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COLUMN: Taxation and the modern liberal mindset

COLUMN: Taxation and the modern liberal mindset

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No part of me is envious of wealth others have accumulated through hard work, ingenuity, outright good fortune, or good timing. I harbor no ill will toward the rich. Nor do I consider the ability to LEGALLY dodge taxes to be a sin against humanity. That includes taxes for individuals as well as corporations.

Taxation is no more than a form of sanctioned theft, particularly excessive taxation. Once we get beyond spending for defense, basic infrastructure, overall safety and security for the citizenry, and a few other tenets of our republic, then taxation becomes something else entirely. Theft, in other words.

It is my steadfast belief that all of us should pay less in taxes at the federal, state and local levels. I do not begrudge anyone the ability to find legal loopholes in the tax code to avoid giving away their rightfully earned income.

Therefore it is hard to relate to those who constantly advocate this or that government program that will invariably lead to higher taxes for all of us. I simply don’t get it. It could be due to my background. I was raised in a rural area by blue collar parents who taught their children, primarily through example, the value of hard work and sacrifice.

That’s a major reason why it is so puzzling to attempt to understand the tax-the-rich mantra favored by the left. Could it be class envy? Could it be intense dislike for the capitalist system that allows accumulation of wealth while providing multiple benefits to society? Or is it something more fundamental, maybe a help-thy-neighbor mindset run amuck, free from reason and common sense?

Consider, for example, the transformation to socialism that many in this country are attempting. The utter stupidity of that choice, in light of contrary evidence, is another head scratcher. I mean the drivel we hear from the likes of Bernie Sanders, Alexander Ocasio-Cortez and, yes, our president confounds me to no end. I don’t get it. Biden gets a pass on one level due to his recent mental decline brought about by advancing age. He should know better, but he simply does not. Hence the far-left zealots in the party are having undue influence.

Rather than the massive spending and resultant taxation that the Biden administration is proposing, the focus should be on the many ways we can cut spending in government. That, however, would require restraint on the part of politicians at all levels of government.

It is also mind boggling the number of ordinary Americans who are eager and willing to pay more and more taxes to fund whatever government program they support. Where does it end? The more government confiscates, the more it spends, and the more it needs to confiscate to fund the social safety nets currently in place, notwithstanding the proposed programs under Biden’s $3.5 trillion package.

Every time I hear someone admit to their willingness to pay more in taxes, I cringe. Admitting to that is a harmless act, generally free from risks of it actually occurring more than every few years. However, I have a more immediate solution for those willing to shovel more money to government agencies. In particular, whenever I hear a wealthy person make that admission, as Mark Cuban did recently, I long for a mechanism supported by the federal government allowing just that—the ability to hand over whatever amount one desires to the federal bureaucracy. Want to pay more in taxes? We can help, Kemosabe. Here’s your website. Have at it.

During the first week of October, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a document detailing the wealth and financial dealings of world leaders and others. A headline in the Wall Street Journal says it all: “The Pandora Papers’ Secret: Everyone already knows this stuff.”

The Journal’s Joseph C. Sternberg explains how these types of documents appear periodically, pointing out the many ways that rich people avoid taxes. After a flurry of indignation by the usual suspects among the left-wing media—including the Washington Post—the “revelations” typically amount to exactly nothing. That’s nothing as in the loopholes are usually legal and, as the headline states, there is no new information contained in the documents.

One of the more interesting tidbits to emerge from the Pandora Papers is that North Dakota is known among the wealthy as a state where taxes can be legally avoided. Many will consider that an atrocity. I disagree. It represents shrewd money management, no more, no less.

Excessive taxation wasn’t always a tenet of the Democrats, however, as a look at the administration of John F. Kennedy demonstrates. JFK understood that lowering the tax rate would result in increased revenue for the government. As late as the administration of Ronald Reagan, there were Democrats who understood lower taxation as a path to prosperity.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democrats who have proposed whopping tax increases in recent years. Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan is based upon those tax hikes actually occurring.

Which take us back to the first paragraph of this column where wealth accumulated through hard work, ingenuity, outright luck, or good timing is mentioned. Typically, all four traits apply to successful business people, particularly entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs or Phil Knight. The founding and growth of Apple or Nike make it seem as if certain ultra-successful individuals are preordained to start businesses that impact society in profound ways.

Government, however, is not preordained to confiscate what is rightfully theirs. The same principle applies to what is rightfully yours. Beware those who claim otherwise.

Larry Cothren has worked as a writer and editor for more than three decades. He teaches at Hickory Ridge High School and can be reached at


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