Russell and Duenes

What Do You Care?

with 5 comments

I remember conversing with someone about tax policy. He was very well-to-do and, as you would expect, had well-to-do friends. He remarked that one of his friends had recently complained about his tax rates being too high. To this it was replied: “What do you care? Higher tax rates haven’t taken any food off your table?”

So we were discussing this, and I responded by saying, “Whether any food has been taken off my table is rather beside the point. I have other reasons for opposing the government taking ever more of people’s money.” He was curious what other reason could possibly be controlling in this instance, which I think shows you how much of our freedom we’ve surrendered over the last century or so.

Ever increasing government taxes are bad primarily because of the relationship they create between people and government. As Mark Steyn has said in After America, the relationship becomes like drug pusher (government) and drug addict (us). The government creates ever more dependence on their “services,” for which we must pay ever more taxes. And the more dependent we are on government, the less freedom we have in our own lives, in our families, and in our local communities. Worse, the less freedom we WANT in these arenas. After all, who wants to manage their own health care when the government can do it for you? Who wants to take responsibility for creating properly functioning schools when you’ve got the government schools? Who wants to think about saving for retirement when the government can simply take care of you from cradle to grave? But this is not freedom. It’s bondage, and we’ve accepted quite a lot of it.

The Founders of our nation presupposed that virtues of self-control, prudence, temperance, honesty, hard work, keeping one’s word, and looking to the interests of others through communal ties were utterly crucial to the success of the American experiment. Yet increasingly we assume that these virtues cannot be inculcated in certain segments of the population, and that to speak about the importance of character is somehow demeaning, or perhaps bigoted. These virtues must be cultivated. Freedom is wonderful, but also risky. As Steyn also says, “Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks – drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high. Big Government is the small option: it’s the guarantee of smaller freedom, smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller opportunities, smaller lives.” (pgs.346-47)

The social unrest and riots that have been growing in Europe should come as no surprise. The money is running out, and these countries are telling their citizens that there must be cuts. But this is like a dealer telling a crack addict that he’s about to cut his crack. This is why I care. I believe that when humans are free, they flourish most. To have less on my plate each night doesn’t much come into it.



Written by Michael Duenes

March 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

Posted in Duenes, Economics

5 Responses

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  1. great read Duenes! ron paul 2012!



    March 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm

  2. High tax rates won’t take food off a rich person’s table, but they will take food off the table of the poor.


    March 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  3. Along these lines, what do you think of “ministers” having the ability to opt out of social security based on “religious principles”? (See here:

    Kevin had the option to do it before we filed this year, but he couldn’t bring himself to say that he truly had any opposition to it biblically, so he didn’t do it.
    We could have been refunded all the money he put into social security over the past year and a half and invested it in our own retirement plan if he chose to opt out.

    Do you think there are biblical grounds to oppose social security? Curious what you think.

    Jessica Parr

    March 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    • It also opts you out of Medicare benefits as well.

      Jessica Parr

      March 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      • Jessica, I think there are good grounds for opposing social security, at least in its present form. I don’t know if I can point to any particular biblical teaching, but it appears to be unjust and unwise. Unjust because it is a form of legalized robbery, whereby the State takes money from people who will never receive nearly what they’ve paid into it, and it lays a mountain of debt onto future generations. Further, the true costs of social security, and the true failure of it as a program, is hidden from people in the way that it is taken. It’s very convenient how it’s taken out of one’s paycheck, rarely to be thought about. If people had to actually PAY for social security by writing a check to the government each month, my guess is we’d see some rebellion among the people, and the program would be changed. I think both social security and medicare are unwise in the way that they incentivize dependence on the federal government and disincentivize wise stewardship of one’s money. Implicit is the notion that “people don’t know what’s good for them,” and they cannot be trusted to manage their own money, so let’s have the government do it for us. I think this tends to make us certain kinds of people, people who look to government more than they should and who therefore pass on taking on the personal and communal responsibilities they would otherwise incur.


        russell and duenes

        March 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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