Harry Reid and the “Voluntary” Income Tax

One Jan Helfeld interviewed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). The interview can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/5az366

Mr. Helfeld argues that the U.S. income tax is not voluntary, because it is backed up by the threat of governmental force. Reid insists that it is voluntary.

In trying to sort out Reid’s reasons, I find three arguments.

1) In many other countries you would never file taxes. Especially in European countries, your government makes the employer deduct all taxes before you get paid.

2) Here, we have lots of — oops; not loopholes — ways that people can get deductions, such as on mortgage payments, health, etc. Reid calls these, “incentives for people to do business.”

3 ) In resposnse to Helfeld’s assertion that there is force involved since if you don’t pay you go to jail, Reid responded, “You don’t go to jail. Some people go to jail…” but we have civil penalty alternatives.

When I come upon someone who uses words equivocally — as Sen. Reid does — and who does not change when this is pointed out to him, as Mr. Helfeld did several times, I consider that person to be either stupid or dishonest. I include Reid in the dishonest category.

Words have meanings. When pinned to the wall, Reid acknowledges that government force is used in tax collection by saying that “ultimately, you can’t cheat on your taxes.” So he (barely) recognizes what “voluntary” means. But immediately thereafter he continues to insist that our income tax system is voluntary because it’s different from those of some European countries.

The concept “voluntary” refers to the distinguishing characteristic of an action, in this case the action of handing over money. Throughout history, governments have forcibly taken wealth from those who produced it, and that’s what is called taxation, of course. It is the opposite of what’s meant by “voluntary”, which denotes action one takes willingly, of one’s own accord.
Now, it is taken as a truism that all politicians are dishonest. Usually, that means that they all make campaign promises that don’t subsequently get fulfilled. But Harry Reid’s dishonesty is more blatant. He wants to make us believe that words don’t have meanings, really, that they can mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean. Thus, by destroying our language, do our leaders try to destroy our minds.

–Ken

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