Sean Edwards

The American Resurrection

The Root of America’s Inequality Problem

buildingsAmerica has a serious inequality problem.

For a country that was founded on the idea of absolute equality, its reprehensible.

It goes deeper than #BlackLivesMatter and other movements like it.

The government’s main jobs is to protect minorities from the aggression of majorities. Otherwise, we’d have some sort of authoritarian regime.

However, even though our country was built on equality, both parties are failing our minorities.

And there’s one minority that has taken the most abuse recently.

In fact, both parties claim to be defenders of this group.

And both parties continually put these people under greater and greater oppression.

This group has been beaten, silenced, ridiculed, labeled as crazy, and completely dismissed by our government today.

This group has been beaten, silenced, ridiculed, labeled as crazy, and completely dismissed by our government today.

And our government deliberately and systematically keeps these people oppressed.

A lot of people say that we have systematic racism in this country.

That’s not true. Systematic racism means that racism is written into law.

There is a difference between the Jim Crow laws and individual law enforcement offers abusing their power.

But this minority is oppressed by the system.

Laws are written specifically to oppress these people.

And nobody notices.

Who are these people? And how–in this day and age–do we still have laws on the books targeting them?

That’s a good question.

The only minority specifically targeted by our laws are: Individuals.

If you balk at that, please stay with me.

We don’t usually talk about individuals as a minority, but aren’t they?

Merrimack-Webster defines a minority as:

  • A number or amount that is less than half of the total
  • The group that is the smaller part of a larger group
  • A group of people that are different from the larger group in a country, are, etc., in some way

Individuals are certainly less than half the population.

Individuals are smaller than the whole.

And individuals are different from the whole… because they are individuals. A person cannot be multiple people (unless they have mental health issues).

The individual is the smallest, most oppressable minority on the earth (I know oppressable isn’t a word, but I like it, so I’m using it)

The individual is the smallest, most oppressable minority on the earth

It is easier to make a person submit than a group of people.

And our government oppresses them every day. Don’t believe me?

The Rise of Feudalism in America

Let’s look an example:

Property Taxes.

You may not think of property taxes as a form of oppression, but lets take a closer look at them.

In a nutshell, you don’t own your house, the state does.

Think you own your property?

Try not paying your property taxes.

If we don’t pay the government a portion of what our land is worth, the government evicts us and gives it to someone who will pay.

Does that sound familiar?

It should. It’s called serfdom. And it defined a dark and oppressive form of government during a very oppressive time in history.

I understand that the government needs money to operate. I’m not saying that all taxes are oppression.

But let me ask you this… If the government can kick us off our land, do we really own it?

There need to be consequences for failing to pay taxes. But taking someone’s property is an affront to the the basic tenets of individual rights.

Individuals Are The Smallest Minority On Earth

All of our racial problems in this country stem from this problem: We give equality lip service, but hate its application.

Why do we hate its application? Because if we truly believe that all people are equal, then it means we have to give up things we cherish.

Things like socialized healthcare, legislating who can marry whom, or criminalizing drug use.

When we accept that ALL people are equal, then we realize we can’t force ANY other individual do ANYTHING.

I cannot tell you how to live your life. I cannot enslave you. And I cannot take your money from you. I don’t have that right.

Since the government is made by people, and it is just a collection of people, it must be held to the same moral standards as people.

I.e., the government can’t perform actions that individuals couldn’t (morally).

For instance, I cannot tell another person how to live their life, or force them to work for me.

If I don’t have that right… and you don’t either… do we gain that right when we do it together?

What if we get a group of 10 together? Or 100? Or 1,000?

What size does our group have to be so we can ethically take people’s money by force?

What’s the magic number that makes the majority the arbiters of truth?

What philosophical argument allows the majority to dictate who can marry whom? Or what you can or cannot put into your body? Or dictate how you spend your money?

What makes the government different? Why does the government get to do these things, but individuals cannot?

Why can the government morally do this individuals cannot?

If we understand equality, then government can only exist for one purpose: Protect the individual from the oppression of the majority.

If it tries to go beyond those boundaries, it will become oppressive in nature.

Why Protecting Individual Rights Protects Minorities and Destroys Racism

Once the government oppresses the individual, ie., once we task our leaders to force other people to live by our values, we give it the power to easily oppress racial minorities.

Or ideological minorities. Or economic minorities.

But, if we mandate that the government can ONLY protect the rights of the individual, then it wouldn’t have the ability to oppress racial, ideological, or economic minorities.

All our racial struggles come to this problem: Our government no longer protects the individual.

If we protect the individual, we protect minorities.

It doesn’t matter what skin color you have, who you want to marry, what bathroom you want to use, or what you want to put into your body.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make.

It doesn’t matter where you live.

It doesn’t matter what language you speak.

Or what country you come from.

We are all people. And we are all equal.

The government became the problem when we decided it should be the instrument of social change.

We said, “Government, this social problem needs fixing. You’re big and powerful, and you have the strength to accomplish this. You fix it.”

So, we attack poverty by levying a tax to subsidize healthcare for those in need.

However, that money has to come from somewhere. Which means that one person is being forced to pay for someone else’s healthcare.

And even though its a noble cause, its still theft.

There is no such thing as forced charity.

If you take money from someone without their consent, its theft. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

If it is their money–and not yours (nor society’s)–and you take it from them without their permission, it is theft.

Money can only change hands in one of two ways: By trade, or by force.

We can either choose to exchange wealth voluntarily, either through trading, or by charity.

Or one must steal it from the other.

Which means we can’t forcibly take money from some in order to help others.

“Forced charity” is a contradiction of terms. Charity has to be completely voluntary, otherwise it is just a nice word for slavery.

“Forced charity” is a contradiction of terms. Charity has to be completely voluntary, otherwise it is just a nice word for slavery.

People OFTEN object to this line of reasoning by saying, “It isn’t theft, its a tax” (like the property tax mentioned earlier).

It is easy to think they are different.

“Theft” conjures an image of a thief, masked and lurking for their next victim.

And a tax is just something that comes out of our paycheck.

No one is holding a gun to your head. No one is lurking in the shadows to steal from. Everyone does it. Its just how things work, right?

So it seems like an inapt comparison to call it theft.

However, taxes don’t justify any expense. You can’t just label something a tax and call it good.

If something’s a tax, it only means that enough people in congress said “yay” to a vote.

Taxes Aren’t Theft (Except When They Are)

Taxes fund the government.

If we task the government with a new job, it needs money to accomplish it.

And as long as the government uses those dollars to protect the individual, that’s okay.

But, if the government is doing something immoral, that means those tax dollars are being used for something immoral. Which makes the tax immoral.

What if we taxed black people more heavily because they place the largest burden our prison system? Would that be moral? Could we still say, “Its not racism, its a tax.”

No. That would be preposterous and evil.

Thus, when someone says we can tax one person to pay for another’s health care (or education, or paid maternity leave, or whatever), they are saying that theft is okay as long we call it a tax… and that the majority agrees its okay.

Theft is wrong. Even if you intend to use that money for good purposes.

Therefore you cannot hide behind the term “tax”.

Taxes can only be used to fund the government to protect individual rights.*

Otherwise the tax itself becomes immoral (and thus, theft), and and our government becomes the aggressor.

If we truly want to eliminate the inequality in our country… then we need end inequality in our country.

We need a philosophical revolution to occur. And we need to re-task our government to only protect individual rights.

Not just the parts we like.

We cannot say, “I stand up for individual rights, but believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.” That is a contradiction.

We are picking which parts of equality and freedom we like, and which we don’t.

This says, “I like freedom as long people behave how I want. If they don’t, I making a law that forces them to.”

We cannot say, “I am a proponent of social justice and human rights,” and also believe that the government should tax the wealthy to fund social welfare programs. This too is a contradiction.

We are picking which parts of freedom we like, and which we don’t.

This says, “People should be free, so long as they behave how I want. If they don’t, I’m going to force them to do so.”

The democratic and republican parties are 2 sides to same coin.

If we say we believe in human rights, we have to accept them all, not just the ones we like.

If we say we believe in human rights, we have to accept them all, not just the ones we like.

We can’t cherry pick which rights we like and which we don’t.

This means everyone will have to let go of their golden calves. We must limit the government to only protecting individual equality.

Otherwise equality itself is undone.

Your motives or intentions don’t matter. Your actions do.

So if you support a law that forces your neighbor to live by your values (and forces them fund a program with which they do not agree), then you don’t actually stand for equality.

You don’t want freedom. You just say you do.

If you want to force some to pay for other people’s healthcare or education, you don’t really believe in justice.

If you want to dictate who people can and cannot marry, you don’t really believe in freedom.

If you want to tell people what they can and cannot put into their bodies, you don’t stand for equality.

If you want any of these things, you don’t want freedom. You want to control people. Its plain and simple.

And you have no place in government.

Government cannot be run by people who want to control people.

Enlightened government, and people, don’t seek to control people. They seek to expand freedom and justice.

True freedom respects people with basic human dignity.

It says, “No right of mine constitutes an obligation on any living person.” (Ayn Rand)

It respects that I have no right to tell you how to live your life.

An enlightened people realize that if I can’t control you, the government can’t either.

There are other ways to change the world for the better. Forcing our values on those around us is not the answer.

We must learn to love freedom in all of its applications. Not just the parts our party prefers.

We must learn to love freedom in all of its applications. Not just the parts our party prefers.

We must learn to love freedom and hate oppression.

This is what our country was built on. This is our purpose and our destiny.

Love freedom. Love your neighbor. Don’t try to love people by forcing them to live by your values.

Let go of your favorite political ideas and just love people… even if they do things you don’t agree with.

About Sean Edwards

Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.

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  • Teresa Price

    I resonate with so much of what you assert, even those somewhat controversial topics related to alternative marriage and illegal pharm…and I’m a radical Christ-Follower. I can separate the philosophy of governance from my convictions of faith. However, I do foresee obstacles in the execution, i.e. I cannot function in a cacophonous environment or strobe-like lighting–literally, I become overwhelmed by that kind of external stimuli and basically come to a halt. So, I am so thankful that I can live on a quiet street in a small city THAT HAS INSTITUTED A BARK-BAN, so that nuisance barking is addressed. Would your premise, in theory, prohibit such “controls”?

    • Sean Edwards

      Great question! I believe a Bark-Ban is okay. In this understanding of government, the law only intervenes when someone is violating the rights of another person. And one could argue a barking dog violates your property rights as an individual. Its barking degrades the value and enjoyably of your property. Which means by letting the dog bark, the owners could be violating your rights. And thus, the government could institute a bark-ban. At least that’s how I understand it 😉

  • Old Guy

    While much of what you say has merit, you might want to add an element to the context of ‘the individual’.

    It’s true, you can’t rule an individual’s life without crossing many perhaps ethical boundaries, but what do you do when there are two individuals? Or seven, or seven billion? At some point, there are negotiated agreements like, “let’s all chip in and have roads and maybe schools.” “Let’s agree on things like which side of the road you can drive on and whether what you drive is safe enough to be on the road in the first place.”

    Your contention that “Laws are written specifically to oppress [the individual]” misses the point that if we’re going to share in life and place and services and air, then there are going to be thousands of negotiated agreements. Most of the ‘law’ to which you refer defines how that works.

    An individual could, of course, disappear into the wilderness to live alone and as they please without the law intruding into their life so much. It makes a good reality show, but most prefer to share in the available markets and employment and healthcare … the list goes on. Law will always be imperfect, but it’s us that did that by trying to live together.

    • Sean Edwards

      You raise some good points. I would like to point you to my book, American Resurrection, for a deeper explanation. I actually have a thought out approach to the role of government, and when it is morally okay to tax people. Roads and infrastructure are one of those things (I can’t make the entire argument here, but I promise my book is short, and you can download it for free if you don’t want to purchase it).

      I don’t go into roads specifically in the book, but consider this: What if we could find a way to only tax people for the infrastructure they use? Well, we kind of already do, and its called a gas tax. 95% of the people buy gas are doing so for their cars or trucks (I’m guessing on that figure, I don’t actually know it)… which use roads, bridges, etc..

      Therefore, if we restructured the gas tax to adequately cover the building and maintaining of roads, then only the people using the roads would be paying for them. Does that make sense? There are solutions like this for all sorts of public services. We just need to consider other options.

      • Old Guy

        There are a variety of issues for which tax and regulation are our collective solution, however imperfectly. The military, NASA, DOT, FAA, DOE, DOH, FTC, FCC, etc., all are our collective efforts to achieve national goals with specific intent in mind. In some fashion, whether by tightly-coupled pay-for-use tax like the gas tax or by loose association like the space program, we all collectively pay a share if we’re able, and we share the benefit, more or less.

        While I’m certainly in favor of reform, separate taxes tied to individual programmatics would be quite a project.

        The article’s title and premise suggest inequality is a result of oppression of all individuals. Inequality is perhaps more practically understood in terms of demographic segments and quality of life. The wealthier you are, the more likely you’ll get even more wealthy. The farther down the economic and social ladder you find yourself, the less likely you’ll make progress regardless of how hard you work. There are so many closed doors facing the bottom 20% that they and their families have little likelihood of advancement, comparatively speaking. At the bottom, chances of life and health are reduced. That’s inequality. Changing the use tax for schools or healthcare or air traffic control is unlikely to make a difference. Any ideas for what would?

  • Ah, sanity! Excellent post, Sean.

    • Sean Edwards

      Thank you!

  • Peggy Hines

    Sean,
    I am certainly no expert when it comes to politics…in fact, I’m working hard to catch up on years of paying too little attention. I have read your book, American Resurrection….and I find your ideas spot on, but at the same time troubling.
    We, as a nation, are far bigger and more complex than we were when our founding fathers envisioned our future. How can we possibly function as a united nation without funding things that ensure that unity? And we have done that, but in doing so we created myriad issues.

    One of the first issues I found troubling is the way you talk about how unfair it is to use tax dollars to fund welfare programs and it seems that you are talking about the poor. Don’t we have just as big a problem with corporate welfare? Corporate welfare may not be as big in terms of dollars spent–CheatSheet.com (http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/high-on-the-hog-the-top-8-corporate-welfare-recipients.html/?a=viewall) last year estimated $110 billion–but it is certainly spread among a whole lot fewer, less needier folks. As we funded projects to help with the unity of such a large nation didn’t we begin setting the path for corporate welfare? And didn’t the government have a hand in selecting who might be given grants/contracts/tax breaks etc. long ago that still have an impact today? The government selects one company to receive a huge contract; the owners of that struggling company now grow wealthy; they build expensive homes which gentrifies an area; schools now receive more funding because of more taxes; children from that area now have a better education, more educational resources, etc.; those children now have a better shot at a better university….this is how I see it going. I see these issues as somewhat like a ball of tangled strings…pull one and it creates a tangle in some seemingly unrelated area. It’s not that I don’t agree with your points, but it seems too simple and narrow-focused.

    Am I missing the point?

    • Sean Edwards

      Peggy, great questions! I really love how you’re wrestling with these ideas. And let me be clear, I don’t have all the answers. However, I can’t let what I don’t know keep me from what I do know. Taking money from people by force is wrong. Plain and simple. So, that principle has to win, even in situations I don’t fully understand. I’m not saying there aren’t solutions. I’m just saying I don’t know all of them.

      Before we get into corporate welfare, lets talk about our modern country (and if these principles can work). I think our country could run far better if we eliminated all the areas where the government shouldn’t be involved. I think it is hard for us to imagine a world without big government. All of us, for several generations, have been born into and lived under big government. Welfare, medicare, social security, student loans, low-income housing programs, the IRS, etc… They are normal to us. And they were normal to our parents. And normal for their parents. This is all we’ve known for the whole of living history (history that can be remembered by people alive). Because of this, I think we find it hard to imagine a world where big government didn’t exist.

      And when we do, it looks bleak. If we removed social security, it is easy to think of people (or even ourselves) who NEED social security to survive. however, if Social Security had never existed in the first place, those people wouldn’t have developed a plan to depend on it. Other systems (non-government) would be in place. Possibly more robust charities. Or more active non-profits. All I’m saying is that you can’t simply remove what we have today to visualize a world under smaller government. We have to realize that society would look very different if these programs had never existed, and that there are others of accomplishing these goals that we haven’t thought of (because we didn’t need to). But just because we can’t imagine a world without big government doesn’t mean it can’t exist.

      Furthermore, with advances in technology, federalism (our style of government) would be easier to manage than it was 250 years ago. Just think of how interconnected we are today, and how much easier it would have been for the founders to do what they wanted if they’d had what we have today.

      As for corporate welfare. Two thoughts. 1) Crony capitalism and corporate welfare are bad. They are a perverted and corrupt version of two good things (capitalism and government). And under a government like I described in my book, there would be little room for this. If we take away areas that the government can influence, there is less reason for corporations to get into bed with politicians. I have an article on this called “How To Stop Special Interest Once And For All”, and I would encourage you to check it out.

      As for the link you shared, those numbers definitely sound suspicious. And I can’t imagine any situatoin where I’d be okay tax dollars going to private businesses like that. However, I’ve also had my eyes opened enough to be cautious about my assumptions. We don’t know the whole story. So, my initial reaction is that these payments are wrong. But, I’ll withhold judgment until I know more.

      2) Corporate tax evasion… This usually gets lumped into people’s concept of “corporate welfare.” Corporations can use all sorts of tax loop-holes to pay less in taxes, and many people find this appalling. And I believe these tax loop-holes need to be filled. However, this line of thinking usually has a faulty premise. And therefore I don’t support it. I actually don’t have a problem with companies who use these loop-holes.

      We can only get upset with corporate tax strategies if we feel like corporations are keeping something from us that belongs to us… And in that lies the problem: Entitlement. Their money is their money. Not ours. We have to give up this idea that we have any right to their profits. The government can only get involved when a company gets money by lieing or stealing. Otherwise, we have no claim on their money, and they are allowed to do with their profits as they see fit.

      And right now, our tax code (along with half the country) is hostile to corporations. They are the bad guys, and the monsters that live your closets. Everything bad in our country can be traced back to evil corporations and the politicians they’ve purchased. We have to let go of this narrative. It is a lie, and it has crippled our country. Some companies do bad things, but most don’t. And we’ve created laws that assume most are evil. Many of our tax laws and regulations are based on lies and jealousy. So, when a company uses loop-holes to avoid these hostile laws, I can’t blame them. The government should never be hostile towards its own people and businesses. Therefore, until our laws are fair, I’m okay with companies like Apple leaving a huge portion of their profits overseas. And I don’t really care what Trump has paid in taxes. It is their money and I have no right to it.

      Now, if we can build a balanced tax system–one that didn’t target corporations and the wealthy out of jealousy–then I’d be against tax evasion. Obviously. Companies need to pay into national defense, the justice system, and everything else. When they don’t, they are in essence taking money from everyone else. But until our laws and tax code are objective and unbiased, I don’t support the anchor we’ve placed around their necks.
      Does that clarify the situation? Thanks again for reading!

  • Peggy Hines

    Sean,

    I didn’t mean corporations using tax loopholes; I hold real estate primarily because I was paying too much in taxes as a single wage earner and purchasing and renting property saved me a lot of tax dollars. I get the concept of using the tax laws. Whether or not I agree it is right is a different conversation.

    My issue is with government (state and/or federal) giving special tax ‘incentives’ in exchange for something. If I’m not entitled to a company’s profits then the company is not entitled to shirk a tax the law didn’t allow them to avoid. Again, I am no expert in this conversation…in fact I skipped the day we had our civics lesson, it was so boring to me then. So forgive me if I made stupid statements; I’m happy to put in some energy to learn.

    Again, I like the things you say in your book, in theory, but how do you begin putting some of those theories into practice at this late date without favoring the ‘big guys’ who have gotten huge government handouts and hurting poor segments of society who have been in poverty for generations.

    • Sean Edwards

      I agree. “Incentives for Favors” is dirty politics and crony capitalism.

      To answer your question about making these ideas a reality today: It will take time. We need a grass-roots movement to re-educate people on the philosophy that birthed our nation.

      Once enough people become re-acquainted with those ideas, it will become much easier. I look to the revolution for inspiration.

      At that time, there was a pregnant atmosphere in the colonies. Every day commoners knew about John Locke and Rousseau. You could hear average joe’s discussing natural rights and/or the social contract in local pubs. The ideas that gave birth to our country were everywhere. And I believe that’s part of what made the revolution possible.

      I want to get us back to that place. We cannot force people to be free. If Americans want big government, that’s what they’ll get. A grass-roots movement is the only way (that I can see) to do that. And grass roots movement can occur very rapidly. Just look at how Bernie Sander’s movement changed the nature of this election. So, it doesn’t have a long time, but it could.