20A017 Why Tax is Theft by Jim Davies, 4/28/2020     


That's not a question any regular ZGBlogger should have any trouble answering - it's so obvious as not even to occur to most of us. But JohnQ in the street or in social media frequently supposes that the two are quite different, and may so argue. Here are some suggestions that may help set him straight.

First there are the dictionary definitions. Tax is "a sum of money demanded by a government" (dictionary.com) while theft is "the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another." Same difference; removal of property, regardless of the owner's agreement. Who decides what's "wrongful"? - the owner, of course. Who else is qualified? Only an independent arbiter, in the case of dispute over ownership; and today there are none. Any arbiter's decision is, like everything else, subject to "the law" - and in the case of tax, the thief makes the law.

Even there, sometimes the law admits the fact, as in the opinion of Judge Hand in Com'r v. Newman: "taxes are forced exactions, not voluntary contributions."

That ought to settle the matter, but to anyone desperate to sustain the massive fraud of government and its favors to supporters, more is often needed. So next, try this, which I learned first from Marshall Fritz: set and build on a baseline.

Get a commitment, an agreement that if a mugger holds a knife to your throat and demands your cash, that is an act of theft. Yes? Yes.

Then ask the statist to imagine that your farm is surrounded by 1,000 armed thugs who demand that you sign its title deed over to them. They are all pointing their guns your way. Do you agree that that too is an act of theft? - the answer must be "Yes." Incidentally that's just what was done, many times, in Rhodesia before it became Zimbabwe. Farmers who had worked the land for generations were dispossessed at gunpoint and had no recourse in court.

Finally, 130,000,000 send their representatives around, also well armed, and "demand a sum of money" for what they call "the government", and say they will kill you if you won't hand it over and then resist "arrest." Is that not also theft?

The answer then will probably be "no." Then you pose the killer question: "In the progression of ever larger gangs demanding property under threat of force, at precisely what size, and by what process, does the act of wrongful theft become one of rightful tax?"

There is no proper answer to that, so it's a gotcha; but some may say "when the gang consists of a majority of the society." Then you can ask precisely what it is that magically transforms 49 thieves into 51 honest men, but at this point it's not really needed; you've already exposed the utterly immoral nature of government and your adversary knows it even if he won't admit it.

Possibly some will raise the old fiction that without taxes and the government they buy, society would sink into an uncivilized morass; if so, point the guy to this ZGBlog to remind him of what civilization actually consists - and so of how tax actually purchases the opposite.

You might add that if the evil act of tax-stealing were necessary, it would mean that mankind is inherently evil and therefore there is no hope of perfecting society by any method or policy.

As a last resort, the frazzled archist may then refer to the legend of Robin Hood. Did he not "rob the rich and give to the poor"? - no. To the limited extent that the legend has a basis, Hood was a Saxon outlaw in the early decades of Norman occupation of England, who robbed the government of some of the wealth it had taken from the former landowners, and returned it to them. They were poor (and the Norman governors, rich) only because the latter had first stolen it from the former... as taxation. Robin Hood was a recoverer of stolen property.

I've launched a supplement called Jim's Wuhan Bug Blog, here which offers a frequent commentary on the progress of the Corona virus outbreak. It is hopefully informative and stimulating and, of course, heterodox. Its most recent entry offers a summary of what I've noticed so far..

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