It is easy to demonstrate that all state socialism, of which TVA is but an instance, is founded on violence. Take the government’s program of paying farmers not to grow tobacco, for example. Let us say that your share of the burden of this socialistic hocus-pocus is $50. Should you absolutely refuse to pay it, assuming you had $50 in assets, you would be killed—legally, of course—here in the U.S.A. in the year of Our Lord, 1964! If that isn’t resting the subsidy program on violence, then, pray tell, what is violence?
Here’s how to get yourself killed: When you get your bill from the Internal Revenue Service, remit the amount minus $50 with these words of explanation:
“I do not believe that citizens should be compelled to pay farmers for not growing tobacco. I do not believe in the farm subsidy program. My share of the cost of the whole program is $50, which I have deducted. Do not try to collect for I ABSOLUTELY refuse to pay for same.”
The IRS will quickly inform you that this is a matter in which freedom of choice does not exist and will demand that you remit the $50.
You respond by merely referring the IRS to your original letter, calling attention to your use of the word “absolutely.”
When the IRS becomes convinced that you mean business, your case will be referred to another branch of the government, the judicial apparatus. It being the function of the judiciary only to interpret the law, the law making it plain that a government claim has first lien on one’s assets, a decision will be rendered against you and in favor of the 1RS. If you have no assets but your home, the Court will order it put on the auction block and will instruct you to vacate.
At this point you will apprise the Court of your letter to the IRS and your use of the word “absolutely.”
When the Court becomes convinced that you mean business, your case will be referred to still another branch of the government, the constabulary. In due course, a couple of officers carrying arms will attempt to carry out the Court’s instructions. They will confront you in person.
But to accede to their “invitation” to vacate would be to pay. With your “absolutely” in mind, you refuse. At this point the officers in their attempt to carry out the Court’s orders will try to carry you off your property, as peaceably as possible, of course. But to let them carry you off would be to acquiesce and to pay. You might as well have acquiesced in the first place. At this stage of the proceedings, in order not to pay, you have no recourse but to resist physical force with physical force. It is reasonable to assume that from this point on you will be mentioned only in the past tense or as “the late Mr. You.” The records will show that your demise was “for resisting an officer,” but the real reason was that you absolutely refused to pay farmers for not growing tobacco or whatever.
Rarely will any citizen go this far. Most of us, regardless of our beliefs, acquiesce immediately on receipt of the bill from the IRS. But the reason we do so is our recognition of the fact that this is an area in which freedom of choice no longer exists. I, for instance, would never give a cent of my income to farmers not to grow tobacco were I allowed freedom of choice in the matter. But, realizing that the farm subsidy program rests on violence, it takes no more than the threat of violence to make me turn part of my income over to farmers for not growing tobacco.
The Case of Mr. Byler
This idea that the whole wearisome list of socialistic practices rests on strife and violence and that the ultimate penalty for noncompliance is death, was written and published in 1950.2 Many have read the booklet and an explanation of the same idea has been given before many discussion groups throughout the country, but the reasoning has never been challenged. Yet, I am unaware of any instance where an individual has gone all the way, that is, has absolutely refused to pay and gone to his death for his beliefs. One farmer went so far as to leave the country, and quite a number of citizens have delayed their acquiescence considerably, that is, they have carried their revolt beyond immediate payment—usually mixed with grousing. One of the most interesting and instructive examples is reported by the IRS in a news release dated May 15, 1961:
Considerable public and press misunderstanding exists over the seizure of three horses from a Pittsburgh area Amish farmer who refused to pay Social Security taxes because of religious convictions.
This memo is designed merely to acquaint you with all the facts in the case.
Public Law 761, 83rd Congress, effective January 1, 1955, extended Social Security coverage so as to include farm operators. A tax on the self-employment income of these people is imposed and they are required to report this tax on their annual federal income tax return.
The Old Order Amish are the most conservative of the Amish groups and have taken the position that although they will comply with taxes, as such, Social Security payments, in their opinion, are insurance premiums and not taxes. They, therefore, will not pay the “premium” nor accept any of the benefits.
In the fall of 1956, the IRS district director at Cleveland held meetings with Amish farmers and their church officials in an effort to solicit cooperation and voluntary compliance with the laws we have to administer. At these meetings, it was explained that the self-employment levy is a tax and that it would be the responsibility of IRS to enforce this tax.
As a result of these meetings and of letters sent to the individuals involved, the majority of Amish farmers in that general area voluntarily remitted the tax. With respect to those who refused, it became apparent that some did not wish to contravene the dictates of their church, but they also did not want “trouble” with IRS.
Thus, a portion of these farmers did not pay the tax, but did make the execution of liens possible by maintaining bank accounts which covered the tax.
The current problem stems from the “hard core” group of Old Order Amish farmers who closed out their bank accounts and made such levy action impossible. As a result, the IRS was forced to collect 130 delinquent taxpayer accounts from Amish farmers in the past two years.
Valentine Y. Byler of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania became the latest collection problem among the Old Order Amish. He owed the following self-employment tax:
The foregoing taxes amounted to $257.78. The total interest for the same period was $51.18, making a grand total of $308.96 owed by the taxpayer.
Attempts had been made since 1956 to induce Mr. Byler to pay his tax willingly, but with no success. Since Mr. Byler had no bank account against which to levy for the tax due, it was decided as a last desperate measure to resort to seizure and sale of personal property.
It then was determined that Mr. Byler had a total of six horses, so it was decided to seize three in order to satisfy the tax indebtedness. The three horses were sold May 1, 1961, at public auction for $460. Of this amount $308.96 represented the tax due, and $113.15 represented expenses of the auction sale including feed for the horses, leaving a surplus of $37.80 which was returned to the taxpayer.
The Byler case like all others in the same category presents an unpleasant and difficult task for the Internal Revenue Service. However, there is no authority under which Amish farmers may be relieved of liability for this tax.
With respect to those who remain adamant in their refusal to pay, as in the case of any person who refuses to pay any federal tax that is lawfully due, it is incumbent on the Internal Revenue Service to proceed with collection enforcement action as provided by law.
We have no other choice under the law.
Had our Amish friend, Valentine Y. Byler, not acquiesced at the point he did but had gone all the way in his determination, he would have employed physical force against the officers who seized his three horses. In this event he would now be known as “the late Valentine Y. Byler.” He would have established beyond a shadow of doubt that the Social Security program, as well as all other socialistic practices, is founded on strife and violence. These cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, come under the category of “peaceful actions.”