Your Income Is Your Private Property

Who owns your labor?  For many who will read this they may automatically reply; who else owns it except for myself – the individual.  Unfortunately for many in society they do not share the same obvious opinion.  After all you are the one putting in the effort and being compensated for that with capital income.  I would like to expand on this point and tie it into the conversations I heard among people I know and the politicians I see debating.

Let us start with a brief review of the concept of income taxation.  In the United States, income tax was nonexistence prior to 1861 with the creation of the Revenue Act of 1861 and became embedded in our Constitution with the sixteenth amendment in 1913.  Today your income is withheld for tax purposes before you are allowed to have it. Why?  Of course we are too clumsy to plan for the future; no that we have become over time as result of not having to be responsible for it.  The answer is they want to make it easier for them to spend it and disguise how much they are taking off the top.

So the concept of levying a right to individual income was not a “Revolutionary” provision.  Up until the 1860s, the funding mechanism of the different levels of government were based on indirect taxation – basically the taxing of economic activity, not the act of earning a living.  This created a government that was checked in its ability to manipulate economic activity and limited its power because it did not have the largest bank account.  Under that system your income was certainly considered your private property.  The shoe is certainly on the other foot today and there should be no surprise why we are in the situation we are in with at least $15.88 trillion in federal debt.

This lead me to my next point to discuss the Progressive/Statist perception of “fair share”. As an example, the Office of Management and Budget’s acting director Jeffrey Zients attempted to blame the possibility of cuts to mandatory defense budget spending on the lack of a desire to raise taxes on the top 2% of wage earners, a proposal that estimates ~$500 billion in additional revenue over an undisclosed amount of time.  The Washington Free Beacon article properly notes the over $800 billion in taxpayer dollars that were used to public fund private “green” energy companies that failed to stay a-float.  Mr. Zients would not bat an eye at that figure now would he?  That money was used for the right purposes and with great management and care by the federal bureaucrats.  That was an exercise in centrally-coordinated economic activity, not the Constitutionally enumerated spending authority provided in the Constitution.  Do not get me wrong there is waste in the DOD budget that can be streamlined, but this is not how to do it with class warfare.

The answer is not to tax the rich more – it is to spend less that you take it.  A supremely novel concept in both state capitals and certainly Washington D.C.. To provide some perspective, John Stossel examined the revenue that would be generated from taxing those who make more than a million in income; the amount is a staggering $616 billion, according to a Forbes article.  The conclusion is that is not enough money to shift our dumb-head budget from (red) to black with < 200% taxation. So what is enough:  20%, 30%, 50%, 70%?  Milton Friedman makes a good argument for what the wealthy do with the remainder of what they are “allowed” to keep, see the video clip below.  So which is better a job or a hand-out?

This feeds into my final point.  How do the Marxist/Statist view the right to your labor?  Let us accept their philosophical premise for a moment, a frightful thought I know.  The State (Government) is the sole provider for the citizen.  You offer up a vast majority of your income and in return expect services and security for your well-being.  The State provides your education – both K-12 and post secondary.  In their minds they have a right to a majority of the fruit you have labored for because they gave you the means for go out and get it. A perfect manifestation of this perception is President Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” statement.  Of course in his mind any business could not of become successful without the public works of the benevolent government!  After all it is their right to get a return on their investment – YOU!  You are their property.

So ask yourself three simple questions: 1. Is the income I earn personal property?; 2. What right does any government have to control personal property?; and 3. How much control do you have over your income – is it real or is it perceived?

– MLP

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