Last year, I promised: “Next year, I’m writing about prison rape.”
Close your eyes and think of America
It’s tax time, and as always, our thoughts here turn to the forcible penetration of our wallets and our privacy by a government in full tumescence, turgid and needy, far too large for its proper place in our lives.
While Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” not everyone agrees that we’re getting our money’s worth, or even that the extraction is justified. “Taxes are theft!” they cry – if you don’t voluntarily pay, the government will use force – arrest, imprisonment, or just simple seizure – to make sure you do.
Of course, it’s not enough to say merely that taxes are theft – in some ways, taxation resembles a much more personal crime. Under our system, it’s not simply the extraction of property that our government seeks. All government do that, and have various ways to do so. But every April, our government compels its citizens not merely to pay, but to file. This filing involves the forced labor of millions of people, compiling information demanded by our government, figuring out complex forms and formulas, and confessing to the authorities virtually every type of activity we’ve been involved in during the previous year. Get married? Have a kid? Tell the feds. Move to a new state? Get dumped by your spouse? Tell the feds. Get an embarrassing STD and rack up a lot of medical bills? Uncle Sam wants to know. And Uncle Sam will make you tell – just ask Wesley Snipes.
In most relationships, if one party feels taken advantage of, they can simply leave – pack up, seek shelter elsewhere, even get a restraining order if one is necessary. But you can’t do that with your Uncle Sam. You’re trapped in that relationship just as surely as if Uncle had the top bunk in your cell. He can get a hold of you any time you like, and you can’t get out. (You can’t escape because U.S. citizens are subjects of the IRS no matter where in the world they live – and even renouncing your citizenship may not relieve you of your tax obligations to the federal government. )
And don’t forget to look at the bright side: next time, it’s going to hurt worse.