Taxation and the State, Part III

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.

The Constitution, as written, was intended to limit the scope, size, and cost of government.  The thirteen states had enough of King George III’s British tyranny.  They wanted freedom, and so they were very cautious in making sure that the freedoms they had fought for during the Revolutionary War would be protected by the new Constitutional government.

The idea of a written constitution is not terribly British.  The British constitution was the aggregate of all previous judicial and legislative (perhaps even including executive) decisions over British political history.  This constituted the British constitution.

The American perspective was much different.  Thomas Jefferson put it this way: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

The Ninth Amendment states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

We see these critical ideas essentially flaunted, ignored, or declared anachronistic today.  The Departments of Energy, Education, and Agriculture, for instance, are nowhere to be found in the Constitution.  Nor FEMA, nor standing armies, nor the FCC, SEC, National Parks, nor the EPA, nor infinite regulatory power with the environment, workplace safety, the food we eat, cars we drive, and toys we play with, nearly ad infinitum.

This has expanded into our lives with greater intrusion than King George III would have ever dreamed.  We have seen a second American Revolution, one towards statism and away from individual freedom.

In summary, the Constitution was written to bind down government, and hence severely limit its powers of taxation, but it has long since been twisted, distorted, and misinterpreted as to be far different than what it was originally intended to be.

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Filed under Austrian Economics, Libertarian, politics, role of government

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