Yes, we can still count on death and taxes

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Local columnist

It’s usually best for me to avoid much writing — or thinking — about the following subject. It’s just not healthy for me, and I’m fatalistic about the whole mess anyway. Alas, the monster’s long out of the box, never to be tamed.

I love our country with all my heart, and one of freedom’s best features is our deeply held and true conviction that love of country has nothing at all to do with loving or despising the various governmental policies that affect, or afflict, our land.

When it comes to our tax system, count me firmly among those who despise it. Most kindergarten classes who really put their heads together could come up with a better system than did the 1913 legislature and their successors.

Yes, the income tax monster had a birthday. That income should be taxed is really not a timeless truth on par with the law of gravity. Of course, governments need income to do their job, but we really didn’t have to adopt a system guaranteed (to name just one of its many pernicious features) to foster class struggle, resentment and envy, and thus tempt politicians to incessant exploitation of that envy.

And now? Well, we’ve been in bed with the monster for so long that it’s actually considered a bit weird and extreme for anyone to believe that how much or how little income any of us makes should be no business at all of the government.

Yes, I’m afraid Jesus makes it clear that citizens of his Kingdom are to follow the law of the land. If it’s not against God’s law. And even if the law is rotten. So pay your taxes. But if you decide to head to Boston to fill the harbor with IRS tax forms instead of the tea our fed up forefathers used, give me a call. I’ll cheerfully go with you.

You may ask, what set him off on this dreary subject? My smiling reply, Winston Churchill.

In Churchill’s multi-volume “History of the English-speaking Peoples,” I ran across his description of William Wallace, the “outlaw knight” of Scotland. (Yes, the very same gent of Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart.”) It seems that Wallace had strong feelings regarding the taxes England’s King Edward I was exacting from the Scots. When Wallace trounced the English on Sept. 11, 1297, in the battle at Stirling Bridge, a hated English tax official was among those who fell. Wallace had his skin “cut into suitable strips” and fashioned to cover his sword belt.

If Wallace was late at tax time the next year in filing Form XLX-C (revised), or whatever, to send along with his taxes to England, I wonder how easy it would be for King Edward to find a bureaucrat eager to go and collect? Maybe they’d just send a letter.

Death and taxes. Even when you die, your heirs will have to file your final 1040, so IRS bean counters can be very sure you didn’t contrive to take anything with you. With regard to taxes, I see very little hope.

Good news, though! In death as in life, God’s people have great hope indeed.