You may have recently read an article by a similar title called, “Taxation Begets Representation – Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Completely Hate Taxes.”
The truth is, taxation completely ruins any hope of true representation for the individual; this is yet another reason why anyone who loves liberty ought to despise the theft of taxation.
This (rather odd) justification for taxation, or “redeeming quality” of representation, almost sounds like what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said in 1904, (back when the average tax rate in the land of the free was only 3.5%) “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”
This commonly held progressive cliché, and complete economic falsehood, is inscribed above the entrance to the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service.
The truth is, as Mark Skousen once said, that “taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success.”
Aside from the moral question of theft, there is a loss of representation, and the economic costs, both seen and unseen, to consider – for all groups, not just a favored few.
As Milton Friedman points out in his book Free to Choose (and its accompanying 10-part TV series), taxation presents a “tyranny of control,” and the power of the market is ruined by this tyranny of control.
I’d say that the consumer’s right to regulate each market that he voluntarily participates in, is a much better representation of his individual needs or wants than any market he’s forced into. This “tyranny of control” results in far less representation (long-term, considering all groups) than if each individual had represented themselves with purchases to his or her own liking.
The fact that using violence, or the threat of violence, to remove property from another is immoral (it is theft) ought to be the only reason necessary for any moral person to hate the practice and seek for its immediate and permanent abolishment.
It’s important to determine that, before offering an economic opinion, one must be committed to becoming a good economist, and equally committed to not becoming a bad one.
As Frédéric Bastiat says, “Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference—the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee.”
Add to that definition Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
So, to be a good economist you must consider all the unseen results, and the long-term effects for all groups, to see a given option in its entirety.
While you do have the freedom to choose to not be a good economist, if that’s your choice, would you please be responsible enough to keep quiet. As a favor to us all, please refuse to push economic fallacies as gospel truth? “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” – Murray Rothbard
Imagine a spontaneously ordered society; where all forms of “essential government services” are voluntary and multiple providers compete for your business. What kinds of individual choices would be available in the areas of education; transportation; local, accountable, trustworthy security; mutual aid societies; or anything else that our stolen money is currently spent on? You represent yourself daily by voting with your dollars. When this market signal is broken, as it is with government-run schooling, your representation is effectively removed.
The tax-funded coercive markets and voluntary markets are similar only in minor, cosmetic ways: scratch just past the surface and you will find an entirely different animal underneath. There are more distinctions than similarities between the two, and it’s these significant differences that make coercion simply unjustifiable.
Saying, “well, at least with taxation you get the motivation to demand representation.” is a bit like telling a rape victim, “well, at least you got the benefit of sex out of the unwelcomed relationship.” Frankly, I see both as heartless comments, and both ignore the much bigger picture.
Benito Juárez said, “In between individuals, like between nations, the respect of the rights of others is peace.” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called, the children of God.
It is the moral obligation of every good person to seek peace, and a first step towards peace is to respect the rights of others. Respecting the property rights of others is the exact opposite of the property theft carried out in taxation.
It would be intellectually lazy, or dishonest, to hold to this principle, that “any and all services that could be provided by a completely free market approach ought to be” while at the same time apathetically justifying the theft of taxation with, “at least it buys you some amount of representation.”
“When people fall prey to intellectual laziness, and protecting the freedom which individualism provides is too arduous of an endeavor, statism is there like a pathetic crutch for those crippled only by their apathy.” – Marianne aka Libertarian Girl
Not only is taxation an unnecessary violation of property rights, but it clearly amounts to financial rape; exclusively benefiting only the jealous guardians of a monopoly of force, and those they chose to reward with scraps from the loot.
Don’t argue for the scraps from the loot, that’s what pirates do. Don’t become party to legalized plunder by accepting stolen goods. By all means, stand firm and say with confidence, “Taxation Is Theft.”
“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” – Robert A. Heinlein
* Matt Wavle has been a liberty advocate since January 1989, the same year that the Berlin Wall fell. He is an active leader in SCCI, South Carolina Carry Inc, a group that promotes freedom and constitutional carry in South Carolina, and can be found speaking on the subject of natural eights and protecting our freedoms through voluntaryism.