Monday, April 18, 2011

Thought of the Tax Day

The Economist quotes Ayn Rand ...

The principle of voluntary government financing rests on the following premises: that the government is not the owner of the citizens’ income and, therefore, cannot hold a blank check on that income—that the nature of the proper governmental services must be constitutionally defined and delimited, leaving the government no power to enlarge the scope of its services at its own arbitrary discretion. Consequently, the principle of voluntary government financing regards the government as the servant, not the ruler, of the citizens—as an agent who must be paid for his services, not as a benefactor whose services are gratuitous, who dispenses something for nothing.
... and then, while disagreeing that "voluntary government financing" is feasible, adds:

The general view expressed here captures much of the reasonable moral core of the movement to restore and reinforce effective constitutional limits on government. Many Americans believe, not unreasonably, that far from acting always as an instrument that serves their interests, government often acts as if citizens' lives and labour are instruments to the special interests that control government. Indeed, the principle embedded in Mr Obama's budget speech, that tax increases are spending cuts, suggests the objectionable idea that all income is government-owned, which it then "spends" by choosing not to hoover it up in taxes. To object to this way of picturing the relationship between citizens, their property, and their government is not to deny that the infrastructure of security, property and law maintained by government is necessary for a well-functioning economy that generates good jobs and decent incomes. It is necessary. But that infrastructure is for us. We are not for financing it. And we certainly aren't for financing whatever extraneous functions our continually mission-creeping government happens to have taken on. Necessary taxation is not theft. But there are margins at which taxation becomes difficult to distinguish from theft. 

As Abraham Lincoln said so well, "The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities." Citizens reasonably resent a government that milks them to feed programmes that fail Lincoln's test. 

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