Most of us never question taxes. We believe it’s the cost we pay to live in a civilized society. And that’s no accident. Our school system is arguably a scam, so it is no surprise that we don’t spend 5 minutes questioning taxes in school, even though the Founding Fathers would be turning in their graves if they knew many of us give about half of our income to the government to pay taxes.
Taxation Is Theft
It may come as a surprise for some people to hear that others think taxation is theft. To better understand this simple, yet profound, concept, we need to define the word “theft.”
Theft – the act or crime of stealing.
So what’s the definition of “stealing?”
Steal – take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right.
While I don’t fully agree with the above definition of “steal” because the “legal” right is quite ambiguous, we’ll use it here anyway. The first part has to do with permission. Does the government have my permission to take as much money as it deems necessary from my paycheck? No.
The second part has to do with the legal right to take my money. While most would assume the government has the legal right to take my money from me against my will, I would argue otherwise. There is no law requiring the average worker to pay income taxes! This may be hard to believe, but it’s true. The government doesn’t have the legal right to tax our income. But if you don’t pay income tax, guys with guns will force you into a cage and kill you if you don’t comply. Watch the great documentary From Freedom To Fascism for a deeper look into this little-known story.
They say paying income taxes is voluntary. But if you don’t pay them they’ll throw you in jail! They make you create documents that tell your entire financial situation, and then use that against you in court to throw you in jail. This violates our 5th Amendment! We aren’t required to give information that can incriminate ourselves. But they get around our rights, and the Constiution, by saying it’s voluntary. Get it? Me neither.
As you can see, the government doesn’t have my permission or the legal right to take my property and give it to someone else. So based on the definition of “stealing,” that’s exactly what the government is doing to me when it takes my money for taxes.
Consent Of The Governed
Just because one person (or 51% of people) thinks it’s okay for the government to take the property of another, doesn’t mean it is. It isn’t up to that person. It’s up to the person who is being taken from.
The key here is consent. Just as the difference between sex and rape is consent, the same goes for the difference between paying taxes and having money stolen from you. Just as the person’s opinion who is committing the rape doesn’t matter, neither does the opinion of the person or institution doing the stealing. So just because someone thinks taxation is good, doesn’t mean the government is allowed to take money from someone who doesn’t want it taken from them.
One of the core principles that made America free, and seperated it from all other countries in the world, is that its government was created to serve man, not the other way around. All of the government’s powers are supposed to be derived from the consent of the governed, as stated in the beginning of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
This means that the government gets all its powers from the people. But people don’t have the power to take someone’s property and give it to another. So how can they give that power to the government? How can people give the government a right they don’t have themselves? Because you lack the legal ability to take my property, you aren’t authorized to grant the government the power to take it.
Government Extortion For “The Greater Good”
Still don’t see taxation as extortion? Let’s look at the definition of “extortion.”
Extortion – the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.
After looking at the definition of “extortion” it becomes absolutely clear that taxation is extortion. And extortion is just a form of theft. Most people pay their taxes because they fear the consequences of what will happen to them if they don’t.
To be clear: those who support compulsory taxation advocate for the use and/or threat of violence against those who refuse to comply with the tax system. Is this what we call being civilized?
If someone with a gun robs you in an alley, you aren’t giving them the money. They’re taking it from you, even if you actually hand them over the money. Maybe they have kids to feed, and no money. But you have a lot of money. Therefore the robber thinks it’s for the greater good. This example of extortion is exactly what the majority is having government do the minority.
There must be a way to build a peaceful society in which no one is forced to do anything.
No moral person wants the less fortunate to go without. But when you ask the government to take from someone against their will and give it to someone else, you’re no longer moral. A moral person can’t take someone’s property against their will, and neither can they give the government permission to do so.
Thinking in terms of the greater good is a collectivist idea, which violates the rights of the individual. To break free from that hazardous thinking, listen to talks like Edward Griffin’s Collectivist Conspiracy and watch Hidden Influence: The Rise of Collectivism.
The Problem With Democracy
In democracy the majority rules. That means that 51% of the people can decide to take money from 49% of the people. But who protects the minority from the majority? To
Statists will argue that we pay taxes for the greater good. But who decides what the greater good is? The majority? Democracy is merely the majority ruling over the minority. How is that fair? The individual shouldn’t have to give up his rights because a group of people got together and decided to impose their will on him. If that’s allowed, the individual isn’t free. And if everyone isn’t free, no one is free.
We all belong to some type of minority, whether it’s due to race, height, looks, status, or anything else. Why should the majority be allowed to force the minority to do anything? Larken Rose does a great job of explaining the problem with democracy here.
Taxes vs Freedom
Taxes pull us in the opposite direction of freedom. The more we are free to choose how to spend our money, the more free we are. And vice versa.
If you aren’t allowed to decide what to do with your paycheck, you aren’t free. Since the government decides how much of your money you get to keep, it acts as if it has a claim over your earnings that supercedes your own claim to your earnings.
What’s the difference between a slave and a free man? A free man can keep the fruits of his labor. It’s that simple. If the government has a right to the fruit of your labor, and it trumps your right, how can you be truly free? Even if the government gives you something back in return, you’re still not free. After all, slave owners had to provide food, shelter, and clothing for their slaves too.
Not only is the income tax bad when it comes to tax time, but it leaves many taxpayers feeling uneasy throughout the year, living in fear of the IRS auditing them. What would happen if they forgot to report something? Or even worse, they did their taxes themselves and made a mistake! Even if we know our tax documents are correct we still fear getting audited. A free man doesn’t live in fear of his own government.
Unfortunately, we’ve gotten so far away from freedom that few of us really understand what freedom is. Watch this short video to better understand the story of our enslavement.
Statists vs Freedom
Statists think that the government has the right to take a portion of the money a person makes as long as it’s in the name of taxes. What the government is going to spend it on doesn’t matter. The government can take as much money from you as they want in order to fund their war machine, which goes as far as bombing innocent civilians in places that are no threat to us.
If a crook put a gun to a statist’s head and robbed them so they could bomb another country, they’d be considered a terrorist! But when the government does it they just say it’s the price we pay for freedom. How can we give up our freedom to pay for freedom?
There’s no other case where taking money from someone against their will is acceptable, but it’s perfectly fine when it comes to taxes!
While some may agree with taxes, others may not. The people who proudly pay taxes shouldn’t be able to force the others into paying. Nor should the government. The government has people convinced we’ve agreed to some kind of social contract, but we haven’t. Tom Woods smacked down that idea in his podcast.
Everything should be handled with voluntary transactions. Why should we settle for government coercion? Wouldn’t it be better if everyone were able to spend all their money as the wish? The government doesn’t know how each of us should live our lives. So why should they make decisions for us? That’s exactly what they’re doing when they take money from us, even if they’re giving us something in return.
Voluntary transactions are peaceful transactions. Any forced transactions need force to enforce them.
Of course, some one will benefit when someone else is forced to give them money. But that isn’t right for the other person. The only way to make sure that it’s fair for every person involved in every transaction is to disallow any kind of forcing of others. If people are voluntarily making a transaction, it’s win-win. But if one group of people can make another group of people buy something for them, it’s easy to see how this can be unfair. It presents a moral hazard. That’s why redistributing wealth via forced taxes is immoral.
No group of people should be able to join forces with the government to extort money from a specific group of people, no matter how much money that group of people have.
If someone wants healthcare, they should buy it themselves. At least that way one is being forced to buy it for them. And they get the healthcare of their choice.
What about the people who can’t afford healthcare?
If enough people believe we should all pitch in and pay for the healthcare of those less fortunate, let them put their money in and pay for it. But what gives them the right to make us all pitch in if we don’t want to? It isn’t like everything just magically becomes cheaper if the government is the one paying for it. Money doesn’t appear out of nowhere to pay for things; it comes from us. Why not let the ones who actually want to pay for the tax pay for it? That way there are no losers in the deal. No one is being forced to do something they don’t want to. How can that be a bad thing?
We have the technology to collect money as donations for these purposes without much cost involved. It would be way cheaper to have a website where people can make their own voluntary donations to cover the healthcare expenses for people who can’t afford it.
Most people use the healthcare that’s provided for them by government, whether it’s medicare, medicaid, or they’re a veteran. If it’s free, why would they seek alternative medicine that they have to pay 100% out of their pocket, especially if they’re being told by mainstream medicine that it doesn’t work?
People forget that the medical industry is a business, and doctors are salesmen. Of course, when government forces everyone to pitch in on healthcare for the needy, any business getting that money is going to have a huge competitive advantage over others that aren’t. This creates artificially stimulated demand, which leads to higher prices. But since people are disconnected from paying for it out of pocket, they don’t realize the impact of paying exorbitant prices.
What if people don’t volutarily give enough?
If people don’t give enough money to support a cause then either they don’t want to support the cause, or they haven’t been convinced enough to support it. If it’s a worthy cause, it shouldn’t need too much convincing. Besides, if the government weren’t taking such a huge portion of the most productive people’s income they would have more money to give.
By cutting out the middle man (government) and saving money, we could achieve more with less. So even if people didn’t give as much, we could still accomplish the same thing. There’s already a book written by an economist and a doctor called Primal Prescription that shows how a free market can bring the cost of medical care down significantly. And they already have a working model.
There are already plenty of good examples of people accomplishing great things voluntarily. Just look at the money raised for victims of the mass shootings. Often times people have raised millions of dollars within days of it happening.
Churches operate entirely on voluntary donations. Why can’t the government?
When we go out to eat and pay our server a tip, it’s completely voluntary. We could tip little to nothing, but if the service we get is good few of us do. Why? Because most people are well-intentioned and don’t mind paying in order to receive something of equal or greater value.
Why do dine-in restaurants use the tipping system for paying servers? Because then the servers have a financial incentive to provide great service. What if the government worked the same way?
What If Government Had To Earn Our Money?
If the government had to earn our money they’d be much more efficient with the money they get. They have no incentive to spend wisely. It’s not their money; They don’t care. In fact, if they don’t spend all the money they get, they may not get as much in the budget next year.
I would bet government would be able to do more with less if they had to earn our money. They’d be incentivized to provide as much value for us as possible. And if we didn’t think they were doing a good job, we could easily fire them by not paying them anymore. That works a lot better than trying to convince government to get rid of itself.
What do you expect when the government has a monopoly on many services and we allow them to take our money to pay for those services? They have no competition, and guaranteed income. What could go wrong?
Currently, we don’t have control over our tax money. The government takes as much as it wants, and does whatever it wants with it. We’re smart enough to decide how to spend our money to get everything else we want. But when it comes to the government, they act like they know how to spend our money better than we do. So they take what they “need,” and give us what ever is left.
Under this system, the government doesn’t have an incentive to care about how much of our money is left over after taxation. This encourages them to take as much as they can, without us revolting. If our living expenses came first, then taxes, they would have an incentive to make sure we’re all well off enough to have money left over after we pay our bills to pay taxes with.
Could A Voluntary Tax System Work?
What if we sent in our tax money voluntarily? What if we could send them as much or as little as we want? If the government has to threaten us with violence to receive taxes then it’s time we question the legitimacy of government.
Imagine sending in your voluntary tax dollars with a form that has check boxes for different services government provides, and you could check which one you want to support and how much of your money should go to it. Wouldn’t that be great! What a great way to ensure the people are funding what they actually want. Don’t want to fund war? You wouldn’t have to! Don’t want to fund Trump’s wall? You wouldn’t have to!
The government could even give out stickers for people to put on their car and show everyone how great of a taxpaying citizen they are. Businesses could offer discounts to taxpayers, like some of them offer a military discount. This way societal pressure would offer another incentive to pay taxes. People who refuse to pay taxes could be frowned upon.
With the emergence of blockchain technology, it is now easier than ever to make something like this happen! Everything could be tracked on an open-source blockchain which would be fully transparent and couldn’t be manipulated. We’d know exactly where our tax dollars go. Smart contracts on blockchains could also be used. This would drastically reduce the administration cost of government! With the wealth and abundance we’ve created with new technology, there’s no reason for the government to be shaking people down for money.
Do We Really Need Government?
Isn’t it odd that so few of us ever question the need for government? The Founding Fathers were very skeptical of government, and created the Declaration of Independence to restrain the size and power of the Federal government. The American Revolution was largely fought over a very small tax. They would have never dreamed our government would become as big as it is today, because that’s exactly what they tried to prevent from happening.
Perhaps one of the greatest tricks that have ever been pulled is government around the world convincing everyone that we need government. Like most people, I went many years without ever questioning the need for government. I’ve been critical of government since I was young though. I knew something wasn’t right when I learned they throw people in cages over a harmless plant. But I still thought government was a necessary evil. Not anymore.
But how will we pay for roads, defense, and everything else?
When people first think about the absense of government, they wonder how we will pay for everything the government provides now. The short answer is – morally. If we’re going to build a peaceful society, we have to begin with morals as the foundation. Whatever we do, we need to make sure we’re not violating anyone else’s rights in order to do it. That should be the goal and we shouldn’t accept anything less.
For example, let’s say I proposed ending slavery (when it was legal) on the sole basis of it being immoral. Wondering how we’re going to build the roads is like asking “who will pick the cotton?” The point is that it doesn’t matter who will pick the cotton. What matters is that we establish and maintain the standard of picking cotton without anyone being forced to do so.
The Case For Privatization
Everything that can be done by the government can be done by entrepreneurs. After all, government is just made up of people anyway. But if the government can force people to do business with them, rather than earning people’s business like entrepreneurs have to, there will always been the temptation for government to short the consumer, because they can.
The market will meet the needs of the people because the entrepreneurs will have to in order to get the business. Competition in the market brings consumers the best service for the best price. Government is inherently inefficient. When others are allowed to compete with government someone will likely outcompete them. There are great cases of entrepreneurs providing more value than government services.
There’s a great short film called I, Pencil that illustrates the power of a free market and why central planning is doomed.