While I have touched on this subject in previous blogs, I feel inspired by recent tax increases worldwide to focus on the morality of taxes. With huge increases this past century on overall taxation of the masses compared to other historic times, we need to consider and re evaluate this model in finding solutions for the economic disparities we have as individuals and nations. We must start realizing that this never ending cycle of taxation and oppression is what fuels so much of our disparity and conflicts in the world.
With my recent blog on "Nationalism", I start this writ from a presupposition that taxation and nationalism run hand in hand.
"According to Black's Law Dictionary, a tax is a "pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government ... a payment exacted by legislative authority." It "is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority" and is "any contribution imposed by government ... whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name."
Key word here is the "imposition" of a tax. It is not voluntary. It is this imposition that has killed all the great empires of the world...the Roman, British, and now the American empires...all crumbled under over reaching, nationalistic usurping of authority over masses of societies and cultures they could not control or fund. When the balance between the haves and the have nots got too far out...upheavals, revolutions and world wars took place.
Governments have historically used power and circumstances of the times to tax away success of their economies. There has been the continual cycle of taxing and fleecing the masses for the sake of a few in power and holding the money...until the masses have had enough and bring on revolution. I would be much more comfortable with today's "revolutions" IF they were based on demands of economic equality instead of religious fervor or fundamentalism. If people started counting on reasonable and responsible economics or work ethics instead of "god" to magically fill their empty pockets and purses...we might start seeing real progress on a global scale.
Higher taxes are fundamentally counter productive. Taxes are monies given to entities that didn't earn them, to provide back to the people who did. This begins the obvious cycle of putting decisions and power in the hands of people,.. most of whom have never grown or managed a business in their lives... to spend and waste as they wish. The more we give them, the more they spend. The more they spend, the more power they have in society and the world at large...yet morally...it was never their money to spend in the first place. It was especially never intended for things like re elections, limousines, television ads, unlimited international travel expenses, Cadillac insurance plans and unlimited lifelong benefits...just for having the honor to manage the national public purse or determine our laws.
The pyramid is upside down in our world. Financial and economic management should begin "at home". Individuals need to have more control and responsibility over their personal profits and wages. Families need to be morally responsible in their economic decisions and consumption levels. Towns need to be more responsible for local public works and "saving for disasters and rainy days". "Charity" should begin at home! People need to stop building their homes in flood basins or with designs that cannot withstand natures fury. When we demand that our governments protect us from every failure or natural disaster without our own participation in savings or insuring our risks...we are basically giving over our freedom and sovereignty to those unseen powers we want to "protect us". Most all of the USA founding fathers knew and wrote of the dangers of this dependence on government, yet the current cycle of dependency and personal irresponsibility is greater during this modern century than at any other time in history.
Morality in my mind requires us all to take a role in changing how our governments are funded and monitored. If we do not participate in the democratic process or exercise our rights of speech and meeting on these important issues...we will deserve whatever our government keepers give us...which won't be much. Especially after they get done taking care of themselves first. There are now many people like me writing and discussing these issues openly and yes...with lots of conflict and differing views. Yet...it is this long process of rationalization and reasoning that is needed to come up with a better taxation model and yes,..save our world as we know it.
Alternatives to taxation deserves a separate chapter or blog, but at a high level lets underline one alternative that should be given immediate consideration.
I believe in the concept of "transaction taxes". This is the most fair approach to taxation worldwide, and if it reduced or eliminated income taxes...our world would see the greatest period of economic growth and security in world history. With $3 Quadrillion (15 zeros) of total transactions in the USA alone in 2011, the US government could abolish all the existing taxes and replace the whole lot with a universal financial transaction tax of only about 0.1% (yes, that is less than 1%). Just image how this would effect the basic worker or senior citizen trying to make ends meet on their heavily taxed incomes or investments? This means that economic PROSPERITY would feed the government's requirements of funding for services. The more disposable income individuals and corporations would have, the more transactions and investments they would make...in essence increasing tax revenues to the government based on success of the economy without bilking or creating hardship for ANYONE. I would much rather reward the government for "successful" economic governance than to continually reward them for their dismal failures at controlling or wasting our resources. At the same time, it is easily arguable that with growing prosperity for ALL, governments would require LESS funding to cover the poor and truly needy. We must STOP this insane approach of "redistribution" that will never work for long...and instead tax everyone evenly and fairly for their consumption and success...without wiping out the fruits of their labors.
Taxation in its current forms does not help or turn around economies. It stifles and reduces growth and productivity. Demand for taxation to me represents failure and moral decline of a civilization. When the masses are more dependent on government than the government on the people...core morality of money and freedom have gone down the tubes. When people or companies cannot hold on to their profits or rewards for work and innovation...humans lose their motivation to work and innovate. Simple as that. Socialism and redistribution historically have NOT worked as economic models. It takes individual sovereignty and motivation to become fully productive in ones life, at whatever level, rich or poor. Working for "the state" or "the boss" is hardly ever a persons supreme ambition or measure of success. It is about individual freedom and accomplishment...which can only be attained with a democratic system of governance built on economic freedom versus institutional slavery...that will motivate the masses to work and progress. Without this, our world is doomed to continued conflicts and miserable controls of the masses. This is not moral per my definition of the word.