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Why I can complain about taxes

This week a liberal reader sent me a list (which has apparently been circulating on the Internet) on the subject of taxes. “Hello!” began the generic message. “Please think about this email before you complain about taxes. If you don’t like taxes …”

What followed was an extensive list of things supported by taxes, along with encouragement NOT to use these items or services if we object to paying for them. However, the author blurred the critical distinction between federal, and state and local taxes, and cannot seem to distinguish between government functions that are mandated by the Constitution and those that are not. The entire list was far too long to include in this column, so please see this link to read my full rebuttal.

There are a few things to remember when it comes to taxes. First, the Constitution does authorize federal taxes to support the enumerated powers of government. I have no complaints about such taxes. However, one of the reasons our nation is in a financial free fall is because the government insists on funding thousands of unconstitutional programs.

Second, remember that the federal government has long since trashed the 10th Amendment, which leaves all issues not specifically enumerated in the Constitution up to the individual states.

And third, because of the 10th Amendment, states are (or should be) capable of competing with one another for their population base. If you don’t like a state’s mandates or taxes, you’re free to move to another state (while still remaining American). With federal mandates and taxes, there is no such option.

Here are just a few of the highlights from this list. If you don’t like taxes …

(See the rest of the list and my rebuttals at this link.)

The email concludes by saying, And so forth. Think about it,

No, YOU think about it. Honestly, what is with this national progressive brain-fart where people presume nothing can exist without government? It was individual initiative, creativity and hard work that built this country into the greatest nation on earth. And this was all done despite, not because of, unconstitutional government interference in the private sector.

Things are invented and built by individuals who recognize a need and a free-market economy that wants it. Do you honestly think that had the government not funded something, it would never have been invented? The government didn’t invent cars, or telephones, or light bulbs, or computers, or anything else that has altered our world. Private businesses or individuals did.

Only through competition can something improve. But once the government gets involved, it stifles competition, limits supply and creates monopolies that produce inferior results. (We need look no further than the comparison between public schools, and private or home schools, as proof.) Through excessive bureaucratic legislation and regulations, individuals and companies must spend billions of dollars to perform simple functions like hiring or firing people, building and constructing things, or providing goods or services in demand by the private sector.

If you want to know what the government creates, remember this: It creates compulsion. The government doesn’t have to work for its money, it takes it. The government doesn’t have to compete for efficiency or superior service, because it forcibly creates monopolies.

A private business cannot force you to purchase its goods or services. It must persuade you. But a government backed by thugs with guns can coerce you to do whatever it wants, regardless of the flimsy justification.

The incomparable Harry Browne said it best in his excellent book “Why Government Doesn’t Work”: “What separates government from the rest of society isn’t its size, its disregard for profit, its foresight, or its scope. The distinctive feature of government is coercion – the use of force and the threat of force to win obedience. This is how government differs from every other agency in society. The others persuade; government compels.”

Next time you try to defend excessive taxes and the bureaucratic nightmares they fund, consider more wisdom from Browne: “The bad consequences of a government program usually don’t show up immediately. And the delay may be long enough to hide the connection between the program and its results. So government never has to say it’s sorry – never has to take responsibility for the misery it causes. Instead, it can blame everything on personal greed, profit-hungry corporations, and the ‘private sector.’ And the government’s cure for the problems is to impose bigger programs, more regulations, and higher taxes.” [Emphasis added.]

Think about it.