Thursday, January 26, 2006


Question of the Day

Upon reading more Rothbard (Still on "For a New Liberty"), I can across this question he poses to non-libertarians:

How can you define taxation in a way which makes it different from robbery?

Joseph Schumpeter:
...the state has been living on a revenue which was being produced in the private sphere for private purposes and had to be deflected from these purposes by political force. The theory which construes taxes on the analogy of club dues or of the purchase of the services of, say, a doctor only proves how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits of mind (Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy).

Lysander Spooner:
It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other...
But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, say to a man: "Your money, or your life." And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.
The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against their will, merely enable him to "protect" those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate him peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Futhermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of the "protection" he affords you. He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave
(No Treason No. VI: The Constitution of No Authority).

Rothbard says that taxation and robbery are synonymous. What do you think?

Taxation is robbery. All of the function of government that are considered necessary are indeed superfluous. The only legitimate public functions are to enforce contracts and settle torts. These functions are related to two fundamental rules that can serve as the basis for all other laws: Do all you have agreed to do, and do not encroach upon others or their posessions.
But government is not needed to enforce these two rules. All that is needed are courts.
Why do we have three brances to government then? If all we need is a judicial, then why not have it be independant? Why create an executive or a legislative?
I suppose the founders didn't know what else to do. But they did recognize the central role of the judicial and the importance of common law as differentiated from legislated law. So, they built a strong judiciary. They made the most powerful man in the land a member of this branch (chief justice of the supreme court), and then they built a protective house around this cornerstone to justice. The house consists of what we currently are calling government. Taxes are what we pay for additions on to the house.
Let us say that judges can be called men qua man. They have all of the inherent rights and dignities of men. But the men felt afraid in their house so they bought some dogs. Vicious dogs. Big dogs. The judges tried to put the tightest fence around their yard as possible to keep the dogs in, and special interests out. But eventually one of those special interests, a fox, learned to bait the dogs and made them to eat out of his hands. Soon the fox was allowed into the fence, and the dogs found ways to escape out of it. Now all the neighbors have bad-neighbor's-dogs problems and all the fuss is over the dogs. We forgotten about the men living in the house. And those men are confused about whether they are men or dogs sometimes.
Forgive me, I get carried away with my analogies - I love stories.
Taxes come from government. Government exists to tax.
Law exists to bring peace. The only cost it carries is the gratuity to the judge which the two disputing parties consent to give to the judge when they consent to have their dispute handled by him, rather than attempting to solve their dispute through violence.
I'm going to write a ditty about how government came into exist on my blog sometime soon. Come visit y'all!
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