In the midst of the economic crises threatening to tear apart the Eurozone the word sovereignty is disturbingly absent. We hear the word “austerity” used again and again and we recognize the need for Greece to get their budget under control however when leaders attempt to do so on this side of the pond we try to recall them. Peering into the crises across the Atlantic provides a rare chance to look into the future. European leaders have tried to warn us repeatedly that if we continue down the road we are on with unsustainable spending and crushing debt our situation will share many unpleasant similarities with the one we are watching Europe deal with now. Another disturbing element of the possible future that we should strive to avoid in the European crises is the lack of sovereignty for the countries involved. Greece has long relied upon the economic strength of its neighbors and is now facing the truth. It is not alone in its predicament. Spain shares many of its economic woes and it is Germany that is picking up the tab. The people of two nations are having their right to determine their own government taken away. The German people are forced to pay taxes and work until they are 62 to bail out a nation that has been irresponsible with its own money and a people that retire at age 50. Now both countries are so strained that their hands are forced into decisions because none can afford to continue the charade.
It is easy for us in America to recline and become complacent watching the riots on T.V. After all, they have spent themselves into terrible debt and are responsible for their own problems. They voted for those leaders and supported these measures did they not? But we never ask what that insurmountable debt number is, and it would terrify us to learn it is only $500 billion. Greece may very well be expelled from the Eurozone this summer over an amount that is close to 1/30th of our own growing debt. How long will we wait to riot? I would wager as long as it takes for someone to call us to collect. We have a Governor in Wisconsin that has taken measures to see that his state does not follow suit, he is in the midst of a recall election that culminates in a vote this Tuesday. There was rioting following the passage of those laws by the very people we allow to teach our children. Can we really watch Greece with anything resembling complacency? What measures could be placed upon us by an outside power seeking to balance our budget? There should not be any cause for alarm; after all, our largest debt holder is only China. A country that hosted a summit this past weekend between former-KGB operative Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Clearly America’s best interests are not at heart in the communist nation.
Even without regard as to the threat of the loss of national sovereignty both real in Greece and possible for a reckless spending America, we should realize that we have lost sovereignty already as individuals. This past week marked a step forward for the growing nutritionist movement in New York. When it is not censoring online health advice columns it is taking an active role in what actually goes into our mouths. The ban on all sugary drinks over 16 ounces is nothing more than a slap in the face to the intelligence of the average citizen. It should be clear however that the people of New York are not clamoring for more in the way of government intervention and regulation. Over that past ten years New York has lost 3.4 million residents. Even when allowing for the migration over the same ten year span the state lost a total of $45.6 billion in income. These people have voted in the loudest way remaining for an individual, with the dimming echo of stomping feet as they travel far away. It should come as no surprise; New York has been steadily ranked as the highest taxed state in the union from 1977 to 2006, except when it is ranked second in 1984 and again in 2009 according to the Tax Foundation. Another state with a high tax burden is California. Its regulatory climate is also severe. In 2010, the mayor and board of San Francisco passed groundbreaking energy ordinances. They required commercial buildings to conduct energy efficiency audits every five years and force “optimization” requirements. Accordingly, since 2000, 1.2 million people have left California and culminated in no additional seats in the allotment of Congressional seats after the 2010 Census. This was an historic first for the Golden State. In fact between the years 2009 and 2010 alone 48,877 Californians made for the relatively untaxed state of Texas bringing $1.2 billion of income with them. As a Texan I say welcome but as an American I am saddened. The blatant lesson is lost on so many in power. America lost 129,000 millionaires in 2011 in no small part to the confiscatory nature of a tax code that is far more interested in power, control and redistribution to heal a broken economy. As we look to the Congress what do we see in response? Rationed health, government mandated light bulbs, a national roof color, and a crackdown on car emissions regrettably seem to top legislative agendas.
It seems unlikely that a nation founded upon such great respect for the rights of the individual could be capable of such top-down authority. But we must realize that nothing is off limits when the contents of your wallet belong to the public. I cannot stress enough the language of the Sixteenth Amendment, which gave us the income tax, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” The phrase “from whatever source derived” is damaging to the idea of individual sovereignty. Many feel they have a right to move you if they have a hand in your pocket. But this is as far removed as possible from what existed before 1913. We fought a Revolution to displace faraway task-masters with American Pioneers. That spirit of entrepreneurship is ebbing away to be replaced by a greedy entitlement mentality that is sinking Europe and weighing us down with needless and divisive class warfare. The spending aspect of our growing government is closely related to the income tax as well. When resources are infinite then hunger will easily exceed grasp. Remember that our income tax in 1861 grew from a flat tax to a graduated tax the very next year. Also remember that between the years 1913 and 1914 our spending grew by 1.4% of our GDP. That growth exceeded what was done in the previous ten years. These historical examples prove that an income tax is a dramatic and extreme change in the relationship between the government and the people. Now that government has unlimited access to our money government spending has risen to roughly 40% of our GDP and our national debt has reached record and dangerous levels. In the meantime what do we hear from our elected leaders? The problem rests with the 1% who take away from the needy 99%, the issue is in the greed of the corporate jet owners (a problem so severe they warranted their own bailout.), the real issue is millionaires and billionaires, the true issue is that we have not passed the Buffet Rule. All of our focus and hate is directed and aimed toward people only because the government can see how much money they make and wish it was theirs.
If we operated under a system where everyone paid the same percentage of taxes on expenditures it would change the very definition of “economic justice” as it is used today. There is autonomy that comes with 100% of your paycheck that is denied to the American public today but would be enjoyed by all under the FairTax. As mentioned earlier we lost 129,000 millionaires in 2011. Notice that in 2012 the ones who are left still make up the same percentage of “the problem” according to politicians. Why denigrate success? We link autonomy to wealth every day and with good reason. How many people have sought to start their own business so that they could have the liberty to choose their own hours? With success comes wealth, with wealth comes autonomy. That freedom and independence removes any need for a discussion on austerity. To grow our way out of this mess we need the freedom, the sovereignty to act as we see fit. The FairTax returns our rightful individual liberty to us. Those in power and those voting must realize that individual freedom and individual responsibility are intrinsically linked. To those in Wisconsin this Tuesday, that message is an important reminder of what is at stake. The more responsibility we cede to government the less we retain for ourselves. When the sliding scale can legally reach 100% it is a scary balancing game to play. The FairTax is a weight squarely on the side of the citizen. By eliminating the income tax and forcing the funding measures to be scrutinized by the public at large instead of watchdog groups we have a chance to avoid the calamity engulfing the Euro. America has stood strong on its principles of national sovereignty before. Now let us stand up for our own.