather than the “slow operations” that have been the underlying causes.

The Persian Empire

When, as a boy, I was “educated” about the decline and fall of the Persian Empire, I learned of the final takeover by Alexander the Great but was never told that, in its decline, Persian taxes became heavier and more oppressive, leading to economic depression and revolts, which, in turn led to even heavier taxes and increased repression. Increasingly, kings hoarded gold and silver, keeping it out of circulation from the community. This hamstrung the market, as monetary circulation was insufficient to conduct business. By the time Alexander came along, Persia, weakened by warfare and internal economic strife, was a shell of an empire and was relatively easy to defeat.

The Tang Dynasty

Back then, I also learned that the Tang Dynasty ended as a result of the increased power amongst the eunuchs, battles with fanzhen separatists, and finally, peasants’ revolts. True enough, but I was not taught that the dynasty’s expansion-based warfare demanded increases in taxation, which led to the revolts. Continued warfare necessitated increasing monetary and land extortion by the eunuchs, resulting in an abrupt decrease in food output and further taxes. Finally, as economic deterioration and oppression of the citizenry worsened, citizens left the area entirely for more promise elsewhere.

Is there a pattern here? Let’s have a more detailed look—at another empire.

The Spanish Empire

In 1556, Philip II of Spain inherited what was regarded as Europe’s most wealthy nation, with no apparent economic problems. Yet, by 1598, Spain was bankrupt. How was this possible?

Spain was doing well but sought to become a major power. To achieve this, Philip needed more tax dollars. Beginning in 1561, the existing servicio tax was regularised, and the crusada tax, the excusado tax, and the millones tax were all added by 1590.

Over a period of 39 years (between 1559 and 1598) taxes increased by 430%. Although the elite of the day were exempt from taxation (the elite of today are not officially exempt), the average citizen was taxed to the point that both business expansion and public purchasing diminished dramatically. Wages did not keep pace with the resultant inflation. The price of goods rose 400%, causing a price revolution and a tax revolution.

Although Spain enjoyed a flood of gold and silver from the Americas at this time, the increased wealth went straight into Philip’s war efforts. However, the 100,000 troops were soon failing to return sufficient spoils to Philip to pay for their forays abroad.

In a final effort to float the doomed empire, Philip issued government bonds, which provided immediate cash but created tremendous debt that, presumably, would need to be repaid one day. (The debt grew to 8.8 times GDP.)

Spain declared bankruptcy. Trade slipped to other countries. The military, fighting on three fronts, went unpaid, and military aspirations collapsed.

It is important to note that, even as the empire was collapsing, Philip did not suspend warfare. He did not back off on taxation. Like leaders before and since, he instead stubbornly increased his autocracy as the empire slid into collapse.

Present-Day Empires

Again, the events above are not taught to schoolchildren as being of key importance in the decline of empires, even though they are remarkably consistent with the decline of other empires and what we are seeing today. The very same events occur, falling like dominoes, more or less in order, in any empire, in any age:

  1. The reach of government leaders habitually exceeds their grasp.
  2. Dramatic expansion (generally through warfare) is undertaken without a clear plan as to how that expansion is to be financed.
  3. The population is overtaxed as the bills for expansion become due, without consideration as to whether the population can afford increased taxation.
  4. Heavy taxation causes investment by the private sector to diminish, and the economy begins to decline.
  5. Costs of goods rise, without wages keeping pace.
  6. Tax revenue declines as the economy declines (due to excessive taxation). Taxes are increased again, in order to top up government revenues.
  7. In spite of all the above, government leaders personally hoard as much as they can, further limiting the circulation of wealth in the business community.
  8. Governments issue bonds and otherwise borrow to continue expansion, with no plan as to repayment.
  9. Dramatic authoritarian control is instituted to assure that the public continues to comply with demands, even if those demands cannot be met by the public.
  10. Economic and social collapse occurs, often marked by unrest and riots, the collapse of the economy, and the exit of those who are productive.
  11. In this final period, the empire turns on itself, treating its people as the enemy.

The above review suggests that if our schoolbooks stressed the underlying causes of empire collapse, rather than the names of famous generals and the dates of famous battles, we might be better educated and be less likely to repeat the same mistakes.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely. Chances are, future leaders will be just as uninterested in learning from history as past leaders. They will create empires, then destroy them.

Even the most informative histories of empire decline, such as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, will not be of interest to the leaders of empires. They will believe that they are above history and that they, uniquely, will succeed.

If there is any value in learning from the above, it is the understanding that leaders will not be dissuaded from their aspirations. They will continue to charge ahead, both literally and figuratively, regardless of objections and revolts from the citizenry.

Once an empire has reached stage eight above, it never reverses. It is a “dead empire walking” and only awaits the painful playing-out of the final three stages. At that point, it is foolhardy in the extreme to remain and “wait it out” in the hope that the decline will somehow reverse. At that point, the wiser choice might be to follow the cue of the Chinese, the Romans, and others, who instead chose to quietly exit for greener pastures elsewhere.

Editor’s Note: The US government is overextending itself by interfering in every corner of the globe. It’s all financed by massive amounts of money printing. However, the next financial crisis could end the whole charade soon.

The truth is, we’re on the cusp of a global economic crisis that could eclipse anything we’ve seen before. That’s exactly why New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released a guide that explains what could come next and what you can do about it.. Click here to download the PDF now.

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Taxation and Forced Labor | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 28, 2020

The way the example applies to income taxes is obvious. When the government taxes your income, it is taking away the product of hours of your labor. Just as I would be appropriating your labor if I forced you to work several hours for me without paying you anything, the government by taxing your income is seizing hours of your labor.

Moore considers an interesting objection to his argument. If you don’t want to pay income tax, couldn’t you avoid this by working less or for lower pay, so that your income fell below the minimum income for taxation? But why does the government have the right to put you in this unenviable position? Moore considers, in elaborate detail, a number of variations of the case, in each instance concluding that the government acts improperly. These I’ll leave to interested readers to examine for themselves.

https://mises.org/wire/taxation-and-forced-labor

David Gordon

When the government taxes you, it is taking away your money without your consent, and this is theft. This argument is well known, but there is another, though related, problem with taxes on income that you earn. By taking away part of the money you earn, the government is forcing you to work for it. Robert Nozick advanced this argument in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and what I’d like to discuss in this week’s column is a defense of Nozick’s argument by Adam D. Moore that was published this year in the Southern Journal of Philosophy. It’s especially timely to discuss Moore’s article now, because Moore uses a famous argument by the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson, who passed away last Saturday.

Thomson asks us to consider this case: “Violinist: You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own.” The violinist will die unless you remain hooked up to him for nine months. Do you have the right to detach yourself? Thomson thinks it is obvious that you do. You didn’t consent to the arrangement, and your body isn’t at the disposal of others, even if they need it in order to survive. (Thomson uses her example to defend the permissibility of certain cases of abortion, but that isn’t relevant here.)

Moore varies the example in order to make it more relevant to his own argument. “Where in the original case Thomson has you hooked up for nine months, I will suppose that you are hooked up each day for several hours. Each day, the Society of Music Lovers kidnaps you and attaches the violinist. In five years, the violinist’s kidneys will be healed, and no further kidnappings will need to occur.” Moore says you would still be justified in detaching yourself, because the Society is using your body without your consent. He goes on to present a case of his own in which someone on an island has to work extra hours to support someone else unable to work. Here again Moore says you aren’t morally required to do so. It might be a nice thing to aid the person unable to work, but someone can’t be compelled to do this.

The way the example applies to income taxes is obvious. When the government taxes your income, it is taking away the product of hours of your labor. Just as I would be appropriating your labor if I forced you to work several hours for me without paying you anything, the government by taxing your income is seizing hours of your labor.

Moore considers an interesting objection to his argument. If you don’t want to pay income tax, couldn’t you avoid this by working less or for lower pay, so that your income fell below the minimum income for taxation? But why does the government have the right to put you in this unenviable position? Moore considers, in elaborate detail, a number of variations of the case, in each instance concluding that the government acts improperly. These I’ll leave to interested readers to examine for themselves.

But isn’t Moore’s argument open to another objection? The government isn’t just taking away your hours of labor. It also provides you with benefits. Of course, most government programs are detrimental or at best useless, but never mind that. Moore responds by using another point that Nozick raised. People can’t confer benefits on you without your consent and then demand that you pay for them. “Nozick writes, ‘One cannot, whatever one’s purposes, just act so as to give people benefits and then demand (or seize) payment. Nor can a group of persons do this. If you may not charge and collect for benefits you bestow without prior agreement, you certainly may not do so for benefits whose bestowal costs you nothing, and most certainly people need not repay you for costless-to-provide benefits which yet others provided them.’”

Most readers will already know how to answer the objection that the taxes aren’t imposed by a dictator but are the outcome of a democratic election. You can’t be forced to labor for others, even if your partial slavery is the result of a majority vote.

The rejoinder that I am drawn to at this point is one word: democracy! In democratic societies we vote about how to share the benefits and burdens of social interaction. Everyone gets a vote, and the will of the majority decides the appropriate share of benefits and burdens. The idea is to join together two factors, accruing benefits and democracy, that will justify taxation and redistribution. But, imagine our original Violinist case and add in a small village where the principles of democracy and majority rule have been in place for centuries. After a brief campaign to get out the vote and save the violinist, the village votes unanimously–1 (your vote) to hook you up and begin your daily sessions with the violinist. I warrant that this would be immoral independent of the vote and the benefits.

Moore with great ingenuity responds to a number of other objections, and I’ll mention just one more:

Taxes are justified because citizens agree to them as part of a social bargain. In return for the benefits that society bestows on the fortunate—and by using the goods and services offered by society—these individuals are indebted and agree to this contract…[but] no one has actually signed this social contract. Minimally, for a contract to generate moral and legal norms it must take place in conditions that are fair and where the parties to the contract have enough information. For example, withholding crucial information (the “car” you are about to buy is a shell with no internal parts) or threatening someone (pointing a gun at someone to ensure they sign the contract) would invalidate whatever moral norms that might typically arise in a proposed contract. How would any of this work related to a social contract? Moreover, there may be individuals who simply “don’t use the facilities” so-to-speak. Not only have they not agreed to pay any taxes, but they also do not consume any societal benefits.

We are greatly indebted to Moore for his fine analysis. But we don’t owe him any money for the benefit he has conferred on us, because we have signed no agreement to pay him. Author:

Contact David Gordon

David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Mises Review.

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Turning the Clock Forward – American Thinker

Posted by M. C. on October 1, 2020

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2020/09/turning_the_clock_forward_.html

by Christopher Garbacz

If America returned to 1950s family values with obvious improvements (constitutional civil rights and reasonable environmental regulations), would we be turning the clock back or forward? There is substantial evidence that this would turn the clock forward, given society’s backward trend over the last sixty years –family breakdown, retreat from religion, and educational and moral malaise. When Attorney General William Barr spoke at the Notre Dame Law School, he attributed this decline primarily to the progressive movement.

Amy Wax and Larry Alexander argued for a return to 1950s values (the bourgeois culture that reigned from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) to mend America’s torn social fabric and disparate class gap:

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

Wax and Alexander do not offer a path back to the script. Congress has no will to act, and the President cannot legislate. However, a revitalized federal court system, starting with the Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”), can lead the way. President Trump has moved the Court in the direction that would allow it to reverse past activism. Putting a strict constructionist in Justice Ginsburg’s seat is the precursor to another four years of Trump that would move the federal courts in this direction for decades to come.

This essay suggests ten key areas of change for SCOTUS, each of which could help turn America around. These changes might not contain all that needs to be done to restore the republic, but they would move us far down the path. These categories allow a cohesive, united country to emerge to solve our problems in an innovative process not possible under the current administrative state.

Category I. Taxation. Read the rest of this entry »

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WHY TAXATION IS SLAVERY

Posted by M. C. on September 2, 2020

Now I put it to you that the above description is exactly the reality that you face in relation to government as we know it today. The “I” in the example above is the IRS. It takes away your money by means of coercion, intimidation, and force and gives it to others who claim to legitimize the theft on the basis of majority rule, public benefit, wealth distribution, homeland security, etc., etc., etc. To the extent that the above description is correct, the government is a thieving parasite and you are its host. To the extent that you don’t get to keep the fruit of your labor the government owns it, not you; and to that extent you are a slave.

https://www.titanians.org/why-taxation-is-slavery/
By Robert E. Podolsky

Government is a Criminal Enterprise

I have maintained for some time that taxation is government’s most criminal enterprise and that it is, in fact, a form of slavery. Yet it continues to baffle me that so many people cannot or will not see the obvious truth in these statements and insist on arguing that taxation is necessary to humanity’s well being and that it is not slavery at all. “The greatest good for the greatest number” goes the usual utilitarian refrain…which I maintain is one of the greater falsehoods…for the usual reasons. But since these reasons are so elusive to the greatest number I have decided to explain my reasoning in language that (hopefully) anyone can understand, thus settling this dispute once and for all in the eyes of any reasonable person.

While a whole book might easily be devoted to this subject, it is my intention to present here only a brief treatise on the subject in order to make the information as accessible as possible. I present herein three separate, but not entirely independent, arguments to make my case. I call them respectively:

1. The Property Rights Argument,

2. The Robin Hood Argument, and

3. The Smart Business Argument.
The Property Rights Argument

Property Rights is the one usually presented by libertarians in the manner of the late Murray Rothbard. Unfortunately, Rothbard presupposed that most people would accept intuitively that people own their own bodies. From this assumption he then reasoned that this implied the existence of property rights and hence absolute ownership of whatever the individual might create or produce. While the reasoning behind this argument is correct, few people accept it because it is counter-intuitive. It is counter-intuitive because as children it is obvious to us that our parents own our bodies, rather than we ourselves. When we go to school our teachers appear to own us. And when we grow up and become employees it often seems that our employers own us. We also observe as adults that if we refuse to pay taxes we can involuntarily lose possession of all our assets, thus demonstrating that government has a higher claim than we do to whatever we would like to believe we own. In the midst of such a society it is hardly surprising that most of us are unconvinced that we have any property rights not mitigated by government decree.

So it follows that if indeed we have any property rights worth discussing we will need some other way to discover this fact than simply agreeing with the Rothbard assertion that we own our own bodies. Fortunately there is another avenue of reasoning that we can call upon for this purpose. It begins with the definition of an ethical act:

An act is ethical if it increases the creativity of anyone, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing the creativity of anyone.

As I have shown elsewhere, this definition is logically equivalent to similar definitions in which the word “creativity” is replaced by “love”, “awareness”, “personal evolution”, or any of a potentially large set of resources that are logical equivalents of creativity. I have also conclusively shown elsewhere that the utilitarian definition defining an ethical act as one that does more good than harm is invalid, and that because of this that it follows by simple logic that ethical ends cannot ever be attained by unethical means no matter who (or how many) benefits from such an act[1].

Now let’s ask the question, “Might it be ethical to steal someone’s possessions, either by force or by deceit?” And the answer is a resounding, “NO!” The scientist depends on her computer. The poet depends on his word processor. The artist needs her brushes and paints. Steal these things from someone and they are rendered less creative. By definition such an act is unethical…bad…evil. It follows logically from this that if we have the “right” to be treated ethically then we must have the “right” to own whatever we are able to acquire without stealing from someone else…and that therefore no one has the right, for any reason, to deprive us of the fruit of our bodies’ labor. By similar reasoning it follows that we do indeed own our own bodies and that any act which abrogates that right of ownership is an act of slavery because it diminishes our self-ownership. If our physical and financial possessions indeed contribute to our creativity, then it follows that the systematic removal of any such resources from our possession is evil and is a form of enslavement. Taxation is just such an act.
The Robin Hood Argument

The Robin Hood Argument is even easier to understand. We begin the discussion with my asking you the question, “Would it be all right with you if I stole your assets?”

And of course your answer is, “No.”

Next I ask, “Would it matter to you whether the theft was by force or by fraud?”

Again you answer, “No.” Then I ask, “Would you care what I did with the money?”

Again, “No.” Then I ask, “What if I gave the money away…would that make it okay?”

Again, “No.” “Suppose I gave half the money to a lot of poor people and they liked it and wanted more. Would that make the theft okay with you?”

Still, “No.” “Suppose all those poor folks elected a bunch of congressmen and I gave the other half of your money to them to spend as they wished. Would that make the theft okay with you?”

Still, “No.” “Finally, suppose those congressmen got together and wrote a piece of paper saying it was all right for me to steal from you and give away the proceeds; and they called that piece of paper a ‘tax law’. Would that make the theft okay with you?”

At this point I hope you have the good sense to continue saying, “No. NO. NO!”

Now I put it to you that the above description is exactly the reality that you face in relation to government as we know it today. The “I” in the example above is the IRS. It takes away your money by means of coercion, intimidation, and force and gives it to others who claim to legitimize the theft on the basis of majority rule, public benefit, wealth distribution, homeland security, etc., etc., etc. To the extent that the above description is correct, the government is a thieving parasite and you are its host. To the extent that you don’t get to keep the fruit of your labor the government owns it, not you; and to that extent you are a slave.

I should say a few words here about how the government steals from you. It does so in three ways. First it taxes you directly by means of income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, parking and traffic tickets, court imposed fines, school and utility district assessments, licensing and registration fees, gasoline, alcohol, and tobacco taxes, etc. Then there are taxes passed on to you indirectly. Most of these are taxes paid by the businesses which make or import the things you buy. Every time the government requires a tariff for the importation of foreign goods or raw materials it requires you to pay more and get less. If your Toyota dealer pays a tariff, then you are paying more for a car than the free market would charge. If you save yourself the added expense by buying a Ford, then in effect your government insists you settle for an inferior product so that Ford can make a bigger profit. This amounts to an indirect tax. Either way value is taken away from you and given to someone else who didn’t earn it.
Hidden Taxes

And finally there are hidden taxes. The most blatant example of a hidden tax is inflation…the illusion of rising prices. Every time the Federal Reserve prints money for the government to spend, the government gets the full value of each Federal Reserve “dollar” printed. But shortly after the money is spent by the government it is absorbed by the economy and the value of every dollar in your bank account is diminished. In effect the government thereby steals the buying power of all of your money without your even knowing that you are being taxed[2].

All in all, if one includes direct, indirect, and hidden taxes, the average American gives up about 50% of their gross income to local, state, and federal authorities by way of taxes. That means that fully half the fruit of your labor is forfeit whether you like it or not. Is it any less odious to be a half time slave than it would be to live as a full time slave? I think not? Slavery is slavery.
Smart Business Argument

The Smart Business Argument starts with a fantasy. Imagine I am a slave owner and you are one of my hard-working slaves whom I use as labor in my agricultural business. They (and you) plant my fields and harvest my crops, which I sell at a substantial profit. My business depends on them. While you may think that slave labor is free to me, the fact is that it is not. Besides the initial purchase of my slaves, I have to maintain them. I feed, clothe, and house them…albeit cheaply, but it’s not free. I pay for whatever medical expenses I decide to invest in their health and I pay for their management, which includes the services of bounty hunters who round them up for me when they escape. I also have to pay for the tools and implements that my slaves use and the seeds that they plant. All in all it’s an expensive operation. What is more, I am limited in the geographical scope over which I can deploy my slaves, so my business is pretty much limited to the acreage contiguous to my home. This limits my profits still further.

Not wishing to remain so limited I consult a savvy business adviser and soon create a labor cartel together with a number of my colleagues. The cartel in turn goes into partnership with the government. Soon thereafter I round up all my slaves to attend a meeting at which I make the following announcements: “As of today your life will be different. Subject to certain rules and conditions, you and all other slaves will hereby be set free. The purpose of the rules is to reimburse me and my colleagues for the investment that we have made in you. When that debt has been paid, you will be completely free for all time. These are the rules:

1. You can live anywhere in the world you wish. As of today you can live in any housing you can afford. You pay for your own.

2. You can do any kind of work you want to do. You will work whatever hours you and your employer agree upon.

3. You will attend school through at least the age of 18 in preparation for your work. You will pay for your schools through taxes.

4. You may own a business if you so desire and are able to acquire the capital needed to start it.

5. You will carry an identification token all your life and through it your income will be tracked. I will know where you are working and for whom. I will know how much you earn and where you bank.

6. Directly and indirectly you will pay me and my colleagues 50¢ out of every dollar that you earn. This will apply toward payment of your debt to me.

7. If you need to borrow additional money and can convince a bank that you are a good ‘credit risk’, money will be created for you with the stroke of a computer key. This money costs the bank nothing to create and represents no risk to the bank, but if you fail to repay it with interest the bank will take away your house, your car, or any other assets you have that the bank required as collateral for the loan.

8. When the government needs to spend more money than it has collected in taxes, it will ‘borrow’ it from the Federal Reserve System which is a cartel of the world’s biggest banks. It will not need your permission to do this, but you and your descendants will be responsible for repayment of the loan. It will simply be added to whatever you already owe [3]. Naturally the value (buying power) of all the money (Federal Reserve Notes) in your possession will steadily diminish as the Fed continues this practice, so of course your debt to me and my colleagues will never be repaid in full.

9. In order to maintain your sense of freedom you will participate in general elections at regular intervals. The majority vote will determine who occupy the positions of elected officialdom. But the rules above will never be changed to your advantage…only to the advantage of the banking and labor cartels that are actually the owners of the whole system (including you). Accordingly, discussion of these rules will never be part of the general debate at election time.

10. The local, state, and federal governments of the United States will be responsible for enforcement of the rules above in keeping with its partnership in the banking and labor cartels. The courts will adjudicate any conflicts that arise; but discussion of these rules will be forbidden in court and any reference to them will be deemed ‘frivolous’ by the courts. In this way the rules become in themselves a form of law more potent and inviolable than the state and federal constitutions and local charters that might otherwise interfere with the working of the rules.”

The rules above are just “smart business” from the viewpoint of the modern slave owner. Costs are held to a minimum. Productivity is maximized. The slaves manage themselves. There are no rebellions to be concerned with. And yet the slaves are easy to manipulate and control using modern methods of scholastic indoctrination and media communication. What a blessing that most of the slaves have no inkling whatever that they are in fact slaves. This fact alone makes the whole system worth whatever sacrifices the slave owners have made to create it, because there are no organized modes of resistance to the system. Even the organized religions don’t protest the half-time slavery imposed on the public. What a deal for the owners of the system!

In Conclusion, I ask you not to feel too badly if you didn’t get it before now…if you didn’t realize that you are a slave. Most of us don’t get it and billions of dollars are spent each year to keep us in the dark about it. By maintaining the illusion that we are not slaves the system’s owners remain free to continue their perpetuation of the system, with the eventual (though not too distant) goal of taking over the whole world. If we don’t act promptly and with vigor that goal will be attained…very probably within your lifetime. As the goal is neared the deceit will become less and less subtle and the limitations on our freedom more and more pronounced. With the exceptions of 1865 and 1920 (emancipation and suffrage) we have had less freedom every year than the year before. This series of books [4] points the way to the only viable solution that I can see to the, otherwise inevitable, outcome of global slavery and the concomitant degradation of the social and physical environments of the world…to the detriment of all…including those who will be world’s rulers. It is a universal characteristic of parasites that, in the end, they destroy their host and with it themselves. Now let’s look at another atrocity – the attacks of 9/11/2011.

[1] See Appendix B of “BORG WARS” by Robert E. Podolsky

[2] See The Creature from Jekyll Island, a Second Look at the Federal Reserve System by G. Edward Griffin,

[3] Fully one half of your direct federal taxes today go to pay the interest on such loans.

[4] Titania™, the Bloodless Revolution by Robert E. Podolsky

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The Hidden Costs Behind Every Government Program | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 27, 2019

Behind every million dollar tax-funded high school, for example, there hides a million dollars’ worth of other goods and services that these taxpayers never got to purchase, but would have preferred…

https://mises.org/wire/hidden-costs-behind-every-government-program

When the state constructs a new bike lane, school, or begins a new space mission, the natural inclination of the majority is to cheer this new endeavor as progressive. We possess one new structure or have accomplished one new task than before; society has moved forward, the thinking goes.

The state is responsible for truly technically impressive or beautiful accomplishments like the Apollo missions, the Moscow Metro, the Palace of Versailles, etc. that most would agree clearly produce benefits for society.

Confronted with these concrete and widely celebrated examples of government accomplishments, how can libertarians deny that state action is sometimes a benevolent force in society?

Opportunity Cost

Leaving aside moral considerations and focusing on utilitarian considerations, the answer revolves around opportunity cost and demonstrated preference.

Opportunity cost is the benefits that could have been obtained through the best forgone alternative to an actual employment of resources. If a slice of pizza costs two dollars, and a hamburger costs two dollars, then the opportunity cost of a slice of pizza is a hamburger, and visa-versa.

The resources of any given country are scarce, and the “economic question” that must be solved is, how should the limited resources available be applied to best satisfy people’s subjective preferences?

Even if, for example, the state builds a library that is beautiful, the books are neatly organized, the librarian is competent and cordial, the temperature is well-regulated, and the computers are state of the art, we still need to hold our applause.

In order to be able to celebrate the employment of resources by the state in a particular application, it’s necessary to consider the alternative uses that could have been possible with those resources. If there exists an alternative option that could have better satisfied subjective preferences, then the actual employment, even if it produced benefits, was a relative failure.

Voluntary Exchange and Demonstrated Preference

Now the question is: by what standard can it be determined which employment of resources is best, relative to the subjective preferences of consumers, in any given case?

In instances of voluntary exchange, every exchange is not only ex-ante mutually beneficial, it’s ex-ante the best employment of the resources being exchanged, from the perspectives of the respective property owners. This is called demonstrated preference, which Rothbard explains to mean, “simply this: that actual choice reveals, or demonstrates, a man’s preferences; that is, that his preferences are deducible from what he has chosen in action.”

For example, if Smith sells Jones a lamp for twenty dollars, we can know that of all of the alternative uses of the lamp Smith had available to him, such as using it to read, using it as a decoration, keeping it in storage, etc., selling it to Jones for twenty dollars was his most highly preferred option, because that is the option that he freely chose.

Likewise, Jones thought buying Smith’s lamp was the best of all possible uses available to him of his twenty dollars. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have executed that option.

Involuntary Exchange

On the other hand, sometimes exchange, production, and consumption are not conducted as a result of the voluntary decisions of all of the owners of the property involved, but rather under compulsion of physical force. Then, in the absence of demonstrated preference, it can never be known whether the act benefited any of the involved parties or caused them harm, let alone that it was the most beneficial employment of resources for every party involved.

Given that usually countless options are available to actors at any given time, if would be an astronomically unlikely coincidence for the state to happen to dictate what consumers would have voluntarily chosen to do at a particular moment in time anyway. In this way, it’s metaphysically possible for state action to be equally ex-ante beneficial to all parties involved as voluntary exchange, but never more.

Fundamentally, acts of taxation and regulation, due to their involuntary nature, sever the link between consumers’ subjective preferences and the way in which their resources are deployed.

The Seen and the Unseen

Behind every million dollar tax-funded high school, for example, there hides a million dollars’ worth of other goods and services that these taxpayers never got to purchase, but would have preferred over the high school. Perhaps these goods would have been a million dollars’ worth of flowers, food, board games, medical services, books, cutlery, home renovations, farming equipment, computer software, and math tutor services.

There’s nothing stopping taxpayers from funding a high school on their own and sparing themselves the deadweight loss of bureaucracy. It really is simply the case that if consumers want a high school, they can pay for one, and as private high schools demonstrate, they often do.

However, the state using taxation to build a particular high school can only divert funds from more highly valued opportunity costs to the lower ranked high school. Otherwise, no compulsion would have been necessary. Despite this undeniable and simple logic, in the U.S., tax-funded expansions of the government K-12 education system, among other interventions, are widely celebrated.

In terms of public opinion, part of the explanation is that the high school can be seen and cheered because it actually exists, whereas the lost opportunity costs, by their very nature as forgone alternatives, never occurred, as so mourning their loss requires abstract reasoning and imagination on the part of the public.

Frédéric Bastiat described this phenomenon in his classic work “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.” Conspicuous state projects win the public relations war over quietly letting people spend their money as they actually wish to.

The interstate highway system, the Louvre, and the Sixth Fleet may be impressive, but they’re not cause for applause. Relative to the preferences of the taxpayer, no matter how grand and awe-inspiring a project the state completes, it will always and everywhere ex-ante fall short of voluntary exchange.

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The Siren Song of the State | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 26, 2019

The so-called war on terror has given rise to a huge industry that has emerged almost from scratch during the past few years. According to a 2006 Forbes report, the Department of Homeland Security and its predecessor agencies paid private contractors at least $130 billion after 9/11, and other federal agencies have spent a comparable amount. Thus, besides the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC), we now have a parallel security-industrial-congressional complex (SICC).

https://mises.org/library/siren-song-state

Robert Higgs

The state is the most destructive institution human beings have ever devised—a fire that, at best, can be controlled for only a short time before it o’erleaps its improvised confinements and spreads its flames far and wide.

Whatever promotes the growth of the state also weakens the capacity of individuals in civil society to fend off the state’s depredations and therefore augments the public’s multifaceted victimization at the hands of state functionaries. Nothing promotes the growth of the state as much as national emergency—war and other crises comparable to war in the seriousness of the threats they pose.

States, by their very nature, are perpetually at war—not always against foreign foes, of course, but always against their own subjects. The state’s most fundamental purpose, the activity without which it cannot even exist, is robbery. The state gains its very sustenance from robbery, which it pretties up ideologically by giving it a different name (taxation) and by striving to sanctify its intrinsic crime as permissible and socially necessary. State propaganda, statist ideologies, and long-established routine combine to convince many people that they have a legitimate obligation, even a moral duty to pay taxes to the state that rules their society.

They fall into such erroneous moral reasoning because they are told incessantly that the tribute they fork over is actually a kind of price paid for essential services received, and that in the case of certain services, such as protection from foreign and domestic aggressors against their rights to life, liberty, and property, only the government can provide the service effectively. They are not permitted to test this claim by resorting to competing suppliers of law, order, and security, however, because the government enforces a monopoly over the production and distribution of its alleged “services” and brings violence to bear against would-be competitors. In so doing, it reveals the fraud at the heart of its impudent claims and gives sufficient proof that it is not a genuine protector, but a mere protection racket.

All governments are, as they must be, oligarchies: only a relatively small number of people have substantial effective discretion to make critical decisions about how the state’s power will be brought to bear. Beyond the oligarchy itself and the police and military forces that compose its Praetorian Guard, somewhat larger groups constitute a supporting coalition. These groups provide important financial and other support to the oligarchs and look to them for compensating rewards—legal privileges, subsidies, jobs, exclusive franchises and licenses, transfers of financial income and wealth, goods and services in kind, and other booty—channeled to them at the expense of the mass of the people. Thus, the political class in general—that is, the oligarchs, the Praetorian Guards, and the supporting coalition—uses government power (which means ultimately the police and the armed forces) to exploit everyone outside this class by wielding or threatening to wield violence against all who fail to pay the tribute the oligarchs demand or to obey the rules they dictate.

Democratic political forms and rituals, such as elections and formal administrative proceedings, disguise this class exploitation and trick the masses into the false belief that the government’s operation yields them net benefits. In the most extreme form of misapprehension, the people at large become convinced that, owing to democracy, they themselves “are the government.”…

Notwithstanding the ideological enchantment with which official high priests and statist intellectuals have beguiled the plundered class, many members of this class retain a capacity to recognize at least some of their losses, and hence they sometimes resist further incursions on their rights by publicly expressing their grievances, by supporting political challengers who promise to lighten their burdens, by fleeing the country, and, most important, by evading or avoiding taxes and by violating legal prohibitions and regulatory restraints on their actions, as in the so-called underground economy, or “black market.”

These various forms of resistance together compose a force that opposes the government’s constant pressure to expand its domination. These two forces, working one against the other, establish a locus of “equilibrium,” a boundary between the set of rights the government has overridden or seized and the set of rights the plundered class has somehow managed to retain, whether by formal constitutional constraints or by everyday tax evasion, black-market transactions, and other defensive violations of the government’s oppressive rules…

National emergency—war or a similarly menacing crisis—answers the political class’s crucial question more effectively than anything else, because such a crisis has a uniquely effective capacity to dissipate the forces that otherwise would obstruct or oppose the government’s expansion.

Virtually any war will serve, at least for a while, because in modern nation-states the outbreak of war invariably leads the masses to “rally ‘round the flag,” regardless of their previous ideological stance in relation to the government.

In searching for the cause of this tremendous, rationally unjustified “rallying ‘round the flag,” we do not have far to go. Such public reactions are always driven by a combination of fear, ignorance, and uncertainty against a background of intense jingoistic nationalism, a popular culture predisposed toward violence, and a general inability to distinguish between the state and the people at large.

Because the government ceaselessly sings the siren song, relentlessly propagandizing the public to look upon it as their protector—such alleged protection being the principal excuse for its routinely robbing them and violating their natural rights—and because the mass media incessantly magnify and spread the government’s propaganda, we can scarcely be surprised if that propaganda turns out to have entered deeply into many people’s thinking, especially when they are in a state of near-panic. Unable to think clearly in an informed way, most people fall back on a childlike us-against- them style of understanding the perceived threat and what should be done about it…

A peaceful state is an impossibility. Even a state that refrains from fighting foreigners goes on fighting its own subjects continuously, to keep them under its control and to suppress competitors who might try to break into the domain of its protection racket. The people cry out for security, yet they will not take responsibility for their own protection, and like the mariners of Greek mythology, they leap overboard immediately in response to the state’s siren song.

When the Israelites had fled from their captivity in Egypt, they made do for centuries with only judges, yet they were not satisfied, and eventually they demanded a king, crying out:

“We will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19–20)

Well, they got a king all right, just as we Americans have embraced one of our own, though we call ours a president. The Israelites, as the prophet Samuel had warned, were no better off for having a king, however: King Saul only led them from one slaughter to another (1 Samuel 14: 47–48).

Likewise, our rulers have led us from one unnecessary slaughter to the next; and, to make matters worse, they have exploited each such occasion to fasten their chains around us more tightly. Like the ancient Israelites, we Americans shall never have real, lasting peace so long as we give our allegiance to a king—that is, in our case, to the whole conglomeration of institutionalized exploiters and murderers we know as the state.

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Reflections on Ron Paul’s Revolution: Taxation is Theft – The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 14, 2019

Economic historian, Burton Fulsom, points out that there’re two types of entrepreneurs: market and political. Market is the entrepreneur based in the private sector, whereas political is lobbying the government for your free goodies that are provided via stealing from the American taxpayers.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/reflections-on-ron-pauls-revolution-taxation-is-theft/

By

Mr. Pseu

Ron Paul’s Revolution: A Manifesto, is without a doubt a cornerstone and gem in Libertarian literature. Some might call it a “soft landing”, but it’s a fantastic entry into exploring Libertarian thought in a perfectly succinct, enlightening, genius way. No offense to Human Action, but to hell with Human Action! I’m joking of course, but this little guy at a whopping 186 pages (if you include the edition with a chapter on the economic crisis) covers all the basic principles of liberty ammunition for any debate, enlightening conversation, and just straight up knowledge to make you a little less dumb…

In Chapter 4: Economic Freedom, I like to think of this as Ron Paul’s “taxation is theft” chapter, but the Super Saiyan form in an eloquent Ron Paul, Southern Gentleman fashion.

In a free society, or economy in this case, everyone has a right to their life and property. Likewise, you don’t have the right to infringe on anyone else’s property. Don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff. The government is hurting you by forcing you to pay taxes.

The system is set up where people try to use the government to dominate each other. It’s a welfare pissing contest. The people shouldn’t let government do things that individuals couldn’t get away with (taxation = theft, conscription is slavery, war is mass murder, etc.). Let’s not forget, the poor aren’t the only ones who benefit from the state’s free goodies. The rich manipulate government too. Ron Paul explains that “the rich are more than happy to secure for themselves a share of the loot – for example, in the form of subsidized low-interest loans (as with the Export-Import bank), bailouts when their risky loans go sour, or regulatory schemes that hurt their smaller competitors or make it harder for new ones to enter an industry.”…

Government power should just be used to protect individual rights: life and property, NOT control the economy. That’s OUR job as consumers by voting with our dollar in the free market to say what goods will be provided and a what price. We dictate supply and demand. This creates competition amongst businesses to decrease cost and increase quality. Government only distorts this beautiful equilibrium…

“Given that the politically influential and well connected – neither of which includes the middle class or the poor – are the ones who tend to win privileges and loot from the government, I do not understand why we take for granted that the net result of all this looting is good for those who are lower on the economic ladder.”

-Ron Paul

…Like income tax, the draft is a form of slavery. Those appendages of the state basically legitimize that they own you and you don’t own yourself. You’re not allowed to make decisions for yourself. That’s not freedom. That is slavery. The government will just pity you and let you keep some of the leftovers after you earn it, HOWEVER you earn it! This isn’t how a free society prospers because individuals need as much capital as possible to invest and make an economy blossom. Government prevents this from happening through intervening via taxes, regulations, lobbies, tariffs, sanctions, you name it. Ending the income tax all together and not replacing it with anything at all would cut government revenue (wasted tax payer money) buy 40%, but this idea isn’t discussed because it would destroy the state if placed on the surface in the public eye…

It’s up to us as individuals to find the alternatives to government. That’s why you have economists like Mises who advocate for the Austrian School of Economics. This school of economic thought is based off embracing the free-market. Austrian economics is the sword to slay the dragon of the state. Private actors and entrepreneurs voluntarily making decisions based on their emotions, needs, subjective value, and self-interest. This is the only economic system which will make us the most free.

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How War Created Taxation – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2019

…the question of politics being the continuation of war by other means.

https://original.antiwar.com/luke_henderson/2019/06/11/how-war-created-taxation/

“Liberty tends inevitably to lead to the just equivalence of services, to bring greater and greater equality, to raise all men up to the same, constantly rising standard of living, […] it is not property that we should blame for the sad spectacle of grievous inequality that the world once again offers us, but the opposite principle, plunder, which has unleashed on our planet wars, slavery, serfdom, feudalism, […] and the absurd demand of everyone to live and develop at the expense of everyone else.”

19th-century French politician Frederic Bastiat declared this statement in his fifth letter of what is now called Property and Plunder to demonstrate that taxation and attempts to force economic equality would ultimately do more harm than good. This last letter also calls forth an important question: is taxation the creation of a warring state?

In antiquity, according to Bastiat, war developed from a nation that would instead of creating their own wealth, would wait for other nations to acquire their own property and then proceed to conquer them. After many victories where the citizens would be slaughtered and their property confiscated, these warring nations came to a realization that “putting the vanquished to the sword amounted to destroying a treasure” because they lost any potential wealth the conquered would create. They resorted to slavery to “put plunder on a permanent footing,” and truly acquire all property and services one would acquire.

Though there were actual slaves, the main method of continuing plunder was to enact tolls and taxes for protection from the ruling nation. This set a precedent that can still be seen today of taxation being the primary means of funding and maintaining war. These ruling nations and monarchies, however, ran into the problem of civil unrest because of the clear division between conqueror and conquered and birthed what has become modern politics.

In the collection of lectures titled Society Must Be Defended, postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault ponders the question of politics being the continuation of war by other means. Among the many ideas discussed, Foucault shows how history and knowledge were narratives created in order to support war, and were the precondition of politics.

He notes how history was used as a tool by nobility to convince the royalty of the magnificence of his victories and where all discourse “explains contemporary events in the terms of contemporary events, power in terms of power, and the letter of the law of the will of the king and vice versa.” At the same time, the idea of equality was being used as a tool to cause unrest between a nation’s citizens and its aristocracy.

“In other words, a device typical of all despotism […] was used to convince inferiors that a little more equality would do them more good than much greater freedom for all,” states Foucault. It was these factors that contributed to politics becoming the in-between of war. Whereas before the dominated had no say in the conquests of their domineers, now they had a slight say in the activities of the State.

To justify war, the elected bodies had to resort to new means to encourage war and, simultaneously, taxation which Foucault describes as a “race war.” The race war is the “us vs. them” narrative between the noble warring group and the savage enemy and is used to justify the murders and other atrocities the State will commit in the name of war. Everything that Bastiat and Foucault describe is evident if one looks at the history of wars in the United States.

Desperate to defeat the Confederacy, President Abraham Lincoln enacted a 3% income tax to fund more troops. However, enforcement failed and the government had to pay off its massive debt through printing $150 million. Its legacy was not forgotten though and many congressmen of the time felt that an income tax was an inevitable future for the country.

Congress passed the nation’s first permanent income tax in 1913 and since then has continually used war as a way to steadily increase the rate. During World War One, the United States raised the highest tax bracket from 15% to 67% and did not drop to pre-war levels after it ended. World War Two was even worse with any income over $2.5 million (in today’s dollars) being taxed a 92%, and only going to 70% at it’s lowest for nearly 30 years.

During those 30 years, the US went to war in Vietnam, Korea, and intervened in many other nations to fight the enemy of communism. This was the greatest demonstration of Foucault’s race wars, as it allowed the continuation of high taxes and shows the use of politics to continue wartime status from decades prior.

It cannot be denied that war and taxation are inextricably linked. Unfortunately, history, Bastiat, and Foucault seem to show that the only true way to eliminate excessive taxation and government overreach is to halt its hunger for conquest. The task is immense, but if taxation’s origins and the State’s methods of justification can be recognized, the task can commence.

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