No More Taxes
By Vin Suprynowicz
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Comic relief in the adrenalate summer box office hit "Armageddon"
is supplied by the, well ... non-conformist nature of the crew of
roughnecks which hero Bruce Willis assembles to journey with him into
Never content to let the obvious go unstated, the scriptwriters
even provide us with a ramrod-straight NASA lifer, moaning that this
bunch of blue-collar retrobates clearly exhibit "the wrong stuff."
Once this gang of hard-partying rowdies realize they're in a
position to demand any consideration for their labors, we're treated
to an amusing scene in which Mr. Willis is delegated to approach the
head of NASA and the president's chief military advisor with their
requests for compensation.
After some silliness ("I don't suppose you could tell us who
really shot JFK?"), Mr. Willis gets down to the point:
"None of the guys want to pay taxes again -- ever."
Presumably the scriptwriters expected this line to get a laugh.
Mark Twain may be on record as first observing that the average man's
wallet is only safe when the legislature is not in session, but the
long-suffering masses have been sharing their misery by griping about
taxes since the days of ancient Rome ... probably long before.
However, reports from screenings of this film in widely diverse
cities agree that the reaction of American audiences to this line of
dialogue, in the summer of 1998, is not merely a tension-reducing
All around the country, audiences are applauding, and even
standing to cheer. While some credit may be due Mr. Willis and his
self-effacing style, the reaction to this one line of dialogue is by
far the loudest and longest in the film -- outweighing by many factors
of amplitude the reaction even to the final success of the spacemen in
blowing up the approaching asteroid which threatens to flatten our
earth like a pancake.
(Did I just give something away? Does any moviegoer over the age
of 10 believe the backers of the latest $50 million Hollywood
extravaganza would endanger future popcorn sales by having such a
crackpot mission fail?)
But here's the point:
The increasingly extraterrestrial creatures who dwell within the
incestuous confines of the Washington Beltway -- the kind of folk who
believe taxes are good because a rising tide of cash raises all
bureaucratic boats, the kind of folk who call tax cuts "revenue
reductions," the kind of folk given to snarling in sarcastic
disbelief, "Get rid of the income tax and replace it with what?!" --
just don't get it.
Comedian Will Rogers may have raised a chuckle about "death and
taxes" back in the days when the average working man paid a few
pennies out of each dollar earned (often not a penny to Washington,
back in the pre-inflation days when the $500-per-child deduction was
worth a pound and a half of gold -- $7,500 in today's Federal Reserve
Today, when state, local and federal taxes (don't forget Medicare
and "Social Security") consume more like 40 percent of every dollar,
when husband and wife must both work to maintain the same standard of
living granddad could provide with one salary back in 1953, America's
tax bite is no longer a chuckling matter.
Nor can liberals any longer still the beast by mooning about
"higher tax rates in Europe." If you believe your friend the wealthy
Italian businessman reports the income from all his ventures, you
probably also believe the scantily-clad beauty draped on his arm is
really his niece. Yuri Maltsev reports the combined taxes on a Moscow
storefront now add up to more than 100 percent of the shopkeeper's
annual receipts -- official European tax rates are worthless for
purposes of comparison because tax evasion is a centuries-long
tradition in Europe; Americans actually pay their taxes.
An increasingly large mass of Americans want to be rid of the
tyrannical IRS and its Byzantine tax code, full of loopholes for
anyone with a fancy lawyer and a campaign contribution, but offering
nothing but terror, penury and suicide for the average workaday Joe
More and more Americans don't even care if we get rid of the
current tax code and replace it with nothing -- the income tax
provides less than 90 percent of Washington's income, and the federal
government got along just fine on less than 10 percent of today's
revenues (gave us a lot less trouble, in fact) in the peaceful,
unimaginably prosperous days before 1912.
If the Beltway denizens can do no better than sputter with outrage
when asked why we need so much government in the first place, then
maybe they'd better rush out to the suburbs and sit through a
screening of "Armageddon." They might just get a glimpse of what to
their kind is going to seem like a world-ending event.
Only it won't be the meteor.
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las
Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at
http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the
United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box
4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.