Perhaps it is true that death and taxes are inevitable, but we can always strive to minimize taxes and to increase our health and wellbeing while we are still alive. Federal income tax did not exist prior to 1914, except for a brief period during the Civil War (phased out by 1872). This is less than 100 year ago, so we have American citizens alive today whose parents did not pay a dime in Federal income tax – hardly the distant past. Furthermore, mandatory withholding was not established until 1943 (Current Tax Payment Act). This allowed the government to take the American citizens money in monthly or weekly “installments” (pay as you go), a psychological ploy making it appear not so bad to the average tax payer. This “pay as you go” technique is similar to making car payments over a period of time allowing the car dealer to persuade the customer to buy a more expensive car that the customer really should not purchase.
In 1914, the tax rate was 1% on taxable net income above $3000 with the maximum of 7% for incomes above $500,000. During World War I, the top tax rate rose to 77%, went down slightly during the Roaring 20s, but then during World War II, the top rate skyrocketed to 91%! It was not until World War II that the majority of Americans were directly affected by the income tax when exemptions were lowered and a 5% “Victory Tax” was introduced for incomes of over $624. By 1945, nearly three quarters of Americans where paying income tax. The year 1945 strikes me as being neither innocent times nor the distant past.
War can only be justified to stave off the coercive domination of a foreign army or an existing domestic tyrannical regime. The type of violence that blocks coercive force is legitimate. Any group that initiates violence against another group only serves to block cooperation among all the people. In other words, violent coercive acts are the enemy of freedom-loving individuals and the friend of an authoritarian, tyrannical state and its allies. This type of violence is illegitimate.
War only serves the ever increasing dominance of the state over the individual. War and other forms of violence decrease the wealth and freedom of the individual and of society. During time of war, including so-called “Cold Wars”, society’s attention is diverted away from making useful goods and providing desired services. Trade between the warring countries comes to a grinding halt. Civilization’s progress slows down or even reverses.
In the United States, the Cold War led to the rise of the Military Industrial Complex, making a few wealthy at the expense of everyone else both in the United States and abroad. It did not take very many decades of the Cold War before there were U.S. military bases in the majority of countries in the world. The Cold War diverted a significant percentage of the World’s raw natural resources and individual ingenuity away from new innovations, progress and increased wealth, to the creation of property destroying, people killing war machinery. The actions of the U.S military over the last 50 years, causing death and destruction whenever it rears its ugly head, is one reason some international organization’s like al-Qaeda have been so successful at signing up new recruits.
War is much worse, both for society’s progress as a whole, and to the individual’s freedom, than even Socialistic-style domestic regulations placed on commerce. The primary reason is that war and violence permanently destroy lives and property. Governments use war to both justify emergency measures that take away its citizen’s freedom and property, and to increase their hold over their own citizens. War forces young men and women to give up their freedom and even their lives in their prime.
I close by paying even more attention to the wisdom of our founding fathers from that “distant and innocent past”
Here is an excerpt from the original George W’s farewell address:
“Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: — neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; — consulting the natural course of things; — diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed — in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our Merchants, and to enable the Government to Support them — conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit; but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that `tis folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; — that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character — that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from Nation to Nation. `T is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.”
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