One of the libertarian pages actually attempted to explain “taxation is theft”, one of their favorite bits of propaganda. I give them credit for this. Interesting it occurred on the very day I posted my article on roads in which I accuse them of never explaining their two favorite things (taxation is theft and government shouldn’t build roads).
However, I do not think their self-named philosopher does an adequate job with the explanation and analogy. I’m left still not fully understanding their reasoning. The below article is what I call a stream of consciousness article. I write those from time to time. They represent me thinking out loud. As such the concepts and ideas may be repeated in the article as I come back to them and I also reserve the right in the future to alter them as they represent my initial thoughts rather than full-fledged ideals.
Have you ever had a job? Then you likely signed a consent to be taxed.
We do consent to be taxed. The vast majority of people do, in fact, consent. I doubt there is a libertarian out there who didn’t sign the paperwork when they got a job stating they agreed to have the tax money taken out of their paycheck. For those who are not willing to sign then they have that right. However, that right cannot coincide with living under the laws of the land.
Some say that they weren’t alive when the Constitution was written and so they shouldn’t be held to it. That’s faulty thinking. It is true that others formed our government but that does not remove all your choices. In similar fashion your parents got together and formed a contract between the two of them. Without your consent they brought you into this world. You had nothing to say about it. Once here they ruled your life. They told you want to eat, where to go, when to sleep, when to wash, made you do chores, and inflicted punishment on you (sometimes corporal in nature) when you didn’t obey the rules they had put into place. All this without your consent or input into the creation of the system you were born into. Perhaps you came home one night in the wee hours and your father yelled at you for being out or perhaps you smoked a little weed and he found out. An argument ensued and perhaps he shouted “as long as you live under my roof you’ll abide by my rules!” Fair enough. So, leave and head out on your own. One day pushing your rules on your child just like dear old dad you will understand how the one system can legitimately impose itself on future generations.
No, you may not have had a say along side of Thomas Jefferson, but you do have the right to leave and, unlike dear old dad’s house, you actually have a vote and a say in how the rules are created and the country is run.
The philosopher in the video asks, “what makes sex rape?” and the answer given is “consent” but when it comes to taxes she says that taxation is the taking of money by force “regardless of manifested consent”. How does one define “manifest”? “clear, obvious, display or show, demonstrate, prove.” So if we apply this to her rape analogy sex is always rape. She’s setting the terms of the argument so that no matter what your personal opinion or desires are you aren’t consenting. That’s not sound reasoning.
She then talks about the various taxes there are. But that doesn’t mean taxation is theft. It just means taxes are too high and too numerous. A position I strongly agree with but not one that demonstrates the key point of the video.
She then seems to ignore the American Revolution and the creation of taxation with representation when she says, “the fact of the matter is that taxation was always placed upon people without actually having the opportunity to elect into the goods and services that are forced upon them.” Which is demonstrably false. On the one hand we have representation which is our literal election giving us a say. Then there are the many states and municipalities that hold elections on taxes. More taxes to schools? More taxes to public safety? Cast a vote, vote yes, vote no. I personally have cast votes in such elections.
We live in a system where we accept the vote (unless you’re antifa or anti-Trump) and by accepting we accept that as part of the contract. If you do not like the contract you know exactly how to get out from under it. Force is only used to collect your taxes if you decide to stay in the country where they are used. If you do not want to pay them you don’t have to, but you also can’t stay and garner the benefits of them either.
I know libertarians hate this line of argumentation. I admit that leaving is hard and not ideal. However, it is a fact that the option is open to anyone who is displeased with the Constitution or laws. That this choice is a hard choice doesn’t mean it’s not a choice. Milton Friedman called it “voting with your feet”.
It’s not a system like the old USSR where they literally put up a wall to keep people in. We can’t even agree to put up one to keep people out because so many people want others to come and go freely. Rather than simply say it is no choice at all to leave I feel those who wish to counter this line of reasoning assault the reasoning rather than the feeling it gives them.
- I don’t like the rules.
- I am free to leave.
- I don’t want to leave but I don’t like the rules.
- Then change the rules.
- It’s hard to change the rules. No one else seems to want to.
- Stay and work to change them until they change and put up with them until they do change. Or leave.
I’m not sure I really see other options. Number seven on that list is of courses the option that most dissidents actually take. Of the “I’m moving to Canada” crowd not many actually follow through with it all the same is true of those who don’t like taxes. This is reasonable since they tend to be higher everywhere else in the world.
In the case of the above mentioned rape the victim is being forced, not only to have sex, but to stay. In a system with taxation you are in fact free to leave. While you may argue that as an option leaving sucks well guess what, some choices are difficult to make.
The blame should be on people not on taxation.
We live in a system of taxation with representation. What I think they are REALLY unhappy about is how we are being represented. Something I happen to agree with. The true place to point the anger and frustration is with the Congress and local legislators who misuse tax money and continue to ask for more. They and the people who want-want-want and expect the government to pay for it failing to realize that the money comes from their friends, neighbors and family members.
I always say, the next time someone says the government should pay for something have them replace the word government with “friends, neighbors and family”. That changes the perspective a great deal. Taxation isn’t theft. High taxation, which is what we live under, is a result, not of taxation itself being a bad idea (it’s not) but rather of our representatives doing a poor job with the purse strings and other citizens having been indoctrinated that the government actually has money to give. It doesn’t.
Taxes can be too high, too low, or just right. What we seek is a Goldilocks Congressman to represent us. Failing to get that we need to try again but at the same time we must education people who don’t understand the system how it works and how to change it. Teaching liberty is the way.
Taxation is taxation.
Taxation is taxation, stop trying to make it something it isn’t. I’ve also pointed out that the use of the word “is” to describe something makes it an absolute. To say that taxation is theft because there is no consent then we simply need to find instances of consent to erase the IS and turn it into a CAN BE. While I realize that is aside from the actual point, it is a necessary exercise when dealing with propaganda to break it down to find the logical fallacy or bias at its core. In the case of “taxation IS theft” the fallacy is known as Affirming the Consequent.
- All ducks swim.
- All ducks are birds.
- Chickens are birds.
- Chickens swim.
No, they don’t. Some taxation might be without consent, but not all is so we cannot logically conclude that taxation IS theft. In the video they try to overcome this by saying that one simply cannot consent to be taxed even when consent is manifest. Her words, not mine.
Be honest and realistic about belief and philosophy. Propaganda seldom helps anyone except those seeking quick power over the minds of others.
There are objective reasons that freedom is the best way and they are easy to understand by all people. There is no need to toss memes at them and dismiss them when they seek an explanation. Perhaps if libertarian pages never had anyone new to the page this might be okay but since there are in fact new comers all time seeking to learn liberty it seems best to explain. To outsiders an inside joke is just rude and they are likely to turn away if not let in on it. Again, that’s an aside but one worth mentioning since I am fond of libertarians and want them to succeed in teaching others about liberty.
Teaching that taxation is theft, however, isn’t teaching liberty so much as it is teaching an untruth. People know that and don’t respond positively. This propaganda will not induce real change in the real world. Propaganda always only produces short-term results but eventually the lie or bias is uncovered.
Taxation with proper representation is a great idea and one we should always strive for.
I do not support a system with zero taxation. Perhaps it is the libertarian loathing for socialism that keeps them from wanting anything that can be said to have an element of it. Humans have always paid some kind of tax in societies where they live together. Even if this is nothing more than sharing the meant of a slain monkey with the villagers. The entire argument for no taxes really seems to be framed within the backdrop of western cultural ideas rather than within sociocultural anthropological concepts. When we are talking about doing away with taxes entirely, as the philosopher in the video does suggest, we must address the idea on a human scale rather than on an American one. When we do this we see that taxes take many forms and exist in all cultures in those various forms. In the above linked article the author says, “I was accepted and everything that was theirs was mine to share. Unfortunately, I could not reciprocate and stayed in a small tent on which I had to put a small padlock.” You see, even in primitive societies where much is shared in common it was still expected that he give something in order to partake in what was everyone else’s. That is the very concept of a tax. He could live in the communal hut, he could partake of the hunted monkey, all was his, so long as he put something of value into the system he could take out of the system. That is taxation. It simply becomes more complex and codified the more complex and large the society becomes.
I am in wholehearted agreement that we tax too high and too often in America. I am fully behind tax reform, reduction of taxation, and abolition of 99.99999% of our tax code in favor of a super simple tax model of some sort. I don’t particularly favor one over the other at this point. A flat tax has many good points, as does a sales tax only system.
The problem isn’t with taxation itself but with how it is executed and not just by the government but by the people who see this money as the government’s money.
Remember, it’s not the government, it’s “your friends, your neighbors, and your families” that pay for each and everything you say the government should pay for.
In the end, there are very few things I support the use of tax money for such as roads, infrastructure, defense, and a small amount to pay a diplomatic service such as ambassadors. While I haven’t taken the time (yet) to fully decide which government agencies I think can go away I sit in a position of thought at this time that almost all of them can vanish. If this were done then the need for tax money by the government would fall and a greater freedom would result.
In short, I agree with libertarians on almost all things related to taxes except for the idea they should be completely done away with and calling them theft.