While we are on this subject of immunity of the body, we should mention the fact that though we long ago abolished debtors’ prisons, we do have prisons for those who violate the income-tax laws. We can cheat one another with impunity, but not the government. So thorough and so ruthless is the machinery of tax collections that it is used to catch and incarcerate suspected criminals against whom legal evidence of criminality cannot be adduced. Professional gamblers, hoodlums, and racketeers of all sorts, aware of the swift and certain punishment dealt out by the minions of the income-tax law, are scrupulous in the making out of their tax reports. Thus, the Sixteenth Amendment, enacted to increase the government’s revenues, has spawned another police department, another means of forcing the citizen into line.
The third great immunity is that of the mind, the freedom to think as one wishes. The impairment of this immunity is not easy to detect, for the operation can be conducted in such a way that the victim is never aware of it. It is necessary to look at the methods employed by the government to shape thought, to know that the shaping is being done; when the job is completed it takes a keen observer to realize that people think differently from the way they used to think.
Thus, the farmer who receives checks for not planting does not realize that his grandfather would have thought the practice immoral; he accepts the taking of gratuities as the regular order of things, as quite proper, because government propaganda has got him into that frame of mind. Free school lunches do not strike the modern mother as an insult, as suggesting that she is unable and unwilling to carry out the responsibility of motherhood; the convenience of free lunches, plus the saving of expense, plus the government’s leaflets have changed her way of thinking. And so with every activity of government turned Santa Claus by the income tax: a mass of propaganda introduces the new practice and more propaganda justifies it, until the people think as the government wants them to think. Free judgment becomes next to impossible.