Most people accept compulsory taxation as a necessary evil, some even as a public good (thanks, Keynes). The result is that there is some popularly-accepted middle ground in most countries these days: the government is entitled to some amount of one’s wealth. Another question arises: what is this amount? How is this amount determined? How much is too little? How much is too much?
A co-worker once intimated to me that governments have no rights, except those they are given by the people they govern. According to this line of thinking, the people governed decide what the government is entitled to, as the government is not an independent entity (it is dependent on someone to govern).
Supposing the governed really are pulling the strings (a genuine historical rarity), there is a fundamental issue at stake: I may be allowed to determine how much of my income to concede to the government (it is mine, after all), but under what authority or right do I determine how much of my neighbor’s, friend’s, or enemy’s wealth is transferred to the government?
Delegating this responsibility is technically feasible, but unless the government funding mechanisms are kept incredibly simple and transparent and thus trackable by most of the populus, one would easily lose track of how much the government is appropriating in various circumstances and methods (this may sound eerily familiar to some).
Since power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton might say, or, as Joseph Smith taught in D&C 121:39, “It is the nature and disposition of all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion,” we can see how once transparency and simplicity are lost, the government leviathan has a tendency to grow large quickly, as there is no unified restraining force.
People ultimately rebel once the rate of tax increases surpass a certain point, but as long as the government operates marginally below this critical level, the government is safe from the populus.
How is this problem resolved? How can taxation be limited in its effects to tyranny and oppression? The Constitution was a brilliant and inspired solution to the problem of unchecked taxation.