Why Not Set the People Free?

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J.D. Tuccille highlights some murmurs in Europe that remind one of the Rhode Island attitude:

The shadow economy—off-the-books business and labor that would be perfectly legal if people felt like subjecting themselves to taxes and regulations—ebbs and flows with the years. Right now, it’s down a bit in many countries from the days of the recession, but shadow economic activity is still huge. Across the European Union, it’s estimated to amount to 18.4 percent of GDP. Why people work off the books is no secret—high taxes and burdensome regulations are constantly cited by economists as primary drivers for people to hide what they’re doing. So, current policies are like kryptonite to people who want to keep the fruits of their labor. Got it. The obvious solution then is to…harangue and coerce people back into the official economy?

Even though regulations are pushing people out of the taxed-and-regulated economy, leaving them with effectively no taxes or regulations, government officials aren’t simply going to reevaluate their approach.  In their view, it isn’t government’s job to accommodate the people.  The diktat has been issued, and the people must be made to comply.

Even if it means banning cash so every transaction can be traced.

At least in Rhode Island, government officials make periodic noises about easing regulations.  Still, the plan appears to be to try every power-centralizing solution they can imagine for a hundred years before simply doing the obvious and leaving people alone.

(Via Instapundit.)



  • j.j.Kunicki

    Stop taxing earnings, and start taxing spending, exclusively. It’s harder to hide spending than it is to hide earnings.

    • Mike678

      The barter/cash economy many use to mitigate taxes avoids both.

  • Warrington Faust

    I have more faith in “the system” than most. People will find a way. Here is a thought. Most “funny money” (in amounts we can think about, let’s cap at 10 million) leaves the banking system where every movement is traceable. It typically becomes gold coins, in reasonably small denominations. Then it is untraceable. I may have to think of paying my plumber in “pieces of eight”. A way will be found. Are “bit coins” the answer? Perhaps public “Fort Knox” where the public can store hard assets then electronically transfer them in small segments. Perhaps those “private banks” will issue their own currency, we have certainly done that before. What is illegal about an agreeable payee receiving “gold certificates”?

    There was a federal bill pending that required banks to report relatively small cash withdrawals. “Report” not to the feds, but to the local police. Amazing.

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