Taxation Is Extortionby Marcel Votlucka
Apr. 13, 2009
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I sometimes wonder which is worse: the government or the Mafia. Oh wait; they may as well be the same thing.
If you’re wondering how the logic of this admittedly brash remark works itself out, try the following. It’s simple; just publicly refuse to pay your taxes. The government will come for you and the police will try to throw you in jail. If you resist, you will be shot. Pay up, or get a bullet in your head. It’s essentially the same tactic employed by Mafia thugs.
After a long week’s labor, you get the dubious pleasure of having warmongering politicians get 30 to 40 percent of your money out of your paycheck. And it is indeed your money, not theirs. They didn’t earn it. They didn’t slave away for it. They don’t own it. They have no right to demand it from you. And they certainly have no right to take it from you by force. Taxation is essentially extortion.
There’s a reason why everybody hates the IRS. There’s a reason why Republicans manage to win elections by pledging to lower taxes—even though they never do it once elected. There’s a reason why, in olden times, tax collectors took their place among the most hated and reviled professions. If some thief burglarized your home, you’d be outraged over the loss of your property. You’d likely be even more outraged if the thief had accomplices holding you at gunpoint while stealing your stuff.
So why is it okay for the government to garnish your wages under the unseen yet implicit threat of punishment if you fail to comply? Why does the IRS get to keep extensive records on your personal financial matters, with little to no accountability on their part? Why is it acceptable for some people to force you and me—under pain of death—to subsidize their fat salaries and their generous handouts to corporate welfare queens and their bloody wars abroad?
Actually, my opening suggestion may not be relevant to the present time, because nowadays we don’t make direct payments of tax to the Treasury, which is what used to be done. Before World War II, people paid their taxes to the government in one lump sum every March. But between the war expenses and the New Deal programs, the government was racking up quite a huge bill. Knowing full well that most people wouldn’t be happy having to pay higher taxes, they came up with the ingenious solution of having employers withhold the appropriate amount of money from their employees’ paychecks and sending it off to the Treasury. This was called the “withholding tax,” but a more fitting term would be garnishing the workers’ wages. This is the system that exists to this day.
Because taxes are withheld from our paychecks and paid by someone else (our employer) to the government, we don’t really see the impact of taxation in a visceral way. Instead of paying out one lump sum of thousands each year, we come home with a paycheck with “Gross pay” and “Net pay,” and gripe over the difference. You send out a tax return form and maybe, just maybe, get a refund. Someone withholds your money from you but all you ever really see is that numerical difference. You don’t see the actual money as you shell it out to the warmongers and fat cats. The end result of this is that you never really feel the full impact of taxation. Out of sight, out of mind.
Surely if you had to mail a check for four thousand bucks to the treasury every year instead of having your employer withhold it and take care of the rest, you would be pretty PO'ed. You’d shed a tear or two as you wrote out that check and stuffed it in the mailbox and watched all that cash go down the drain. And that contributes to us believing in the legitimacy of taxation. Out of sight, out of mind . . . and therefore acceptable.
How is this any different from the Mafia demanding “protection money” from storeowners at gunpoint, then using it to finance their lavish lifestyles and criminal activities? How is it okay for greedy, power-hungry politicians to take what is rightfully yours and use it to finance their own lavish lifestyles, corruption, and the murder of poor people all over the world? If for no other reason, taxation (or rather, extortion) is wrong because it forces hardworking people like you and me to pay for the mass murder of poor people abroad, so some parasite—be he or she Republican or Democrat—can go on TV and proclaim the salvation of the Republic.
Clearly, if anybody else tried to do the same thing the government does with impunity, they’d be thrown in jail in a heartbeat.
Of course, there’s little the government does with our extorted money that society couldn’t do otherwise (and better), aside from national defense—and it doesn’t even do that too well. Suppose there were no taxes and you got to keep 100 percent of the wages you work so hard for. You could donate to charity. You could save it up and start a business and provide jobs to people who need them in this ailing economy. You could afford better health care than the government could ever provide. You could afford to go to a better school. You and the greater community could have the economic means to help more people in need, if you so desired. More importantly, you would have complete control of the fruits of your labor, which should be yours by right.
Yet because of what is essentially a massive extortion racket for the purpose of financing mass murder, corruption, and waste, this is just a pipe dream. Some people would argue that this extortion racket is somehow okay because we vote for the politicians who use our money, you know, to dole it out for what they call the "greater social good." Of course, it wouldn’t matter if you got to vote for the Mafia dons because their extortion rackets would still be wrong regardless.
Here’s my big question: Why not apply the same principle to greedy, amoral politicians?
Marcel Votlucka is a writer and freelance journalist from Queens, NY. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University, and is a frequent contributor to the Stony Brook Press and the Stony Brook Independent. He is currently finishing work a novella, Neverland: Voices From the Muslim Holocaust.