William Thien

A New Country? Or, Is It Even Possible to Lower Taxes Anymore?

Posted on: July 23, 2010

Recently I witnessed newsreels of presidential campaign speeches, many from the backs of trains going from town to town, from the early 1900’s. Crowds gathered in the train stations hoping to hear something new, something promising. The campaign rhetoric sounded remarkably like that you might hear today.”Government is just too big! I will keep the size of government under control!”, and “Your taxes are too high. I am the only candidate that can do anything about that. The other ‘guy’ will just raise your taxes.”

It raises the question, if candidates and their electorate have been complaining for over one hundred years about government being too big, and government still gets bigger and bigger and our taxes still go up and up, what if anything can we do about it? This isn’t just a losing battle in a wider war on taxes anymore, this is something else, entirely something else.

To provide some perspective on the matter of taxes, Peter McWilliams cites William R. Mattox Jr. in his book Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do. William R. Mattox Jr. states that “In 1950, the average family of four paid 2% of its earnings to federal taxes. Today it pays 24%.” That is a thirty percent increase in taxes, just federal taxes, per year.

In 2008 one of my elected officials sent me a July 4th Newsletter. It talked about all the wonderful things “America” had become since we had fought off The British in The Revolutionary War, how Americans had fought bravely, and there was a lot of flag waving in the newsletter, something I felt was a bit too much for someone who claims to be a conservative. I wrote him a reply saying I thought he was out of touch, in so many words. I explained that I thought he was out of touch because the colonists who decided to take on the British did so because they were upset for the most part about a few pence tax on tea and not being protected in the outer reaches of the colonies from incursion. Hence, one of the reasons that the “Taxation without Representation” slogan came to be.

I added that I thought were our founding fathers alive today, it is likely that if they are of the same spirit as during revolutionary times, they would probably be attacking every US Government office they could at every chance they could get. That was their nature. They were not fighting The British, they were fighting what the British stood for, what the British took from them, particularly in the form of taxes, mainly in the form of taxes. It wasn’t, we don’t like you guys because you are British. It was, hey, get your grubby hands out of my pockets.

Of course the founding fathers as they are called are not alive themselves, but I’m sure, I added in my response to my elected official, they are turning in their graves right now. Why? Because there is no comparison between taxation then and now. Why? Because the argument that the America of today even compares to the very most pale shade of that of the America founded over two hundred years ago is approaching a dangerously false statement. The only clear similarity between that country and the one in which we reside today are a few remnants of The Constitution and the geographical boundaries within which said country was founded.

Then, the colonists thrived on independence. Raise your own food. Minimize government. Tame the land.

Today: What government program can I apply for to get some money? Who needs a husband, I can get pregnant and someone else can pay for it. Let’s give huge amounts of money in foreign aid to other countries when we can not even keep our roads above the quality of those in a third world country.

Yet, while all of this goes on, guess what? Our taxes still keep going up. UP and up and up!

And it raises the question, is it even possible to lower our taxes anymore? If one hundred years ago politicians were campaigning on the very slogan that government is too big and taxes are too high and things have only gotten worse since, well it makes you wonder who is behind it?

Where is all my money going? Yet, comparatively speaking, the colonists thought of the country as a sort of magical place, even with the hardships, there was an incredible sense of hope. Why? Because they were not overburdened with massive, expensive government.

Taxes are the result of laws. Once those laws are on the books, things are sort of written in stone. I don’t know of any major tax repeal in the history of The United States at any level whether it be municipal, state, or federal, that has significantly impacted, lowered the amount of taxes people pay and that counter balances taxes taken in simultaneously for some other reason.

So if taxes cannot be repealed in general, if taxes will continue to go up while our country moves towards a third world country in terms of quality of life, what can be done about it? Obviously there does not seem to be a legislative solution.

You hear talk from time to time about the choices. There are grumblings. Living communities are created by charismatic men and women that are frequently raided by the government, big government. So if you can’t organize in any major way to adopt a new way of life or to bring about change, change of any kind, that really only leaves one choice.

Yes, that only leaves one choice. Timothy McVeigh was an example some might say of that choice.  Perhaps Timothy McVeigh would have been made a general in The Revolutionary Army. I don’t mean to idolize or deify Timothy McVeigh, but let’s face the facts. War has changed. And in what some call “The War on Taxes” that seems to be the path some are taking to win the war. And I must admit, I don’t see many other paths if in fact we have been fighting the war for well over 100 years. Name another path. Name another choice than some sort of revolt to reverse the course of taxation in this country and to relieve ourselves of an oppressive government. Democracy doesn’t seem to offer a solution.

I have one.

What if a law were written to supersede all laws that limits the total amount of taxes that everyone, each individual, will have to pay and legislates the advent and demise of government programs that result in more taxation. In other words, if a given tax goes beyond a certain level, it is no longer a lawful tax and must be repealed automatically and immediately, or some form of action must be taken. That is all. An absolute law that deals with taxes absolutely.

Because otherwise there is only that one choice. Unless the government collapses completely and is rebuilt anew and completely differently. But at this rate of taxation, that is unlikely.

So, there really is only that one choice. Nothing else seems to work. Sooner or later we will have to face that choice. In fact, it would seem that it is not really even a choice anymore. There seems to be no fork in the road any longer. Taxes are just too high. Government is too intrusive.

Perhaps that is not even an option anymore because had they been alive one hundred years ago and heard the campaign speeches then our founding fathers would probably have said, “let’s get to work.”

And what new country would come from their efforts this time around? And more importantly, when will the time come to find out?

Copyright © William Thien 2010

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3 Responses to "A New Country? Or, Is It Even Possible to Lower Taxes Anymore?"

america’s tax base hasn’t steadily increased; it’s fluctuated but remained steady with federal rates between 18 to 28%; what’s changed is the income-level and rank that sustains the burden of that rate; in short, financial elites have been able to reduce by half its percentage of the tax rate since world war II; entitlements for financial elites are far more burdensome of the collective tax-paying body than are lower-class entitlements, beyond social security— the mega-bane on the american whole.

Thank you for the highly enlightening perspective on taxation during the last one hundred years in America.

Though, I think we are approaching the matter from two different perspectives in that it appears you view the body of taxpayers as a “collective” and I believe taxpayers are individuals that have common goals, unless of course you are simply using the term “collective” loosely to describe the “body” of taxpayers.

I add that it would appear we are going about the matter of taxation from two different points in that I believe the answer is not to take from Peter to pay Paul but rather to decrease government almost across the board and thereby lessen the requirement for more taxation.

I do not see taxation as a means of socio-economic equalization. And that is not by definition what taxes are supposed to do. I think that is what many perceive taxes to be today, a form of sacrifice perhaps in the pagan sense, in that someone should have to pay for their success because so many others are less successful, almost like a form of financial punishment for being successful, to make things equal amongst the masses and quell the unrest. That idea of taxation is the most unfair of all and is a tyranny.

I am also concerned that the belief that wealthy taxpayers should have to pay more taxes than others or that there should be some sort of upwardly sliding scale based on income will suffocate incentive as it did in The Soviet Union for example or in the manner it did in Communist China, causing the Chinese Government to gradually loosen its financial restrictions of free trade in order to increase productivity, which in turn increased tax revenue.

Finally, if taxes in 1950 were 2 percent of the family income and they are 18 to 28 percent today, the increase may not be steady, but it is climbing at an unsustainable pace, with social security, medicare and medicaid, and some believe the nationalized health care programs coming into law being different issues altogether. Call them what you will, social programs, health care programs. If it comes out of your paycheck without your consent, it’s a tax.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget local and state sales taxes, property taxes, licensing fees for vehicles, user fees, renewal fees, inspection fees, gas taxes, other hidden taxes, fees for certification, tolls, ad infinitum… 18 to 28 percent? More like seventy percent some believe when all is said and done. Higher than anywhere else in the world.

Copyright © William Thien 2010

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