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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4510/a-muzzle-on-the-mouth-of-the-state/

A Muzzle on the Mouth of the State

January 3, 2006 by

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment to the Colorado constitution is not perfect, but it has slowed the growth of government, provided a veto on taxes to the voters, and, perhaps most importantly, made clear that limiting the government’s access to a nonstop stream of tax funds does not spell economic Armageddon. It has lowered the real tax burden for many, and prevented the passage of many new taxes. FULL ARTICLE

{ 11 comments }

Ralph January 3, 2006 at 8:42 am

Why not eliminate this tax problem by simply eliminating the power of the state to pay taxes?

You’re laughing, right? Much of the resistance to tax elimination comes from christians, who cite Jesus’ statement to “Render unto Caesar….”

Was Jesus telling Israel, and by implication, modern christians, to pay taxes to “Caesar”?

On examination of the facts, he was telling them the exact opposite.

Notice the context in both Matthew 22 and Mark 12. The Pharisees, as usual, were trying to trap Jesus with a legal question. No doubt they had “spies” planted for both sides of the issue when they asked “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”

Is it lawful or not? They weren’t asking his opinion, which would have meant nothing to them. Was it lawful?

Jesus showed them a coin and said “whose image is on this coin?”

With that question, Jesus connected four important subjects: law, taxes, images, and money. Since Jesus emphasized images, we might look for a law regarding images. As it turns out, we don’t have to look far. The second commandment of the Ten Commandments says we are not to make to ourselves graven images or likenesses of any kind, nor are we to bow down and serve them.

Jesus’ answer, therefore, to render to Caesar and render to God obviously and always places God’s expectations above “Caesar’s”. Consequently, and without a doubt, we are NOT to pay taxes to Caesar except by voluntary agreement, and by virtue of the First Amendment, “Caesar” cannot force us to pay taxes.

The combination of the First Amendment and the second commandment makes the sixteenth amendment, giving power to congress to collect income tax, unconstitutional.

The recognition of this fact, of necessity, reduces all tax collection to a local level and places local needs above national needs, which means, quite simply, that we can return to a collection of freely agreeing states limited in their own power by the voluntary agreement of citizens.

Larry Ruane January 3, 2006 at 1:56 pm

Ralph, this is fascinating, but can you elaborate on your last point? Are you saying that, according to this interpretation of Jesus’s words, all taxes should be voluntary, even at the state level? Or only at the national level? I’m a little confused because you mention “tax collection” at the local level, and taxes are usually defined as involuntary payments.

I’m always looking for justifications for the idea that “government” is okay, as long as it’s not a monopoly; that other can start up competing governments in the same territory, and people are free to subscribe to whichever “government” (or call it an insurance company or private protection agency) they choose.

Another way to say it is the unlimited (personal) right to secession.

And I’m wondering whether Jesus’s words support that idea.

Ralph January 3, 2006 at 2:59 pm

Larry, Jesus stated the great commandment as “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind, and all thy soul”.

Therefore, if we are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s, Caesar gets nada, zip, zilch, nothing.

The principle, connected to the second commandment, allows any individual the freedom to refuse taxation.

Many would point to Romans 13, “Let every soul be subject to the higher power”. But if you read this carefully in conjunction with Matthew 22 and Mark 12 concerning Caesar, Paul is clearly stating that we are only subject to powers that coincide with God’s law, and that is by choice.

Verse 7: “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

By Jesus’ teaching regarding the second commandment and the “great commandment”, tribute, honor, and custom go to God and leaders who obey God.

Check out verse 8: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another fulfilleth the law”.

Of course! Since we are not to bow down to images and likenesses of any kind, and we are not to serve them, we owe no man anything.

There is another aspect here. Do governments have the power to enforce God’s law? Romans 8:7 says that the fleshy, natural mind is not and cannot be subject to God’s law. If I were arrested for breaking God’s law, my defense would state: “Since I obviously have a fleshy, natural mind, and since there is no evidence I posess any other type of mind, I am not and cannot be subject to your laws. Have a nice day”.

This is not to say we shouldn’t obey those laws, or that they’re done away. We’re not subject to them, which means that no human authority can coerce or enforce God’s law on another human.

Since we cannot be subject to God’s law, all authoritarian attempts to do things “God’s way” will result in division, individualization, speciation, anger, hatred, and war. You have only to look around you at 30,000 versions of christianity.

Of course Jesus taught in Matthew 5 that heaven and earth would pass away before one “jot or tittle” of the law would pass away. he further declared that he came to fulfill the law and taught a more intense focus on that law.

But if we can’t be subject to the law, then all attempts would result in complete fragmentation and individualism. Didn’t Jesus realize that? Of course, since that is one purpose of his ministry, as he stated in Matthew 10:34-38.

The law is designed to produce individual freedom, even to allow freedom from parents and family in order to serve truth. That sounds like the right to individual secession to me.

Can religions step in where government and family is not allowed? Since all attempts to serve Christ result in increasing separation, and since our minds cannot be subject to God’s laws, logic dictates one, and only one correct choice: don’t follow any religion, which is what Jesus said in Matthew 24:23.

There must be a separation of church and state, but sovereignty belongs to the individual who serves God freely by obeying God’s laws. A nation “under God” cannot be a nation under law.

All government, therefore, would require voluntary compliance and freedom of religion, with the state intervening only to punish those who violate the rights of others.

That’s my view.

Paul D January 3, 2006 at 11:14 pm

Thank you, Ralph. So many state-worshipping Christians misconstrue Christ’s words (as well as those of the Apostle Paul).

I think Christ purposely used metaphors and parables to express the truth because it takes a certain amount of honesty and reasoning to extract these principles, and in that process we gain a deeper understanding. Those with corrupt hearts, like the ones who were trying to trick Christ on the tax issue, would (and do) completely misunderstand what he said.

Christians need to realize that nothing they have belongs to Caesar, so they should stop giving everything to him.

P.M.Lawrence January 3, 2006 at 11:38 pm

The cry in the early 17th century, in the face of rising taxes, was “let the King live off his own” – but in that, there was recognition that the King too had his own private sources of wealth, as an individual, much of which had passed into the hands of the Crown for just these purposes. He was both an individual (but through whom authority was expressed) and in some sense a trustee for his source of legitimacy.

You can get a lot of insight into how people thought of these things by looking at the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, but of course a full discussion of everything people thought then is too much for this forum.

Anyhow, the economic function of taxes – in small and limited government – can be met from a revenue yielding “domain” or portfolio of investments (including land), and the propriety of how that was acquired in the first place can often be tested on a case by case basis (also remember to scrutinise the special privileges granted to certain classes of investments, e.g. company formation).

Certainly, inflation short of fraud – i.e., in step with actual increase of economic capacity – yields a top up of liquid money from seigneury, allowing that portfolio to be continually grown. Even without that, control of the money supply allows a rebalancing, which is honest if handled on a sinking fund basis (which governments always handle wrong, historically); it’s effectively insurance against a kind of capital risk, spreading it onto the whole economy.

That last paragraph describes the ethical position in regards to “whose face is on the coin”. Such money can even be fiat, but to keep its worth it must be backed by being acceptable in payment of the fees and charges due in regard to transactions between the domain and others. That is, it relates to be being valid for public debts, with these debts not being thrust on people via taxes.

Jayant Bhandari January 4, 2006 at 12:57 am

Ryan: As a businessman I have personally found it easier to deal with the Provential and Federal governments given the fact that they are far from me and therefore our interaction is on an IMPERSONAL level. With the local government the problem is that their interfearence in your life is PERSONAL. I have sometimes seen that the local inspector of the City makes a cetain area his personal fiefdom. Any comments?

Jayant (Vancouver, Canada)

Ralph January 4, 2006 at 6:52 am

Years ago I worked with Thomas Greco on promoting the idea of alternative currencies that are backed by contract among the members of a community. I talked briefly to Michael Linton, who created the LETSystem(Local Exchange Trading System, I think). The problem is that it is too easy for people to opt out of the system while owing credits to others. Some collecting authority seems to be required, with a small “police agency” to extract rightful pay from those who opt out of the system.

The problem with the mutual credit clearing systems is that our society was not built around the ideal of direct interdependency but on the idea of “Inalienable rights”, or perhaps the “right to be left alone”. The more centralized an economic system becomes, the more it must interfere with people’s rights to be free of government. The original concept of sovereign states in the US was developed to help alleviate this problem, and a competitive collection of “central banks” in each state would help ensure honesty in practice, with people freely putting their money into that system with the most integrity.

Ralph

Paul D January 4, 2006 at 7:13 am

“The problem is that it is too easy for people to opt out of the system while owing credits to others. Some collecting authority seems to be required…”

I think the free market can still solve this problem. I see no reason an insurance company couldn’t protect you against such fraud, while credit agencies make non-payment a risky and unprofitable activity. Hans Herman-Hoppe discusses such ideas in “Democracy”.

Larry Ruane January 5, 2006 at 2:13 pm

Back to the topic of this article; here is a letter I had printed in the Rocky Mountain News, followed by the earlier letter I was replying to:

Joe Johnson says (Letters, Thursday, November 17) that only one conclusion can be drawn from Douglas County voters’ rejection of Referendum C: “The selfishness and greed of the majority of voters in the county is beyond compare.” So trying to reduce the looting and hold onto a little more of one’s own property is greed. Gosh, I’d always thought greed was grabbing someone else’s property — which is exactly what C does. But, no, I guess that’s virtue. Welcome to George Orwell’s world.

Mr. Johnson is wrong; there’s another possible conclusion: many Douglas County voters realize that the more money you give to government, the worse off everyone is (except government employees and contractors), including the poor.

Here is the letter I was replying to:

Selfishness of Douglas County voters decried

I was disgusted when I looked at the Douglas County election results for Referendum C. A county with one of the most educated and wealthy populations in the state – and nation – votes down a measure that both fiscal conservatives Hank Brown and Gov. Bill Owens threw their support behind. Only one conclusion can be drawn from this: The selfishness and greed of the majority of voters in the county is beyond compare.

While most Douglas County voters have received a great deal of help from taxpayers for their education, tough luck for those who need it now. While most Douglas County voters are very well-off financially, their need to spend their possible Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refund was just too great.

Yes, I know – the state has to tie in any rollback of TABOR to the evil Amendment 23 which has been helping fund one of the leading and fastest-growing school districts in the state and nation, which the children of Douglas County voters attend. Douglas County voters ought to be ashamed of their hypocrisy.

Ryan McMaken January 5, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Douglas Bruce, the author of the TABOR amendment, sent me an email, and while he liked the article, he pointed to “four errors of fact”

This is not surprising given that I have rarely encountered a legislative issue that is harder to understand than TABOR. His comments are in quotes, mine are in brackets.

“Taxpayer’s, not Taxpayers’[Bill of Rights]–the rights of the individual taxpayer.”

“I did not write the 1986 proposal. I moved here August 1, 1986 and
it was already on the ballot.”

“You didn’t quite get the Bird-Arveschoug limit right. Revenues are
not truly capped, and the dividing point is not whether they are called taxes
versus cash funds. Unemployment taxes are cash funds, for example.” [I actually don't quite understand Bruce's point about revenues not being "truly capped." The literature is extremely confusing on this point, so I'll just have to look into it further.]

“Footnote error-the spelling is Arveschoug.” [not Arvescough]

Ralph January 10, 2006 at 8:18 am

The issue still is basically the same. Taxation is theft. There are no obligations of the individual taxpayer except by voluntary compliance. If you wish to define tax or monetary policy in any particular fashion, you have that right. But your rights end when you enforce a particular monetary policy on another human. The beauty of the second commandment, and the way in which Jesus tied it to taxes, law, and money, is that we can eliminate the Federal Reserve, the tax system, and the corruption that goes along with it, simply by recognizing the First Amendment and the right to obey the second commandment, whether the government likes it or not. And if not, then secession is certainly permissible, with the government having the unenviable position of standing in opposition to God and the Ten Commandments.

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