On the Other Hand...

Why Taxes Never Fall... Yet.

by Jim Davies

Even Democrat politicians sometimes promise tax cuts, like Mr Clinton did in 1992; yet tax rates in real terms have quintupled in 80 years. How come?

Partly, because Pols haven't submitted, until recently, to any of the laws they write for the rest of us. Congress routinely exempted itself from their requirements, like those of OSHA and the racial hiring quotas and all the other nonsense they spend their days creating. But most of all, I dare say, its members would tremble to be bound by their "Truth in Advertising" laws.

Not, mind, that I think those laws should exist. If someone is hurt by false advertising claims, his adequate remedy is to sue the advertiser - individually or as a class. No need at all to make false advertising a criminal matter - that merely hits the defrauder but ignores the defraudee.

But, for a moment, suppose they were subject to them. How, I wonder, would Clinton's widely advertised pre-election promises fly now: a "middle class tax cut", and a "laser-like focus on the economy"? And, don't let's forget Bush's infamous "Read My Lips, No New Taxes" advertisement.

Those were the promises advertised, and the voters bought the product, and now many of us can see how very savagely we were swindled. If they were bound by their own laws, both would have been impeached so fast your head would spin.

But we can neither sue nor prosecute: Presidents, like all other politicians, have placed themselves above their Law. All we can do is lie back and enjoy it.

Not Just the Pols

Probably you know the question, "How can you tell when a politican is lying? - When he moves his lips." But, true though that is, along with all the above, it's not the whole story. Alone, mendacious politicians are not solely responsible for the incessant growth of taxes. There's another player also.

It's bad news, but I fear the voter, too, is to blame.

It's a bit like the understanding that prevailed for so long in Soviet factories: "You pretend to pay us, and we'll pretend to work."

When Americans vote, they know in their hearts quite well that the Pols they vote for are liars and cheats and frauds: that it's no more possible to provide something for nothing than that water can run uphill. But, because the voter earnestly WANTS something for nothing (or at least, something at his neighbor's expense) he goes ahead and votes for it... for water to run uphill.

So, yes, the politician lies and makes an impossible promise, but the voter lies too when he solemnly pretends he believes it. I can't see any other way that this ghastly tax-growth ripoff could have continued as it has. If the Pol doesn't make those false promises, the other guy gets elected. So, critical as I am of Government Man, I feel forced to say that it isn't ALL his fault.

I mean, imagine for a moment that you were an Honest Politician, running for office. (Go on, try!) So you stand up and say, the Social Security System is a fraud and I'm going to end it, or the Welfare System is multiplying poverty and I'm going to zap it, or the Defense Establishment is provoking war and I'm going to privatize it, or the Government School Monopoly is producing brain-damaged kids and I'm going to pull its plug, and so on and so forth.

You'd be telling the honest truth in every syllable, but you'd not have a cat's chance of winning, because if you add up the voters who are doing nicely out of the SS or Welfare or "Defense" or the bloated "educational" establishment, you have special interests that will vaporize your vote share.

Voters, alas, do not really WANT to hear the truth; they want to be told they can have something for nothing. So pity the poor Pols. Just once. Please?

And that's why taxes never fall; votes are too cheap, and very immoral.

There Is A Way

Hardly anybody is trying it right now, but I think there is a way out of this vicious circle. Well, there better had be, or we are certainly doomed; tax rates will rise to 100%, and we'll be slaves. So it's worth considering, right?

It's to ask the voter - you, dear Reader, right now - to look at the WHOLE PICTURE. Sure, you're getting something from government that you highly value. You must be, or you would not suffer it. It may not be a business-welfare handout, though there's even more of those than there are poverty-welfare handouts; but it's a favor of some kind. Entirely "legal", of course!

Perhaps government is forcing other people to pay your kids' school costs, or not to smoke that of which you disapprove, nor to sleep with those with whom you think it improper, and so on. Or, it's protecting your real estate from market competition, with Zoning laws. Or perhaps it is keeping you in a job that, in your heart, you know would not exist in a free society but which you cannot now see how you could do without. Whatever. Write it down!

But if you were to look at the Government Deal AS A WHOLE, is it really worth it? All the regulation, the hassle, the nuisance, the intrusion? Is that tiny gain you wrote down really worth all that, plus almost HALF OF ALL YOU EARN?

I submit that for almost everyone, the answer to that just has to be "no way". If all that pork was rolled back simultaneously, almost everyone would win.

That is exactly the proposal made in a book, to be in the stores by November 29, called "Why Government Doesn't Work" by Harry Browne, author of two best- sellers. And he's running for President, so could actually make it happen.

© Copyright Jim Davies 1999

Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.

The above is Edition # 130

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