[V]iolence by proxy – via the flim-flam of the ballot box and by having other people do the actual dirty work on our behalf – allows us to blank out the true knowledge of what’s going on. It is very hard – for most people – to contemplate threatening to assault their next-door neighbor for almost any reason. Even if your own wife or mother desperately needed food, obtaining it by kicking in your neighbor’s door and forcibly taking it at gunpoint is something very few psychologically normal people could do without experiencing extreme pangs of moral guilt. Particularly if the their victim attempted to defend himself and it became “necessary” to actually harm – or kill – him in order to obtain their “help.”
But when people use the ballot box or other mechanisms of “democracy” to do the same thing, they feel ok about it because they are not forced to confront the reality they have victimized other human beings.
Very bad, indeed. It normalizes moral obscenity.
Moreover, a principle has been established – and a precedent set – when one accepts blood money for whatever purpose. …
My “good” – my financial security – and my peace of mind – is undermined. For the sake of some other person’s “good.”
Over the past ten years, the total taken from me to “help” the local schools [through property taxes] amounts to almost $20,000. Over the next twenty, it’ll be another $40,000 – assuming the annual rate does not increase (which is about as likely as my rooster reciting Shakespeare). It will be said I can “afford” this. That it is necessary for the good of the children. Other people’s children. As opposed to the good of my own family.
How nice it must be to glibly dispose of other people’s money.
My physical security is threatened, too.
Because if I ever decline to “help,” eventually, men with guns will come and physically remove me from “my” home. These men will try to kill me if I attempt to defend myself.
You may say I am selfish and mean-spirited for not wanting to “help” finance “the children’s” education.
But here’s the broader point: If it is ethically ok to insist I hand over my money – and threaten to cage/kill me if I say no – for the sake of one thing, then logically, it is ok to do so for another thing.
In fact, for almost any thing.
“Good” is a subjective. You may believe it’s taxpayer-financed public (government) schools or libraries. I may believe it is a new shopping mall – created via eminent domain seizures of people’s homes and land to make way for it. Another person might believe it would be good to send a manned mission to Mars. No doubt some of these things are good – at least, in the eyes of some, and in terms of those who benefit. But they also entail and necessarily create victims. Winners – and losers. A potentially limitless pool of them. Indeed, we all become one another’s victims – for the sake of one another’s conceptions of “good.”
And – presto – we get to where we are: A system of plunder on a vast scale, in which you’re grateful to be “allowed” to keep anything, but in which nothing you have isn’t, in principle, off limits.
Member of EU parliament Godfrey Bloom quotes Murray Rothbard, spits hot fire*:
"Oh, well, Mr. President, I’m minded actually to quote the great American philosopher Murray Rothbard here that the state — the state is an institution of theft writ large. Tax is just about a system where politicians and bureaucrats steal money from their citizens to squander in the most disgraceful manner. This place is no exception. Fascinatingly, and I really don’t know how you manage to keep a straight face when you’re talking about tax evasion, the whole Commission and the Commission bureaucracy avoid their taxes. You don’t pay taxes like citizens pay taxes; you have all sorts of special deals. Composite tax rates, high tax thresholds, non-contribute pension schemes. You are the biggest tax avoiders in Europe, and here you sit pontificating. Well, the message is getting home to the people of the European Union. You’re going to find that euroskeptics are coming back in June in ever greater numbers — in ever greater numbers. And I can tell you worse, as the people get your number, it won’t be long before they storm this chamber and they hang you, and they’ll be right.”
Pretend you are my employer and agree to pay me $50,000 a year, out of which you’re going to send $3,100 to Washington as my share of Social Security tax (6.2 percent of $50,000), as well as $725 for my share of Medicare (1.45 percent of $50,000), a total of $3,825 for the year. To this you must add your half of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which is also $3,825 for the year. Your cost to hire me is $53,825 [(of which you receive $46,125, before state and federal taxes are taken away)].
If it costs you $53,825 a year to hire me, how much value must I produce for it to be profitable for you to keep me? Is it our agreed salary of $50,000 or $53,825? If you said $53,825, you’d be absolutely right. Then who pays all of the Social Security and Medicare taxes? If you said that I do, you’re right again. The Social Security and Medicare fiction was created because Americans would not be so passive if they knew that the tax they are paying is double what is on their pay stubs — not to mention federal income taxes.
The economics specialty that reveals this is known as the incidence of taxation. The burden of a tax is not necessarily borne by the party upon whom it is levied. The Joint Committee on Taxation held that “both the employee’s and employer’s share of the payroll tax is borne by the employee.” The Congressional Budget Office “assumes — as do most economists — that employers’ share of payroll taxes is passed on to employees in the form of lower wages than would otherwise be paid.” Health insurance is not an employer gift, either.
It is paid for by employees in the form of lower wages.
Another part of Social Security and Medicare deception is that the taxes are officially called FICA, which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. First, it’s not an insurance program. More importantly, the word “contribution” implies something voluntary. Its synonyms are alms, benefaction, beneficence, charity, donation and philanthropy. Which one of those synonyms comes close to describing how Congress gets Social Security and Medicare money from us?
There’s more deceit and dishonesty. In 1950, I was 14 years old and applied for a work permit for an after-school job. One of the requirements was to obtain a Social Security card. In bold letters on my Social Security card, which I still possess, are the words “For Social Security Purposes — Not For Identification.” That’s because earlier Americans feared that their Social Security number would become an identity number. According to the Social Security Administration website, “this legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning in 1972.” That statement assumes we’re idiots. We’re asked to believe that the sole purpose of the removal was for design purposes. Apparently, the fact that our Social Security number had become a major identification tool, to be used in every aspect of our lives, had nothing to do with the SSA’s getting rid of the legend saying “For Social Security Purposes — Not For Identification.”
I wonder whether political satirist H.L. Mencken was right when he said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
In 1913, the average personal income was $621. Only 2 percent of the population was liable for the [income] tax between 1913 and 1915. Eighty percent of the returns were filed by people involved in business; 17 percent were in the professions, 3.3 percent in agriculture, and 0.5 percent were laborers. Businessmen reported 85 percent of the income and paid almost 90 percent of the revenues.
Given the level of incomes in those days, it was a tax aimed strictly at the richest people in the country. If the system were in place today, a single person making less than about $65,000* would pay no tax. A couple earning less than $86,000* would pay nothing. Incomes up to $430,000* would be in the 1 percent bracket. Someone would have to make $11 million* before paying the top 7 percent rate. In  dollars, the exemptions of 1913 would be worth $65,000* for single people and $86,000* for married couples.
*note: Richman wrote this in 1999 and the starred numbers have been adjusted for inflation to reflect their 2013 values.
There is a common assumption among politicians that voters want a lot of government services, but don’t want to pay for them. It’s certainly true that taxpayers don’t like paying taxes, and this is demonstrated in the fact that the federal government runs a deficit virtually every single year. If the taxpayers didn’t mind paying the full cost of government, the feds would be able to collect enough in revenue to pay the bills. As it is, the political realities of public opposition to taxation drive the feds to resort to deficit spending to cover their costs.
In addition to kicking the can down the deficit road year after year, the federal government employs a variety of other tools to mask the true cost of government as well. Tax withholding by employers often hides the true level of taxation from many taxpayers while some taxes are re-defined as non-taxes. The social security tax, for example, is often wrongly said to be not a tax at all, but merely a payment into a trust fund for one’s future retirement.
All of these little tricks and strategies have been employed to help governments squeeze a few more dollars from the taxpayers in the face of what elected officials often regard as a stubborn and mean-spirited opposition to paying one’s fair share.
So while it is indeed true that the voters often resent paying taxes, the claim that “voters want a lot of government services,” on the other hand, is less self-evident. The current partial shutdown of some government operations helps to illustrate the dubious nature of this assertion. If the taxpayers were uniformly appalled and outraged at the thought of a government shutdown, it seems unlikely that the federal government would need to go out of its way to make a big show of what government services were being shut down.
This is a time honored strategy, of course, and even has a name: the Washington Monument Syndrome. For decades, the bureaucrats in the National Park Service have gleefully closed the parks whenever government shutdowns have occurred, and have even threatened to close parks if Congress did not provide sufficient appropriations to please the NPS. The Park Service knows that the closure of parks plays a helpful role in angering American tourists and taxpayers who find themselves traveling a thousand miles to only end up at a closed National Park. According to one blogger, the NPS has even gone so far as to station armed guards with assault rifles and body armor at the entrance to Death Valley National Park. Taxpayers who still think that there is something “public” about the public lands in the National Parks might want to think again.
The National Parks are an extreme case, though, and the federal government knows it. The question remains as to whether or not taxpayers care much about all the other government “services” that may be closed or scaled back. Just how badly do the taxpayers want to make sure that their tax dollars keep going to fund NSA spying on Americans, or the study of wildlife mating habits, or the planting of trees in the front yards of millionaires?
Supporters of government largesse will often cite polls and studies showing the taxpayers support the expansion of this or that program. “Support” for a government program is all well and good when support only requires a nod of one’s head. It’s another matter entirely when one is asked to shell out actual money. …
Some people are happy to vote for tax increases, of course, especially if they think someone else will foot the bill. And there is no doubt that the taxpayers are more than happy to use government lands and amenities they have no choice but to pay for. If given the choice, however, it’s less clear that the taxpayers would be clamoring to pay taxes for a $100,000 outhouse in Alaska, a chance to be spied on, or for another war in another country few Americans can find on a map.
The 85 year old Irwin Schiff is currently being held as a political prisoner in federal prison. The government claims he was spreading false information (through books and video lectures) about the federal income tax, however, they would not allow him to enter his books or lectures into evidence. They claim he was knowingly violating the internal revenue code, however, when they hired a psychiatrist to evaluate him, their psychiatrist concluded he fully believed what he was doing was lawful. The government refused to let their own psychiatrist testify or their conclusions to be entered into evidence. They claim he was evading taxes or hiding income, despite the fact that he was open and honest with his income and all related issues, never attempting to hide income or lie about his income (unlike millions of us do every day), and in fact openly writing and speaking about his views. In fact, the specific legal arguments Schiff made were never refuted or responded to by the prosecution. They never proved his interpretation of the law to be incorrect, and they never proved that he knowingly violated the law.
The 9th circuit court has an atrocious record with regards to individual liberty and state power. I would be surprised if they released this innocent, non-violent 85-year-old from his unjust incarceration.
Anytime a man has to pay for something he does not want because of the initiating of force by the government, he is, to that degree, a slave.
— R.C. Hoiles
I’m scared of spiders, snakes, and the IRS.
— Bill Parcells’ response during a press conference as head coach of the NY Giants when asked if he was scared of the Redskins.
Social Cost of Carbon | Bob Murphy
“What do you expect when you target the President?” This is what an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent allegedly said to the head of a conservative organization that was being audited after calling for the impeachment of then-President Clinton. Recent revelations that IRS agents gave “special scrutiny” to organizations opposed to the current administration’s policies suggest that many in the IRS still believe harassing the President’s opponents is part of their job.
As troubling as these recent reports are, it would be a grave mistake to think that IRS harassment of opponents of the incumbent President is a modern, or a partisan, phenomenon. As scholar Burton Folsom pointed out in his book New Deal or Raw Deal, IRS agents in the 1930s where essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal. It is well-known that the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to silence their critics. One of the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon dealt with his use of the IRS to harass his political enemies. Allegations of IRS abuses were common during the Clinton administration, and just this week some of the current administration’s defenders recalled that antiwar and progressive groups alleged harassment by the IRS during the Bush presidency.
The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few “rogue” IRS agents – or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations. Instead, the problem lays in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS.
The IRS routinely obtains information about how we earn a living, what investments we make, what we spend on ourselves and our families, and even what charitable and religious organizations we support. Starting next year, the IRS will be collecting personally identifiable health insurance information in order to ensure we are complying with Obamacare’s mandates.
The current tax laws even give the IRS power to marginalize any educational, political, or even religious organizations whose goals, beliefs, and values are not favored by the current regime by denying those organizations “tax-free” status. This is the root of the latest scandal involving the IRS.
Considering the type of power the IRS excises over the American people, and the propensity of those who hold power to violate liberty, it is surprising we do not hear about more cases of politically-motivated IRS harassment. As the first US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy” – and who better to destroy than one’s political enemies?
The US flourished for over 120 years without an income tax, and our liberty and prosperity will only benefit from getting rid of the current tax system. The federal government will get along just fine without its immoral claim on the fruits of our labor, particularly if the elimination of federal income taxes are accompanied by serious reduction in all areas of spending, starting with the military spending beloved by so many who claim to be opponents of high taxes and big government.
While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.
The truth is that there is nothing right about an agency that routinely and legally loots the public of a third of private income and presumes the right to take what is left if we, as citizens, fail to comply with every jot and tittle of the regulations. …
The idea of democracy is that there is no such thing as a regime, as traditionally understood. Instead, we govern ourselves. We do not fear mixing in politics. There is no one to come get us if we hold to one perspective over another. There is no such thing as getting on the wrong side of the governing elite, because everyone is a member of the governing elite.
That’s the legend, in any case. It has nothing to do with reality. Starting a little more than 100 years ago, a permanent class of rulers came into being. They are not voted out or voted in. They answer to no one. The laws they enforce can be new or old. You can’t dislodge these people. Their tenure extends beyond any administration.
This is the real structure of government in this country, all Norman Rockwell paintings aside. They have a class interest in protecting themselves against reform, to say nothing of the wrath of the people. This necessarily means that they have an enemies list. If you are collecting taxes, groups that file for approval calling themselves “Citizens Against Taxes” are certainly on the list.
…already Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere.
The alternative, of course, is “that any federal disaster aid be paid for through additional coercion by threatening individuals with violence (taxes or debt to be paid later with taxes).”
Which sounds more merciless and inhumane?
Ask any taxpayer, and I’m sure most would find disaster relief for Oklahoma to be a much higher order use of their
stolen wealth taxes than drones or bureaucrats or prohibition enforcement or bailouts or subsidies or any of the thousands of wasteful and unaccountable and ultimately unnecessary federal agencies and departments.
Obama's "Balanced Approach" Proposal to Deficit Reduction: $6 in Tax Hikes for Every $1 in Spending Cuts →
Of course, “spending cuts” are mostly decreases to projected increases. (And a trillion dollars less than he promised last month.) Overall spending will not actually decrease.
Additionally, some of those “savings” come in switching to “Chained CPI” as the measure of inflation. This tends to rise more slowly than other forms of measuring price inflation. But the biggest impact in the long run of switching to Chained CPI is even more government revenue: “Currently, the cutoffs for different tax brackets rise with CPI-U, a non-chained measure of inflation. Chained CPI would cause the cutoffs to rise more slowly, pushing more and more people into higher tax brackets. That raises $99 billion over 10 years.”