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Paying Taxes And Patriotism

And one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. (emphasis added)

    -- Learned Hand

Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands; taxes are enforced extractions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in  the name of morals is mere cant. (emhasis added)

    -- Learned Hand

Who is Learned Hand? Here is the first paragraph from his Wikipedia entry:

“Billings Learned Hand (January 27, 1872 – August 18, 1961) was an influential United States judge and judicial philosopher. He served on the Southern District Court of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Hand has reportedly been quoted more often than any other lower-court judge by legal scholars and by the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Fast forward to September 19, 2008. CNSNews.com reported (or Yahoo/AP or Free-Market News Network): “Wealthy people who will pay higher income taxes under an Obama-Biden administration should consider it their patriotic duty, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said on Thursday.” The online news organization goes on to quote the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate telling ABC’s “Good Morning America” he and his Presidential running mate, Sen. Barack Obama, want to:

“take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people . . .  It’s time to be patriotic . . . Time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut. And the way to do that is -- they’re still going to pay less taxes than they paid under Reagan.”

Consider also the opinion of Kristina Rasmussen of the National Taxpayers Union who writes at Government Bytes:

“If your patriotism is measured by how much you pay, I would argue that the wealthy are pretty gosh darn patriotic."

If you don’t believe that, take a look at the chart Ms. Rasmussen points readers to. It’s rather difficult to believe that Sen. Biden is an attorney and adjunct professor who teaches a constitutional law seminar. The senator might want to read some tax law.


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