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From the Kitchen Table


Definitions

by Peg Luksik
 

It's not always enough to use the same words.

Comedians pepper their routines with the double meanings that the same words can have. English-language students often stumble over the fact that words do not mean what they appear to be saying. In these cases, we all enjoy the mix-up.

Sometimes, the difference between words and meanings is more serious. Marriage counseling often revolves around the fact that although the spouses are saying the same words, they are not actually meaning the same thing. The counselor's role is to find the misunderstanding and create real communication.

But what happens when there is such a disconnection between the words and the meanings, and there is no counselor?

That is often the case when the citizen deals with the government. And it's why the conversations so often end in frustration and anger.

Let's consider taxes.

The traditional definition of "tax" is the mechanism by which the government is funded. The funding may have come from the citizens, or from some other source. But the word, "tax", meant nothing more than a funding stream.
If you asked most citizens to define "taxation", that is the definition they would give you.

But the government has a very different definition of taxation. In the eyes of the government, taxes are the mechanism by which they can control the behavior of citizens. The government uses taxes to redistribute wealth, to reward or punish the location of a business enterprise, to direct personal and commercial spending decisions, and to stimulate or curtail behavior.

There has never been a conversation about the radical difference in these definitions. In fact, the government has changed the definition through a series of actions that were designed NOT to excite a challenge on the part of citizens. And it has been successful.

Businesses choose locations based on tax incentives, instead of market analysis. And the result is industries that relocate to new communities to get the next tax break, instead of building roots in one place. Companies hire employees who bring 6-month tax amnesties, and fire them at the end of the period so they can hire the next batch of 6-month tax breaks, instead of investing in long-term employees.

Citizens make decisions about preparing for retirement based on tax incentive programs, changing how and where they save their money. People buy cars, homes, and renovations based on the language of tax codes.

Through taxes, the government has also redefined how its citizens interact with the state. We now ask for permission, through the removal of a tax or the creation of an incentive, to do the thing we wish to do. And if we do not receive that permission, we do not act.

We are no longer sovereign citizens, we are the hired help.

In all the discussion about taxes taking place today, no one is challenging the fact that the state has changed the underlying definitions. And unless we do, we will never get real tax reform. Changing a rate in one of the myriad of taxes which we now pay is not changing the system.

And it's the system that is broken.

Fixing it means starting with the correct definition of taxation, and then eliminating any tax or bureaucracy that does not adhere to that definition. If we citizens are serious about restoring our heritage of freedom, we should accept no "solution" that does not begin from that correction.


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