Join us for debate at our Facebook Group, Liberty Cafe!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

On Taxes and Patriotism

There's a man that goes by the name Paul Begala who has apparently determined that its your patriotic duty to pay your taxes so the President can go on fixing the nation's woes without worry that you may have issues with how exactly he's doing it.

Paul Begala is an asshole.

Now, his argument centers around the Tax Day Tea Parties and the ignorant assumption that its participants are against taxes wholesale. The majority of Tea Party protesters are against massive government and wasteful spending, not taxes. Begala said that the first Tea Party was against taxation without representation, which is PARTLY true; the orginal tea party was also against government interference in the tea import businesss. Behold:
In 1772, the Indemnity Act 1767 expired (ah, for the days when British Acts had sunset clauses), thereby eliminating the full refund of the 25% tax on tea exported to the colonies. A new Act reduced the refund to three fifths, restored some other taxes repealed in 1767 and kept the Townshend tax in place. Result: a government-imposed increase in the price of tea and a consequent collapse in tea sales. The East India Company faced ruin - it needed a bailout!

Then as now, the correct bailout solution would have been to remove the government-imposed barriers to business, and let the East India Company sells its teas competitively (and this was what the Company asked for). To an extent, this was what happened. The Tea Act 1773 dropped the ban on the Company selling tea to America directly, so removing the middlemen and lowering prices, and restored the full refund of the 25% British tax. This enabled the Company at long last to sell tea cheaper than the smugglers.

But the Townshend duty remained, an affront to Americans and a symbol to the British government. Realizing the problem, the East India Company arranged for it to be paid in London or otherwise hidden. It was, in effect, an early Stealth Tax.

What happened next is well known - the Boston Tea Party was a protest against British usurpation of American liberties, not high taxes (as they had been reduced by the Tea Act 1773). Yet it was all the result of unnecessary government intervention in the market because some bright spark thought that it would be good for a company to have an income stream guaranteed by government.

In short, if we’d had a genuinely free market in tea in the 1700s, the tensions that led to the American Revolution would have been significantly reduced.
Begala has attempted to create a meme relabeling Tax Day, Patriot's Day. Apparently, for all his love of his country, he couldn't have taken two seconds to notice that Patriots' Day is the day remembering the Battle of Lexington and Concord. September 11th is known as Patriot Day. But do not fret over that, Mr. Begala, we know your Bush-hating, Obama-worshiping, cynical Iraq War ignorance is purely out a love of your country and has nothing to do with the fact you've been the attack dog of the Democratic Party for decades.

Conservatives and most libertarians have no problem paying taxes. Taxes alone are not the problem. The problem is the size and scope of taxes, what is being taxed, who is being taxed and how those tax dollars are being spent in the name of the citizenry that was taxed. Currently, those tax dollars are going towards things a good number of people don't like. Unless I'm mistaken, opposition to growing government spending was something Mr. Begala was against not too long ago (scroll to the 9:57pm post).

You don't have to like the government to be a patriot. All you have to do is love your country and the principles that it was founded on, even if you differ on the interpretation.

No comments: