GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What did our Founders know about taxation?

In the Federalist #6 Alexander Hamilton continues the discussion of the need for the states to unite to prevent inter-state conflict and potential European powers exploiting the differences between the new states for their own ambitions.  He does this by excellent use of historical examples from Ancient Greece and Rome, cautioning against the rise of militarism and imperialism:
Sparta, Athens, Rome, and Carthage were all republics; two of them, Athens and Carthage, of the commercial kind. Yet were they as often engaged in wars, offensive and defensive, as the neighboring monarchies of the same times. Sparta was little better than a well regulated camp; and Rome was never sated of carnage and conquest.
This is an interesting point, and one that many folks raise on our current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  However, Hamilton does oversimplify the role of commerce in international affairs, beginning the oft stated, and often misunderstood ideal that commercially "tied" together nations could never go to war with each other, 1914 and 1939 nothwithstanding:
The genius of republics (say they) is pacific; the spirit of commerce has a tendency to soften the manners of men, and to extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars. Commercial republics, like ours, will never be disposed to waste themselves in ruinous contentions with each other. They will be governed by mutual interest, and will cultivate a spirit of mutual amity and concord. 
While Hamilton's ideas certainly proved true for the soon to be UNITED States, they are not true of relations between nations.  As the great Thucydides states, nations often go to war out of FEAR, HONOR and INTEREST, commercial ties and trading status be damned.

In the Anti-Federalist #6, Brutus really goes to town on the issue of taxation and correctly points out the inherent conflict in delegating some powers of taxation and revenue to the states while maintaining some to the intended Federal government:
Suppose then that both governments should lay taxes, duties, and excises, and it should fall so heavy on the people that they would be unable, or be so burdensome that they would refuse to pay them both — would it not be necessary that the general legislature should suspend the collection of the state tax? It certainly would. For, if the people could not, or would not pay both, they must be discharged from the tax to the state, or the tax to the general government could not be collected.
WOW, does that sound familiar...can anyone say Federal bailout of the states and cities?  Hmmm, think your state tax burden is going down...how about your property taxes?  Mine sure as hell haven't, even though my house has lost about 30% of my equity.
Here's an even better quote:
A power that has such latitude, which reaches every person in the community in every conceivable circumstance, and lays hold of every species of property they possess, and which has no bounds set to it, but the discretion of those who exercise it[,] I say, such a power must necessarily, from its very nature, swallow up all the power of the state governments.
And to conclude:
For every man, rulers as well as others, are bound by the immutable laws of God and reason, always to will what is right. It is certainly right and fit, that the governors of every people should provide for the common defence and general welfare; every government, therefore, in the world, even the greatest despot, is limited in the exercise of his power. But however just this reasoning may be, it would be found, in practice, a most pitiful restriction. The government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves. [my emphasis]
 Think about it-- everything this Congress and Administration have done is "for the public good" or "for the children" or "for the poor and disadvantaged"  REALLY?!
Does anyone believe that anymore?  Does any member of Congress have the cajones to say "This is madness and a crock, this [fill in the blank] legislation is a pure power grab, plan and simple!"  Sadly, not too likely....yet..

Our Founders had a keen understanding of the power of taxation to destroy...not only the economy and industry of the new nation, but the power of the people to keep their liberty.  Once Congress gets its snout in the trough, they can invent all kinds of reasons to take your {our} money and spend it as THEY see fit.....
Hmmm....maybe there was something to Shays Rebellion after all....





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