The Bush Administration has pushed through two of the three largest tax cuts in U.S. history. The word inside the Beltway is that more are planned. These are important incremental steps on the road to getting the government off our backs and out if our pockets, and in liberating the mighty energies of the free market. But these measures still fail to address the larger question: Why not just do away with taxes altogether?
The simple fact is that everything the government does can be abolished, done better by private enterprises, or funded by outside agencies such as foreign countries that still retain their own tax systems. A quick catalog of current U.S. government activities illustrates this clearly.
Take education. As public schools deteriorate, an increasing number of parents are sending their children to private academies. Though government vouchers help offset private education costs for some of these people, it would make far more sense to privatize schools completely via abolition of all federal, state and local education taxes, with the tax payments saved by parents available to cover all their own schooling bills. This would give parents total choice over their childrens educationincluding the option to forsake paying for it altogether if a kid doesnt seem worth the expense.
Elder care has become so much a governmental responsibility over the years that most people have forgotten who used to do the job and who should be doing it againan old persons own children. In an economy made job poor by over taxation, scads of college grads are today coming home to live with their folks. Its simple equity for these same parents to come and live with these same children down the road. Soon, a mere 1.8 taxpayers will be supporting every Social Security recipient with his or her taxes. Why not have two related parties do the same job and get the old geezers off the public dole in the process? Think family values.
Government paid (with taxes) health care is another area where our society has gone off the rails. Churches used to provide this care cheaply because of low labor costs and a healthy emphasis on preparing the sickly for heaven, rather than keeping them on this plane of pain. Heck, were all going to die one day anyway. So why should healthy taxpayers continue to act as crutches for the weak and the unproductive?
All levels of government have been on an infrastructure privatizing binge for decades. Its time to fall off this wagon completely. There isnt a public highway or street in America that wouldnt be better maintained if we had toll booths on every highway exit and street corner. Vehicle repair savings alone would make such tolling popular.
But what about the military, you say? Surely that must be paid for with taxes. No, sir," I reply. Again, let history be our guide. Until relatively recently most armies were self-funded, paying their way by working as mercenaries or with straight forward plunder. We pursued the former route during the first Gulf War, when the Saudis and Kuwaitis came up with the cash to fund our conquest. This time around were poised to follow the plunder route by selling Iraqi oil. In the future, we would make it clear that if we cant make a buck invading a country, we just wont do it. A tax-free society requires that kind of honesty with its neighbors.
One other cavil might be raised against pursuing the goal of total tax abolitionservicing the national debt. How can we do this without taxation?
The answer is that were already doing it without tax money. If you look beyond all the convoluted, hypocritical, deliberately deceptive canards a tax-based system of government employs to hide the truth about its finances, youll see that weve been paying interest and principal on government securities with freshly minted money for a very long time. You didnt really think the Treasury was a pay-as-you-go operation, did you? And if some future buyers of our governments offerings dont like the thought of it being backed by nothing more than monopoly control of specialized ink, paper and high-speed presses, theyre free to buy bonds issued by Zimbabwe instead.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. But whos kidding who? Contemporary America? Civilization? Please. Any fair-minded person can see that the taxes were paying to underwrite this burger and Buffy civilization are way of line with the value received in return.
The more you look, the more obvious it becomes that taxes are not a necessary evil. They are just an evil. We can do better. Weve dared to rewrite the rules of international law, and look how much fun that turned out to be. Lets take the next step and shake the tree on so-called fiscal responsibility.
(Note to conservative think tanks. This is a satire. It is only a satire. Please do not foist these ideas on an ever susceptible Bush White House.)
© Michael Silverstein