Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Tax Collector

What could be a more natural activity than working for one’s own existence? Even in his most primitive state – perhaps especially in his most primitive state – man is productive in order to feed himself and his family. Even in these tribal societies, however, an embryonic manifestation of what Adam Smith called “the division of labor” is evident.

Some are superb hunters and kill more than they need – the excess is traded to others, to the benefit of both. Some make the best bows, and make many more than they can use. They “sell” the excess for something that they need – perhaps to the hunter in exchange for meat. This arrangement is through mutual consent and results in their mutual benefit. If the hunter decided to keep all that he killed, it would be left to inferior hunters to hunt their own meat, to their mutual detriment.

To suggest that the natural state of man is socialistic or fascistic in the modern sense is laughable. Primitive man would see no function to be served by the bureaucrat – who neither hunts nor sews, nor does anything else productive, for that matter – whose only function is to redistribute in a more “equitable” way, being sure to skim a little for himself in the process.

No, the function of the bureaucrat is more closely approximated by another historical figure – that of the biblical “tax collector”. These detested men were the agent of a foreign and deaf government, and made their living by extorting money from the taxed.

Now is the age of the bureaucrat. These modern-age “tax collectors” have so imprisoned us, so choked the very natural act of free trade between free peoples, that they have secured for themselves a permanent place in our society, constantly draining its life-blood – never quite enough to kill their host; just enough to make it anemic and sick.

They have twisted our thinking. We have believed their lie that without them, we would be lost. They have so consistently and successfully led us astray, and for so long, that we now almost believe them when they say that we are inherently evil and unjust to our fellow man; that without them, our free trade between free agents would result in unmitigated suffering; that without their leadership, we would all fall off a cliff of our own greed to our demise.

If that were true, if mankind so desperately needed a bureaucrat for its survival, then surely our weak and pitiful species would long ago have been rejected by an unforgiving planet.

I ask again: what could be more natural than working for one’s own living? And if this is true, what could be more evil, more destructive to that natural state of Man than the demented twisting of that natural productivity into the instrument of Man’s torment?

Under the thumb of the bureaucrat class, millstones are tied to the necks of the most extraordinarily productive, thus negating the potential benefits their natural gifts might otherwise give to a grateful society. On the watch of the bureaucrats, the least productive are elevated to positions of supremacy and lordship. When the natural order of things is so drastically changed, one has to wonder what is at work. Certainly this chaos is not a natural phenomenon. Rather it is being done to us intentionally. And to find the source of our discontent, one needs look no further than the ever-more-powerful tax collector/bureaucrat.

And while there is redemption, even for the tax collector, he must recognize that his work, stealing behind a cloak of legality, is evil at its core. His theft from the productive to sell favors to the unproductive is no righting of wrongs – it is the unleashing of a poison that eats at the heart of society itself.

I’ve heard a particular phrase so often that it no longer has the sting of a lie – it has the soft sound of the accepted truth: “One must serve society…” This is an infernal misrepresentation. Man was never meant to serve society. Society was created to serve him. Society should not be a burden. If it were, primitive men long ago would have abandoned it in favor of the natural liberty God gave them.

Society is a tacit contract between equals – undertaken to the mutual benefit of all. When one man uses that society as a weapon to disenfranchise another, whether that other is poor or rich, it is not social justice. Neither is it justice when people are taught to genuflect before a superior for the means of their very existence. No, these are not symbols of social justice. Instead they represent the most despicable form of social injustice. They are the hallmarks of slavery.