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Taxing the Sunlight

An ever growing government must by necessity grow in expanding its revenue (called taxing to the uninformed) and therefore can be very creative in methods for taxing and names for said taxes. Since the phrase “cut spending” is not found in any dictionary or book owned by politicians, the only recourse is to increase revenue. Government makes Robin Hood look like an amateur. Frederic Bastiat was correct when he called taxation legalized plunder.

Of the more than 50 different taxes that exist today on federal, state and local levels, here are a few more familiar and common taxes. Federal income tax, sales tax, bridge tolls, sales tax, commuter tax, dog license tax, gasoline tax, Social Security tax, seven different taxes on telephone usage, and the list continues.

We jokingly talk about how politicians would tax the air if they could. Water is already taxed. If only they could contrive a way to tax the sunlight. Wait…believe it or not…..it’s been done! In 1696, the window tax was enacted in England and it lived into the 1800’s. At the time, the people opposed an income tax because it would require the government knowing everyone’s income. This was considered an intrusive invasion of privacy and a personal attack on liberty (imagine that). Finally someone hit on the idea of taxing based on the number of windows in a house. The larger the house, the more windows the house would, which coincidentally meant the larger the house, the more income the person would have. And after all, the rich should pay more because they have more, right?

So was it a window tax or a sunlight tax? Windows let in the light and to close a window, was to not be able to enjoy the use of light. Even today, some buildings from this period have bricked up windows, a reminder of an early home owner who used the only loophole available at the time to avoid taxes.

Listen to a description from this unlikely source on this subject, the prince of preachers Charles Spurgeon. In reminiscing about his childhood in his autobiography, Spurgeon describes the manse of his Grandfather, James Spurgeon.

“Some of us can remember the window tax, which seemed to regard light as a Latin commodity-lux, and therefore a luxury, and as such to be taxed. So much was paid on each aperture for the admission of light, but the minister’s small income forced economy upon him and so room after room of the manse was left in darkness….What a queer mind his must have been who first invented taxing the light of the sun! It was, no doubt, meant to be a fair way of estimating the size of a house, and thus getting at the wealth of the inhabitant; but, incidentally, it led occupiers of large houses to shut out the light for which they were too poor to pay.” (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume I, 1897).

So there you have it. If it can possibly be taxed, politicians have no conscience when it comes to extracting. Water, air, sunlight, who would have thought it. Remember the words of Ronald Reagan concerning governments view of the economy: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Joseph Harris, joey@stupidpoliticians.com has been a college professor and pastor since 1987 and his writings have appeared on stupidpoliticians.com, WND, Sword of the Lord, Intellectual Conservative, Conservative Daily News, Canada Free Press, Land of the Free, The Post Chronicle and News America Daily.

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