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Queens Chronicle

Constitutional bunk

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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

Letter writer Ed Konecnik finds it perturbing that some folks don’t believe in his philosophical world (“The ‘inequality’ canard,” Jan. 16). Since he refers to the Constitution all the time, he’s either a Constitutional lawyer or one of those laughable right-wingers who carry around a pocket Constitution and flash it at every progressive they see as if it was a cross to vanquish a vampire. Back down, you Commie, I’ve got a pocket Constitution! The constitutionality of something is determined by the courts and ultimately the Supreme Court, and what the pocket flashers or Ed thinks about its interpretation means naught. They only refer to it to be some kind of pseudo-authority on democracy and imagined freedoms.

His real beef with our system and progressive ideas is any “redistribution of wealth,” the idea Karl Marx used when he wrote about socialism. Notice how the righties always call progressive ideas “socialism” so as to conjure up the image of cold war Russia, our then-enemy, and how maybe one day soon, if we’re not careful, we’ll all have to live in tiny cold, state-allocated apartments, drive soot-spewing Trabant cars, have our jobs and pay dictated by the state, and worse yet, wear big fur hats in winter. They think a progressive government will lead us down this path. How silly!

Ed is just peeved that he has to pay taxes, and he doesn’t like where the tax money is spent. He’s against government benevolence, and programs that give those in need a helping hand. In other words, let the needy eat cake. It’s their fault they’re needy, tough on them. The wealthy have a right to keep all of their money even if their less fortunate brothers and sisters are starving. It’s right in character with the right-wing platform of “no help” to punish those who don’t have enough to get by in life, and those who haven’t found a job in six months and need a few bucks to live. The punishment is supposed to teach them a lesson and make them crawl out of their desperation, or not. Kicking somebody when they’re down doesn’t help anybody. The punishers are like Scrooges who never have a change of heart.

Tyler Cassell

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Truthseeker posted at 7:13 am on Sun, Feb 2, 2014.

    Truthseeker Posts: 1

    Tyler , to correct you we are by law a Constutional Republic not a Democracy and there is no room for interpertation. The rule of law which is supposed to apply equally to everyone is the basis for the Republic. We are a Republic being run as a Democracy The constitution is not open to interpertation by the supreme court its only job is to rule as to whether the LAW is being broken or not. The constitution is the law and it is not designed to protect the people so to speak. it is designed to LIMIT the federal government. We the people remember? Government rules at the consent of the people and under a Democracy you buy votes . Democracy is mob rule at the expense of the individual and the majority. As for your claims of Letter writer ED not liking how his taxes are spent , well he has that right. When someone threatens you with taking your assests and or throwing you in jail or even worse threating you with a gun because they say you owe them a precentage of your labor thats extortion. If the Mafia is pursued for shaking down people why is it legal for the government to do it?
    The consequence of codifying the power to legally steal within a nation's charter is to doom the country to concerted pernicious attempt to seize control of it by characters of mendacious intent. -- The power to tax is the power to destroy, it has been said; now the power to vote is the power to tax (and hence destroy), and so moral corruption slowly seeps throughout the entire national character rather than being contained by we the people through the RULE OF LAW.
    You obviously have no family that has suffered under communist rule and therefore have nothing to weigh your lofty idealism against. I see no one fleeing to europe to be a socialist, nor any communist countries. They would welcome you with open arms..
    All events have consequences.
    H.L. Mencken, in "On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe", pub. 1920, wrote..
    "The state, or, to make matters more concrete, the government, consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting "A" to satisfy "B". In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods."
    If the power to vote is the power to steal, then, self-evidently, controlling the outcome of the vote is the paramount game in town for bad men. E.g., the Woman's Suffrage movement had more on its mind than doubling the voting base with the inclusion of a large class of persons who seldom paid the bills; it had its eye on establishing a direct income-tax and furthering and expanding "nanny" government roles in regulating business (AKA suppression of competition as some industry heads dominate the regulatory boards), entrenching already-claimed fiefdoms (such as the Post Office, whose competition-destroying antics had prompted Lysander Spooner's* seminal No Treason already by 1870) as well as more directly intruding into the personal liberties of the citizenry by arbitrary campaigns against certain types of property (starting with "Demon Rum").

    The overriding ambition of the aforementioned characters of mendacious intent was to first entrench themselves by fulfilling a promise (per Mencken above), then spend the other 95% of their time utilizing their legislative majorities to ramrod agendas no citizen would approve of if he could interpret the impenetrable bureaucratese. The Great Depression and oligarchic four-term reign of Franklin Roosevelt mark the apogee of the pre-Cloward-Piven phase.
    The productive, liberty-seeking citizen cannot vote his way out of this; the last hundred-fifty years is evidence enough of the relentless advance of the state at his expense. Tea Parties, SwarmUSAs and other new third parties may seem fresh and exciting (and may be good places to encounter like-minded members of the opposite sex), but they're not going to succeed in their intended purpose, since the bad guys are way, way ahead of them, and have glacial patience.
    Any solution which consists of agitating for government to "do something" or acquire position within it is a fake solution.

    If you set out to ruin a country, the smartest way to do it would be
    to borrow money and use it to increase the citizens' standard of living.
    -- Allen Thornton, Laws of the Jungle
    Let's watch Allen count the ways in which it presently (circa twenty years ago, when Laws of the Jungle was written; it's much worse now) enervates the nation:

    ...Under the present system, taxpayers have practically no sense of actually paying taxes. Taxes are withheld from paychecks and included in the price of purchases. In this respect, our tax system resembles the Soviet model. Russians don't pay taxes; the cost of government is built into every Russian transaction. The reason for this deception is perfectly clear: no taxes, no complaints.


    The great growth of our government in the twentieth century has been accomplished in conjunction with foreign wars and increased redistribution. As a temporary evil in our fight against fascism (a highly centralized, militarily aggressive form of government), the state introduced the withholding tax. Our fight against fascism quickly turned into our fight against communism (a highly centralized, militarily aggressive form of government), and withholding tax became permanent.

    Without withholding taxes, it is doubtful whether the United States could maintain the highly centralized, militarily aggressive form of government that has been in power since World War I.

    Withholding tax achieves two great goods for the government. First, it drafts all employers into an army of unpaid tax collectors. Second, withholding tax deceives the taxpayer. If he actually had to pay taxes from money that he received, he would be very angry with the government. He isn't angry now. Instead he grumbles at his employer for giving him so little "take-home pay."


    If withholding tax is misleading, social security tax is downright sinister. The employer not only withholds a percentage of his workers' pay (currently about 7.5%), but he must match that amount from his own business.

    A worker believes that his gross pay is $16,000. But his employer must match that $1200 which is withheld for social security, and so he sees the employee's gross pay as approximately $17,200. Since the employee never sees the additional $1200, he is totally ignorant of one of his biggest tax payments.


    Social security taxes contribute to the distrust between employer and employee, but the state doesn't mind friction between its citizens. In fact, politicians thrive on conflict and ill will. Considering how useful the idea of hiding taxes is to the state, it is surprising that we have any awareness of taxes at all.

    If the United States pursues this policy of tax obfuscation, we can expect to see the social security model enlarged and extended. Under some future system, the employer will simply pay all his workers' taxes. The employee will not be troubled by confusing withholding statements. The only time a wage earner will come into contact with the IRS will be when he is due a refund. Under such a system, the majority of people (like the Russians) can he persuaded that they pay no taxes at all.


    Some taxes are so deeply hidden that no one but a specialist ever thinks about them. Import duties, for instance, are virtually invisible. These taxes achieve two useful purposes for the government. Duties raise money without antagonizing the population, and legislators can use them to grant a privileges to favored industries. In addition, the general population can he persuaded that such taxes patriotically save jobs.

    A duty increases the cost of a product and that increase is paid either to the state or to the state favored industry. Such taxes may seem ideal from the government's point of view, but there is a problem. If a state employs import duties too aggressively, it risks retaliation from foreign governments. That retaliation can damage the nation's unprotected industries. Its most productive enterprises (the ones that need no protection) can lose important overseas markets.

    The result of import duties is curious indeed. Without the state's interference, people tend to work at jobs where they are most productive. Let's say Americans can grow corn very inexpensively and Italians can make shoes at a very low cost. Americans sell corn to Italians and Italians sell shoes to Americans. But if American shoemakers are successful in keeping out Italian shoes, the Italians counter by keeping out American corn. Then we have Italians growing corn and Americans making shoes, the very jobs that they are least successful at performing. Duties, then, seem designed to destroy the wealth and productivity of the whole world.


    Another deceptive method for gathering money is the excise tax or tax on a specific item. In America, a sizable amount of money is collected in the sale of gasoline, alcohol and cigarettes. Raising these taxes is very popular. Since the gasoline tax is used on highway upkeep, it is close to a user's fee and hence not very objectionable. The taxes on alcohol and tobacco have few critics since they are perceived as morally correct by the large segment of the population that feels the government ought to uplift the people.

    The state can only raise excise taxes so far; after a certain point, bootleggers enter the market and the state's revenues begin to decline. Another problem with the "sin taxes" is their moral foundation. Is it right for government to benefit from customs it defines as repugnant? Should it depend financially (as it does) on continued drinking and smoking? These considerations persuaded the Prohibitionist party to oppose the taxing of alcohol. In general, though, the government follows a straightforward procedure with a morally questionable practice:

    1. Deplore it.
    2. Prohibit it.
    3. Monopolize it.


    If sales taxes were levied on all items, they could distribute the tax burden homogeneously. If people paid taxes on every purchase from food to savings accounts, taxation would be proportionate to money use. In America only the states and cities impose sales taxes, but the federal government has trouble resisting any possible source of revenue.

    As withholding tax turned every employer into a tax collector, the sales tax turns every clerk and salesperson into an unpaid government agent. The tax creates remarkably little ill will. The clerk/collector is as much a victim as the taxpayer, and the clerk/collector is in the position of serving the payer/customer, who is always free not to make any particular purchase. Furthermore, the tax is usually forgotten. Few people notice that they pay $1.79 for a $1.69 can of shaving cream. The only time a person is upset by this systematic government directed shortchanging is when he makes a large purchase. He then discovers that 6% of $1000 is $60, and he wonders whether he can save money by buying his TV in a different state. He doesn't reflect on the fact that 6% of five hundred $2 purchases also adds up to $60.


    The federal government receives 8 or 9 % of its revenue from a corporation tax. This is a very neat trick since corporations don't exist. They are no more than useful legal fictions. Perhaps the government could tax unicorns in order to give us human beings a break.

    Corporations don't exist, but people do, and people ultimately pay corporation taxes as a hidden cost in the goods and services they purchase. The real problem with corporation taxes is that they divert useful work into tax avoidance work. The tax system contains thousands of incentives for clever tax avoiders. At present the system has created a truly dismal state of affairs in American business: The corporation that can avoid its tax burden is as likely to succeed as the corporation that gives people a product they want.


    In recent years, the various governments of the United States have received 35 to 45% of the gross national product in taxes. These figures mean that the average citizen pays 35 to 45% of his income to government; but if you are an average citizen, you have no sense of paying so much.

    You jump into your car, drive to the market and buy a six-pack of beer. You may notice that you pay a sales tax on the beer, and maybe you remember that the gas in your car is taxed. But are you paying any other taxes? Remember that the car manufacturer had to pay a corporation tax and that sales taxes were involved in selling the car. The beer manufacturer passed his corporation taxes on to you along with the special excise tax on beer. Consider the fact that the beer and the car had to be delivered by truckers. Did they pay any taxes that they had to pass on to you? The trucker has to pay for fuel permits, base plates, axle taxes, ton mile taxes and special fuel taxes. There is also a special excise tax on their tires. You could hardly calculate all the taxes involved in the simplest transaction and they are all invisible.

    In order to uncover all the hidden taxes you pay, you must consider that you are ultimately paying for human labor. Each person involved in producing and marketing your beer, each person involved in creating and maintaining your car has his own taxes, taxes which he must ultimately pass on to you. If you do business in America and have no special method for avoiding your taxes, you end up paying that 35 to 45%. You just don't feel it.


    Since taxation is the forcible expropriation of money by the state, politicians would like to hide the size of the financial transfer and disguise its violent character. In America, nearly all taxes are collected by manufacturers, merchants and employers. The rules of the game are simple: If you want to do business in the United States, you become an unpaid tax collector.

    There remains one form of tax that is apparent to the payer and that he is personally responsible for paying: the property tax. Like manufacturers, merchants and employers, the property owner is very cooperative with the government because he has something to lose. Those who have a little something that may be taken away from them are the easiest to control. They are unlikely to resist being drafted into government service, and besides, they are not actually paying taxes but only collecting them. Their role as unpaid tax collector sometimes gives them opportunities for and knowledge about tax avoidance unavailable to the average citizen.

    Let's say that each person knew exactly how much he was paying in taxes and that he was personally responsible for giving the money to the government. Not all the agents and armies in the world could extract from the American people what they are paying now.


    From time to time, a call goes up for tax reform or even tax reduction. When legislators respond to these demands, the general public is in trouble. Tax reduction or reform is nothing more than tax concealment:

    The call for business to "carry its fair share of the tax burden" is typical of tax reform. Since business will simply pass the burden on as a hidden sales tax, the general population will still pay it.

    Tax concealment inevitably leads to tax increases. It may take four or five years, but once the tax has been hidden, politicians will increase it to extract more money. Make no mistake. Tax reduction or reform means tax increase.


    It may seem surprising that government, with all its power and duplicity, cannot collect enough money to satisfy its clients' demands. But the demand for free money is infinite, and citizens do have the veto power when excessive taxation destroys their apathy. From time to time politicians discover that a national debt can satisfy some tax receiver demands without offending taxpayers. When debts come due, of course, both taxpayers and tax receivers are incensed, but the individual politician does not stay in office that long.

    John Maynard Keynes devised a theory that legitimized governmental debt. He suggested that a strong central government could stimulate the economy out of a depression by borrowing and spending enough money. The state created employment would end the depression and generate enough tax revenue to pay back the borrowed money.

    "Pay back the money." That's the hard part.


    Politicians and intellectuals are fond of regrettable but temporary increases in state power that are necessary to achieve some desired end. For instance, Marx taught that the state would wither away under communism; the regrettable dictatorship was merely transitory. A giant military establishment was necessary for the United States to defeat fascism; the regrettable expense and curtailments in liberty were temporarily. Billions of dollars were thrown into the war on poverty; once poverty was defeated, we would all, presumably, be a lot richer. Hoover and Roosevelt had to borrow money to end the depression.

    But we still have our giant military establishment; we still have poverty. And since the communist countries have the most tyrannous government, the revolution must still be going. When Hoover borrowed the first dollar to fight the depression, he probably thought that it would be paid back; but it has been repaid only by more borrowed money.

    Isn't it fair to take Keynes at his word and say the depression is over only after the debt is paid back? Anything else would be a paper recovery, not an end to the depression but a deferment of it, a postponement. Since every American owes more than $15000 because of the national debt, can we say that the great depression is over?

    Just as the communists are still fighting an invisible revolution against human nature, so the Americans are still in the middle of the depression, an economic downturn that was disguised in the 1940s but never ended.


    It is an ill wind that blows no one some good, and a national debt is the illest wind of all. No one benefits. Taxpayers pay the interest and receive nothing. Borrowers have trouble finding money and the interest rate is higher. Investors invest in debt rather than wealth-producing, job-providing enterprises. Even those who hold the debt could make nearly as much money nearly as safely in other investments. Perhaps those in the business of moneylending are the winners. Some are, but they are all faced with a politically directed and hence unknowable demand.

    To give a few people a small handout, the nation's productive capacity is crippled and its future is blackened. If you set out to ruin a country, the smartest way to do it would be to borrow money and use it to increase the citizens' standard of living. And yet politicians and their intellectual apologists will always find a reason why the government ought to borrow money. The reason is simple: Taxation is extortion. Rather than reveal this truth, politicians prefer to mortgage a future whose problems will belong to other politicians