Taxes versus Revenues: Leslie Stahl’s Malpractice

Taxes versus Revenues: Leslie Stahl’s Malpractice

Tibor R. Machan

As I reach old age I shield myself from unpleasant television as much as I can. Of course, in order to stay apprised of events I cannot afford to skip all of what is irritating but given all the repetition, I have managed to reduce exposure to much that’s bad for my nerves.

One show I used to watch regularly was CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes. It was a kind of ritual. But no longer, other than accidentally. Which is why I managed to catch one of the 60 Minutes follow-ups the other Sunday evening. In it Leslie Stahl commented on Grover Norquist’s fight against the spendthrifts in Washington. Never mind for now her typical support of more spending and higher taxes; it is to be expected from her, a veteran Washington insider. What was interesting is the length to which she went this time to bolster her support.

She seems to have decided that instead of using the term “taxes” for what Norquist opposes, she characterized it as revenues. And that is dirty pool.

Taxation isn’t revenue raising. It is confiscation of people’s resources. Revenue is what merchants or employees earn in voluntary trade. To classify taxes as revenues is an obvious distortion. It is akin to characterizing the loot from a bank robbery as earnings, profits or income. There is no way that Ms. Stahl doesn’t know this.* She is simply falling in line with President Obama’s efforts to warp the English language for political purposes. Like when Obama decided that imposing additional taxes on what he calls the rich or wealthy amounts to “asking them for a little bit more.” Imposing taxes on people is no more asking them for funds than is a tax a form of revenue. Both of these distortions have to be conscious since they both clearly serve to help to pretend that something voluntary is going on when that is the farthest thing from the truth.

We aren’t asked to pay in funds on April 15th. The funds are extorted from us with the threat that unless we mail them to the IRS, we will end up in jail and if we resist we could be killed! And when we are taxed, the resulting funds at the IRS aren’t some kind of revenue but the fruit of unabashed confiscation.

When our celebrity journalists become complicit in the government’s confiscation of our resources, we are in bad shape indeed. The press used to be a partner in the resistance of government oppression. Now it is like in a dictatorships, a co-conspirator, a partner in crime–think Pravda and Izvestia.

*Some many moons ago Diane Sawyer, if memory serves me right, did a report on the street thieves in Rome, Italy, and called their loot “profits.” That 60 Minutes bunch is very confused or perverse.

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