Feb 9, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on taxes and the confiscatory state

We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessities and our comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earning of fifteen of these to the government for their debts an daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they do now, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence . . . this example leads us to the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to the mere automatons of misery, to have no sensiblities left but sinning and suffering.

~ Thomas Jefferson, The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson, David N. Mayer, pps. 361-362.

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