Taxation Is Not Theft, An Open Letter To Simple-Minded Conservatives

How many times on your Facebook feed have you seen self-described libertarians or conservatives claim that “taxation is theft”? Every time a news story about taxes and/or spending comes up, you will almost inevitably come across a person saying that taxation is illegal, unconstitutional, etc.

Quite often these same people will applaud expensive military actions and pay lip service to veterans, but complain about paying taxes that pay for these same things, along with poverty or reproductive health programs. I don’t want to be so partisan about it, but taxation is a constant complaint from conservatives, despite the often glaring hypocrisy and other logical inconsistencies.


Here is a brief history of the income tax, which is a constitutional amendment, just like the 1st and 2nd that these individuals tend to worship.

“The origin of the income tax on individuals is generally cited as the passage of the 16th Amendment, passed by Congress on July 2, 1909, and ratified February 3, 1913; however, its history actually goes back even further. During the Civil War Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861 which included a tax on personal incomes to help pay war expenses. The tax was repealed ten years later. However, in 1894 Congress enacted a flat rate Federal income tax, which was ruled unconstitutional the following year by the U.S. Supreme Court because it was a direct tax not apportioned according to the population of each state. The 16th amendment, ratified in 1913, removed this objection by allowing the Federal government to tax the income of individuals without regard to the population of each State. ” (Library of Congress)

I don’t think anyone is excited about paying taxes. Taxation has been a part of American history since the days before our independence from Britain. People don’t complain about nice roads and bridges, but they sure get upset about their tax dollars being spent on something they don’t like.

Libertarians are especially vocal about taxes, and they like to claim that the United States would be just fine without taxation, since we existed without a regular income tax until nearly a century ago. However, whether you oppose or support war, every one of our major conflicts since the revolution were funded by public money, including the Civil War.

Turning functions of government over to private corporations isn’t a good idea either. Government should not follow a corporate model, because turning a profit is the purpose of business, not government. If we followed this blueprint, government would cater to rich individuals even more than it already does.

It is true that our tax code does need simplification and overhaul. But screaming “taxation is theft” over and over until your fingers wear out the keyboard isn’t helping a damn thing. It also lets the rest of us know that we aren’t dealing with a reasonable adult with any clue of how government actually works.

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About Manny Schewitz 437 Articles
Manny Schewitz is a progressive and registered Democrat currently living in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is a co-founder of Modern Liberals and an unapologetic liberal who supports gun regulations, abortion rights, and Bernie Sanders. Manny is on Facebook, Instagram and you can follow him on Twitter as well.
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