Here's an odd thought for a libertarian: The government very rarely tells me to do anything. Once per year, the IRS orders me to pay federal income taxes. Once per year, the state of Virginia forces me to pay state income taxes and get my car inspected. Once per year, Fairfax County makes me pay property taxes. Traffic laws aside, the government leaves me alone more than 350 days per year.The State grows, but most of us don't feel it. That's why so many deny it.
How is this possible when the government regulates almost every aspect of American life, and takes 40% of GDP?
The answer is simple yet shocking: Government controls me by controlling my trading partners. Government doesn't tell me to pay sales taxes; it just forces every business in Virginia to collect sales taxes as a condition of sale. Government doesn't tell me who I can and can't hire; it just tells every business I deal with who they can and can't hire. Government doesn't even tell me I have to contribute to Social Security; it just requires my employer to make contributions on my behalf as a condition of employing me.
When government forces CostCo to collect Social Security taxes, the typical American doesn't see some people violating their duty to leave other people alone. Why? Because they picture CostCo as an inhuman "organization," not a very human "bunch of people working together." Government's trick, in short, is to redirect its coercion toward crucial dehumanized actors like business (and foreigners, but don't get me started).
James Leroy Wilson's blog
Friday, September 27, 2013
Why We Feel Free
Because the State usually doesn't hassle us directly. Bryan Caplan explains: