Yes, the US Constitution incorporated a dreadful and unjust compromise. Our founders chose to proceed with forming a less imperfect union that would, they hoped, eventually complete the task of making all men free of every form of tyranny. The compromise was in part a recognition that the state could possess only the powers granted it by the people. As it happened, a significant proportion of ‘we the people’ declined to grant the to-be-formed government the power to prohibit them from using force against some men to coerce them to labor for their “owner’s” benefit and submit to being held as chattel. The state was prohibited from preserving and protecting the rights of some men simply because they were different.
Then, roughly seven score and nine years ago, men and women previously deprived of their right to liberty had it redeemed. Abraham Lincoln commanded an army which fought so that other men would cease and desist from taking by force another man’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Men died to preserve “a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
The progressive tax code is an equally unjust compromise. Using the state’s power to confiscate X% of one man’s income while taking (X+Y)% of another’s is as unjust as using the state’s power to sanction one man’s ownership of 100% of another man’s life. Freedom isn’t fractional or divisible. How bloody will be the war that restores the freedom of men who are different from the rest because they have more money? A majority vote within each of the thirteen colonies made slavery legal, but not moral or just; nor can a majority vote justify a progressive tax code.
While there is a legitimate argument against any compulsory tax, there are nevertheless rational arguments for an income tax provided it has exactly TWO rates:
- 0% tax on income up to an amount necessary for basic essentials; no man should be required to contributed to the ‘general welfare’ until he has provided for his own.
- X% tax on income above that amount, up to a maximum level above which the tax rate returns to 0%. (At some point, ‘fair share’ has a meaning, does it not?) X% shall be determined as the amount necessary to fund ONLY those functions authorized in the Constitution and would vary as necessary to keep the government from overstepping its constitutional boundaries.
Free men will contribute willingly to a government which does nothing more, and nothing less, than it is empowered to do – preserve and protect every man’s inalienable rights. That the duties and functions necessary to do that should consume $3.6 trillion per year is a ludicrous proposition based upon a perversion of the law, namely the government’s arrogating unto itself the power to take from some for the benefit of others, the government’s exempting itself from the law against theft. Once the state assumes the responsibility of protecting a particular man or group over another, the rule of law is an illusion. Then there is only the rule of the gun, and the governing class, along with the people who stay on the correct side, are free; everyone else is different, everyone else is . . . a slave.
Are you free or are you different?