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Representation Without Taxation - So Where's The Outrage?

Representation Without Taxation - So Where's The Outrage?

During this awful week when hardworking American taxpayers struggle to comply with a burdensome, oppressive, and indecipherable U.S. tax code, it’s worth examining the root of their fiscal pain: the fact that the majority keeps voting for a government whose size and scope are far beyond all rational (and Constitutional) limits. Our government should only pursue its one valid purpose – the protection of our right to life, liberty, and property (via police, courts, and military) – but instead it now routinely violates each right, at nearly every turn. These violations are fueled by a now-widespread mentality that derides individualism and claims that we’re duty-bound to help strangers, that we’re “our brother’s keeper,” and that those with less are “entitled” to free goods legally and electorally fenced by corrupt politicians.

Tragically, both abject dependency and a general collectivist-statist trend have been building in America for most of the past century, after corrosive ideological premises were imported from Europe starting in the 1880s. At this time a century ago there was no federal income tax, no Federal Reserve, and no huge regulatory bureaucracy; government spending in America (at all levels) was a mere 5% of total GDP. Precisely because American government a century ago was restricted to its one proper purpose and three functions, America’s productive prowess was unmatched, and living standards sky-rocketed during the laissez-faire half-century known as the “Gilded Age” (1865-1915). Today government spending (at all levels) is seven times what it was a century ago – 35% of GDP, versus 5% – but what’s been gained by it? Are government goods and services seven times better than a century ago? No. In fact, government service today is worse, since much of it entails an unjust taking of wealth from earners for receipt by the undeserving, even as government bureaucrats rake off perhaps a quarter or more of the transferred loot.

The American revolutionaries of 1763-1776 were officially British citizens and didn’t revolt against taxes per se. They knew that even a limited government required some revenue if it was to effectively perform its (limited) tasks. What they rebelled against was “taxation without representation.” Only later did (male) colonists enjoy local representation, in the Continental Congress (1774-1789), which levied some taxes; but no colonists ever enjoyed direct representation in Britain’s Parliament, which began to impose harsh taxes in the mid-1700s, in order to pay for the French and Indian war (1754-1763).

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