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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Taxation, Force, and Morality



Here’s some stupid horseshit I’ve been hearing a lot lately. This pops up a lot around tax time, or whenever we have an election coming up – this dumbfuck idea that taxes are “immoral.” You hear this shit a lot from the Libertarians and Arachno-capitalist types. The Logic goes like this:

A)      Initiating force against someone is always immoral.
B)      If you don’t pay your taxes, the government will use force to throw you in jail.
C)      Therefore, taxes are immoral.

This statement above is what is called a “sweeping generalization,” that is, it makes generalizations that disregard exceptions.  The first sign that this is a bullshit argument is that you can replace “taxes” with virtually anything and the statement reads the same. It is in most places in the world, a crime to not pay your taxes. Usually, when someone breaks the law there is some kind of punishment, be that jail time, fines, or whatever. Thus one could conceivably replace “taxes” with anything else that’s against the law and this statement still fits. You can even do it with shit that doesn’t even make sense and it still “sounds” true. Let’s replace “taxes” with “bananas.”

A)      Initiating force against someone is always immoral.
B)      If you don’t eat your bananas, the government will use force to throw you in jail.
C)      Therefore, bananas are immoral.

Holy crap, I never knew bananas were so evil. We must outlaw them and bomb Guatemala, Costa Rica, and any other place where they’re grown. Then we can all look back twenty years later after we’ve shredded the constitution over the “War on bananas” and wonder how it all went wrong.

Another problem with this horseshit statement is the “Affirming the consequent” fallacy. The problem here is that we are assuming that initiating force against someone is always immoral, however there are plenty of situations which this is not necessarily true. Most people accept that it is generally acceptable to use force in order to defend one’s self, but that’s not the only situation in which force can be justified. Force is also acceptable (in most cases) to prevent one from harming one’s self or others. It is also acceptable to a certain extent for a state to use force to uphold the rule of law. If there are no consequences associated with breaking a law, then the law itself is worthless. What the hell is the point of having the law if nothing happens when you break it?

If the citizenry has input into how the laws for a community are drafted and what they contain, how then is it immoral for the community to then use violence to enforce those laws? What, are you just going to politely ask child molesters and drug dealers and shit to stop what they’re doing? Do you think thieves and scam artists will just graciously agree to stop ripping people off, just because you asked them to? Bullshit – there have to be consequences for breaking the law. The principle is the same whether you break the speed limit or steal a car or massacre an entire family, or yes, even if you don’t pay your taxes. If there is no force behind an authority, then the authority itself becomes worthless.

Maybe that’s what these people are mad about. Maybe they’re pissed off because there are people out there who are legally able to compel them to do things like follow certain laws, and they’re acting all crybaby because some of those laws they don’t like – such as paying taxes. The only thing I can say to that is TOUGH SHIT. In this country you are represented when the laws are drafted. The law says you have to pay your taxes. You don’t like paying your taxes? Then vote to change the law. But don’t be giving me this “Taxes are thievery” BULLSHIT.

The problem with all of these Libertarian-arachno-captitalist theories about constructing a voluntary society is that they assume human beings will not take advantage of each other. People do not cooperate solely out of the goodness of their hearts. People only work together when it benefits themselves. Why do we have locks on our doors? Why do we have anti-virus programs, or keys for our cars, or security cameras or police officers? Because you will get ripped off. It’s not just the scumbag criminals either – it’s a part of human nature to bend if not break the rules when you think you can get away with it. What reason do we have to think basic human nature will change just because there isn't a police station nearby anymore?

The real world doesn’t work that way. This is all just bullshit people made up to get out of paying taxes. In real life, taxes are not thievery and force is not always immoral. What is immoral is taking advantage of a society’s protections without contributing back to the society in the form of taxes.

You don’t like paying taxes? Tough shit.