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MSNBC analyst believes submitting
to theft at gunpoint is ‘voluntary’

Taxation or Robbery

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Related article…

Taxation Is Theft


What is the moral justification for taxation? What gives the government the right to collect taxes by force, whether force of law or force of arms–which in the end amount to the same thing?

The coerced collection of taxes is allegedly justified by four arguments–all of which are demonstrably false:

1. The “majority rules” argument: The majority in a society has the right to impose its will on the minority, either absolutely, or within the limits prescribed by a Constitution.

The refutation: It’s been said that a democracy is where two wolves and a sheep vote on what (or who) is for dinner. The moral to be understood from this is that a vote by the wolfish majority to have the sheepish minority for dinner does not justify violating the rights of the sheep to life, liberty and property. By the same reasoning, just because a majority votes to put those who don’t “voluntarily” pay taxes in jail does not make it morally right.

The “majority rules” argument is based on the false premise that what just one of your neighbors would not have the right to do–appropriate your property using unjustified coercive force–society as a whole (who are just the aggregation of all your neighbors) somehow magically is morally justified in doing. Were this so, what principle would limit it just to taxes, or to just those things allowed by a Constitution? Where did society get the authority to use a Constitution to give its agent, the government, powers that none of the individuals in the society possess by themselves as single individuals?

If your neighbor does not have the right to force you to be his slave, could it be that two of your neighbors have this right? If not two, then what about 1000 of your neighbors? 10,000 neighbors? 100,000 neighbors? 250,000,000 neighbors? Everyone living on the same continent? What gives a group (or a society, or its agent, a government) any right to act that any individual member of the group would not have? Rights are not additive: two people who form a group have no more rights than either one has separately. The rights of any group, even society as whole, are simply the union of the rights of all the individuals in the group. It therefore necessarily follows that a group cannot have any rights that any individual member of the group does not also have. So if your neighbor has no just right to simply take from you whatever he or she wants, then neither do any group of neighbors–not even the entire society.

The conclusion is inescapable: you don’t owe taxes merely because one or more of your neighbors say you do. I don’t have the right to take your property without your consent. Therefore, no group of people has the right to take your property without your consent–no matter how many people are in the group, nor how many of them vote in favor.

2. The “debt for services rendered and benefits received” argument: Government provides benefits and services. The recipients of said benefits and services owe the government something of value in exchange. Furthermore, society is entitled to a “payback from,” or “return on its investment in,” each member of the society, and a “return on its investment” in the infrastructure of the society, payable as “dividends” from the earnings of the individuals who live in and benefit from the society and its infrastructure.

The refutation: The argument is flawed in several ways. Firstly, it falsely assumes that a valid debt is created whenever someone receives either direct (or collateral) benefit(s) as a result of actions voluntarily performed by someone else–even when the person receiving the benefit(s) did not consent to the creation of a debt, and even when the person performing the action(s) was largely motivated to perform those actions in his own self interest and for his own benefit. Secondly, it falsely assumes that every taxpayer was a willing participant in a commercial transaction, where he agreed to pay a freely-negotiated price for some service or benefit. Thirdly, it falsely assumes that the amount of tax a taxpayer is assessed is reasonably proportionate to the market value of the services or benefits he received. Finally, the argument falsely assumes that a debt can convey an equity interest in the life, property, or profits of the debtor, without the debtor having consented to the granting of any such equity interest.

Taxation forces you to pay for what you haven’t agreed to buy

It is admittedly possible to accrue a debt without having first consented thereto: such a debt automatically accrues when the debtor causes harm to the life, liberty or property of someone else without valid cause (the only valid cause that comes to mind would be acting in justified self defense). But other than this one exception (infringing on someone else’s rights without his or her consent), debts cannot be justly created without the consent of the debtor.

Therefore, you don’t owe anyone anything for those things that someone else voluntarily chooses to do without your consent to pay for them. Conversely, you have no right to coerce payment from others who have not consented to pay you for the value of the work you voluntarily choose to do that happens to benefit them.

Even more ludicrous is the idea that you owe anyone anything in exchange for the collateral benefits you may receive as a consequence of actions performed by others. If I choose to build a dam for the twin purposes of generating electricity and controlling floods, solely because the dam benefits me (I make money selling the electricity, and my home is made safer against the threat of flooding), then why should the fact that your home also is made safer against the threat of flooding entitle me to send you an invoice for any part of the cost of building the dam? I would have built the dam whether or not you benefited from it, and whether or not you agreed to pay anything for the privilege of benefiting from the dam.

If you benefit from what someone else has voluntarily done, and have not agreed to provide compensation, then you have no more obligation to pay than does the receiver of any other gift. As long as we do not violate the rights of others, each of us may do, or not do, as we please. If we do not like the fact that what we voluntarily choose to do happens to also benefit others, our only morally-correct remedy is to refrain from doing such things. If you think otherwise, go sweep the street clean and then send an invoice to the city, or to your neighbors, for the hours worked. Good luck.

Taxation forces you to pay the price set by a monopoly provider

Typically, the amount of tax assessed is not reasonably equivalent to the fair market value of the services provided. One important reason that this is true is because the amount of tax that is assessed is not negotiated between “buyer” and “seller” in a free market. Both overcharging and underpaying for goods or services makes one party a thief and the other party the victim of a crime.

Rate-based taxation assumes that the “debt” for government services creates an equity interest

The debt you owe to a lienholder does not entitle the lienholder to an equity interest in your life, in your property, and/or in the fruits of your labor. If you think otherwise, try billing (or even suing) your employer for a percentage of profits in lieu of salary, without his prior agreement. Good luck.

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