Thomas Paine is quoted as saying,

Government, even in its best state, is a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

George Washington said,

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force.”

Paine says government is evil and Washington says government is force. Mainstream libertarian thought says that all taxation is theft. At the root, I believe these all to be true. Government cannot rule without taxation. Government cannot tax without force. If you don’t believe me, try not paying your taxes.

As Thomas Paine suggests, then, there is a point where the best government must become a necessary evil, because the alternate is worse. The idea that government is a necessary evil conveys with it the idea that the necessary evil be tightly restrained to a limited purpose so as to do the least amount of harm.

On a federal level, these limited purposes are laid out explicitly in the U.S. Constitution. Any taxes beyond what is necessary for the government to operate at the level laid out in the Constitution is not simply unnecessary, but as Paine put it, an intolerable evil.

Pragmatically speaking, not all unnecessary taxes can be ended tomorrow. The first step is to take a hard look at what the actual role of the federal government (or state government for that matter) is and take quick, but gradual steps to dissolving unnecessary departments.

The next step is to repeal the 16th amendment, which allows the federal government to collect taxes on your income. While this may seem normal to you, the income tax was not part of the American way of life until 1913. With the dissolution of unnecessary federal departments, spending levels will easily be down far enough to have no need of taxes on your income.

The tax code does not need to be fiddled with or slightly adjusted, it needs to be revolutionized.


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