In the almost 17 years I’ve spent working for conservative, free-market public policy organizations in North Carolina, I’ve devoted much of my time to one consistent theme: state legislators should reduce taxes and rein in spending.

But why is this so important?

First and foremost: it’s your money. Beginning with the concept of self-ownership, we can derive property rights. You own yourself, your time, and your labor. The income you earn is justly acquired due to your sacrifice. It is yours. To assert that someone else has a claim to your income is to deny your self-evident right of self-ownership.

The fight for lower taxes is an effort to maximize your self-ownership and your inherent right to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Critics who contend that advocates of lower taxes do so out of “greed” or on behalf of “the rich” are offering nothing but verbal clutter, attempting to mask the true issue: do you own yourself?

The Tax Foundation for years promoted “Tax Freedom Day,” which was the date in the year that signified how long Americans had to work to pay the nation’s tax burden. In short, how many days of the year must you work to pay your share of taxes? The concept is clear: that portion of the year represents days you are not working for yourself, but for the government.

That’s what taxes represent: that slice of your life that is owned by the state.

And if you are forced into foregoing a part of your freedom to the government, it better be for a justified purpose. Which brings us to how your tax dollars are spent. The North Carolina Constitution recognizes that people’s “inalienable rights” include the “enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor.” So if our state government is to take a portion of the fruits of our labor, for what purpose would it be justified?

For instance, parks, aquariums, and museums are nice to have, but are such conveniences the reason “governments are instituted among men”? If such attractions are popular among the people, government coercion shouldn’t be necessary for them to receive funding. What about government handouts to corporations, which now can exceed more than $1 billion’s worth of pledged giveaways with your money in just one year? Is it justified that a part of your life is stolen from you to bribe multi-national corporations?

These examples just scratch the surface of the commonplace acts of politicians to reward supporters and political constituents with handouts, contracts, and patronage jobs — all with your money.

Politicians love nothing more than holding and accumulating more power, and your hard-earned tax dollars are a vital tool in them fulfilling those goals.

Critics will argue that restraining government spending will deprive society of important programs and services. In reality, however, the more entrenched government is with a good or service, the more likely they are to suffer from acute administrative bloat. For instance, from 2000 to 2019, the growth of administrative staff nationally in K-12 education outpaced the increase in students — and teachers — by a whopping 11 to 1 ratio. Similar trends can be found in health care and higher education.

So why do I continue to fight for government to lower taxes and restrain spending? Because it is only fair for decisions over how your money is spent to be made at your kitchen table with your loved ones instead of in a back room filled with self-interested politicians in Raleigh. Every dollar that is taxed and spent by the government represents a greater diminishing of your self-ownership.

It’s your money; it’s your life. That’s why we fight.