Brandon Minster, Staff Writer

We’ve all been there before – short on cash and short on options, but what to do? If you’re law-abiding, your options are limited to selling your plasma or getting a payday loan.

Those with a freer sense of decorum have a wide variety of time-tested vices for which the public will pay handsomely.

But if you really want carte-blanche, there’s no surer way to get it than being the government. As the state of California is proving, only the government gets to steal to cover its needs.

According to Los Angeles Times, at the beginning of November the state increased its income tax withholding from workers’ paychecks.

Most citizens would think any increase in taxes could be called a tax increase. It’s that sort of short-sightedness that keeps most citizens from a productive career in swindling, racketeering or government.

Shane Goldmacher and W.J. Hennigan of Los Angeles Times write, “Technically, it’s not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives . . . Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You’ll be repaid any extra withholding in April.”

Goldmacher and Hennigan are correct: That’s not a tax increase, it’s theft. I defy you to come up with a scenario that involves a “forced, interest-free loan” where the forcing party isn’t stealing. Now, it is called the government.

The California withholding increase is reminiscent of some of history’s most famous government sponsored thefts. A George Mason University economics professor, Donald Boudreaux, recently wrote in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it is similar to the forced loans that lost England’s Charles I his crown and his head. Charles I raised money through forced loans, which won him the opprobrium of his subjects.

Some resisted, and Boudreaux writes of one such “hero,” John Hampden. He was twice imprisoned for refusing to pay such forced loans. It wasn’t a matter of Hampden’s ability to pay. One loan was for only 20 shillings. It was the principle of the matter. Boudreaux quotes Edmund Burke’s parliamentary speech: “Would 20 shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden’s fortune? No! But the payment of half 20 shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a slave.”

It is in his finish that Boudreaux errs. He calls on modern politicians to learn the lessons of history, warning “this country is full of people who will not be slaves to any government.”

He has it exactly wrong. This country is full of people who are nothing but slaves to their government, and the increased paycheck withholding in California proves it. Say what you want about the acceptability of Charles I asking for forced loans, but at least he had to ask.

Hampden was a hero because he refused. California has no modern-day John Hampdens because there is no way to refuse to pay a paycheck withholding. Our nation was founded by tax rebels. Now tax rebels find they have no way to rebel.

California can set the withholding percentage at anything politicians want; it’s only the good nature and the self-serving political calculations of the state legislature that keep the number at anything less than 100 percent.

The mechanism for taking all earned income is in place, and the workers can do nothing to stop it. Thus workers work for the state, and to ward off any civil disobedience the state remits some of the pay, but when and how much is the choice of the legislature. This is pure slavery.

When the state feels it can ratchet up the withholding without threat of rebellion, it does just that. The current percentage of a worker’s paycheck that passes through the state’s withholding is the amount the state feels it has to spend to buy the worker’s complacency.

At the beginning of November, the state of California discovered this number was 10 percent too high, and they adjusted it downward accordingly.

History remembers John Hampden because, with our current tax withholding policies, we never have to worry about any new John Hampdens coming along to take his place in our esteem.