By Ipsa Liberalis
"Taxation is theft" is a phrase I've been seeing a lot lately. Famous libertarians like Penn Jillette are pictured with some quote remarking that taxation is equivalent to the government robbing us at gun point. Which is fine. He's allowed his opinion about that, and I certainly agree with Jillette on other things (his story about becoming an atheist is great, I think).
So, I want to work through this, on the Internet, so that we can all be on the same page.
If taxation is theft, and theft is wrong, let us stop taxation.
Now there are no taxes. There is no money to run the government, and so, now, there is no government. As I understand it, this is the libertarian ideal: no government in exchange for self-ownership.
No taxes means there is no police department. There is no military. There is no fire department.
Now, one day, I am actually robbed, literally, at gunpoint.
I say, "You can't do this!" to the robber.
The robber waves the gun at me, demonstrating that, indeed, I am being robbed.
I cry out for help, but there is no cop to come to my aid in protecting my money.
Ultimately, I trade my valuables for my life.
Twenty-seven people saw what happened. They even know exactly who it was that did it. But there are no cops. Also, this means no prosecutors, or judges, or juries, and in action, no law.
Barring my own direct action confronting the robber, there is nothing to be done. The robberies continue, maybe not with me but with you, your neighbors, your friends, your family.
What a small price to pay for my getting to keep all my money that I earned!
That is, until my direct deposit doesn't appear because someone has been embezzling from the fund. Maybe it's the boss. Maybe it's the bank. There isn't anyone available to investigate now that there is no government.
So, I take all of my money from the bank and put it in my mattress. I open carry my constitutional firearm with me wherever I go to protect myself and my money. That is, until I come home from the market one day to see my house is on fire, the house where I sleep on my big, fat, money mattress. I call out for help, but there's no fire department, and also the roads have turned to something worse than dirt, and there aren't any public works to fill the fire hydrants any more.
Everything has gone up in smoke. My house. My money. My life. I have nothing. That's liberty in action. That's self-ownership right there. I've lost everything. Glorious.
If only there were some way of preventing this terrible fate. If only there was a way to try to protect my house from a fire, because people got paid to make sure there was water pressure, and that there was a road and a fire truck and a dispatcher. If only there was a way to make sure the money that I expected to be in the bank from my job was there, and if it wasn't, that there would be someone to look into it. If only I had not been robbed in the first place, because the robber diverted, seeing two fat cops in the donut shop I just came out of.
Ah, yes, there is: taxation.
Taxation is not theft. Taxation is our buy-in for living in a civilized society, or something working toward that far-off goal. To argue otherwise is to pretend that we don't all find ourselves on the interstate highway sometimes, or on the information super highway, the Internet, which is brought to you buy a big ole heap of tax money that got paid long before Facebook, YouTube, or Reddit.
Like a lot of this life, the Internet is a gift from someone's tax bill that I surely didn't earn, and neither did you. To stand up on this soapbox and say "Taxation is theft" is the epitome of entitlement. Do we think we earned this Internet, that there would be this Internet at all without taxation? Don't be ridiculous.
I get that government isn't perfect. I sure don't like paying for a corrupt and heartless war on drugs, but I do like knowing that someone, somewhere, is getting a meal on my dime. And that there is someone in actual space on my dime. And that someone is working to stop people from getting robbed, at gunpoint, on my dime. I'm happy to pay taxes. It's almost exactly the least I can do.