I was reading this today, and I feel that it is a comment that needs to be heard, especially today. From the greatest President we never had (Eat it, Ann Coulter):
"We have all heard much throughout our lifetimes, and seen little happen, on the subject of high taxes. Where is the politician who has not promised his constituents a fight to the death for lower taxes-- and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?(...) Talk of tax reduction has thus come to have a hollow ring. The people listen, but do not believe...
... I suspect this vicious cycle of cynicism and failure to perform is primarily the result of the Liberals' success in reading out the discussion of the moral principles with which the subject of taxation is so intimately connected. We have been led to look upon taxation as merely the problem of public financing: How much money does the government need? We have often been led to ... forget altogether the bearing of taxation on the problem of individual freedom. We have been persuaded that the government has an unlimited claim on the wealth of the people, and that the only pertinent question is what portion of its claim the government should exercise. The American taxpayer, I think, has lost confidence in his claim to his money.
Government does not have an unlimited claim to the earnings of individuals. One of the foremost precepts of the natural law is man's right to the possesion and the use of his property. And a man's earnings are his property as much as his land and the house in which he lives. Indeed, in the industrial age, earnings are probably the most prevalent form of property. It has been the fashion in recent years to disparage "property rights"-- to associate them with greed and materialism. This attack on property rights is actually an attack on freedom. It is another instance of the modern failure to take into account the whole man. How can a man be truly free if the fruits of his labor are not his to dispose of, but are treated, instead, as as part of a common pool of public wealth? Property and Freedom are inseparable: to the extent the government takes the one in the form of taxes, it intrudes on the other.
...But having said that each man has an inalienable right to his property, it must also be said that every citizen has an obligation to contribute his fair share to the legitmate functions of government.(...) The size of the Government's rightful claim-- that is, the total amount it may take in taxes-- will be determined by how we define the "legitimate functions of government." With regard to the federal government, the Constitution is the proper standard of legitimacy: its "legitimate" powers, as we have seen, are those the Constitution has delegated to it... when the federal government enacts programs that are not authorized by its delegated powers, the taxes needed to pay for such programs exceed the government's rightful claim on our wealth.
...What's a "fair share"? I believe that the requirements of justice here are perfectly clear: government has a right to claim an equal percentage of each man's wealth, and no more... the idea that a man who makes $100,000 a year should be forced to contribute ninety per cent of his income to the cost of government, while the man who makes $10,000 is made to pay twenty per cent is repugnant to my notions of justice. I do not believe in punishing success. To put it more broadly, I believe it is contrary to the natural right to property to which we have just alluded-- and is therefore immoral-- to deny to the man whose labor has produced more abundant fruit than that of his neighbor the opportunity of enjoying the abundance he has created.
... The graduated tax is a confiscatory tax. It's effect, and to a large extent its aim, is to bring down all men to a common level. Many of the leading proponents of a graduated tax frankly admit that their purpose is to redistribute the nation's wealth. Their aim is an egalitarian society-- an objective that does violence both to the charter of the Republic and to the laws of Nature. We are equal in the eyes of God but we are equal in no other respect. Artificial devices for enforcing equality among unequal men must must be rejected if we would restore that charter and enforce those laws.
One problem with regard to taxes, then, is to enforce justice-- to abolish the graduated features of our tax laws; and the sooner we get at the job, the better."
- Barry M. Goldwater
I think most of you will catch the relevance of what Senator Goldwater was referring to, and how it applies to America today. Of course, some of the numbers have changed over time. For example, under our current President (who was caught on film saying "I want to spread the wealth around"-- the very words Goldwater used to describe supporters of graduated taxes) people whose incomes are $100,000 and above now pay 95% of the federal income, and Americans who makes less than $15,000 pay nothing to the government. The inequities have not been resolved. If anything, they have grown since 1964.
Some might find it odd for Senator Goldwater to refer to taxes and taxation in moral terms, but he is absolutely right. Historically, Americans have seen the tax issue in a moral light since the colonial period. The Intolerable Acts, The Stamp Act, the Tea Act-- all of the furor around these issues stemmed from the English insistence that the Americans' wealth, as British subjects, was to be regulated as Parliament and the King saw fit-- and from the Colonial belief that each American had a right to the fruit of his own labor. For Obama supporters (or even simply big government supporters) to claim that the "people" or the government has a greater claim on someone's property than that person does, is to say that the American Revolution was immoral, and that "the last, best hope of mankind" is based on flawed ideas of greed.