by R. Lee Wrights
“There cannot be a good tax nor a just one; every tax rests its case on compulsion.”
- Frank Chodorov
The so-called Fair Tax is not fair; on the contrary, it is a farce based on fallacies and falsehoods. Sadly, some libertarians have fallen for the bogus arguments uttered by proponents of this national sales tax and bought into the idea that this is the “best we can hope to get.” This is a justification very similar to the flawed reasoning that induces some people to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”
One of the core values of libertarianism is the right of people to keep all the fruits of their labor. No taxes are fair. All taxes are, at their root, immoral because they involve the use of force to take money from people, money that rightfully belongs to them, and give it to others. That is why libertarians would fund most government services with voluntary user fees.
The most dangerous claim used by advocates of the Fair Tax is that it’s “revenue neutral,” that it will allow the federal government to collect just as much money as the income tax. Fair Tax supporters say this as if it were a good thing. It is not. The greatest danger facing our nation isn’t terrorism, global warming or the energy crisis. It is out-of-control, unbridled government spending. It is our $15 trillion federal debt, which grows every day.
This leads to the second most dangerous, and very disingenuous claim by Fair Tax advocates, that it repeals the income tax. It does not. The Fair Tax Bill merely repeals various sections of the federal tax code relating to the income tax. The bill leaves the 16th Amendment intact; most tellingly, it uses tepid language about the 16th Amendment, saying only that Congress “finds” that it “should be repealed.”
This clearly leaves an opening for Congress to reinstate the income tax once the national sales tax is in place. Given the addiction to spending and the lack of integrity that pervades our government, I’m convinced that even if the Fair Tax passes, it’ll be implemented without doing away with the income tax — thus giving us the worst of both worlds. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some congressman championed “bringing back” the income tax as the only solution to a future “debt crisis.”
The most egregious and demeaning aspect of the Fair Tax, however, is that it puts every American man, woman and child on welfare. Here again proponents turn common sense, the meaning of words, and basic economic principles upside down. They call making all citizens wards of the state a good thing. Every household graciously receives a monthly check from the beneficent federal government. This dole is supposed to make sure all Americans can consume “their necessities of life free of tax,” according to FairTax.org. This is not an “entitlement,” they explain, but merely a “rebate (in advance)” of what they would pay in taxes. And it is “progressive,” say the Fair Tax folks, because everyone gets the same, whether they make poverty-level wage or a million dollars a year.
Of course, you get the “rebate” whether you pay the national sales tax or not. If you buy everything used, grow your own food, and never spend a dime on any taxable thing, you still get a check from the government once a month. And once government starts sending out checks, how many people will vote for anyone who promises to make the checks bigger, and against anyone who might make them smaller, or get rid of them?
The Fair Tax does nothing to solve the problem of a bloated, overspending, overreaching, tyrannical federal government. That is why I do not support this tax - or any tax - for any reason. The goal of the Libertarian Party is to get rid of big government, not find new ways of financing it. The most direct and effective way of ridding ourselves of the hundreds of federal programs intruding on our liberty is to cut off the means of funding them. Harry Browne said it best: “Abolish the income tax and replace it with nothing!”
“Our forefathers made one mistake. What they should have fought for was representation without taxation.”
- Fletcher Knebel, historian
R. Lee Wrights is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is currently seeking the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Contact Lee at email@example.com.