Thursday, February 26, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 2

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 2, part 1

I'm not imagining I have a multitude of readers, but for those that may exist, I won't be posting a lot tonight. I've been missing some sleep this week due to the RPM challenge. There just aren't enough days in February.

Chapter two focuses on the Chicago tax racket and it's role in tax resistance. Has Chicago been corrupt since the very beginning? Is there something in the water? (Wait, I know there is something in the water. Lots of things, and not good things. Once I crossed the Adams St bridge and saw a bloated raccoon floating gently down stream. And I never swam in the lake for a reason.) My need for sleep requires relative brevity, so here it is. What chapter two has shown so far, simply by the factual description of government corruption (or do I repeat myself?), is that government "leaders" will always violate rights they don't have the authority to violate. Here's a good quote to ponder: "The tax system has become the mere adjunct of whatever political organization is in power." Can you give me an example of when that has not been true? Get back to me on it. How about this one: Two houses adjacent to each other, similar in style, etc (have you seen the endless rows of bungalows? You know what I mean if you have.) were assessed for taxes. "One of them, owned by Chief of Police Detectives Michael Grady, had an assessed value of $500 while his neighbor's house showed an assessed value of $2,450." Cronyism!

The fact that you aren't surprised should prove that the very nature of the power of taxation is corrupt. It doesn't foster corruption, it doesn't allow it, encourage it, cultivate it, or even tolerate it—it is it. Stories of malfeasance are as old as taxation itself. Of course, you can always leave a comment and tell me the great positive tax stories you've been collecting over the years. I'll wait here while you type them up.

See? I just waited through an entire John Frusciante guitar solo and I'm still waiting. Good night!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 1

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 1, part 2

Of the explosion of taxpayers' leagues, Dan Hoan, mayor of Milwaukee, said that taxpayers' groups "who are always damning their government because they have to pay taxes are doing more to undermine faith in government than all the communists in the world." Hoan's party was the Socialist Party, so no big surprise that he was opposed to taxpayers' organizations, but he reveals something in his statement that every honest socialist (or Socialist, or any other statist sympathizer) will admit is true—the State is their god. Christians should shudder at the thought of having "faith in government," and so should Jews, Muslims, and any other religion that worships a supreme being. Exodus states clearly that "thou shalt have no other gods before me." Jesus Himself said, "Have faith in God." Paul defines faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." This is why Socialism demands the watering down and eventual destruction of religion—because their one true religion is the State. It obviously follows that no truly religious person can be a socialist without being a hypocrite and/or blasphemer (and I'm looking at you Sojourners). Anyway, enough lecturing on faith.

Later on in the chapter the Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance is quoted on a related topic, but not quite so doctrinal in nature. Beito uses the quotation as an example of how these groups "frequently linked their efforts to a general hostility toward governmental paternalism." From the WTA: "Instead of simply protecting the citizen in the enjoyment of the natural right to live and to follow his vocation unhindered, government is now telling him how he must live, and is, regardless of his wishes, charting the path which he must follow." Once every god is replaced by the State this is how it goes. There are no more natural rights, only rights given by the State. No more choosing your own path, or following a religion. The State chooses for you. Think about the Soviet Union for a minute if you don't believe me.

Unfortunately, people rarely learn from the past. Even more unfortunately, politicians (and their various instruments) learn from the past very well (notice I don't include politicians in the same group with people). In 1932 the Milwaukee Leader, a Socialist daily paper, warned of the dire consequences resulting from the various "tax dodging" groups. "If the taxpayer should go on strike, all services would have to stop…. Epidemics of disease would sweep the city. Burglars would ply their trade unhindered. Fires would rage unabated, burning up the homes of the taxpayers." Oh, the humanity! Such tragedy and ruin resulting from the refusal of an ignorant few to pay tribute to their mighty masters! The Milwaukee Leader apparently assumed the average citizen would be incapable of preventing disease (should I wash my hands? Should I not wash my hands? Whatever shall I do?), defending themselves and their homes (Oh no, a burglar! Everyone stand still, and whatever you do, don't point a gun at him!), or even using common sense. Destruction and utter desolation result when taxes aren't paid, don't you see? Last year I filed my taxes late* and three houses on the next block burst into flames. In reality, taxpayers are supporting much more than government "services," they are supporting the growth of government. It's a vicious cycle of programs and taxes, one feeds on the other, until nothing can be done without the permission and funding of the largest available government agency. No houses can be bought, no trash can be cleaned up, no dogs can be walked, no hurricanes can be fled from, no television can be broadcast without interference from government. What a pitiful existence.

There may be hope. Beito asks about the motivation of once complacent taxpayers to suddenly get cranky about paying. He says they didn't just suddenly become anti-big-government when the depression hit, but that "the depression forced taxpayers to think for the first time about the burden and perforce the purposes of high taxes." They became "tax conscious." Conscious of not only how much is taken from you, but what is done with it. Have you ever thought about what happens to your money after it gets passed through so many grubby bureaucratic hands? Probably nothing that you would voluntarily do with it if you were allowed to keep it. Kinda stinks, huh? The biggest danger to the statist staus quo is thinking. A thinking person is a dangerous person to manipulators and finaglers, and thinking is exactly what the state doesn't want us to do. I'll hold up public school and American Idol as irrefutable proof for my argument.

*Not really

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Chapter 1

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Chapter 1, part 1

The first chapter starts out with a whole lot of numbers, I suppose to provide some historical perspective on the tax resistance movements. I was surprised to learn that state and local governments increased taxes more than the federal government did.

One stat that really caught my attention was real estate related: the value of new residential building fell 92% from 1929 to 1933. This is significant not only because it resonates with what is going on now, and not only because that meant a lot of people in related industries were out of work, but because the real estate tax was the major revenue source at that time. Journalist Anne O'Hare McCormick wrote in 1932 about tax protest meetings, "For the first time in a generation taxpayers are wrought up to the point of willingness to give up public services." Uh-oh. An editorial in The New Republic from November 1932 stated, "Farmers are in fact revolting against this burden in many parts of the country. They are doing so by direct action—they are not paying their taxes. The authorities are, in many of these cases, not trying to collect. That is why armed resistance has not followed." While some viewed this as an opportunity for Marxist thought to take root with the farmers (have these Marxist idiots always been around, and will they never go away?), it was observed by the one observant leftist that the farmers were revolting in order to save private property, not abolish it. Still, it was revolutionary in one respect. Beito writes, "…from the perspective of local and state governments, the rural tax protest may have merited greater animus because, unlike a challenge to capitalism, it posed a direct danger to the state apparatus."

Sounds good to me. I mean, who doesn't want to pose a direct danger to the state apparatus? I know I do. For those of you who may be wondering, that was not a sarcastic statement. But more on that later.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taxpayers in Revolt, Introduction

Taxpayers in Revolt, David T Beito
Blog: Introduction

Sometimes I skip reading the introduction to a book, sometimes because whoever wrote the intro has a boring name, sometimes because I just want to get to the important stuff—the book. I read this intro, and a darn good thing too. If I hadn't read it I would have missed this gem: "The state's claim to power over a society would be a toothless pretension were it not backed up by a capable system of extracting money from the population." I just might memorize that and recite it every time I get into a discussion about the gubmint and all the related foofaraw. It doesn't get much more concise than that (not much more*), but it still has great words like toothless, pretension, and extracting.

I was talking to Becky about some political something-or-other a few days ago and she mentioned that the most important step to ending the whole Federal Reserve/inflation/wild corruption debacle we have going on (and has been going for a very long time) is to do away with the income tax. Even though the Fed could still continue to print fake money and endlessly inflate, people would suddenly realize what a horrible game the Fed was playing ("Wait a minute, they're not taking my money anymore and they can still spend trillions of dollars?"), and the jig would be up. Poof.

Important questions were raised in the intro as well, which I trust will be covered elsewhere in the book. One question I fear we will have answered for us all too soon is how do governments maintain authority and legitimacy when their source of money is challenged? Here's a hint—our friend FedGov will not be asking nicely. Hope you picked something up at that shotgun sale last week. Anyway…

Judging by the introduction alone—not to mention the title—I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy this book.

*Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
—George Washington

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is not about punching

I got two books in the mail Tuesday, both of which I have agreed to "live-blog." Blogging in general is not my first choice for recreation, but this might actually turn out to be interesting, if not for you then at least for me. And that's what really matters, right?

The first book, which I hope to start tomorrow (probably Friday since I have stuff going on from the time I get home from work to late that night), is Taxpayers in Revolt. For all of you Twilight fans, this is what we call a non-fiction book, which means it has words about actual real things that actually happened, and there is probably no romantic nonsense, and there isn't a "plot" to follow, but a whole bunch of facts and ideas related to the given topic. The given topic in this case is most likely to be the history of taxpayer rebellion during the 1930s depression. Hopefully there will also be some rationale as to why we should emulate our courageous ancestors. I know you can feel the excitement.

You should get on board this blog thing before I explode into the big time, otherwise you'll look like some kind of lame bandwagon hopper.