This week has seen an explosion in something that affects us all: The dreaded tax on merely having the audacity to exist as a human being. Off-shore trusts have been plundered and gory details of the Great and the Good exposed to the glaring light of hypocrisy. This, I hasten to add, is a good thing, not because it exposes the wealth of others – that’s none of my business – but that it exposed the monumental hypocrisy of those who extract our wealth for purposes of taxation whilst busily hiding their own beyond the very rules they insist, under pain of prison, that you and I abide by.
But let’s just go back a little and have a look at the very reasons we are being taxed in the first place. Tax is not new. It’s existed since the time anyone bigger than anyone else used force to extract it. Empires have been built on it, wars fought using it and peasants subjugated with it – to this very day. It’s all about power and strength. Forget that rubbish about “providing essential services”; the RNLI do that without the need to send a man to rummage through my pay packet every month whilst pointing a gun at me. And the more power and strength the aggressor has, in general, the higher the taxes.
Communist States happily take 100% taxes, along with plantation slave owners, all under the guise of offering you a roof over your head and food on your plate in return for the product of your labour to further support the system of oppression you’re forced to live under. The Mafia extract taxes in return for not removing your kneecaps or burning down your business but at least the Mafia have the good sense to realise that 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing, which by forcing you out of business or killing you, is what they’ll end up with.
A big State is going to need a lot of extracted wealth to support its ravenous appetite for more state and more power – current estimates put the marginal rate of taxation in the UK for a couple in the thirties at around a whopping 73% leaving you just 27% of your money (not a slave), so it’s hardly a surprise that even us lowly Joe’s are constantly looking for ways to keep a larger slice of the pie we lovingly baked ourselves. We pay cash (watch them try and ban it), we barter and we trade off the record. We invest in whatever schemes we can find to maximise our own wealth whilst indirectly robbing the big State of the income it desperately needs to survive. “Feed Me” says the beast lurking in all our homes.
Many would argue that tax is the price we pay to “live in a civilised society”. I’d argue the exact opposite. Tax is the price we pay to live in an uncivilised society – we have no real control over where this income is spent or invested. 650 so called ‘representatives’ busily hand it to their favourite causes, be it vanity, party, lobbyists, corruption, incompetence or the ever popular “common good”. The irony being that when they really do run out of cash, as they always do, they simply print more of the stuff anyway (devaluing whatever we have squirrelled away) or they hand the bill to our grandchildren safe in the knowledge that a glorious municipal statue will be built to them anyway.
Ah, but “transparency” they shriek. Well, yes, on this I’ll agree. If you are going to take my money and spend it on my behalf, I do want to know what you’ve spent it on and yes, if you are going to raid my pockets in the name of “tax fairness” than it’s reasonable to expect you allow your own pockets to be emptied like the rest of us. Until of course you hear the new cry: “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”.
I see demands for all tax returns to be visible to all, followed closely by “all payslips should be online for all to see” naturally progressing to the Lutheran “remove all your curtains – nothing should be hidden from public scrutiny” mentality. So what happened to privacy? Can we not exist properly in low tax economies or can we not pick and choose what we fund ourselves via voluntary taxation or donations to our favourite charities? Long before the State was grabbing all it could from our wallets, charitable organisations existed caring for the weak and the infirm, the vulnerable and the poor. It’s not as if massive taxation has actually eradicated the “poor” – all it has done is create a State behemoth that assumes the monopoly on redistributing the wealth of us all regardless of our individual wishes. That doesn’t seem anything like “fair” taxation to me. And, not to mention, the State does it very, very badly because the only true interest of the State is and will always remain the State, not the individuals within it.
Already, normally sane commentators are happy to declare that we should expect 100% inheritance tax when we die – ignoring the concept that a life’s work is basically the opportunity to further your own genes rather than further the aims of the state.
“You won’t need it when you’re dead anyway, it’s not fair” – true, but my kids might and despite your tantrums, that’s what we are here for, that’s the point of evolution. The bright and the talented thrive and the useless and dumb don’t. Don’t argue with nature, you won’t win. The concept that all your wealth and property should return to the State upon your demise is merely a premise that all wealth and property belonged to the State in the first place – and that’s about as communist and authoritarian as you can get.
Do I believe in taxes? Yes, I do. I’m a Minarchist, meaning I believe the State should exist in a minimal form to protect the borders of the nation and defend the ownership and borders of private property. To do that, you need a legal system and men with guns ready to do foul deeds in your name. So voluntary taxes make an awful lot of sense.
An example? Well, let’s look at Land Value Tax. If your land is highly valuable simply because a nice corporation just built some amazing infrastructure next to it (an airport, a good school or a factory that employs you) then you have benefited from a system that cost you not one jot. A land value tax would not be unreasonable and if you don’t like it, just live where the result of your own actions increases your wealth.
Low tax economies thrive, high tax economies whither. Taxes sap the life blood of the human spirit and crush aspiration and ambition. Whilst that might be a great way to control a population and bark your authoritarianism at a compliant and subservient citizenry, it isn’t any way to run a civilised society. Slash taxes, slash benefits and most of all, slash the intrusions into our lives by the man from the government.
Anyone know of any islands for sale? I’ve got a great idea for a country….