Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bring back the fire

In many ways, America was founded by a tax revolt. Yes, human rights and the freedom of individuals against authoritarian governments were the sacred principles, but taxation -- governments confiscating from people the fruits of their labor -- was one of the primary violations of rights and liberty that spurred our founders to take up arms against the crown. That anti-tax spirit has remained strong and even somewhat bipartisan ever since, as evidenced by the 1960's "JFK tax cuts" being passed under LBJ, and by Ronald Reagan's sweeping cuts helping propel him to a 49-state landslide reelection, and by even the tax-loving Bill Clinton being forced to promise lower rates in order to get elected.

But unfortunately, these days we don't hear as much griping about taxes these days as we used to -- at least not in public -- and that does not bode well for public knowledge or national vigor.

As reported yesterday in this article, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, on average, Americans spend more money each year on taxes than they do on food and clothing combined. The average annual household tax bill is $10,489, whereas the average annual food-plus-clothing bill is $9,006, which works out to a difference of more than 16 percent. Perhaps more alarming, that tax bill increased by more than 45 percent from 2013 to 2016 (from $7,203 to $10,489) and that sure as hell ain't because the average household income increased by that much.

These days, if anyone complains about taxes they will be told by noisy know-nothings that they are nothing more than greedy money-grubbers who only care about "tax cuts for the rich." What they don't realize is that that average annual household tax bill does not come only in the form of federal income taxes (which plenty of low income families don't pay) but in the form of all stripes of federal, state, and local taxation.

One big problem is that millions of Americans are economically harmed by taxes but are unaware of it, thanks (?) to paycheck withholding. They never think about what they are paying because it gets heisted from their own paychecks before they ever see it; and since they don't have to write a check or hand over their debit card number when April 15th rolls around, they do not realize what they are being forced to shell out.

The same is true with sales taxes. They get added to the bill when you pay for dinner, buy a new jacket, or whatever, but because you don't swipe a second transaction to send money to Master Government, it never quite registers in the brain how much you're paying Master Government.

And it's not like we are getting a good return on investment from all those tax dollars we shell out. Our infrastructure is out of date and questionably maintained. Our electrical grid is not hardened to protect it from an EMP attack that would wipe it out and instantly send us back to the stone age. In many ways and in many jurisdictions, our justice system is anything but. Our metastasized bureaucracies stifle our personal freedom and obstruct our ability to innovate. And although our military is well-armed, in many areas of vital importance it is shockingly shrunken and spread way too thin.

It is long past time for the American people to reassert their control over the American government. Becoming mad as hell about the taxes we are forced to pay would be a good first step in that direction. 'Tis time to rekindle the anti-tax fire that has fueled our nation from the start.

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