Tax And Destroy

Everyone has heard the famous quote “the power to tax involves the power to destroy” from Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1819 Supreme Court ruling that states could not tax the Federal government.  What about government use of taxation against the people it’s supposed to be working for?  What is that destroying?

For much of US history, taxes were collected to fund essential government services such as national defense, border security, law enforcement, public infrastructure, education, and resource conservation.  In fact Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said “taxes are what we pay for civilized society”.  Progressives have changed that through taxation for wealth redistribution and “social engineering”.  Social engineering typically involves the use of punitive taxes to discourage “wrong behavior” as defined by some omniscient Big Brother.  I’ll start with punitive taxation.

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is pouring millions of dollars into local efforts to impose a punitive tax on sugary sodas.  OK, they’re not particularly healthy, but where does that process end?  Under the influence of UN Agenda 21 Denmark is seriously considering a tax on meat.  Once the USDA includes sustainability in diet recommendations it won’t be long before progressives want taxes on meat, and eventually dairy products.  This is about controlling people, and more control equals less freedom.  Eventually the only choice progressives will allow is for an abortion.  Bloomberg also pours millions into local gun control efforts, some of which include punitive taxes on guns and ammunition.  No ammo tax will ever stop a street gang, psychopath, disgruntled worker, or jihadist from unleashing mayhem.  What it will do is hurt honest shooting sports participants, particularly those involved in competitive target shooting.  It takes thousands of hours and probably close to a million rounds to reach Olympic level competitor status.  It’s those honest achievers who will be hurt, not the criminal who loads a “Saturday night special” to rob a convenience store.

(Hey Mike, why don’t you ever ask for more taxes on billionaires?)

President Obama wants a ten dollar per barrel tax on oil, even though it would raise prices of gas and heating oil and could send the economy into recession.  This is a punitive tax to punish those who insist on using fossil fuels.  As I pointed out in “Alternative Energy: The Missing Link”, however, we don’t have the technology to convert to renewable fuels overnight.  How many cities are 100% powered by renewable energy 24/7?  The answer is none.  How many all-electric vehicles have a 500 mile cruising range, or even a 100 mile range that can recharge during a 5 minute rest stop?  Again the answer is none.  An all-electric vehicle is a great choice for commuting from the suburbs to the city but would you want to set out to “see the USA” in one?  Incidentally if that electric vehicle doesn’t recharge from a renewable source it isn’t fully “green”.  He claims that the tax revenue would be used for research, and while some might be, some of it might also be used for global wealth redistribution.

So, what about wealth redistribution?  Within the US wealth redistribution is accomplished through various welfare programs and a widely abused tax credit program called EITC.  If you read my proposal for the ISIC welfare reform program you’ll know that I’m not opposed to welfare as a hand up for the unfortunate or as assistance for those who are unable to fully support themselves due to disability.  When children are starving in spite of school meal programs, SNAP, and WIC, however, something in the system isn’t working.  When a person who is fully capable of working decides to live off the labor of others and then jokes about it on social media welfare fraud has gone too far and reform is past due.  That’s an insult to every working family that’s struggling to support itself.  I’m also opposed to allowing foreigners to enter the US and immediately land on extended welfare.  Traditionally our immigration policy only admitted honest healthy people who were capable of supporting themselves within a reasonable time frame.  See my “Immigration is a Privilege, not a Right” post for more.  Global wealth redistribution is a recent concept arising from UN Agenda 21.  Third world nations are demanding billions of dollars from developed nations to “go green” under Agenda 21 while having no intent to meet the human rights objectives specified in that agenda.  See my post “UN Agenda 21 vs the Wealthy Wimpy West” for more.  I believe that global wealth redistribution is unconstitutional.  Nothing in our Constitution allows the government to send our tax dollars overseas or be taxed by any foreign entity.

So, what are the socialist progressives destroying with social engineering and Marxist wealth redistribution?  Essentially everything that made the USA exceptional: freedom (choice, not control); individual responsibility (the flip side of the rights/responsibility coin); the value of the family, and national sovereignty.

As many have pointed out, the US will never be conquered from without, it will destroy itself from within..  Progressives/socialists are leading the charge.

2016 Update:  Not unexpected: the UN has advocated for all nations to tax sugary drinks like sodas.

Unexpected: the UN also wants taxes on 100% fruit juices.  Who wants their morning OJ taxed?  It’s past time to tell the UN that we’re a sovereign nation, and while we’ll work with them on international issues, we will not surrender our rights or our freedom to them.

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When a right becomes a law it’s no longer a right.

The President has suggested that mandatory voting would be a good idea, stating that the poor and immigrants are typically underrepresented at the polls.  Actually it’s a really bad idea. The word “right” implies that you have a choice regarding whether or not to exercise it. Paying taxes isn’t a right, it’s mandatory.  Attending religious services is a right because the state can’t force you to do it.  Owning a gun is a right but progressives would happily deprive you of that right to self defense.  Voting is a right that is traditionally reserved for citizens, and while it would be nice to think that every citizen votes and does so knowledgably it just won’t happen.  What we have is another attempt by liberals to buy votes from the poor to create a one-party socialist state.  Here are some other ways it’s bad for the people of the USA.

It’s about more control.  It’s yet another way of tracking every individual’s actions through a government mandate.

It’s about advancing collectivism.  It’s the process of getting the population to move as a herd rather than as thinking individuals.

It’s about higher taxes.  Imagine the cost of verifying that everyone has voted.  In fact it’s hard to imagine that this could be done without a voter ID program, something liberals hate.

It’s a waste of law enforcement time and money.  Shouldn’t the police be apprehending robbers, rapists, and murderers rather than chasing non-voters?  Would they send SWAT teams?  As I said before, laws shouldn’t criminalize noncriminal behavior.

It’s a waste of welfare money.  If a poor person is fined for not voting that fine will be paid with welfare dollars, the tax dollars of working families.

It’s a step towards a police state.  While a few “free” countries may have mandatory voting it’s traditionally a hallmark of a dictatorship.

Here are four steps to improve citizen participation without raising taxes or bringing down the heavy hand of Big Brother:

Citizenship education begins in school, with courses in civics and history.  Return to the idea that civics isn’t just about laws but also about instilling a sense of pride in this nation and it’s heritage.  Teach history in the context of the time.  To condemn early Americans for owning slaves without acknowledging that slavery was widespread at that time and still exists in some places today is biased.  To claim that European explorers arrived to devastate an idyllic world is a lie.  The Aztecs were as brutal a civilization as has ever existed, slaughtering thousands every year to appease their gods.  Tell bratty college students who want to ban our flag that their school will lose all taxpayer support and they must cover the full cost of their education by themselves (choice and consequences again).  Teaching young people to hate their nation won’t inspire them to vote as responsible citizens.

Reform welfare to being a hand up, not a handout.  Liberals don’t help the poor, they exploit the poor.  Helping the poor doesn’t mean guaranteeing a lifetime income, it means supporting them on a path to productive independence as I proposed with the ISIC plan.  Many would welcome such an opportunity.  As for those who think they’re entitled to lifetime support, ask them why working families should support their choice to be lazy. Then tell them when their benefits expire.

Make English our official language and require immigrants to learn it well enough to manage everyday life tasks, including voting.  It’s impossible to accommodate every language in the world and no other nation does it.  A common language unites a nation.

Cut election fraud.  It’s easy to say “why bother” if you believe that fraud will overwhelm your vote.  I see nothing wrong with voter ID laws as long as non-driver IDs are provided free of charge to those who don’t have drivers licenses or passports.  We need an ID for virtually everything in this country today.  Even without that measure, cities could require proof of citizenship & residency for new voter registration and they could exercise tighter control over the voter rolls.  If the Social Security Department knows when a person dies the city clerk should know as well and remove that person from the rolls.

Dictatorships require people to vote, free nations inspire people to vote.

Choice and consequences.

The “War on Poverty” failed because it institutionalized poverty by providing a hand out instead of a hand up.  It’s flawed underlying assumption is that society is 100% to blame for poverty.  Maybe society did give some families a bad deal at some time, but you can’t undo the past, you can only look ahead.  Let’s look at how personal choices factor into continuing poverty.  Two of the biggest factors in poverty are lack of a high school education and young single parenthood, so these are our examples.

Start with a teenage boy who is considering dropping out of school.  Now if he has responsible parents they may talk him out of it, but he doesn’t so he makes a choice to drop out.  Now, with nothing to do he makes a choice to join a local gang that sells drugs and burglarizes homes.  As a consequence of that choice and his activities with the gang he’s arrested and jailed.  Several years later he’s a young man with no diploma and a criminal record angrily blaming society because he can’t get a decent job.  Society didn’t force him to make those choices, did it?

Now consider a young single mother.  She’s a mom because she and a man made a choice to have unprotected sex.  Dad isn’t in the picture because he made a choice to not be involved or to pay child support.  This is the only point at which society has some power.  It can legally force dad to pay child support, thus reducing the burden on both the mom and on society.  Maybe mom has a hard time holding a job as a consequence of her drug use.  Well, at some time she made a choice to use drugs once, use them twice, and eventually become addicted.  Again society didn’t force her to make these choices.

This is not to say society has no responsibility to help the poor; it actually has three. The first is to provide for those who are physically or mentally unable to work, because disability is not a choice. The second is to provide a hand up for those who are able to work that leads to independence from welfare through a combination of temporary support and training that leads to productive work. This approach is similar to the Individual Development Plans that schools use for special needs students, and is precisely what my ISIC plan reflects. The third is to make sure jobs are available. This is accomplished by having a strong economy with minimal wasteful overhead (e.g., government reporting), a fair and simple tax structure, an educated workforce, a supportive infrastructure, and a restored feeling that work can get you ahead in the USA. Real emotional security comes from self-reliance, not dependence on a nanny state that forces you to trade your freedom for security.

Update 2017: Although it’s common to associate bad choices with poverty a recent occurrence at a college shows that bad choices have no socioeconomic boundaries. A large group of students were celebrating in the streets. Most of them behaved but a few chose to get rowdy and destructive; in fact their destruction reached felony level. These young people will have to pay a fine and restitution but probably won’t serve jail time because they don’t have prior criminal records. Their problems, however, are just beginning. The college could kick them out, which seems appropriate if the college is serious about not tolerating destructive behavior. Even if they are allowed to continue, that felony conviction will hang like an albatross around their necks for life. Every time an employer or bank does a background check, there it will be. Career choices will become limited. Here are a few jobs that might not accept felons: jobs requiring a security clearance, jobs in the financial industry, and jobs working with children. A military or law enforcement career is off the table because felons can’t possess firearms. Recreational shooting sports will also be off limits. So here’s a group of young people who have already done far more damage to their futures than they did to the property they destroyed. That’s choice and consequence.

ISIC: a one-stop welfare model.

Here’s a model for single welfare system (one application at one state agency handles all benefits) I call ISIC, for Identification, Support, Independence, and Community.  The first three are the program and the fourth is voluntary.

Identification:  This step fully identifies the applicants and their eligibility.  It’s purpose is to ensure that applicants aren’t using a false ID or misrepresenting their financial status in any way.  Their life style should reflect their means.  If someone claims to have earned $9000 in one year and paid $8000 for rent they need to explain how they and their dependents ate for that year.

Support:  This second step identifies what levels of support applicants need while they’re on the path to independence, i.e., food, medical care, child care, rent subsidies, etc..  Their needs may change with time but everything will be handled through the one program.  A work requirement will be part of the program.  Note 1: food does not include alcohol, tobacco, or recreational pot.  Note 2: anyone caught selling their benefits will lose them.

Independence:  This step addresses what the applicants need to be able to earn a living without social services support.  Completion of high school is one of the key factors in employability, so any applicant who dropped out will be required to earn an HS equivalency.  After that job training and educational opportunities will be based on the applicants’ interests, abilities, and job availability.

Community:  This last step is voluntary as involuntary servitude is unconstitutional.  Once independent, applicants will be asked to volunteer with some charity or service organization for some reasonable period of time.  They can choose whatever they want to do (e.g., help in a food pantry, animal shelter, or building houses) and no one will monitor them.  It’s simply based on the idea that if someone accepts help from society they should be willing to help society, and it could help build responsible communities.

To re-establish a work ethic the value of work must exceed the value of not working.