It’s almost tax time again, and with it comes the peculiar American ritual of grumbling about something they have no intention of changing. Most people regard taxation as a necessary evil, a civic duty that must be borne in order to finance the various public services we all enjoy. Most people are too good-natured, and perhaps even a bit too fearful to ever name the beast for the monstrosity and affront to liberty that it is. In its current form the tax code is a jungle of red tape, a labyrinth of regulations and hazards that even an expert can barely navigate, a regressive, heavy handed hammer held by your government who says “You will pay what we say you will pay, or we will throw you in jail.” It is used to punish achievement, redistribute wealth, and fund a variety of schemes and boondoggles that no rational person would ever agree to spend their money on. It demonizes those whose blood, sweat and tears keep feeding it. It is a wealth engine for those who cannot generate wealth on their own and a perpetual power source for lobbyists who are paid to steer it in their clients favor. It has an enforcement arm staffed by a veritable army of bureaucrats who wield unheard of power to confiscate your wealth with no trial and little hope of appeal. Stories abound of IRS abuses regarding property seizures, wage garnishment and even false imprisonment. For many, the money is taken from them before they even see it, and for others, it is up to them to determine how much they owe, with the constant specter of the jail cell hanging over their heads if they are mistaken. It differs from armed robbery only in the details of collection. During an election cycle, politicians will make grand speeches about modifying this part of the code or that part of the code to benefit their particular power base. They will pit one group against another and talk of the great reforms that will happen once they are given the levers of power, but what we get is more of the same. Once the campaigns are over, and the banners packed away what remains is the same dynamic; “Your money or our jail cell.” The system cannot simply be ‘fixed,’, for the system is the problem. And while most people just go through their day, reminding themselves in quiet desperation that the nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down, the atrocities continue. Anyone who discusses real tax reform, like the abolishment of the code in favor something else, is treated as some wild-eyed radical. Let me remind you, fellow Americans, that it was wild-eyed radicals that dumped tea into Boston Harbor. Are we really their legacy, or are we just some people who happen to live in the same place that they lived? “Your money, or our jail cell.” That doesn’t sound much like freedom to me.