Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on June 18, 2011

in Other People's Money, Taxes

… from George Harrison’s Beatles’s song Taxman:

Let me tell you how it will be;
There’s one for you, nineteen for me.
‘Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.
‘Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.

(if you drive a car, car;) – I’ll tax the street;
(if you try to sit, sit;) – I’ll tax your seat;
(if you get too cold, cold;) – I’ll tax the heat;
(if you take a walk, walk;) – I’ll tax your feet.

Happy 69th birthday today, btw, to Paul McCartney.

Be Sociable, Share!



24 comments    Share Share    Print    Email


DG Lesvic June 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

You just missed my birthday, Happy 79th, DG, Thank you, Don, but I’ll tell you how it will be, too

You can keep asking the Keynesian Austrians the same embarrassing question, and they’ll keep dodging it, tra la la la la la

rjs June 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

british taxes was why john lennon moved to new york…

Upton Ethelbah June 19, 2011 at 11:14 am

Good ol’ “brain drain.”

vikingvista June 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Greedy rich.

vidyohs June 18, 2011 at 11:26 am

Aaron Russo, award winning movie producer became intrigued by the question of whether there is actually a law that makes a private person liable for a tax on his fruits of labor. So, he set out to make a documentary on the subject. The results is America, Freedom to Fascism.


I saw the documentary when it was released and played in a theater downtown Houston. It had limited exposure because many theater chains and private theaters were reluctant to present it.

Last night my bride and I had an evening to relax and we had run through the few things on Netflix possibly worthwhile, so I brought up that documentary on my laptop and we watched it on our TV. She is well aware of my stance vis-a-vis the IRS, but wasn’t really necessarily convinced until she saw that documentary.

If you’ve never seen it, you owe to yourself to watch it and become informed. I can tell you that for a fact Aaron Russo tells no lies and fabricates nothing in his documentary. All that information is available here on the web, all you have to do is ask and look.

I will say that a few of the things he addresses were real fears at the time but some have been shelved, not thrown out, just shelved for a more opportune time, as the Patriot Act was shelved from the time of its first proposal when the United 800 flight that went down off Long Island, a proposal I might add that was beat back by the Republicans and some Democrats. But, lo, the Patriot Act was taken off the shelf after the 9/11 attack on the WTC. So if you watch it, and you’re foolish if you don’t, just remember that no proposal for increased government power ever goes away or is it ever really killed. It lies on the shelf waiting for the opportune moment.

Of course, IMHO, the main and only reason those things were shelved is because of this thingy “the internet”, government has a hard time keeping things secret now, just ask Julian Asange about that. However, that does not mean those shelved proposals are dead, not by any means.

Information has been discovered of late that shows that though there is no law that says the private person is subject to an income tax, the government did and end run around that and put in some verbage that makes us liable for a tax, but not on income. The tax is imposed on you, whom the government assumes is a corporation, for usage of the FRN, and thus is an excise tax, not a direct tax on income.

Oh, and yes the government does assume you are a corporation, as the documentary says the government and the IRS will lie and fabricate anything to justify taking your money. I requested my Individual Master File and had it decoded enough to learn that the IRS says I own an auto parts manufacturing facility in the Virgin Islands. What could your IMF say about you.

tarran June 19, 2011 at 11:49 am


You are wasting your time. Full Stop.

It does not matter what the written law says; from their inception the U.S. federal courts have been distorting the meaning of the written laws in order to get politically convenient outcomes, whether claiming that black people couldn’t be citizens of the United States despite being citizens of a particular state, or that the authority to tax permits the government to outlaw some drugs, to the notion that the first amendment permits Congress to abridge freedom of speech and of the printing press, to the notion that jurisdiction over interstate commerce allows them to punish a person growing wheat for their own live-stock’s consumption or charging too little money to press suits (yes, this really happened!)

Even if the U.S. code didn’t specifically levy a tax on individuals, the courts will never acknowledge such a departure from precedent. Even if they did rule that individuals weren’t liable for a tax, the U.S. congress would have a law on the books in 24 hours that rectified the “loophole”. And they would have widespread support, since most people think that income taxes are required to have a just and stable society.

You are literally wasting your time. Far better to promote that Reader’s Digest interview of a former head of the IRS calling for its abolishment on moral and economic grounds, to convince people to stop supporting the need for an income tax. Then it won’t matter what the law says, the courts or the legislature will eventually bow to public pressure, just as they did when they deprived black people of their rights.

vidyohs June 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm


If you just dropped in on this conversation and aren’t a long time reader of the Cafe Hayek, then you really have just one little snapshot of my consistent posts. Your reply, though clearly intended to be thoughtful with good intentions, just verifies that I need to continue my efforts to challenge the conventional wisdom of America and at least possibly be the catalyst to spur folks to start asking questions and to not be satisfied with the toss off non-responsive answers typically given by government bureaucrats and particularly by the bureaucrats employed by the IRS.

In short, tarran, your reply reveals the kind of ignorance that I am fighting to eliminate. If you reread my post above carefully and see each piece of what I wrote and make an effort to understand it, then you will see that I am indeed not only talking about a perfectly legal law (huh); but, people’s ignorance and cowardice regarding that law.

Here is the situation and I challenge you to answer it for me: Just a week or so ago I challenged with this same question a commenter who said he was a lawyer and familiar with constitutional law, and he was not able to provide the very obvious only answer possible. Until people understand that basic answer and how it applies to the real factors of moral and legal commitments of the individual, then I hold no hope of anything ever changing.

Here is the question: Title 26 does not violate the 13th Amendment to the constitution because the SCOTUS has ruled that the 16th Amendment to the constitution does not confer any new taxing authority on congress.

If, as conventional wisdom leads people to believe, Title 26 says that the government can take what it wants, when it wants, and in the amount it wants of your fruits of labor including the private property you acquire as a result of those fruits of labor, and the government do so as a matter of law; that would constitute involuntary servitude/slavery and would be a violation of the 13th Amendment. You can not get beyond the logic of that. To have the fruits of your labor taken from you through coercion or application of real force is to put you into a condition of slavery, and law in this nation can not do that.

Yet SCOTUS says that Title 26 is not a violation of the 13th Amendment, and rightfully says that.

What is your answer as to how that can apply to private citizens who earn the fruits of their labor in the private market?

If you think you’re stuck, I’d advise you watch the documentary, and then go find the basic literature distributed by the IRS on the income tax and verify that it all does indeed say what the documentary says it does.

The answer is commons sense and very obvious. What is it?

I have so much more to offer as debate on this entire matter, particularly the questions of truth, morality, and the people’s reaction to those. But this is long enough to find out if you are up to the challenge that the lawyer wouldn’t touch. But, I unfairly single out the lawyer when none of the very intelligent and world wise participants on this blog will touch it either.

I think the subject of taxation is very much a matter for an economics blog, and I appreciate that Don and Russ allow me the liberty to address it here when it is an appropriate part of the discussion(s).

tarran June 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm


I don’t think you understood my point, which is a shame given the effort you put into your answer.

My point is that it’s irrelevant whether or not the Constitution was amended to give the government a new taxing authority, just as it is irrelevant that the Constitution in no way permits the U.S. Govt to outlaw marijuana.

My argument is that the law is what the men with guns say it is, not because its right, not because such a system is a just one or even a philosophically coherent one but because they have the power and few want to stand up to them.

You will never convince a Federal judge to accept this argument. If forced to rule on it, they’ll torture the words until a rationalization comes out, and the legal solons will nod wisely and eventually the argument will form a chapter in a book published by a professor at Harvard Law just as they have done with ‘Congress shall make no law’ in the first amendment.

I haven’t looked into Russo’s claims because it is irrelevant whether or not they are true. If he is right, the judiciary will ignore the problem, and if they get called on it, the congress will rush through emergency legislation. If he’s wrong, then all that time spent propounding his notions are clearly a waste of time.

Thus, I wisely don’t read the law, because I don’t care. There are some nice guys with guns who would happily smash down my door, kidnap me, hand my kids over to my ex and her abusive parents and hold press conferences as to how they apprehended a dangerous anarchist who had nothing but contempt for the law (no doubt with pictures from one of my essays to heighten people’s fear)

Don’t get me wrong, if these sorts of confrontations give you pleasure, by all means go ahead. On the other hand, if it is an attempt to meaningfully change people’s minds, you will do more for freedom smoking marijuana in public while behaving peacably than publicizing Russo’s movie.

Also, I want you to understand that I am sympathetic. I would love it if the Supreme Court announced that the IRS was unconstitutional and ended withholding. I also wish that Obama would stop ordering the murder people overseas and at home. It ain’t going to happen and any efforts spent in a futile effort to change that come at the expense of forgone efforts in other more meaningful or pleasurable activities.

tarran June 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Vidyohs, my response is awaiting moderation. Check back in in a couple of hours, I guess.

PrometheeFeu June 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Thanks. I had never heard it before.

Not Carl Sagan June 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

My microeconomics professor played this song right before class started on the day we went over the costs of taxation.

brotio June 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

In honor of Paul’s birthday, I think I’ll eat a bacon-cheeseburger.

Methinks1776 June 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

You are pure evil :)

I’ll bet you’ll be wearing leather shoes and all.

brotio June 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm


Scott G June 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I see that Cafe Hayek has started a “Quote of the Day” feature. Interesting tactic. Here’s my response.

In Studio Hayek’s continuing struggle to gain market share from Cafe Hayek I will be providing a photo of the week. Here’s this week’s photo:


Luke J June 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm

One of the best of Harrison’s earlier works, by the way. My favorite line:

“And my advice for those who die, declare the pennies on your eyes.”

Krishnan June 19, 2011 at 4:33 am

The highest tax rate in India used to be something like 98% – and people wondered as to why tax collections were not as high – Someone, somewhere said – Hey – people do not want to work hard to get 2 percent above a fairly small number – so let’s drop the rates, remove much of the stranglehold on businesses and free the economy to grow – and it did … and it is growing

As I have learned however, no country has a monopoly on stupidity and that politicians are indeed the third sex – there is male, female and the politician. Class Warfare is a tool being used by politicians in India – as it is in the US – once elected, all they think about is how to get re-elected and do not give a damn about anything …

Yngvar June 19, 2011 at 7:00 am

This dude Barack covered that tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0M__0Z1pjg

Economiser June 19, 2011 at 10:54 am


Chucklehead June 19, 2011 at 10:57 am

Happy Fathers Day Professors.
Thanks for being the fathers of the cafe.

Political Observer June 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

The story behind the song was a discussion that Brian Epstine had with the group as they were planning a new tour. The Beatles had hoped to make $10, 000 a piece out of the deal. Brian explained that if they wanted to keep $10,000 apiece in hand, they would have to earn more than $120,000 net each because of British tax laws at the time.

Harmoniate June 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Baby, I’m amazed at the way
You rob me all the time
Maybe I’m afraid of the sniveling way
I serve you

Maybe I’m amazed at the way
You militarize my time
You march me down the line
Maybe I’m amazed your impoverishing
Makes made me need you

Maybe I’m a man
A drone shell lonely man
Caged in the middle of something
That he doesn’t really understand

Maybe I’m amazed at the way
You make me chant your song
You turn right into wrong
Maybe I’m amazed at the way
I Capture men to feed you

Maybe I’m amazed at the way
You conscript me all the time
And maybe I’m afraid of your wrath
If I try to leave you

Chucklehead June 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm


ettubloge June 20, 2011 at 8:42 am

Krugman has never heard the song and does not consider anything the Beatles wrote of value.

Previous post:

Next post: