An Open Letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary and the Citizens of the United States
April 15, 2015
Mr. Jacob Lew
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Re: Taxes, Freedom and the Wolf’s Mouth
First time for everything, it’s been said. I’ve never stuck my head in a wolf’s mouth. Until now. At age 65, for the first time in my adult life, I haven’t filed a tax return with the IRS. Nor have I sent a tax payment to the U.S. Treasury. Instead, I’ve sent equivalent, proportional payments to the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration, the state of Louisiana, and various charities, educational institutions and local law enforcement agencies (copies attached). As collection agent for the United States, you are hereby authorized to keep my tax overpayment from 2013. My gift of this interest-free loan contains one condition: I want you to use it to pay down the national debt. Our kids’ and grandkids’ lives will be tough enough without dragging this inherited ball-and-chain with them into the future.
A decent respect to the opinions of my fellow citizens compels me to explain my action. I am no anti-government ideologue or anti-tax zealot. If forced to categorize myself, I would confess to being an absolutist, but only about the rule of law and consensual government.
Experience and reflection have taught me two simple truths about government’s role in society:
- because humans are not angels, as James Madison once observed, consensual government based on the rule of law is essential for us to co-exist in peace and freedom; and
- when it comes to fulfilling every consensual government’s main mandate of securing the God-given, unalienable rights of its citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Thomas Jefferson was correct in his conviction that “the government that governs least governs best.”
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were practical, political expressions of Jefferson’s and Madison’s insights on human nature and government.
In 1787, the sovereign states sent delegates to Philadelphia to create a new nation based upon the principle of limited, consensual government. The Declaration’s spirit of liberty no doubt filled each delegate’s heart. Something entirely different, I’m sure, filled their minds: An awareness that power is the greatest of all threats to liberty. They knew its toxic effect on humans included swelling of the ego and corruption of the soul. They also knew that as nature abhors a vacuum, so does power crave control. Unrestrained power would make humans as vulnerable as sheep among wolves. Predators rule when the law of the jungle replaces the rule of law.
For these reasons, they were cautious about placing concentrated power in human hands. They carefully measured the newly-formed federal government’s powers. Their goal? A government strong enough to secure the rights of its citizens, but not so strong as to deprive the states of their sovereignty or the people of their rightful status as master, not servant, of that government. To diminish the threat to liberty, the delegates spread the government’s limited power among co-equal executive, legislative and judicial branches. Also, they specified in a Bill of Rights that powers not explicitly given to the federal government belonged to the states or to the people. The resulting Constitution preserved the blessings of liberty for successive generations of Americans for over 200 years. Until now.
Something has gone wrong in America. Previous generations took seriously their duty to defend the Constitution. Far too many of my generation neglected this duty. We dozed when we should have been alert. We lost our skepticism of government power and distrust of politicians. We forgot the warning of America’s greatest satirist, Mark Twain, that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the congress is in session.”
Our collective irresponsibility allowed the government to escape its shackles. Too few of us resisted its attack on the rule of law. We ignored its theft of powers nowhere granted in the Constitution. Known for deception, the unrestrained wolf concealed its predatory actions by masquerading as a good shepherd. In confusion, too many of us remained passive as our liberties went missing, one by one, like lambs to the slaughter. Some noticed, however, that Washington, D.C. had become a graveyard of liberty, a place where freedom went to die.
And yet, we silently follow this wolf in disguise. Why we became so passive is a mystery. Not so very long ago, we chose our own paths. We wrote our own stories. Not for us the role of victim in a script prepared by someone else. Not when we could imagine ourselves as the hero of a tale filled with joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures. Such is the drama of life fully lived.
Sheep are not such noble creatures. Sheep are averse to adventure. The role of helpless victim comes naturally to them. They are well suited for the nanny state which is present day America. Sheep are unlikely to oppose the plans of politicians and bureaucrats designed to micromanage their lives with suffocating regulations, contradictory rules and arbitrary mandates.
These arrogant social engineers love their precious plans. Their greatest delight is planning a perfect world where sheep and wolves live at peace. Almost always, their plans have failed to perform as advertised. Among their unintended consequences are the breakdown of the family, dumbing down of education, perpetuation of poverty, corruption of the law, decay of journalism, advent of junk science, and substitution of social justice for salvation in religion. Typically, their failures have deprived the sheep of freedom, but provided the wolf with all the food he could eat.
Still, these planners of other people’s lives remain certain of their wisdom and virtue. All is well, they assure us. Their plans flawless. If we just follow them, give them more money and control over our lives, they’ll deliver us to that blissful place of green pastures and still waters.
Only one problem. Without authorization, they’ve lawlessly seized the cockpit and changed our nation’s course in search of this fantasy. Anyone with eyes can see we’re being flown into a mountain. To avert this looming disaster, we must restore the rule of law. We must regain control of the cockpit through the electoral process. We must return to the course set nearly 400 years ago by a group of pilgrims, who with faith and courage left their homes in search of a land where they could worship as they chose, a land where they could tend their own gardens, a land where they could breathe free — a land called America. The time to act is N-O-W! Let’s roll!!
Ray Cedor Jr.