City Journal Autumn 2014

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Autumn 2014
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Yevgeniy Feyman
Don’t Believe the Hype « Back to Story

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"Napolitano’s purism gets the better of him again when he denounces the federal income tax . . ." The U.S. Constitution's prohibition against a direct national income tax, overturned by the 16th Amendment, was intended to preserve state power, keep the national government from growing too large, and prevent the plundering of citizens.
Say what you will about the 17th Amendment, at least it was a proper Amendment, and not a case where direct election of Senators was imposed by a federal statute, or worse, Executive decision.

And what's bad about the existence of the FDA and other bureaucracies isn't their mere existence; it is perfectly proper that the government hire scientists and have such agencies to propose legislation.

The Executive Branch proposing legislation is not the problem, it's that the Executive Branch writes regulations -- the offenders of which it presumes to try, fine and jail -- without the actual regulations being passed by Congress and signed by the President (or by veto-overriding super-majorities). "I'm just a bill" by schoolhouse rock has been a lie at least since the 1930s. This makes a mockery of the whole legislative process and of the Constitution. SCOTUS lost its last cojones after the court-packing scheme.
Well, taxes are theft, especially income taxes, which are in essence forced labor for the government. The income tax is one of the pillars of the welfare state and enables the redistributionist fantasies of our rulers. We would be better off without it.
"Second only to Lincoln in the degree of presidentially caused harm to constitutional government."
Lost interest right there.
"A similarly rigid brand of libertarianism"

Wow, you've got to be some sick sort of Statist to decry allowing people to have choices as " rigid brand of libertarianism".
Our founding fathers were all tempted by their new-found powers as President to bypass the Constitution. Adams violated the First Amendment through the Alien Sedition Act. Jefferson violated Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution by suspending habeas corpus in his zeal to prosecute Aaron Burr. The power to impeach and remove from office a President and his regime is given to the people in cases of treason or even misdemeanors.
If anyone wants to whine about past Presidents destroying the Republic, one need look no further than the "first" Republican President, who engineered the conditions that made Wilson's and Roosevelt's... and Roosevelt's excesses possible. By turning the notion of the Republic on its head, as Lincoln did when he imposed essentially imperial federal control over the States, provided the broken foundation for the crumbling nation we see dissolving before our eyes.
Thank God for the 17th Amendment. Were that not the case the political machines that supplied DC with congressmen would still function today. The Tea Party could never have been able to choose its candidates to run for office, since the intrenched party hacks controlled the nominations.
It is pretty clear from Congressional Government that Wilson had no understanding of the US Constitution and Federalism. His model was Bagot and the Prussian Bureaucratic Model of government. Just reread The Federalist and contrast it with Wilson's views. The best analysis is in Vincent Ostrom's The Political Theory of a Compound Republic and Vincent and his wife Elinor (Nobel in Economics) were not libertarians but major scholars.
Brian Richard Allen February 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM
.... If not for public schooling, the only schooled would be those who had the talent and/or had parents of sufficient wealth ....

Sounds absolutely reasonable.

And incentive enough.
Brian Richard Allen February 15, 2013 at 5:11 PM
.... favoring unearned income ....

"Unearned income?"

Barring bureaucrats, politicians and other thieves, in a Capitalist Economy, there is no such thing.
What is troubling about the idea of compulsory public education as a means for uncovering talent that would otherwise have gone unrecognized and unlived, like seed thrown on stony ground?

If not for public education, the elite would be confined to those who had both the talent, and parents of sufficient wealth, to pursue more lofty educational goals than fitting themselves for some specific, difficult task.

And fitting oneself to some specific, difficult task is a fine and honorable thing. One could do worse in life. Not that many do better, including many who obtain the liberal arts degree but not the education.
Just looking at what you've given here, I don't think Napolitano was saying that all taxation is a form of theft, though that is an argument that some libertarians make. What he seems to be arguing against, from your description, is the *income* tax, not all taxes. Libertarians understand this to be a tax on labor. Before the 16th Amendment, the Constitution gave the federal gov't some taxing powers that were not based on income, but rather on certain commercial activities (excise taxes), a "head tax," which was used in the 18th century, and only a little into the 19th, and the ability to impose import duties.

One could say the "head tax" could have developed into something more onerous than the income tax, because it suggests you can be taxed just for existing. Interestingly, I think that a progressive income tax would have been possible at the state level, in conjunction with the head tax, because all the Constitution says is that the tax must be levied proportional to a state's population. It doesn't say that the state has to collect it from its inhabitants equally, or what basis it should use for taxing its citizens to pay the bill. The thing is, the federal gov't didn't want to deal with the states re. the income tax. It wanted to go right to the citizens.
Thanks for the article. For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues worldwide, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org ....