Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An exercise in futility

Sheldon Richman has been talking, here and here, about the income tax protest movement. If you don't know what that is, give him a quick look before reading further. In brief, they believe that federal income taxes are not constitutional and seek to demonstrate this in court.

I'm not all that interested in the merits of the tax protesters' claims, though Richman seems to do a good job of refuting them. What baffles me about the tax protesters is their strange optimism about the honesty of the government: that is, their apparent belief that if they prove that federal income taxation is unconstitutional, the federal courts will actually give a damn.

These are the same courts that have decided that growing food on your own land for your own consumption constitutes "interstate commerce," that McCain-Feingold did not violate the First Amendment, and that seizing land from one private party to give to another private party is constitutionally protected "public use." Do they really seem like they're that interested in massively decreasing state power over constitutional niceties? Even if everything the tax protesters say about the law is true, the idea that the federal government would give up hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue every year for the sake of the Constitution is absurd. They don't care about the law nearly that much.

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