Forget taxes on income or consumption, the ultimate in regressive taxation is a tax simply for living. ObamaCare’s mandatory health insurance or fine helps pioneer the notion that people should be taxed just for being alive. In his interview with George Stephanopoulos, Obama called his health care tax a fine. Which would then mean that the United States government is now fining people for living.
Democratic politicians from Obama on down have used the trite metaphor of a driver’s license. But a driver’s license is based on a choice. You can choose to buy a car or not. You can’t however choose to be alive, or rather you can but the only alternative is death. That essentially makes ObamaCare a tax or a fine just for living. Which can’t help but seem like a gateway arch to euthanasia, expressing a value system that sees human life itself as an unwanted nuisance at best and an offense at worst.
The stated rationale that people have to be fined ahead of time for the costs that their illness might impose on the government is not only unconstitutional, but a dangerous slippery slope. If we are going to tax people for their potential illnesses, why not tax parents of newborns for the potential expenses that their children will run up. This notion has already been percolating among some global warming agitators, which means that it will make it to congress sooner or later. Furthermore under the same rationale used for mandatory health insurance, women might be given a choice between using birth control or paying a potential child tax. If you think that’s far-fetched, you haven’t listened to the strident rhetoric of environmentalists pushing Zero Population Growth programs.
That is only one of a thousand possible examples where the slippery slope of fining people for being alive and a potential expense for the government can take us. Once we assume that the government can fine or tax people just for being alive or a potential liability, by the same logic it becomes possible to tax the elderly who have a higher probability of needing medical services. Similarly anyone above the government recommended weight can be taxed or fined based on the potential health problems they might cause. Such an approach would fall into line with the philosophy of Obama Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein’s book, Nudge.
Essentially it would create on the one hand a whole new range of sin taxes targeting anything the government’s social monkeyers disapprove of, and on the other tax people for potential expenses they might incur, fleecing the sheep two ways for the benefit of an ever-expanding government bureaucracy constantly running short of new revenue sources. Essentially the US would turn into the EU with a government boot in everyone’s face, forever.
Democrats often go on about Republicans and regressive taxation, but in fact Democrats routinely push regressive taxation because their core non-minority base is upper middle class to upper class, including the two richest men in America—and because regressive taxation fosters dependency. Regressive taxation squeezes out the middle class in favor of a dependent lower class and an independent upper class, which under a socialist regime consists of people who are either holding down top government positions or non-profit or rent seeking businesses dependent on the government.
Cap and Trade is set to to do just that by not only creating a whopping new tax, but insuring that it filters down through added expenses piled on top of businesses that will hit the poorest the hardest. The entire body of government regulations have hit small businesses the hardest, because they have less resources to cope with them. And when small businesses go out of business, their employees who are usually working class go down with them. The result has hurt the working class and made college the path to the middle and upper class, which naturally puts generation after generations’ minds into the hands of the same left wing academics who helped create the entire situation in the first place.
But Cap and Trade goes beyond the maze of existing regulations to turn taxation itself into a tradeable commodity, imposing a tax to correct a fictional problem and then turning that tax into a commodity in an eerie parallel of the same kind of government tampering that created the sub-prime mortgage calamity. Since taxes inherently take money out of the economy, trading on a diminishing quantity is of course the surest way to a crash. And the consequence of an economic crash in America is that it becomes an opportunity for an even more extensive government takeover of the economy. Each cycle of diminishing returns created by government regulations gives rise to the next wave of government regulations, followed by limited deregulation on behalf of the well connected, followed by another crash.
And what the full combination of these measures accomplishes is to tax every single American for just being alive, for going to work and for doing their daily routines. By turning human activity into an offense, the Carbon Footprint taxes everyone alive for doing as little as breathing. The sheer horror of this may be lost on many, but we are essentially approaching an oxygen tax. We have passed the point in which government taxes labor, to the point in which government taxes life itself. And the only escape is death.
The underlying political shift involves the transition from viewing human activity as beneficial to the country and subject only to as much taxation as is necessary for the government to fund its projects , to viewing people and everything they do as a liability subject to punitive taxation. In the Obama Administration, behind all the fluff and the slogans, the worldview that sees humans as a problem for government is now the dominant theme and with that the transition of government from servant to master to tyrant is complete. Government that begins as a servant grasps the opportunity when seeing the incompetence and fearfulness of the people in the face of a crisis to become their master. And when the master grows weary of having to care for the people, he becomes their tyrant.
There is now no shortage of aspiring philosopher-kings in Washington D.C. and Brussels penning their manuscripts and explaining in finely polished language what the people must be made to do for their own good. And as it turns out the people are a horde of ignorant who eat too much, insist on owning their own cars and clinging to the things that the kings of the bureaucracy have decided they should no longer cling to. As the nobility of old once looked down on peasants, our new lords and masters of the filing cabinet and the license to breathe look down on the people of a dozen once free republics and hammer out the details of their final enslavement under such grand words, as multilateralism, environmental responsibility and a new international age of cooperation. The words may change, the details may seem petty but the grand conclusion is the same as for that of all tyrannies, the rise of strong central governing bodies no longer subject to the will of the people.
Today the dogma of environmental responsibility is being exploited for power and profit by people who could care less about how many redwoods are chopped down to create new additions for their mansions, just as their thoroughly racist predecessors jumped on the civil rights bandwagon in the name of federalism. It’s not the issue, but what exploiting that issue can do for their own power and profit. And so now people who fly in specialists when they catch a cold are suddenly determined to pass national health care, even though they could care less if everyone between Iowa and Nevada died tomorrow, but for power and profit.
And for every new government program. For every incremental addition to the teetering mansion of big government with its alternately dusty and packed rooms, its hundred pound bills and its hundred ton budgets, for laws and statues that no one remembers but will never be repealed, the people must pay the price. Until the people can no longer pay the price, and then when the people can no longer pay the cost of the government weighing down on their backs, it will cease to be merely their master and become their tyrant. And when the people can no longer be taxed only for the work they do, then they will be taxed just for living on this earth. For the earth no longer belongs to man and the air no longer belongs to those who breathe it. Now they all belong to government alone.
Daniel Greenfield is a New York City writer and columnist. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and his articles appears at its Front Page Magazine site.
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