Friday, April 13, 2012

Quote of the Day: The Essence of Tax Day

Investment guru and the maverick Doug Casey talks about the ethics of taxation (emphasis mine)

The first thing is to get a grip on who owns the moral high ground. The state, the media, teachers, pundits, corporations – the entire establishment, really – all emphasize the moral correctness of paying taxes. They call someone who doesn't do so a "tax cheat." As usual, they have things upside down.

Let's start with a definition of "theft," something I hold is immoral and destructive. Theft is to take someone's property against his will, i.e., by force or fraud. There isn't a clause in the definition that says, "unless the king or the state takes the property; then it's no longer theft." You have a right to defend yourself from theft, regardless of who the thief is or why he is stealing.

It's much as if a mugger grabs you on the street. You have no moral obligation to give him your money. On the contrary, you have a moral obligation to deny him that money. Does it matter if the thief says he's going to use it to feed himself? No. Does it matter if he says he's going to feed a starving person he knows? No. Does it matter if he's talked to other people in the neighborhood, and 51% of them think he should rob you to feed the starving guy? No. Does it matter if the thief sets himself up as the government? No. Now of course, this gets us into a discussion of the nature of government as an institution, which we've talked about before.

But my point here is that you can't give the tax authorities the moral high ground. That's important because decent people want to do the morally right thing. This is why sociopaths try to convince people that the wrong thing is the right thing.

If an armed mugger or a gang of muggers wanted my wallet on the street, would I give it to them? Yes, most likely, because I can't stop them from taking it, and I don't want them to kill me. But do they have a right to it? No. And every taxpayer should keep that analogy at the top of his mind.


Taxation is force alloyed with fraud – a nasty combination. It's theft, pure and simple. Most people basically admit this when they call taxation a "necessary evil," somehow mentally evading confrontation with the fact that they are giving sanction to evil. But I question whether there can be such a thing as a "necessary evil." Can anything evil really be necessary? Can anything necessary really be evil?

Entirely apart from that, if people really wanted anything the state uses its taxes for, they would, should, and could pay for it in the marketplace. Services the state now provides would be offered by entrepreneurs making a profit. I understand, and am somewhat sympathetic, to the argument that a "night-watchman" state is acceptable; but since the state always has a monopoly of force, it inevitably grows like a cancer, to the extent that the parasite overwhelms and kills the host. That's where we are today.

I think a spade should be called a spade, theft should be recognized for what it is, and evil should be opposed, regardless of the excuses and justifications given for it. Ends do not justify means – and evil means lead to evil ends, as we see in the bloated, corrupt, dangerous governments we have all over the world.

Read the rest here

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