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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ready for "The National Day of Mourning"?

Ambivalence: April 15 approaches
Years ago, I designated April 15 as The National Day of Mourning, for obvious reasons.  While the meme has not yet spread far (enough), my close associates expect that every April 15 they will see me beardless, as a sign of my mourning for liberty wasted. Yes: wasted. If ownership of the fruits of one's labors is, as Madison asserted** in the Federalist papers, indicative of a free or slave state (the slave owing the fruits of his labors to another), then April 15 is perhaps the best day of the year to symbolize the economic slavery of Americans, for it highlights the fact that the fruits of your labors are only as much yours as your political masters say they are.
You do not own your home as long as some government entity can claim it under "eminent domain" and give it to someone else in order to generate more tax income for the slavemasters than you pay on the same property (more and more private property is being seized and turned over to big businesses "for the good of the community").
You do not "own" your income, as long as some political animal can tax it from you any darned time they want and give it to someone else.
And make no mistake: what you pay in hidden taxes is much, much more than you see when you pay the butcher's bill on April 15.  Think anout it for a minute.  How many businesses pay taxes?  Answer: not one single one.  Not one.  Sure, the governments collect taxes from businesses, but those taxes are simply passed on to the purchasers of those businesses' goods and services... all the way down the line.
So, when you buy a $10.00 item at your local grocery, think how many different businesses' taxes you must pay to purchase that item.  The local store remits various taxes and licensing to various governments, and it MUST include those taxes as a part of its cost of doing business... in the cost of the goods it sells you.  Then there's the distributor who delivered the goods.  The (various and sundry) manufacturer(s) of the item.  The shipper of the raw materials to the manufacturer and the suppliers of the raw materials themselves. In this simple (overly  simplified) model, in order to purchase your $10.00 item, yoju have to pay the taxes that are hidden from you of at least five other entities.
And those hidden taxes are just the beginning of how government alone saps your economic freedoms. Consider the enormous burdens of all the various regulatory agencies on each of those businesses. Not a small burden at all. Consider the circumstances Jay Lancaster, a small business owner speaking before the U.S. House Small Business Committee, faces:
“My small eight-person business is regulated by over eight federal agencies. Those eight regulatory agencies are just the tip of the iceberg because we also have to comply with state and local regulations. The amount of paperwork associated with these regulations is staggering and is certainly not something that one person alone can handle. I don’t have compliance officers, accountants and lawyers on staff to handle regulatory compliance. My wife acts as our ‘compliance officer’ and my daughter, much to her dismay, is forced to spend countless hours a month just on compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration....   As a businessman, I do not measure the cost of regulation solely in money spent on outside contractors but I also calculate it in the time my employees and I have to spend on the regulation itself. I think this is the worst cost of all, because every minute I spend on regulation takes me away from growing my business or, better yet, playing with my grandchildren. Every dollar I spend on an accountant is a dollar I cannot reinvest in my business, which is my family’s future.”  
Every dime businessmen like Lancaster must spend to comply with the gargantuan regulatory burden must be shared with the consumer, or Lancaster and his like will simply have to close their doors.
Another piece of change from your pockets to prop up government meddling.
But of course economic slavery isn't solely due to abuse of taxation and other governmental abuses; it is also the result of another weakness of the sheep who submit to such abuses: excessive debt resultant from, well, laziness and greed.
Yep.  The same laziness and greed that produces a "grab the other guy's money and give it to me" attitude toward governmental theft also convinces people that placing their lives in hock to bankers is a good idea, and so millions of us are in debt up to our eyeballs and paying more in interest to creditors than we are gaining in interest from savings.
So, April 15 stands in my mind as a day of mourning for the death of that myth of American independence and self-reliance, of freedom and liberty, as long as our taxes go largely to pay bureaucrats to abuse us whenever the whim hits them (see: TSA, the fear most Americans have of the IRS, the tyranny of the EPA and so many of the other alphabet soup agencies *sigh*) and Americans are willing to, for the most part, place their lives in hock to creditors.
And yet... ambivalence.  While I might prefer that the billions spent liberating Iraq were spent in prize monies for development and implementation of energy independence from outside sources, I recognize that as long as the military is serving in a manner specifically designed to protect American citizens from foreign attacks, then that money is at least being spent in a Constitutionally legitimate fashion for one of the very, very few Constitutionally legitimate functions of our national government.  And so, I waffle a little in my mourning this year, as I have for the past two years.
A little.  I'll leave the moustache when I shave.
**Madison's explaination of the apportionment of representation, addressing the slavery issue and arguing the Southern/slaveholding states' position:
"In being compelled to labor, not for himself, but for a master; in being vendible by one master to another master; and in being subject at all times to be restrained in his liberty and chastised in his body, by the capricious will of
another... " [shades of Martha Stewart and the TSA haunt the final clauses of that comment... ]