Did you ever hear the phrase: “It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle”? In a nutshell, that was the American revolt against British taxes in colonial times. Americans refused to obey laws that they had no voice in making.
After the new federal government launched in 1789, Americans continued to dispute taxation, well before federal income taxes even existed. Early tax revolts like the Whiskey Rebellion and the Nullification Crisis involved a sales tax and an import tax, nothing even approaching a tax on one’s earnings.
The debate remains red hot. Today America taxes estates, sales, incomes and inheritances. A far away government run by an unaccountable ruling elite, reaching out across great distances to seize and squander hard-earned dollars?
Or are taxes the price we pay for services that everyone needs, like infrastructure, law enforcement and public health?
It’s a “fabric of society” question for each generation to resolve anew. And it doesn’t help that sometimes the Constitution seems to contradict itself. In one place, the Constitution says that Congress can regulate trade with foreign nations (hence an import tax) but goes on to forbid laws that favor the ports of one state over those of another. Was the tariff unconstitutional? You be the judge.
The tax debate gives you the chance to re-examine the purposes of America. So is it every man for himself, to secure the “blessings of liberty?” Or is it a shared mission and journey, “to promote the general welfare”?
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