Food for Thought on Tax Day: The Anti-Federalists Anticipated the Leviathan State

Tax Power

As every American schoolchild knows, the newly drafted Constitution was not ratified without an intense political debate between the Federalists (who wanted ratification) and Anti-Federalists (who feared the creation of a stronger central government). Anti-Federalist “Brutus” (believed to be New York judge Robert Yates), argued in 1787 against the newly proposed Congress’ tax power. He had this to say:

This power [to tax], exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city, and country — It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States. To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE!”

Leviathan Amazing isn’t it? This was before the passage of the 16th Amendment  and the creation of the IRS. Fast-forward 226 years later, it would appear Brutus’ worst fears were realized with the State now spreading its tax tendrils in every possible activity you can think of. Virtually nothing is left untouched.

Besides taxes, the Anti-Federalists presciently anticipated the modern Leviathan state that recognizes no limits on its power.

Published in

Post a comment