L. Neil Smith's
Number 272, May 23, 2004

The Most Pathetically Incompetent Empire in History

The High Price of Gas
by L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to TLE

These must be halcyon days for finger-shaking ecoboobies and mass transportation fascists. The price of a gallon of gasoline has risen in the state where I live—and Colorado has the lowest prices in the nation—to over two dollars. For those of us with large, powerful cars—ours is the Durango with the big V8—it's getting a little annoying.

Once again, everybody gains from this insane—and scandalously unnecessary—crisis except the people who do all the work, create all the wealth, and pay for everything in this country: the productive class.

The government, which made this mess on the way to transmogrifying itself from a more or less constitutional democracy into one of the most pathetically incompetent empires in the history of the planet, absolutely loves it. They never cared much for the idea of the private automobile, anyway. After all, you can't allow taxpayers and potential conscriptees that much privacy and independence. It might give them ideas.

In the last years of the 19th century, citing national security, they even attempted to create a government monopoly on the production and distribution of petroleum (look how well that worked for nuclear power) and they've been trying to get us all out of our cars ever since.

It's true that one or two states have made some small effort to help by declaring a partial or temporary moratorium on gasoline taxes, and that's a commendable idea. But there's a great deal more in that particular direction that needs to be accomplished to make it work. Obviously such a moratorium must be made permanent and total, and it must include the federal government, as well as all other parasitic entities.

When I was still thinking about running for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination, I generated and wrote about a two-part tax relief policy that I strongly urge this year's would-be candidates to adopt.

The first part consists of eliminating all taxes, at every level of government, at every stage of production, on any object or activity protected by the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. That means, for example, that under the First Amendment, all religious objects and activities would be tax- free, and so would every facet of self-expression and communication, including salaries of writers like yours truly, those of movie, TV, and radio producers, directors, performers, and so forth. Musicians, graphic artists and anyone who works with computers would also be exempt.

Under the Second Amendment, all taxes on firearms, ammunition, and shooting accessories would be abolished, and so on through all ten amendments.

But the important part of my plan—in this context—is that all taxes on the basic necessities of living, taxes on food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and self-defense, would be totally and permanently abolished, along with all of the taxes on the production, transportation, distribution, and sales of these items. No nation that advertises itself so loudly as "humane" the way the United States does can afford to tax the basic necessities of living. To do so is clearly monstrous.

Which brings us back to the price of gasoline, an aspect of the basic human need for transportation. Perusing the Web yields several different estimates of what part of the price of gasoline is taxes—I find it significant that the true figure is hard to obtain—and of course it varies from state to state, county to county, city to city. But the general estimate is that taxes comprise at least 40 percent of the price of gasoline. Eliminate that, and the price drops to a buck twenty.

Please don't hand me that old saw about gas taxes being morally acceptable because they constitute a sort of user fee for the roads. The fact is that anyone who walks to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread benefits from streets and highways as much as anyone who drives. How do you think the bread got to the grocery store, by matter transporter?

Don't talk to me about gas shortages when this government has just ripped off the second largest pool of black gold on the planet, when the technology to manufacture petroleum from garbage—at half the cost of conventional oil or less—is a proven success, and when cold or catalytic fusion is beginning to find its way back into the news again.

One more point: invariably, some buckethead in the media will want to know, if libertarians are opposed to some given tax, what they would replace it with. Or even worse, some idiot handler decides that his candidate needs to have a tax policy if he's going to be taken seriously—by subcreatures in the media who are even dumber than he is!

Get this and get it straight: it is not now, nor has it ever been the place of a libertarian candidate to propose taxation of any kind, even when it might amount to less than what's being extorted from taxpayers now. All taxation is theft. All taxation is evil. Taxation is the most insidious form of slavery ever imposed on mankind. It must be the unswerving aim of all libertarians to eradicate it from our civilization.


If you find yourself incapable, or afraid, of explaining that simple fact to the public, or even to a gaggle of half-witted, round-heeled hairsprayheads, you have no business running for office. You're not a libertarian, you're just a LINO—a "libertarian in name only"—a Republicanoid clown running around in badly-fitting libertarian pants.

But once again, I have digressed.

More than likely, today's insane gas prices represent a deliberate attempt by the current government to frighten voters into supporting its rapacious and murderous foreign policy. I think most Americans are prepared to believe that now, and it must be communicated to them very clearly. Those in power can be dared to disprove it by eliminating gas taxes.

Either way it turns out, libertarians win.

Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collection of articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at lneilsmith.org. Autographed copies may be had from the author at lneil@lneilsmith.org.

Neil is presently at work on Ceres and Ares, two sequels to his 1993 novel, Pallas, a decensored and electronically published version of his 1984 novel, Tom Paine Maru, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May. A 180-page full-color graphic novel version of The Probability Broach will be released this summer.

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to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 272, May 23, 2004