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Business Observer Monday, Jul. 3, 2006 16 years ago

Matt Walsh: We should resolve to restore our liberty

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On the eve of our nation's 230 birthday, it would be nice to say that the American experiment is alive, well and still surpassing new heights. Truth is, this two-and-a-half-century experiment is dying a death by a thousand cuts. And the cuts are occurring with increasing frequency.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

We should resolve to restore our liberty

Matt Walsh

Editor and Publisher

On the eve of our nation's 230 birthday, it would be nice to say that the American experiment is alive, well and still surpassing new heights. Truth is, this two-and-a-half-century experiment is dying a death by a thousand cuts. And the cuts are occurring with increasing frequency.

Our nation is bleeding. And unless we renew our resolve to our American spirit - to the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - the flame of freedom on Lady Liberty is destined to become a flicker. It is time to act.

This is not hyperbole. This is the truth: Over the past 230 years the government instituted by the people and for the people has deteriorated and evolved in ways that it increasingly usurps and abuses what our forefathers intended. Through their infinitesimal powers of taxation and regulation, every level of government deprives us today in big and small ways of our unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our governments have become, in the words of Jefferson, "destructive of these ends."

Rights trampled

Indeed, think of the nation in which we now live. To be sure, it remains the greatest nation in the world, the land and people we love and for which and for whom we will fight to the end to protect. But in the 230 years hence, we have allowed the democratic majorities, the political classes and special interests to trample on and assault the rights of the silent majorities and the powerless minorities and to craft layers of laws that are tilted to the politicians and special interests' benefit and to the people's detriment. Do not deny this: These laws deprive and rape us of our freedom.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the national tax code. To wit, according to the Tax Foundation:

• Complying with the tax code in 2005 cost U.S. individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations $265.1 billion - more than Wal-Mart's $259 billion annual revenues.

• Complying with the code represents more than 6 billion man hours - more than 2,884,000 people, more people than work in the U.S. auto industry, the computer manufacturing industry, the airline manufacturing industry and the steel industry combined.

• The Internal Revenue Code and its attendant regulations totaled 9,097 pages and 7,064,000 words in 2005. In 1913, when the income tax laws went into effect, the entire code was fewer than 20 pages.

If this is what it takes just to comply with the tax laws, imagine the shackles on Americans' freedom and the political favors bestowed in the codes. Imagine the billions of dollars and the millions of jobs and man hours that could have been applied to productive activities were it not for our crooked tax system. This is criminal.

Abuse of corporate subsidies

While the statistics are stunning illustrations of government abuse, within the tax laws are the devil's details. To wit:

• Start with the layers of corporate and industrial subsidies and protections that harm every American. It is incomprehensible that American taxpayers sit idly while their government takes their incomes by the force of law and actually uses some of those dollars to pay American farmers not to grow crops, not to oversupply the market.

• It is incomprehensible that the sugar industry, much of it based in Florida, legally has bribed Congress with its influence to impose tariffs and import quotas on foreign sugar imports to keep the price of sugar from dropping so low that it would force U.S. sugar producers out of business. In other words, American taxpayers are being deprived of less expensive sugar to keep a small, inefficient industry in business.

• Another one: Our government is pouring millions of tax subsidies into the production of ethanol gasoline. When all of the costs to produce ethanol are taken into account - the fuel for tractors to grow the corn, the hydrocarbons to make the fertilizers, the energy to ferment and distill the ethanol - this fuel delivers 30% less energy than it takes to produce it. This is yet another government program - one of hundreds - that benefits the few at the expense of the many. It is a scam.

These corporate welfare subsidies are endless, cleverly hidden in our laws like thieves in the night.

Social Security fraud

Rivals to corporate subsidies as illustrations of government usurpation and abuse are the nation's social-entitlement programs - Social Security and Medicare. They're Ponzi schemes.

Records show the first Social Security recipient was Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vt. She paid $24.75 in Social Security taxes, but she lived to age 100 and collected $22,889 in benefits. She is typical. But records also show the last ones into these entitlement programs will find them a fraud.

Starting in 2017, the U.S. government will pay out more in Social Security and Medicare benefits than it will receive in the programs' taxes. On top of that, these entitlement programs have accumulated $44 trillion in underfunded liabilities. According to the Grandfather Report, Congress over the past 14 years has taken and spent $1.6 trillion of the Social Security system's surpluses. Rather than invest that income to pay future Social Security recipients, Congress raided the so-called "trust fund," spent the money on other social programs and left taxpayers with an "IOU" that taxpayers likely will repay in the form of higher taxes. In corporate America, such theft would land executives in jail. In 1776, the perpetrators of such a fraud would have been tarred and hanged.

Private property is essential

On the state and local levels, the abuse and abduction of our freedom is slightly less egregious but no less forgivable.

Start with the public school system. To be sure, most Americans believe educating our children is a duty of "the state" - that they should hand over their children and billions of dollars each year to the monopolistic, state-run public school districts. These schools are not "for the people." They are for the entrenched, unionized education bureaucracy that by its inherent structure is destined to produce mediocrity at best. All we must do is look in the mirror. Look at today's incoming work force, and there is no better illustration that our government structure has let the system thrive at the expense of its constituents. Even Florida's Supreme Court rejected an attempt to create a system that would give parents and children the freedom of choice.

Last, but certainly far from least, is property rights. Private property is essential to the exercise and flourishing of liberty. But today, especially at the local, county and state levels, a man's property is not his own. Nary a day goes by that a government body or agency is placing restrictions on the use of a man's private property or outright denying him the right to use his land to its highest and best use. This is especially true in Sarasota and Manatee counties. And this abuse is growing worse.

Time for radical change

In 1776, 56 American colonists declared that whenever any form of government denies the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, "it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it" and institute a new government. But they also cautioned the evidence must be convincing.

Today, 230 years later, although their magnificent creation largely prevails in the nation we love, the evidence is indeed convincing that through our own actions we are robbing ourselves of our most precious possession - our liberty.

We must alter our government - radically. And we can start on the Fourth of July. Pledge yourself to this revolution: That you will elect to government only those candidates whose principles are rooted in restoring our freedoms. Take back our country or forever be enslaved.

ABUSED BY TAX CODE

• Complying with the tax code in 2005 cost U.S. individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations $265.1 billion.

• Complying with the code represents more than 6 billion man hours - more than 2,884,000 people.

• The Internal Revenue Code and its attendant regulations totaled 9,097 pages and 7,064,000 words in 2005. In 1913, when the income tax laws went into effect, the entire code was fewer than 20 pages.

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