There’s been a healthy debate going on regarding my article titled, “A Few Appropriate Remarks.” Orlin Sellers, someone I’ve come to know on the Internet at Mikeb302000’s gun control blog, has been arguing with me about whether paying taxes makes a person a slave.
My position in the debate has been that taxes and slavery are two different things. Yes, we are required to pay taxes, much as the serfs in the picture were required to surrender a portion of their produce to the lord of the land. We’re also obliged to follow the rules. But there is a key difference. Serfs or slaves has no choice in their own affairs. Citizens do. That was the essence of the argument presented by the Founders of this nation, that if we are to be taxed, we must have a voice in deciding those taxes.
At one point, we had the choice to go west. Much of the popularity of the western comes from our feeling that if we don’t like the way things are done, we can always seek freedom in the wilderness. My character, Henry Dowland, does just that. But until human beings start colonizing outer space, for the moment, this world is thoroughly occupied, and we’re left with life in society. Government is how we manage that.
To be sure, our government does try to spill over the boundaries that we have allowed it to operate in. The NSA and the IRS are two recent examples in a long history. But we have the power and the duty to rein in government. As George Washington warned us, government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. The difference is found here:
As long as we exercise those rights, we are citizens. If we are silent, we become serfs.