Copyright 2015 by John T. Reed
I was just reading Charles Murray’s new book By the People. I decided to set it aside and watch a DVR of John Stossel’s program from tonight. To my surprise, the theme was we the people civil disobedience—Murray’s shtick, and his first guest was Murray talking about this book.
I heard Murray talk about this last July at Freedom Fest where he and I were speakers. Stossel was there, too. And we all three will be there (Planet Hollywood in Vegas) again this July 8-11. Stossel now does one of his shows from there each year.
Murray’s basic position—I have only started reading the book—is that people should simply stop obeying laws and regulations that do not fit the description which another Freedom Fest speaker titled his book: “Don’t hurt other people or steal their stuff.”
He then says something I said in all 19 editions of my book Aggressive Tax Avoidance for Real Estate Investors: the government is bluffing like the two guys who get a large number of enemy to surrender in the dark by pretending to be a much larger force. Adolf Hitler actually did that to a large number of French soldiers in World War I and got the Iron Cross medal for it. My book lists the number of taxpayers and the number of IRS auditors. The ratio is ridiculous. So the IRS tries to trick the public into thinking they are far more numerous and likely to get you than they are.
My book does not say to cheat because you won’t get caught. Rather, it says to make the judgment calls in your favor and don’t chicken out on legal tactics like claiming a home office because of some whispered myth that it “red flags” your return for audit. That’s a lie. IRS does not have hardly any auditors compared to how many taxpayers there are. They could not “red flag” all the home office returns if they wanted to.
My book explicitly says to not do anything that triggers a penalty, but to stop worrying about doing something like making a judgment call in your favor that results in a deficiency—meaning you owe back taxes plus interest. In the vast majority of cases, IRS will not question it, because they don’t have enough people and because they cannot collect enough revenue from getting into long arguments like about the percentage of your purchase price attributable to land.
Anyway, this mass refusal to obey stupid laws and regulations—which has been used successfully in the US before—civil rights movement, draft dodging during Vietnam, drinking during Prohibition—is a promising way to deal with stuff that would require a Constitutional amendment that we are not going to get any time soon.
Fundamentally, the 2.3 million or so U.S. government civilian employees are too few, too many devoted to activities other than enforcement, and way too slow and inefficient to actually enforce all the laws and regulations against we 315 million citizens. And if we further fight ferociously in court if and when we are among the chosen few the government tries to enforce against, they are even less able to enforce all the crap they have enacted and promulgated.
Murray would have a number of charities spring up to pay for all-out court fights for the few who were “prosecuted”—sort of like insurance against being hassled for ignoring federal laws that go beyond preventing Americans from hurting other people or taking their stuff. If you lost, they would pay your fine.
Here are some Facebook responses:
Kurt Fanderclai Libertarians have been making these arguments for decades. They just don't land with the 315 million.
Joshua Reed Most of those 315M people misunderstand what Libertarianism is, or government's proper place in our lives
Mark Klingman a number of charities spring up to pay for all-out court fights for the few who were "prosecuted"
Wouldn't that be the ACLU?
John T. Reed The charities would be those like the Institute for Justice and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Contribute to them. The ACLU claims to defend the Bill of Rights but they admitted when I asked them that they have never taken a case involving the last twelve words of the Fifth Amendment: …nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” The ACLU favors the nanny state and redistrubition of wealth and income. They oppose the Libertarian credo of limiting laws to those against “hurting other people and taking their stuff.” They also hate the Jeffersonian credo: “…the sum of good government [is one that] shall restrain men from injuring one another [and] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”
Democrats claim to be the party of Jefferson and celebrate his birthday every year, but they despise everything Jefferson stood for.
The ACLU’s vision is a nation where you can’t decide how big of a Coke to buy or what children can eat for lunch at school or what health insurance policy, if any, to buy, but you are free to complain about such laws while you comply with them.
John T. Reed Fanderclai says he “likes” this post, which enables him to post a comment. But I see no “like” in his comment. I think Fanderclai is a liar.
He is also wrong. First, the Constitution, which this is about, was not written in the last decades, notwithstanding liberals behaving as if it was and wishing it was. The Founding Fathers made these arguments 239 years ago. If the libs don’t like these arguments, they can amend the Constitution. Until they do, they can abide by it. The popularity of Libertarianism among current welfare check recipients and other Eloi is irrelevant.
Secondly, page 2 of the book has the subtitle “The Resurgence of Madisonian Thought” which is a lengthy list of Libertarian advances in the last 50 years.
Murray’s advice to Libertarians is to stop relying totally on futile efforts to persuade people like Fanderclai. Just igonre the unconstitutional laws. Then Fanderclai and his fellow totalitarians can pony up a lot more taxes to try to stop us.
The Tea Party, in its original form, was liberty-loving citizens disobeying the law by throwing British tea into Boston Harbor. That worked out just fine for us. The current Tea Party needs to be more about that than wasting their time talking to socialists.
It appears well researched, but I came across three errors to my surprise. They happen to be in my areas of expertise. That makes me think other parts of the book which are not my areas of expertise must have a similar number of errors.
The first is page 39 where he complains that when you have a dispute with the IRS you must pay the tax even if you do not legally owe it then sue to get it back. Not so.
I am the author of Aggressive Tax Avoidance for Real Estate Investors, 19th edition. http://www.johntreed.com/ATA.html Over 100,000 copies of that book have been sold—many to lawyers and accountants.
When the IRS says you owe money, you have a choice of three courts: Tax, District, and Claims. If you choose District or Claims, you must indeed, pay the tax first then sue for a refund. But in Tax Court, you don’t have to pay until you lose the case in court. There are other considerations with regard to which court is best for your case ad they are explained in my book. That does not refute the general message of its book, but he just did not do his homework adequately.
On page 44, he talks about the “takings” clause in the Fifth amendment, which he characterized as “the last thirteen words of that amendment.” “Thirteen!?” For years I have said it was “the last twelve words.” I checked. He’s wrong. I’m right. Those twelve words are “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” I just typed that from memory. Instead of “without” he says “except with.” “Without“ is what is in the Bill of Rights.
He also says that zoning has always been accepted. That is dead wrong. Zoning was a new, liberal, redistributionist, invention in the early 19th century. The knowledgeable people were shocked when in 1926 the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Euclid v. Ambler case the way they did—in favor of zoning which is an uncompensated taking that is actually the granting of an easement or a deed restriction to neighbors who did not pay for it. http://en.wikipedia.org/…/Village_of_Euclid_v._Ambler_Realt….
By the People is a great book with a much needed list of the ways in which the liberals stole our freedom through the courts, the Congress, and executive actions, mostly during and since the New Deal.
John T. Reed