Far from some enlightened institution, taxation began when conquerors realized that formal and continuing appropriation of a subject population's wealth was preferable to hit-and-run pillaging. For this to work, however, the rulers needed to convince the peasants that the regime would protect them from predators in return for their regular remittances. That's right: It was a protection racket, from which the racketeers and their cronies profited handsomely. For the taxpayers, there was little choice in the matter. They weren't buying protection as people buy insurance in the market, and they weren't paying dues as they would later pay dues to mutual-aid societies. They paid or they were punished. The ideology of benevolent state protection reduced enforcement costs because the ruled outnumbered the rulers and widespread tax resistance would have doomed the regime. Things have changed little in our time.Read it all.
Friday, December 07, 2012
My latest at the Project to Restore America website is titled "Romanticizing Taxation." It addresses the annoying attempt during the "fiscal cliff" controversy to portray taxation as something benign, you know, "the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society," as FDR put it. My take: