When Magna Carta laid down that no new taxes could be levied ‘without common consent of the realm’ it helped set the foundation for the current democratic system that allows 50% +1 of the voters to impose their view on the remaining 50% -1 of the people.
The modern nation-state and its method of financing, taxation, is built on a lie, that the ‘moral’ majority somehow gives legitimacy to the taxing legislation. When the monarchs established a Parliament, it was to do no more than provide a buffer between the king and the citizens to ‘protect’ his taxing power and to eventually ‘legitimize’ what he took. He took it with the consent of the parliamentarians, who of course, were supposed to represent, initially property owners, but it was eventually expanded to ‘we the people’ — everyone. When things got tough in 1688, the roles were switched. Now the monarch (or in the USA, the President) “legitimizes” the acts of Parliament or Congress by adding his (or her in the case of the British monarch) imprimatur to the legislation.
But . . .
Why do so many people dislike paying taxes?
When someone posts an article with the title, The Joy of Paying Taxes, it is bound to get my attention.
What attracted my attention on this occasion was the explanation of why there should be joy in paying taxes. The thrust of the article is that, first, the “general equity” provisions of Scripture allow the collection of taxes. Second, Caesar’s image on the coin determines the ownership of the coin, and therefore we are to render unto Caesar what is his. “Presently, nearly everyone is being robbed of joy that accompanies the discipline and responsibility of rendering to Caesar what is his.” The conclusion? “Caesar is due the denarius because his image is on it.”
“You shall not steal” requires a definition of stealing. Here’s one: taking anything that God says you’re not entitled to.
The reason we are being robbed of this joy is because some people are not paying enough tax and others are paying too much, says the author. But to make this kind of claim, you eventually have to explain what the level of taxation ought to be.
Render Unto Caesar
To suggest that the words of the Messiah “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” means “Caesar is due the denarius because his image is on it” is an open invitation for Caesar to put his stamp on anything to which he takes a fancy. To then claim it is owed to him just because his image is on it does not fit with what the Bible says about the role of Caesar and the limits placed on him by the words “and unto God what is God’s”. Caesar is not entitled to anything just because his image is on something. He’s entitled to what God declares he’s entitled to, and no more. He’s not even entitled to put his image on a coin unless God says he may do this. So the suggestion that Caesar has an entitlement merely because of his image on something confuses aspects of this debate.
A Mark of Sovereignty
From time to time there are news items explaining why some people find it necessary to leave home. Taxes — property taxes to be precise.
In a period of rising house prices it is easy to forget that with rises in prices come increasing property taxes. And property taxes can mean financial ruin for many whose income cannot rise to meet the increased tax burden.
One resident in Massachusetts some time ago was suffering when her tax bill increased from $2,200 to $3,500, while income remained fixed at $12,000 a year. The result? Sell the family home, with all its sweat and tears (it was built by the current owner and her late husband) and memories.
While the stock market may be on the move up again and there is little evidence that the real estate market is out of the doldrums, the banking fiasco in the US, together with fevered home buying, indicated personal debt was on the increase. So, too, were home prices, since a good portion of the debt went into home buying. Property prices were bound to increase — and property taxes along with them.
In his book, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State, Joseph Strayer outlines the formation of the nation-state. Most of the ingredients were in place by the 14th century, he says. It took another three centuries or more to become recognizable as the modern state, but its principles were in place that early. In understanding the purpose of the formation of national boundaries, eventually becoming boundaries of sovereignty, we find the key to understanding the contemporary problems of politics. Outlining the slow development of the process to the modern state, Strayer observes,
[T]he purpose of the political game was not to create a new government, but rather to get control of some part of the existing government and use that control for selfish purposes. . . . The basic structure of government had to be preserved in order to generate the revenues sought by the upper classes.
This point is often lost in contemporary debate. The taxing system of government is not to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor; it is to redistribute wealth from the poor and middle classes to the upper classes.
This is hidden by progressive tax scales. But it helps explain why the lowest portion of taxes is paid by the upper classes. Government is in place to protect and preserve their interests.
What Would a “Spiritual” Revival Look Like?
Charles Hodge, in his history of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, written in the 19th century, was critical of the revival period known as the Great Awakening. Why? His opinion seems to cut against common acceptance that this was a mighty work of revival, and that the Holy Spirit manifested Himself in a particular way during this period.
Charles Hodge (no known relation to this writer) would not accept this view so readily. In his opinion, the church was in a worse state two years after the Awakening than it was two years earlier. Thus, he was not so ready to accept the Awakening was the work of the Holy Spirit.
His criticism, therefore, begs the question. And if you allowed yourself to dream for a few minutes, what would a spiritual revival look like to you?
I dreamed a dream. There was a spiritual revival under way.
Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. (Luke 3:12-13).
In the New Testament one group of citizens is continually associated with sinners and harlots. This is the group known as the “publicans,” or publicani. Clearly they were a despised group. Whenever Jesus associated Himself with them He was criticized for fraternizing with “publicans and sinners.” Zacchaeus, a rich man, was “chief among the publicans” (Luke 19:2).
By the time of the second century B.C. the publicani had become a quite powerful class of people. Because of their business status, they soon became quite wealthy, and although it seems they did not share formal power with the Roman Senators, they certainly wielded a powerful influence on the affairs of the nation.
The publicani were not publicans as we understand the word, hotel-keepers, but people who supplied many services to the government of Rome. Many businessmen today would qualify for the designation publicani. In the Roman Empire they had contracts supplying food and clothing to the army, or they supplied provisions for the Roman religious festivals. (The “privatization” programs of various governments, commenced by Lady Margaret Thatcher in England in the late 1970s, is a return to an older idea of allowing many public services to be supplied by private contract.)
The publicani were not government servants, however, in the sense that we know them today, yet they came to acquire enormous influence over the Roman government and the people. Since one of the tasks they contracted for was tax farming, it is no wonder they were hated. And Jesus mixed freely with these “publicans and sinners.”
If you only read ONE history book in your lifetime, read this one.
You cannot understand how far we’ve come away from Christian culture until you realize what had to change to get non-Christian culture. And this little book helps explain the necessary steps to abolish freedom and Christian culture.
Since the time of Magna Carta individuals have been in disagreement with their rulers over the issues of power and control, especially control over money. It took centuries for property rights in money to be abolished, eventually in the 19th century. See Debt and the Bankers for an overview.
The modern nation-state, with its claim to total jurisdiction is a return to the concepts of the Roman Empire. Thus currency debasement, high taxes, and a belief that that the empire-nation can be unified by political means are evident. But it was not always like this. There was an interlude between the Empire and us.
There was, for a while, an alternative in the middle between the Empire and the nation-state. It brought low taxes, local government, and an individual liberty rare in the history of mankind. This period shaped the modern world, both good and bad. Magna Charta, for example is a product of the period, representing the local government’s attempt to control the power of the monarch. But it also indicates the issues that transformed local government into the nation-state. See How Magna Charta Was Used To Destroy Property Rights
Joseph Strayer, Professor of History at Princeton University, and a part time CIA employee, has described the three steps necessary for the modern nation-state. These were:
1. Control of money — taxation and eventually a monopoly on the creation of currency;
2. Control of the courts — that way, the people could not use the courts to have legislation declared “illegal”;
3. And finally the population needed to accept that the nation-state was a higher priority than either church or family.
These were pretty much in place by the seventeenth century, and once the parliaments and the congresses of this world controlled the monarchy and the Church, the anti-God, democratic nation-state was the outcome with its relentless march toward totalitarian control. It’s an important study on why we’re in the mess we’re in.
Read it! Then get to work to change something.