Have you ever heard someone say, Taxation is theft? How does it strike you? Is it shocking or appalling, perhaps even frightening? Although it seems self evident to me today, I can vaguely remember the first few times I encountered that saying. Probably about 19 years ago. It did not shock me exactly. But I was confused and not sure I could believe such a bold claim. Yet the more I revisited it and the longer I examined it, the clearer and more meaningful it became to me. It is now an obvious and integral part of my understanding of this mixed up, mumbled up world in which we live. If you want to understand the thinking going on in my personal skull and others like me (Libertarians, anarchists, minarchists, and Ron Swanson) then you may want to consider the expression. Not that you’ll agree with it. But it is helpful if you want to see our framework for the sake of empathy, or even for the sake of better dealing with us in a debate. I’m not worried about giving you an unfair advantage in that debate. Our case is so strong already. 🙂
Again, you may or may not agree with the concept. But if you can at least wrap your mind around it then you’ll be superbly equipped to understand your “crazy” libertarian friend or family member. Hopefully this will open up a whole world of communication. You’ll see where they’re coming from. And more than likely you’ll be able to help them see where YOU are coming from.
Briefly, what does it mean to say that taxation is theft, and how could that be true? Consider the following line of reasoning… If I held a gun to someone’s head and demanded their money then you would plainly agree, I hope, that is theft. Even if I wanted to use that money for a worthy cause. Now suppose a group of us got together and voted on taking the money. It would still be theft. And if the entire population voted to elect people to make decisions about taking that money and how to use it, then it would STILL be theft. And of course that is exactly what we have in the institution known as taxation. At least that’s how we tend to view it. If one does NOT pay their taxes, then ultimately men with guns will take them away by force.
If you can grok that one basic idea, then you’ll have the key to the entire libertarian mindset. Essentially, any regulation or prohibition or act of government which is not dealing with a direct act of violence such as theft, rape, or murder – is in ITSELF an act of violence. The only justifiable use of force is in response to such acts. It is called the Nonaggression Principle. (NAP) Thus government run welfare programs; restrictions on what you can do with your own body; and foreign invasions; are all considered immoral acts of aggression. By the way, I’ve seen too much evidence that those activities only benefit the corporate elite, keep people impoverished, and create more enemies for us around the world. But even if we assume hypothetically those programs have some worthy and beneficial outcomes, they are still funded by theft and enforced by violence. They are still immoral.
Love it, hate it, call me crazy, but PLEASE try that on for size. The paradigm of your friendly neighborhood libertarian. And I hope it gives you some insight.
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