Roger’s Rules

"The night of the living government," coming to a tax-increase near you!

My PJM colleague Andrew Klavan has just delivered a brilliant performance on PJTV. (What, you’ve not subscribed? Do it now!) “Night of the Living Government” is at once the most rousing, the funniest, and the scariest reflection on big government’s depredations since Ronald Reagan took to the campaign trail. Our government, Klavan says, has become like the zombies out of a horror movie:

[Government] doesn’t start businesses, it doesn’t create wealth, it doesn’t invent anything. It just devours all the stuff that you make. You bar the door against property tax, they come in through a sales tax, you board the windows against income taxes, they reach in through an energy tax.

But surely there are important differences between creatures from the “Night of the Living Dead” and the actions of the U.S. government. Of course there are! In the movie, Klavan observes,

zombies didn’t try to tell their victims being devoured was good for them. They didn’t say: “Let me devour your flesh, it’s patriotic.” Or, “Let me devour your flesh because we all have to make sacrifices.” Or — my favorite — “Let me devour your flesh because I know how to use it better than you do.” Also, when you try to stop the government zombies, when you say “No, zombie, No! Don’t devour my flesh,” they get pissy. “Well, that’s very selfish. You’re being greedy. You’re acting out of self interest.”

This brings us to my favorite part of Klavan’s skit. I like the pallor of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid: they’re every bit as creepy as the Hollywood monsters with which they share the screen. And what about that malodorous atmosphere of liberal guilt? What do you do when your liberal friends decry the “greed of Wall Street,” the “selfishness of Republicans”? You’re supposed to feel guilty. Do you? Klavan can help:

Now it always makes me feel really bad when a politician tells me I’m acting out of self-interest because everyone knows that politicians act out of a radiant love for all mankind. Or wait, maybe it’s an insatiable hunger for power! . . .

And now for the denouement:

Power is what this is all about. Power and Freedom. Every dollar the government takes is one less dollar of freedom for you and one more dollar of power for them. It’s your freedom to choose what you do with the fruits of your labor, whether you buy a TV or donate to charity or build your business or pay down your mortgage. It’s their power to finance make-work jobs and incompetent projects and corrupt programs which they can distribute as they will in order to buy votes and influence. And of course every citizen who feeds on those jobs and projects and programs, who doesn’t pay the taxes but benefits from the taxes paid by others becomes a zombie just like their government masters. Part of the the army of the unproductive undead that’s coming after you.

Klavan’s performance is half dramatic oratory, half Hayekian common sense. It is one hundred percent accurate in its description of what Chief Justice John Marshall warned about when he observed that “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” The moral? There are two: 1. Be afraid, be very afraid. 2. Get mad, then stand up for yourself, and join one of those tea-parties that U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky described as “descpicable and shameful.”