I’ve always been a money saver. I had over two hundred dollars in a piggy bank when I was 12 years old that I saved from birthday parties, holidays, and allowances (which I eventually used to buy guitar equipment).
When I was 15, I got my first job. I saved all of my money, and I was the first of my friends to have a car. I had more freedom than anyone my age.
I learned early on that money = freedom. Financial independence teaches us not to be dependent (on other people or government), but independent.
In the town that I live in, we recently enacted a special referendum that existed in our county laws and voted to raise our own taxes for the building of a new school. To add some context, there were multiple, considerably more cost effective proposals to choose from, but for some reason our town voted for the most expensive, over-the-top design. Add to this the fact that the existing school was less than thirty years old, could have easily been renovated for millions of dollars less, and still had outstanding debt, and your mind, like mine, should be officially blown!
What would the founders of our country say to that? What would early Americans say if they knew how much money the government already takes from us and the way it’s spent, wasted, and abused—in many cases being used on things that have nothing to do with the good of the people at all?
They would probably say, with a fresh set of eyes, that we must have some sort of selective amnesia to forget about all of the abuse and corruption that’s poisoning our government and try to steer us clear of any misguided rationalizations that would let us give them even more of our hard-earned income (and freedom). They would probably look at the real solution, which isn’t raising taxes, but putting the already enormous amounts of money they take from us to better and more efficient use (like simply renovating the existing school for a fraction of the cost).
Very wise and intelligent people made it a law in our county that the government couldn’t raise our taxes more than a certain amount to protect us from extortion—and we willingly bypassed that law by enacting a special referendum and gave them more money!
When we don’t hold our leaders accountable, we give them our freedom.
When we sit quietly by as they spend our taxes in (sometimes) the most heinous ways, we give them our freedom.
And when we volunteer to give them even more of our money in taxes—money that we now can’t spend on ourselves, our children, or our families—we give them even more of our freedom.
I don’t think that’s the way it was meant to be. I don’t think giving more of our money or freedom will make us more independent. It just doesn’t work that way.
Excerpted from Them and Us: A Philosophy of Freedom by Adam Soto