Keeping What What We Make Away From the Tax-man
The furor over the Tea Party movement has been quite exciting. While I love watching government officials and their sycophantic propagandists energetically denounce people for daring to suggest that people should be permitted to keep their earnings, I, like others, think the protests – in and of themselves – are insufficient to meaningfully change the vampire economy that has seized the U.S. in its fangs.
The people protesting are not, however, wrong. The basis of a free society is the independence of the people: their ability to choose how to conduct their lives, what professions they will pursue, where they will live, how they will order their lives. The more resources a person has at their disposal, the wider the range of choices available to them. Freedom from taxation is as fundamental a human right as choosing whom we love.
The protesters are, however, seemingly oblivious to the real problem, the control the state has over the institutions of finance, banking and trade. It is this control that not only allows the state to plunder without any limits, but also encourages people to acquire wealth through dishonest means – through rent seeking, wealth distribution, or other forms of special privilege.
If we wish to be a free people, we must build the institutions and the cultural habits that encourage individuals to amass these resources through peaceful commerce and production. The fundamental act by which people stockpile these resources is called saving. In a simple economy, such as an agrarian one, the importance of having people stockpiling seed-corn, or hay for feeding their herds during winters or periods of famine is obvious to everyone.
In a complex economy, people typically stockpile money, since there is a degree of uncertainty as to how those savings will be put to use in the future, and money is provides them with the most options when looking to consume savings to satisfy some present need. Unfortunately, people have stopped saving, largely because the current monetary regime makes saving a sucker’s game. A dollar stuffed under a mattress exponentially loses its value. A dollar deposited in a bank also steadily loses value, albeit at a lower rate; the bank typically makes up much but not all of the losses do to inflation by paying interest.
The story of the 20th and 21st centuries are, if nothing else, the capture of the banking system by the state. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to amass wealth that is securely theirs. Bank accounts can be confiscated. Their money can be held hostage via a banking holiday. Regulators can learn intimate details of the private affairs of individuals by reviewing the banks’ records.
Those of us who wish to reverse the trend towards an ever more powerful and intrusive state must take the lead to restoring the ability of people to stockpile savings.
How can we do this? There are several ways:
- Create new forms of money that are easily stockpiled. This does not have to be gold and silver, but can be things like cell-phone minutes
- Create new markets to trade without interference
- Create new systems for storing forms of money safely
Building these institutions will not be easy. They cannot be imposed from outside. They cannot depend on some messianic leader to encourage their adoption. They must attract users who have no interest in the political agenda, but because they satisfy the users’ personal needs. It is important to bear in mind that this regime has existed so long that for most of us who are alive today have no idea that it could ever be otherwise. Furthermore, the public is the target of a pretty comprehensive propaganda campaign that pervades all forms of mass media that distorts history and aggrandizes the growth of the state. At this point, the vast majority of people are absolutely convinced that a free society is at best doomed to economic collapse and in all likelihood a violent, brutish, dog-eat-dog dystopia.
While I don’t have a particular “magic bullet” to restore the vital freedom to amass wealth without having to fear government confiscation or debasement, I do have some suggestions:
- Accept as wide a variety of currencies and goods as payment as you can.
- Likewise be prepared to proffer as wide a variety of goods and currencies as possible.
- Store some of your savings in places that others do not have access to. Limit knowledge about the size of your savings on a strict need to know basis. Loose lips sink ships! (NB. Safety Deposit Boxes don’t count; FDR had his thugs systematically go through people’s safety deposit boxes throughout the country, confiscating the newly illegal gold) .
- Do not cooperate with the state any more than your conscience, or willingness to engage in civil disobediance permits. Keep in mind, though, that principled non-cooperation with the state can easily lead to being thrown in jail, beaten, or even murdered.
- Keep your eyes peeled for new ways of doing business, new products, and new marketplaces that increase your independence. When you find something, publicize it as widely as is appropriate.
In the end, the current system cannot last. The United States Government is consuming resources at a rate that is unsustainable. Using the collapse of other states as a guide, it is quite likely that its officers will wreck a large portion of the U.S. economy in their efforts to delay the inevitable. How destructive the collapse is, how vulnerable people are to the destructive edicts issued by government officials will be a function of how well we do in fostering the growth of alternate institutions. Shielding ourselves from harm is but a first step. If we wish to avoid experiencing that which Germans did 100 years ago – the destruction of an enlightened culture by a voracious predatory state leading to totalitarianism, death and war (see here for the illustrated version)- we must also figure out how to shield our neighbors too.
So I have a homework assignment for you, dear reader, what will you do to build the institutions that make it easier for you and your neighbors to keep what they make away from the tax-man?