The Income Tax:
Root of all Evil
[Originally published by The Devin-Adair Company, New York, 1954]
To the Memory of Albert Jay Nock
Tradition has a way of hanging on even after it is, for all practical purposes, dead. We in this country still use individualistic terms—as, for instance, the rights of man—when, as a matter of fact, we think and behave in the framework of collectivistic doctrine. We support and advocate such practices as farm-support prices, social security, government housing, socialized medicine, conscription, and all sorts of ideas that stem from the thesis that man has no rights except those given him by government.
Despite this growing tendency to look to political power as the source of material betterment and as the guide to our personal destinies, we still talk of limited government, states rights, checks and balances, and of the personal virtues of thrift, industry, and initiative. Thanks to our literature, the tradition hangs on even though it has lost force.
But there are many Americans to whom the new trend is distasteful, partly because they are traditionalists, partly because they find it personally unpleasant, partly because reason tells that it must lead to the complete subjugation of the individual, as in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, and they don’t like the prospect. It is for these Americans that this book was written. For their opposition to the trend takes the shape of reform, while nothing will turn it but revolution. And by “revolution” I mean the return to the people of that sovereignty which our tradition assumes them to have. I mean the return to them of the power which government confiscated by way of the Sixteenth Amendment.
When you examine any species of government intervention you find that it is made possible by revenues. A government is as strong as its income. Contrariwise, the independence of the people is in direct proportion to the amount of their wealth they can enjoy. We cannot restore traditional American freedom unless we limit the government’s power to tax. No tinkering with this, that, or the other law will stop the trend toward socialism. We must repeal the Sixteenth Amendment.