Is Taxation Theft?

Was scanning the news feed and came across a short blip from a Keynesian economist that wrote something along these lines —

If you’re ever debating with a libertarian, you’ll invariably end up being accused of supporting theft because you believe people have a social duty to fulfill by paying their taxes.  Taxation is not theft.  It’s more akin to paying rent.  Plus, you get things in return for your taxes, so that’s hardly theft.  You can also vote against raising taxes.  . . .  And you DO have social responsibilities.  No man is an island unto himself.


<deep breath>

Imagine you have $10.  You can spend it on one thing or several items.  You decide you want to buy a pair of cheap sunglasses because summer is coming up.  You have exactly enough money to cover the price at which the seller is willing to make a trade with you.  Unfortunately, there’s a 100% sales tax so the total price is now $20.  Neither you nor the seller want to have to pay the tax, but you don’t have a choice.  The government has told you that instead of sunglasses, you both need to buy math textbooks or help reduce the price of Corn (even if you’re allergic to corn) or fund a war thousands of miles away in a country you’ve never heard of against an enemy with whom you have no quarrel.

Not only that, but the government decides you’re not trustworthy to spend enough to pay the sales tax that’s required to keep all the socially responsible programs going.  So, they decide that before you even see that $10 from your hard-earned labor, they’ll snatch it from your check.

Boys and girls.  That is, in fact, the very definition of theft.

You can justify it by way of “if you don’t like it, you can always leave” or by negotiating a __% tax rate instead of 100% for those that really need a break .  You could argue that these social responsibilities are so great, but so expensive, that no one would possibly fund it voluntarily, and thus requires the use of force.  You can argue we get things in return for the taxes, so it can’t possibly be theft.  A thief would never give you back something in exchange.  (Curious if that logic would stand when a burglar takes your TV but leaves you a Big Mac in exchange.)

NONE of these points change the definition of theft.  It only attempts to justify it.  I’ve said it many times.  If you are okay with that, then that’s your choice.  Just admit that you are in favor of theft under certain circumstances.  I, on the other hand,  have a moral objection to theft.


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