Imagine a small businessman standing up to the state by refusing to collect taxes on its behalf. Imagine if this businessman argued that the forced collection of taxes was turning businessmen into slaves for the state. Imagine the state panicking over the thought that people might wake up to this fact. Imagine the government throwing itself into a tizzy over the gall of this man who defied their claimed authority over him. Imagine the politicians meeting in their legislature and asking how this man can be destroyed.
The above is not imagination nor is it theoretical. The above describes the war that Jean-Serge Brisson, a bright, determined and legally astute businessmen from Ottawa has fought with the state tax collectors of the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government of Canada for for more than two decades. His new book, “Tea Party of One – All Governments Invited” chronicles his lone voyage of quiet defiance. It provides an insight into a modern day story of David vs. Goliath. But Brisson’s story does not involve rocks and swords but rather moral fortitude, passion and the knowledge that one needs to do the right thing even in the face of absolute evil. The Mises Institutes’s motto of “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito” applies in spades.
In 1974, Brisson opened his own radiator repair business with the expectation that he would be working for himself. However, in a province burdened by an ever-growing government, there was going to be less of that and more of working for the state. Brisson notes that until 1985, customers had the choice to pay provincial sales tax (PST) at the point of sale or upon government demand whereby the government had to collect the taxes directly from the customers. In 1985, politicians changed the law thereby requiring all businessmen to collect its PST regardless of the will of customers. Brisson realized that this compulsion to collect taxes had effectively made him a slave. He was legally compelled to do physical work on behalf of the state and had no choice about it.
In 1990, Brisson refused to go along with the immoral laws of compulsory tax collection. He refused to become a slave for the state. His utterly moral action was viewed as a major problem for those who inhabit government offices. After all, tax collection is the lifeblood of all governments – a man fools with it at his peril. Little time elapsed before Brisson was visited by provincial bureaucrats who told him that “it was an obligation by businesspeople to collect taxes in exchange for the ‘privilege’ of running a business.” Imagine the hubris and twisted insanity behind the idea that running a business is a privilege! But, such thinking is common for the socialists who now occupy government offices. No longer does the government view itself as an organization that protects our freedoms. Rather, it now views itself as a slave-driver and micro-manager of everything in our lives, our businesses and our communities (as I mentioned in previous articles here and here). To modern politicians and bureaucrats the ends justify the means even if it requires the reintroduction of mass slavery.
In 1991, when the Federal Government’s GST was imposed, Brisson decided to treat the GST the same as he had treated the PST: He refused to collect it. The Province of Ontario, the CRA and the GST tax collection department ganged-up on him and attempted to ruin him and his business. They audited him. They put liens on his property and attempted to steal all of his assets. A local judge was found to prefer political expediency over adherence to laws that existed to help victims like Brisson. Provincial politicians asked in the legislature what they were going to do to stop him.
They even tried to destroy a different person with the same name.
In spite of all their underhanded efforts to crush Brisson, the state’s politicians, bureaucrats and tax collectors were petrified of Brisson bringing his argument against slavery into the high courts of the land. That is why they fought Brisson in ways that would result in bureaucratic victories rather than legal victories. The state was not interested in the morality of Brisson’s fight. Rather, they favored the petty criminal and bureaucratic methods of toppling him.
Brisson’s story is a remarkable one. It demonstrates that the state is only as powerful as our willingness to go along with its dictates. If one man’s opposition to immoral law is all that is required to throw the machinery of bureaucracy and dictatorship into a state of turmoil, then image the results of ten, one hundred or one thousand men like Brisson who refuse to go along with the flow. In a society where individual freedom is becoming more of a historical anecdote fit for a museum rather than an intrinsic part of humanity that we actively defend and fight for, the battles of men like Brisson must be told and supported.
Brisson’s story is not over, though. Nor is the war that wages between the socialists and techno-planners who want to transform society into some sort of bureaucratic Utopian hell and individuals who yearn to be free. In fact, it is the only war worth fighting – all other wars are distractions by comparison.
To fully appreciate how one man stood fearlessly and courageously in the face of modern-day bureaucratic evil, I would highly recommend that you obtain a copy of Brisson’s book – and pass it on. Of course, you can request that it be purchased at an “ex-tax” price. Visit http://www.jeansergebrisson.net/.