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By Jeff Brewer
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         While I admire the President for sticking to his proposed $1.6 trillion income tax cut even in the face of the typical liberal distortions, I think it imperative that law-makers eventually scrap the income tax all-together…and the payroll tax, and property taxes and car taxes and state income taxes.  All of these gross deprivations of a citizen’s Constitutional right to keep the fruits of his labor are a great hindrance
to the ability of Americans to create and maintain wealth for themselves and for others.  In the place of these tyrannical excesses, I think it necessary to enact a national sales tax.

            Two premises really drive this argument:  Morally, the ability of a state, and by that I mean the collective triumvirate of Federal, state and local governments, to tax their citizens on average 40% to 50% of their income is reprehensible.  Besides discouraging people from working harder to presumably earn more (or less), high taxes frustrate individuals' and families' abilities to save and invest their earnings.  Economically, the ability of Americans to spend more of their disposable income at their leisure and at their discretion will assuredly increase the number of sales tax receipts that flow into revenue-dependent Washington, D.C.  The key is that Americans decide what they are taxed on!

            Americans work an average four months of every year just to feed the federal government’s insatiable appetite.  And what do we get in return for this grand larceny?  Relatively little.  Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates exactly what the legislature/government is supposed to provide the citizenry with the peoples' tax dollars.  And if one strictly interprets the founding document for its original intent, which I believe demands a very limited government, the powers that are spelled-out would seem to require a limited amount of taxation.

            To be sure, our massive inter/intrastate highway program adequately facilitates commerce among the states; the pre-Clinton Immigration and Naturalization Service did a reasonably good job of overseeing the naturalization of immigrants; Congress has done quite well in creating mints that “coin money and regulate the value thereof”; and the congress has done an admirable job of “raising and supporting armies and providing and maintaining a navy.”  All of these services and the few others listed in Art. I, Sec. 8 are well and good, constituting a reasonable scope of the Federal government; they go a long way toward ensuring and encouraging the movement and functioning of a free people.
Accordingly, the level of taxation needed to fund these services has been quite low throughout much of our nation's past, really up until World War II.  Even then, the excess taxation was justified, as we were involved in a global conflict.

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That said, consider the 16th Amendment’s granting of Congress the “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”  This initial move away from a justifiable level of taxation towards a state that wantonly takes from the people a certain percentage of their net income started the country down the very slippery slope of progressive taxation, i.e. the wholesale redistribution of income.  From there on, the Congress felt empowered or justified or deserving or whatever to collect taxes from citizens regardless of whether the citizen received a direct benefit from his tax dollars that were taken from him.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s well-intentioned Social Security Act of 1936 instituted the payroll tax, which greatly expanded the reach of the state into
ordinary Americans' lives.  Benefits were to be based on payroll tax contributions that the worker made during his/her working life. Taxes would first be collected in 1937.  And then Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives of the mid-1960’s further enhanced government’s ability to tax the citizenry for all number of well-intentioned but poorly planned and eventually bloated social programs.

    Collectively, this expansion of taxation to fund what I think to be very dubious, un-Constitutional social programs has thieved trillions of dollars from American taxpayers.  But what if we did away with all of these ridiculous taxes levied by all levels of government, and instead replaced this tyrannical scheme with something much more agreeable to our consumer-driven populace?  A national sales tax would hearken back to the colonial era, when colonists were taxed on only those goods they consumed. A silversmith would take home his gross salary commensurate with his work, and only be levied a tax when he purchased a good for his family, like tea or flour or wheat.  People had to eat and drink and stay out of the elements for survival, and so sellers and the British and then early American government still garnered a measurable amount of revenue from what would be appropriately termed a “consumer tax.”

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© Jeff Brewer, 2001

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