Taxed to Death
May 5, 2001
Ah, Tax Freedom Day! The day on which we can breathe a collective sigh of relief! The first day of each new year on which we can start earning money for our families and ourselves! EVERY PENNY we earn before Tax Freedom Day goes to some form of government. Unfortunately, Tax Freedom Day comes later and later every year. A decade ago April 15th was the day of rejoicing. Over the last ten years it has moved forward more than two and a half weeks. This year it fell on May 3rd. If this trend continues, thirty years from now our children will be paying taxes for fully half the year. Is this the legacy we want to leave to our heirs?
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, followed always by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years." This quotation sounds as if it were written yesterday about our nation. Actually, Professor Alexander Fraser Tytler wrote it nearly two centuries ago, while our thirteen original states were still colonies of Great Britain. At the time he was writing of the decline and fall of the Athenian Republic over two thousand years before.
Bret Schundler, GOP candidate for Governor in New Jersey, had this to say about taxes: "When you turn on the light in the morning, you pay utility taxes. When you brush your teeth, you pay water taxes. When you drive to work, you pay gas taxes and rising toll taxes. Before you get paid at work, they take out payroll taxes. After you get paid at work, they take out income taxes -- state and federal. If you are married, they tax you for that too. And when you buy things, you have to pay sales taxes and the seller’s corporate income taxes. You are probably dog tired from paying all of these taxes when you get home at night, but then you have to pay property taxes. And if these high taxes make you have to sell your home, you will then have to pay capital gains taxes. Worse yet, if you become sick to death of all these taxes, they will make you pay estate taxes."
"Well, aren’t some taxes necessary?" you ask. Yes, but as Thomas Jefferson reminded the politicians of his day, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated." When he said "specifically enumerated," he meant powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Any powers not specifically given to the Congress by the Constitution were to be reserved to "The States and to the People." Most of our tax money is simply wasted. Much of it goes to line the pockets of politicians. More goes into programs that don’t work. Very little is used for Constitutional purposes.
Regular readers of my column have heard this before, but it needs to be repeated until the country understands. The Constitution gave Congress VERY limited powers of taxation. These did NOT include any sort of tax on income. After the Supreme Court had ruled a national income tax was unconstitutional several times, politicians of both parties tricked the American people into passing the Sixteenth Amendment, which allowed a limited income tax. They have been raising tax rates and expanding the number of people taxed ever since.
Liberals are crying bitter tears about President Bush’s "huge" tax cut. (You know, the "risky tax scheme"?) The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, had economists analyze the proposal. Their conclusion? "The Bush tax cut, measured as a percent of GDP, is only about one-fourth as large as the Reagan tax cut and only about one-half as large as the Kennedy tax cut. Both of these triggered record periods of economic growth." They estimate that "the Bush tax cut should be almost twice as large as proposed," if we want to get similar results.
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