"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." ~ John Marshall
Two Pillars of the State
Column by Jim Davies.
Exclusive to STR
The Internet is abuzz with execration of the TSA, and deservedly so, but recently Becky Akers reported on one site that the agency now rivals the IRS in the degree to which Americans detest it. That's a very notable achievement, given that it's had a mere one decade instead of ten, to attract such loathing.
The report rings true. Only a minority of us fly, and therefore encounter the TSA's peepers, gropers and pickpockets. But even though everyone earning income has to surrender some of it to the IRS, only a very few of us suffer one of its inquisitions. Perhaps more are exposed to the physical probing of the government when we travel, than endure the financial probing of its IRS snoops after we earn; hence the former's rapid progress. Ron Paul once said in my hearing that the IRS is "the world's largest terrorist organization," but it had better watch out: the boys and girls in blue are catching up.
However, both these institutions are vital for the survival of the state, for without them, it would rapidly crumble. Border control and revenue collection are indispensable. Even Ron Paul, in his published platform, says correctly that "A nation without borders is no nation at all." He also believes that America should "Enforce Border Security." True, he is referring to control of people coming in, rather than those going out of the country--but it's the same border, and the same government controlling it, and human beings are no less human for travelling out instead of in. If government can rightfully do the one, it can rightfully do the other. After all, for a very long time there have been laws affecting those leaving US territory; one may not export more than a certain amount of government money, for example. If enforcement of such laws was formerly lax, we should not blame it for shaping up now and doing the job properly.
If a state exists, it will control the skies overhead, and ours has done so since the Flyer flew. If we grant it the power (we don't--because nemo dat quod non habet--nobody can give, or delegate, what he does not in the first place possess; but it makes the claim, and few can think clearly enough to spot the lie), we can hardly complain when it puts it into use. If it controls the skies, it must control who and what flies through them, even when no national border is to be crossed, and to do that it must be sure no victim of its foreign policy plans any malefaction like another 9/11. Therefore (on those premises), the TSA is necessary. In the future, some even more intrusive system may be invented, cunning enough to sense what is in travelers' minds as well as what is in their clothing and bags; for when Egyptair 990 was brought down, the fanatic who did the job had no boxcutters or explosives or weapons at all--just his twisted mind, an airline uniform and a strong pair of hands. The TSA is in any case a mere extension of the scrutinizing that has been around for half a century; metal detectors and wands wielded by government perverts around all areas of the traveler's body. And for all that time, it has been illegal to make a joke, while passing through.
Another reason the state needs to know who's leaving its domain, as well as who's entering, is that the leaver might be on its Wanted List, being under suspicion of breaking one of its laws. In the coming free society, it won't matter too much if an habitual aggressor gets out of Dodge--many people will wish him good riddance. But in the régime of a state, there is punishment to be exacted. That's its nature. Passports and examiners at the exit were invented a very long time before the gatekeepers morphed into today's monstrosity. If you want a government, you will have border control; so you have little business bitching about the TSA.
It's the same with the IRS. Quite true, the FedGov got along without an income tax for around 130 years, so inquiries into the financial affairs of the whole population are only a century old; but when the state decided to wage a major war--to prevent a shrinkage of its borders, in 1861--it lost little time in enacting one, the Constitution be damned. That one expired, but insertion of a vacuum hose into every worker's pockebook was such a fruitful source of revenue that it tried again in 1896 (when the Supreme Court didn't get the message and properly ruled it unconstitutional) and again, finally, in 1913 (after which it obediently performed intellectual gymnastics so as to allow its collection). But even if there were no income tax, there would most certainly be some tax, because nobody outside a lunatic asylum would volunteer to pay someone to rule him. The common myth that government is popular, necessary or desirable is nicely busted by observing that nobody will ever pay for it unless forced to do so at gunpoint.
Thus from the very get-go in America, taxes were imposed and victims reasonably opposed them and government collected them by force. The excise tax on private whiskey distilling (which had been going on for many generations) met resistance in Pennsylvania, which was put down in 1794 by a Federal army of 15,000 led by President Washington in person. Hard to tell which is worse: a visit from a pair of IRS agents in suits but with all the menace of a corrupt judiciary backing them up, or the Nation's Father with 15,000 gunners at his command, aiming your way. Either way: you want a government, you will have taxes enforced. So you have little business bitching about the IRS, whose employees are only doing their jobs.
Hence the TSA and the IRS, along of course with the whole alphabet soup of other FedGov departments, to say nothing of State and local government agencies, are part and parcel of what you get, if you favor the existence of government. You can opt for the whole package, or else you can, like me, take action to dump the lot of them in the ashcan of history. But please, don't waste time trying to divide them, keeping some government but not all of it. It won't work. Without the pillars of border control and taxation, the whole monstrous superstructure will fall down.