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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Taking Money By Force

[A shorter text of this letter appeared in The Clarion-Ledger on March 25, 2005. This is in response to an op-ed piece by Lynn Evans, a former member of the Jackson (MS) School Board.]

For those to whom government is the be-all and the end-all, this has been a time of sleepless nights. Personally, I've been sleeping like a baby.

Mississippi is number one in charitable giving. In caring for the less fortunate, our people are second to none. But that's quite different from government taking citizens' money by force.

The federal excise taxes of the 1790s were levied on the makers of certain products, including whiskey. Guest columnist Lynn Evans says these taxes were "to fund essential services" ("Founders knew more than our legislators do," March 10). In fact, they were to help pay the state debts and domestic debt which the new government had assumed.

President George Washington, accompanied by Alexander Hamilton, his treasury secretary, led troops to western Pennsylvania to quell the Whiskey Rebellion, but there was no fighting. Washington later pardoned the farmers convicted of high treason.

One result of this episode was that Thomas Jefferson's party added a platform plank opposing all direct taxes. Western Pennsylvania became a stronghold of Jeffersonian Republicanism. After Jefferson became president, these excise taxes were repealed. (It's hard to believe that was the party that is today called the Democratic Party, isn't it?!)

The federal government's original powers were very limited. The Founding Fathers certainly did not favor government involvement in education or medical care; they would be horrified to see all the things that government now sticks its big fat nose into.

Politicians have used the federal income tax, adopted in 1913, to finance the ever-expanding welfare state.

Seldom mentioned is the fact that 60-plus percent of our state budget now goes to education. Also, the number of Medicaid beneficiaries has doubled since 1999.

Suppose government did squeeze more money out of our low-income nicotine addicts. How long would it be before some new "crisis" required still more revenue?

Politicians are actually keeping a "no new taxes" campaign promise. Imagine that!

Anyone who feels undertaxed is free to make a donation to the state treasury.


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