Shades of the prison house 153

The USSR and it satellites, the entire region of the world that lay beyond the Berlin Wall, was one vast prison house until 1991. Nobody – except the tyrants who kept the keys – could leave it at will.

Now there is a plan to let the US government stop Americans leaving their country if the state hasn’t extracted all the money it considers itself entitled to first.

This is from Investor’s Business Daily:

The Republican House of Representatives may soon follow the Democratic Senate and give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport on mere suspicion of owing taxes.

There’s no place like home, comrade.

If it is true that the Republicans are seriously thinking of passing this measure, then we cannot be confident that a Republican victory in November will restore the liberties America has lost under the disastrous rule of the Democrats, or even safeguard those Americans still have.

“America, Love It Or Leave It” might be an obsolete slogan if the “bipartisan transportation bill” that just passed the Senate is approved by the House and becomes law. Contained within the suspiciously titled “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” or “MAP 21”, is a provision that gives the Internal Revenue Service the power to keep U.S. citizens from leaving the country if it finds that they owe $50,000 or more in unpaid taxes — no court ruling necessary.

It is hard to imagine any law more reminiscent of the Soviet Union that America toppled, or its Eastern Bloc slave satellites.

In his 1967 CBS “Town Meeting of the World” debate with Bobby Kennedy, Ronald Reagan declared, “We don’t want the Berlin Wall knocked down so that it’s easier to get at the throats of the East Germans. We just think that a wall that is put up to confine people, and keep them within their own country instead of allowing them the freedom of world travel, has to be somehow wrong.”

Throughout the many decades of the 20th century’s Cold War, the freedom of movement Americans enjoyed as a cherished right was one of our secret weapons. As the Communists in Moscow promised the world utopia out of the barrel of a gun, people around the globe noticed that the Soviets needed walls and barbed wire fences to keep their people in, while in the U.S. walls were as pointless as a fish’s bicycle.

Q: What induces Americans to give up their citizenship and live forever in Foreign Parts?

A: As long as they’re citizens or permanent residents, wherever they live they have to pay US taxes.

Overtaxation has led to 1,800 Americans living abroad renouncing their U.S. citizenship last year or turning in their green cards — many of them with broken hearts because of their love for this nation. The record number of former U.S. citizens is nearly eight times more than those who renounced U.S. citizenship in 2008, and it exceeded 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.

1,800 is not a lot. But the prevailing principle that any citizen or permanent resident is free to leave, is a vital part of what makes most of them want to stay. A law keeping people in may well have the opposite effect, and cause far more to venture reluctantly out into the wretched Abroad.