Very closely are noble issues bound up with material ones. Nothing could be more grossly material than the refusal to pay taxes, and the honest historian who comes to examine these occasional epic refusals will find often that the tax was reasonable and the refusal, on material grounds, absurd. Yet the refusal to pay taxes is one of the sacraments of history, the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace, the symbol of a resurgent spirit among an oppressed people, the assertion of the rights of man, the voice of liberty defying the dictates of authority.
William the Silent: William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, 1533-1584 by C.V. Wedgwood
16 thoughts on “Taxed Enough Already”
Lesson of History #1. Never levy a tax unless you are willing AND ABLE to do whatever is required to collect. Failure to collect makes you look weak and replaceable.
Too bad the Hanovers were dumber than the Oranges.
This Orange, and his son, Maurice of Nausau were not dumb at all.
Their weakness is not taxes.
Silent Bill was also the first head of state to be assassinated with a hand gun.
I suspect that there are a couple of reasons that taxes so frequently end up being the trigger point. By that point, in many cases the legitimacy of the entire governmental structure has already been called into question by other events. Taxes mark out an in-group [those collecting the taxes] and an out-group [those paying the taxes]. And that division is emphasized at every due date. And the collection of taxes is implicitly backed the threat of deadly force.
A lot of people, in any country or culture, do not react well to threats.
And acceptance of a new taxation carries with it the implicit acceptance of any further levels of taxation, under the same threat, by a group that is already not considered to have the rightful [legal and perceived “rightness” are not the same thing] power to do so. That sticks in many a craw.
So the tea goes into the harbor, or whatever other gesture ends up being the trigger for general unpleasantness. I will leave it to others to decide of any of that applies to today’s situation; especially in view of Chief Justice Roberts’ ruling that the Bill of Rights can be violated by the government at will so long as they do so in the guise of a tax.
James Stewart, Earl of Moray, illegitimate son of James V of Scotland, half-brother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and regent for the infant James VI (later James I of England) was shot and killed by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh and Woodhouselee on January 23, 1570. Hamilton shot Stewart “through a tirleis window (shuttered), from a stair whereupon were hunge sheets to drie, but in truthe, to hide the smooke, and make the place the lesse suspected” with a rifled “carbine of 3 feet 5 inches (104 cm) length and a hexagonal bore barrel of 2 feet 5 inches (74 cm) length”. Hamilton had a horse waiting and fled, ultimately escaping to France.
“the honest historian who comes to examine these occasional epic refusals will find often that the tax was reasonable and the refusal”
All honest historians know the income tax is immoral, and therefore all rebellions against the income tax must be found by honest historians to be justified.
The tax at issue in the book was a sales tax.
I remember something I thought interesting – from history. That the taxes that started the American Revolution – such as the tea tax – were levied because Parliament felt that the American colonies should do “their fair share” in paying for the costs of the French & Indian War.
Which did not seem unreasonable.
The point was whether Parliament could levy taxes directly on the colonies. The British first tried to impose a small, reasonable-seeming tax. Once the principle was established, there was no limit. The Founders knew exactly what the British were up to.
Exactly. Lex – the Colonists thought of themselves as good, loyal Englishmen, at first, and desired the rights of Englishmen, to be represented in Parliament and to have a voice in voting on those matters nearest to their heart and pocketbook. No taxation without represenation, and all that. I think it was also on Chicagoboyz that someone (Lex?) provided a link to a long essay about how the ordinary colonialists, by the time that all this began breaking out, were very much more prosperous generally than Englishmen of the same socioeconomic standing. The American colonialists lived about a decade longer, were about a head taller physically, were better-fed and had more comfortable lives generally. Grinding taxes – on everything from official documents and windows in your house – would pretty much destroy that prosperity.
Pity – letting each colony send a couple of voting representatives to Parliament, and handing out peerages to notable Colonials might have settled it all. Or then, maybe not.
Valid points Lex – and Sgt Mom – but also remember that then the revolution started the support ran into thirds – a third supporting it, a third against it, and a third not caring either way (sound familiar?)
Would be an interesting book detailing the lives of those notable Tories after the war – some went to Canada, some back to England, some to western Virginia …and places west.
Here’s a pretty good discussion of what happened to the Tories.
I kinda go with Moldbug on the Revolution to a certain extent. IOW once the French and Indian War was over the colonists – who had already begun to stir as a separate people with the Great Awakening and had learned they could fight during the French/Indian War* – began to think of going their separate ways from England.
*called the Seven Years War in Europe, and started by a young Col George Washington.
And the Crown mis-stepped with every stride.
First they tax, then they withdraw, then they send troops, then they hesitate, they at least discuss seizing powder [starting a panicked arms race – sound familiar?] but DO NOT seize the powder, ban assemblies which they allow to re-locate, impose martial law but only really in Boston, finally go to seize powder and arms in an aroused countryside and FAIL. The Crown’s interests were mis-served at every opportunity.
Yes the Crown would have made the colonies second class Englishmen at best, and direct representation *may* have headed it off. But it is difficult for all things a Parliament to rule a continent away.
I mean who would stand for being second class citizens in their own nation, mis-ruled from afar by a rather clueless and corruptable government, which knowing it’s literally the powder keg issue attempts to disarm a people who hold properly armed self-defense of their Liberties as a core sacred right?
And what government would be so clueless as to unwittingly set all this in motion then fail to either concede to reasonable demands – or crush the nascent rebels?
Michael – the subject has always interested me as some of my ancestors – in America at the time – fled to what was the wilderness of Western Virginia – now of course West Virginia.
And you being a good physician, I wonder if the evidence of George III’s mental illness had come by the revolution (affecting judgement).
VSSC – I like your analysis – I do believe we would always have been “second class subjects”
Personally given the times I can’t say I think much of taxation with “representation” these days ;-)
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