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Death & taxes: What’s so American about plunder?

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We’ve all heard the old line about the certitude of death and taxes. It’s a bit telling about the nature of human beings and how they will use power, even if just a little, to try and extract the fruits of their neighbor’s labor for their own gain that we consider taxation as just another inevitable aspect of life. However, are taxes something that we should so readily come to expect?

Yesterday was the 4th of July, where we celebrated our forefathers’ decision to extricate themselves from British rule because of the many abuses by the crown, foremost among them, what the colonials considered excessive and unjust taxes. When independence was won, so loathe of taxes were the Founders that, under the Articles of Confederation, there were no national taxes; Congress had to scrounge what it could thru voluntarily contributions -contributions that were unsurprisingly lacking. Veterans of the War could not collect their pensions, and the infant nation could do nothing to keep British merchants from harboring in its bays and running roughshod over American vendors. The ensuing chaos from such a government resulted in the Constitution being ratified, creating a new, strong but limited central government whose powers included the ability to levy taxes nationally.

Presently in American politics there are two prevailing perceptions on taxation: on the Left, there is the misguided belief that taxes are the “price we pay for living in a free(?) and just society”. Per this narrative, we all pay taxes because we all benefit from living in a democratic society and thus must all share in the burden. This wouldn’t be a half-bad sell for taxes if half the people in American didn’t pay effectively zero taxes. (The Left’s reasoning also has the unfortunate trait of being utter bullshit.) It’s interesting to note: the people most attached to this narrative also hold the honorary title of “tight-fisted jerkwads who refuse to pay more to Uncle Sam than what the law requires.” If taxes are such an honorary patriotic duty, why don’t those on the Left pay more?

On the Right, we have the “taxation is theft” mantra. While truer to the nature of taxation -which is, money taken by force from unwilling payers- it has a major glaring weakness: if taxation is theft, why do we let the government “steal” from us while punishing individuals for doing the same thing? Why is theft illegal in most cases but not some, and if we allow theft to occur at some levels, why not others? Moral and reasonable people can agree: immoral acts do not become moral simply because the majority agree to engage in the act; government is an extension of the individual -of the People…what a person has right to do, the government may do also and nothing more. The problem with “taxation is theft” is that it implies that all taxes are inherently bad, and thus should be eliminated. Ask the Founders how easily a time they had funding even a small basic government with a Congress and an army under the Articles of Confederation.

The reality is taxes, when done properly and equitably, are somewhere in the middle. They are a necessary evil that funds government -government which is necessary and vital to secure and protect our rights from those who would take them from us. To call them theft is disingenuous, to call them “the price we pay to live in a free(?) or just society” is a lie. Taxes are the price we as citizens pay -in theory equally- for goods and services that only the government can provide, such as national defense or trade infrastructure and courts, that we all benefit from. Taxes pay for those services both necessary for the preservation of liberty and our rights and inadequately provided for by free markets because of market weaknesses like externalities or the free rider issue. And the American default is -or at least ought to be- to err on the side of letting free markets handle the care and provision of the goods and services necessary to preserve the public good and peaceful order.

To do more or less than this is tyranny, slavery, & theft. To tax one group to service another group is legalized looting, it is plunder on a national scale on behalf of the politically favored. For taxes to be fair, they must apply equally in cost and benefit. All must pay “their fair share” -i.e. equally burdened, and all must benefit equally and have equal access to the fruits of tax spending. That is what is meant by “the common good” and the “general welfare”.

As Jefferson so eloquently stated, “Whether property alone, and the whole of what each citizen possesses, shall be subject to contribution, or only its surplus after satisfying his first wants, or whether the faculties of body and mind shall contribute also from their annual earnings, is a question to be decided. But, when decided, and the principle settled, it is to be equally and fairly applied to all. To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, ‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.’”

Let us remember that overly burdensome taxes are why the Founders rejected British rule and sought independence and self-governance. Let us also remember that what they considered heavy and burdensome are peanuts in comparison to the taxes we pay today…those of us who pay taxes anyways. Liberty cannot exist where one man is taxed so that another may eat of his labor, or where one group is shouldered with a greater burden because of political favors bestowed upon another group.

And without liberty, there can be no justice. Without justice, there can be no peace. Without peace, life is little more than waiting around for death and taxes.

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Entertainment and Sports

Game of Thrones Final Season Episode 2 Review

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Game of Thrones Final Season Episode 2 Review

As with episode’s one’s review there is no promise of keeping free of spoilers. In fact there is nothing to spoil. Last week’s episode was gritty in a political thriller sort of way as the divided North became the main focus. Episode 2 takes place in the limbo period between the preparation episode and the battle itself. It served as a second preparation episode that was unnecessary filler between two important events. In practice, I like to keep these reviews free of shiny objects and focus on the more analytical aspects of the show, but those were few and far between.

Verdict: Episode 2 was a hollow turd.

Ser Jaime

Ser Jaime Lannister is the MVP of this episode, having the only interesting opportunities continuing throughout the script, but still failed to depict, accurately, Jaime’s character once more. Jaime opens up on “trial” before his former enemies. In truth, Jaime, blurring the lines between sarcastic and serious, regards slaying Mad King Areys II as his “finest deed.” He regrets little, but that which he regrets are the deeds of concealing his (past) love for Cersei, like throwing a child out of a tower, and [spoiler alert] lying to Tyrion about his first wife Tysha being a whore. The latter is an increasingly frustrating deviation that not only undermines Jaime’s character development but has paved the way for HBO to emasculate Tyrion Lannister, metaphorically speaking as opposed to the literal emasculating of Theon Greyjoy. In confronting Daenerys, Jaime was not as defiant enough to make an interesting confrontation better. Instead this was undermined by the power struggle between Daenerys and Sansa, denying a far richer scene where Jaime declares that he saved half a million people. During the drinking scene that resembled previous buildups before battles, Jaime’s character could have amended the Tysha deviation. This hope was unrealized; however, the episode’s best scene was the knighting of Brienne of Tarth, a misfit too ugly to be a lady but unable to be a knight. “Any knight can make a knight” is a well-known Westerosi saying.

Lack of Military Realism

The show goes out of its way to paint incompetent characters like Sansa and Daenerys as quality leaders. Last week, was the first time characters acknowledged how selfish Daenerys is. Sansa is the last person on the show you want as a “wartime president.” Very few remaining characters in Game of Thrones can play the game and command an army. Jon Snow is one. Tyrion is a second, but the show has made him irredeemably stupid. Jaime refused the game but technically has a winning record as a commanding officer. Bronze Yohn Royce was technically featured in the episode and can do both. Daenerys is probably better at military command than playing politics, but when you have dragons, it takes far less skill, Aegon the Conquerer proved as much. Last weeks episode delved into the logistics of war. That was virtually undone in this episode.

For instance Brienne of Tarth is given command of the left flank. Looking closely at the war maps, the left flank featured the knights of the Vale. Instead of having Lord Yohn Royce, a season military commander who fought in Robert’s Rebellion, the Greyjoy Rebellion, led the winning cavalry charge in the Battle of the Bastards, has the loyalty of his men as the most powerful lord in the Vale, the show has Brienne of Tarth command the Vale’s force. Brienne of Tarth has fought one battle, at most! She has never led an army and has no ties to the Vale. The only thing dumber than giving her command of the Vale would be giving her command of the Dothraki, who I believe are on the right flank, the place of honor in ancient Greek culture (perhaps relevant). It’s not that Brienne of Tarth is unworthy of any command, they simply chose the second least believable place for her to lead.

Prepubescent Sex Scene

This is not the poorest written sex scene in Game of Thrones, that still belongs to Sansa being married off to Ramsay Bolton, one of the worst plot deviations from the books. Arya having sex with Gendry was up there though. Arya is eleven when the show starts. A year has passed, no doubt, maybe two, but not anything beyond three which would barely put her at fourteen, at most. It’s not the combo, it’s the age. Arya is a child, not a sensual woman. The show has unrealistically aged these characters. Heck, why didn’t they recast Gilly’s [Mance’s] son? They’ve had over three Mountains, two Dario Naharises (both poorly casted), two Myrscella Baratheons, and I’m sure there are others.

Only Meaning

The only meaning in the episode that was of any worth was Bran revealing the motive of the White Walkers to erase the memory of mankind. There was no buildup and little foreshadow towards this reveal. Game of Thrones is all about placing mysteries on the backburner (who really killed Jon Arryn) but this was a little rushed.

Final Thoughts

This episode was less worthwhile than watching the first three episodes of Star Wars. You could have missed episode 2 and have gone straight to episode 3 and you would have missed nothing that wasn’t known already. I’m not saying this was the worst Game of Thrones episode ever but its down there.

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We’ve reached ‘Peak Roger Stone’ on the timeline as he prepares to speak at strip club

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Weve reached Peak Roger Stone on the timeline as he prepares to speak at strip club

President Trump’s long-time confidant and rabble-rouser Roger Stone is short on cash and looking for options as mounting legal fees reduce his wealth. In a move that can be categorized as “Peak Roger Stone,” the controversial figure is set to accept a large fee to speak at a strip club.

Stone will appear at the Paper Moon in Richmond, Virginia, along side ‘Manhattan Madam’ Kristin Davis of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer fame.

Stone faces legal troubles for allegedly working with WikiLeaks to spread the DNC email hacks that helped President Trump win his election in 2016.

He has always been a controversial figure in and out of politics. Known for his willingness to speak his mind regardless of the consequences, Stone has been notably subdued since being shut down by a judge after he shared an Instagram post about her in February.

I’m not sure how having Roger Stone speaking will benefit the strip club’s business. He’s the exact opposite of what I picture most people expect to see when going to a strip club, but to each his own.

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Culture and Religion

Since leftist media won’t say it: Radical Islamic terrorists murdered hundreds of Christians

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Since leftist media wont say it Radical Islamic terrorists murdered hundreds of Christians

The dramatic shift in how mainstream media characterizes terrorist attacks over the years reached what I hope is the pinnacle of their obfuscation today. The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka against Christian churches and areas where Christians were likely to gather were committed on Easter Sunday by Muslims in a city known for radicalization. This was a clear and unambiguous attack by radical Islamic terrorists specifically targeting Christians.

But you’ll have a hard time coming to that conclusion if all you’re reading or watching is leftist mainstream media.

The reporting today has been in stark contrast to the immediate labeling and narrative-building surrounding the terrorist attacks in New Zealand mosques last month. There was zero doubt based on media reporting that the attacks were targeting Muslims. But today, it’s hard to even find the word “Christian” in any of the posts or news reports. On top of that, there’s a stark difference when reading the Tweets of condolences from leftists who refuse to acknowledge this as an attack against Christianity despite the immediate and crystal clear labeling of the New Zealand mosque incidents as attacks targeting Muslims.

Some of this was noted by Brittany Pettibone:

OAN’s Jack Posobiec added that a new phrase has been coined by the media regarding the Notre-Dame fire:

Was this the same response they were giving following the Christchurch attacks? No. As Imam Mohamad Tawhidi noted, the differences were very clear.

Why do the media and leftist politicians do this? Why are they quick to label attacks against any other religious group exactly as they appear, but they’re so unwilling to call out any attacks against Christians as attacks against Christians?

This is the time we’re in, folks. The left has a narrative they want jammed into our heads and that narrative has no room for acknowledging violence and persecution is committed against Christians. The only stories that fit their narratives are stories that can blame Christians for wrongdoing. In those cases, the perpetrators’ status as Christians is broadcast loud and clear. But if Christians are victims, the left will go to extreme lengths to negate that fact from the record.

Of all the major news outlets, I was only able to find one that didn’t shy away from the truth. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board stands alone in declaring the intended victims of this attack as who they are and why they were targeted.

WSJ Editorial Board

The intentional suppression of what happened, who committed it, and who was targeted is beyond insulting. The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka are being framed by the media as some people did something.

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