Yes, that’s right folks: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes—at least, he says over and over again in this interview—that when it comes to paying taxes in this country, “our system is a voluntary system.” When the interviewer suggests that in order to pay welfare benefits to parties of the first part, the government forcibly takes money from parties of the second part, Senator Reid oscillates between indignation and incomprehension. Of course, you may not cheat on your taxes, he allows, but really, at bottom, our system of taxation—unlike, he says, the system in many European countries—is “voluntary.” But, says the interviewer, following my own thought processes like a leopard, if you don’t pay your taxes, the government will first fine you and ultimately, should your recalcitrance be serious enough, will put you in jail.
Senator Reid objects to “the phraseology” of that observation. Our system is voluntary he says again, mantra-like. What could he mean? (What, you might ask yourself, has he been smoking?) I do not really know. I hope some enterprising citizen will send Reid’s bulletin to the Internal Revenue Service: I should like to get its reading on the question of whether our system of taxation is voluntary. Can you put down “Thanks, but I’d rather not” on your 1040 form? Of course not.
Now Senator Reid knows this as well as you do. What game is he playing? (“Obfuscation” is not a precise enough answer.) There is something powerfully weird about Reid’s performance. I am not sure I know what it is. But it smells like humbug, and that smells bad.