The Corner

Nock on Liberals & Taxes

From Memoirs of a Superfluous Man:

When I saw what American Liberals (for so they called themselves) were doing in this line,—chiefly in their support of the movement for an income-tax and an inheritance-tax,— I got up a distaste for Liberals which soon ripened into horror. For years I have “sweat with agony” at the sight of a Liberal, as Commodore Trunnion did at the sight of an attorney. I had rather encounter.rattlesnakes,—far rather,—for the rattlesnake is a gentlemanly fellow who can be relied on to do the right thing, if you give him half a chance. I have had dealings with him in my time, and also with the Liberals, and I speak from knowledge.

I have respect for the old-style Tory, and could always get on with him, because I knew what he would do in a given situation, and above all, I knew what he would not do. There were some things to which he would not condescend even for the Larger Good. Once in a conversation with Chief Justice Taft, he mentioned pressure put on him while President, in behalf of something legal enough and probably ethical, but smelling of sharp practice,—”dam’ low, in any case,” as an old-school Englishman would say. I so well remember the almost childlike look of embarrassment on Mr. Taft’s face as he said, “Why, I couldn’t do that.” Speaking after the manner of men, you got a play for your money with the old-crusted Tory, as at the other end of the scale I think you would with the honest outright uncompromising radical. But one never knew what Liberals would do, and their power of self-persuasion is such that only God knows what they would not do. As casuists, they make Gury and St. Alfonso dei Liguori look like bush-leaguers. On every point of conventional morality, all the Liberals I have personally known were very trustworthy. They were great fellows for the Larger Good, but it would have to be pretty large before they would alienate your wife’s affections or steal your watch. But on any point of intellectual integrity, there is not one of them whom I would trust for ten minutes alone in a room with a red-hot stove, unless the stove were comparatively valueless.

Liberals generally,—there may have been exceptions, but I do not know who they were,—joined in the agitation for an income-tax, in utter disregard of the fact that it meant writing the principle of absolutism into the Constitution. Nor did they give a moment’s thought to the appalling social effects of an income-tax; I never once heard this aspect of the matter discussed. Liberals were also active in promoting the “democratic” movement for the popular election of senators. It certainly took no great perspicacity to see that these two measures would straightway ease our political system into collectivism as soon as some Eubulus, some mass-man overgifted with sagacity, should manoeuvre himself into popular leadership; and in the nature of things, this would not be long.

Most Popular

World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More