Saturday, October 17, 2015
Taxation CAN be ethical and legitimate... I just wish it actually were...
"ALL TAXATION IS THEFT!!!"
"TAXES ARE THE PRICE WE MUST PAY FOR CIVILIZATION!!!"
Hmmm... would it surprise you to learn that neither of those things are true... but that both are based on valid, and nonconflicting, principles?
... Yes, valid and non conflicting. Yes, even for libertarians and other individualists, not just statist and collectivists...
Being a libertarian... or even broader, being one who recognizes and accepts the notion of fundamental and inherent individual rights, regardless of ones political philosophy surrounding them... means that you must recognize that all people have equal rights, AND equal responsibilities.
It means you must recognize that the exercise of rights (even the right to attempt to continue living) has consequences, which we must own in the entire, as we own ourselves in the entire.
This includes recognizing and understanding that our actions, including those that are within and pursuant to our rights, DO impact others, including in ways which MAY create obligation.
Social debt is a real, valid, and legitimate concept; even... in fact especially...in a system of individual rights. To claim otherwise is to twist the notion of individual rights, and self ownership, to exclude certain cases of responsibilities and consequences... and to ignore basic economics for that matter.
Social debt is incurred by all who gain direct benefit or substantive indirect benefit, from a social good, or from the use of property held in common, even without their explicit consent; unless that social good is forced on them, both against their will, and without direct necessity.
For example, babies can't consent to incurring debt for police, courts, and national defense, however they both gain benefit from these social goods, and such costs are necessary to the functioning of society as it exists today (and it can be argued, some "things" which serve these unctions will always be necessary, as anarchy among a large population, always and inevitably results in the tyranny of the strong over the weak).
A man who is left unconscious, in the cold or heat, without food, water, and shelter, will die. If he is then given food, shelter, water, and medical care, necessary to sustain his life, he incurs debt for these goods, even though he did not consent to it. If he does not wish to accept such debt, then he must ensure that should he become unable to consent or refuse, that he be allowed to die rather than incurring such debt.
Of course... If "society", or the state, do not allow him to make this decision, to die rather than incur such debt... if we force him to accept such treatment against his will... then no debt is incurred. Otherwise, any debt whatsoever could be justified, by claiming it was necessary. This would abrogate the ownership of oneself, and arrogate such ownership to the state, or to "society" (of course, many people already believe that we are owned by "society", so this concept is not a problem for them).
Thus, yes, simply being born into, and living in, a nation or a "society", incurs obligation, even without your explicit consent. If you do not wish to incur such obligation, then do not live in that country or society. If you are unable to leave because of your circumstances, unless you are being explicitly forced to remain against your will, and not as a consequence of your own actions and choices (no matter how poor or limited your options), this does not free you of your obligations.
There must be some system for satisfying such obligations. Taxation, as a broad concept, is one such system (or set of systems, as there are many different types and means of taxation) for doing so, though there are others.
THIS, is how involuntary taxation CAN BE ethical, and legitimate, in a system of individual rights.
HOWEVER... in order to be ethical and legitimate, such obligations must be strictly limited.
Taxation is only ethical, and legitimate, if such burdens are: minimized, provide direct or substantive indirect benefit, and are either necessary, or voluntary. And no, majority decision is not "voluntary" automatically, unless one has consented to be governed by such decisions.
We implicitly consent to some degree of governance by accepting or maintaining citizenship, or residency, in this country... However, we also do so under the conditions of the constitution, AND those of our preexisting fundamental and inherent rights, which the constitution recognizes and protect.
Actions of the government can only be legitimate.... and can only legitimately create obligation... if they align with such principles; among which are that any impingement on one's rights (including property rights, which includes your wealth, cash, assets etc...) even as allowed by the constitution, must still be minimal, must effectively serve a compelling interest, and must be applied equally under the law.
Now... I don't know about anyone else... But I don't feel that our current regime of taxation... and much of what those taxes are used for... are aligned with either the constitution, or our individual rights, nor do they impose the minimum necessary burden, nor do they effectively serve a compelling interest, and they are most certainly not applied equally under the law.