What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
And all this he did, for the sole purpose of bringing this people into subjection or into bondage. And behold, we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind, and one half of the increase of our flocks and our herds; and even one half of all we have or possess the king of the Lamanites doth exact of us, or our lives. (Mosiah 7:22)
While reading the Book of Mormon this morning, this verse really stood out to me. King Limhi’s people were being heavily taxed by their rulers, and it was quite burdensome for them to bear. And then it struck me. We are in the exact same situation today.
I grabbed one of my latest pay stubs and did some quick calculations to figure out how much I’m being taxed on before I even get my “increase”.
11.82% federal income tax
4.92% state income tax
6.20% social security tax
1.45% medicare tax
24.4% total tax
So before I even see my money, I’ve lost 25% of it. Then I’m paying 15.89% tax on gasoline (42.9 cents/gallon in Utah). Add on top of that a 6.25% sales tax for anything I wish to purchase. Then there’s the taxes on my phone bills, electric bills, heating bills, property, and the list goes on.
When it all adds up, that’s scarily close to “one half of all [I] have or possess”.
The verses that follow in this chapter of Mosiah are also quite interesting, allowing one to easily draw comparisons and parallels to our own day.