As it turns out, you don’t need to wait for President Obama to sign legislation raising taxes on you. You can open up your checkbook right now, write a check payable to the United States Treasury, and drop it in the nearest mailbox (or just hand it to your “secretary”). Problem solved. [...]
Once you’ve sent the check, I would be glad to help spread the word. The many others who believe the government can spend their money better than they can will be inspired by your example.
As a convenience to you, I’ve enclosed an envelope pre-addressed to the U.S. Treasury. You’ll have to take care of the stamp yourself, however.
Conservatives seem to think they've stumbled on a very clever argument, which is that people who want taxes raised on the wealthy should just donate money instead and let the various more greedy sons-of-bitches in America continue on as usual. Ha ha! Take that, you intellectuals!
First off, I note that Grover Norquist is too cheap to spring for a stamp, indicating that the total sum Mr. Norquist is willing to invest in his clever scheme is considerably less than one dollar. And I don't expect Norquist particularly gives a damn if someone points out that his solution is, shall we say, spurious, because most of what Grover Norquist does in life is come up with spurious arguments as to why wealthy Americans should be held to different standards than other Americans, when it comes time to support their own government, and why government itself should exist solely as greaser of corporate wheels, and to hell with all of the rest of it.
Rather than a long, drawn-out explanation of the basic economic principles of taxation, then, since Norquist neither cares about such things nor has any understanding of them, I'm going to counter-propose my own entirely spurious plan. And I think it's one Grover Norquist could get behind.
My proposal is that we make taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations entirely optional. That's it. If a corporation wants to pay zero percent in taxes, they should be allowed to, and if they want to pay the full tax rate, that is also allowed. The same for wealthy Americans.
The only caveat is that non-contributing corporations and individuals will be barred from taking advantage of any government services. It is the perfect free-market-based opt-out: If you do not want to support the American infrastructure and population to the same extent that your fellow citizens do, you can simply decline to, and live your life as the libertarian god you have always longed to be. You will be free! You will be allowed to go Galt, or not go Galt, to whatever degree you wish; as a special bonus, we shall prevent you from becoming that most dreaded of figures, the parasite, since if you are not contributing to the benefit of society it only stands to reason you should not gain profit from it either.
For starters, companies that do not pay the going tax rate will be barred from shipping their products on American roads. They will be prevented from connecting to the American electric grid, or from using municipal water or sewer systems. Instead, they will have to provide these services on-site. The good news: They can feel free to pollute as much as they like, as long as no pollution crosses the boundaries of their property (above, below or horizontally) into the rest of America. That would be considered an act of war.
Wealthy Americans that opted out of paying the going tax rate would also, of course, be prohibited from using American roads. This would not be a problem for them, as they generally can afford airplanes or helicopters, which would be similarly fine so long as they did not use American airspace (sorry, but the FAA costs money too, you know). But they could certainly fly around the property, which might be a pleasant experience.
Then we must consider the issue of security. Fire and police protection would be right out, so there would be no particular incentive for poorer Americans not to loot their properties (wealthy Americans tend to have nicer things than the rest of us). The American elite might consider the approach taken by wealthy Mexican families, which is to install a high perimeter fence around the property with a heavily armed private guard service. This would be expensive and unsightly, but it would be up to each individual to decide, for themselves, what the appropriate free-market level of protection for their own property might be. My one tip would be to spend a good deal of time on that decision.
It goes without saying that non-contributing Americans, corporate or otherwise, would not have access to the courts. This should be fine with them, since we know that meddlesome lawsuits are the biggest non-tax-related threat to America today. There is the minor issue of no recourse, if armed mercenaries do manage to overpower your guards and make off with your antique commodes or whatever it is you rich people hoard these days: Again, though, think of the tax savings.
Some government functions are a bit harder to parcel out. Food safety efforts, for example. I'm not worried about the safety of your products, since they won't actually be leaving your factories. But the food you eat, that has been through cursory tests for safety—how do we price that service? An individual tax on food testing for Americans that choose to not support their government is one option, but I suppose a tax is a tax, and probably that would be frowned upon as well. The same with government standards for an array of potentially dangerous products. We have already discussed elsewhere how weather reports represent something akin to uber-socialism; we may want to pull the plug on all communications whatsoever, since the government has its meddlesome hand in all of it, deciding which frequencies should be reserved for which products. All of that would have to be worked out. A true libertarian would live on a completely isolated plot of land, with not so much as the light from a public street lamp crossing their pristine border of Freedom.
That does sound like a fine way to reduce government, though: Reduce it one freedom-loving soul at a time. If wider society wants some government function that a smaller political segment of the population emphatically does not want, like bridges that do not collapse when you cross them, the liberty lovers can cross the goddamn river the old way, by swimming for it and hoping for the best.
The natural libertarian response to all of this is that the rich could perhaps opt into a pay-as-you-go scheme, similar to the sales tax. If you pay no taxes, you could still drive on public roads but only by paying rather hefty a per-mile toll; you could still gain police protection, but as a pay-to-use service.
Yes, the rest of us took a vote on that. We refuse. We simply can't create an entire national infrastructure on the off chance that you might use one road, or need electricity in one location, or have law enforcement everywhere you might ever go on the off chance that you might go there, or field an entire military on the slight chance that another country might declare war on you and your mansion and nothing else. It's not cost efficient. That is why the rest of us do these things together. Opt in, or opt out.
Now this, I think the rest of us could get behind. I have always wondered what would happen if the libertarians among us took themselves up on their own threats, and started to live entirely independent from accouterments of the country they claim to be so very independent from. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous would become a much, much more interesting reality show once you added malaria or smallpox to the mix. I continue to have the sneaking suspicion that anti-government types are not in fact anti-government at all, but simply greedy, self-important little bastards looking for any excuse not to support their nation, their neighbors, or anything they cannot directly own: I base this on their insistence that they must have the government do X, Y or Z for them while all the while caterwauling about how they will not pay for it.
And if the issue is tax rates, and that the rich and poor should be taxed the exact same dollar amount because that would be fair? Yes, fucketh that. There is nothing that says the free market is fair; the free market says that the proper price for something is the maximum amount a person will pay for that thing. The free market would dictate that we crank tax rates on the rich up as high as we can before wealthy Americans decide to flee the country in droves, and then set it one bare dollar below that point. In previous generations, the rate was 50 percent, or as much as 90 percent, and very few of the whiners actually left. I remain quite confident that we could return to Clinton-era or Reagan-era rates without causing a mass exodus of rich, unpatriotic assholes, no matter how badly they might complain.
Thus is my entirely spurious, nonsensical argument, Mr. Norquist. If you are interested, you may sign on. Please note that I have not enclosed a stamp because I do not really give a crap.
Oh, and while we're talking about things that only exist due to the largess of the government: Get the hell off our internet, Mr. Grover Norquist.