On the Other Hand...

Taxation as Rape

by Jim Davies

Many years ago I recognized that taxation is theft, and have announced that profound truth in scarlet on the rear end of my car ever since; but recently I had a brief correspondence with a State Senator in these parts during which I realized that it also closely resembles rape.

The Senator concerned is probably the least damaging of all of them, so although he was dead wrong on this subject (denying the truths below but never even trying to present his reasons) I'll spare him the shame of public exposure and with-hold his name.

The context of the exchange was that he had proposed that Tax Type A (on property) was better than Tax Type B (on income, whatever that is) because it is, allegedly, harder to keep raising. Possibly, he's quite right; and of course it's nice to hear a politician say he prefers low taxes to high ones.

I didn't ask him this, but probably should have: if low tax is better than high tax, and somehow we continuously achieve a tax reduction, precisely when does that general principle cease to be true and become false? When the level of taxation is down to 50% of today's level? To 25%? To 10%? To 5%?

That's to say, when does Good become Bad, and - more importantly - WHY?

Penetratingly logical questions like that do not sit well with even the best of the Political Class, so I feel confident that if I had asked it, he would have slithered out, somehow, of any obligation to present a reply.

Anyhow, back to the rape analogy: my response to his preference for Tax A over Tax B was that yes, possibly it's less devasting to be raped on a soft bed in a warm room, than to be raped on cold concrete in a dark alley surrounded by garbage; but that that was a distinction without a difference. Rape is rape, and is horrible and repulsive and crippling, and all those adjectives apply also to tax and that is the point that should engage his attention. I'd hoped, you see, that this well-meaning Pol would stop trying to perfume the tax-rape, and start trying to stamp it out like vermin.

Fat chance. Politicians will no more terminate taxes than a rapist will end his assault, just because the maiden says, "Please, kind Sir, leave me in peace!" Both classes of humanoid are steamed up in an uncontrollable passion of assault, hopelessly intoxicated on the raw, brutal power they are exercising over their respective victims. They will not let up until they are done; and then, tomorrow, they may very well do it again. Serial rapists are among the very few criminals who, in a free society, would actually have to be kept out of circulation behind some kind of bars. So might serial taxers.

The Irony of Power

It's ironic, really. Just as no rapist will let up in mid-assault (unless disturbed by some superior force) nor will any Pol abolish taxes. If he did, he would no longer have any power over others, and power over others is what defines a Pol; it is to him what oxygen is to the rest of us. He'd no longer be a Pol! The only people with the power to abolish taxes are the very people who will never, ever use it. So when my Senator friend replied that he did "not know anyone who thinks tax will ever end," he was writing a truism; it had nothing to do with whether they could and should end, but with whether they "will" end. He had an excellent point; they may not.

Not, that is, if we just vote for that action; for voting is exactly analagous to our maiden's plea to her rapist, above. Elected politicians will do a dance and play a shell game and possibly even reduce them a little to prove their sincerity, but - will they end them? Not in a million years.

And if that is true, then you and I are in almost the same predicament as the unfortunate maiden. We have very few choices: we can lie back and pretend to enjoy it, or we can fight and struggle and scream, and that's about it. In one respect we're even worse off than she is, because in her case there may be some small chance that screaming will bring a rescuer with superior force; in our case, no such rescuer exists.

One Hope

We do, however, have one small advantage over our unfortunate maiden; and here, the rape analogy breaks down. There is just one action we could take, that she could not, which may frustrate the attacker.

The advantage we have is that of numbers.

Suppose a small minority - say, 5% of us - want to abolish taxes. Obviously, voting for it is a dead loss; 5% will never elect any tax-zapper. But what that 5% can do is to bring the system to its knees. Even 5% of Us is a far larger number than 100% of Them!

How, quite, can such a minority bring down the taxing system? - there are many ways, legal and otherwise. I've heard that some will, for example, file not one Form 1040 per season but ten or twenty; each correcting some minor error in the one before. A neat way to double the workload and thereby glue up the system.

Ultimately though, I've come across no better advice than that of four centuries ago by Etienne de la Boëtie: to withdraw support, so causing the Collossus to collapse. Government absolutely depends on the implicit support of the people whom it oppresses; once the people walk away from it, government will be no more and its taxes will follow it down the tubes.