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Abolish the Income Tax (Cont’d)

Contrary to the crypto-terrorist rhetoric of creative destruction, there’s more to our lives than survival. According to our Constitution, security includes the blessings of liberty. This doesn’t mean that we survive and then we enjoy freedom. It means that we survive in freedom, making right use of freedom, with freedom as the path and means to achieving SmallLogoLTLfavorable results. Given the dire warnings of impending economic doom being used to herd us toward the communist slaughter pens, this means remembering that freedom isn’t our reward for being co-operative sheeple. It’s a vehicle that conveys the strength we need to keep ourselves from being shorn, dressed and stewed like sheep.

Like any other conveyance, freedom can’t run on empty. The first order of business is to keep it fueled. This takes us back to where we started: the Lindsey Bill to abolish the Federal income tax. At a stroke, abolition assures that freedom runs with a full tank of gas. For people who think the U.S. government has money of its own, this is hard to understand, so we’ll take it a step a time. The U.S. government’s money comes mainly from taxation. Before it’s taxed away, all the money is in the hands of the people, either as individuals or in their private associations (business enterprises, for example.) The Lindsey Bill simply abolishes the system that gives the U.S. government the prerogative to reach into people’s pockets and claim as much money as it pleases before they have a chance to decide anything about it.

The Federal government serves some legitimate purposes. No one denies that it needs resources sufficient for those purposes. But instead of amassing them through a supposedly legalized guild of professional pick pockets (the IRS as presently constituted), the fair tax approach first lets people decide for themselves what to do with their money. They may spend it all now (present consumption) or set some aside to serve future needs and purposes (savings). The present income tax system effectively taxes both activities (since the dollars it preemptively claims could be used for either purpose.) The fair tax approach levies taxes only on what people decide to spend.

Before we let the money grabbers distract us with their usual chatter about tax rates, let’s focus on the key difference between the fair tax and the income tax. Under the income tax the government decides when and how much of your money it may claim. Under the fair tax, you make that decision. As all politicians and bureaucrats know, decision making is power, especially when it directly controls the activity that results. One person has a dollar. Another person wants to use it. If the person who has it can simply decide to keep it, that person controls the dollar’s power. If the other person can at will reach out and use it for some other purpose, that other person controls the dollar’s power. The fair tax returns control to the people who have first possession of the dollar. It’s that simple.

But still not simple enough for the folks who get power from the present arrangement. Okay, let’s try again. I walk into the barber shop with twenty dollars in my pocket. The barber takes twelve dollars and a three dollar tip out of my pocket the moment I cross the threshold. That’s not just before I get the hair cut, it’s before I finally decide that I want to get it then and there. I’m in the shop, so I pay. That’s the income tax. Or alternatively, I walk into the store, look at the cuts they offer, take stock of how the customers look, maybe chat with a couple of them. Then I decide whether to spend some of my money on the haircut. No money changes hands until I pay for what I’ve decided to get. That’s the fair tax.

Of course, we all live as it were on premises serviced by the Federal government in some way. Therefore, whatever we decide to buy, the U.S. government may claim a bit in payment for its services. Under the income tax that claim is preemptive. Under the fair tax, it becomes effective only when we decide to consume some of the goods (understood here to include good service) the U.S. government’s services help us to preserve. By necessity, the government can be assured some revenue (we have to purchase food, for example.) In a society as diversely productive as ours, however, we have the luxury of lightening the load borne by necessity (to ease the path out of poverty, for example), spreading it to products and services that pleasure, adorn and entertain our lives.

In any case, we fill the government’s resource requirements using a method of taxation that relies on the choices people make for themselves, rather than the choices political bosses and bureaucratic commissars make for them. This approach gives people the greatest possible opportunity to use the money they make to build a little something for themselves and their loved ones. Good decisions, both about their productive lives (what they do, how hard they work, how well they develop and target their talents and abilities) and about their savings and consumption, will allow them to survive, to live well, and/or to amass wealth, depending on priorities they determine (not bureaucrats and politicians.)

Well, almost. As we were reminded last fall, there remains the critical question of what happens to the money people decide to save. Government isn’t the only threat to the control people have over what happens to their money. A banking/credit system divorced from their needs and circumstances can effectively erode and even destroy its potential, profiting others while they stand by helplessly. This thought brings us to the next step on the path of real change for the better: replacing our ill conceived and failing financial institutions. Watch this space.

 

Series NavigationReal Change Step One: Abolish the Income TaxReal Change-Replacing the Federal Reserve
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  • Michael Johnson

    The problem is not the method for stealing, but spending. The income tax should be abolished and replaced with nothing. There was no income tax in America prior to 1913 and the government survived just fine.

    There is No Such Thing as a Fair Tax
    Monday, December 12, 2005 by Laurence M. Vance
    http://mises.org/daily/1975

    There Is Still No Such Thing As a Fair Tax
    Thursday, May 15, 2008 by Laurence M. Vance
    http://mises.org/daily/2961

  • Chiu Chun-Ling

    I’m actually in favor of the Federal government relying entirely on the several states for income, and the states drawing their income primarily from property taxes. The design for Federal government found in the Constitution would easily be funded thus, while the unconstitutional tyranny of the current government could not, which I count as a significant point in favor of this scheme.

    In a more general sense, property taxes can be easily made voluntary yet still be an attractive option to private citizens. After all, one of the preeminent functions of state and local government is to settle disputes over the ownership of property. For this reason, it is prudent for owners to register their ownership of any properties of significant value with the local government. Indeed, in the case of real properties and such, only such a document recorded with the local government can confer any meaning to the idea of “ownership”.

    A tax that you voluntarily pay on those items of value which you “own” by virtue of the government’s recognition and defense of said ownership is “fair” in a way that most other taxes cannot plausibly achieve. More important, confining the government to revenue derived thus encourages the government to prioritize the defense of property rights, one of the very few legitimate functions of government.

    That paying for such protection remain optional is important, and should not simply be left at making registration of ownership the choice of the private citizen. After all, as noted above, in many cases few feasible alternatives exist to protect one’s ‘ownership’ of a property. Therefore, arbitration of the assessed value of a registered property should allow the option of the property owner selling the property to the government at the assessed value. This naturally protects the private interest from unilateral taxation and also provides a means for the government to purchase necessary property fairly without any resort to the dangers of eminent domain.

    If the state regards a property as much more valuable than the market value, the state raises the assessed value (on which the taxation is based) to whatever the state is willing to pay for it. If the property owner is unwilling to part with the property at a price the state is willing to pay, then that property owner can choose to pay a somewhat inflated tax. Conversely, if the state has no particular interest in a property, it must assess the value at somewhat below the market value to ensure the private owner will choose to pay the taxes rather than relinquish the property to the state.

    Of course, it goes without saying that the taxes levied on a property should be directly proportional to the assessed value of the property, regardless of the type of property or the amount of its value, or the number of other properties owned by the same private interest.

    A tax structure in this manner would protect the citizen from all the abuses to which the taxing authority is generally tempted to resort. First, if the degree or constancy of protection of property gained by paying taxes on a property were insufficient to justify the amount to be paid, the private citizen could simply choose to forgo holding a legal title. Second, if the state’s assessed valuation of the property were higher than the private owner’s interest in the property, the property could be sold to the state at that value, so excessive assessment could never be used to impose such a tax unfairly (conversely, individuals doggedly blocking the public interest in some property could simply pay the tax on the higher assessment). And finally, if some government were so villainous as to threaten to cut essential services because of their lack of revenue, they would have to consider what such an action would do to the willingness of property holders to pay for such reduced protection. This is implicit in the first point, but it has become something of an issue in many cases.

    I am suspicious of most other taxation schemes, in which similar safeguards of private interests (including their privacy) are more difficult to devise. Consumption taxes are, in a sense, even more intrusive than the income tax, and historically have been abused with much greater effects. It is rather easy to identify some good which is essential to the continuation of a given activity, and thus tax that particular activity (and any group of people who practice it) into oblivion. Conversely, it is very difficult to identify the exact value which government adds to most items which are consumed, and thus difficult to persuade people to pay the tax if it is in any way voluntary. Use taxes seem easy to justify, but almost any asset that might plausibly generate revenue through use taxes would be far better and more efficiently administered by a private business rather than by the government. Head taxes, though certainly “fair” in the strictest sense, are notoriously hard on the poor and are innately involuntary.

    Still, I consider the dramatic reduction of taxation as far more important an issue than any particulars of exactly how they are to be assessed. The vast accumulation of centralized power must be broken down and abolished if there is to be any hope for government that is not throughly corrupt. In that sense, I’d far prefer a capitation tax of $10 a year to almost anything else…excepting an even smaller amount levied as property taxes, of course.

  • Charles Leekley

    Its time for Alan Keyes for President in 2012. In my 2000 area Rebublican Primary Alan Keyes had 1/3 of the vote. Both George Bush and John McCain had a 1/3 as well. The abolishment of the Income Tax is the true first step to real change in America as well as campaign finance reform.

  • gilbertabrett

    I tried to watch the speech tonight -- I swear I did. But the first thing that came to mind was how he took the money he says we don't have and sent it all over the world to MURDER babies that have not even breathed their first breath. The FOURTH day he was illegally in office. And then tries to preach about responsibility and living within our means. A sick human, he is…

    And sacrifice… what a joke… what does ha or any of those other self-righteous blowhards know about sacrifice? Sacrifice is my Dad and all those other NN Shipyard workers so proudly looking at their craft going out to sea in the 60's, 70's & 80's -- now most of whom are DEAD because of Asbestos poisoning. To SACRIFICE their time with their families 16 hours a day, seven days a week to be robbed of their hard earned money for people like him to tell us how to live. SICK…

    Tell me one thing Dr. Keyes…

    This morning, I heard again that the government may have to take over (excuse me, I meant "nationalize") a "few" of the larger banks for TWO (2) (yes, I heard two(2)) YEARS. And then give it back… (hee hee hee…)

    As far as this forced redistribution of wealth (or lack thereof) we call "income tax," I thought that was supposed to be ended years ago after WWII?

    Why should we believe anything the federal, state OR LOCAL governments say when it comes to our hard earned money?

    I know JESUS says we should render to Caesar, but in this case with our Constitution, I thought WE WERE Caesar…

  • christiansoldier

    Mr Keyes,

    While I share your concerns and see the abolition of the income tax as a good thing, I must plead guilty to being one of those feeling the need to DO something NOW.

    After all, how long would it take to push through and implement a change in the income tax structure and what would be the immediate benefits as well as the long term ramifications of such a system?

    As a first step in stopping the madness of the ObamaNation, I would like to see a successful challenge to the eligibility status of Obama to be President. How do we, the people, force the courts to hear the many cases already filed, and demand verification of his US citizenship?

    If his eligibility cannot be substantiated, Obama must vacate the office of President, thereby rendering all executive orders and bills null and void, including the horrific ‘stimulus’ porkage…er…package.

    I have supported both you and Mike Huckabee in previous primaries and I urge the two of you to run together in the future.

    God Bless and keep up the good fight, Mr. Keyes.

    IHS,

    Bruce Macomber
    http://christiansoldiersonline.org
    http://real-estate-investors-resource.com/blog

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