A basic immorality becomes the center of a vortex of immoralities. When the State invades the right of the individual to the products of his labors it appropriates an authority which is contrary to the nature of things and therefore establishes an unethical pattern of behavior, for itself and those upon whom its authority is exerted.
Thus, the income tax has made the State a partner in the proceeds of crime; the law cannot distinguish between incomes derived from production and incomes derived from robbery; it has no concern with the source. Likewise, this denial of ownership arouses a resentment which breaks out into perjury and dishonesty.
Men who in their personal affairs would hardly think of such methods, or who would be socially ostracized for practicing them, are proud of, and are complimented for, evasion of the income tax laws; it is considered proper to engage the shrewdest minds for that purpose.
More degrading even is the encouragement by bribes of mutual spying. No other single measure in the history of our country has caused a comparable disregard of principle in public affairs, or has had such a deteriorating effect on morals.
To make its way into the good will of its victims, taxation has surrounded itself with doctrines of justification. No law which lacks public approval or acquiescence is enforceable, and to gain such support it must address itself to our sense of correctness. This is particularly necessary for statutes authorizing the taking of private property.
Until recent times taxation rested its case on the need of maintaining the necessary functions of government, generally called “social services.” But, such is the nature of political power that the area of its activity is not self-contained; its expansion is in proportion to the lack of resistance it meets. Resistance to the exercise of this power reflects a spirit of self-reliance, which in turn is dependent upon a sense of economic security. When the general economy falls, the inclination of a people, bewildered by lack of understanding as to basic causes, is to turn to any medicine man who promises relief. The politician serves willingly in this capacity; his fee is power, implemented with funds. Obscured from public view are the enterprises of political power at the bottom of the economic malady, such as monopoly privileges, wars and taxation itself.
Therefore the promise of relief is sufficient unto itself, and the bargain is made. Thus it has come about that the area of political power has gradually encroached upon more and more social activities, and with every expansion another justification for taxation was advanced.
The current philosophy is tending toward the identification of politics with society, the eradication of the individual as the essential unit and the substitution of a metaphysical whole, and hence the elimination of the concept of private property. Taxation is now justified not by the need of revenue for the carrying on of specific social services, but as the necessary means for unspecified social betterment.
Both postulates of taxation are in fact identical, in that they stem from acceptance of a prior right of the state to the products of labor; but for purposes of analysis it is best to treat them separately.
Taxation for social services hints at an equitable trade. It suggests a quid pro quo, a relationship of justice. But, the essential condition of trade, that it be carried on willingly, is absent from taxation; its very use of compulsion removes taxation from the field of commerce and puts it………