Pocketbook Perspectives

2009-04-26

Last week, my friend Brendan commented as follows on my post Party Like It's 1773:

I guess I’m just skeptical that the same crowd [of Tea Partiers] can be motivated by any appeal to liberty that doesn’t directly affect their income.

This prompts me to try to explain a bit about the libertarian perspective, which involves a lot more than just the impact of any given government policy on your pocketbook.

Let's say your income tax rate is 100%. Every penny you earn is taken away from you by force. In fact, you have no income. At that point you are no longer a free person -- you are a slave. Sure, your masters might house you, feed you, clothe you, protect you, and care for you when you're sick, but is that any moral justification for slavery? Such "good treatment" didn't justify the enslavement of Africans in America, so why would it provide such a justification in any other time or place?

At the other end of the spectrum is a society in which your income tax is 0%. Every penny you earn is yours to keep. If you want to use that money on housing, food, clothing, protection, medicine, or any other good or service, the choice is yours. We call this state of being "freedom".

Since the fall of absolute collectivism in most places (excepting North Korea and a few other hellholes), the peoples of the world have experienced a mix of freedom and slavery. But that doesn't make the element of slavery any less enslaving.

(BTW, I don't think that folks at the tea parties had these more abstract considerations in mind. As far as I can tell, their thoughts and feelings were more visceral, and basically boiled down to "I'm fed up with the fed gov!" The tea parties were mostly a means of letting off some steam. Whether anything more significant comes of them remains to be seen...)


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