To kick things off on this here blog, I thought I would start with something that on the surface would seem to be an “extreme” view but I think with some analysis will prove to be reasonable. In many ways, this is the bedrock of libertarianism.
Taxes are a fact of life. While libertarians like myself believe in small government, we aren’t anarchists. There has to be some government in order for society to function and taxes are a requirement for government to function. Even though they are a necessary reality, taxes are a violent act. Don’t believe me? Try not paying your taxes and see what happens. That’s right, if you don’t pay your taxes, men with guns will come find you and either force the taxes out of you, lock you in a cage for a few years, or both. So, it would seem to me, we have a moral responsibility to tax at a minimum and to be extra careful about what we spend those tax dollars on.
The reality of course is that we do not tax at a minimum and government at all levels spends violently collected taxes on all kinds of wasteful and corrupt programs. If that wasn’t bad enough, the money taken from citizens under threat of violence is often used to restrict the freedoms on citizens. For example, the people of San Francisco have to pay a lot of money to fund the Sand Francisco city government. That city government then turns around and bans the sale of Happy Meals in the city. Citizens of New York city are about to face a similar ban on large sodas. This happens at the federal level too with bans on light bulbs and drinks that contain both alcohol and caffeine. Don’t think that this is just limited to food and drink either. Virtually every economic decision we make is limited in some way by government decree, funded by the very dollars forcibly taken from us.
Now, I understand a lot of you will say that we as a society chose to live by a certain set of standards and each of us gets a vote in how those standards are created. This is a valid point but we also must consider that not everyone votes the same way and there are many issues where public opinion is pretty evenly split. You could say that majority rules but I would point to the ways blacks, Hispanics, women, and other minority groups have been treated in this country’s history for an indication of the virtues of majority rule. This isn’t to say that soda bans are as bad as slavery but both represent restrictions to freedom imposed on one group by another group, just to a different (and in this case drastic) degree.
So, where am I going with all of this since I acknowledge the need for taxes and government then go on to talk about how horrible both of those things are? Again, we need a government and we need rules but we must remember that taxes and government regulations are a form of violence, perhaps necessary violence, but violence none the less. What this means is that for every tax, regulation, and law that we support we must consider the associated violence or threat of violence that accompanies them. Would you go to your neighbor’s house, hold a gun to their head, and threaten death or imprisonment if they don’t support a law you like? Perhaps that action could be justified if we are talking about national defense, funding a police force, or creating government stockpiles of vaccines for deadly diseases. Would you threaten your neighbor with violence over funding NPR? How bout locking your brother or sister in a cage if he or she doesn’t want to fund Social Security? Would you be willing to throw your kids in jail if they refused to fund the bailout of GM or subsidies for people to purchase a Chevy Volt? I hope most people would answer these questions with a loud and defiant “NO” but many of those same people vote for politicians or support policies that essentially do the same thing.
Think about that the next time a politician talks about raising taxes as an act of compassion, patriotism, or duty