Tax day 2021 came and went. I don’t know about you, but my wallet is lighter. As always, I had to write a big check to the IRS.
I was not pleased.
But shouldn’t I take solace in the fact that I’m helping create a more civilized society? That’s the mantra, right? Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. I’m supposed to understand that the government takes its ill-gotten gains and makes the world a better place.
That has the ring of government propaganda, doesn’t it?
Given the price tag, we should have a lot of civilizing at this point. I think we’re getting hosed.
Of course, this whole civilizing narrative was crafted by supporters of big government to make us feel better about all the money taken out of our paychecks. And it’s largely B.S.
In fact, federal taxes are the price we pay for an overreaching, bloated, unconstitutional federal government.
And it’s hardly “civilizing.”
Just consider the amount of tax money spent on unconstitutional wars. According to the Cost of War Project by the Watson Institute at Brown University, the U.S. spent $2.26 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. That comes to over $300 million spent every single day over the span of two decades.
James Madison warned us. He wrote that “of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded.”
Because it comprises and develops the germ of every other enemy of liberty.
“War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”
Wars cost a lot of money. They require heavy taxation, along with debt, which just pushes taxation onto future generations.
And we don’t just bear a financial cost.
According to the Cost of War report, between 238,000 and 241,000 people died in Afghanistan over the past two decades as a direct result of the war. That number includes 71,344 civilians, 2,442 U.S. military personnel, and 549 humanitarian aid workers, along with thousands of Afghan military and police personnel.
And Madison said, there are other intangible costs we can’t even calculate, including the “degeneracy of manners and of morals,” leading Madison to conclude “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
This isn’t “civilizing” by any stretch of the imagination.
Taxation not only steals our wealth. As James Madison understood, it limits our freedoms as well. Access to fewer resources shrinks the number of options available to us. It “brings the many under the domination of the few” – those with the power to tax. The more the government takes from us, the more limited our options become.
Of course, war isn’t the only thing the federal government buys with our tac money. It spends trillions of dollars every year to spy on you, create a police state, wage an unconstitutional war on drugs, enforce unconstitutional gun laws, and more. OK, so we get roads. But if you’ve driven through Ohio lately, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that if that’s the best case to be made for taxes, the whole argument falls apart. Seriously, it’s amusing to me that some people think roads are the crowning achievement of government – as if without a bunch of politicians, nobody would be able to figure out how to lay a ribbon of concrete from point A to point B.
Obviously, roads aren’t the problem. The problem lies in a federal government that has grown far beyond anything ever imagined by the founding generation. In fact, taxation doesn’t begin to pay for all of the government we’re getting. Just look at the most recent deficit numbers. Of course, we still pay for it via the inflation tax.
If the federal government acted within its constitutional limits — if its powers were “few and defined” as James Madison put it in Federalist #45 — it wouldn’t cost half a trillion dollars every month to fund all of its programs. We wouldn’t have the undeclared wars. We wouldn’t have a national police state. We wouldn’t have an inefficient and counterproductive federal welfare state. We wouldn’t have a national surveillance state. And we wouldn’t have a drug war. In fact, you’d hardly notice the federal government existed.
But with the U.S. government running wildly outside of its constitutional limits, we have a massive tax bill on top of an unsustainable national debt. In fact, we have arguably the biggest, most powerful government in the history of the world.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.