The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
The practical problem is how to engage in starvation. The vast majority of us have our taxes withheld at the payroll level. We're paying our taxes in advance all year long and when we file, we get back or pay the difference in what was estimated vs. reality.
How do we deny the IRS when we pay by default without thinking about it?
You can change your withholdings to reduce it. To turn it off invites immediate questioning by the IRS. If you're not 1099 or equivalent (most of us are typical W-2), this doesn't work unless it was done simultaneously and enough people could avoid the questioning by their payroll departments. If you're a regular W-2, they may not comply with a request to stop withholdings.
Small businesses could do it. But it would have to be in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the IRS in its attempt to prosecute. It will and has done so against businesses that have refused to take or submit withholdings. We as individuals may well be powerless to do so in sufficient numbers. Especially if we work for large corporations that will follow the IRS' directions.
In my case at a large financial institution, I am familiar with the processes that the IRS can use to collect. Once they have an order, they can stop funds from hitting your account or have the employer take them from your check before they ever cut it.
To make this work will require numbers and timing? It can't be the 10% currently unemployed. They're already starving the beast. It would have to come from the ranks of middle Ameria and I'd argue from at least 20-30 percent of that population to have an effect. Even then, it may not work as the comfortable middle class pays the majority of the taxes in this country and would they risk losing everything when presently they have nothing to lose?
The Wikipedia article puts the shadow economy (defined to include off-books but otherwise legal activity as well as illegal activity) in the U.S. at 8-10% of GDP back in 1993 (cite Fleming, Roman, and Farrel at this link (link is to a PDF). I've seen libertarian sources claim it's really as high as 25%.
Seems like a fair number of people are trying to starve the beast. Really, though, it's not that the people "going Galt" have to hit some critical mass to bring down Leviathan on its own. Rather, there have to be enough to get the people propping up the house of cards by buying Treasuries to do the math and say, "That's enough, buster, adios."
We need to clear up a few misconceptions.
Withholding tax revenue would not "starve the beast" at all. The government's spending is, to a considerable degree, unrelated to its tax revenue. The difference needs to be made up by public borrowing, or, if no borrowers are to be found, by printing more money ("monetizing the debt"). So long as people still value dollars, the government can spend arbitrary amounts of money.
Here's the trick, though. If they print too much money, the dollar will be weakened. Thus, tax revolt will most likely culminate in an attack on the dollar's value. THAT, more than any particular shortfall in tax revenue, will be what gets the government's attention. (However, as Zimbabwe demonstrates, governments are quite willing to inflate the currency to maintain their own power.)
Further: what is the ultimate source of the US Dollar's value, as a fiat currency?
Its value comes from its use in paying taxes. Nothing else. Because the government only accepts dollars in tax, and because all economic transactions must be valued in dollars, the dollar has value. Now, the dollar also has value as an international currency among non-taxpayers, but this value is premised on its value as a domestic currency.
Withdrawing from the tax system would directly threaten the dollar's very foundation.
The trouble is that the government would be unlikely to respond to a tax revolt by cutting spending. Instead, they would try to exert more control to track down the scofflaws. Ultimately, they will take the American economy to the very brink of collapse, if not beyond it.
This may be what is ultimately necessary. I don't know. But I do know that we had better start thinking about how it will all play out, and how we can convince government to return to sanity before we plummet off the precipice.
This thing doesn't do HTML? How uncivilized....
Earn less; spend less; put your free time into working to replace the incumbents with better representatives of your values and beliefs. You can't make a leopard change its spots, but you can replace it with a tiger.
The system is killing itself right now. You won't have to do anything. Most of government spending is borrowed money. And when no one will loan it anymore, it will monetize it. And as soon as a world currency is established. We'll be allowed to sink into being a third world debtor nation.............Because its not about money, its about power.
Already we have something like 40+% of the population paying zero (or even negative) taxes (cite: http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/1410.html). The numbers are as of 2006, but given the recent jump in unemployment, I can't help but think that number's increased considerably.
It does not appear to me that "starving the beast" works since the government is already effectively on half-rations...
It's a whole lot easier to starve the government if you move to the Fair Tax system. Remove income taxes and replace it with a heavy sales tax at the federal level.
Think you're paying too much in taxes? Move over to the black market for your goods.
Justin, do you really think that the government would tolerate a black market if it were to depend heavily on sales taxes? The black market is the very reason why the Fair Tax will never exist—or if it does, that would be terrifying, because it would mean that the government believes that it can control all economic behavior and eradicate the black market.
I think, personally, that the statists have won. They own hearts and minds. When someone who tries to keep the fruit of his labor is told that "he's not paying his fair share", then you can't win. Philosophically, if you accept the right of the State to take property for it's own purposes, then you've already lost most of the battle. The only remaining discussion is what exactly those purposes are, and who exactly will benefit from the spoils. No one is contesting the existence of the super-state. No one is talking about repealing laws, about getting rid of agencies. People like that are kooks, not to be taken seriously. No, the rallying cry of America in 2009 is "life, liberty, and Social Security checks".
I hate to put on the Lenin hat and declare "the worst the better for us", but it's getting close to that. When I hear people blithely talking about the "failure of deregulation" or, "well, the free market failed so the government has to step in" in reference to healthcare or the financial crisis, I despair. I'm sick of being Cassandra, sick of watching the whole damn mess slide inexorably over the cliff.
You can't fix it, because it's political suicide to fix it. The people want their handouts, and they don't want to pay for them. As more and more go on the dole, the politicians will continue to squeeze Peter, as Paul grows bigger and bigger. Then default, meltdown, and maybe reform and rebirth. Not likely though, in my opinion. Virtue matters, morality matters. The Constitution and the Declaration and the Bill of Rights only have meaning when people choose to believe in them. People just don't care, they just don't. They've always lived in a free and prosperous country, they have no inkling of how fragile that is, of how quickly it can all fall apart.It's once again, the memory of what has been lost being lost.
Try to track down a Rhodesian. I talked to one once who was born in 1960. He was 15 in 1975, and he left in 1986. In 11 years, he watched a prosperous and stable country descend into, well, being like the rest of Africa.
Really though, I don't think it will be like that. Like the century of fading liberty, I think a long, slow decline, by fits and starts, is what awaits this country. No one will be able to point to the moment it started, no one will be able to say when it began, but they'll recognize it. Maybe they'll act. I doubt it. People are just softer, nowadays. Lives, fortunes, and sacred honor just doesn't mean anything.
You're what, 21, Britt? I don't say that to demean you in any way, just that, well, I'm 33, and that Cassandra thing never gets any easier. And hell, I'm just a pup compared to Kevin. :(
There's nowhere left to go, we can't win, and I'm not really constitutionally designed to surrender. This doesn't leave me many options.
I think we need to A.) get rid of withholding, and B.) move election day up to, say, the 4th Tuesday in April. So everyone has to pay all of their taxes in a really obvious fashion, one big check, and then they immediately get to go vote.
I think some here are a bit too pessimistic. I've just been reading about the New Deal and one of the first acts of Congress after Roosevelt's election was to ban the ownership of gold.
So if you had gold coins as an investment, you had to turn them in and get back essentially worthless dollars. Funny, I didn't read about a 2nd American revolution in 1933 as the outraged citizens rose up and overthrew leaders that would commit such tyranny. No, what happened was people meekly turned in their gold and went on to reelect FDR 3 more times by wide margins.
I just can't see that happening today. People are much more savy and distrustful of government authority than they were in FDR's time. The internet allows people to get information that the people of the 1930's could only dream about. The future is much more brighter today than it was to a freedom loving person who was stuck in the 1930's. Things aren't all that great right now, but I have hope that people will shrug off the statist mantle that impedes them and move forward. Statism is an ideolgy of the past and I believe that is will fade away.
You can never "starve the beast" as long as "the beast" has the capability to declare an activity to be taxable. If enough people "go Galt" the .gov will determine what they are doing to keep body and soul together and impose a tax on that. Then everything re-sets to "tax protester nuts" "not doing their fair share" and all the rest of the social demonisation we've come to know and despise. Not to mention the vigerous collection tactics.
For starters, this April 15th, everyone should file their taxes on MAIL-in returns through the Post Office. The IRS has admitted they don't (and can't), even bother to staff looking at mail in returns, they only work the computerized files. It's enough of a ripple to severely affect the system. Make them actually open envelopes and cash checks. That's a first baby step available with no pain in just a few months.
There's lot's of ways to go to a lower cash lifestyle; they all involve some measure of discomfort or inconvenience. The government is not going to bother much with people who live on a barter system, it's simply not worth their time to try to collect 20% of your dozen chickens.
We're SO deeply invested in our highly specialized society many people don't even realize how much they can withdraw from the cash and credit society if they wish to. I even find myself rather fearful of it, even tho I was raised that way. I really don't wish to go back to a house without plumbing ever again. And it doesn't have to come to that but it could.
You can't go Galt AND keep up with the Jones'. That's a huge decision to make, and it requires buy-off from spouses and children.
But if you plan to do something like it, you need to invest now before all your purchases are efficiently tracked. Because eventually you may be taxed on the value of things you already own, if they don't simply decide to confiscate them. You can't diappear off the grid in a sudden pop. You need to fade off before everybody is tightly tied in, and it's already quite late on that front.
We worry and fret over the IRS. Wait for the world tax. The O-thing just gave INTERPOL the right to do anyting they want inside the US. With full IMMUNITY from our laws or oversight.
The IRS will soon be obsolete. As most of the wealth of our nation will have been stolen through inflation/deflation cycles. Gold hoarders will be trading it in to pay the power bill / get groercies for the family. Think DETROIT/USA. Think you'll need the IRS in a place like that? No, you'll need some real muscle. Think the IRS is outside the law? We ain't seen nothing yet.
There's a lot of things to say here, and I won't be able to say them all in the time allotted.
>>Earn less; spend less;
That is NOT the essence of "Going Galt", diminishing the self in the hopes of effecting change is a hunger strike maneuver, which only works if your name is Mohandas Ghandi, and you're squaring off against a relatively moral polity a la pre-corrupt Britain.
"Going Galt" has two elements: the withdrawal of sanction from tainted society and its economy, and the creation of an untainted society, with its own economy.
Folks always focus on the "strike" aspect of Galting, and they fail to appreciate that the truly revolutionary aspect was the establishment of an alternative economy that rendered the tainted "primary" economy irrelevant to the strikers.
>>You can't go Galt AND keep up with the Jones'.
There's truth in that: "going off grid" (which is distinct from, but related to "Going Galt") requires withdrawing from all the entanglements that make modern lifestyles feasible, in order to achieve a more independent basis. The experts in this, of course, are the Amish, and so that should be considered as the baseline model to start with. Note that I'm not saying you must become an 18th century agrarian, but that's where your mental map starts....perhaps you'll wind up being something like a Mennonite, with cars, and snappier clothing. Cellphones? Hmmm...cell phones are fairly entangling. Electricity?
>>Funny, I didn't read about a 2nd American revolution in 1933 as the outraged citizens rose up and overthrew leaders that would commit such tyranny. No, what happened was people meekly turned in their gold and went on to reelect FDR 3 more times by wide margins.
General purpose people didn't have much gold (or any) investments back then, and that whole thing was a populist "throw the rich under the bus" maneuver.
Read the text of the executive order here: http://www.the-privateer.com/1933-gold-confiscation.html, and ask yourself if today's polity would tolerate that from either Bush or Obama.
The FDR presidency really was something unique in all American history, for many reasons. (Depression, WWII, precedent of Wilson Administration..)
Remember: Once the gold, which had been set by statute to $20/oz, and in the posession of the .gov, it was then revalued @ $35/oz
The only good reason not to don sun god robes and take a ceremonial dump on his grave is that it's near Eleanor's.
I'd like to point out that any way one figures out to "easily" stop supporting the system financially, will likely be deduced quickly by our adversaries, who can then easily stop it, unless there is further dimension to the plan. They have courts, soldiers, financing, and a media that will mold public opinion as they see fit. We have relative obscurity and less inertia, which gives us the upper hand.
What we need, is not a monumentous single movement (which is basically storming the trenches), we need a series of well-planned (or spontaneous and unpredictable) moves meant to draw our foes to an inevitable conclusion, and in a way that confuses their normal strategies and slows their responses. Perhaps I've been reading too much on Boyd lately, but I think we need to start blowing past mechanisms and objectives and damn the flanks, not organize a massive troop movement down the center to meet the .gov head-on.
I second Robert's suggestion; even if you use software to prepare your taxes, print a paper copy of your return and mail it in.
Also, if you fill out a paper return, don't use the envelope provided. You don't have to and the bar codes on the envelopes are used, among other things, to assign random audit slots.
Finally, if you can afford to wait (i.e., you don't have a refund coming and need the money) file for an automatic six-month extension. Then mail in a paper return. That way, they don't even see it until the second half of October and by then, most of the random audit slots have been assigned.
No taxesd paid - wouldn't the IRS just think that suddenly there were a lot more Democrats??
I wasn't necessarily suggesting a strike, merely moving the majority of one's assets to a format that isn't as easily taxed as cash. Yes, they tax real property based on a one-sided assessment of its value, but it's still at a lower rate than wage income, and there are lots of ways to enhance your lifestyle on a farm that don't generate much in the way of cash, or "income". Brew your own beer, grow your own veggies, raise your own eggs and chickens; don't pay any taxes on them. Pay $200 and get the permit to distill your own hooch. As long as there are no trackable receipts who is to know if you traded a bit of it for your neighbor's bacon?
The problem is that (as we agreed), the flashier, most comfort-inducing aspects of modern life are very tied into the grid- telephones, email, credit cards, vehicle registrations and insurance. I think telecommunications can be kept even in a fairly low-cash, low profile lifestyle. Simply be aware of how you use them. Vehicles: the sweet spot on TCO for an individual or small business is already in well-maintained, used vehicles. Prudent saving makes paying cash fairly practical. A lot of business decisions are highly impacted by tax incentives. However, if one's primary concern is to be comfortable and secure while participating as little as possible in the 'tainted' system, then maximizing wealth on paper isn't the goal and some of those gyrations can be eliminated. When you take the risk of the economy collapsing under the socialist onslaught into account, maximum wealth would be physical assets that make your life better, not over-inflated dollars in an account somewhere.
To a large extent, what you're suggesting aligns to my advice to find ways to insulate ourselves from the havoc the opposition seeks to wreak upon us.
--pressed for time---
There's your blueprint for success.
Follow it, you win. Deviate, you lose.
>>Follow it, you win. Deviate, you lose.
Thus spake every confidence gamer from the very first god-king to this day, explaining all failure in terms of insufficient piety.
As the state is banditry, revolution culminates in the suppression of the criminal state by market providers of security and law. Market demand for such service providers is what will lead to their emergence.
~yeaaaaaaaah~~~~ Good luck with that black flag revolution, as people chip in to place an order from the back of soldier of fortune.