Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"No Taxation Without Representation"

It was the rallying cry for a revolution – OUR revolution.
Our glorious Founding Fathers were fed up with fickle, oppressive England. They wanted control over how their money would be taken from them for the operation of government. Unfortunately for them, and us, the question for them was not “whether we should be taxed,” but instead “how we should be taxed.”
Taxation for them and a hundred generations before them was a given: death and taxes. Few, if any, people ever wondered at the actual legitimacy of taxation itself. How else, they would ask, must government be paid for? Their skepticism of human rationality and efficacy did not lead them toward autonomy and complete liberty. It led them to think that humans would not independently and voluntarily pay for their government, and it led them, more importantly, to think that humans did not have the right to be completely free of government coercion in any form, including taxation.
Ayn Rand, of course, hadn’t yet espoused her objective ideas, and no one before her or the founding fathers had done so either, so there could be no complete respect for the human mind and, therefore, complete respect for privacy and property.
The Founders were right that England was an insufferable tyrant, but they didn’t know the extent to which this was true, so they themselves enacted in our incredible-but-flawed Constitution the very same capacity for abridgement of individual rights that their arch-enemies had done: allowing government taxation and duties and excises, allowing the regulation of interstate and foreign commerce, insisting on the protection of the “general welfare” (a clause that has caused some of the most egregious lacerations of individual rights in the last century), allowing the coining and regulation of the value of money, allowing the adoption of a post office and post roads.
All of the above are obvious violations (to the modern-day Objectivist) of individual rights, but they seemed perfectly proper to our Founders, who still maintained the skeptical belief that humans were to some degree “fallen” and prone to corruption unless regulated by a government.
The chasm between an objective (reality-based) mind and those of even our greatest Founders is broad. Since most people even now are not objective, there can be little wonder that the little bit of rope those great men gave to government has extended a thousand-fold in the last 220 years – among lesser men and women consumed by the skeptical philosophies of the last 200 years.
If we Objectivists could go back in time, our rallying cry might be “No Taxation, No Tyrants, No Time To Lose.”
It’s not as poetic, but it’s on the money.

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