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L. Neil Smith's
Number 720, May 12, 2013

Taxation is theft,
taxation is slavery,
taxation is the fuel of war

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Five Things Republicans Can Do
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I originally prepared this speech for delivery this weekend to the annual convention of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, technical complications and a minor illness prevented me from doing so. Although I would have cut this down to fit a half hour slot, this is the speech I wanted to deliver.*]

Where I live, there is a radio talk show host I listen to every morning until I inevitably get disgusted with him and turn the radio off.

He's not a real conservative, and certainly no libertarian. I think he's what Ayn Rand called a "muscle mystic", a staunch union man who wants to build a wall around America and a worshipper of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, even though Roosevelt is ultimately responsible for most of society's ills, political and economic, the man complains about.

He loves to wallow in doom and gloom, and for someone of his broken point of view, there's no way out. I don't know what moves him to go on living. It seems to me his prescription for Productive Class America is that we should all just lie down, slit our wrists, and die quietly.

He does want to withdraw from the Middle East. His mantra, when discussing the Third World is, "You can't beat a birth rate." I think he's given up fighting socialism—meaning the Democratic Party— here at home, as well. His mantra for that is, "You can't beat Santa Claus".

Yet I'm here with you today to tell you how to beat Santa Claus and the birth rate, too. I'm here to tell you five things Republican can do—provided they have the moral fortitude, the intelligence, sanity, and courage—to defeat the Democrats and socialism and throw them on the garbage heap of history where, I'm sure we all agree, they belong.

Those five things involve taxes, science in general and medicine in particular, the Bill of Rights, public schools, and the tangle of laws and regulations strangling the advance of American civilization. Taxes, science and medicine, the Bill of Rights, schools, laws and regulations.

Five things Republicans can do.

Each of these five things deserves an hour of its own, so if together, in half that time, they seem a bit hurried and sketchy, I refer you to my books and to my writings in The Libertarian Enterprise.


I see that I'm billed here as a futurist. And it's true, that's what I am. But to be a futurist, you must begin by being a "pastist". The first item on our list is taxation, a morally reprehensible institution going back in history at last 5000 years, to the ancient Egyptians.

A former IRS official once asserted that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. Half of everything we earn is stolen by one government or another, leaving us with half the purchasing power we might otherwise have had. Half the earnings of those who sell us goods and services are stolen, too, doubling prices, halving our real wealth again. We're subsisting on a quarter of our productive capacity and we haven't even begun to talk about the costs, not just in wealth, but in opportunity lost forever, of regulation. It seems to me civilization is the price have to pay—it's what we have to sacrifice—to have taxes.

Government does nothing that is worth beating up, killing, or even threatening a single individual in order to pay for it. Just as its rank-and-file members once undertook to put an end to black chattel slavery, so today, the Republican Party must openly and credibly dedicate itself to ending taxation of every kind, totally, and forever.

In doing so, they will win the vote of each and every member of the Productive Class from the humblest assembly-line worker, worried about the rent, gas, food, and the electric bill, to the wealthiest genuine capitalist—no, I don't mean Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Michael Bloomberg, all of whom are the kind of crony mercantilist Adam Smith railed against in Wealth of Nations—and at the same time return manufacturing, and everything else America has lost to "outsourcing".

Believe me, if they won't do it, somebody else will do it for them.

Yes, I know what Benjamin Franklin said about death and taxes. But Dr. Franklin was the founder of the most fiscally mismanaged agency of the federal government, the United States Post Office. Taxes were his meat.

Three hundred years earlier, he might have added slavery to that list when Queen Isabella of Spain—shocked and horrified at the sad, sick, ragged specimens Columbus had kidnapped from the Americas— became the first abolitionist and started the first anti-slavery society.

The problem must have looked insurmountable to Isabella in 1492. Indeed, it took until 1865, almost four hundred years, to get the job done. But I doubt that it would have daunted her, had she known, nor must we allow ourselves to be daunted by the task that lies ahead of us, which is to eradicate the last remnant of involuntary servitude in America.

Taxation is theft, not the best of moral foundations on which to build a civilization, nor anything you really want to teach your children.

Taxation is slavery—involuntary servitude—as surely as if we were wearing shackles and being commanded by a whip-wielding overseer. Our owners rent us out to corporations, taking half of what we make as payment.

Taxation is the fuel of war. It is no coincidence that the biggest and deadliest wars in American history occurred after 1913, when the brand new income tax gave government enough money to burn on other continents.

If you remember nothing else that I've said here today, remember this: taxation is theft, taxation is slavery, taxation is the fuel of war.

Ending 5000 years of taxation—does that sound radical? Does it sound too radical for you? Well, for those among us who can never do the right thing all at once, I have a set of training wheels to offer, a two-point interim program that, once announced, should yield many of the same benefits that we might expect from ending taxation altogether.


Point Number One: there will be no taxes levied on any items or activities that are protected by the Bill of Rights. This seems only sensible to me, since, according to Daniel Webster or John Marshall, depending on who you're listening to, the power to tax is the power to destroy.

We don't tax religion, out of respect for that very principle. Nor should we tax any form of communication at any level, from keyboard to book or screen. Anything having to do with self-expression, including poetry and computer programming—including the poets, the computers, and the programmers themselves—should be one hundred percent tax free. That change alone would start a Second Renaissance. An American Renaissance.

Similarly, nothing having anything to do with guns, ammunition, or their accessories—or with bows and arrows for that matter; Dr. Franklin thought there should be an army archery corps—should be taxed.

And so on, through all ten amendments. I'm sure you get the picture. If we have bothered to enshrine these rights as inalienable under the highest law of the land, then they should be completely free of what amounts to government punishment, or a fee, for exercising them.

Point Number Two: there will also be no taxes levied at any level, from manufacture, through distribution, to sales and use, on the basic necessities of human survival of which, Abraham Maslow to one side, there are five: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and self-defense.

Please observe that when I say "transportation", I mean private transportation, not city-owned buses or Amtrak. Note, too, that this program reinforces the Bill of Rights program with regard to personal weapons.

What we have here is the individualist's answer to socialism. As Heinlein taught us, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch". And nobody, including government, has a right to promise other people's money to keep you alive. But untaxed, these five items would cost twenty-five percent of what they do now, quadrupling everybody's purchasing power, and effectively ending involuntary poverty in this country.

Can the Democrats promise that?

America will leap ahead a thousand years in science, technology, medicine, art, and every other field of endeavor—until people forget what made that leap possible and we have to start all over again.


The current administration is historically notable for cramming down people's throats the very things they say most clearly they don't want, whether it be gun control—what is more properly termed "victim disarmament"—environmental legislation, or collectivized healthcare.

The last two of those items can be dealt with in a single stroke, with a Constitutional amendment formally separating science—and in particular, medicine—and state. We know all too well the corrupting influence that government money has had on science. For three decades, no academic scientist could expect to win promotion, achieve tenure, or receive grants, unless he bent his knee at the altar of global warming. Billions—perhaps trillions—have been wasted, wrestling with this mythical entity while vastly more important inquiries withered.

Future scientists won't know whether to laugh or be appalled at this cynical hoax—one of the most enormous flim-flam jobs in the experience of mankind—which held real progress at ransom for so long. The amendment I'm proposing here would have prevented this travesty.

Similarly, it would not only undo the damage already inflicted by so-called "Obamacare", and prevent even more to come, it would have straightened out the ugly mess healthcare was in before, that made the idea of Marxist-style medicine attractive to the weaker minds among us.

It would restore to the doctor-patient relationship the complete privacy it once shared with the lawyer's office and the confessional. It would deprive government of databases it needs to carry out further intrusions on the Producive Class, such as medically-rationalized gun control.

And, especially given tort reform to eliminate frivolous lawsuits, it would allow competition, technical advance, and eventually lower prices.

From the moment that we're born, life has plenty to teach us. We spend our first dozen years or more learning to use our bodies, and another dozen learning to use our minds—some of us even succeed at that. We spend another two dozen years learning to make use of the world around us, to make something more of ourselves and something more of that part of reality that we can touch. And then, just when we seem to have things pretty well figured out, SPLAT! Bug on a windshield.

Fact is, we're all riding a conveyor belt to oblivion. Yesterday's Gerber Baby is today's Homer Simpson and tomorrow's Monty Burns. The day after that, ashes. Some individuals try to slow the conveyer belt down in various ways, Some try to run backward on it. The one sensible thing for any human being to do is to stop the damn belt altogether and to be the age we want to be, for as long as we want to be that age.

The idea will make environmentalist heads explode, but achieving that—immortality, not exploding heads—should be the principal goal of American science free of the corrupting influence of political money.

Separation of science—especially medicine—and state.

It's what the doctor ordered.


The third of five things that Republicans can do to release, once and forever, the hold that Democrats and socialism have on America's collective throat is to inaugurate a program of stringent Bill of Rights enforcement. Almost everybody, on all sides of the aisle, is now conscious that our rights are growing fewer every day, and that this phenomenon has been going on for far longer than the Obama Administration.

The roots of tyranny are found in almost any administration since Lincoln suspended habeus corpus and began churning out paper money. The real trouble—the most egregious government lawlessness—began with passage of the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act", commonly referred to as RICO, a 1970 Nixon Administration law specifically (and illegally) designed to deny proper Constitutional protection to individuals and groups the government doesn't approve of.

Today, government makes it up as it goes along. When a reporter asks the House Speaker to Constitutionally justify some item of legislation, she snorts derisively and asks, "Are you kidding?" Meanwhile, we hear stories every day, each worse than the last, of cops shooting unarmed individuals, beating up helpless cripples and the homeless, arresting anyone who photographs them committing these crimes.

Clearly, the first priority of Bill of Rights enforcement must be to demilitarize the police, to take away all the lethal toys the feds have given them, from automatic weapons to armored personnel carriers, get rid of the body armor that makes them feel like Captain America, and strip them back to their original six-shot revolvers and four-shot shotguns. They must be forbidden to carry or use Tasers, the so-called "non-lethal" weapon with which they kill dozens of individuals every year.

At the same time, respect for the unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human right of every man, woman, and responsible child to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon— rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything—any time, any place, without asking anyone's permission must be unequivocally re-emphasized.

It's said that gun control—victim disarmament—is based on the insane assumption that it's better to see woman raped in an alley and strangled with her own panty-hose, than to see her with a gun in her hand.

Today, politicians seek to outlaw "assault weapons" on the equally insane assumption that it's better to see six million innocent people rounded up by storm-troopers, herded aboard cattle-cars, and taken away to be starved, worked to death, or gassed and incinerated, than to see them in their homes, with adequate means to prevent such an atrocity.

As a lifelong advocate of the right to own and carry weapons, I consider as good as sacred my duty to make sure that every individual in America who wants a gun can have one—and to do my best to make sure that every individual in America is eventually persuaded to want one. It is this sacred duty Republicans need badly to adopt as their own.

The next step is to abolish all unconstitutional agencies in the federal government. BATFE, BIA, BLM, CDC, CIA, CPSC, DARPA, DHS, EPA, FBI, FCC, HHS, HUD, ICE, NIH, NSA, NSF, OSHA, TSA, USAID—if it isn't there in Article 1, Section VIII, clearly and in plain black and parchment, it's gone, and with it, an enormous fraction of the federal budget.

The mandate to enforce the Bill of Rights, however, is written clearly into the Constitution. Republicans must create a cabinet-level Bill of Rights Enforcement Administration (BoREA), limited by statute to investigating elected or appointed government officials, and transfer qualified personnel from the abolished agencies to do the enforcement.

Along the way, every effort must be made to restrain the Executive, by removing the power to which he has arrogated himself to to rule by edict, and repealng every executive order issued since the Roosevelt Administration. The Presidential War Powers Act must be repealed.

The War on Drugs, the first excuse for establishing a police state in America, must be brought to an immediate, total, and permanent halt.

In the end, what's probably needed most is a 100-year Moratorium on new legislation of any kind, for any reason, at any level of the government. The solitary exception would be bills repealing existing laws.

I will refrain, today, from discussing two Ninth Amendment issues, because I'm not going to resolve them here, and they'e destructively divisive. They are, in fact, what the left counts on to keep the freedom movement split down the middle. They are gay marriage and abortion.

The least damaging way to deal with them politically is what the Founders did with slavery. They agreed to disagree. They've taken lots of flack for that, including blame for the War Between The States, but if they hadn't, there wouldn't be a United States today, and neither of this pair of issues is going to help overturn socialist rule in America.

I will, however, speak of immigration.

The bad news is that history clearly demonstrates that you can't stop a mass migration. The Romans built Hadrian's Wall to stop the savage Scots, and it didn't work. The Chinese built the Great Wall to stop the Mongol hordes, and the Mongols wound up conquering and ruling China.

The good news is that newcomers to our country, legal or illegal, are not necessarily the ideological or political "progressives" that both the Democrats and the Republicans automatically assume them to be.

Republicans are uniquely equipped to do something real about this situation besides running and hiding under their beds. A well-financed foundation needs to be established, and radio and television stations purchased, to present the enormous wealth of material—translated into Spanish—with which we've created and grown the general freedom movement.

Show these folks the stark contrast between the bright, colorful, opulent, and unlimited world that unfettered capitalism is capable of creating, and the gray, dismal, cold, and hungry world of socialism. Convince them that what makes all the difference is the Bill of Rights.


The fourth of the five things Republicans can do to permanently defeat the Democratic Party and the socialism it spreads everywhere, like a disease, involves the almost sacred institution of public education.

How is this for insanity? Imagine, if you can, a nation founded by the world's most illustrious anti-authoritarian revolutionaries, whose highest values are individualism, freedom, and independence, but whose descendants somehow persuade themselves to hand their children over to be instructed for twelve years by a class of twisted goblins who, more than anything, hate, loathe, and despise individualism, freedom, and independence.

And we wonder what happened to America.

There was a time, not so terribly long ago—I was a boy then and I remember it well—when public education wasn't so bad, when it was controlled, county by county, school by school, and classroom by classroom, by the paying customers, the parents of the children in attendance.

Of course it wasn't all peaches and cream, even then. Schools were among America's first socialist institutions, financed by brigandage, populated by what amounts to press-ganging. Sometimes important new ideas (Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, for example) were resisted by a people who preferred believing what they wanted to believe, to having to believe what was there to be believed in a state of objective reality; it was the difference between mysticism and reason.

Today, the schools assert that they own your children. They try to teach them to be terrified at the sight of a gun. They teach them that the Founding Fathers were terrorists. They teach them that capitalism—making things of the highest possible quality and selling them at the lowest possible cost—is a crime. They teach them that the world is doomed to a hideous death unless they give up the Industrial Revolution. They teach them that humanity is nothing more than a kind of skin disease on a ball of dirt, and that the ball of dirt is a goddess.

They don't seem able to teach them to read, write, or do simple arithmetic.

Our 19th century ancestors were insane to let this evil weed take root and grow in our republic. It is not only our enemy, it is turning our children into our enemies. It must be uprooted at all costs, the buildings that it occupies emptied out and razed to the ground, so that not one stone is left standing on another, and salt sown on the ruins.


The last of the five things that Republicans can do—provided they have the moral fortitude, the intelligence, the sanity, and the courage—to defeat the Democrats and socialism and throw them on the garbage heap of history where, I'm sure we all agree, they belong, has to do with what I think may be an entirely new concept, and requires explanation.

For a thousand years, during which English Common Law ruled the land, it was not entirely unheard of to prosecute bizarre things— trees and cows, for example—for "crimes" they had committed. If a man was cutting a tree down and it fell over on him and killed him, or if a cow was being milked and gave the clumsy milkmaid a lethal kick, then the tree or cow might well be arrested, tried, convicted, and hanged.

Before you laugh this off as sheer nuttery, consider "civil forfeiture", under which government can steal your car or home without due process of law. The excuse is that they're not prosecuting you—you have Constitutional rights, after all, which might get in their way—they're prosecuting your car or your home, neither of which has any rights at all. That's why, even if you prove you're innocent of whatever they suspect you of, you don't automabtically get your stuff back. The technical word for this kind of government is "kleptocracy".

Republicans need to explore the idea that, if you can prosecute a tree, a cow, a car, or a home, you should be able to prosecute the law itself. This is important: regulation doubles prices all over again, meaning that we are actually living on one eighth of our productive capacity.

It might work like this: you call a number on a sticker attached to your phone, or you press a speed-dial button. A cheery voice answers, "Good morning, this is the Bill of Rights Enforcement Administration."

"Good morning," you answer. "I want to report a serious crime. There's a local law forbidding me to plant potatoes in my own front yard."

The receptionist says, "I see. We'll send an agent out right away."

In due course, the intrusive law is accused, indicted, and a trial date set. It's the government's job to see this law convicted and executed—by removal from the books. Other members of the government may try to defend the errant law—which has no rights, or course— but in a time of declining government revenue they may just let it die.

And in that direction lies liberty.

Five things Republicans can do to defeat socialism: abolish taxation, liberate science and medicine, enforce the Bill of Rights, end public schooling, and prosecute laws and regulations out of existence.

The late David F. Nolan, my old friend and the founder of the Libertarian Party, envisioned a future in which the two major parties contending in America were the Conservatives and the Libertarians. I could be quite comfortable in a world like that. I'll bet you could, too.

* Dedicated to Iris Gaddis and Dave Nalle, who did their best.

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