State Nullification Or Tax Revolt?

Over the last couple of years the idea of state nullification has become more and more popular. Conservatives and libertarians see it as a way to limit the federal government’s power. The truly brilliant author Thomas Woods Jr. wrote a book on the issue called Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century. It’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to anybody who is interested in the topic.

The parties to the Constitution are the various states. If any state determines that a federal law is unconstitutional, they have the right to nullify the law. By nullifying the law, the state is signalling that it will not enforce the law within it’s boundaries. Of course, the federal government can take matters into their own hands and enforce it anyways. However, they would have to defy the will of the people of the  State. Theoretically, the State government would step in and protect the people of the State against federal interlopers. In this way, nullification would erode federal power and allow citizens to fight back against laws that violate the Constitution.

It sounds good. There are many historical examples of States railing back against federal injustice. My personal favorite is when Wisconsin nullified the horrendous Fugitive Slave Act. Other well known examples of State resistance are New England’s threat to secede from the Union in response to Jefferson’s terrible embargo during the war of 1812 and South Carolina’s attempt to leave the Union due to the passage of Andrew Jackson’s Tariff of Abominations. The historical record teaches us that State nullification has worked in the past. Crises were averted because the federal government caved in to pressure from the State.

Since the Civil war, unfortunately, states’ rights is a thing of the past. What most people haven’t been taught is that the Civil War was not fought only because of slavery. It wasn’t even fought mostly because of slavery. In Lincoln’s first inaugural address he states clearly that the South could keep their slaves if they’d just stay in the Union. The famous southern general Robert E. Lee was an abolitionist and in support of  maintaining the Union.

Lincoln’s main reason for invading the South was the maintenance of his tariff policy. He started his career as a railroad lawyer and was a political ally of norther industrial interests. Restrictive tariffs were placed on foreign manufactured goods. The southerners were forced to buy goods in the north because the tariffs made European items to costly. Essentially, the south was forced to subsidize northern manufacturers. They got sick of it and decided to start their own country. The north invaded. The Civil War ensued and the notion of States’ rights went into eclipse.

These days people don’t feel the kind of loyalty to their state as they did in the past. Most people view themselves as Americans and nothing more. State governments get so much money from the federal government that it is highly unlike they would stand up to it. A governor might talk tough, but would he or she go so far as to physically expel federal agents from their State? Almost certainly not.

Also, state governments aren’t really all that much better that than the federal government. They run huge deficits. They have huge bureaucracies. The politicians are every bit as dishonest and self serving. Would citizens really be all that much better off replacing federal goons with state ones?

Governments can only operate with money they get from citizens. They have no resources of their own. To undertake any project, to fight any war, to pay out any benefit, they must get money from the citizenry. That is as true of city and state governments as it is of the federal government. If government is to be restrained it must come as a result of being denied funding.

Rallies, protests, nullification, voting the bums out, and all of the other things that people try to do change the government are futile. The recent occupy Wall St. protests are an example of that. They were around for a couple of news cycles, they raised some hell, but in the end they will have changed nothing.

So how would this defunding idea work? Groups with common interests across the country could get together and whenever the government does something that they find morally reprehensible they refuse to pay taxes. It could be the city governments, state governments, or the federal government that feels the wrath of being cut off. For example, the federal government has recently started going after medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Everybody across the country who is for the legalization of medical marijuana should refuse to pay taxes to the federal government until the persecution ceases. All the antiwar people should band together and stop sending money until the troops come home. Democrats who hate Republicans should refuse to pay taxes while administrations they hate are in office. Likewise for Democrat-hating Republicans. You get the point.

Of course this would be chaotic; but getting the government off your back always is. A lot of people would go to jail, in the beginning. In the long run, if people keep refusing to pay for things that they are against, the government would run out of money. They wouldn’t be able to pay for the police and jails necessary to squash this type of dissent. As long as enough people are going to jail together, this plan could work. Millions of people would have to get on board. Once a movement has solidarity and a critical mass, going to jail for the cause can be quite a righteous thing.

I want to make one thing clear. I’m not advocating that you stop paying your taxes and go to jail alone. That would be pointless. It would change nothing. What I am advocating is that hundreds of thousands of people sign a pledge to stop paying taxes and go to jail unless certain political objectives are carried out. Each individual has to decide for themselves which changes are worth going to jail for.

Depending on state governments to protect us from federal encroachment is a fool’s game. Heck, depending on any government to protect us from anything is dubious. If you want to hit a government where it hurts hit them in the pocketbook.





One Response to State Nullification Or Tax Revolt?

  1. Tina Erebia says:

    Hi there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

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