By Paul Craig Roberts (archive)
April 14, 2003
Now that you have paid your income taxes, calculate how much you own of your own labor.
You can do this by dividing the federal, state and local income taxes you paid (including Social Security and Medicare) by your taxable income.
Generally speaking, the higher your income, the less you own of yourself. A person with $300,000 in taxable income will discover that government in the year 2002 has a claim to about one-third of his labor – the maximum tax that could be levied on a medieval serf.
If you have a low income or work primarily off the books, you will be rewarded with an “earned income tax credit,” that is, you will receive a tax “refund” even though you paid no tax. You not only own all your own labor, but also have legal claims to the incomes of higher income persons.
Democracy produces the opposite results of feudalism. Instead of an upper class living off the sweat of a lower class, the lower class lives off the sweat of an upper class.
Philosophers such as John Rawls created a philosophy to justify the latter as “moral” and the former as “immoral,” but it all comes down to the same thing: some people live off other people’s activities.
Income taxes are not the only taxes. There are property taxes, wealth taxes, excise taxes, and sales taxes. If you add together all the taxes you paid, you might find that you own no more of your own income than a 19th century slave. (A slave owed his master about half his work product, the rest being necessary for his own maintenance.)