Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Principle #6 of the Republican Renaissance--Taxes

Taxation is a necessary evil. In our modern society, we have come to expect many services from government that sustain our quality of life. We must never forget that taxation is always confiscation; the money was earned by the sweat of our brows, and it is government’s burden to prove why it needs the money, not our burden to prove why we should keep it.

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Government at every level provides services and functions that we as individuals are either are incapable of providing or if we tried, would be tremendously inefficient at achieving. Our tax dollars are the means by which we pay for those services. We must never lose our sense of perspective on this matter. Taxes are not the entitled due of the government; they are a voluntary exchange between the governed and the governing to pay for services and value. The government and the governed reach an agreement on some accretion of power for the government (the governed assessing that it is in their favor to do so), and the governed surrender their earnings in exchange. It should never be forgotten that this is a reversible transaction.

While a flat tax would be the preferred method of taxing income at the federal level, the graduated income tax must be strengthened to ensure that all wage earners pay some figure into the general revenue of the country. The current system, in which nearly 40% of wage earners have no income tax liability, creates a situation in which these wage earners pay only “payroll taxes”, destined ultimately for their own support. Not a penny of these earner’s wages goes into maintaining our armed forces, paying government employees, building federal highways, or providing for early childhood education.

Most dangerous of all, because so many citizens have no federal tax liability, they are left with the mistaken notion that the largess of the United States comes without a cost. To them, it is free. To the rest of wage earners, it is most surely not.

Republicans must remain the party of low taxes. We should not be the party of a Tourettes-like reaction to taxes (“the answer is lower taxes, now what was the question?”), but we should continue to drive home the notion that each and every service or function that the government takes on is funded with dollars that come out of our pockets. We must seek to enlarge the dues-paying membership in our Democracy by ensuring that ALL wage earners pay some portion of their earnings (in some cases as low as 1%) into the general revenue and most importantly, we must be the party of limited government, the kind that understands the value of a free people with greater control of their own money.

5 comments:

Ace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ace said...

Interesting line of thought which begs the question of what exactly conservatives would seek to conserve. I offer that the whole notion of income taxes in their current form are antithetical to the founding fathers' notion of federalism and constitutional republican government. As noted in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Company, SCOTUS ruled that most income taxes are direct taxes, the results of which must be apportioned to the States. If we conserved this principle by repealing the 16th amendment, we would see a dramatically more responsible government in my view, as the taxes from capital gains and property would go to the states for their control rather than for federal purposes.

And while income taxes on wages can be viewed as indirect taxes in other cases, I think the responsible use of those taxes depends upon the direct/indirect distinction--which is why the federal government could not reasonably levy an income tax until after the 16th amendment. Many of the abusive spending practices we see today result from the abandonment of this principle.

The founders knew spending would get out of control if the federal government was allowed an unlimited power to tax, and sought to limit that power by apportionment to the states. I offer this for consideration as a conservative notion: federal taxes have dangerous potential and money is best managed by the States as originally specified in the US Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm Forbes had the tax answer a long time ago, - "a value added tax". Fair and workable for every living soul.

Mark said...

Well, you managed a pretty cavalier dismissal (like the pun?) of the payroll tax, which everyone does pay at the same rate, up to a cap. It's also evil economically (it's an overt tax on jobs).

I also vote for the VAT. Even better is a carbon tax - best of all - a huge excise tax on imported oil. That would do a lot to reduce oil comsumption and hurt all those evil nations that get rich selling it to us - Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc etc etc.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Cavalier dismissal, Mark? I hardly think so. I make the necessary distinction between income taxes (which fund the operations of the government) and payroll taxes (which provides for benefits directly aimed at returning to the payer). In case, those taxed are responsible for the operations of the entire government AND their own care and feeding in dotage/ill health; in the other, only the latter is seen to. Hardly cavalier. Just the facts.

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