Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

How to Make America Exceptional Again


In his State of the Union address, President Obama raised the issue of tax cuts for the rich, one of the big battlegrounds between liberals and conservatives.


Conservatives: “Lower taxes for the rich! Make the cuts permanent!”

Liberals: “Raise taxes on the rich! Make the increases permanent!”

Do you see what I mean when I say that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives? They both believe that government should have the authority to determine how much money people should be permitted to keep out of their income. And they both believe that it’s the job of government to take care of people.

Or to put it another way, they believe that everyone’s income rightfully belongs to the government and that it is government’s job to determine how much an allowance each person will be permitted to have. The government keeps the rest and takes care of people with it.

It’s the paternalistic state in action. Sometimes our federal daddy needs more money to take care of people — here at home, or in Iraq or Afghanistan, or just some foreign dictator somewhere — and so the allowance he permits us to have is smaller. Sometimes our daddy doesn’t need so much, and our allowance is larger.

Oh, and don’t forget the fights waged between the adult-children over who gets a bigger share of the allowance money. The rich fight for a larger share. So do those in the middle class. The poor usually lack the resources to lobby Washington policymakers for a larger allowance.

It’s all one big, crooked, corrupt, immoral process by which large numbers of people are trying to get into other people’s pocketbooks, while doing their best to protect their own pocketbooks from being plundered.

Here’s the libertarian position: abolish the income tax and leave people free to keep everything they earn. That was the way of life adopted by the Founding Fathers. Americans lived without income taxation for more than 100 years. That way of life brought into existence the massive savings and capital that produced the wealthiest society in history.

Who would fund the welfare-state and regulatory programs without income taxation? There would be no welfare-state and regulatory programs to fund. They would all be abolished. None of this socialist, interventionist junk can be reconciled with the principles of a free society, with the principles of morality, or with the principles of genuine charity. The welfare-state programs are legalized stealing. The regulatory programs impede people’s ability to pursue happiness in their own way.

For more than 100 years, Americans lived under the concept of voluntary charity. People were free to use their own money the way they chose. No one was forced to help the poor. There was no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare, foreign aid, SBA loans, FDIC, education grants, farms subsidies, or any other such things.

And guess what: When people were free to keep everything they earned, the result was not only the most prosperous nation in history, it was also the most charitable nation in history. That was how America’s churches, museums, and opera houses got built — voluntarily. That’s what genuine charity is all about — voluntary choices, not IRS-coerced ones.

There was no federal drug war, OSHA, SEC, minimum wage laws, price controls, licensing, or other regulatory nonsense. Americans depended on the free market to serve as a natural regulator. When government didn’t serve as people’s daddy, such things as self-reliance, responsibility, and education were nurtured and developed.

There were no foreign military bases. No military-industrial complex. No CIA. No invasions and occupations. No wars of aggression. No standing army. No torture, secret prison camps, and kangaroo tribunals.

Obama wants to restore America’s greatness — to prosperity, creativity, ingenuity, charity. The problem is that he wants the federal government to be in charge of the project. Like so many other statists around the world, Obama fails to realize that his philosophy — statism — precludes the achievement of his goal.

The only way to restore America’s greatness is to restore economic liberty to our land, which means reining in the government and liberating the people. That necessarily entails taking the tax-cut, spending-cut debate to a higher level — to the repeal of the income tax and a dismantling of the welfare-warfare state way of life. Returning to America’s founding principles is the way to make America exceptional once again.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.