Today I was reading a couple of articles about Obama’s beloved “Gang of Six” and their plan to cut the deficit by $3.7 trillion over ten years (while raising the debt limit, of course). The plan sounds like the usual hash of smoke-and-mirrors accounting, combined with a healthy dose of false promises (only $500 billion of the cuts will be made immediately; the rest are subject to a bill proposal that we’re told will be on the “fast track”). And of course in ten years — maybe even in two years — many of these politicians won’t be in office anyway. Politics as usual.
But what disturbed me the most was that both articles I read — one at Reuters and one on Politico — used a euphemism I had not noticed before, one also used by Obama and the House Ways and Means Chairman, David Camp, in discussing the plan: “revenue increase” or “new revenue” as a substitute for “tax increase.”
For those who may have forgotten, income taxes are not voluntary. If you engage in productive activity, and thereby earn what the government defines as “income,” and you do not pay the “tax,” then you will go to jail. This “tax” money is taken from you by force. The fact that people often forget this is demonstrated by those who casually assert that “the wealthy must pay their fair share,” and the like, when arguing for higher tax rates on the “very rich.”
The problem — the inability to retain the context of what the income tax really is — is exacerbated by referring to taxes simply as “revenue,” so that a “tax increase” becomes a “revenue increase.” I mean, who wouldn’t want a “revenue increase,” if one was allowed to completely evade the real source of the “revenue,” and to pretend that it came from some legitimate source? In fact no rational person would want this, but apparently our politicians (and their accomplices in the media) are beyond the point of thinking rationally and are at the stage of trying to get away with whatever they can. (The same sort of evasion is facilitated when politicians argue in terms of whether “we” or “the country” can “afford” a tax cut.)
That’s why I say, if politicians, the media, et al. insist on using the terms “revenue increase” or “new revenues,” when speaking about tax increases, we should insist on using the terms “theft increase,” or “new theft.” It would make what our government plans to do to us much clearer.
(Click here to read about Ayn Rand’s proposal for government financing in a free society.)
2 responses to ““Revenue Increase”? How About “Theft Increase”?”
First of all, though not too importantly, there exists empirical data to suggest that lowering taxes leads to increased revenue in some cases (due to increased productivity), whereas raising taxes can sometimes reduce revenue. So this dishonest euphamism is not even really applicable. But I’m not a utilitarian and I don’t give a damn about optimizing revenue to the government, rather I want to simply limit it to its proper role, so I don’t think that this point is too terribly important – it just further illustrates the intellectual bankruptcy of the statists.
I’m really glad you pointed out this issue about attempts to obscure the truth about the nature of government action. In general, the distinction between government action which (as you clearly indicated) is action backed by force or the threat of force, vs. private action that does not imply the use of force, is in a terrible state today. This certainly applies to the new use of the word “revenue” in the context of taxes, and it also applies in other areas. For instance, I recently got into a debate with a Christian who claims to be a defender of freedom and individual rights. He is supporting a campaign to put the phrase “In God We Trust” on all government buildings in every state capitol, city, etc. in the U.S. and he posted some advertisements for this campaign on Facebook. When I objected, he insisted that my objection indicated an intention on my part to oppress Christians and forbid them from practicing their religion. No matter how emphatically I stressed the importance of the context in which this campaign is being advanced, i.e. government buildings rather than private ones, he refused to see the distinction between government and private action, thereby continuing to evade the truth about the nature of what he is trying to do. This story has a happy ending though: he admitted at one point that using private resources to advertise this slogan “would not accomplish his goal,” at which point I ferociously condemned him for what he had tacitly admitted, namely his desire to establish America as a religios nation and thereby establish a basis for forcing religion on Americans in the future. One of his liberal friends then jumped into the debate as well, on my side. The Christian probably hasn’t changed his mind about anything, but he seemed to be pretty demoralized by my denunciations and those of his friend (the liberal) and I have not seen any more Facebook posts about his “In God We Trust” campaign since then. In a separate discussion, I explained to the liberal, with whom I am now Facebook friends, that the same principle that applies to separation of church and state (the importance of the distinction between government and private action with regard to the immorality of initiating force against others vs. acting independently and only involving others on a voluntary basis), also applies to the separation of charity and state. As my new friend had already taken my side with regard to this fundamental principle, he did not attempt to debate me on the “new” application. I don’t know if I changed his mind or not but I got him thinking. The moral of the story is that if we can show people how this principle applies to their values, we can then perhaps convince them to accept it in other areas where they had not previously seen (or chosen to see) its relevance. And of course the reverse of this is that the statists seek to obscure the distinction as in the case of calling compulsory taxation “revenue.” I think that this is a tremendously important issue.
Honoring your call to linguistic rebellion, my 2 cent (net after tax), witticism denounces “revenue increase” as “quantitative thieving.”