Taxation is Theft

Taxation is theft. Think about it—set aside your decades of programming, and imagine a situation in which someone comes to your door, gun in hand, and demands that you hand over thousands of dollars or else he will kidnap you or kill you if you resist the kidnapping. This is a robbery, right? Now imagine that this person has a shiny silver badge that says “police”—does his uniform really change what is happening here? Not in the least—you are being threatened with violence unless you surrender your rightful property—you are being stolen from, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if the thief euphemistically calls this theft “taxes”; it is still theft, and if you refuse to pay, your fate will be no better than if the police officer had been an armed robber.

It amazes me how difficult this is to grasp—how difficult it was for me to grasp—but our programming really has been thorough. Even a child would easily recognize the theft if two of her friends formed a government and voted to appropriate her bike as “taxes”, so why do we adults fail to recognize it? “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society,” we were told. Oh yeah? So a “civilized” society is one in which police officers routinely and with impunity brutalize as-yet innocent citizens with body slams, choke holds, and pepper spray? —whose military, many times larger than every other military in the world, wages “preemptive war” (also known as invasion) all across the globe? —whose government defies its own constitution, spying on every email and phone call of every citizen, and which dictates what its citizens can and cannot put in their bodies, from raw milk to marijuana to Xanax, slapping felony charges and imprisonment on anyone who makes their own informed decision? Next they’ll be telling us that Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia or the Roman Empire were civilized—I mean, they paid taxes, too, you know!

“But taxation is different because we get services for our tax dollars,” we were told. So do the victims of a protection racket—that doesn’t mean it’s not theft. Would you seriously not purchase a subscription to an emergency services provider if the municipal government wasn’t there to force you to buy theirs? Would you seriously not be able to buy water and electricity if the state government wasn’t there to provide it? Would you seriously have no access to retirement savings plans if the Federal government wasn’t there to force you to contribute 6.2% of your paycheck to the plan they sponsor? Would you seriously not be able to get a lower rate for a higher quality of any service provided by a free and competitive market rather than by a monopoly with no obligation to please its customers?

And what about all of the other things the government does which don’t serve us at all? Is it really a service to provide multi-billion dollar bailouts to banks and automotive corporations whose management is so inept that they can’t stay in business? Is it really a service to us when “incentives” are provided to corporations to come to our state and “create jobs” when we, being taxpayers, obviously already have jobs or, worse, own small businesses which now find it harder to compete because we don’t receive the same favors? Is it really a service to mandate giving to “charities” which waste a huge portion of our “donation” on inefficient, gargantuan bureaucracies? Is it really a service to stir up anti-American hatred and even terrorism by meddling in the internal affairs of other nations, supporting this or that puppet dictator or this or that “moderate” rebel group?

Then again, maybe some of us are satisfied with all of these “services” and would happily pay the government for them. What gives us the right to force our less enthusiastic neighbor to pay for them also? Electing a representative who will vote for a statute which creates an agency to be funded with money taken from other taxpayers who don’t support such a program—money which, ultimately, will be stolen from them at gunpoint should they resist—makes us no less thieves than if we had held the gun to our neighbor’s head ourselves. All we accomplish in doing this is legitimizing it when our neighbor turns the tables and steals from us for something he supports and we don’t—we’ll have no room to complain when he wants to fund mandatory underwater basket-weaving classes or a “Manifest Destiny” invasion of Mexico and Canada with our money.

“But we consent to taxes by voting,” we were told. I’ve never voted to be taxed. Even someone who has never voted for anything or whose votes always fail still gets taxed, so what good is a vote if it can simply be overridden by the vote of another? What good is voting if robbers can simply outvote you? “But we all agreed to taxes as part of the social contract.” What social contract? I’ve certainly never been offered a contract to sign, yet there is nowhere in the world I could go to escape its terms. Who signed this contract on our behalf, and what right did they have to bind us to it without consulting us first?

When it comes down to it, taxation looks exactly the same as theft. You may be giving a portion of your tax bill willingly to purchase “services” you do like, but in a lot of cases that’s only because you have no choice—the government has “legally” arranged it so that its product is the only one available. The rest of your bill, though, and I’d dare say the majority of it, you’re only giving for the same reason you would give your wallet to a mugger or pay the mafia for “protection”—because you know that if you refuse to pay, they’ll eventually come to take your other property, your freedom, and, if push comes to shove, your life. No, no matter how you slice it, taxation is theft. Anyone who tells you otherwise is the thief.

“If taxation without consent is robbery, the United States government has never had, has not now, and is never likely to have, a single honest dollar in its treasury. If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized. If any man’s money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.”

—Lysander Spooner

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