The Death of Liberty: The Bipartisan Destruction of America’s Freedom’s Using the Income Tax
February 21st, 2022
Dave Roberts and I first met some time ago when he contacted me to represent him in an IRS audit. Nothing unusual about that: I’d risen to the top of my legal field by successfully defending American citizens in civil and criminal tax controversies for many years. The IRS auditing a successful entrepreneur? That was an every-day occurrence in my professional world. After all, when you’re looking for money, you go where the money is – a true statement of reality when it comes to the IRS and Congressional tax policy, however cynical, and a foreshadowing of Roberts’ blockbuster exposé of the federal income tax’s origins in Socialism and its pernicious effects on America today.
It quickly became clear, though, that Roberts’ case would be anything but business as usual. The IRS had started auditing Roberts on a near-yearly basis many years before. In fact, Dave Roberts may be the most audited man in America. Perhaps the IRS targeted Roberts for being a founder of the Tea Party movement? Perhaps he found his way onto one of many “lists” of loyal American oppositionists committed to constitutional government and liberty? I’d certainly litigated more than my share of IRS misconduct over the years – exposing IRS illegal surveillance, perjury, fabrication of evidence, witness intimidation, and trial misconduct along the way – so I wasn’t particularly surprised by the IRS attention Roberts had garnered.
Point is: he was surprised. Roberts’ deep-rooted Americanism was justifiably jarred, and jarred badly, by the growing realization that the IRS’s enforcement of direct taxation on labor was an ugly affront to every cherished principle he held dear. Anathema to fundamental rights and liberties under the Constitution. Anathema to the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of the security and privacy of our persons, houses, papers, and effects. Anathema to the Fifth Amendment’s hoary prohibition against being compelled to be a witness against oneself. Thus are the origins of Roberts’ compelling new book, “The Death of Liberty,” his first non-fiction work.
Roberts quickly disabused my initial concern that he intended one more in a long line of books by other authors attempting to tell us what the income tax really is, as a legal matter, just one more book attempting to parse through the complex Supreme Court cases opining over direct and indirect taxation, apportionment, the meaning of the Sixteenth Amendment, and the definition of income. Some argue the modern income tax is an unapportioned direct tax and therefore unconstitutional; others that the Sixteenth Amendment was not properly ratified, and hence the income tax a nullity. Even for an accomplished constitutional scholar and attorney, it’s enough to make you go blind.
No, Roberts’ book would explore and expose the inextricable linkages between American Socialism – as a political, economic, and social theory – and the federal income tax from its earliest origins to its pernicious realities today. An accomplished researcher, Roberts starts with touching on the Civil War context, then moves briskly through the late 1800s Industrial Revolution and the politics behind calls to “tax the rich.” Not even Teddy Roosevelt is immune to Roberts’ sharp pen. Roberts lays bare the unvarnished, “bipartisan” history of America’s move toward the direct federal taxation of labor, which is, as Roberts points out, a plank of the Communist Manifesto.
Wisely eschewing endless legal fights over the constitutional and legal aspects of the income tax, Roberts recognizes that in America today the question of the income tax is a political one, not a legal one. Whole industries and their well- oiled lobbyists dine at the Bacchanalian banquet created by a tax code so complex that President Ronald Reagan once admonished:
Our federal tax system is, in short, utterly impossible, utterly unjust and completely unproductive, [it] reeks with injustice and is fundamentally un-American … it has earned rebellion and it’s time we rebelled.
As President Reagan so well understood, pharisaical legal screeds are not helpful when dealing with an income tax problem so entrenched that its legal, economic, political, and social prerequisites and demands actually form societal bedrock – not to mention bedrock polluted by Socialism’s reverence for the collective over the individual, and the destructive consequences of that misbegotten system. Un- American indeed.
Here, Roberts shines. Moving to more current IRS scandals and abuse horror stories, he persuasively connects the income tax’s undiscovered socialistic history with the burgeoning loss of fundamental rights in America. Roberts makes a cogent case that IRS abuse is a direct consequence of its origins in Socialism, with its inevitable abuses of power and authoritarian control by the few over the many. In Roberts’ view, the IRS carries the main spear, if not the totalitarian tip, of Socialism’s epic fight to destroy our uniquely American rule of law system and the rights and liberties it protects.
Every Socialist State is complete when it can wield an apparently legal mechanism against its citizens – at once an information, surveillance, and enforcement bureau that becomes increasingly unaccountable. The man credited as the father of the Soviet Union’s infamous KGB, Lavrentiy Beria, would envy the power and capabilities of America’s IRS. Yet many Americans remain ignorant of this important history. Enter Dave Roberts. Socialism is the disease, the income tax the malignancy, and Roberts’ Death of Liberty the cure.
Commenced well before American Socialism recrudesced in the fresh new faces of the self-described Democratic Socialists of the Democrat Party’s “progressive” left wing, Roberts income tax exposé is eerily prescient. The Death of Liberty exposes the historic failures of American attempts to address “income inequality” with socialistic wealth redistribution and centralized control through the income tax. Engaging, vibrant, and timely, Roberts provides a modern reader’s guide to understanding the unseemly impulses that lie beneath the current calls for economic justice, the siren song of Socialism and its many acolytes, and why all of us should do something about it before it’s too late.
Robert G. Bernhoft, Esq.
April 15, 2019