How much tax is morally justifiable?

It’s the great question. And its likely more important that you think.
How much tax is morally justifiable?

Some people think that how you answer this question determines if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Some think it determines if you’re Right leaning or Left leaning. Conservative or Liberal.
In fact, all Liberals, Conservatives, Leftists, Rightists, Democrats, and Republicans answer this question with exactly the same answer.

Q: How much tax is morally justifiable?
A: Enough for government to do the things I think it should do.

Example:
Among other things, the Right leaning Republican wants enough tax to pay for a powerful military presence in hundreds of foreign countries.
The Conservative leaning Republican may not see the need to occupy hundreds of foreign countries, but they do believe we need to have a powerful military in some foreign countries.
The Leftist agrees with both types of Republicans but wants to occupy countries for a different reason with a different kind of military.
The Liberal may not be as comfortable occupying foreign countries and may want a much different kind of military, but he wants all that money in taxes so that he can fix the social problems he perceives in the world, and he’s ready to use the military to do it.
But they all want the same thing. They want enough taxes to pay for government to do what they think is important. And they want everyone else to pay for it.
The funny thing about this is that they all believe these taxes should be collected and spent for their own moral-based reasons.
This is statism.

A person who understands the precepts of Liberty sees this question in a completely different light.

Q: How much tax is morally justifiable?
A: There is no such thing as a morally justifiable tax. Tax is theft and theft is wrong.

When the statist reads this his mind goes into spasms. He leaps to the conclusion that you want “anarchy”, “chaos”, “mayhem”, a world without government, a world without “leadership”, a complete breakdown of society! He imagines mobs of roving thugs destroying everything in their path! He can’t understand how there would be roads, commerce, security, or any aspects of civilization without taxes, without what he perceives as government.

Most of the time when a liberty minded person, a libertarian, sees this reaction by the statist, he attempts to calm the statist by explaining each item that can be done in a free market. Survival Gear Bags Throughout history roads have been built and maintained privately. People like Henry Ford were active highway builders prior to the US government seizure of the highway system in the 1920’s. There was no income tax in America before 1913. Much of Europe had zero taxes throughout the middle ages. Etc, etc, etc.
This is a mistake for the libertarian.
The libertarian is attempting to be rational and use things like facts and history. None of these things matter to the statist. The statist is driven by emotions like fear, while the libertarian is driven by a deep seated desire for freedom and an understanding of right and wrong.
Its not just an apples and oranges argument. Its apples and moon rocks!

I’ve often wondered about how to bridge this gap and present liberty to statists in a way that doesn’t send them into fits of wide eyed chants of “Four legs good two legs bad! U S A! U S A!”
I know a number of respected authors have written on the topic extensively and I wouldn’t be so bold as to think I could come up with something new. And I also realize that every statist is an individual and must be approached as such, therefore there is no one magic method.

But one thing has been striking me of late.
Morals.
The leftist has morals. He doesn’t want his income taken and given to some giant company that makes bombs that are dropped on wedding parties in backward countries.
The conservative has morals. He doesn’t want his income taken from him and given to a doctor who will then kill an unborn baby.
The leftist says the conservative is a fool! The conservative says the leftist is evil. Yet they are both making their argument based on their own perception of morals.
This is the crux! This is the keystone! The argument hinges upon their perception of morals. And ultimately isn’t the libertarians position also based on morals? So which set of morals is based on personal desires and which set of morals is based on an unchanging principal? Which set of morals is ethical?

How much tax is morally justifiable?
Imagine the Mafia provides you protection, roads, discount mail service, medical care, emergency income, retirement income, and most if not all your earthly needs from cradle to grave, but with a catch; They can take as much of your property as they wish at any time they wish. If you resist or try to escape they will punish you and if you resist hard enough they will kill you. Is this a morally justifiable arrangement?
How about if you are allowed to transfer to a different Mafia? Would it be morally justifiable then?
How about if the Mafia allowed you to own land as long as you pay them every year and if you stop paying them they take your land, and if you refuse to leave they can do whatever they need to do to remove you from the land, even kill you? Is this a morally justifiable arrangement?
If its wrong for the Mafia, how is it right for the State?
What magic does the State posses that the Mafia lacks?
Some would point to elections, but if Lucky Luciano would have been elected and all other aspects of his life were the same, would we have a statue of him in Washington DC? They have one of FDR and he killed and robbed a whole lot more people than Luciano!
If John Gotti would have been elected would he have had an airport named after him when he died? What did the Gotti’s do that the Kennedy’s haven’t? (other than the election thing)
Are we to believe that the reign of the Bush family is morally justifiable but that of the Bonanno family is not, simply because of the election process? Does the reader have that much faith in the goodness of his fellow voter? If 51% of voters elected the crime gang MS-13 into power, would their acts of violence magically become moral?

So the conclusion that the libertarian comes to is that no arrangement based on aggression is morally justifiable.
No association based on aggression is morally justifiable.

A bird in a small cage is captive.
A bird in a large cage is still captive.
Give the bird a choice of cages and it is still captive.
A bird out of a cage with its wings clipped is disabled but still captive.
A bird trained to always return to its master is still captive, just uninformed.

Ben Stone

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One Response to How much tax is morally justifiable?

  1. Pingback: How much tax is morally justifiable? | Bad Quaker Dot Com

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