"Government cannot make man richer, but it can make him poorer." ~ Ludwig von Mises
A Modest Proposal
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
Once again the earth’s alignment with the sun is becoming such that assorted natural—and some quite unnatural--phenomena can be expected.
In the unnatural group is the appearance, like dandelions in the lawn, of assorted individuals and firms offering expert income tax preparation. This is so predictable, and has been happening for so many years, that, like the annual debut of the dandelions and other weeds, it is not considered remarkable. And yet it is indeed remarkable that this tax, virtually universal, is nonetheless so complex that the poor taxpayer must confront dozens of pages of forms, and hundreds of regulations that are obviously either written deliberately to confuse, or represent the outpouring of a deranged mind; hence the resort of expert tax preparers. The end result is the “correct” amount of tax due, although several interesting—and amusing—studies have shown that the identical financial information, given to various “expert” tax preparers, has resulted in widely different amounts for the “correct” tax owed. Even if you call the taxing authority itself--the IRS--you will learn that the advice you receive may not be correct. What a system!
It gets worse. The Tax Foundation estimates that the cost of complying with the income tax statutes and regulations will be $409.5 BILLION in 2012--an amount equivalent to about 21% of total government revenue. This is absurd! If the point of the income tax is to raise revenue (and I’m dubious about that), then the $409.5 billion spent just to comply with the tax code is money lost to the taxpayer and the government. What a waste!
The whole system is a sham, designed to make people think that they support the government, and are entitled (oh, the generosity!) to keep some of what is “theirs,” in amounts determined by the rulers. It’s time to put an end to the charade. Let’s consider these words of Congress:
The ultimate ownership of all property is in the State; individual so-called "ownership" is only by virtue of Government, i.e., law, amounting to mere user; and that use must be in accordance with law and subordinate to the necessities of the State. Senate Resolution #62, April 1933.
In other words, it isn’t your income at all. Allowing you to pretend otherwise leads to the tremendous waste indicated above, as taxpayers struggle to determine how much of what they foolishly consider theirs they may be allowed to keep. So here’s my modest proposal, based upon the reasonable assumption that we’re all mature enough to accept the fact that we can own nothing: an allowance.
Anything and everything that you earn, or receive by any means whatsoever, should be paid immediately to the government. That organization, with its expertise, sense of justice, and unmatched efficiency, can determine how much you need to live and send you a monthly allowance check. Better—and cheaper--it can just credit your bank account for the amount it deems proper for you to have. This allowance would be tax free, so no one would ever spend another hour, or dollar, calculating his taxes. With time, the system would become more sophisticated. Instead of receiving a lump-sum allowance, your account at the grocer would be credited with enough funds to provide you with a proper diet, according to government guidelines. Your account at the gas station would similarly be credited, the government knowing how much driving is appropriate for you. Of course, in case of an unanticipated need for travel, you could apply for additional gasoline funding, which, after a suitable hearing and deliberation, might be granted. And so on, for clothing, utilities, etc.
Not only would this save the $409.5 billion spent on tax preparation, it would rid society of the unwholesome tendency to spend on frivolous material things, of “keeping up with the Joneses,” and of the unpatriotic idea that a person has worth outside of his role of supporting the rulers who know, after all, what is best for us. It would abolish self-serving competition, unbridled materialism, and the destructive cult of the individual. Utopia, in other words.
Let me know what you think of this modest proposal. You can reach me at my new address in Tierra del Fuego.