Do We Need a Dictator to Restore our Freedom?

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By Mike Cronin

Over the last 240 years, our federal government has become a bloated monstrosity that bears little resemblance to the founder’s vision. It is so massive and tangled that there is little hope that we can restore it to a more reasonable size or constrain it from grabbing an ever-increasing share of our liberty and freedom. Even if we could elect a Congress and Presidency full of freedom- and liberty-minded politicians for a generation or more, it might not be enough to de-fang the beast and put it on a forced diet.  How can we fix it?

I have an affinity for the adage that whoever wants to be the president is not qualified to have the job. I certainly don’t want it, but if I was ever elected, people might call me the world’s first libertarian* dictator**.  If you think that’s a contradiction, you are only partially correct.  No doubt, in all of human history, the record of dictators tends towards loss of freedom.  But what if we had a dictator who used his or her power to shrink government and increase freedom?

Here’s how I would become subject to such a characterization:

After being elected and taking the oath of office, I would declare a state of emergency and impose martial law.  It would be the weirdest martial law ever, because there would be no curfews or tanks in the streets. No rationing, checkpoints, or firing squads.  Instead, I would go before the American people and explain that the emergency is that we are destroying the Republic with excessive government.  Too many bureaucrats have too much power to regulate our lives.

My first dictate would be to abolish the IRS and institute the Fair Tax plan.  We would no longer punish productivity; we would pay for government the same way we pay for everything else: according to how much we use. In the same stroke, I would put in place a plan to audit the Federal Reserve and end the use of fiat currency, and re-introduce currency exchangeable for precious metals or other suitable commodity. In these two acts alone, we would greatly curtail the power of the government by removing its prerogative to confiscate our money before we see it, and its ability to confiscate our wealth by devaluing the currency we have been allowed to keep.

I would also announce to the world that the vast bulk of our armed forces based abroad would be returning to US territory in calibrated withdrawals from foreign lands.  Our defense strategy would focus on protecting US territory and US interests in international sea- and airspace. In this way, military spending could be reduced without reducing military strength.  Indeed, such a pull-back would allow the armed forces a much-needed breather to reconstitute after decades of continuous warfare and deployments.  No doubt, some countries would not be happy with us, while others, including some adversaries, would be ecstatic.  It would certainly disrupt the balance of power in many regions…but it would not alter the fundamental truth in the global balance of power: The US has the most powerful military and the economic might to back it up.

Next, I would turn to the various departments of the executive branch.  I would call in each incumbent cabinet-level secretary/director to defend the constitutionality of the operations, or even the very existence, of their department – on the basis of how it protects the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the citizens.  Some would have an easy job of it, especially the Departments of Defense and Justice, and perhaps the Director of National Intelligence (though he or she would have a tough time convincing me domestic intelligence operations do more constitutional good than harm!).  Some would have a very tough time indeed, such as the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Education, Energy, and the Interior.

Departments with unsatisfactory answers would be on the chopping block for re-organization, mission reductions, or even complete dismantlement.  The chief of every department left standing would be under orders to examine all of their operations and to de-regulate anywhere such operations do not protect the life, liberty, or property of citizens.

There are innumerable issues that would have to be addressed during such a departmental shake up:  Welfare. Social Security. Immigration. Guns. Abortion. Drugs. Trade. All manner of regulations. The list would be quite long, but always the test for each would be simple: How does a program, regulatory structure, function, etc. protect the rights of the citizens? Is the coercive power of the federal government the right way to address the issue?  If the answer to the first question is that it does not, or to the second, no, then that program would be on the chopping block for re-design, privatization, or elimination.

Of course, such a scheme (getting elected on a “libertarian dictator” platform) is pretty much a pipe dream, but the idea that it will take some unorthodox leadership to re-align the Republic to the founders’ vision and restrict the government to its Constitutional limits is very timely.

*Note that my use of the word “libertarian” (little l) should not be construed as an endorsement for the (Big L) Libertarian Party.

**There is a book by the name of “The Libertarian Dictator” (published in 2015).  I’ve never read it, but if any of the ideas I espouse in this post were first put forth in said book, I yield credit to the author.

 

 

The Death of Income Taxes

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By  Mike Cronin

Imagine three of your neighbors come to you and tell you that as a group you are all going to vote on raising $10,000 for a playground. You’re don’t have kids, or they are grown and living on their own, so you vote no.  The other three all have kids, so they vote yes…and demand that you pay your “fair” share or they will beat you up.  They also decide that the more money you have, the more you have to pay.  Since you kids have moved out, you have more disposable income than any of them, so your “fair” share turns out to be half of the cost, or $5000, while each of their fair shares turn out to be about 1/6th of the cost, or about $1666 each. The three neighbors enter your house, find your safe, demand you open it, then they take $5000 from you.  They also demand that you assemble paper work that proves you don’t actually owe even more than the $5000, and give it to them by mid-April. You decide that it’s better to pay the $5000 and show proof that you don’t have to pay even more than to get beat up, so you spend several hours digging through your banking documents, and submit your financial “proof” that you paid enough.

The above scenario is a microcosm of how our tax system works today. The majority voted to take the property of the minority and use it to pay for something the minority didn’t ask for and doesn’t need or want. Our current system is confiscatory, that is, your money is confiscated from you. Worse, as your income goes up, so does the percentage the government (i.e. your neighbors) takes from you.

There are few ways you have of influencing the amount that’s taken from you: You can hide money at the risk of getting beat up by your neighbors and having even more money stolen (i.e. income tax evasion); you can make less money so you have to pay less (lowering your income – at the expense of your quality of life); you might find ways to protect some of your money for now in exchange for paying later (like certain retirement plans); and you might try finding different neighbors who will promise (but fail) to steal less of your money (i.e. elect a different set of politicians). Regardless of whatever trick you use to make the taxes a little less painful, you take it for granted that such a parasitical system is a permanent fixture of life.

It wasn’t always like this, and it doesn’t have to stay this way. The modern income tax didn’t become a constant monkey on the backs of Americans until 1913.  Imagine that: from 1776 until 1913, with a few exceptions, our government managed to function without stealing money from us.  It can be that way again.

What if instead of coercing you to pay for a playground (or any other bit of government) you don’t want, your three neighbors find enough like-minded folks to form a corporation, pitch in some seed money to buy or lease land, get the playground built, then they charge a small access fee to use it? No one forces anyone else or intrudes on their financial life. Government involvement is reduced to providing an enforcement tool for the contracts between the playground company and the builders, and providing routine police protection and emergency response. Government stays small, because it isn’t involved in building facilities or providing services that can and should be offered competitively in the private sector.  Your burden is tiny – your sales taxes pay for contract enforcement, emergency response, and the courts.

This method of raising funds for government is called a consumption tax.  You only pay for what you use, and only for how much of it you use. No one steals your money, and you don’t have to prove anything to anyone about your finances.

There have been various proposals for such a system.  The most comprehensive that I’ve seen is called “The Fair Tax.”  You can learn about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsqjW3_5Lhw

The Fair Tax is not perfect, and it has no shortage of critics.  Most of those critics would lose something if the Fair Tax were enacted.  IRS employees would no longer be required. Tax preparation businesses would become obsolete.  If our tax system wasn’t confiscatory and hideously complicated, there would be no reason for that entire industry to exist. Politicians would lose a lot of power under such a scheme. Regardless, the Fair Tax is a system that does not punish productivity or operate via the threat of force, so it is by default better than what we have now!

Taxation without Confiscation

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By Mike Cronin

With income taxes dues in a little over a month and presidential hopefuls in the news every day, now might be a good time to consider some changes to our tax code.  I’ve opined in previous posts that it is not greedy to want to keep what you earn, but it is the essence of greed to want what others have earned.  Our current tax and fiscal policy system is fueled by the greed of politicians who promise things they have no right to give, and by the people who want what those politicians are promising. The primary weapon used for the plunder is income tax withholding, i.e. the taking of your money before you ever see it. This is called confiscatory taxation – your taxes are confiscated from you.

There is a movement afoot to take the government’s power to relieve you of your hard-earned money and put it back in to your hands.  The general idea is to replace the confiscatory income tax with a consumption-based tax – which means taxing you on what you buy and consume instead of on what you make. The most notable proposal for a consumption-based tax system is called the Fair Tax.

The philosophical difference between the confiscatory system we have now and a consumption based system is stark.

The confiscatory system requires the government take money from you by force (i.e. the threat of arrest and punishment for not filing/paying).  It encourages politicians to use taxes to fund elements of the government that have no Constitutional right to exist, and worse, to use taxes to change behavior. It places a huge compliance burden on you and businesses. Lastly, and perhaps most egregiously, it fuels envy politics by allowing demagogues to cry for the rich to pay an ever-increasing portion of the tax bill, while allowing nearly half the population to consume an enormous amount of government benefits and entitlements w/o consequence or motivation to change. Worst of all, the harder you work and the more you produce, the more you are taxed. Americans have accepted this for a while, but we are beginning to wake up and see that punishing productivity is insane – if you want more productivity, jobs, and economic growth.  On the other hand, if you want power over millions, a good way to obtain it is to divide and conquer by pitting the masses with low incomes against the few with extraordinary incomes.

A consumption-based taxation system more closely aligns government revenue collection with the morality most of us follow every day.   First, it allows the taxpayer much more control over how much tax he or she will pay, and it puts the government in the role of beneficiary instead of bully.  Second, it more logically aligns with how we pay for almost everything else in life. (E.g. if we don’t buy much jewelry, then we aren’t forced to pay for jewelry).  A person (or business) with large consumption habits is presumably using more government than someone with low consumption habits. Under a consumption-based taxation system, big consumers will pay more for government than the small consumer, and income will no longer be a factor.  In short, people will pay their taxes in direct proportion to how much they consume instead of how much they make.   This will return some of the power Washington stole from us and put back in our hands. Oh, and it will mean no more 1040s and no more IRS!

Sounds eminently fair to me.