"Wherever a discretionary power is lodged in any set of men over the property of their neighbors, they will abuse it … and assessors will ever be a set of petty tyrants. … The genius of liberty reprobates every thing arbitrary or discretionary in taxation … whatever liberty we may boast in theory, it cannot exist in fact while assessments continue." This warning does not come from Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek. Alexander Hamilton, the foremost champion of strong central government among the Founding Fathers, issued it.
A century later, the Scottish economist John McCulloch noted, "The moment you abandon the cardinal principle of exacting from all individuals the same proportion of their income or of their property, you are at sea without a rudder or compass, and there is no amount of injustice and folly you may not commit."
Anticipating the rise of the welfare state, a New York Times editorial at the beginning of the 20th century prophesied: "When men get into the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it."
Looking at our tax code it seems that generations of American politicians have sided with the idea of Marx and Engels to impose "a heavy progressive or graduated income tax" in order to confiscate "all capital from the bourgeois, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state." Not that our legislators have been acting consistently against the interests of the "bourgeois." Reminding me of the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde, over the years those same politicians have inserted, amended, repealed, and reintroduced countless tax breaks, deductions, credits, exemptions, and other loopholes so that their major campaign contributors could altogether avoid paying taxes.
If you want proof that our republic has been hijacked by special interests, look no further than the Internal Revenue code. Americans have passively witnessed the rise of a system that squanders resources and confers privileges at the expense of growth and fairness. It's nothing but legalized plunder. You know it and I know it and we must remind our public servants of the words of Samuel Miller, an associate justice for the U.S. Supreme Court, who declared in the late 19th century: "To lay with one hand the power of government on the property of a citizen, and with the other to bestow it on favored individuals … is none the less robbery because it was done under the forms of law and is called taxation."