Just three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a group of liberty lovers started great controversy about a tax on tea. Fast-forward to the present: We are used to being taxed on just about everything. Our houses? Taxed. Our income? Taxed. Our Internet? Not yet, but they're trying. I know we can agree that taxes are necessary for the functions of our military, and other necessary institutions. What is not necessary, however, is our tax system, particularly the federal income tax from the Revenue Act of 1913. John Locke’s “The Second Treatise of Government” influenced many of the ideas contained within our founding documents, including the concept of “property rights”. Locke believed that when we mix our labor with the land, the product is an extension of us and therefore belongs to us. As Locke says, “The labor of his body and the work of his hands we may say are properly his.” In other words, our arms and legs produce labor that ultimately results in the acquisition of property. Our arms and legs obviously belong to us, so what we gain by laboring with them is also ours. When you go to work, what are you actually doing? I will argue that you are mixing your labor (hours on the clock) with the land (the company) and the product is your paycheck. We no longer live in the times of building log cabins and chopping up firewood, so some might argue that Locke's use of the word “land” was literal and no longer applies to us. However, if you follow Locke’s argument, your paycheck is your property, and the government cannot tax that without unjustly trampling on your independence. In other words, the government is taxing an extension of the people. Not only do they take your property from you, they chop it up and give you back part of what was rightfully yours a year later. In addition to Locke, John Adams also had something to say about this. He wrote, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God ... anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist” [emphasis added]. Unfortunately, many people today don’t see their property (i.e. paychecks) being taken away because it’s become so normal. The very founding of this incredible nation held that property rights were of the utmost importance for true independence. Unfortunately, our tax codes have successfully eroded these principles. What’s to be done about it then? We need to reform the tax system. Despite the daunting nature of the word “reform,” it’s a reasonable approach when the taxes levied clearly contradict our founding documents. As passionate liberty-lovers who defend the ideas of our nation, we need to find representatives who will shield us from unnecessary government intervention. Instead of throwing boxes of tea over the sides of a ship, we can rally in the form of electing the right people who see the flaws in the current tax system. It is time to end the tax that went too far.
A Tax Too Far