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|Position Paper on Government Expansion
Copyright 1992 by
Jay C. Wood
Libertarian for Congress
California 23rd District
Position Paper 3
Two recent newspaper headlines scream for attention. “Gloomy city officials are looking at $500,000 cuts” and “Farmers unite
to fight bureaucracy.” These headlines were recently on the front page of a small town newspaper.
This town has a population of about 12,000. It relies mostly on volunteer firefighters for protection. The Police Department isn’
t even theirs. This small town contracts with the county for its police protection.
In this small town there are several grocery stores, a few clothing stores, some real estate agencies and a couple of furniture
stores. Food, clothing and shelter are essentials.
Sales taxes are collected by the town’s merchants and forwarded to Sacramento. Property taxes are collected by the county and
forwarded to Sacramento. Some of these taxes are returned to this small town to fund mandatory programs (a tax refund?). Any
leftover funds are for use as the town sees fit providing they follow state guidelines. The town has seen fit to fund both fire and
California is reducing the amount of tax refund this small town will receive. The state mandated programs must be financed
even if the town has to go bankrupt. This town has no choice but to cut the funding for fire and police protection. Of course,
this means that the citizens of this town will receive less protection.
Why do we have governments? Why do people band together and form associations which evolve into what we call
government? There are several reasons but the fundamental motive is mutual protection. It starts when two or more families
form a tribe. They do this not only to gain from the division of labor but to provide for a common defense.
As more families join the tribe, towns are established. It becomes possible and necessary to hire full time professional protectors
as the size of the town grows. How many protectors are hired depends on the size of the town and the generated taxes.
Taxes provide the funds to pay for the full time professional protectors, their needed facilities and required equipment. Until the
town is large enough to generate the taxes, it relies on volunteers for protection.
Every business in this town collects taxes from its customers and forwards the money either to Washington or Sacramento
depending on the type of tax. For instance, the gasoline stations in town collect, per gallon of gasoline, fifteen cents for federal
taxes and fifteen cents for state taxes. Sales tax is collected on the gasoline cost plus the accompanying thirty cents tax. A tax
imposed on a tax. About one third of the pump price of gasoline is tax. You get only sixty to seventy cents worth of gasoline for
every dollar you spend.
All employers must deduct taxes from their workers’ wages and forward the funds to the appropriate taxing agency. Full time
workers have about thirty per cent of their wages deducted. The worker does a dollar’s worth of work to receive seventy cents
or less. Seventy cents spent on clothing and furniture includes sales tax. Now the worker is doing a dollar’s worth of work for
about sixty cents worth of essentials.
Workers expect some return for the forty cents taken from every earned dollar. They expect fire and police protection. In this
town they are going to get less of that elementary service. The state will now keep $500,000 more of the worker’s money. The
state is not going to refund this amount of money to this town.
Other towns in California will receive less of their resident’s money based on size. The bigger the town, the more taxes will be
retained in Sacramento. In this town of 12,000 it amounts to $41.67 per resident.
That doesn’t sound like much but, after taxes, $41.67 is a good day’s labor for some residents. Not all residents are employed
in taxable occupations. Some residents are retired, some are homemakers and many are children. So $41.67 amounts to several
days take-home pay for each family.
What will this town’s residents get for $500,000 of their labor? Will they get more fire protection? No! Will they get more police
protection? No! They will get what the farmers are fighting—bureaucracy! For their $500,000, they will get more bureaucracy!
Each family member will receive $41.67 less in fire and police protection and there will be $41.67 more money for
bureaucracies. Since bureaucrats receive more take home pay than that average worker, we can assume there will be money to
pay about ten additional bureaucrats with the $500,000 from this one town.
What do bureaucrats contribute to the general economy? Nothing! Farmers grow crops and hire workers to pick and process
the crops. This activity contributes to the general economy. Grocers, tailors and furniture makers contribute to the general
economy. Do bureaucrats provide a beneficial product or service dealing with food, clothing or shelter? No! Bureaucrats
contribute nothing constructive to the three essentials. Instead they burden us with rules, regulations and codes restricting our
access to food, clothing and shelter.
Our food is inspected and certified. Our clothing is only made with approved materials in an authorized way. Our houses are
constructed and maintained in conformity with a dozen codes. Each rule, regulation and code is written and enforced by a
bureaucracy. The original purpose of these rules, regulations and codes was to safeguard the citizens. But the bureaucracy has
lost sight of that objective. The bureaucracy is no longer an advisory body. It has become a law and government unto itself.
Bureaucracies are no longer responsible to the taxpayers who support them. The servant has become the master.
There comes a time when the exploited workers revolt against their masters. Governments start out as a method for providing
mutual protection. But over time the government becomes all powerful. In the evolution of governments, there comes a time
when the supremacy of the individual over the government shifts to the supremacy of the government over the individual.
Our American Revolution was one such time. Thomas Jefferson, writing in the Declaration of Independence, was referring to
King George’s bureaucrats. “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our
people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our
Legislature. (He has imposed) Taxes on us without our Consent.”
King George needed high taxes to pay the bureaucrats and soldiers. Bureaucrats will not work unless they are very well paid and
cannot function unless they are very well protected.
Tax revolts happen in one of two ways. The government continues taking more and more of each worker’s earnings to create
more and more bureaucracies until the citizens enter armed and bloody revolt. Or, the government is forced into receding its
excessive taxation, reducing the bureaucratic overhead and returning the supremacy of the individual over the government.
Neither of these methods is voluntary by the government.
In the near future, we will have another tax revolt. It will be either peaceful or bloody. The choice is not the bureaucrat’s. It is
the voter’s. The voters will elect representatives who will either reduce the size of government or allow the government’s
continued expansion. A shrinking government requires less tax leaving more of the small town’s money to be spent on fire and
police protection. An enlarging government will take more and more taxes from the small town leaving it with no fire or police
If the current trend continues, only Sacramento will answer your next 911 call for help.
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