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Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.

The More They Have,
The More They Want!

February 3, 2014

Benjamin Franklin wrote, In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  He was right!  With the existence of government come taxes.  Our nation learned this lesson early.   During the Revolutionary War, the government couldn’t even support its military.  When the Constitution was written, real federal taxing power was created for the purpose of funding its “limited” powers and operation.  Let us say that again: the purpose was to fund government’s LIMITED powers!  We agree that the Federal Government has, and must have, the power to tax. 

In the early years, federal taxes were generally indirect or excess/excise taxes.  Thomas Jefferson was elected, in part, because of his opposing direct taxation.  He wrote: “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry, and that his father has acquired, [is] too much, in order to spare [give] to others who . . .  have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate, arbitrarily, the first principle of association, ‘to guarantee to everyone a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.’ ”   

Over time many different types of taxes were instituted.  Then in 1913 the 16th Amendment ushered in individual income taxes, which today are unwieldy, complicated, and administered unfairly.   We also have sales, sin, and excise taxes; capital/property, social security, Medicare and the Alternative Minimum Taxes  to name a few.  Most of us work 3 ½ months a year to pay our taxes.  Each type of tax often impacts how people conduct their business and the choices they make.  Taxing capital affects choices both in the present and future.  Sales taxes affect what purchases a person makes. Income tax affects workers willingness to produce. 

Because of the 16th Amendment, the IRS was created.  Today it has too much power and intimidates taxpayers often forcing the collection of revenue almost completely outside of due process.  This deeply worries us.

Benjamin Franklin once observed, “[m]oney has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. [T]he more of it one has the more one wants!” We find this to be true of both people and governments.  Because taxes provide government with its only real source of power; governments are powerless without it.  Limiting government means necessarily limiting its spending along with limiting taxation to pay for such spending.

Congress is considering tax reform measures.  Until they deal with the voracious appetite for spending money – often money we don’t have – tax reform will not solve our problems.  However, tax reform is an important topic. Consequently, in the weeks ahead we will be discussing freedom and equality in taxation, the IRS and its intrusion into our lives, how taxes are used for “social engineering,” and the Flat tax and the Fair tax proposals. 

As we start down this road we know there will be times when folks disagree, in fact among the three of us there is not always complete agreement on this subject.  We spent a morning sitting down together and looking for consensus in order to pull this series together for you.  We hope you will find it enlightening and helpful. As always, feel free to chime in with your thoughts by writing the Daily News.  Our purpose here is to spark debate and discussion so that all of us may grow and find solutions to the issues that face us all.

Mark and Bill and John