Well, it's the start of tax time again and as a small business owner, it's often a time that gets me more than a bit cranky. I remember a point made long ago by libertarian Harry Browne
--that we often (some of us) work until July 27th of the year for the government and the rest of the year for ourselves. Browne asks a good question about the state of our economic life, "If this is freedom, at what level of confiscation are we no longer free?"
At times, I think we are approaching it and I imagine that, depending on the upcoming election, it will only get worse. In 1995, when Brown wrote his book Why Government Doesn't Work,
he stated that if we continue down the path of large government programs, the government will no longer be able to keep its promises--leaving only two choices:
1) The repudiation of promises made to Social Security recipients and others who have become dependent on the government; or
2) Tax rates of 50%, 60%, 70% or more to pay for all the IOUs the government has signed on your behalf.
Over 12 years have passed since Browne said these words and it seems that they were prophetic in a sense. The age for full Social Security benefits has been raised to 67
for those of us born after 1960 and the current crop of Democratic candidates is mentioning even more of a tax burden to pay for ever more expanding programs. Are any of us free anymore and the more important question to me is, does anybody care? I do.
I decided after contemplating this depressing question to dig up the old book by Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World: A Handbook for Personal Liberty.
I have always wanted to read it and found it at the library (you can find it at the Amazon link above but I'm not paying $124.00-$635.00 for it and neither should you!)
The book might interest those of you with libertarian leanings (I consider myself a bit of a Heinleinian libertarian
/independent and all around curmudgeon). Browne plays a pseudo-psychologist in the first part of the book --explaining that our attempts at freedom often depend upon our ability to change the minds of other people--and so optimism ultimately turns into frustration and despair (been there, done that, check).
In the chapters that follow, he covers freedom from social restrictions, family problems, high taxes, bad relationships, the treadmill and government repression. Some of the ideas are good: "negative emotions can act as signals to you, letting you know that there's an uncomfortable part of your life that needs attention," some are bad: "I don't believe that you do anything for your country by fighting in a war (any
war), giving up your money, or sacrificing in any way" and some are just downright kooky with a section on using illegal methods to break laws. "If you want to start a new business, don't go looking for all the licenses and regulations you are supposed to observe, just operate." Uh, okay.
Anyway, the book is an interesting read, especially for the personal information, but I'm not sure about all of the advice, sounds like one might just end up in a much less free place: jail.
Labels: interesting books, politics