March 15, 2016

Tax Scams and Official Scams

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Watch out kids! There’s a new tax scam in townScreen Shot 2016-03-15 at 2.36.44 PM.

According to the MarketWatch PSA, there’s some scammers out there who are –get this– pretending to be the Real Deal, the ones in society who have the State’s permission to take our money.

It’s always amusing, in a twisted way, to see one set of thieving plunders warn the masses of the other.  Reminds me of that sticker Ron Paul had in his Congressional Office: “Don’t steal, the government hates competition.”

More seriously, it’s amazing the extent to which the state has infected the minds of its victims such that all that it does is considered within the bounds of moral legitimacy. Sure, there are debates about how it should be done or who should run the program. But any attempt to question whether it ought to be done is met with outrage and horror. For instance, the alleged “conservative” Ted Cruz, has drawn thousands of cheering supporters with the following words:

“It’s irresponsible, and any politician that doesn’t step forward and address it [the insolvency of Social Security] is not being a real leader. We need to seek political courage to take this on and save and strengthen Social Security.”

But here is the thing: the debates surrounding words such as these are: whether or not Ted Cruz can or cannot fulfill this noble goal; or perhaps, whether he will come up with a good enough plan to save the program. I have little interest in such debates. What I am focused on is whether Ted Cruz should seek to save and strengthen socialistic retirement. What? This is conservatism?

Is this the leadership that a free society depends upon? As if a free society needed a political leader –we used to have community leaders and family leaders and leaders of commerce and so forth. All voluntary. All capitalistic. Now we have “leaders” competing for power over mankind. People who seek to run the nation, fix the economy. 75 years ago, Mises was calling this dangerous new idea one of socialism. Don’t you see? In the name of freedom and capitalism, those who hold themselves out to be conservatives are really socialistic in their mindset, their approach. (I don’t mention the Democrats because they don’t hold themselves out to be conservatives or capitalists– so opposing them is too easy).

The entire paradigm of our political conversation reminds me of Edmund Burke’s words:

In vain you tell me that artificial government is good, but that I fall out only with the abuse. The thing! The thing itself is the abuse!

Or as I would respond to Ted Cruz:

In vain you tell me that Social Security is good, but that I fall out only with the abuse. The thing! The thing itself is the abuse!

Don’t you see? This is the true scam, that the masses think they are supporting someone who is going to “let freedom ring” or “stand up for principles” or some other overpriced political bumper sticker phrase. We are scammed into thinking that this is the way it ought to be done. We are sold a bill of goods and pay for it our entire lives, sometimes with our lives. The state is not great.

If the function of government in a free society is to prosecute criminals and protect the life and property of individuals in society, then the state itself is the enemy of government. And yet it, like the tax scammers, holds itself out to be a protector of civilization, champion of the people. But it is not state abuse that is the problem–as if the world would be a better place if we just eliminated “waste, fraud and abuse”– no, the “thing! The thing itself is the abuse!” The state itself is a scam.

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Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com