October 10, 1936 - Article - The Paramount Issue, by David Lawrence

If business picks up, then taxes pick up...... The Government of the United States doesn't earn profits, but it collects taxes. (pg. 11)

The politicians see to it that less than 3% of the 120,000,000 people pay income taxes. The other group - more than 97% - pays no income taxes to the Federal Government. (pg. 109)

Comments: The politicians of today see to it that every worker all they way down to minimum wage is an income tax payer and taxpayer identification numbers are assigned to all newborn children. Again we see that taxes were associated with profits, not wages. The way people think on taxes has changed dramatically over the years, but the people were warned back then that this would happen if they accepted the New Deal philosophy of government. Herbert Hoover, in his book The Challenge to Liberty (1934) stated on page 135 that "the government, in order to protect itself from the political consequences of its actions, is driven irresistibly and without peace to a greater and greater control of the nation's thinking." Before the New Deal, taxing wages was off limits and therefore the thought of it was repulsive to many people. No doubt that is why labor taxation began at 1% in 1937 and was to gradually rise at ½% increments until it peaked at 3% in 1949. Today, in 2006, income taxation on labor goes far beyond this and many people look with scorn at the workers who refuse to pay income tax on their wages. With this thought in mind let's consider the words of Frederick Douglass taken from the his memories of the days when he was a slave to his Master Hugh in Baltimore in the year 1836:

I was living among freemen, and was in all respects equal to them by nature and attainments. Why should I be a slave? There was no reason why I should be the thrall of any man. Besides, I was now getting, as I have said, a dollar and fifty cents per day. I contracted for it, worked for it, collected it; it was paid to me, and it was rightfully my own; and yet upon every returning Saturday night, this money - my own hard earnings, every cent of it - was demanded of me and taken from me by Master Hugh. He did not earn it; he had no hand in earning it; why then, should he have it?..... (from page 211 of The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, 1882)

Of course, Master Hugh was not all that greedy. He did give Douglass an allowance from his own wages from time to time. On pages 212-13, Douglass stated:

The practice from week to week of openly robbing me of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by indirection, but this was too open and barefaced to be endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of my master. My obligation to do this vexed me, and the manner in which Master Hugh received my wages vexed me yet more. Carefully counting the money, and rolling it out dollar by dollar, he would look me in the face as if he would search my heart as well as my pocket, and reproachfully asked me, "Is that all?" - implying that I had perhaps kept back part of my wages; or, if not so, the demand was made possibly to make me feel that after all, I was an "unprofitable servant." Draining me of the last cent of my hard earnings, he would, however, occasionally, when I brought home an especially large sum, dole out to me a sixpence or shilling, with a view, perhaps, of kindling up my gratitude. But it had the opposite effect; it was an admission of my right to the whole sum. The fact that he gave me any part of my wages, was proof that he suspected I had a right to the whole of them; and I always felt uncomfortable after having received anything this way, lest his giving me a few cents might possibly ease his conscience, and make him feel himself to be a pretty honorable robber after all.

Douglass struck a deal with his Master Hugh in 1838 to let him live on his own. He would have to board himself and buy all the necessities of life now. Douglass described the bargain on pages 214-15 of his book:

I was to be allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work, and to collect my own wages; and in return for this liberty, I was required or obliged to pay him three dollars at the end of each week, and to board and clothe myself, and buy my own caulking tools. A failure in any of these particulars would put an end to the privilege. This was a hard bargain. The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and breaking of tools, and the expense of board made it necessary for me to earn at least six dollars per week to keep even with the world..... Rain or shine, however, work or no work, at the end of each week the money must be forthcoming.

I suppose Frederick Douglass was a fool thinking that he had a right to all of his wages, wasn't he? Abraham Lincoln took the same position as Douglass on the worker having a right to all of his wages. However, today, in 2006, according to Quatloos [IRS] logic, both Douglass and Lincoln would be grouped among the dumbest of the dumb in the tax protestor movement.

Back to Old Weekly Press Table of Contents

Home