Americans Enslaved Themselves to the State When They Accepted the Income Tax

Americans Enslaved Themselves to the State When They Accepted the Income Tax

Paul Craig Roberts

It was not until 1913, 137 years after the Declaration of Independence established a free people who are no longer free, that there was an income tax.  Years ago I researched and wrote the story of how it happened.  It exists somewhere in print.  In the old analogue, library card file days, it would have been easy to find. The income tax required a Constitutional Amendment.  I remember some of the story.  What I remember is this: 

The threshold for being subject to income tax was high, and the first rate was 1%.  The Georgia legislature voted to ratify the amendment because as one legislative leader concluded, “there’s no one in Georgia with an income high enough to be subject to the tax. Let the Yankees tax themselves.  Why should we object.”

There was no vision of the future. 1913 was also the year that the Federal Reserve, with its policy of depression, inflation, recession, and inflation, was  established and unleashed on America, and it was also the year that World War I and its inflation was about to be launched by the French, Russian, and British Governments.  War and inflation quickly brought income tax home to insouciant Americans who thought they were exempt.

In 1963 prior to the Kennedy tax rate reductions the top tax rate was 91% on incomes above $200,000. Kennedy left it at 70%.  Reagan left it at 50%.  Today it is 39.6%, or with rounding 40%

The highest medieval tax rate on serfs was 30%.  Anything higher and they revolted and killed the feudal lords.  50% was the highest tax rate on cotton plantation slaves.  The other 50% of their work went for their food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.

What is indisputable is that for more than a hundred years the tax rate on American citizens has been higher or equal to the tax rate on medieval serfs and 19th century plantation slaves.

What does this mean?  

It means that Americans and the entirety of Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders are slaves in the same sense that blacks were slaves on southern cotton plantations. 

The historical fact is that a free person is a person who owns his own labor.  Just as a slave does not own his own labor, neither does any person who is subject to income tax.  

In the anti-South propaganda in the 19th century, such as the propagandistic “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” southern slave owners are portrayed unrealistically as demoralizing their work force and destroying their capital investments in human labor by demoralizing and alienating their slaves by separating families and whipping, beating, and raping their work force.

A slave was expensive.  To abuse him or her is the equivalent of abusing an expensive piece of machinery.  It makes no sense for an owner to abuse his own resources.  Yet southern planation owners are portrayed as people who ran torture prisons. 

Neither the South nor the United States are responsible for black slaves in America.  The slaves that came to the New World came from the Black Kingdom of Dahomey’s slave wars.  The captured slaves were carried to the New World in ships often financed by Jews. The southern plantations were not responsible for the origin of their work force.  Indeed, it was an inherited institution.

For decades as April 15 approached, I pointed out that it is today’s white people who pay the income taxes who are the real victims of slavery.  Even after the Reagan marginal tax rate reductions, Americans pay a higher rate of tax, that is, they are more enslaved, than medieval serfs and are almost exploited by “their government” to the same extent as 19th century black slaves.

So what is “white privilege”?  It is to be a slave owned by Washington, used to support privileged people of color, including millions of immigrant-invaders settled by Democrats on American slaves who pay for their upkeep?

A “free American” has ceased to exist.  Such an American predates 1913.  

The American liberal-left doesn’t mind being enslaved to a good cause–the coercive use of American citizens to support causes that the people reject, such as the normalization of sexual perversion, the genocide of the Palestinians, the demonization of white people, the use of the “justice system” to destroy ideological and political opponents. 

Today the insouciant American people are enslaved for causes that are to their detriment, unlike the plantation’s agenda of growing cotton. The American people voluntarily accepted slavery, because they thought it would apply to others–the rich.  But as multi-billionaire Warren Buffet has said, his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.

Today slavery is much more widespread and efficient than it was in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Today all over the world everyone who is employed has to supply a percentage of their labor to the state.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, to acquire a slave’s labor required a large capital outlay to purchase a slave from his captor or from a middleman who purchased the slave for resale. Today the state doesn’t have to purchase the provider of the labor it confiscates. The state  simply imposes an income tax. In the case of the democracies, the gullible publics voted themselves into slavery in order for the state to serve the public good. 

In the 18th and 19th centuries slave owners had a large percentage of their wealth in their labor force.  For the labor force to have good morale and be productive, the slaves had to be well treated.  “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is a propaganda tract.  Whippings, rapes, and breakup of families would undermine labor productivity and the planter’s profits. There are always some self-destructive people, but abuse of one’s investment property is not a general rule. 

Today there is no such constraint on the state and punishments for non-performance are much worst. The state imprisons you and confiscates all of your labor.  A person in a prison cell for income tax evasion is far less free than a slave on a plantation who gets a whipping. Which would you prefer?

It is extraordinary that today freedom is measured in terms of restraints on behavior, whereas the historical definition of freedom is a person who owns his own labor.  Free labor was labor free from the claims of others on it.


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