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  • COMMENTARY: Taxes in America – A Historical Perspective

    Of the thirteen American Colonies before our War for Independence, eight were established for business. New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina were founded for agricultural ventures and New York for trade. Georgia was originally set up as a place where debtors could start anew and so it could serve as a buffer between Spanish Florida and the Carolinas but quickly adopted the Carolinian business model.  The remaining five were established for religious freedom in one form or another including: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. But even these colonies rapidly became economic powerhouses, providing such valuable commodities as furs, lumber, copper, ships, maple syrup, whale products, fish, livestock products, and my personal favorites, whiskey and beer. From north to south, the American colonies were thriving with capitalist ventures. But of course, with money come the coveters; the green-eyed monsters committed to stealing from those who produce.

    Cash, however, was hard to come by in the American Colonies. Americans relied on barter and credit for most of their commerce and the importation of goods into the Colonies was strictly controlled by Britain. Raw materials were exported from America to England, manufactured and then re-imported back to the Colonies as final products. And of course, they were heavily taxed. As proud British subjects under British Common Law, Americans willingly contributed what little they had to the glory of the Empire so long as their rights as Englishmen were respected.

    The French Indian War almost doubled Britain’s debt. The American Colonies sent and funded thousands of troops, but according to Benjamin Franklin when examined in the House of Commons in 1766, the amount Britain had reimbursed her colonies was entirely arbitrary, paying back only what they felt the Colonies had paid beyond their obligation. Americans accepted as law and tradition Parliament’s authority to tax imports and regulate commerce. However, Americans widely accepted that their individual Colonial Charters and Common Law gave only their Colonial Legislatures the power to impose internal taxes. As I’ve detailed in other articles as well as my most recent video Why the United States Constitution is Relevant Today, they attempted their theft through reinterpretation of rights, bureaucratic decree and most importantly, by introducing increasingly complex tax laws. Americans were insulted and angered and eventually became willing to gamble their lives by taking on the greatest military power at the time.

    The idea that it was about money is a commonly held fallacy. Americans, in fact, paid only a fraction of the taxes those living in England did. Some estimates suggest, for example, that in 1765, while the average tax paid in England was 312 pence per year, Colonists in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts paid only 12 pence and Virginians paid an average of 5. The increase from the series of acts passed by Parliament between 1765 and 1775 averaged only an additional 8 pence. However, it was the principle of who could raise what taxes and not the amount that was enough to bring the colonists to rebellion.

    In 1913 the American Tax Code was approximately 400 pages long. Today its length is estimated anywhere between 2,600 and 5,000 pages once indexes, notes and previous tax laws are subtracted. Though many sources regularly claim it to be upwards of 70,000 pages in total, the fact that there does not appear to be an established number speaks volumes (excuse the pun).

    What we do know is that the complexity of the tax code today makes it possible for those who can afford armies of accountants and tax attorneys to pay little or nothing. The rest of are out of luck. However, this does not mean that laws are being broken. It is merely another example of how big government colludes with banks and large corporations to complicate the law to favor the powerful. 200 years later, it is still about the principle and burden on individuals and smaller businesses.

    When Hillary Clinton recently asked Donald Trump if he had paid anything in Federal taxes, the green-eyed monsters that are the Democratic Party and their left-wing media cronies immediately pounced. While they made no mention of how she monetized the State Department for her personal slush fund (The Clinton Foundation), hour after hour they bombarded Americans with one of the most boring non-stories of the campaign. But if it is in fact true that Trump paid nothing in taxes last year, voters can take away several important points:

    • If Trump was able to successfully navigate and take advantage of such a complex tax code legally, then he should be praised for his intelligence and resourcefulness. Would we rather someone in the White House who has no measure of economic success, as Hillary Clinton admitted when she declared that she and her husband were nearly bankrupt when they left the White House with tens of thousands of dollars of American property which they were forced to return?

    • The complex tax code is a direct result of Democrat efforts over decades of increasing and complicating the Federal Government. In other words, people like Hillary Clinton created the very conditions they call unfair.
    • Hillary Clinton has never produced anything. As a public servant all of her adult life, it should come as no surprise that her understanding of economics, business and taxes is as deep as her record of honesty is long. What American business people have understood since even before the founding of our Republic, which the Left never will, is that American businesses thrive when government gets out of our way.
    • Hillary Clinton has promised to continue the majority of our current administration’s economic policy. After 8 years, President Obama’s policies have produced the slowest economic recovery in the history of our Republic while spending more of our money than all previous administrations combined. What more proof do Americans need that left-wing ideologues not only have no understanding of the economy but in fact destroy it?

    The reason for the American War for Independence was increased taxes, regulations and a growing sentiment that there was one set of rules for the ruling class in England and another for their Colonies. The question is do we want another aristocrat in the White House who makes laws for the little people or someone smart enough to navigate them?


    Matt Fitzgibbons

    Matt Fitzgibbons is founder of PatriotMusic.com, he is a multi-talented musician, historian, philosopher and 2016 political analyst.

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