After looking at way’s to tax people (Flat Tax, Fair Tax, the current “Progressive” tax) yesterday, here’s our own, tongue-in-cheek proposal: make tax collecting a job. Assign anyone who wants the job the responsibility for collecting a certain amount of money, from which, they, of course, can take a generous cut.
We first learned about this system when studying Roman history. Problem? Eventually, as the Empire demanded more and more revenue, the job ov tax collector became more and more dangerous. Nobody wanted the job, since irate taxpayers began to kill collectors.
Finally, the Emperor made the job hereditary. You can predict how well THAT worked out!
But apparently our very own Founding Parents hadn’t learned from that lesson. Maybe because they had a firm religious foundation, they thought that hiring tax collectors to collect “just a fair amount” of tax would work out all right. It did. For a while. Then, the Empire collapsed. Just sayin’
This was news to IFO. but she is currently studying the early life of John Adams: “John Adams and the American Revolution,” by Catherine Drinker Bowen, Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1950. She tells of his early life, the politics of the time and the development of a revolutionary spirit among the highly, religious and peaceable population.
That population didn’t mind paying taxes in the early years. It was considered almost a religious duty. But later, John’s cousin, Samuel Adams, who had been elected constable for Boston with duties as a tax collector, changed . He had to do this personally, carrying a black collector’s pouch from door to door.
He’d stop and talk about “the deplorable state of affairs in the Province since Britain had threatened a stamp tax. Outrageous to the principles of British freedom! Sam said indignantly.” When he got back to the office, the black bag was often as not, empty.
No wonder he was “the most popular tax collector the town had ever voted into office.” Bowen wrote. Now that was just the local tax for local projects. The Empire aimed to tax imports and exports and enforce it in the Court of Admiralty!!!
Almost all of Massachusetts was up in arms. They didn’t distinguish between local and national taxes. Tax collector isn’t quite the same as tax farmer, but it could still be a hazardous job.
Have you ever been to an IRS office? We haven’t, but we suspect it is much like the local Social Security office we had the misfortune to have to visit a few years ago. Shocking. Armed guard at door. Visitors searched before they are allowed into the room. And this is in low-crime, peaceful Oregon.
To repeat: “Forget thinking up new, better ways to collect taxes! Think of ways to cut spending!”