Why You Don’t Think Taxation is Evil

– Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom – Alexis de Tocqueville

In America, you can quit your job without being forcibly “recaptured” by your former employer.

You can negotiate, in one way or another, a release from any legal contract into which you entered voluntarily, including marriage or a seven sequel book deal.

If you’re in public school, you might, with lots of money in addition to the ceaseless, laborious, soul-shattering efforts of your parents, extricate yourself from the pestilential government school system.[1]

So, it can be said unequivocally that you are not enslaved by your employer, your spouse, or your publisher.

One could make a decent argument in support of the assertion that government school is a form of servitude.  After all, even slaves could sometimes buy their way into freedom, as parents do for their children today in order to place them in private or home schools. Nevertheless, to cast government schooling as a form of slavery would too much condemn the former and forgive the latter.  So, for our purposes here, government schooling must remain a weak but viable example of human endeavor existing on the outskirts of the sphere of voluntary action.

These examples are not meant to suggest that you would under all conditions be free of legally binding obligation.  You may even need to be compelled to keep your promises, if you’re of a thievish nature.  After all, neither your former employer, nor your ex spouse, nor even your publisher is your slave, lacking rights, to be abused at will.  That being said, even under such obligations you otherwise remain nonetheless a free and sovereign individual.

In fact, there are few conditions that exist outside of that sphere, i.e., situations from which you cannot extricate yourself and move on with your life as you see fit, free from any punitive legal measures against you, so long as you have violated the rights of no other person.  I submit that only four such conditions are possible:

1.    legalized slavery
2.    conscription
3.    taxation
4.    the commission of a victimless crime

The price for dodging any of the first three or engaging in the latter could be imprisonment.  This by itself should be recognized as a violation of rights.  And the disgrace is universal; every country in the world abuses imprisonment.  In the US, for instance, one might do time for the victimless crimes of sale or possession of a narcotic, or for failing to report when summoned to jury duty.  Neither of these actions, of course, constitutes a violation of rights.

Conscription lies dormant in some countries, active in others.  But, like a pernicious virus, it still exists in most.

Slavery, happily, civilization has outlawed.  Further, as gilding added to that piece of good fortune, with few exceptions the population of the entire world accepts that slavery is an evil to be unreservedly condemned.[2]

At least, so I think.  What about you?  Do you think slavery is evil?  If so, why?

The most common response I have received to this question is, “Of course, slavery is evil.  No one can own another human being.  It’s just wrong.”

Now, while that equivocation is good enough for government school, it leaves us with no moral substratum upon which to raise vigorous condemnation against such a great evil.  It is, after all, nothing more than a declarative restatement of the question, equivalent to, “Slavery is just wrong.”

Yet, it is what one would likely hear from the anti-intellectual elite in US universities.  It is mere boiler plate, a politically correct banality, devoid of rationale, akin to the prattle of the bossy eight-year-old who presumes to keep watch over the schoolyard, pausing now and then to stamp and scream, “The principal said you can’t do that. That’s wrong!”

The reason for this shameful state of affairs is simple.  The only meaningful answer to the question of why slavery is evil turns out to be the story premise of every collectivist’s worst nightmare:  Each person owns his or her life and no other.[3]

 Sadly, the “collectivist” category has for many decades included the great bulk of politicians and university elites.  In the halls of power and academe, consequently, assertions laying claim to one’s own life have been belligerently received and effectively suppressed.  (These efforts at censorship occasionally become obstreperous.  Such is the case in their promulgation of the doctrine opposing free speech: political correctness.)

The problem for collectivists is that ownership plainly means “control.” If each of us controls his or her own life, out go the laws forcing anyone to give up the product of their efforts through taxation.  Such “efforts,” after all, are a large part of our lives.

With the people empowered to withdraw consent by refusing to provide funding, government will be virtually divested of its ill-gotten, seemingly unlimited income.

So much, then, for forcing anyone to work at government gunpoint for “the common good,” or “community,” or “society,” or “country.”

And out go government options to conscript or send men to war without the explicit consent of each.

And out go the wars against cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, sex, or any other “crime” with no victims.

If self ownership – and its corollary, absolute control of income – were to become universally accepted as the first and most important of human rights, authoritarians of every strain would become, at long last, only a minor annoyance.

– William McAtinney


[1] To the younger reader:  Thanks for visiting my site before it was too late.

[2] In contrast, the rate of unjustified imprisonment is growing worse by the year.  There are burgeoning numbers of ways to be imprisoned without ever having violated the rights of another person.  In the US, the insane drug war is the most egregious example.  The measure of additional mayhem that will rain down upon us as a result of such villainies as the wrongly named Patriot Act, et al, I fear is yet to be realized.

[3] For more on this, please see the post, “A Little Societal Evolution” on this site.

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