So You Say You Want a Revolution?
This is all to the good. But we cannot count on lawyers and politicians. God help us if we do. We the people in our righteous anger must take matters into our own hands: It is time for a strike.
The only peaceable protest that could possibly have any effect on the implementation of ObamaCare would be to withhold the tax revenue required to fund it. Unfortunately, Franklin Roosevelt long ago imposed the odious practice of "withholding," whereby the government takes what it considers its share before it even gets to you.
First used for a limited duration during the Civil War, withholding became a permanent feature of our taxation system with the Social Security tax during the Great Depression, and then with income tax starting in World War II. As the U.S. Treasury Department's website helpfully notes, the institution of permanent withholding "eased the collection of the tax for both the taxpayer and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. However, it also greatly reduced the taxpayer's awareness of the amount of tax being collected, i.e. it reduced the transparency of the tax, which made it easier to raise taxes in the future."
Indeed it did, and it left the people little recourse to refuse to pay an unjust tax for use toward an unjust end (too bad for the British that they had no such system in the 1700s; there may never have been a Revolution). Well, then, since we have to work for them to be able to take our money -- and it is our money -- we have but to sit out of work. A strike. For just one day, at first, and that day should, of course, be April 15.
This voluntary removal from the labor force would need to be en masse to be even remotely effective, and even then it would be largely symbolic -- at first. But it would be an unmistakable salvo to the government: What can be done once can be done again, and for longer, if need be.
If the beast of government must gorge on the people's blood to thrive, then we must deny our blood by denying our sweat.
(This would be different from the self- removal from society by innovators and geniuses detailed in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. These people in Obama's America need not bother going on strike -- they have effectively been given the pink slip and told their services will no longer be needed. Their talents, after all, are precisely what leads to the inequality of outcomes so hated by Obama and all statists.)
There is evidence that a mass strike of the people can work. In the early fifth century B.C., not long after Rome had driven out its kings and established the world's first republic, the common people, or plebs, conducted just such a strike to protest the injustices perpetrated on them by Rome's aristocratic patrician class. The plebs seceded from the Eternal City and removed themselves to the Mons Sacra, or Sacred Mountain, just beyond the city walls. There they formed their own government, the concilium plebis, and threatened to form their own country if they were not granted more power in the new Roman government.
It worked. Soon the patricians, suddenly without commoners to cook and serve their food, tend their horses, mend their clothes, and staff their army, agreed to a series of concessions, including the creation of a new office to be elected from among the plebs, the Tribune, who would have the power to veto legislation proposed by the Senate and whose body would be sacrosanct. The plebs would also later win consent to adoption of the Twelve Tables, a legal code which granted them constitutional protections from the abuses of the senatorial class.
We would be wise to study this example, for something very like it may be our only recourse should elections and lawsuits fail us. A mass strike saved and strengthened our great ancestor, the Roman Republic.
It may yet save and strengthen our own.
Matt Patterson is a National Review Institute Washington Fellow and the author of Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.