The Left’s anti-liberty blindspot


The confiscation of money from individuals by the government (taxation) is, ultimately, the confiscation of decisions. This is the opposite of liberty, and the Left is always pushing for more of it. From Jonah Goldberg:

Congratulations! This is your last week working for the man — at least for this year. The Tax Foundation calculates that Tax Freedom Day for 2010 is April 9, which means that by Friday, Americans will have spent nearly 100 days working just to pay their taxes. If Democrats have their way, Tax Freedom Day will keep getting later and later.

Hold that thought. Imagine for a moment that Tax Freedom Day was Dec. 31. In other words, picture working 365 days a year for the government. Now, the government would “give” you a place to sleep, food to eat and clothes to wear, but all your income would really be Washington’s income to allocate as it saw fit. Some romantics might call this sort of arrangement “socialism” or “communism.” But another perfectly good word for it is “slavery” or, if you prefer, involuntary servitude.

Unjust taxation

Now, no one is proposing any such arrangement. But it’s an important point conceptually. A 100% tax rate would be tyrannical not just because you have a right to own what you create, but because the government would necessarily decide what you can and can’t have. Reasonable people can of course differ about where a tax rate becomes tyrannical, and we’re far from that line in historical terms. But any amount of taxation can be unjust if it is being used for bad reasons, is applied discriminatorily or if it’s taken without representation. (That’s how the American Revolution started, after all.)

[…]

Personally, I have never understood liberalism’s blind spot for liberty when it comes to taxation. A 24-hour waiting period before a teenager can have an abortion is an allegedly grotesque violation of individual freedom, but a federal government that takes vast amounts of your money — the means by which you exercise your every freedom — to distribute as it sees fit is “progressive”? The USA Patriot Act, whose threat to privacy was somewhere between entirely theoretical and non-existent for the overwhelming majority of Americans, shocked the liberal conscience. But our income tax system — made idiotically complex by both parties — demands countless hours of preparation and requires law abiding citizens to reveal (and document!) many of their most private decisions to government inspectors every year is “reasonable.” Yet many liberals even think complaining about this is a sign of right-wing dementia.

Now, under ObamaCare, the IRS is going to branch out into the field of health care, enforcing mandates and collecting fees. Perhaps it’s not entirely paranoid to fear that this will make the IRS’ past intrusions of proctological exactitude even less metaphorical.

I bring this up because many in the Democratic Party and in the news media have a hard time understanding what the “Tea Party” crowd is talking about when it complains of incipient tyranny and intrusive government. This might be why much of the media keep making up motives for the Tea Partiers rather than taking them at their word (as when a CNN reporter told viewers that the Tea Parties were driven by “anti-CNN” passions). Again, reasonable people can disagree with where the line between necessary taxation and injustice lies. But the line exists. Tax Freedom Day is going to come later and later, no matter what. Maybe we should figure out now where on the calendar we should mark down that line.

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