Patriotism, Taxes, and Liberty

In 2008, Vice President Joe Biden suggested in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America host Kate Snow that shelling out more to government is patriotic. “It’s time to be patriotic, Kate. Time to join in, time to be part of the deal, time to help America out of the rut…”

Four years later, America’s debt continues to rise, so should we all wave the flag with one hand and and pay higher taxes with the other? If we do, are we better patriots?

Not if you listen to the honorable Judge Learned Hand (1872-1961), a US judge and judicial philosopher who served on the US District Court in New York and later the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit. Judge Hand has been quoted more often by legal scholars and by the Supreme Court that any other lower-court judge.

Because we’re in the business of helping donors avoid unnecessary taxation, our favorite quote from Judge Learned Hand is this:

God Bless America“Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.”

And because it’s July 4th week, our country is in the midst of an immigration crisis the likes we’ve not seen in our lifetime, we wanted to share another noble address the judge gave in 1944 during an address in Central Park at the annual “I Am an American Day” event where newly naturalized citizens swore the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America:

“What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.”

We wish all our friends, fellow advisors, and partners a blessed and joyous July 4th, and may God Bless America.