Taxes, Taxes By Hank Penny


1952 | Country

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"We'll never grow to be 65, they'll stop us growing at 64, 'cause at 65 we're gonna join the pension ring. -- It's death and taxes, that's for sure, for taxes there ain't no cure, so tell me, o death, where is thy sting?"


  • Hank Penny was a comedian & banjo player specializing in western swing.
  • He was the leader of The Radio Cowboys in the 1930s.
  • He was married to country singer, Sue Thompson in the 50's & 60's.


Luke Tatum

Just splendid: "Taxes, taxes, will you always haunt me? Will I always have to work in vain? You have caused me many tribulations; Taxes, taxes, you have taxed my brain!" It doesn't get more straightforward than that, now does it? Estimates vary, but we've all heard some version of "the average American works until April for the government." The same principle is applied here in the song. He's essentially describing slavery in with slightly kinder terminology. Working with all of the yield being taken is widely recognized as such. Now, this song also takes a weird, sci-fi turn in the last third of its playtime: Hank Penny asserts that the politicians are trying to have scientists figure out how to keep us all alive forever. Presumably, this is so we can provide an exponentially growing tax base from which to harvest new funds. Creepy and dystopian, and certainly not what I expected from a country tune. Fun, and unique!

Sherry Voluntary

This country swing song released in 1952, has the same sentiments that we still hear today. I’d like to focus on the first line though because I think it contains the trap that so many people fall into. “Well It used to be that taxes / Wasn't cause for much concern” This line sounds fair enough on the surface, afterall taxes didn’t use to be as burdensome and most people think they are necessary for the government to run and society to endure. Their only gripe is with how much is taken not that they’re taken at all. The idea that any person, or entity somehow has a claim to your property because they say so is never right, for any reason, no matter how beneficial to all they make it sound. This is authoritarianism and it is the antithesis to libertarianism. Most people teach their children that stealing is wrong, and would not themselves feel that they are entitled to reach into their neighbors pockets and steal money for some good cause, but as soon as you call it government they lose all sense of what is right or wrong. This just goes to show how well the indoctrination of the the State authority that benefits from that way of thinking is. Being a philosophical libertarian cuts through the haze and does not allow for the mental gymnastics that can make what is wrong right. We have an uphill battle to fight this mentality, but if we want a world set free, we've got to meet this mindset head on.

Nicky P

This song walks a really strange line. I actually looked at the lyrics before I listened to the song. Based on what I read about Hank I assumed he was a comedian. So when I pulled up the lyrics I was a little taken aback. I could see the jokes, but there seemed to be a desperation in there I wasn't expecting. Maybe I have too much of a shaded view of the era but talking about waiting for death to avoid taxes seems dark for the time. Hank was one of the first generations to grow up after the income tax was started and I'm sure watched it do exactly what they said it wouldn't and grow past the constraints of the wealthy and start destroying the lives of the poorest. It's hard to see at times how the people around me don't understand the damage we do to ourselves with the income tax for negligible gain but alas, here we are.

Created By
Nicky P

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