JUST WHOSE MONEY IS IT?
It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." He was dead wrong about this, except for the fact each of us must eventually die. Life is full of certainties, including the certainty of eventual death. No manmade creation is certain, including taxes, if by "certain" one means it is inevitable and unavoidable. A man’s creations are a product of choice and, therefore, are not inevitable and are avoidable. Once certain choices are made, then certain results are inevitable. For instance, if voters in this country continue to elect statist politicians to office, we will eventually reach the inevitable end of the road of statism: a tyranny of some sort.
Statist politicians bring you death and taxes—that is certain. In the 20th century, statist regimes throughout the world have brought death to millions. This has been a scourge worse than AIDS, cancer and all other diseases combined. Nothing has wiped out more human life than the doctrine of statism. If your life was a concern to the statist politicians who currently run this country, you would think they would be outraged by the loss of life which has been brought to us by statism. But they aren’t outraged in this country, because they are statists and they are not going to condemn their spiritual brethren, past or present. Statists have, through taxation, forcibly taken trillions of dollars from its productive citizens to finance their welfare-state schemes, financially ruining thousands in the process. And, even in America, statists have brought us death through the prohibition of certain medical treatments, by driving an innocent man to suicide after being hounded by the IRS, by killing an innocent man during a drug raid, by the slaughter at Waco and the list can go on and on. These deaths are no innocent accident committed by statist authorities, they are the inevitable result of the ideas of statism.
A free society offers you the opportunity to live your life in freedom and it protects your right to earn, keep and dispose of as much money as you are able to earn. In a free society, your money is your money and it is not to be forcibly taken from you either by an armed robber or a statist politician armed with the power of a government gun. Until a majority in this country comes to understand that taxes are not only not inevitable but are immoral, statists will continue to have the power to rob you to finance their assault against your right to life and liberty.
Taxation is the act of a government taking an individual’s money from him by force. In principle, there is no difference between a government tax collector and an armed robber, except for the fact that the tax collector’s act is legal and the robber’s act is illegal. Both claim they act out of necessity. The statist politician forcibly takes your money because you will not give it to him voluntarily to fund his statist schemes, so, he argues, it is necessary for him to take your money by force. The armed robber makes the same claim. But the armed robber is morally a cut above, and more honest than, the statist politician in that the criminal doesn’t attempt to disguise his use of force and doesn’t attempt to delude his victim into thinking that his action is for the good of the victim.
The alleged necessity of taxes has been the one statist notion which has remained virtually unquestioned and unchallenged throughout mankind’s recorded history—and that’s exactly how statists wish to keep it, because without the power to tax they are finished as rulers. Anyone who questions the necessity of taxes will be quickly attacked by statists as a lunatic "extremist," as a crackpot—in other words, they will attack the person advocating such an idea, not the idea itself, in an effort to prevent any serious discussion of the issue.
To advocate the abolition of taxation is to bring howls of protests and ridicule from statists because without the power to tax they will lose the power to enslave. And without the power to enslave, to rule you by force, they are out of business. Unfortunately, statists are not in danger of being put out of business any time soon because almost all Americans agree taxes are a necessity, even though virtually no one likes to pay taxes. The notion that taxes are a necessity is so ingrained and unquestioned in the minds of most Americans that few have ever seriously thought about the issue. Well, it is time to question the unquestioned and challenge the unchallenged: taxes—the one, essential, and most important, tool statists must have in order to rule. If statists lose this weapon, it will drive a stake through the heart of the only real vampires, in human form, to ever roam the earth: statists, who use taxation to suck your financial life’s blood, your money, from you. Without the power to tax, statists will disappear from the earth. They will no longer be able to institutionalize, through the welfare state, human parasitism.
Each of you who earns a living does so by earning money to support your life. If you earn a certain amount of money, does that money belong to you? Either it is your money or it isn’t. It either belongs to you or it doesn’t—in principle, there is nothing in between. If you have earned the money, then, by right, it is yours. By what right does anyone lay claim to money you have earned? There is no justification for anyone claiming a right to money you have earned unless you have voluntarily incurred some debt that gives another person a moral and legal claim to the money you owe him. Are you willing to concede that your neighbor has a right to money you have earned? What if your neighbor came to your door, with gun in hand, and demanded a certain percentage of your money, on an annual basis, would you morally sanction his actions? I think not, if this literally happened, but most sanction this when their neighbors vote to impose a tax on you that accomplishes the same thing.
To support the validity of taxes, as almost all Americans do, is to support the idea you do not own the money you earn. Money is property and if you cannot control the use and disposal of that property, you do not own it. Once you have conceded you do not have the right to use and dispose of the money you have earned—which is what you do when you support the idea of taxation—you only get to keep whatever money the state allows you to keep, like some kid on an allowance. Once you have surrendered your right to keep the money you have earned, then you are reduced to quibbling over how much of your money your rulers—statist politicians—will allow you to keep. Since there is no limit to the insatiable appetite of statists, they will constantly push to take more and more of your money. Over the last few decades the amount of money you pay out in taxes has continued to go up and it will continue to go up. Where will it end? According to statists, it will only end when they have all of your money. These bloodsucking statists will never rest until they have you totally in their control and complete control of your money.
The reason why most Americans think that taxes are a necessity is that they do not understand how government could possibly be financed without taxation. Contrary to what most believe, in a free society there are several ways to finance government without taxation and such voluntary funding would actually be easily accomplished.
Once government is scaled back to its proper function of protecting individual rights, the scope of its activities would be drastically reduced from its current level and, therefore, the size of the budget needed to finance its activities would fall dramatically. On the federal level, the government would consist of: defense, courts, Congress, the Office of the President and a few agencies that support the protection of property rights (such as the office that registers copyrights and issues patents). By eliminating everything except these functions, the total annual budget would be less than $400 billion, still a considerable sum but far less than we have today. While $400 billion is a large amount of money, it actually works out to be about $1,500 per person in this country. Now, how would this money be raised? Through voluntary contributions and other non-coercive methods, such as lotteries and fees (for instance, fees to register a copyright, record a property title and so forth), available to the government. However, the major source of money would have to come from voluntary contributions, not lotteries or user fees.
The idea that enough money to finance a government in a free society can be raised voluntarily will be met with incredulity by almost everyone who reads these words, but consider the following. Even with today’s oppressive tax burdens, in 1995 private charities raised over $130 billion from voluntary contributions. While most of these charities undoubtedly represent causes important to the individual contributors none can be more important than the protection a proper government provides you against foreign aggressors or criminals who seek to initiate force against you. Millions in this country would contribute billions to support a government dedicated to the protection of individual freedom.
If you had all of the money you pay in taxes, think how much more money you would have and wouldn’t you voluntarily contribute some of it to finance the government? I think most would contribute because it would be so clearly in their self-interest to do so: such contributions would be absolutely vital to the protection of each individual’s life and liberty. Anyone who could afford to contribute, but didn’t, would become a moral leper, a social and business outcast, in a free society. The business and social pressures alone would be so overwhelming that few would refuse to contribute to support the government. However, it is the right of the individual to refuse to contribute to support the government, but in a free society the vast majority would freely and happily contribute money to support the government and the amount of money you would contribute would be a heck of lot less than you now pay in taxes.
In a free society, the money needed to finance government, at all levels, would be raised much in the same manner it is raised, for instance, in the fund-raising campaigns for the United Way. Business leaders have been central to the success of the United Way and they would play a key role in raising funds to finance government. In a free society, virtually every business would require its employees, through payroll deductions, to contribute to the campaign to finance government. Such contributions could and would be made a condition of employment and would be voluntarily agreed to by each employee upon acceptance of an offer of employment.
If a given individual didn’t want to contribute to the financing of the government, he would not be forced to do so: he would simply have to work at one of the companies that did not require such contributions as a condition of employment. However, the amount of money that would be required by payroll deductions would be so minimal and so affordable that few employees would refuse to participate. In 1995, total US payroll was approximately $4 trillion. If only half of the employees in this country participated in a payroll-deduction program of their employers to finance the government, $100 billion would be raised with just a 5% deduction from each individual’s paycheck.
In a free society, the vast majority of companies would participate in some sort of program to finance the government and the actual amount of money would likely be closer to $180 billion which would be raised through a 5% voluntary payroll deduction. If 5% of your payroll was all that was required to finance government, wouldn’t you voluntarily and happily participate in the payroll-deduction program of your employer? I think you would and so would most other individuals. In fact, if most of us only had to contribute 5% or so of our income to finance the government, we would think we had died and gone to heaven. However, it is precisely heaven, not hell, which belongs on earth and until we eliminate taxation it is precisely hell on earth statists will continue to bring us.
Those who are poor or are suffering financial hardships would be unable to contribute to finance the government and no one would hold it against them. If they can’t afford to contribute, that is fine. In a free society, with no taxation, there would be such an explosion of economic prosperity that there would be plenty of financially successful individuals who would voluntarily provide the funds needed to finance government on all levels: federal, state and local.
As to the balance of money—money not raised through voluntary payroll-deduction plans—needed to finance the federal government, as well as state and local governments, billions would come from contributions from companies, both domestic as well as foreign-owned companies. Fortune 500 companies would and should require their suppliers to provide proof of a certain level of contribution to finance government, a level that would be freely agreed to by the companies involved. And these suppliers, in turn, would require their suppliers to provide proof of contributions and so on down the line.
Those in charge of fund-raising for the government could publish a list of companies who have contributed, along with the amounts contributed, as well as a list of those companies who have not contributed. Can you imagine the public reaction if it were announced McDonald’s or Disney had not contributed money to finance the government, that they were taking a free ride? The public certainly wouldn’t be buying many hamburgers from McDonald’s or making many trips to Disney World. These companies would lose customers by the thousands, even millions. No company, including foreign companies who import their products to the United States, would be able to afford to be publicly shown to being a freeloader and not paying a share of the expense of supporting the government. The impact on their bottom line would be so severe they would have to contribute substantial sums to support the government.
By restricting government to its proper function of protecting your right to life, liberty and property and by eliminating the government’s power to tax, all of the much-ballyhooed concern about the political corruption created by lobbyists would be permanently ended. Since the government would no longer have the power to redistribute wealth or hand out special favors, there would be nothing to draw a lobbyist to Capitol Hill who is seeking a government handout of some sort. In a free society, the government is not in the business of handing out money or special favors.
As revolutionary and radical as the idea of no taxation sounds, voluntary contributions, government user fees and other non-coercive methods are the only proper way to finance government. It will permanently end the era of government threatening the life and liberty of the individual, as most governments have done throughout mankind’s history. It will bring an end to the possibility of a dictatorship ever being established. It will bring an end to arrogant government officials who have the power to wreck lives. In a free society, if you have contact with an official of the government you will be treated with courtesy and respect, since that official knows he must rely on your voluntary support if he is to keep his job. And if there is some rogue official who abuses his power, not only will the law protect you from such an aberration, but the threat of citizens protesting—through withholding their contributions to the government—would bring an immediate end to any misconduct by any government employee.
In a free society with no taxation, there would be no way for some would-be dictator to finance his drive to power. Today, we have the outrageously unjust situation in which you are forced—physically forced, at the point of a government gun—to pay, through taxes, for the destruction of your freedom, to pay for the campaign of those statists who wish to be your slave masters. It would be immoral if you, as a private citizen, knowingly encouraged someone to pursue some self-destructive course of action. It would be unspeakably immoral if you, at the point of a gun, forced someone to finance his own self-destruction, yet this is what is happening today and is being imposed upon you by statist politicians. These statist politicians are worse than any armed thug who steals your wallet. As bad as it is, when you are robbed of your wallet it is likely only a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Under statism, statist politicians make armed robbery by the government a permanent feature of your life, only to be escaped by death if you live under their rule.
Our Founding Fathers, as great and glorious as they were in creating this nation, unwittingly gave birth to a system of government which contained two fatal flaws, flaws which permitted America to be gradually transformed into a welfare state: they gave the government the power to tax, the power to forcibly take your money—and—they gave government the power of eminent domain, the power to take your physical property. If they had abolished taxation and eminent domain, the history of the past two hundred years would have been different and we would not be faced with cleaning up the monstrous mess statist politicians have brought to us.
Once this country clearly sets itself down the path of restricting government to its proper function, it will require some time to dismantle the statist programs. This will not be accomplished overnight. During the transition to freedom, taxes will have to be gradually phased out and some taxation unfortunately will continue, in the short term, until such time government is scaled back to where it should be. The moral responsibility for such continued taxation will belong, and does belong, to the statists, who created it in the first place, not to those future freedom-fighting politicians who will be in charge of the dismantling process.
As a first step in the right direction, we must repeal the federal income tax and abolish the Internal Revenue Service. The process to repeal the Constitution’s 16th Amendment, which authorized the income tax, should be started as soon as possible. If and when we arrive at the stage where it is politically possible to begin to take steps in this direction, America will be well on the road to establishing a totally free society and much of the federal bureaucracy will have already been dismantled and the federal budget will have been dramatically reduced. As we begin eliminating all forms of forcible taxation, including the income tax, voluntary funding of the government will quickly replace taxes and provide the money needed to fund the comparatively small budget of a free society.
Just in case some foolish "tax protester" happens to read these words, it should be emphasized that those who violate the law by evading the payment of taxes are contributing to the breakdown of law and order in this country and, therefore, are contributing to this country’s rush to tyranny. Taxes must be eliminated through a legal and orderly legislative process, not through the unilateral rebellion of some individuals who evade payment of taxes, even though taxation is unjust and the level of taxation is horrendous. In principle, the fight against the injustice of taxation must be fought the same way all injustices of statism must be fought: by spreading the right ideas and changing this country in a legal and orderly fashion.
There are those who, intellectually, will remain prisoners of everything statists have taught them and will claim I am being "idealistic" or "unrealistic," and will fall back on cliché thinking, declaring that taxes are a necessary evil (an idea which the perpetrators of evil love to have you believe, since it helps them to perpetuate the very evil you regard as evil). But no evil is necessary, except to those who resign themselves to an evil’s necessity. And those who remain prisoners of what statists have taught them will become the literal prisoners of statists once they complete their job of bringing their totalitarian rule to your life.
What is money? Money is nothing more than the material means of storing a certain value: the amount of your time it has taken you to earn a specific value, the value the market places upon your time, energy and creations. In a very real sense, time is money, as the old saying goes, and money is time—your time, the time it has taken you to earn it. If your money is forcibly taken from you—either by a statist politician through taxes or a criminal who robs you—what has been taken from you? The time in your life that it took to earn that money.
And if you concede to statists that they have the right to forcibly take your money through taxation, then what are you conceding? You are conceding that they have the right to forcibly take some part of the limited time in your life you have on this earth—time you will never have again, time which you can never reclaim, time you can never use again to live your life. If you concede this much, then do you have the right to life and liberty? No, you do not. Your right to life and liberty is your right to live your life as you see fit, the right to spend the time of your life as you wish, without seeking the permission of others.
Not a single second of the time in your life should be taken from you without your permission—yet statists forcibly take, not seconds, but months of your life each year in their forcible taxation of your earnings, forcing you into involuntary servitude for that period of time it takes you to earn the money to pay for your taxes. Is this the evil that you wish to sanction as necessary? Do you wish to concede that it is necessary for you to be a slave for months before you can be free to live for yourself? I doubt it. Evil, as well as good, is a product of individual choice—and no choice is necessary, including evil ones. Evil must be rejected, not fatalistically accepted as "necessary." To accept an evil as necessary is to become a supporter of the very evil you regard as evil—you become a backer and booster of evil. And by your support of this evil, you encourage the continuation and spread of evil. Is this what you wish for your epitaph: "I supported evil and encouraged its spread"? Is this the message you wish to send to your children and to others? I think not.
Webster’s dictionary provides the following definition of a slave: "a human being who is owned as property by, and, is absolutely subject to the will of, another." If you are forced, at the point of a government gun, to work, say, five months of each year, to pay your taxes, you are for those five months a slave—this time in your life is being legally claimed as the property of others, by those statists who control the government—and you are absolutely subject, at the point of a government gun, "to the will of another," those statists who are your slave masters.
During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the debate was raging over the military draft, opponents of the draft correctly pointed out that the draft was nothing more than a form of involuntary servitude, but statists who favored the draft attempted to deny this and they claimed the draft was necessary, that an all-volunteer armed forces would never work. Statists will make the same claims about the funding of government through voluntary means: they will claim it is impractical and will never work. They will also claim that forced taxation is not a form of involuntary servitude, even though it clearly is.
The cliché thinkers, who continue to believe there is such a thing as a "necessary evil," are the ones being profoundly unrealistic when they passively resign themselves to allowing the continuation of an evil as corrosive as taxation. Evil, unopposed, always spreads. And those who don’t oppose an evil such as statism will eventually become its victims, as every taxpayer in this country has already become. Statism has spread, and will continue to spread, as long as its basic premises remain unopposed in the minds of most Americans and this includes the notion that taxes are necessary. Your money—which is really nothing more than a repository of the time in your life it has taken you to earn it—is, by right, yours. Unless you defend your right to it, you will never be free of these statist fiends who will just keep on taking and taking and taking, at the point of a government gun, your money—and your life’s time.
Now, consider the inseparable connection between the ownership of your money and your freedom of speech—a connection which statists hope you will never understand, since it is central to their destruction of not only your freedom of speech, but of your freedom altogether. The connection between your money and your right to freedom of speech will become obvious once that right is clearly defined.
What is the right to freedom of speech? It is your right to say anything you wish, in any form of expression you choose, utilizing any means of expression you can afford. Being free to select any means of expression you can afford is essential to your right to freedom of speech—without this right, your right to freedom of speech becomes meaningless and will eventually be abolished entirely by statists if they can limit your means of expression. This does not mean your neighbors must be forced to pay for some means of expression you cannot afford to pay for yourself—you do not have the right to force your neighbors to pay for, say, a television ad to air your views (as statists currently do through the financing of election campaigns using your tax dollars): it simply means you must be free to utilize whatever means of expression you can afford.
Not only is forcible taxation a declaration that the money you earn is not yours, that you do not own it, that you have no right to it, that statists may dictate to you how much money you may keep for your own needs, taxation is actually an infringement of your right to freedom of speech. Taxation reduces the amount of money you have available to spend on expressing your views and, therefore, forcibly limits your ability to express yourself. Suppose, for the moment, that statists seized all of your money through taxation. How would you express yourself? You would have no money to contribute to the campaign of a political candidate who supports your views, no money to advertise in any of the various media, no money to use any medium to say whatever you wish. You would largely be confined to one-on-one conversation with another individual and you would effectively be silenced. Since statists know they cannot confiscate all of your money (at least, not yet), they have resorted to another tactic: the enactment of legislation which controls and limits the amount of money you may spend on expressing your views—in other words, limitations on your right to freedom of speech.
The 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act placed limitations on the amount of money you may contribute to the political candidate of your choice. The Supreme Court later struck down, and properly so, parts of this Act on the basis that they were a violation of your right to freedom of speech. Statist leaders of the Democratic party, frustrated by these judges who seek to protect your right to freedom of speech, have now come out with an overt effort to limit your freedom of expression even more through the proposed adoption of a constitutional amendment.
While this amendment contains language that seeks to allay any concern by those who value their right to freedom of speech, this language is only so much window dressing to fool the foolish. Such language as "No regulation adopted under this authority may regulate the content of any expression of opinion or communication" become only so much verbal fluff to camouflage the real meaning of this proposed amendment, a meaning which will become clear when you consider the meaning of the central concept of the amendment which states: "…Congress…may adopt reasonable regulations of funds expended, including contributions, to influence the outcome of elections…."
First of all, "reasonable regulations" is a contradiction in terms. Statists regulate you through the initiation of force, forcibly robbing you of your freedom, forcibly preventing you from acting on your own reasoned judgment. The initiation of force against you by statists is not "reasonable," it is flagrant irrationality: they are not using reason in dealing with you, they are using force. Second, there should be no limits on how much of your money you spend on anything, including activities to influence the outcome of elections. Your neighbor does not have the right to come to your door and, with a gun in his hand, dictate to you how much of your money you may spend on anything. Your money is your money and no one has the right to tell you, at the point of a gun, how to spend it.
Now consider the practical manner in which statists will interpret and implement this amendment if it is adopted. With its adoption, statists will have the constitutional authority to regulate "…funds expended … to influence the outcome of elections…." Just how might this new authority be applied by statists? This authority will not stop with simply limiting campaign contributions, it will quickly spread to other areas. The logic of it doing so is this: if statists may limit what you may spend on one activity (such as political contributions), they may limit what you may spend on any activity—this is the irresistible logic that will drive statists.
What about a book such as mine? It is certainly written with the hope that it will influence the outcome of future elections. Why not limit the amount of money a publisher and author could expend in the promotion and advertisement of such a book? What about a radio show such Rush Limbaugh’s? It is certainly designed to influence the outcome of future elections. Why not limit the amount of money advertisers can expend in their support of such shows? What about a newspaper, such as The Wall Street Journal, which promotes editorial positions which are designed to influence the outcome of elections? Why not limit the amount of funds they can expend promoting the circulation of their newspaper and their views? Statists will eventually claim that all such activities are so-called "soft" money used to influence the outcome of elections and must be regulated. And on and on and on, statists will go, in their drive to place limit after limit on your freedom of speech, until no one will be able to effectively speak out against them. And once they achieve that, they will be poised to establish their total rule over you.
The right to control the use of your money is vital to your right to freedom of speech: it is the practical means you must have in order to exercise your right to freedom of speech. Statists put you on an allowance through their forcible taxation of your earnings, dictating to you how much of your money you may keep. And then, as if you are some irresponsible child, statists dictate to you how you are to spend the money they have permitted you to keep and how much you may spend, say, in the support of a political candidate. You are not a child. You are an adult whose life is yours and the money you earn with your life’s time is yours—and until you tell these statists this, your freedom of speech, as well as the rest of your freedom, will eventually be sucked into the murderous vortex of tyranny.
The function of government is not to regulate your life: its proper function is to protect your life, protect you not from the threats that can and do emanate from nature (such as disease, natural disasters, the need for food, clothing, housing, etc.), but protect you from other men—those who seek to initiate force against you.
The horror of statism is that it reverses the proper role of government and makes
government the initiator of force against you, not your protector against the initiation
of force. Statism transforms government into a tool which is used by those grammar school
bullies we all encountered as children, bullies who are now adults and statists, bullies
who now use, not their fists, but a government gun against you. Are you going to concede
that these bullies, once your childhood tormentors, have the "right" to rule
your life, to regulate your activities, to tell you, at the point of a gun, how to live
your life? Are you going to concede that these childhood thugs, now adults, have the
"right" to dictate to you how much of your money you will be allowed to keep for
your needs, dictate to you how much of your money you may spend on a given activity? If
so, you will have surrendered your right to life and liberty—and if you surrender
that, there will be nothing to stop these bullies from bringing to you a nightmare worse
than any they ever brought to you as a child: totalitarianism. And once it arrives, you
will be trapped in a bad dream from which there will be no escape by waking up: you will
be trapped in a living nightmare.