The Income Tax: Root of All Evil

Guest Article by Jacob Hornberger, Libertarian Candidate for President

In 1954, a libertarian writer named Frank Chodorov wrote a book entitled The Income Tax: Root of All Evil, in which he called for a repeal of income taxation. (You can read the book for free here.) Chodorov pointed out that the adoption of the income tax (and the IRS) in 1913 was one of the gravest mistakes in U.S. history, not only in terms of economic destruction but also in terms of the destruction of liberty.

From the time the Constitution called the federal government into existence until 1913, the American people lived without income taxation. Americans were free to keep everything they earned and decide for themselves what to do with it. For more than a century, there were no programs that empowered the federal government to seize people’s income in order to give the money to other people.

When people were free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, they saved huge amounts of their income. That not only enabled them to weather economic crises and emergencies, the overall savings in society brought about an ever-increasing rise in the standard of living of the American people.

It is also worth mentioning that this unusual system also produced the most charitable society in history. When people were free to get rich, many of them used that money to build churches, hospitals, libraries, and schools and to help the less fortunate in society, on purely a voluntary basis.

It all came to an end 125 years after the start of the country. In 1913, the American people adopted a federal income tax and the Federal Reserve System, both of which would work in tandem to ultimately seize trillions of dollars out of the income and wealth of the American people and to destroy the liberty and well-being of the American people.

In the 1930s, Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt revolutionized America’s economic system by converting it to a “welfare state,” a political-economic system by which the federal government forcibly seizes the income of one group of people through taxation in order to give it to another group of people. The crown jewel of this new system was Social Security, a program whose concept had originated among socialists in Germany and that was based on the concept of taxing young people and giving the money to seniors. This coercive system system of government welfarism was directly opposite to the system of voluntary charity on which America had been founded.

In the 1960s, Democrat President Lyndon Johnson expanded Roosevelt’s welfare state by adopting Medicare and Medicaid into law, which began causing healthcare costs to soar and ultimately destroyed the finest healthcare system in history through ever-soaring healthcare costs.

Decade after decade, federal spending on welfarism (and also on militarism) soared, which has ultimately led to a $23 trillion debt owed by the federal government, a debt for which American taxpayers living today are responsible for repaying, and to the Federal Reserve’s destruction of the gold-coin, silver-coin monetary system established by our ancestors in the Constitution.

For a time, Republicans opposed the socialist direction in which Democrats were taking America. A good example was Republican Senator Barry Goldwater’s book The Conscience of a Conservative, which called for ending America’s welfare state way of life and for restoring the free-market, private-property system on which America had been founded.

But Democrat President Lyndon Johnson smashed Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, with Johnson winning 61 percent of the popular vote. It was the largest share of the popular vote since the 1820 largely unopposed presidential election.

Republicans saw the handwriting on the wall. If they were to continue to win votes and elections, they would have to join up with the Democrats and support their welfare-state way of life. That’s when Republicans threw in the towel, abandoned their free-market, limited-government principles, and became fierce proponents of the welfare state, even while still employing free-enterprise, limited-government mantras.

We Libertarians must never do what Republicans did. We are “the Party of Principle,” and we must continue adhering to our principles, no matter what the cost. We must never become the “Party of Expediency,” like the Republican Party has. By adhering to our principles, we can lead America out of the dark morass into which both Democrats and Republicans have plunged our nation.

In his book The Income Tax: Root of All Evil, Frank Chodorov wrote:

The present low estate of freedom in this country must be laid to lack of the proper leadership — to men who know what freedom is and who do not equate it with their own “standard of living.” Whether or not leadership could have averted, or can still stop, the trend toward socialism, may be open to question; that a glorious fight for freedom might yet enliven the American scene is not.

Whether a fight for freedom will be crowned with success, is less important than the fight itself, for if nothing comes of it, the improvement in the spirit of the fighters will be a gain, and they cannot help but keep alive the values that will make America a better climate for their offspring to live in.

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