Home > Atlas Shrugged, Bastiat, fiscal, spend, tax > Legalized Plunder

Legalized Plunder


No life, no liberty and no property. This is the message coming from Albany based upon Governor Paterson’s proposed budget. In order to weather the economic downturn, Mr. Patterson has prescribed the age-old cure of tax and spend, and while New York’s budget represents perhaps the most perverse and grossly irresponsible of any in the nation, it is nevertheless a sign of things to come across more prudent states over the next year. Patterson’s scheme more or less amounts to a “soak-the-middle-class,” effort, although in reality the ripple unintended consequences will without a doubt hurt everyone. As the venerable Post reports, the plan calls for:

* An “iTunes tax” of 4 percent on videos, music or pictures downloaded from the Internet.

* A 4 percent tax on taxi, limo and bus rides. That means a $10 cab ride would cost 40 cents more.

* A 4 percent entertainment tax on tickets to movies, concerts and sporting events. That would add nearly 50 cents to a $12 movie ticket or $1.80 to the cheapest $44.50 seat at a Knicks game.

* The tax on beer increases 24 cents per gallon, or more than double the current rate, which means about 30 cents a case.

* An 18 percent tax on nondiet soft drinks, which aims to reduce child obesity. A $1.50 can of Pepsi would then cost at least 25 cents more.

* A 4 percent tax on cable TV and satellite services, raising a $100 bill by $4.

* Hiking the cost of “personal” services – including haircuts, manicures, pedicures, massages and gym memberships – by 4 percent.

* A 4 percent sales tax on clothing and shoes under $500, except for two weeks out of the year.

* Elimination of the law that caps the state sales tax on gasoline at 8 cents per gallon.

* Boosting the average vehicle registration fee for drivers by $11, from $44 to $55. Fees for new or renewed licenses also would increase 25 percent, or increase from $50 to about $62 to renew a license over eight years.

In addition, all drivers would have to get new, “reflectorized” license plates at a fee of $25 each.

While officials believe this will help them generate the greatest “revenue” increase in the history of the state at $4.6 billion annually, the state’s budget will still increase by 1.1%. If there were ever a way to cripple a state, this is the way to do it. When a reasonable person gets into trouble economically, they cut back their expenditures. They must become fiscally responsible or ultimately declare bankruptcy. What is true for a man should be true for a state. But sometimes, in fact as we’ve seen most of the time it isn’t. That’s government for you.

What could they do if they wanted to get their fiscal act in order? Slash taxes across the board while privatizing each and every public service that is inefficient (presumably almost all of them) in order to bring the budget level to its bare minimum. Instead, it is clear that they are going to resort to legalized plunder, by taxing the citizens of the state on basic entertainment and sustenance. There is something morally wrong when a state is actively seeking things to tax, as it appears New York is. If the government has to look for ways to take your money from you, then clearly they are not serving as faithful stewards of the public good. They are legalizing theft. Bastiat says:

See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish this law without delay … If such a law is not abolished immediately it will spread, multiply and develop into a system.

This perfectly characterizes our system of law — the spreading and multiplying of injustice. Were we to hold government to Bastiat’s standard, the one the Constitution seemingly ensured, we would see the inherent flaws in our laws; namely, that the vast majority of our laws benefit some at the expense of most and legalize plunder.

In the final analysis, my question is, what happens when New York has no income earners to tax anymore? This is the real risk that they and every other fiscally irresponsible state run. Moreover, what happens when a nation loses its income earners? Atlas Shrugged is just around the corner.

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  1. Anonymous
    December 21, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    This article fortifies a well-known fact: the rapacious state continues to impose forcefully, its prescription for continued loss of individual liberty, freedom, private property and privacy – TAXES!The ONLY viable solution is what I did nearly thirty-years ago: LEAVE the country. The “stink” of collectivism will continue to be augmented, not mitigated. There are venues in the world where governments such as the likes of New York and its ilk, as well as the rest of America – do not exist. Find them! So, get the hell out of the stinking hellhole! Action: Leave. It was the single best thing ever – in my life, leaving. No excuses.*************”The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty– and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.” — H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, Feb. 12, 1923Disreputable minority,Capt. A.Principality of Monaco

  2. David Z
    December 21, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    @ Capt. A – Monaco is a beautiful country (visited in October); it’s too bad more of us can’t afford to live/move there. What’s more unfortunate though, is that anyone has to move in the first place.

  1. March 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

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