The newest Obama scandal, the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, has been in the news a lot lately. Like Benghazi, Fast and Furious, ACORN, members of the New Black Panther Party not being prosecuted for threatening voters with nightsticks, and the refusal to give nary an encouraging word to anti-government protestors in Iran, it’s unlikely to result in tarnishing Barack Obama’s reputation, let alone leading to his impeachment or indictment.
Even so, to the roughly half of the population that actually thinks about serious matters now and then, it’s a reminder of the truth in the title of Frank Chodorov’s classic, The Income Tax: Root of all Evil. The income tax (federal and state) is the root of all evil because without the power to take people’s incomes by force, government would be impotent, which is precisely what the Founders wanted. They were well aware that government itself is inherently evil, and thus, by its very nature, attracted to evil ideas and schemes.
The evilness of the progressive income tax is that it is based on envy. Ever since the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913, people have been taught to believe that the income tax is a surefire way to “soak the rich” and ease the tax burden on the poor and middle class. From the outset, of course, scheming politicians were well aware that even a 100 percent tax on the so-called rich would only run the government for a matter of days. Yet, even today, they pretend as though they are not aware of this fact.
And, of course, the progressive income tax does not reduce the burden on those hapless, envious souls in the lower brackets. What it does do, however, is make it more difficult for them to find and keep good jobs, because it removes the incentive for the wealthy to invest in new ventures and expand existing businesses. What’s the point in investing more capital if you know, in advance, you will be punished if you succeed?
Pseudo-conservatives in Congress love to rant about reducing taxes, but they know full well that taxes are not the problem. The real problem is spending. The only way to reduce taxes is to reduce the size and scope of government, which brings us to the crux of the issue: Any talk of reducing the size and scope of government immediately brings about accusations of lacking compassion for those who are “in need.”
There are virtually no conservative politicians who have the stones to stand up to such accusations, which results in their support of tyranny. Politicians are convinced that they cannot stay in office if they do not support wealth redistribution. Oh, sure, they argue about redistribution-of-wealth policies, but their arguments always center around the extent and growth rate of such policies, not their elimination.
Now that the IRS is in the headlines, perhaps it’s a good time to examine the litmus-test question of progressivism more closely: What would happen to the sick, the elderly, and the destitute in a free society? Personally, I don’t believe it’s even the right question. The question conservatives should be asking is whether redistribution of wealth really does better the existence of those who are unable to care for themselves. Henry Grady Weaver answered this question succinctly in The Mainspring of Human Progress when he said:
Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own. … The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional “do-gooders,” who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others — with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.
Translation: Government solutions to “end poverty” make things far worse, not better, for those they are supposedly intended to help.
There is no question in my mind that Marx and Engels, the sociopaths who started it all, truly believed that their ends would justify their means. Ditto with Lenin and Trotsky, who put the ideas of Marx and Engels into practice via the Bolshevik Revolution.
But the paradises left-wing revolutionaries envisioned never materialized, and now their countries have trashed communism and moved in the direction of individualism and free enterprise. Over and over again, the message is clear: Taking from rich Peter to pay poor Paul does not work!
However, it’s not necessary to study failed communist regimes to witness this truism at play. It’s evident in the U.S. by the way people are voting with their feet by fleeing high-tax states like California, New York, and Illinois for tax-free states such as Florida, Nevada, and Texas.
While the efforts of such people are noble, let us not forget just how evil governments can be. There is a strong possibility that the federal government will bail out all bankrupt states — which would mean that, indirectly, people who fled high-tax states for no-tax states would still end up paying taxes in the states they escaped.
Sound farfetched? I’m told that people in the early 1900s thought the same thing when those ahead of the curve expressed concern that Congress might ultimately gain the power to tax incomes. They pointed out that the Founding Fathers went to the trouble to prohibit direct taxation in Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 of the Constitution. Additionally, they argued, an income tax would violate the 4th Amendment, which requires that a citizen’s privacy be protected.
Everything, including the Constitution, sounds good on paper, but, as I said, the inherent evilness of government is like a magnet for evil ideas and evil schemes. Which is why today the root of all evil — taxation — is like an insatiable tapeworm for which there is no cure.
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Copyright © 2019 Robert Ringer
ROBERT RINGER is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. He has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, The Lars Larson Show, ABC Nightline, and The Charlie Rose Show, and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times.