War and taxes

The saying goes “nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.”  A corollary to this would be that war increases both:

On October 3, 1917, six months after the United States declared war on Germany and began its participation in the First World War, the U.S. Congress passes the War Revenue Act, increasing income taxes to unprecedented levels in order to raise more money for the war effort…

By 1917, largely due to the new income tax rate, the annual federal budget was almost equal to the total budget for all the years between 1791 and 1916. Still more was required, however, and in October 1917 Congress passed the War Revenue Act, lowering the number of exemptions and greatly increasing tax rates.

Did you catch that?  The personal income tax didn’t begin until 1913 (after amending the Constitution to ‘justify’ it!)… and a mere four years later the federal budget for the year was equal to all it had ever spent in its history!  Do you see now why I say that in order to extinguish the fire of government run amok we must cut off the fuel of its ability to reach directly into Americans’ wallets?   With an unprecedented revenue stream at its disposal, it was inevitable the government would find lots of things to get involved in that previously had been beyond its purview or its means.

I’ve come to believe the US entry into the First World War was an enormous mistake for many reasons.  The US had no vital interest in which gang of emperors came out on top in that struggle.  And by launching ourselves into the fray, the nation gave the original “progressives” the environment to accelerate their reshaping of how our government works.  Much like today, the president at the time — Woodrow Wilson — was a “constitutional scholar” who happened to be of the opinion that the Constitution was outmoded and needed to be rewritten or scrapped!  Wartime hysterics provide great cover for such engineering.

And where does the intersection of war and ever-increasing taxes lead if left unchecked?  Here:

By the end of the year, Congress will have appropriated more money for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, when adjusted for inflation, than the United States spent rebuilding 16 European nations after World War II under the Marshall Plan.

A staggering portion of that money — $104 billion — has been mismanaged and stolen. Much of what was built is crumbling or will be unsustainable. Well-connected Afghans smuggled millions of stolen aid money in suitcases that were checked onto Dubai-bound flights. The Afghan government largely turned a blind eye to widespread malfeasance. Even as revelations of fraud and abuse stacked up, the United States continued shoveling money year after year because cutting off the financial spigot was seen as a sure way to doom the war effort.

Why do we allow Uncle Sam to pick our pockets to line those of the unscrupulous overseas?  How much entrepreneurship and vitality has our society lost because we allow confiscation of our wealth on a level the Founders would never have tolerated, in order to support foreign adventurism they would have loathed?

They say you get what you pay for.  How tragic that most Americans don’t like what we’re getting from our government… and yet, we pay for it!  I’ll say it again: minimize your tax withholdings.  Position yourself to be a “refusnik” when it comes time to file the 1040s next April.  Encourage others to do the same.  Not every revolution has to be conducted with physical weapons.  Withdrawing your consent and participation is sometimes enough.



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