Some Thoughts on Tax (Slavery) Day
Since I couldn’t possibly let tax (slavery) day slip by without comment, I’m going to share some thoughts that came to me the other day. There is certainly nothing unique about a libertarian rant on this date, but I found myself pondering the occasion from a different perspective than found in most editorials. While all of us serfs resent having to give account for our wages and expenditures before the Lord State, I wonder how many of us have stopped to think about what effect the redistribution of wealth has on various segments of the population? The following are a few perspectives on this subject.
As I state in my blog profile, I have the dubious “honor” of being a well-paid information security consultant for a Fortune 500 Welfare Queen that derives the bulk of its income from government contracts. The average person would say that this is a good thing, that I am fortunate to have such a job that guarantees a good income for me and my family. Count your blessings, I’ve been told on more than one occasion, for it could be worse; you could be a small business owner or someone ineligible for a security clearance who has to rely on the vagaries of (what little is left of) the private sector and work for wages considerably lower than you’re earning now. Besides, what’s wrong with doing work for the benefit of your country, particularly in light of the War and Terror? Well, let me tell you what’s wrong: everything.
My neighbor across the street, I’ll call him “Chuck”, owns a small auto upholstery shop that employees about ten people, making him the stereotypical small business owner. Chuck is a white male, about forty years old, with a wife and two young children (why I mention this becomes apparent momentarily). He has been in business for about ten years now and is doing rather well, at least as much as a small business can.
I asked Chuck the other day what tax day means to him. His first response was to roll his eyes and shake his head. He then said something that both floored and delighted me: “It’s amazing how government thinks that ‘business’ equals ‘rich.’ Every year I look back at what I’ve taken in as income and compare it to the amount of taxes, fees and assessments I’ve paid out, and it’s a wonder I make any profit at all. And people wonder why jobs are so goddamned hard to find! That’s why! If they left me with more money to run my business and spend as I needed to, that problem would be solved.”
I wanted to hug Chuck. He had summed up in one paragraph why income taxes are a poison to every small business owner and, by extension, to every worker. By robbing the Chucks of this country of their precious income through federal income and payroll taxes and transferring the money to well-healed thieves like my employer, who produce nothing of value in a free market, the United States government is leading it people down a path to economic and social collapse. Unfortunately, the costs of this are hidden in a society where the people have been conditioned to regard the term “employee” as an ideal and “entrepreneur” as anathema. Few people other than economists stop to consider the effects of what economists call “crowding out.”
Every year my company is awarded millions of dollars worth of contracts to “secure” the information infrastructure of this or that federal agency or to strengthen the government’s ability to spy on its citizens. Our senior executives receive millions of dollars in bonuses and perquisites, all courtesy of money paid out of the federal treasury, funded through dollars stolen from the taxpayer. Some of those dollars were Chuck’s. While my boss has never been asked to give up money out of his paycheck to fund Chuck’s business, Chuck is still expected to fork over his money to pay for my boss’s annual bonus. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to find any equity in that.
I’m equally sure that Chuck can think of many better ways to spend those confiscated dollars than to give them to a government which in turn gives them to, among other entities, illegal immigrants to start businesses that will compete with Chuck’s. Yes, that actually happened. Chuck, when he was younger, applied for a small business loan from that odious federal bureaucracy that has the gall to call itself the “Small Business Administration.” Major mistake, you see, because Chuck is not disabled, a veteran, an illegal alien, or of a skin color or ethnic persuasion that is on the government’s preference list. Instead, Chuck is forced every year to surrender his hard-earned money to ensure that people falling into these other categories get preferences and perquisites that he can never dream of getting. The fact that Chuck grew up in rural poverty in a single-parent household, more disadvantaged than many of the people he is forced to subsidize makes not one bit of difference to the State at all.
To his credit Chuck simply continued working and managed to save just enough money to buy a small garage and some used equipment. Working sometimes 15-hour days, with a new wife and baby girl to support, Chuck pressed on without asking Uncle Sam for any help, managing to grow from a one-man show (with some part-time unskilled help) to his current ten-man business. One marvels at his success, true testament to the fact that the American dream has not died yet, despite the State’s best efforts. But what does Chuck face as a small business owner?
In addition to state and federal taxes on income and payroll, Chuck faces heinous regulations imposed by federal administrative agencies, as well as their state counterparts. In addition to labor regulations, he faces environmental and occupational safety and health regulations that he says have cost him, on average, over $150,000 per year in compliance costs. He also has faced two lawsuits from members of preferred minority groups who claim that his hiring practices are discriminatory. In fact, Chuck has not hired large numbers of these “preferred demographics” because applicants from these groups have largely been either 1) illegal aliens who, if Chuck hired them, would put him at risk of legal penalties, or 2) unqualified for the positions he needs filled. Unlike my employer, an organization of several thousand employees that can afford to fill positions with incompetent tokens in order to please its federal overlords, Chuck’s business deals directly with a public that demands quality work for the money paid. He cannot afford “token hires” just to please EEO bureaucrats, none of whom have ever worked an honest day in their lives.
What does this have to do with tax (slavery) day, you ask? The answer is: everything. It is money confiscated from people like Chuck, under threat of force that funds the unaccountable government bureaucracies that make Chuck’s life living hell. It is money confiscated from Chuck, under threat of force that prevents Chuck from hiring more workers or buying new equipment with which to better serve his customers. It is money confiscated from Chuck, under threat of force that prevents him from saving adequately for his children’s college fund, finding decent health insurance for himself, his family, or his employees; or taking his family on a much-deserved vacation. In short, Chuck’s life blood is the life blood of
Chuck is just one small example. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Chucks all over
Next time you are out and about town and transact business with one of your neighborhood merchants, I urge you to talk to them. Find out what it’s like to be a small business owner. Ask them what it’s like to deal with the government. I guarantee that you’ll be left wondering how anyone earns a living at all.