Thursday, February 27, 2003

You Pave Your Own Road to Slavery
By Alexander Marriott
UNLV Rebel Yell: January 23 & 27, 2003

The twentieth of January in the year 2003 signaled a point of no return for the state of Nevada. It was on this day that Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn delivered his State of the State speech in which he called for the largest tax increases in the history of the state, because the budget was, as he said it, "cut to the bone."

Now the real debate starts, but to my utter horror, there are only a few people actually opposing this move on the basis of principle, legislator Bob Beers being one of those few individuals with the guts to do so. But such courageous individuals are few and far between. This is not a Democrat/Republican issue as both parties are generally in favor of the new hikes. This is not a liberal/conservative issue as both of those ideologies either wholeheartedly support these measures or provide a worthless opposition. Rather this is a tyranny/freedom issue that will, as the supporters of the hikes have said, determine what kind of Nevada we have ten years down the road.

On the fifteenth of January the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce held a meeting for their members to discuss the Chamber's position on the tax cuts. I was able to get in because my dad owns his own business and is a member. Some of the more cynical on campus probably think that an organization like the Chamber of Commerce is made up of a bunch of greedy capitalists that intend to fight any taxation of themselves to the very last person, but if only half of that were true I would still have hope in this struggle. The members of the Chamber have accepted the ludicrous cliché that the state budget is "cut to the bone," and the Chamber itself has endorsed all of the tax increases except the gross receipts tax. The reason they oppose this tax is because they say it is unfair, not because the idea of taking money by force is morally repugnant. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is intellectually bankrupt and has left individuals of character and integrity like Bob Beers to stand alone.

One thing that flabbergasted me while at the meeting was how clueless these purported evil greedy capitalists are. One man said that he couldn't understand why the government always comes after businessmen and then, in the same sentence, advocated taxing some other people, not realizing that taxes are the same moral evil no matter whom they are thrown upon. Nearly all of these evil capitalists accept the notion that they indeed are evil and deserve to be taxed, just not as much as the government wants. Only my dad pointed out the fact that the government was the one being greedy, advancing a large legalized theft program. And what about the teachers and unions, the two groups pushing the hardest for these taxes? Aren't they greedy for expecting other people to have their money expropriated only for their healthcare and salaries? Is it not the government's fault for taking on responsibilities it clearly could not manage, like the schools and healthcare? Yet it is the businessmen who are expected to fix this problem by submitting to onerous taxation.

Of course the businessmen are submitting because they don't know how to defend themselves. And when someone does come to their defense, i.e. Bob Beers, they leave him to face the onslaught alone. They are driving the nails in their own coffins, but I surely hope those reading this, probably not businessmen, think this doesn't affect them, or even more disastrously, think that the businessmen deserve this treatment. Nothing could be further from the truth, this goes far beyond just businessmen and looting bureaucrats and unions. This will affect everyone in a profound way for years to come.

Taxing businessmen to give away to teachers and provide for people's healthcare is apparently an effective political argument, because it never fails to come up in election cycle after election cycle. And indeed I know a great many people who find this kind of rhetoric both morally and operationally appealing. If I were a tax and spend kind of a guy I'd do the same thing; businessmen have quite a bit of money, they rarely, if ever, defend themselves, and with just a little demagoguery, I can get many people against them.

But what is the end result and does it matter? Would the end result be improved education and healthcare? Governments at all levels have been throwing a great deal of money, none of which they earned, at the education system for nearly a half-century now and have the schools gotten any better? If they had, would the issue be a campaign tool every election cycle? How about healthcare? We hear often from the geniuses in Washington and State Capitals around the country that they know what's wrong with healthcare and they, being the geniuses that they are, can fix it. Ever since the government forced companies to submit all of their research and trials to FDA regulation and then created the HMO system, which they now decry as the most evil thing since Hitler, the overall costs of the system have been skyrocketing which Milton Friedman documented alarmingly well in his book, "Free to Choose." And since the United States is one of the only countries not setting prices for pharmaceutical drugs, the drug companies are forced to make up their profits in the United States. In fact, the United States is the only reason drug companies still research new drugs, in any other country they'd have no hope of ever recuperating their R&D costs.

But would it matter even if the education and healthcare systems were helped by these tax increases? Would that right the incredible wrong that will be done to the entrepreneurs and businesses that will have this yolk placed around them? To put it another way, would it be good for someone to mug you and then turn around and give the money to charity or feed his family? If you say 'yes' then why do you keep any money at all, or even work if you think other people have the moral right to your own labor and produce? If you endorse such a system then you are advocating your own slavery.

That is the essence of what the businessmen are doing in this case, that are paving their own road to slavery, because who will the State of Nevada come to in the future when they mess up their finances? It will be to the easiest targets, the businessmen. And everyone else in Nevada, who doesn't stand against this and fight, is accepting the same fate, but just buying themselves a little time. Businesses won't create wealth forever when those running them realize that they aren't going to be allowed to produce and keep their money, which is rightfully theirs. The government will then have to look to all those (teachers and unionists included) who stood by or joined in to crush the businessmen and demand the money needed to pay for the pensions, the healthcare, the education, and the entitlements from whoever is still around, i.e. you and me.

If these taxes pass I can think of no other alternative than active resistance, to clarify, no business should voluntarily hand over its money. If the State of Nevada wants it then they should come out in the open with their armed bandits and take it with at least the courtesy to show everyone what they are; low rotten thieves with Kenny Guinn as the ringleader.

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