Modern Day American Slavery
The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” This amendment, adopted in 1865, ended slavery, or involuntary servitude in America, the “land of the free” until 1913. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment was adopted and in effect nullified the Thirteenth Amendment by allowing Congress to “have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” Involuntary servitude was once again brought back to America, and over time it was extended to more and more people as the tax was levied on more of the population’s income. No more could involuntary servitude only be enforced on someone as punishment for a crime one is duly convicted of. Now, Congress could force Americans to work involuntarily for the United States for however long it wanted, simply by levying an income tax on them.
The reader might wonder how the income tax and slavery equate. Political philosopher Robert Nozick said it best: “[t]axation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor. Seizing the results of someone’s labor is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities.” All in America who pay an income tax are forced laborers, or slaves. This is because we cannot live in this world without an income. Working to earn an income to pay for our housing, food, clothing, and other necessities of life is not only a natural right of ours as human beings, it’s also a necessity of life. We must, in order to live, work and earn an income, giving our labor in exchange for monetary compensation. We are forced by our humanity and existence as human beings to labor and earn an income so that we may provide for ourselves. If we were denied the ability to earn an income, we would certainly die, or in the very least live a miserable existence living off of others. Luckily, we are not denied earning an income, although regulatory and licensure laws greatly hinder doing so. But, government does take part of our income, and thus we are in essence being forced to work for that government. An income tax is equivalent to working a certain percentage of our time a year, virtually for free for the government. And this income tax is coerced upon us by the threat of fines and/or jail time-by the barrel of a gun. We are in bondage to our neighbors who support the income tax and to the government. Yes, mild slave masters they may be, for they allow us to choose our tasks by letting us choose, for the most part, our type of employment and how much we wish to earn. But slave masters they still be, for they force us to labor for them, or for the nation, for a certain portion of the year. And the way our federal revenue is spent, we are also forced to labor for other nations to whom our country is in debt. This is how we are enslaved in modern America, and have been since 1913.
The Sixteenth Amendment doesn’t specify a maximum rate of taxation Congress cannot go above. This makes this amendment quite terrifying, for the legal potential and framework for total enslavement is there and we are at the mercy of our masters in Congress on just how much of our income they will seize and force us to labor for the nation involuntarily. It is a wonder this amendment passed at all!
What can be done? Federally, probably not much, at least not any time soon. However, something could be done in Utah; we could lessen Utah citizens’ part-time enslavement to the state by abolishing Utah’s income tax. The Utah Constitution, in Article I, Section 7, says that “[n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” Article I, Section 21 states that “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State.” If no court cases challenging the Utah income tax based upon these two provisions in the Utah Constitution exist, then a perhaps such a case could be brought before the state courts. But, if the Utah courts have already declared the state income tax “constitutional,” then we would need an amendment to the Utah Constitution outlawing forever the income tax, declaring it to be involuntary servitude. To do this, one would have to contact his/ her representatives in the state legislature and encourage them to introduce such an amendment. Also, as per Article VI, Section 1, any Utah voter may initiate legislation in the legislature calling for the abolition of the income tax. Both the proposed legislation and amendment would require enough support from the people so that they could put pressure on their state legislators to propose and support legislation and an amendment outlawing the income tax in accordance with the Article 1, Section 21 anti-slavery clause.