Taxation is Over, If You Want It

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Over at reason.tv, I've posted a video Jan Helfeld of Free Liberal—I hope he wouldn't be offended if I call him the Libertarian Borat—and his uproarious interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just up.

HELFELD: If the government is in the business of forcefully taking money from some people in order to pay for the welfare of others, how will the people whose wealth is being taken feel about the government?

REID: Well, I don't accept your phraseolgy. I don't think we force.

HELFELD: Taxation is not forceful?

REID: Well, no. In fact, quite to the contrary. Our system of government is a voluntary tax system.

It goes on like this.

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103 responses to “Taxation is Over, If You Want It

  1. Voluntary eh? So Mr. Reid would allow me to opt out?

  2. April fool? If this is true, this quote will be used in a 100 wacko tax protester cases.

  3. Sweet – another loophole citation for the loonies.

  4. Of course it’s voluntary. And I’m here to tell you, you’ve been volunteered.

  5. The real problem here is that the technical term used to describe our system is “voluntary” since the government does not literally take the money from you. That’s what Reid is arguing about. It’s really a poor word choice in this instance, as you are (obviously) still forced to pay your taxes. There’s nothing “voluntary” about that.

  6. Hmm, can’t watch the clip at work but at the freeliberal site there are posters remarking that “voluntary” is a tax term that applies to the US system, making Reid technically correct, at least as tax terminology goes. In terms of the real point and the common usage of “voluntary”, Reid sounds like he’s being an obfuscating asshole politician who is hiding behind a tax industry term.

    However, Reid could also really just not get it. I’ve had conversations with people who could not understand that taxes are taken from you by force.

    Some of them got it after we followed what happens to you if you don’t pay your taxes: eventually men with guns show up and take you away.

    Some of them got it after I asked “if we had a lottery in this country where winners didn’t have to pay income tax this year, would you pay yours anyway?”

    Since the answer was always “no” (they stayed honest because anyone besides Warren Buffet who says yes is an obvious liar), they thought about it a little more.

  7. So it’s voluntary in that you get to decide within a narrow window when you have to pay, and are allowed some flexibility in the amount you pay by claiming various hardships (aka deductions).

    But, if you mess up and leave the boundaries they lay out, you go to jail. If you try to opt out, you go to jail.

    Man, the mafia must be glad to hear that they are in the “voluntary” protection business.

  8. Crap that was me. Stupid remember me tag.

  9. I reckon if you voluntarily underproduce all year and make very little, like me, then you get a fat “refund” after the year is out. I volunteered to be a lazy ass and i paid no tax. In fact, I made a net gain.

    Oh yeah. and I thank all of you over achievers that made it possible.

  10. I’ve had conversations with people who could not understand that taxes are taken from you by force.

    I think people are misled by the difference between the “potential” use of force and the actual use of force. A government agent doesn’t show up at your door to make you pay your taxes…unless you don’t pay. So you are only indirectly forced to. I think that the lack of an overt use of force tends to make people think they are not actually being forced.

  11. After listening to Reid, all I can say is I guess that shows where joe gets his lack of logic from. Wow.

  12. In the private sector, you pay taxes.

    In the public sector, taxes pay you!

  13. Reid is passe. The next senate majority leader, Hillary Clinton, will make no quibble about it being collected at the point of a gun.

  14. The problem with the folks that are saying that Reid was using the ‘technically correct’ definition of a voluntary tax system is that he was obviously trying to obfuscate the point about coercion by using the colloquial meaning of ‘voluntary’. So it doesn’t matter if he’s right as far as the meaning of a ‘Voluntary tax system’. He’s trying to use ‘voluntary’ to rebut ‘coercive’, which is patently false.

    He can’t have it mean BOTH things and be correct.

  15. A tax is coercive by nature. That can hardly be considered voluntary.

  16. I don’t accept any of the phraseology any of you are using.

  17. Tax Fraud Prosecution

    After the (CID) has conducted an investigation and has recommended prosecution to the Justice Department, there are three crimes with which an individual may be charged:

    * Tax evasion: This is an intentional violation of tax laws. It is a broad category, encompassing any cheating of the government in taxes. Tax evasion is a FELONY and a very serious crime. A conviction for tax evasion can carry with it up to a five-year prison sentence and/or fines up to $100,000.
    * Filing a false return: Prosecution for this crime is appropriate when a taxpayer has provided the government with false or misleading information on the taxpayer’s tax return. In such cases, the government does not have to prove the taxpayer intended to evade tax laws. Rather, it merely must prove that the taxpayer filed a false return. Filing a false return is a felony. Punishment for this crime can consist of up to three years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines.
    * Not filing a tax return at all: Failing to file a tax return is the least serious of the three tax crimes. It is a MISDEMEANOR. The consequences for being found guilty is a maximum of 1 year in prison and/or fines totaling up to $25,000 for each year a taxpayer failed to file.

  18. The 1% of my taxes that goes to “welfare” bothers me exactly 1/20th as much as the 20% of my taxes that go into frivolous military hardware and war. Both buckets need to be hosed out.

  19. Hillary Clinton certainly is more of a man than Harry Reid.

  20. I don’t remember my employer giving me the opt-out option. I had no choice in the matter. Sure it’s voluntary, assuming the term has nothing to do with choice.

    But should we be suprised that a Senator is throwing out the dictionary since the Executive branch no longer uses one.

  21. shrike,

    While I agree with you as far as both buckets, 1% is well off. Looking at a quick google found pie chart, “welfare” made up at least 49%, more depending on what was in the 21% “Everything elese” category. 21% was for defense, so you were dead on for that category.

  22. “””Hillary Clinton certainly is more of a man than Harry Reid.”””

    yeah, why do you think Bill cheats.

  23. REID: Well, no. In fact, quite to the contrary. Our system of government is a voluntary tax system.

    Hmmm, all this time the IRS have been a bunch of vigilante terrorists. Who knew?

  24. robc-

    Social Security and Medicare are the shabbiest of retirement entitlement plans, but most certainly are not “welfare” programs. They must be earned – as low as that bar is.

    I realize that this fact does not fit well in the “socialist” meme under construction here, but any real discussion of runaway spending must acknowledge this fact.

    btw – I fall into the Richard Lamm school of Medicare cost reduction – if you’re dying and 80 years old there is no need to bankrupt Medicare to prolong your life for a few weeks.

    I am just trying to be honest – the LP gets no points for pod-screaming “welfare queen” at former factory workers on their deserved SS take.

  25. Let’s end employer withholding and have the government bill everyone every April 15th, then have the IRS send its brand of bill collectors to visit the deadbeats. I don’t think we’d have a question about “voluntary” anymore.

  26. The CIA, and assumably some other intel agencies, can hide its budget anywhere it wants. I’m not so sure that it isn’t within the entitlements catagory. Hell, that’s the best place to hide it.

    Pending on how you look at the term welfare, you could describe our entire budget in two catagories. 1. Welfare for US citizens. 2. Welfare for non-us citizens.

  27. “””Social Security and Medicare are the shabbiest of retirement entitlement plans, but most certainly are not “welfare” programs. They must be earned – as low as that bar is.”””

    Maybe earned, but more importantly, you pay into them. That’s why they wouldn’t be welfare. There is nothing wrong with expecting something in return for your investment.

    But I’d rather have my tax money support the poor people of the US than the poor people of, say Iraq, or the rest of the world.

  28. Maybe earned, but more importantly, you pay into them. That’s why they wouldn’t be welfare.

    No, more of a mandatory Ponzi scheme really.

  29. No one pays into Social Security.

    Legally, as the Supremes have ruled multiple times, there is no, zero, zilch, nada connection between the FICA tax and the welfare payments we receive after age 65/67/whatever.

    There is a social security tax.
    There are social security payments.
    They have nothing to do with each other.

  30. The real problem here is that the technical term used to describe our system is “voluntary” since the government does not literally take the money from you.

    I guess its “voluntary” because you sign a check, is that about it?

    Seriously, could you describe what an “involuntary” tax system would look like?

  31. It’s ‘voluntary’ because you have to volunteer your information. Of course, if you volunteer wrong, the everpresent Men With Guns would like to talk to you – never mind the fact that the government won’t (can’t, really) tell you how much you owe before you possibly get it wrong. It is a cruel joke, but I think people like Reid are missing the part of their brain that lets them get the joke.

  32. If the SS/Medicare buckets had been kept separate they would be solvent through 2090.

    So “welfare” (not my term for SS) has subsidized the War Department for the last 40 years? And exactly WHO has befitted?

    Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Raytheon, etc,

    Most of you don’t know who the real “welfare queens” are.

  33. Our tax system is as voluntary as was the system used by the Mongols to collect tribute from the Russians. So long as the Russians sent the proper amount of tribute to the khan, all was well. Otherwise, the Mongols came and got the tribute themselves. With a bit of looting, pillaging, raping, burning, and general mayhem to make things interesting.

    Yep. Pretty much the same voluntary system we have now, except the Feds have tanks and automatic weapons instead of fleet-footed horses and bow ‘n’ arrows.

  34. shrike,

    To paraphrase PJ O’Rourke: In a democracy, the welfare queens are us.

  35. Social Security payroll taxes are collected under authority of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). The payroll taxes are sometimes even called “FICA taxes.”

    In the original 1935 law the benefit provisions were in Title II of the Act (which is why we sometimes call Social Security the “Title II” program.) The taxing provisions were in a separate title, Title VIII. There is a deep reason for this, having to do with the constitutionality of the law (see discussion of the Constitutionality of the 1935 Act).

    As part of the 1939 Amendments, the Title VIII taxing provisions were taken out of the Social Security Act and placed in the Internal Revenue Code. Since it wouldn’t make any sense to call this new section of the Internal Revenue Code “Title VIII,” it was renamed the “Federal Insurance Contributions Act.”

    The payroll taxes collected for Social Security are of course taxes, but they can also be described as contributions to the social insurance system that is Social Security. Hence the name “Federal Insurance Contributions Act.”

    So FICA is nothing more than the tax provisions of the Social Security Act, as they appear in the Internal Revenue Code.

    (source http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/fica.htm)

    What other type of federal insurance can I benefit from other than SS, SSI, and SSD?

  36. “Legally, as the Supremes have ruled multiple times, there is no, zero, zilch, nada connection between the FICA tax and the welfare payments we receive after age 65/67/whatever.”

    Exactly.

    There are no individual accounts where each contributor’s money is invested in some unrelated third party investment securities to be paid back out to that same individual when he or she retires.

    Social Security IS a welfare program that takes money away from individuals who earned it via their own activities and hands it out to people who did not.

    Furthermore, the benefit formula is “progressive” in that the benefits received by those lower on the income scale are a higher percentage of the FICA tax dollars they have paid than is the case for upper income people. That is even more deliberatly redistributive – and socialist – and welfare.

    Oh and the whole program is an unconstitutional violation of the 10th Amendment as well.

  37. There is a deep reason for this, having to do with the constitutionality of the law

    Although the cut and pasted text glosses over this, the “deep reason” is actually the fact that the SCOTUS regards the power to tax and the other powers of government as distinct acts.

    Although taxes can be paid into “the highway fund” or “the SSI fund”, that really is a fiction.

  38. Very amusing interview. There aren’t enough humorous political commentaries going on out there. Here’s one I really recommend:

    http://ladycatherinebedamned.blogspot.com

  39. “””Social Security IS a welfare program that takes money away from individuals who earned it via their own activities and hands it out to people who did not.”””

    Sounds a lot like my HMO. I give them money, and they use it for people that need a service. Insurance is a redistribution of wealth, it works off the principle that those who do not use the serivces, pay for those who do.

    As a matter of fact, how much Social Security you receive depends on how much you paid in. Ever read your Social Security statement they send every year, and compare it to others?

  40. “Social Security IS a welfare program that takes money away from individuals who earned it via their own activities and hands it out to people who did not.” – Gilbert Martin.

    A simple accounting notion with no real functional impact.

    In other words, you are on a cash system and I am using the accrual method.

    You still miss the bigger picture – vendors are in line with their hand extended. When the Social Security interests get to vote against the military complex interests we will see the real force of democracy at work.

  41. As a matter of fact, how much Social Security you receive depends on how much you paid in. Ever read your Social Security statement they send every year, and compare it to others?

    For now. They can change the formula at any times. They could means test it. They could cut it. They can flatten it out so everyone gets the same. All legal, there are no property rights attached to our payments.

  42. “Sounds a lot like my HMO.”

    No one forces you to be in an HMO.

  43. Bottom line, we contribute to a federal insurance program. What type of insurance is it? What type of benefit do I receive as a contributor to the Federal Insurance.

    Can anyone cite some of the SCOTUS cases? Did SCOTUS approve us paying into a insurance program that provides no benefits?

  44. “”No one forces you to be in an HMO.”””

    Really, there wasn’t an opt-out option when I took the job.

  45. “A simple accounting notion with no real functional impact.

    In other words, you are on a cash system and I am using the accrual method.”

    Nonsense.

    The Social Security system has nothing to do with the “accrual method” of accounting.

    It is merely a redistribution of wealth.

    “You still miss the bigger picture – vendors are in line with their hand extended. When the Social Security interests get to vote against the military complex interests we will see the real force of democracy at work.”

    Military contractors have to provide goods and or services in exchange for the money they get paid. Not the same thing as welfare.

    Now you may think a lot of those tanks, ships, missles, etc. are unnecessary. But that is merely your personal opinion.

  46. “Really, there wasn’t an opt-out option when I took the job.”

    No one forced you to take the job.

    If you don’t like the conditions of employment, quit.

  47. It’s ‘voluntary’ because you have to volunteer

    Newspeak, no?

    Wouldn’t this mean that we had an all-volunteer army during the draft?

    Really, there wasn’t an opt-out option when I took the job.

    Seriously? I have never heard of a private-sector employer that required you to take their benefits as a condition of employment. Lots of married couples have their benefits with one spouse, and the other takes none.

  48. “Can anyone cite some of the SCOTUS cases? Did SCOTUS approve us paying into a insurance program that provides no benefits?”

    I know that the courts have ruled that Congress can change or eliminate the SS benefit at any time and that no one has any standing to sue the government based on prior payment of FICA taxes.

  49. Helvering v. Davis and Flemming v. Nestor from a quick google search. If those arent right, blame CATO.

  50. “”””Really, there wasn’t an opt-out option when I took the job.”

    No one forced you to take the job.

    If you don’t like the conditions of employment, quit.”””

    So which is it? Was the job optional or the HMO.

  51. Well, Here is one way to look at it ( and no I am not trying to defend Harry): MOST ( again probably not all)of “tax protester” cases involve people claiming fraudulent refunds, not people that simply don’t participate. The way I look at it if you file $0 income returns you are choosing to participate in the tax system. If you take a w2 job with withholding, if you choose to make over the filing threshold ( there are many “protesters” who choose to live on a low income that does not meet federal income tax filing requirements), and so on.

    I could probably get by with a small business with no withholding and no filing and never be bothered. If however, I file a 0 or negative income tax and then request million dollar tax credits, build a mansion/compound, drive a Rolls, and publicly flaunt my collection of automatic weapons while serving several militias and tax protest organizations, while selling my ” How to Pay $0 Taxes” book on Amazon and through The Ron Paul Survival Report- well then I’m probably getting caught.

  52. I suppose it is voluntary in the same sense that a kidnapping is voluntary as long as they ask your opinion of what the proper ransom amount is first. If they disagree with your amount and they are forced to hold you captive for a few years, it is not their fault that you guessed incorrectly.

  53. From a quick glance thru the article

  54. Thanks robc, I’ll look those up later. And I’ll write a nasty letter to CATO if they are wrong. 😉

    Seriously though. Would SCOTUS up hold a federal insurance program which pays no benefits, and provides no insurance or service? If they say Social Security is not an insurance under the FICA act, what insurance is available under that act? Is there any? That would be unconstitutional taking without compensation. There couldn’t be more clear cut if that is the case.

  55. crap! Not retyping all of that. Sigh, need to learn to preview at least when doing complicated tagging.

  56. “So which is it? Was the job optional or the HMO.”

    The job and any and all reqirements related to it are optional.

    No one forced you to work for that employer, now did they?

  57. sorry all, hopefully I fixed that.

    TrickyVic,

    The first of those cases, the supremes ruled that SS isnt an insurance program.

    The second they ruled that the phrase social secutity referred to two legally unrelated things, a taxation scheme and a welfare scheme.

  58. I could probably get by with a small business with no withholding and no filing and never be bothered.

    I beg to differ.

  59. “””The job and any and all reqirements related to it are optional.”””

    ROFLMAO…… all requirements related are optional….. lol… Damn that’s funny. Are you an aide to Reid?

  60. Insurance is a redistribution of wealth, it works off the principle that those who do not use the serivces, pay for those who do.

    That’s not really true.

    Insurance has been described that way by people eager to ideologically blur the line between insurance and cooperative pooling schemes. But my insurance relationship is a contractural relationship between me and my insurer. Period. In the course of their business, my insurer does business with many other people, but that’s incidental to my contract with them.

    Arbitrage and intermediation conducted by a private party via contracts with other private parties is not the same as tax schemes to redistribute wealth. They may look the same from 50,000 feet, but they aren’t the same.

  61. ROFLMAO…… all requirements related are optional….. lol… Damn that’s funny. Are you an aide to Reid?

    The day they were optional was the day you interviewed. When the interviewer said, “Here are the job requirements, and here is the salary and benefits,” and you said, “Sign me up!” that was where you exercised your option.

  62. The real problem here is that the technical term used to describe our system is “voluntary” since the government does not literally take the money from you.

    The tax system isn’t the only place “voluntary” is misused. There are also the education programs that require students to do “volunteer service” as a requirement to graduation, the “community service volunteers” from the local jail, and the paid “Volunteers in Service to America” (VISTA) participants.

    This year the IRS program is extra “voluntary,” since if you fail to file a return you aren’t required to file, you don’t get “your” rebate check.

  63. “ROFLMAO…… all requirements related are optional….. lol… Damn that’s funny.”

    It may be funny but it’s also correct.

    As I said before, no one forced you to take that job now did they?

  64. ” But my insurance relationship is a contractural relationship between me and my insurer.”

    Indeed – a VOLUNTARY contractual relationship. You choose what type of risk you want to insure against and you choose which insurance company to do business with.

  65. “”The second they ruled that the phrase social secutity referred to two legally unrelated things, a taxation scheme and a welfare scheme.””

    The feds already have a taxation scheme on your income, so how is FICA not another fed income tax? Legal double taxation? I would guess it lies in calling it an insurance contribution. But that would only work if there is acutally something that might look like insurance in some form. There would have to be some benefit extend to those who contribute, else it be fraud.

    Sure SCOTUS could say there is no insurance when we talk about the Federal Insurance Contribution. That doesn’t make it so. I think this requires much reading to understand.

  66. “””As I said before, no one forced you to take that job now did they?””

    No but my job did force me to take the HMO.

    Focus, the subject is the HMO, not the job.

    And you are not correct. Things that are requried can not be optional, because they are required.

  67. You have an untenable position, Gilbert. Not even the most brazen Bush partisan would depict SS as “welfare” whilst promoting unbridled war.

    This is the crux of the political matter though. Our creditors are getting the best of us and our status as the largest debtor nation will force this discussion soon.

  68. “Focus, the subject is the HMO, not the job.”

    No the focus IS the job and everything that goes with it – which is what is optional.

    You improperly tried to draw an analogy between the social security system and your HMO.

    The HMO participation is a condition of that particular job – which it was never mandatory for you to accept to begin with.

    This is not the case for the government mandating payment for social security taxes.

  69. “You have an untenable position, Gilbert.”

    Not on your say so.

  70. I would guess it lies in calling it an insurance contribution.

    Your guess would be wrong.

    The only purpose the name of the program has is marketing, from a legal point of view.

    The act of taxing and the act of sending a check in the mail to a retired person are separate, distinct, and discrete exercises of the power[s] of government, according to the Supreme Court.

    It doesn’t matter if you think this is fair, or right, or if you want to protect the pride of the elderly by pretending SSI is a bona fide insurance program. It’s not.

    Not even the most brazen Bush partisan would depict SS as “welfare” whilst promoting unbridled war.

    What does Bush have to do with it? SSI was a welfare scheme decades before the man held any elective office, and will probably be one decades after he has left office. The war also has nothing to do with it. At all. We could just as easily have had this conversation in 1999 as now.

  71. Bush has a lot to do with “it”. In his attempt to rearrange the chairs on the financial Titanic we ride in, he failed to convince that partial privatization of Social Security would help actuarially any at all – much less right things. His secondary motive was to fund forced democratization of the rest of the world. In the case of the latter – the Defense Department would have needed several trillion dollars more than they were budgeted.

  72. TrickyVic,

    Helvering v. Davis (1937) specifically holds that FICA is an ordinary “income tax on employees”, with its revenues going into the Treasury in the normal way, not being earmarked for any specific program. It further holds that said income tax is perfectly legal.

    Flemming v. Nestor (1960) then specifically held that payment of that income tax creates no legal right to or property interest in Social Security payments; Social Security eligibility is set by Congress completely independently of whether and how much of the income tax you pay.

    Legally, “FICA” is an ordinary income tax and is paid into the general Treasury. Legally, Social Security is an ordinary welfare program with Congressionally-set eligibility requirements, funded from general Treasury funds. So declared the Supreme Court of the United States; such is the law in the United States.

  73. Of course taxes are voluntary, in the truest sense of the word.

    Government is a social compact. Part of that compact was giving them the power to levy taxes, in order to pay for government.

    When you were born, your parents made the decision to enter you into that social compact for you — since you were underage.

    When you turned 18, and every day thereafter, you have reaffirmed that compact by remaining a United States citizen — of your own free will. I don’t see people stationed to prevent you from leaving the country, after all.

    You might be tempted to welsh on your end of the compact by refusing to obey laws or pay taxes — interestingly enough, part of the compact involved an enforcement mechanism for the compact. You’re no more forced to pay taxes than you are forced to make your car payment — you entered into the loan agreement of your own free will, after all, and agreed to the enforcement mechanisms.

    You might not LIKE the nature of the taxes, you might not LIKE the nature of the compact, and you might wish to change it — more power to you! Go for it! The mechanism for changing the compact is spelled out rather straight-forwardly in the agreement itself.

    Now, you might claim that there is no place to go TO that will has a tax-free compact. To which I say “Tough shit”, since you’re not owed a perfect world.

    But don’t sit here and says “Taxes are theft” or “Taxes are taken by force” when you agree of your own free will to pay taxes each and every day you remain a citizen of a tax-levying country.

    When and if the US starts forcibly preventing you from renouncing citizenship and leaving the country for another, I’ll have a lot more sympathy with your argument.

  74. Oh boy, the “love it or leave it” crowd has appeared.

    The mechanism for changing the compact is spelled out rather straight-forwardly in the agreement itself.

    That’s kind of the point of this magazine and the Free Liberal blog.

  75. Very good, Morat.

    We are obliged to the law of our own making (the consent of the governed). Our “rights” are self-defined – they just don’t drop on us from Zeus.

    The remedy is simple – we own it.

  76. @morat20:
    It’s actually a pain in the ass to renounce your citizenship. The State Department doesn’t like people to be “stateless”.

    So, in the case of Vince Cate, he bought foreign citizenship first so that he could renounce his American citizenship.

    “Before renouncing his U.S. citizenship, Cate became a citizen of Mozambique for a fee of about $5,000. “This makes me an American-African”, he joked.

    Cate’s current home, Anguilla, requires people to wait 15 years before applying for citizenship. He moved there in 1994 and has worked to establish strong ties.”

    http://www.efc.ca/pages/media/nytimes.06sep98.html

  77. Loathe though I am to say it, unless you’re an anarchist, “love it or leave it” is the terminus of discussion on government.

    I’m just not that religiously inclined.

  78. I never signed this “social contract” (or at least your version of it, since everyone disagrees with what our social contract says), and the decision to enter me into it CANNOT be legitimately made by someone else.

    Anyway, your argument, the Crito/legal positivist argument is dangerous and insane. Legal positivism is what gave us the nazis. Hitler was democratically elected. By your reasoning, the Germans were inclined by their location within Germany to obey the duly elected authority.

    The real social contract is intuitive and organic. Do not initiate force against any person, or his or her possessions.

  79. “When and if the US starts forcibly preventing you from renouncing citizenship and leaving the country for another, I’ll have a lot more sympathy with your argument.”

    Forcing someone to leave in order to avoid someone else’s initiation of force DOES restrict our freedom to live and do business where we are. Your reasoning assumes that the government owns the land it claims, and so can enforce its own bullying laws anywhere.

    No authority is legitimate to the extent that it tries to enforce an unnatural law.

  80. Every day you were under age and unable to affirm this social contract you were taking the benefits of this contract. You and your parents were protected with the police and the army from enemies domestic and foriegn. Your parents drove on government roads to the hospital to have you. I’m sure your parents took you to the library at some point and you read a book or two. You’ve surely played on the sliding board at the local park.

    So OK, now that you are of age and don’t want to do your part of the contract, let’s have the value of all those services you’ve been taking all these years first.

  81. None of these “welfare” opponents offer a solution to the problem. As much as I dislike Bush – he did venture into the area (but true to form he was a complete failure).

    So here is mine – at the age of 50 you may opt out of Social Security and Medicare. No more FICA – no benefits. This is the peak of your earning power.

    Criticism accepted.

  82. @mr. nice guy: you misunderstand. I am not opposed to roads, military or police. (And my parents certainly paid more into the system than they ever received, and I have payed a vast amount myself).

    What I am opposed to is taxation used to support non-legitimate uses of government (invading countries, corporate welfare, etc.), then justifying it after the fact with the “social contract” argument, which is dangerous because, without tempering the social contract with the acceptance of natural rights, tyranny becomes not only possible, but inevitable.

  83. Mr. Nice Guy:

    “The State indeed performs many important and necessary functions: from provision of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that only the State can perform such functions, or that it performs them even passably well.”

    -Murray Rothbard

  84. kevin
    I sympathize as someone who hates wars and corporate welfare, but every couple of years we the people get together and decide what is and is not a “legitmate” use of government by a majority vote (not perfect but better than a minotiry vote). And the majority has decided that, just like the roads and police, some wars and corporate welfare is legitimate…

    As for natural rights, I repeat a famous quote: “Natural law is nonsense, and natural rights is nonsense on stilts.”

  85. Who gets to say what the “natural rights” are? You? Me? I say a majority is best to ask…

    I bet Hitler never thought he ever committed a violation of natural rights, as he saw it…

  86. shrike, a joe by any other name…

  87. “Not even the most brazen Bush partisan would depict SS as “welfare” whilst promoting unbridled war.”

    Neither the current Iraq war nor Bush has anything to do with social security being ‘welfare” or not.

    Furthermore you obviously have no idea what an “unbrideled war” is because Iraq certainly isn’t even close to being one.

    An “unbrideled war” would be an all out global thermomuclear war.

  88. Who gets to say what the “natural rights” are? You? Me?

    How about “nobody” and the only authority you appeal to anymore is “you”?

  89. We have a word for this in the United States Navy … it’s “voluntold”. Thats when a superior asks something like ” who wants to strip and wax the deck today?” When met with silence, he then tells someone to do it. Thus, he volunteers you to do the task. Voluntold.

  90. To quote my good friend Rick H…..

    The current (Social Security) system discourages thrift, encourages dependency, and, yes, even undermines families by breaking the economic bonds between generations. And it is based on a lie: that retirees are simply collecting money they “paid in.” There is, of course, no real economic relation between the taxes working people pay and the benefits they collect as retirees. Both are simply set politically, giving all retirees a vested interest in the welfare state

  91. You’re no more forced to pay taxes than you are forced to make your car payment — you entered into the loan agreement of your own free will, after all, and agreed to the enforcement mechanisms.

    Well, not exactly, since Bank of America ain’t going to put you in jail for not paying your car payment.

  92. let’s have the value of all those services you’ve been taking all these years first.

    WTF?

    What services? I get pretty much zero for the taxes I pay. It is money flushed. I prefer to think of it as protection money. If I pay my taxes, I don’t go to jail.

    Sue Murphy put it like this:

    I owe the government $3400 in taxes. So I sent them two hammers and a toilet seat

  93. This may be a very stupid question, but if (for Social Security) we are only collecting money paid in, why pay in in the first place?

    I mean what kind of service is it to take someone’s money away, then give it back later?

    I think this supports the “Ponzi scheme” theory of S.S., or maybe the “its actually welfare” theory”.

  94. Also, i think Thomas Sowell believes Social Security is a ponzi scheme.

  95. “This may be a very stupid question, but if (for Social Security) we are only collecting money paid in, why pay in in the first place?”

    Becuase the recipients are not collecting money that they paid in of course – they are getting someone else’s money. It’s all in furtherance of the socialist goal of wealth redistribution.

    If social security were an actual forced saving program, it would be run like 401Ks with indiviudual accounts that are invested in income producing assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.)

    But that would not allow for redistribution – the real purpose of the program.

  96. But that would not allow for redistribution – the real purpose of the program.

    No, actually, the real purpose of the program is to raise revenue.

    This is accomplished by the fiction of the Social Security Trust Fund.

    The real purpose of that “surplus” is not to somehow “save for the future” but to provide revenue for current expenditures while pretending to keep taxes low. “Your FICA payments are not a tax, they’re pension contributions.”

  97. If the SS/Medicare buckets had been kept separate they would be solvent through 2090.

    How exactly does one go about this?

    Exactly where does the SS “surplus” go?

    There are two things that a government can do with current revenue. It can spend it* or it can take it out of circulation.

    The portraits of dead presidents (and other assorted VIPs) can either be doled out to various recipients or they can be put into a furnace and burned. They can’t be sewed into the mattress in the Lincoln bedroom and kept until “we” need to spend them.

    Oh, wait, there’s a third thing. The government could be putting money into the nation’s equity markets. But I’m pretty sure there’s not many of us in favor of Uncle Sam trying to pick winners on Wall Street. I know I don’t.

  98. “””Helvering v. Davis (1937) specifically holds that FICA is an ordinary “income tax on employees”, with its revenues going into the Treasury in the normal way, not being earmarked for any specific program. It further holds that said income tax is perfectly legal.””

    My income is being taxed by the feds via federal income tax for the purpose of the general fund, then my income is being taxed again by the feds but they calling it something different but it still goes to the general fund. I am curious as to how this is not double taxation.

    “”I owe the government $3400 in taxes. So I sent them two hammers and a toilet seat”””

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. I’ll send them wrench and give them that same dumb explaination the DOD contractor gave us back in the day. Not only can you use it to remove a bolt, you can use to tighen one too.

  99. Well, not exactly, since Bank of America ain’t going to put you in jail for not paying your car payment.

    No, they’ll simply reposesses your car. If you took out a signature loan, they might seize your assets. That’s because the contract you entered into with Bank of America does not include such penalties as jail — just assest seizure and perhaps fines.

    Since Banks deal with money and assets, is there any surprise their punishments for breach of contract revolve around money and assets? They’d prefer the money, but they’ll take what you spent it on if they have to.

    Government uses money as a punishment as well — but it does have problems in other areas, where fines are either not appropriate or not effective.

    I do find it amusing that someone decided my stance was “America, Love it or Leave it”. Hardly — I applaud change.

    I just deplore the stupidtiy of “taxation is theft”.

  100. Paging Wesley Snipes.

  101. If you are unfortunate enough to have to make estimated tax payments (form 1040-ES), you will learn firsthand how involuntary the system is. If you fail to make a scheduled payment on time, you will owe an interest penalty based on the amount of time that elapses until you finally pay the tax, even if, when all is said and done, the government ends up owing YOU a refund on April 15th. In my book, having to pay a fine because you failed to make an interim payment that, in view of a subsequent net refund, was not even necessary does not qualify as “voluntary.” A voluntary system would advise you that making the interim payments would be in your best interest to avoid “sticker shock” on April 15th, but there would be no penalties for not making those payments if you settled everything up by April 15th. That’s not how the system works now, so it is anything BUT voluntary.

    Of course, if you keep records and fill out several forms, you can avoid penalties for non-payment of estimated tax during periods in which your income fluctuated in an uncertain fashion: for instance, if you were out of work for several months, during which an estimated tax payment based on your previous year’s liability came due. But to fill out forms to plead hardship before our federal masters is adding insult to the income injury, it seems to me. We can’t scrap the income tax and the 16th amendment fast enough to suit me.

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