Why Taxation Is Not Theft

Just as all political debates inevitably end with someone making a Hitler comparison, all debates with libertarians sooner or later involve the claim that taxation is theft. It doesn’t matter whether you are discussing the welfare state, universal healthcare or a TV licence, at some point a libertarian will accuse the government of acting like the mafia and stealing people’s money (just the last day a commenter asked me to “stop promoting the use of force against me or my family“, by which he meant don’t regulate bitcoin). Of course we all know this argument is melodramatic hyperbole, but it would be useful to spell out why.

Let me use an analogy that I think will best get the point across. Think of taxes as like paying rent. The state owns the land and if you want to live on the land you must pay rent. The state is like a shopping centre (or shopping mall for my American readers). If you want to enter it you must agree to abide by its rules. If you refuse, you will be punished by the security guards. If you don’t like this shopping centre go to a different one instead. A libertarian may complain that this is unfair because no matter where they will go they will have to live in a state and therefore be subject to someone’s rules. But if you refuse to go to one shopping centre you still have to go to one somewhere. Likewise if we abolished the state, then no matter where you went you would still be one someone else’s private property and therefore subject to their rules.

It is not theft if you receive something in return. If someone steals my car, that is theft. If I have to sell my car in order to pay my rent, that is not theft. Libertarians sometimes act as though taxes disappear into a black hole and are never seen again. In reality, we receive from the government protection and a commitment to justice. We also receive education, healthcare, transportation, safe food, employment protection and enforcement of contracts. There is also redistribution and welfare in the event of sickness, poverty and old age. So libertarians make the bizarre argument that the government is a thief who gives more than he steals (due to economic inequality most people receive more than they pay in taxes).

Furthermore, what sort of thief lets you decide how your money is spent or how much he takes? If I told a car thief that myself and the neighbours had decided that he shouldn’t take my car, would he listen? Yet the government is subject to the will of the people. We choose whether we want our taxes to be higher or lower when we vote. Based on the failure of libertarians to win elections, most people seem quite content with taxation. There’s nothing stopping a libertarian party from being set up and winning an election. If taxation really was theft, then such a party would easily win a landslide and could promptly end the theft. A key element of the definition of theft is that the victim does not consent to it. But if people do not vote for parties that promise to reduce taxes, but instead for parties that keep taxes at the current level, then must not consider themselves the victims of theft. They must consent to taxes.

But a libertarian would argue that they never agreed to this. Even if they receive more than they pay, they never consented to pay anything. But that is an implicit part of citizenship. Being a citizen comes with rights and responsibilities. You have a right to protection and certain services but also a responsibility to pay for these services. You have a right to vote but a responsibility to accept the result even if your party does not win. Sure I never consented to being a citizen of Ireland, but then again I never consented to capitalism either. I never agreed to live in a society with either democracy or private property. I never agreed to elections being held every five years or the current distribution of property. Do we have to have a social revolution every time someone disagrees with the way things are? The fact is that there are lots of things we never agreed to, but have to live with. We have to live under some sort of political and economic system that will be to some extent arbitrary, but it simply isn’t feasible to have everyone make up their own rules.

The problem with most libertarian arguments is that it assumes we have only rights but no responsibilities. It assumes that we have no duties to the poor, the sick, the elderly or even to children. If a man was starving and a libertarian had two loaves of bread, he wouldn’t share it with the man unless he felt like it. That is not a political ideology but a mental problem called sociopathology. We do have responsibilities to others in society and the government exists to enforce them. Our common humanity unites us and means that the suffering of others is our suffering too. We cannot rest easy if the streets outside our house are full of destitute. A libertarian world would be a cold and empty one, where people sit alone counting their money, blind to poverty, hunger and misery.

Libertarians make the mistake of thinking of people as isolated individuals isolated from the rest of the world. They act as though, I and I alone earned my wage and therefore it belongs to no one else. In reality, we are hugely dependent on others and society. Would we earn anywhere near enough money if we did not have public roads, education, health, energy etc? I did not create everything myself, but instead built on the work of previous generations and worked alongside other members of society. No man is an island and there is no such thing as a self-made person, in reality we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We got to where we are today due to in large parts due to the society we live in, so it is only fair that we pay something to support it. If you don’t believe me, compare your life to what it would be if you lived in a Third World country? Isn’t it worth paying to avoid that?

In reality, libertarians do not truly object to coercion or taxes, they only object to the government doing so. If a private landlord compelled people to live by onerous rules about drugs, guns and religion, libertarians would have no problem. Yet when the government does the same thing, libertarians are up in arms crying oppression. If a starving man agreed to work for half the normal wages because otherwise he would die, a libertarian praises the free market. If a man has to pay half his wages in taxes without which he would die, a libertarian is outraged. Every abuse of government power that libertarians rail against would still occur in a libertarian society, the only difference would be that it would be even worse. If the government was replaced by a private landlord, there would just as much coercion and arbitrary rules, without any of the democratic rights we currently have. The very notion of property is dependent on the state, without which we would be reduced the endless strife and the rule of the strongest. Taxes are a payment to support civilisation and avoid a descent into anarchy.

Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent and giving nothing in return. Taxes on the other hand are consented to by citizens (as seen by their continual support for taxation parties and their refusal to vote for libertarian parties or move to tax havens) in exchange for services. Citizens choose the level of these taxes and where they go as well as consenting to abide by majority rule if their preferred option is not selected. Taxes are no more theft than rent is extortion, by living in that location we are agreeing to abide by its rules and pay the charges. If we don’t agree we can either change the rules or move.

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193 Comments

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193 responses to “Why Taxation Is Not Theft

  1. >>Think of taxes as like paying rent. The state owns the land and if you want to live on the land you must pay rent.

    I quite like this analogy. We could formalize this analogy by stating in law or constitution that land is public property and that private citizens can only hold land through lease from the government. The amount of rent one has to pay for the use of a piece of land should depend on 1) the amount of land one holds an 2) the value of that land as result of public investment in (for instance) infrastructure.

    If properly designed we could shift from an income tax system to a land value tax system.

  2. Why do so? Income is the closer to the ultimate outcome of the social support function and therefore a better means for determining tax obligation.
    Land taxes had more utility in whipping up productivity than in creating equitable taxation. To further land tax over income tax is inviting the end of conservation and the income-tax-like complication of land taxation.

    • >>Income is the closer to the ultimate outcome of the social support function and therefore a better means for determining tax obligation.

      Under MMT the main function of taxation is to ensure that money has some base value and enjoys broad public acceptance. If the public acceptance of money is ensured, the government is enabled to fund its spending by creating the right amount of money. Of course, this does not mean the government should on to a limitless spending spree.

      Secondly, the wealthier will tend to hold to the more valuable pieces of land, and hence they will contribute more to the treasury.

      >>Land taxes had more utility in whipping up productivity

      Stimulating production is generally considered a good thing.

      >>To further land tax over income tax is inviting the end of conservation

      This is pretty much a baseless claim, as neither income tax does support conservation in any way. As the owner of all land within the state, the government is able to reserve certain parts of land for conservation purposes.

      For the purpose of conservation, it would be better to implement pigouvian taxes or a caps-and-trade system in order to reduce sources of pollution.

  3. Let’s have a parallel system, instead: every time you use a feature of the commons, you pay for it. So every road is a toll road. Every day you kid goes to school, you pay a day charge. Every time the firemen roll a truck, you get a bill. Every time the cops catch a criminal, you get a bill. worse, eery time you get pulled over for a sppeding violation, you would get a bill for the service and then a fine for the violation. This is what the libertarians would rather have. (They don’t say so, but it is a logical consequence.)

    Or … we could eliminate government altogether and allow citizens to enforce the laws as they see fit. And the volunteer fire fighters could fight a fire, if they felt like it, or they could show up at your burning house only to discover you are a libertarian asshole, and so keep rolling right on past.

    Just what kind of world do they want to live in?

    • Steve, I don’t think we should have a parallel system. If we do, people would just choose one where they would pay less: if fees are fixed, then those with higher income would save a lot by paying these fees instead of taxes. But if fees depend on income (I think some Scandinavian country has speeding ticket amounts proportional to income), then it’s just another type of tax system.

  4. This is a really nice elaboration on some of the arguments from my Non-Libertarian FAQ of 20 years ago. Not that I know if they were original with me. :-) I’m linking to this at my new Critiques Of Libertarianism site: crtitiques.us

  5. Rolo Tamasi

    Your American readers may point out that they pay US taxes wherever in the world they reside.

    If I steal your car but leave you a roller skate in return that is not theft? OK, where do you park your car?

    I’m no libertarian but taking without consent with an intention to permanently deprive looks like theft to me.

    I’ve never really considered these matters but your post had caused me to recognise tax is theft. Your justification is that the theft from others is for things that you want.

    • “If I steal your car but leave you a roller skate in return that is not theft? OK, where do you park your car?”

      Funny, its almost as though you didn’t read my post or the parts where I answer these questions. Do you want me to repeat the entire post all over again?

      If you want to steal my car, that’s too bad because myself and my neighbors will vote against you. There are also these things called courts. There are of course numerous other objections I could make to your silly analogy but you could just reread my article and save us both some time. By all means if do have some proper criticism I’m willing to listen, I just don’t have much patience for people who don’t do me the courtesy of reading what I have written.

      • Mike Roberts

        You are justifying taking something not because it is right, but because enough other people ganged up on you.

        • Some would consider the will of the people as right. That is not the only response to the silly analogy above, its just the most obvious. To read a full response, please read the post.

          • Dan

            ” the will of the people as right” . Hey you’d get along with the Nazis. They used to say that too….except they used ‘iron will of the people ‘ . Just because they elected doesn’t mean they are right . Hitler was elected

            • Godwin’s law violation! You should stop now, Dan, before you look even stupider.

              • Fucking violent moron statist, please die a painful death along with your wasted words to protect your religion of tyranny.

                • Mike Huben

                  Sorry, Dan, but CT Jaynes has just taken the lead for stupidest. You’ll need a lot more spittle flying to exceed his latest. It seems that true love of your “liberty” requires a lot of hate and epithets: that’s libertarian rationality for you.

            • Really, I’m a Nazi? Is there any limit to your nonsense accusations?

              • Dan

                Did I say you were a nazi ?.. no .

                • You said I would get along well with the Nazis, which is pretty damn close.

                  • libertyblogger101

                    I don’t think Dan meant his comment literally (ie. I don’t think he actually believes you and Adolf would be buddies.) Rather, I think he’s trying to convey that the logical conclusion of your beliefs would lead one to the belief that Nazism is justified. And I agree with him. I’m sure you’re genuinely repulsed by Adolf. The repulsion is a result of common grace enabling even unregenerate people to understand basic morality to some degree or another. I don’t think actually comparing you to Adolf is fair (despite my genuine nauseation at your post). But I do think Adolf could use similar arguments as you to defend his views.

              • He’s not saying you actually are a Nazi (ironically, you tell other people to read your stuff but you won’t read theirs), he is saying you are making the same argument the Nazis make. We assume (hopefully correctly) that you aren’t actually consistent enough to take your own arguments to their logical conclusions. But a support for the Nazis, slavery, etc. is the logical conclusion of a “majority rules” moral system. trying to suppress this with “Godwin’s Law” is just stupid.

                • Mike Huben

                  Oh, PLEASE explain this LOGIC to us. We’re dying to LMAOROTFL.

                  Of, and because you’re apparently too lazy to look it up, Godwin’s Law is about COMPARISONS to Nazis, not being Nazis. Making arguments without knowing the terms, as you do here, is stupid.

          • We read your post. We think you are either unintelligent or evil, and certainly an enemy of individual rights.

            Of course, you’re an atheist, so you don’t have an absolute standard.

            You deride libertarians for telling you to stop coercing them, but that’s really what this comes down to. The debate is really just that simple. If an armed robber broke into your house, would you even have a civilized debate with him? This is the exact same reason libertarians won’t have a civilized debate with you. You are literally stating that the government owns what is ours and that you have some type of right to take it just because your gang is bigger. You DESERVE the ridicule and laughter you get.

            Read this (not a blanket endorsement, but I agree with 95% of what he says):

            http://www.christophercantwell.com/2014/04/08/top-10-reasons-libertarians-arent-nice/

            Get it through your head. You and people like you are immoral thieves. Deal with it. Or better yet, repent.

            • Mike Huben

              It would be difficult for you to do a better job of showing how dogmatic and foolish you are.

              All property and rights are obviously based on coercion. Men with guns enforce those laws. Shall anarchists tell libertarians to stop coercing them because they don’t agree with libertarian ideas of property or rights and want their own instead? Grow up, open your eyes, face the facts. Whatever choice is made, coercion will be required to make it happen.

              The basic question is whose ideas of property and rights get enforced. It can be the ideas of a tiny minority (such as the libertarians) or of the vast statist majority. The latter is more likely to be the most peaceful solution simply because the most people agree and will cooperate.

              As for Cantwell’s looney screed, it has all the sophistication of the Hare Krishna “all non-Krishnas are demons”. An emotional rant to affirm his silly beliefs to himself in the face of near-universal ridicule. Just look at his “we’re smarter than you” argument: even if he was, intelligence doesn’t protect you from being wrong or even crazy. I’m sure that some people like you can find affirmation of your delusions there, but it is unconvincing to the rest of the world.

              • In other words, most people agree that stealing is OK. I could reword your argument this way:

                Really, its a matter of whether the minority’s non-racist views or the majority racist views as to the rightful ownership of black people in the United States should be enforced. The minority that is not racist concludes that these people own themselves just as we own ourselves. The majority thinks that white people can rightly enslave black people. Going with the racist majority is likely to be the more peaceful solution.

                Claiming that libertarians oppose all violence is a strawman. It is not true, and this is not a libertarian viewpoint. Libertarians oppose aggression, they do not believe that if you attack them first they have no right to violently defend themselves or their property.

                As for how property rights are determined, I believe that property rights are God-given and that when someone homesteads a property they become the rightful owner. You believe its completely subjective. So, why can’t I steal from you?

                • Mike Huben

                  The simple answer (and I guess I need to keep it simple for you) is that normal people define stealing differently than you do because they define liberties, rights and duties differently than you do.

                  As for slavery, we have much more to fear from Christian capitalists than we do from democratic majorities. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was all run by Christian capitalists and the New World slave owners were all Christian capitalists. When ending slavery was proposed, those Christian capitalists all howled, cited the Bible in their favor, and pulled out the full arsenal of property rights arguments that libertarians use today. Learn some history.

                  • If you think libertarianism has anything to do with justification of slavery, you know nothing about libertarianism.

                    If you think the Bible teaches slavery, you know nothing about the Bible.

                    Most people absolutely thought slavery was OK in the 18th century and part of the 19th century. Denying that is just stupid on your part.

                    Who was running it is irrelevant. Your “majority” supported it.

                    • Mike Huben

                      You’re big on telling me what I might think, but you present no evidence of it. You don’t cite one thing that I actually wrote. You just make shit up. Let me show you what it’s like:

                      If you think it is OK to beat your wife, you know nothing about anything.

                      (Hat tip to Groucho Marx.)

                      A little reading about American History would show you that there never was a US majority that supported slavery, and might not have been a majority even in the slave states because of (a) enfranchisement limited to white, male property owners and (b) larger northern populations. But once again, you are just bullshitting without any facts to back you up.

                      In 40 years of arguing with libertarians, that’s the general pattern I see. No ability to argue: only ability to spew accusations and make up shit.

                • Mike Huben

                  Oh, and please tell me one time when a majority voted to enslave a minority. Enslavement has always been a capitalist phenomenon, and capitalists are never in the majority.

              • Oh, and I’m not really trying to convince people like you. You are already fiercely ideological. You enjoy being a thief. And as an atheist you have no grounding to really declare anything right and wrong. In a rather caricature fashion you make the State into your god, your right and wrong. Only one of two things is possible for you. Either God will open your eyes to the gospel, the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17) or you’ll perish in your sins (Revelation 21:8.) The only reason I bother with the political debate is to show any Christians that may be reading how ridiculous your arguments are. I don’t think a Christian can really convince a non-Christian of anything, because their presuppositions are completely different. I do not deny that I have them either.

                • Mike Huben

                  Evidently you are unaware that even Christians are capable of making arguments based on reality, rather than your particular interpretations of the Bible.

                  And even as an atheist I have grounds to declare things right and wrong: but I will be specific and say right and wrong in whose eyes. I can confidently declare that according to the Bible, slavery is right in the eyes of your God. So much so that the Bible prescribes many rules for how to do slavery right. And I can confidently declare that in the eyes of the democratic majority of the world, slavery is wrong. If you want to believe that the majority is wrong and the Bible is right, are you going to ask for slavery to be brought back? Enquiring minds want to know.

                  As for whether I’m ideological, I don’t need ideology to rebut your arguments. Your ideology is YOUR weakness. It provides you with a bountiful supply of ready-made errors to spare you the pain of rubbing your own two brain cells together to come up with an original idea. Your ideology necessarily makes stuff up and ignores the real world where it is inconvenient. I don’t need ideology to spot such lies and omissions.

          • T

            “Some would consider the will of the people as right”

            If the majority of the US population (whites) elected to repeal the Slavery Abolition Act tomorrow, it wouldn’t be right.

            • No but if a dictator reintroduced slavery that also wouldn’t be right. So democracy is the best system compared to all others and the will of the people is the best way of deciding something, holding all else constant.

      • libertyblogger101

        So if you and all of your neighbors vote to steal someone else’s car and leave them roller skates in return, that’s just too bad?

        Do you have any idea how silly this is?

        Majority does not determine right and wrong. This is an immoral system that justified slavery in the 1850’s. Oh, I guess the African slaves were just paying their rent to their masters. Right.

        I don’t understand how anyone could even entertain these ridiculous arguments. The Bible tells me what is right and wrong, not majorities. And the Bible says theft is wrong.

        • Mike Huben

          Do you have any idea how stupid you sound here? First you say that slavery is immoral. Then you say that the Bible tells you what is right and wrong. But you conveniently forget that the Bible does not denounce slavery, but accepts it as a normal fact of life.

          “So if you and all of your neighbors vote to steal someone else’s car and leave them roller skates in return, that’s just too bad?”
          In the real world, the alternative is for you and your neighbors to compete to be the first to steal the car and leave the least for the victim. In the real world, righteousness and Bible-thumping does not stop any theft. Democracy gives more moderate results than autocracy of a competing multitude.

          Only an idiot raised in a protective democracy could think that religious beliefs give better results than majorities. Just look at the Middle East, where all the major religions agree on the same basics of morality, and see how peaceful they are without functioning democracy.

          • I didn’t say “religion.” I said “Christianity.” I did not say “Islam.” I haven’t read the Qu’ran at all, so I can’t comment on what it teaches. But based on Middle Eastern countries, I can use logical deduction to determine one of two possibilities. Either these Middle Eastern leaders do not follow the Qur’an, or the Qu’ran condones evil. That’s really it.

            Your axiomatic presupposition (“majority rules”) is completely unpredictable and subjective, so it is a poor axiom to base anything on. When you add in the fact that you probably draw the line at some point rather than always supporting morality by majority rule (ie. I doubt you think slavery used to be OK just because the majority says so) you add in even more presuppositions that you cannot defend.

            You obviously haven’t read the Bible. The Bible condones kidnapping (which clearly includes slavery) in Exodus 21:16.

            • Mike Huben

              Let me get this straight: you can use a combination of your ignorance of the Koran and “logical deduction” to make a false dichotomy? That’s a new one for me.

              Next, you make up some claim that I have an “axiomatic presupposition”. Quote me, idiot. Don’t put words in my mouth.

              You obviously didn’t read what I said about the Bible. It does not denounce slavery. If you want to make a stronger statement, that it condones slavery, fine: I didn’t want to get into that argument. Oh, and I have read the Bible: a vile pile of rubbish.

              • You say you aren’t making presuppositions? Of course you are. I don’t have to quote you, because its implicit in what you’re saying.

                Let’s see:

                You presuppose that the Islamic morality is “bad”.

                You presuppose that Biblical morality is “bad.”

                You presuppose that silence implies support (it doesn’t.)

                You assume that the bible never casts slavery in a negative light (Read Genesis 37-50, read Philemon, read the Ten Commandments, oh so many possibilities. I could probably find more if I wanted to.)

                You assume that statements requiring obedience imply support for that which is being obeyed.

                You assume majority rules makes for a better society than Biblical morality, based on the assumption that you know what “better” is.

                You assume you have the right to assess my intelligence (I get my assessment of your intelligence from my original presupposition of Biblical authority, see Psalms 14:1)

                And, for that matter, you assume the validity of your own observations.

                That said, I did originally typo in my last post. I said “condones” instead of “condemns”, which is what I meant. Had you actually read the verse you would have known I made a typo. If you actually read the verse (which says that kidnappers should be put to death) as condoning slavery, you are truly an idiot.

                But then, Psalms 14:1 already told me that. The Bible proven right again.

                You are a sinner. Your support for sin proves that much. Only Jesus Christ can save you from sin. Repent and trust in his finished work alone to save you. And stop pretending to know things that you don’t know.

                • Mike Huben

                  OOO, can I play that game too, and make up whatever presuppositions I want to put in your mouth?

                  You presuppose that statism is the work of the Great Satan.
                  You presuppose your own infallibility.
                  You presuppose that the moon is made of green cheese.
                  You presuppose that you have stopped beating your wife.
                  You presuppose that listing made-up presuppositions is a valid argument.

                  As I said before, quote me. Don’t make up stuff off the top of your head. That’s the lazy bullshitter’s way of arguing: show that you can do better.

                  As for your mistake about Exodus 21:16, your correction is bullshit. Exodus 21 is all about how to treat your slaves. It assumes slavery is a normal part of the culture.

                  The Bible does not denounce slavery. Yes, the Jews think they should not themselves be made slaves by others, but there is no denuciation of the institution of slavery: they are only too happy to hold slaves themselves. They are even commanded by god to make slaves of some people. Period. Philemon is so ambiguous that it was used both to support and condemn slavery: it is not explicit.

                  If you can’t even face the facts about your holy text, I certainly don’t expect you to face the facts that conflict with your ideology.

                  • The verses say “servants” not “slaves.” Its talking about people who sell their labor because of debt. It is not talking about kidnapping people and selling them into slavery like was done to African-Americans in the 1850’s (Which your “majority” supported). Kidnapping people in this way is condemned in Exodus 21:16, just like I said.

                    As for slavery being a normal part of the culture, that was likely true back then. But, nowhere does the Bible say it was right, and the Bible implies it was wrong in several places. As for why the Bible was more clear, the reason is that Christianity is primarily about saving souls and not saving society.

                    • Mike Huben

                      This site provides 5 parallel translations of the Bible. All but the King James version use the word slave, and servant is just a euphemism for a biblical slave.

                      Of course the Bible says slavery was right: it gives laws for slavery in Exodus 21.

                      “Christianity is primarily about saving souls and not saving society”
                      Then it certainly doesn’t support libertarianism.

                    • Servant is not just a euphemism for slave in the Bible. There are different Greek words.

                      As for your comment about libertarianism, I don’t think I’ve said I was a libertarian, but I could be depending on how you define that word. If you define “libertarian” as someone who is primarily focused on political activism and who believes that political activism of any kind can save society, I am not a libertarian. if you define a libertarian as someone who believes in the non-aggression principle and that aggression is morally wrong, I would be a libertarian. I don’t think most people will ever accept libertarian ideas precisely because they are selfish and want to use government to impose their will on other people (This goes for many “Christians” as well as many atheists, many rich people as well as poor people, all kinds of people and not just the types who are generally “liberal”). I have no delusions of “saving society” through political activism. There have been a few occasions in history, usually with heavily Christianized cultures, where relative decentralization and freedom were attained, at least compared to their contemporaries (ie. you could rightly condemn early American society for slavery, but it was nonetheless CLOSER to the libertarian ideal than many other countries around it), but that was more a result of the Great Awakening than anything else, and even then, it wasn’t nearly ideal. My primary focus is on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and him crucified, his accomplished redemption for his people (namely, those who believe), and his resurrection from the dead. I do have a secondary focus on basic morality, which I believe entails opposition to statism in all its forms (note that this does not mean morality is LIMITED to opposition to statism.) But even in this my goal is individual repentance, not saving the country.

          • NYOB

            It takes an idiot to know an idiot.

            • Mike Huben

              What awe-inspiring sagacity! When will you progress to “I know you are but what am I”?

              Look, if you don’t know how to refute an argument, learn to.

  6. Rolo, just as living outside a rental apartment doesn’t excuse you from a rental agreement, so living outside the US with a US citizenship does not excuse you from your tax responsibilities. If you want to stop paying rent, terminate the rental agreement. If you want to stop paying taxes to the US, renounce your citizenship.

    Citizenship is an ongoing voluntary agreement which you can terminate any time you’d like to. it includes consent to laws, including tax laws.

    I’d say you are a libertarian if you can be convinced by such simplistic propaganda as “taxation is theft”.

    • Sean

      Just because a rental agreement is the closest comparison you can find doesn’t make it a good comparison. Where did one sign an agreement? Oh right, the imaginary “social contract”. And I thought fairy tales were something only children believed? There are plenty of people that have tried to renounce their citizenship and have been told “Nahh you need to think on that and come back at such and such date and if we grant you permission you’ll be relinquished of your duties citizen”. A voluntary agreement doesn’t involve threats of violence, simple as that.

      • Where did I sign the agreement consenting to live in a capitalist economy? When did I give my consent to the current property distribution? Never. Does that mean I can ignore private property? After all enforcement of property rights is based on force and as you said a voluntary agreement doesn’t involve threats of violence.

      • If you’re a citizen, your passport is your social contract. You can always renounce your citizenship and move elsewhere. I understand the US government doesn’t make it an easy process, but trust me, it is MUCH, MUCH harder to get US citizenship than renounce it.

        • Sean

          A person can be a US citizen without a passport. And throughout US history passports weren’t even required some of the time i don’t believe. The social contract idea goes way back before passports. True, it’s much easier to renounce than be granted citizenship. Possibly cheaper too. Citizenship just seems like such an antiquated idea. I was born on this plot of land so i am automatically a citizen but if someone else wants to be a citizen they have to have a certain skill or win the visa lottery? Doesn’t make any sense.

          • Being born in that place and not the other is not a very fair criteria to be granted a coveted citizenship, I agree. But it’s the only practical one, considering that countries are defined by their land borders – and as long as countries exist and are not identical, citizenship will not become antiquated.

  7. Paragraph six is a strawman. Libertarianism is a philosophy that refers exclusively to the use of violence in society. If there’s a starving man and you have two loaves, what should you do? Keep both loaves? Give one away? Start a charity? Libertarianism only says “whatever you decide, you cannot initiate the use of force.” Anything beyond that is outside the scope of libertarianism, and up to the individual involved.

    See, you mention that you didn’t consent to living in a capitalist system. The beauty of libertarianism is that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to. Find some like-minded friends and go set up whatever kind of system you want As long as you don’t force other people to participate, you’ll be permitted to continue without interference.

    • Thank you for being the first person to actually reference what I said and not just simply shout slogans. You’d be surprised how rare that is.

      Do you have no objection to letting the man starve? No sense of morality, justice or decency? No duties or responsibilities to other humans?

      “Find some like-minded friends and go set up whatever kind of system you want”

      How? All land is certainly claimed and belonging to someone so if I tried to move there I would be evicted. I would be in no better position than libertarians trying to set up their own country.

      • “Do you have no objection to letting the man starve? No sense of morality, justice or decency? No duties or responsibilities to other humans?”

        I, as an individual, have objections to that, but I also have an objection to using force to impose that opinion on others. Libertarianism covers a specific ground in ethics, but everything outside of it isn’t emptiness, just the concern of other philosophies. It’s kind of like how logic won’t tell you whether a potato is a plant or animal, but it will tell you that it can’t be both plant and not a plant at the same time. That doesn’t mean a logician can’t make judgments regarding the potato’s taxonomy; those judgements are simply informed by botany rather than formal logic. (That’s the best analogy I could think of at the moment)

        “How? All land is certainly claimed and belonging to someone so if I tried to move there I would be evicted. I would be in no better position than libertarians trying to set up their own country.”

        Fair enough. In a sense, you’re going to be subject to the rules of voluntary exchange. In response, I can only offer speculation: I doubt that acquiring land on which to start your community would be as difficult as you think, especially since there are probably going to be a lot of people who would be willing to pitch in.

      • You are asking the wrong question. The question is not whether or not I feel like its OK to just let a man starve (It isn’t) but whether or not I feel its OK to just put a gun to someone’s head and take their money so that the man will not starve. In that case, the answer is no (Exodus 20:15) I do not think that’s OK, and anyone who does is a disgusting utilitarian that should not be considered moral, and frankly, should be shunned. I take someone saying that it is OK as a threat.

        Now, you’ll likely protest that violence is unavoidable and that the libertarian system requires violence to sustain itself. I’m OK with that, because the violence is INITIATED by the aggressors and not the libertarians.

        • Mike Huben

          There is no need for guns if you think it’s not OK to let the man starve. We can peacefully use a portion of your wealth (and everybody else’s) to provide for the man.

          If you do think it is OK for the man to starve, when we come to peacefully use what is needed, you threaten us with guns. That’s the violent coercion right there. At that point, if the government then also draws a gun, it is retaliation for the coercion by libertarian standards.

          • Matthew S

            No, we can simply lock our doors, windows, gates, and put the money in a safe. We’ve initiated force against no one. Then if you want to take the money, you are using force against my property.

            • Mike Huben

              Property is not a person, and does not have rights against “force”.

              Use of property is not “force” either, whether by the owner or by anybody else. If I drill open a safe, that is not using force against a person.

              But of course you then would want that as an excuse to initiate violent force against people.

              • Matthew S

                I never said property had rights. I said it was MY property. I guess you missed that. Since it’s MY property, I have rights about how anyone uses it. And guess what? One of MY rights is to not have MY property destroyed by crazy people who think’s MY property is somehow not MY property. I have the right to stop crazy people using force against MY property. It would hardly be MY property if I didn’t have that right, would it?

                • Mike Huben

                  In other words, you view property as an excuse to initiate force with guns (or other coercive methods.)

                  What you don’t seem to understand is that all rights, including property rights, are based on coercion. Without the coercion, you only have a verbal claim, not a right.

                  And you would initiate that coercion whether people “used force against property” (talk about incoherent) or whether they peacefully used something you claim as property (for example, sleeping on your lawn.)

                  • Matthew S

                    Where do you live then? I’ll come take your car off your hands. I’m sure you have other valuables in your house that you have nothing but a verbal claim to. I’m sure you won’t do anything coercive like use violence to stop me or call the police.

                    • Mike Huben

                      Libertarians are the ones lying about “not initiating force” in the institution of property.

                      Liberals like me are honest about property: it is a human-created institution that uses force to provide limited restrictions of access to various resources for social purposes. It relies on force just like government.

                      But I don’t think you are subtle enough to understand that I suggested an example to show how libertarian “initiation of force” is a misleading idea.

                    • Mike Huben

                      A right is a claim to something backed by coercion. Every right creates a correlate duty, often for all other people.

                      You do not have a right without coercion. Without coercion, you have only a claim and everybody else can make the same claim. The only thing that can make your claim unique is the biggest coercion.

                    • Mike Huben

                      Oh, and by the way, a few libertarians are occasionally honest about what rights are:

                      “All ownership derives from occupation and violence. [...] That all rights derive from violence, all ownership from appropriation or robbery, we may freely admit to those who oppose ownership on considerations of natural law.”
                      Ludwig von Mises, “Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis” Ch. 1, section 2.

    • Libertarianism does not shun violence at all. If a starving man starts to peacefully eat one of the loaves, a libertarian can violently attack him screaming “My property! Mine!”

      Invitations to set up systems outside of the libertarian property system are far worse than invitations to set up your own country in some new land and live there. There is no new land, but there are plenty of radically different countries to choose from; including several without taxes. But libertarians want their one property system to be universal and all-encompassing: what isn’t property yet, they want to acquire as property. Go ahead, name one book where libertarians describe things (besides people) that should be exempted from the property system. Libertarianism, like communism, offers only false promises of escape.

      People who would like to read more about the problems of libertarianism with respect to property and taxes can look at my wiki indexes for Taxes and Property.

      • “Libertarianism does not shun violence at all.”

        I never made that claim. I said that “Libertarianism is a philosophy that *refers* exclusively to the use of violence in society.” The conclusion of libertarianism is that violence may be employed in the defense of life, liberty, and property, but not for aggression.

        • You wrote:

          Libertarianism only says “whatever you decide, you cannot initiate the use of force.”

          I meant to write “Libertarianism does not shun INITIATING violence at all.” And that’s what my example of the poor man eating the bread shows.
          Now you change your statement to: “violence may be employed in the defense of life, liberty, and property, but not for aggression.”

          So you ARE allowing initiation of force, making a list of exceptions. The poor man eating the bread has not initiated any violence. Indeed, if he needs to eat the bread to live, he could act in defense of his life against your initial use of force.

          The problem with the “initiation of force” arguments of libertarians is that they boil down to “Uses of force that we like are retaliation; anything we don’t like is initiation of force.” Humpty Dumpty couldn’t have said it better himself when he pays words extra to mean what he wants.

          “Initiation of force” is libertarian newspeak: it means one thing to outsiders, and has a completely different ideological meaning to libertarians.

          • ” ‘Initiation of force’ is libertarian newspeak: it means one thing to outsiders, and has a completely different ideological meaning to libertarians.”

            I’ll agree with that, other than the word newspeak, which implies that its a deliberate deception. Like all philosophies, libertarianism has jargon that sounds different to outsiders, and often we forget that.

            ” ‘Uses of force that we like are retaliation; anything we don’t like is initiation of force.’ ”

            The term “initiation of force” is defined among libertarians as actions that violate the rights of others, and libertarians don’t like such actions, so your statement is true by definition. However, the distinction is not arbitrary as you make it sound. The libertarian tradition with which I most closely identify (I don’t intend to speak for anyone else) starts with the definition of individual rights, and then defines coercion/force according to those rights, not the other way around.

            Yes, libertarianism uses language in a specific and in some ways unconventional manner, but all philosophies do that to some degree, and saying it’s wrong because it’s different than how your philosophy uses language isn’t the same as saying it’s right or wrong.

            • All property and indeed all real rights are based on violence, initiation of force. Libertarians claim there is an invisible right to property which magically exempts property from being intrinsically violent. In other words, they deceptively hide the violence they like as a made-up “right”.

              You also ignore the fact that libertarians also consider fraud to be initiation of force. There is no individual right to be free of fraud: remember “let the buyer beware”? Or do you want to make up that right too?

              Real rights, such as legal property rights, do not attempt to conceal the violence: they have obvious means of enforcement. Philosophical twaddle from Ayn Rand can’t hide this simple fact about real life. Which is why “initiation of force” (her term) is deceptive.

      • Is libertarian philosophy having roots in the early movement of the enlightenment, free thinking movement?

  8. If you don’t consent, you are free to leave the country. Every day you’re still here, you’ve consented to being part of the social contract, including paying taxes. The thing to remember, you don’t have to love every piece of the social contract – you either take a whole package (including the established process of modifying this package) or you don’t.
    I think renting is a good comparison. I don’t like the fact that my apartment’s windows are drafty, the traffic outside, or the way the heating system is set up, but I like the size, the proximity to public transportation, and the reasonable price.

    • So lets go back to the year 1800. If I continued to live in America, I am implicitly consenting to slavery, since if I didn’t like it I’d leave?

      • You wouldn’t have to pay any income taxes in 1800, so I assume you’d be totally ok with the arrangement.
        (I also had to assume you don’t mean being a slave in 1800, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to leave.)

        • Either you think that my political philosophy is exclusively about income taxes (which is absurd) or you think that income taxes and slavery are a dichotomy (which is also absurd).

          I guess the most absurd part was that I thought I’d get a thoughtful reply. Oh well.

          • I’m not sure why you would expect a thoughtful reply to a trick question. But if you insist on a thoughtful reply, if you live in 1800 in the US, you have 2 legal options if you don’t like living in a country that has slavery: you move to another country (or just out West), or you start or join abolitionist movement – by which you consent to being a part of a country that has slavery but use the constitutional process provided by the same country to abolish slavery. In this 2nd option, you do not support slavery, but you are still picking the whole country package that contains slavery.

            • Wow… It seems you guys are actually consistent.

              Not that I’d expect any different. Without God there is no foundation for freedom of any kind. How repulsive!

              • Mike Huben

                “Without God there is no foundation for freedom of any kind.”
                How can you believe such a stupid thing? Nonsense on stilts.

                • libertyblogger101

                  Alright. Let’s try it. Where does your standard of morality come from? How do you know certain things are moral and other things are immoral?

      • And it would seem wives consented to be beaten and raped by their husbands with impunity, since that’s what the owner of the US permitted.

        • Libertarians simply cannot claim they would have done better in the 19th century: the ideology of modern libertarianism was assembled in the 1950s from bits and pieces of earlier ideologies.

          Libertarians might have no problem with slavery, spouse abuse, etc. in the past simply because their definition of property could include wives, children and slaves as they had for millennia. That was the idea of “natural law” back then. Look at Patrick Henry, Mr. “Give me liberty or give me death”: he was a slave owner, as were many of other founders of the US who howled for their own liberty, but not that of their wives or slaves.

          Even the current LPUSA platform excludes government from declaring or enforcing rights of women and children: “We believe that families and households are private institutions, which should be free from government intrusion and interference.” In other words, private institutions such as patriarchal marriage should trump government-sponsored universal rights.

        • What a completely useless and pointless comment.

  9. Their are some in Britain, who either refuse paying tax or pay less than they are obliged to pay, these people are refusing to pay taxes as a moral stand usually against military expenditure and also military culture, this non payment of tax is to diminish money spent on military assets, the reasons for these conscientious objections , is complex, in part the history of British colonization and its military incursions, although the article suggests that over seas countries were already in a state of violence and the British, inflicting violence in the name of peace is debatable and difficult to quantify, the fact that the theft of resources from overseas is a reasonable outcome to have and establish say a Parliament, as in Australia, whether the Aboriginals would agree to this idea is another matter.
    Certainly on a scale of so called civilization and settlement, and the use of resources by present generations, if the human race is to survive in tact to a reasonable state or condition, is doubtful, Suzuki is not popular with the Western ideology, state’s this idea of sustainability in question?
    Why should we be suspicious of scientists? every week we see the good news of scientific break through’s, a sort of healing balm to the help the now predominately atheistic man, are not able to terminate conflict world wide, and actually contribute to more sophisticated weaponry contributions.
    Rather than extoll the virtues of what exists in and on the planet, is all to do with how much the individual gets out of it, if you are materialistically, well off, you see as a existentially outcome, all is well, if you are not in this club or at least eventually to enter, otherwise it seems fairly bleak as a winter of a constant darkness, it is of little wonder that Robert now wants to divert his attention to having a laugh, on his other blog site?

  10. Cannot have a decent society without them!

  11. John Pennington

    A nice trashing of this foolish belief of libertarians, Robert. At base, it’s a choice between raw domination by the powerful or civilization.

  12. Holden

    I think you hit on a great difference of perception/attitude between American and European culture in this line you wrote:

    “The state owns the land and if you want to live on the land you must pay rent.”

    Europe has long been settled. There was really never a time it wasn’t tamed, so Europeans are more comfortable looking at the land as being “State” owned. Americans on the other hand did tame an open, un-owned land, because literally, the Native Americans were nomadic most times and didn’t have a sense of ownership of the land.

    So in a sense, Americans do feel like when they buy a piece of land, they literally own that land. It is theirs, not the states. In reality, your observation is the true reality, but it doesn’t change the perception of most American’s regarding land ownership.

  13. Pingback: This little link went to market— | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  14. While I do agree with most of what you said RN, I should emphasise again that all of your criticisms refer exclusively to right-wing libertarians, not to libertarians as a whole. The term libertarian not only includes those critical of capitalism, it was first introduced into political parlance by an anarchist socialist all the way back in 1857. Since then it referred to any tendency which was both anti-statist and anti-authoritarian in addition to being anti-capitalist; though especially to anarchism.

    It wasn’t until the 1950s that the term started being used by American turbo-capitalists to refer to their own ideology, with the first probably being the founder of “anarcho”-capitalism Murray Rothbard.

    And there is a third option to the choice you presented in your article between welfare state and anarcho-capitalism. That being the left-libertarian proposal do replacing the state with a free confederation of directly-democratic voluntary associations. With each association being small enough that you feasibly could pick up and leave for another if it’s activities didn’t suit you (as in your shopping centre analogy).

    In practice this would mean replacing representative democracy with a voluntary network of locally-based participatory democracies; organised through open, face-to-face neighbourhood assemblies – which make decisions that affect their local area directly, then appointing spokespersons to carry out administrative duties on the municipal, regional, and national levels.

    Plus replacing private and state ownership of the means of production ( which necessitates wage-labour) with worker self-managed alternatives such as cooperatives, community land trusts, democratic guilds, self-employment, peer production, and affinity groups.

  15. Dan

    No ..Tax is a form of theft . It is not rent .Its extortion. It is a compulsory grant from the taxpayer to the state to fund unsolicited services which often have no direct benefit to the payer. The government uses the taxpayer as a free money supply instead of forming a loan with repayments as they have to if they go to commercial lenders !! If the government wants to build roads and hospitals then ‘get a loan’. If the government has to REPAY the loan from individuals or other lenders it will enforce financial discipline on the government because otherwise if they get free money they are notorious at WASTING it .. and why not ..they don’t to worry about REPAYING it do they ?

    • Dan, you’re twenty years outdated in your ideology. Everybody has been able to rebut such idiotic claims using my Non-Libertarian FAQ. Start at 5.5 Taxation is theft and read through section 5.18. Nice and short.

      It explains why government owns territory, and thus can charge for your occupancy or use of its property.

      Libertarians like to assume they have a right to be in a place without any corresponding responsibility. This is an example.

      • Dan

        AS I recall The Republic of America or latterly the Unitied States ( itwasn’t always ‘united ‘ as you know) was actually founded over a dispute on tax – tea tax . The colonists threw off the yoke of their English masters .The colonists obviously thought that tax was theft so much so they had a little war of independence . The Tea Tax was designed to subvert competition from colonial tea merchants in favour of the English crown who were anxious to balance their books at the expense of colonies . So you could say America was founded on the idea that Tax is Theft

        • Then why didn’t they abolish taxes completely once independent?
          If you believe a particular institution to be equatable with theft, naturally you would seek to get rid of it.
          Seeing as they didn’t, it would seem that the Boston Tea Party was a protest against a tax regime they saw as unjust, not against the concept of taxes itself.

          And even if it was, the fact you don’t even mention slavery indicates that you must believe it to be of secondary importance to having your income taxed. Then again, this is in keeping with right-libertarian privilege-blindness; only ever protesting against problems that affect primarily the affluent.

          • Dan

            Who’s talking about slavery ? I’m talking about tax as theft . Stick to the subject

          • Dan

            Since you are from Ireland you will be familiar with another row over tax . Next month at Clontarf , south of Dublin, will be the 1000 year celebration of the O’Brien clan commerating the Battle of Clontaf. This battle was really about making the encamped Vikings pay tax by the first King of Ireland Brian Boru in 1014 . Alas Boru was killed in the battle but the Vikings were subdued and duly paid up. I don’t think libertarians were ever heard of in 1014 .There have been mnay battles over Tax . For the record I ‘m an O’Brien too but definetly NOT a libertarian .

            • To pretend that the Battle of Clontarf had anything to do with taxes is a gross misreading of history. It had as much to do with taxes as the Battle of Waterloo, absolutely none. It was all about power.

              • Dan

                Irish literature of a thousand years ago is obsessed with the occupation of Ireland by the Norse (also referred to as the Danes), and, if we are to believe the native annalists, a night of misery had really settled down on the country with the coming of the Vikings. On the occasion of a raid, villages were burned and sacked and there was wholesale slaughter and enslavement of men, women and children. A tax was laid upon all the people. In default of paying the tax, “nose-money” (a custom which they brought from their own country), that is, the loss of the nose, was exacted. In the words of one of the old chroniclers, “even though a man had but one cow, he might not milk it for a child one night old, nor for a sick person, but he had to keep it for the tax collector and the foreign soldiers.” hence the saying ..’paying through the nose ‘ — haven’t you got a lot to learn

                • So you’re just throwing some random historical facts together in the hope it damages the government. You ignored answering my question as to what the Battle of Clontarf had to do with taxes (because the answer is nothing) and instead are changing topic. What do the Vikings have to do with this topic? Absolutely nothing, which makes me wonder why you are mentioning it.

      • Dan

        The goverenment DOES NOT own my territory its FREEHOLD. There are covernants controlling my use of the land etc but if they want to drive a highway through my loungeroom they have to pay ‘fair and just ‘ compensation as per the Constitution ( well thats how it is in Oz and most civilised countries ) . And I don’t pay rent to anyone..not even banks

        • Evidently you are ignorant of the Allodial Title that the government holds. That’s what makes the government the ultimate owner, and why it has rights of taxation, expropriation, escheat and eminent domain.

          • Dan

            Allodial Title–a fancy lawyer term to imply some sort of ‘meeting with the gods’ that mere vassals wouldn’t understand. Let me tell you pal its called THEFT . In Australia this bullshit title was called ‘terra nullis ‘ which has since been renounced by the High Court of Australia under the Native Title Act so don’t give me your pseudo intellectual bullshit

            • Dan, these people literally believe that government owns every single thing. The only point in arguing with them is to expose them in front of moderate statists and show them (the moderate statists) the logical implications of their own beliefs (namely, this nonsense.) These people literally view the State as God. Its disgusting.

              • Mike Huben

                No, government creates ownership. Without government enforcement and law, all you have is a holding which you must defend for yourself and which can be taken from you by anybody without any recourse except whatever violence you can mount. This liberal ownership is a recent invention. Learn some history.

          • Dan

            Some realms (such as Australia and Canada) recognize aboriginal title, a form of allodial title that does not originate from a Crown grant.

            • Mike Huben

              Allodial title is not the same as “terra nullis” Allodial title refers to land ownership by occupancy and defense of the land, something common to all nations.

              At common law, only the sovereign is said to have an absolute interest in land: ordinary landowners ‘hold of the sovereign.”

              Aboriginal title is common law concept, and does not exempt from the allodial title of the sovereign. It just says that the sovereign recognizes another form of sub-ownership besides crown grants.

              Your freehold is also “held of the sovereign.”

              • Dan

                ok ok .. I’ll conede that ..At least this time I got a civilised response without personal abuse

                • Mike Huben

                  At least this time we get a concession, rather than mere skipping to another claim. I’m happily surprised: I’ve seen that from few libertarians. Keep it up! We try to be honest too.

                  • Dan

                    Australian government sells Medibank Private ..BUT even the founders call it THEFT …….
                    quote…
                    (Australian) Government would sell Medibank Private, the private health insurer created by the Fraser Government in 1976 as a fig leaf to enable it to pretend it was keeping its promise to maintain the Whitlam government’s universal healthcare scheme, Medibank.
                    To a government facing a difficult budgetary situation, the sale is likely to be a $4 billion windfall.
                    Among those to publicly oppose the sale are two people who were vital to Medibank in its early years in 1975: first general manager, Ray Williams, and co-founder, John Deeble. Williams described the sale as “tantamount to theft” as all the value of Medibank Private has been created from members’ contributions with little investment from government.
                    ..unquote>
                    So there you go the government is selling something they don’t really own because they contributed nothing yet will pocket 4 billion !! All they did was register the name MEDIBANK

                    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-02/duckett-medibank-sale-doomsayers-are-off-the-mark/5360732

                    • Selling Medicare is all part of Tony Abbotts, agenda, before he was elected he stated categorically, no surprises, did he say he was to sell this health organization, No, since being in he has been committed to a series of repressive reforms, never said any of this before elected, a cunning and slippery fish of deceit.

      • libertyblogger101

        One thing I wanted to point out, you listed John W. Robbins as an opponent to libertarianism because he opposed Ayn Rand. I oppose Ayn Rand too, I despise her and view her as a downright pathetic defender of liberty. Nonetheless, John Robbins was a political minarchist. See here:

        http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=13

        I doubt John Robbins would have used the term “libertarian” to describe himself, but his political philosophy was similar to mine (I’m a little more radical.) So, using him to defend your statist views is dishonest unless you don’t consider minarchists to be libertarian.

  16. Dan

    “Then why didn’t they abolish taxes completely once independent?” Answer –same reason ..politicans looking for free money

  17. Is taxation fundamentally protection money?

    • Dan

      Funny you should say that. Not a bad analogy. So paying taxes for the police and armed forces is protection money but sorta necessary as long as these folk point the guns at the baddies and not the citizens . It is protection money but not a protection racket .There is a theory in human evolution about 15 % of men are ‘warrior types ‘ who either defend or attack other groups so you need to set aside these 15% as full time soldiers to defend the collective . The other 85% pay taxes by, in effect, feeding their protectors.

  18. Dan is engaging in typical libertarian historical revisionism: imagining the past to fit his ideology.

    If I may quote from wikipedia: “Colonists objected to the Tea Act because they believed that it violated their rights as Englishmen to “No taxation without representation,” that is, be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a British parliament in which they were not represented.” I doubt that we need to go to more authoritative sources.

    This was not a protest about taxes: it was about loss of representation in government. There was no question of whether government should tax or not.

    Bot libertarians, grasping at any straw that will support their ideology, conveniently forget enough history to make their silly arguments sound plausible. This is a frequent practice: I have an index at my site called Historical Revisionism which lists a number of examples.

  19. Dan

    Amercia has always been about markets and the mighty dollar . If they really believed in ‘no taxation without representation ‘ then they would have demanded a mandatory vote wouldn’t they? but there is no way in hell they would tolerate a mandatory vote.

    • What do you mean by a mandatory vote? Do you mean making it a law to vote? If people choose not to vote why should the government use coercion against them? I thought you were against government force?

      • Dan

        Well here in Australia its always been mandatory to vote. And rigthly so . Afterall if its mandatory to pay TAX then its mandatory to VOTE for those who tax us vassals in a democracy . No taxation without representation remember . The government WILL use coercion if you don’t pay Tax I can assure you . “I thought you were against government force” —when did i ever say that ? My argument to propose that Tax be viewed in a new light and for politicans to stop using us as a free ATM

  20. Dan

    Fact is government do steal from taxpayers . Let me quote a classic example .’privatisation’ of a public asset . Who funded that asset built up over decades through tax ? the taxpayers .Who sold that asset ? The encumbent government . Do they ever return the proceeds of the sale to the taxpayer in any way ? No . So they have sold your car without your permisison and pocketed the proceeds . In the private world thats called FRAUD . Another example ..speed cameras yes speed cameras .. allegedly used to ‘ improve road safety’ — its a LIE. its to improve the treasury coffers as proven by asking where the funds go and guess what? they won’t tell you . In the private world thats called ‘misappropriation of funds ‘ once again a jailable offence . Am I educating you or what ? I got plenty of examples .

    • I am sure the critics are lining up to destroy your translation on taxation, nevertheless, it seems to me you are correct in your perceptions, what many do not like is simplicity of analysis, and usually those who do not like your style are those on the pay role who get a slice of taxpayers money, and you threaten their cash flow.

      • I know you believe every and any conspiracy out there, but the surprising fact is that not everyone who supports the existence of a government is paid by the government. Some of us reach our beliefs after an examination of the evidence. Shocking right?

        • The problem I have with you Robert, is you are either conditioned to think the way you think in part as a result of your education and as we see your glorification shown in your motif of becoming a star within the approval of government circles, as a result also of your age being so young you see what is going on as a simple approximation of reality, you having no knowledge of existential crises, and along with people such as John Howard, Blair and the rest of these elite freaks whom have the innate ideology that you are born by divine proxy, which from my point of view is just all part of your illusion, that you are entrapped within.

          • My problem with you donwreford is that you leave long rambling comments that are irrelevant to what we are talking about. Not to mention your willingness to believe any conspiracy theory and that everyone else is a government shill. Also your lack of punctuation. Seriously that comment is 9 lines long yet you compressed it into one sentence. Use a full stop every now and again.

            “the rest of these elite freaks whom have the innate ideology that you are born by divine proxy, which from my point of view is just all part of your illusion, that you are entrapped within.”

            What the Hell does that even mean?

        • Libertarians do not support the absence of government, but the absence of the State. That is a strawman on your part.

          • Mike Huben

            Evidently you are ignorant of the different sorts of libertarianism. Anarchocapitalists are one of several sorts of libertarians that desire the absence of government.

            • I am not ignorant of anarcho-capitalism, I consider myself to be one if the term is properly defined. Anarcho-capitalists do not want an abolition of all forms of government, but the State in particular.

              Stop assuming I’m ignorant. I don’t know a TON about libertarian theory, but I know more than basically anyone else I know.

    • Sometimes public enterprises raise the money themselves through selling a good or service and that way pay for an asset. Also, the money from privatisation does not disappear into a black hole or into politicians pockets. It is either used to reduce taxes (contrary to your assertion this does occur), offset government spending or reduce the national debt.

      Speed cameras can serve more than one purpose (shock horror!). They can both reduce speeding and raise revenue! You don’t seem to be aware that such a thing is possible. All government budget figures are publicly available which is not always true of private sector firms. I’m not sure why you are outrages over where each and every exact dollar raised from speed cameras goes. Some speed cameras are operated by private businesses, yet they do not reveal where their money goes, but this is not misappropriation of funds and no one goes to jail.

      “Am I educating you or what ? I got plenty of examples .”

      Your examples so far have only made you look like a fool. For your own sake you should probably stop now.

      • Your problem Robert, is shown by your comment within your last sentence, any one that disagrees with you is a fool, I suggest you are intolerant of those who have different views to you, your reply to call some one is a fool, because from your point of view, you being dismissive and intolerant, what this comment of yours shows your immaturity and as I stated in my reply to you previous, is, you are young and just do not get it.
        Here in Australia, a sequence of speed regulations are placed in such a way as distract drivers attention to the road safety, and is dangerous, by a prolific amount of speed signs at intervals that are their for one thing to trap drivers for revenue, I am not defending my road use, as I have no license to drive.
        If it makes you happy lost through drink driving.

      • Dan

        “Some speed cameras are operated by private businesses, yet they do not reveal where their money goes” –private business can do what they like except if they mislead investors as to where the money is going and especially if it is a public listed company — its called misleading the market er JAIL ..don’t you know anything about the law ? You know the first sign of a opponent losing an argument is to start calling his opponent names . So far I have yet to see a quality argument in the affirmative for taxation is not theft

        • “So far I have yet to see a quality argument in the affirmative for taxation is not theft”

          Its right above you. The post (which you have so far ignored) explains my thinking.

          “You know the first sign of a opponent losing an argument is to start calling his opponent names .”

          That’s ironic seeing as you have done little but call names. You are just after calling me a Nazi and done little else except claim the government are thieves.

          • libertyblogger101

            He said “quality argument.” Certainly arguments have been presented. But they are all incredibly lame and presuppositional in nature. “The State owns all the land and we rent it from them.” Says who? Where in the world do you get that from? I don’t accept natural law, but even natural law refutes your claim.

            Of course, I have presuppositions to, but I don’t hide from the fact, and my presuppositions generally don’t entail me having to advocate for somebody being threatened by a gun. Generally. Yes, generally. There are exceptions. So before someone comes out and says “anti-statists sometimes want to use violence to” I am being very up front about the fact that exceptions exist. But, I support a heck of a lot less violence than anyone else here. If a Christian anarcho-pacifist wants to 1-up me here, I’m OK with that.

    • Dan

      And lets not forget the NAMA fiasco where the Irish government reached for the wallets of the taxpayer public to back /underwrite the losses of private pockets in a bank -Anglo Irish . Strangely those private pockets never shared their private profits with the public taxpayer . A case of privatising the profits and socialising the losses . Once again government organised THEFT of the taxpayer .

      • One part of the equation you have not mentioned Dan, is how far are the Rothschilds, orchestrating this sell off? I note Robert has not said much on this banking family, as he is a economist, I expect he should direct us to know more about this family, considering they are all part of IMF and the World Bank, as yet I am unable to find out what tax this corporation pays? if anything,

        • Dan

          Hmm I don’t know about their involvement . If I start venturing down that path I’ll be accused of anti-semitism . I’m just calling the state the rogue on this one

        • This is why most people ignore your comments donwreford. It is full of nonsense conspiracy theories and incoherent gibberish. The Rothschilds had nothing to do with NAMA. Are you so out of touch with reality that you think the Jews secretly control the economy?

      • Would you have preferred if the banks were nationalised? I would have.

        • Dan

          I would have preferred the banks to go broke like any other private company that can’t cut it .

          • Because that would have zero negative effects.

            • Dan

              zero negative effects? how so ?

              • I had the same response on Robert’s comment, I have shown this response to a number of people to see what they made of it, they found it impossible to decipher, here he go’s again, succinct and compressed, clever but unintelligible, may be Robert, should look at algebra and just give us abbreviated signs that only academics can understand, bullshit baffles brains, my advise to you Robert, is speak in terms the lay can understand, rather than impressing your parents with your education.

                • I’m obviously being sarcastic. Letting banks fail would have been disastrous for the financial system. Look at Leheman Brothers, did letting that fail help or harm the wider economy?

                  • Robert, Leheman Brothers? you mean Lehman Brothers? this bank also known as the Bank of Evil, I do not know if you are supporting this bank as honorable? I think they were instrumental in creating subprime mortgages? if so they were responsible for thousands becoming homeless in America, as you know, many substantial houses in America could be purchased for twenty thousand dollars or so, many Australians purchased these properties.
                    It is not hard to find commentaries attributing this bank being conducted on immoral trading and was a corrupt organization.

                    • I wasn’t asking about the morality of the bank or whether it was an evil parasite kicking people onto the street (as you seem to view it). I was asking whether the shockwaves from letting it fail were positive or negative for the financial system and the wider economy. Any analyst will tell you that it had a massive negative effect, but I want to know if you know this.

                    • I did not know the financial system interpreted this banking collapse as a negative effect, may be you can give the reader how it became seen as such? with regard to the financial system being separate from morality? is this situation a reflection on banking that the operators of banking are disconnected from people, in particular precisely because they are all part of system of making money for themselves, meaning not just for the banking system, but more prevalent as individuals?
                      This may well be why the planet is in a state of stress, environmentally.

  21. GM

    Let’s assume that civilisation requires rules for the ownership of property.

    According to some of us, the best rules are those based on first use (homesteading), production, and voluntary exchange.

    According to this view, if you use a resource which nobody else has ever used before, you can rightfully claim that you own it. This applies to geographical frontiers / virgin territory, and some would also apply it to certain forms of intellectual territory.

    Or if you create something from the resources you own, you can claim to own it.

    Or if somebody voluntarily transfers their property to you, either as a form of exchange or as a gift, then you can also claim to own that property.

    “The state owns the land and if you want to live on the land you must pay rent.” – RN

    But no specific reason is given as to why the State owns any piece of land.

    Like any other entity, a State may have a claim of ownership where it has acquired a piece of land through voluntary exchange, or put previously unowned land to use. Without specific evidence to that effect, there is no evidence that any entity owns any particular piece of land.

    “It is not theft if you receive something in return. If someone steals my car, that is theft. If I have to sell my car in order to pay my rent, that is not theft.”

    If your landlord took your car against your will to pay the rent, despite the absence of any such permission existing in your lease, that would be theft. That would also be an analogy which actually worked to describe what you are trying to describe.

    “Furthermore, what sort of thief lets you decide how your money is spent or how much he takes? If I told a car thief that myself and the neighbours had decided that he shouldn’t take my car, would he listen? Yet the government is subject to the will of the people.”

    The government acts in the interests of some people, but it acts against the interests of the others. Consider the possibility that the government steals from some people and gives to others.

  22. Mike Huben

    “Let’s assume that civilisation requires rules for the ownership of property.”

    Yes, let’s. The very first rule, that you conveniently left out, is that somebody has to violently protect the property from the uncivilised. That is the basis of governments allodial title. That’s what makes the government the ultimate owner, and why it has rights of taxation, expropriation, escheat and eminent domain.

    “But no specific reason is given as to why the State owns any piece of land.”

    That’s the obvious reason, which you so carefully left out. Libertarian is largely based on lies of omission such as this. Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” illustrated your point of view perfectly: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? Attendee: Brought peace?”

    • GM

      I’m quite happy to have a disrespectful pissing match with you, as you seem to desire, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to match your level. Let’s begin.

      “Somebody has to violently protect the property from the uncivilised.”

      and from above:

      “All property and indeed all real rights are based on violence, initiation of force.”

      We are off to a bad start already, since the purpose of the investigation for many of us is to understand which types of actions should be interpreted as violent, and which should be interpreted as peaceful. We don’t assume that peace is impossible. We are looking for a framework in which a meaningful disctinction between violent and peaceful actions can be made.

      But if you’re right, and if the protection of property is a violent, aggressive act, then “property” is a meaningless concept. The raison d’être of property is to enable us to understand who is right and who is wrong when there are disputes over control of the earth’s limited economic resources. It must enable us to say “X belongs to Y” or “X belongs to Z” (to the extent that X can be owned). If the best rules that we can come up with dictate that X belongs to Y, but Z insists on controlling it, then we should accept that Z is violent and Y is peaceful, even if Y uses physical force to defend their property from Z.

      Again, let’s return to “Somebody has to violently protect the property from the uncivilised.”

      It certainly appears to be true that most people would like to outsource the protection of their property to a third party.

      It’s also true that protection services are likely to have geographically monopolistic characteristics (similar to sanitation and many other services).

      But it does not follow that such a service provider, even if it is an economic monopoly, must also be a coercive monopoly. It does not follow that physical force should be used against those who do not wish to pay the State for their protection. In the absence of justification for enforcing a monopoly with respect to protection and security services, those protection entities which impose themselves on unwilling customers are better thought of as extortion rackets. In practice, modern states are far more extensive violators of property than simple extortion rackets, and are engaged in mass criminality.

      • Mike Huben

        “But if you’re right, and if the protection of property is a violent, aggressive act, then “property” is a meaningless concept.”

        That is about the plainest non-sequitur I’ve read in a long time.

        “The raison d’être of property is to enable us to understand who is right and who is wrong when there are disputes over control of the earth’s limited economic resources.”

        No. The raison d’être of property is to control the earth’s limited economic resources. Libertarians attempt to make a moral story about it, because “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” (John Kenneth Galbraith) This is why you simply won’t accept that property and rights exist only because they are violently enforced.

        The moral question is what rights we want to create through this violence. Do we want to create rights that primarily benefit the rich and powerful, or that benefit us all more equally?

        As for the last part of your argument, it presumes that property precedes government, which is nonsense. This is a common libertarian fallacy that Nozick and others commit. Benjamin Franklin said it clearly: “All property, indeed, except the savage’s temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it.” Likewise Thomas Jefferson: “While it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from Nature at all … it is considered by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no one has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land … Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society.”

        “In practice, modern states are far more extensive violators of property than simple extortion rackets, and are engaged in mass criminality.”

        Here it is obvious that you’ve got it backwards: modern states create and enforce the property system. Extortion rackets don’t.

        • GM

          Thank you for admitting two things:

          1) That you are driven primarily by egalitarian ideology (which explains why you struggle to understand those who don’t share your motivation, and who therefore approach the question of property without trying to impose their ideology on it).

          2) That you are a state-worshipper in the most fundamental sense: that you cannot conceive of any answer to the question of property which does not first involve the State. Libertarianism fails in your eyes because you aren’t able to even ask the question of whether the State should exist.

          I don’t enjoy making fun of religious people, so I will probably just leave you alone.

  23. Let’s just say the state is like a big plantation and we are all owned by the state. In exchange for giving us meaningful work to do, food and shelter, protection from each other (and ourselves), and guidance to live properly, the state has a prior claim on all revenue we generate. The state, being kind and benevolent, lets us keep a portion of what we produce and takes only enough to pay expenses, provide for us, and provide great wealth for those who are more equal than us.

    There is no theft or robbery here. It is all very fair and equitable and there is historic precedent for this model.

    • Mike Huben

      Sorry, Tom, that’s the corporate model of ownership. The state is much more akin to a socialist cooperative, run by the workers.

      I’m not surprised that your fixation with ownership leads you to represent everything as owned and planned from the top.

    • GM

      A plantation is a good analogy. A farm is an even better one: the political class and its clients are the farmers, while everybody else is cattle to be milked and exploited by them.

      This helps us to understand international borders as representing little more than the demarcation lines for the allotments of different political crime groups, as settled through war and historical accident.

      Before the era of mass democracy, there was at least a clear separation between the rulers and the ruled (the exploiters and the exploited). Under democracy, on the other hand, political favouritism is available to any organised interest group. The inevitable outcome is that the political classes grow, and the exploitation of those who do not seek favours from the State becomes more intense.

      State-worshippers attribute the existence of property to the existence of the State. They have to deal with unsettling evidence to the contrary all the time, however: not just the measures which people come up with every day to enable them to settle disputes without using poor-quality State courts, but also modern secession movements and city-states which prove that the nation-state or political union model they favour is in many cases neither popular nor necessary. And, as proponents of the State, they also have to take intellectual responsibility for interstate war.

      • Mike Huben

        Believers in liberty fairy tales are perfectly welcome to visit Somalia to witness righteousness for themselves.

        In ancient Greek democracy, an idiot was a selfish person who didn’t wish to participate in politics. A citizen participated in the politics which were necessary for defense and other public goods that were the foundation of economic life.

        The idea of democracy is that everybody is in the political class, watching that nobody is exploited. If you think it is otherwise today, chances are the fault lies in (a) plutocracy or (b) you view everything as exploitation.

        Leave the farm analogy to George Orwell: he does a vastly better job.

      • GM

        The Somalia meme has no logical content whatsoever.

        And “defense” is just a Statist euphemism for war. In the context of Ancient Greece in particular, it would have been far more accurate to say “A citizen participated in the politics which were necessary for war”. At least you are coming close to taking responsibility for violence.

        “The idea of democracy”, like “the idea of socialism”, is utopian – it is a vision which will never achieve in reality that which it wishes to achieve. I’m sure you blame plutocracy for the failure of democracy to achieve what you want it to – it would be more honest to admit that it will never achieve what you want it to.

        • Mike Huben

          “The Somalia meme has no logical content whatsoever.”

          Wow. If I had known that you accept the magic formula “has no logical content whatsoever” as a valid argument, think of all the words we could have saved by simply saying “Libertarianism has no logical content whatsoever.”

          Of course defense is one type of war. Just like “retaliation” is one type of coercion. But the real idiocy is to pretend that you could have security without defense, by a state or anything else.

          As for utopianism, the idea of a free market is also utopian. I don’t demand perfection from democracy: I just want it to work well enough to reduce exploitation from capitalists and others.

        • GM

          MH – you are the one who said “Go to Somalia”, as if that was an argument! I can also disprove socialism by saying “Go to the Moon”. If the absence of any further pieces of information, they are equally valid arguments.

          “Retaliation is one type of coercion” – demonstrating again your very strange position that *any* property rules are coercive. Again:

          “Somebody has to violently protect the property from the uncivilised.”

          “All property and indeed all real rights are based on violence, initiation of force.”

          “The raison d’être of property is to control the earth’s limited economic resources.”

          You’re not trying to answer the question that libertarians (and some non-libertarians) want to be answered. Again, we want to try to understand which types of actions should be interpreted as violent, and which should be interpreted as peaceful. We think that a property distribution based on homesteading, production and exchange can be interpreted as peaceful, and is superior than the alternatives. Some of us have bad justifications for this belief, and you are right to point that out.

          However, by simply asserting that violence is inevitable, you take a position which libertarians are right to shun and ignore. By taking that position, you’re not relevant to the debate.

          “The moral question is what rights we want to create through this violence. Do we want to create rights that primarily benefit the rich and powerful, or that benefit us all more equally?”

          And this is remarkable – you muddy the waters philosophically by saying that there are no objective answers to the question of how property should be distributed, and then you plead for socialism. It’s cynical and not worth arguing with, in exactly the same way that a religious person who cast aspersions on the scientific method but then lazily continued to plead for their own non-scientific approach would be worth ignoring.

          I hope this has been illuminating for you.

          • Mike Huben

            Well, it seems that when mocked strongly enough, you reveal the idiocy of your positions.

            ‘I can also disprove socialism by saying “Go to the Moon”.’
            How charming that you think the moon is inhabited by socialists! How obtuse that you don’t get that when central governments go away, you get situations like Somalia, a real-life AnCapistan where piracy is just another business.

            “we want to try to understand which types of actions should be interpreted as violent”
            And that is exactly the problem. You don’t want to face reality, you want to INTERPRET it to fit your ideology. You want to be able to shoot a fleeing thief in the back and declare that is not violent, it is retaliation, as if those are exclusive. Where ever your cockeyed notions of justice require violence, you declare that you are not being violent, unlike any other real-world system.

            “However, by simply asserting that violence is inevitable, you take a position which libertarians are right to shun and ignore. By taking that position, you’re not relevant to the debate.”
            Squeezing your eyes shut and shouting “IS NOT” does not make the violence your ideology would commit go away. The debate is not about the violence: everybody else admits it is there. It’s about how delusional you are to talk about your emperor’s fine clothing when his naked violence is apparent to everybody else.

            “you muddy the waters philosophically by saying that there are no objective answers to the question of how property should be distributed”
            Welcome to the basic tenet of several hundred years of liberalism, which libertarians have abandoned in favor of a rigid and simplistic ideology. The idea that whether or not there is an objective answer out there, people can still believe different things and not be able to prove them objectively to each other. Hence, we must build institutions that broadly tolerate differences in belief and value, such as democracy and civil rights.

            I hope this has been illuminating for you. Maybe now you can grow up.

            • GM

              MH: You are irrelevant to the debate. Enjoy your life.

              On a footnote, to reinforce something I said earlier, most libertarians would accept that natural monopolies are inevitable at a local level for certain services, and that’s one major reason why local governments are not very objectionable in comparison to centralised nation-state governments. That’s why libertarians generally support secession and city-states. Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland’s system of cantons, Monaco and the Arab Emirates are modern applications of the principle of decentralisation.

              Furthermore, libertarians support the rule of law – that’s why many of us are libertarians. We see the legislative acts of the nation-state as being contrary to sound legal principles as expressed by natural law (or for some, the Common Law). Cities and smaller regions which escape from the nation-state are likely to improve their governance. If they are subsumed into a larger entity, they are likely to experience the gradual breakdown of law and order as a consequence of the advancement of socialist corruption: e.g. the USSR, the EU, and, sadly and eventually, the USA.

              In the final analysis, the libertarian message is: “let’s not kill or attack each other, or steal from each other, if we can possibly avoid it”. Some primitive people with an agenda, like MH, will say that this is meaningless. Most people with a bit of common sense will understand roughly what it means, which is why so many of them are embracing the message as soon as they are exposed to it. Likewise, most normal people will understand that there are few lessons to be drawn from the consequences of the collapse of central government following a civil war in an African desert (MH would have you believe that things would be so much better if the government hadn’t collapsed – but not with the help of any evidence to that effect).

              As the libertarian message gradually takes hold of the internet and in various parts of the world, it may in the very long-term be the case that Statists eventually find that they are treated with the same level of disgust as the common criminal (in the same way that those who openly profess extreme forms of Statism, such as Communism, are already considered to be psychologically troubled).

              • As a summary, can you simplify what you mean?

              • Mike Huben

                City-states? They have always been a recipe for conquest, since the time of the ancient Greeks, because they cannot defend themselves. Monaco, Hong Kong and Singapore relied on colonial empires for their defense. During WWII they were all taken by the Axis powers. Local governments cannot perform the fundamental task of government: protecting the territory. Switzerland has a history of wars between its Cantons and was conquered by France in 1798. If the Germans hadn’t been mired in a two-front battle, Switzerland wouldn’t have lasted long. Switzerland and the Arab Emirates are an examples of the centralization you deplore, rather than the decentralization you desire

                But this sort of historical ignorance is typical of libertarian wishful thinking.

                As for the “libertarian message” of rule of law and “let’s not kill or attack each other, or steal from each other, if we can possibly avoid it”, it is superficially no different than any democratic nation’s. The difference is due to details of what the law is and what killing is and what property is. When you look at libertarian ideas of law, killing and property, the craziness and idiocy stand out as we’ve seen here.

                “MH would have you believe that things would be so much better if the government [of Somalia] hadn’t collapsed”

                Here, once again, we have a made-up claim without a quotation. Somalia would be much better off if it had a stable government, something it has lacked for roughly a century. The problem libertarians don’t face is how to establish their “law”: they want others to sacrifice and bleed to establish it and hand it to them on a platter. Libertarians are moochers at best.

                • GM

                  Libertarian: “I think it would be better if people weren’t violent to each other. For example, a city should be free to set its own policies independently of other cities, just like an individual should be free to do what they want, independently of what the tribe wants them to do.”

                  MH: “You’re an idiot. An independent city can’t defend itself from other cities and from larger countries.”

                  Libertarian: “That might be true, but what I’m saying is that the general welfare would be improved if people didn’t attack each other in the first place. As a practical matter, if it’s true that a city needs help to defend itself, then I’m comfortable with people entering into insurance contracts and forming voluntary alliances and taking whatever other peaceful measures they feel are desirable to achieve that goal. The need for practical measures to defend property and local and individual sovereignty is not an argument against the protection of property or of local and individual sovereignty.”

                  MH: “You’re an idiot, you’re crazy, you’re naive, you don’t understand history, etc. etc.

                  Also: Somalia. QED.”

                  Libertarian: “What about Somalia?”

                  MH: “Somalia would be better off if it had a stable government.”

                  Libertarian: “It’s certainly true that Somalia would benefit from basic services such as a legal system, an effective police force, etc. Those services are frequently provided by stable governments. Unfortunately, there was a civil war as different groups fought for control of the government there. Lawlessness is common in many parts of Africa, and property rights are often very weak. What’s your point?”

                  (Tumbleweed rolls by…)

                  Libertarian: “Surely the statists have better arguments than this? Surely?”

                  MH: “Oh yeah, I remembered another argument. You’re a moocher. You want your legal system and your physical protection to be provided for free. Don’t you realise that people died to provide you with the government that protects you today?”

                  Libertarian: “I’m happy to pay for any legal and insurance services I consume. And with the monopolistic powers of the government taken away, those who provide legal and insurance services are likely to provide better quality at a much lower price, with huge benefits for society at large.”

                  MH: “You’re an idiot.”

                  • Mike Huben

                    Ah, it is always so easy to pretend to be intelligent when you can write both sides of a dialog. But you’re just fooling yourself.

                    Your “If only everybody could just be nice” argument works just as well for communism. It is wishful thinking along the lines of “I have a solution to all disease: don’t get sick!” Pardon us if we think you are an idiot.

                    There will ALWAYS be contrary people who disagree, will not cooperate and who will pursue their own private interests at a cost to others through holdout, betrayal, dishonesty, violence, etc. This is the basic political problem, and your happy talk glosses over it because you don’t have a workable solution.

                    And yes, you are an idiot in the Classical Greek sense and probably in more modern, colloquial senses as well.

                    • GM

                      Writing both sides is sometimes more productive than the alternative.

                      For the sake of clarity:

                      1) I accept that we aren’t going to have anything close to “perfect liberty” any time soon. That is a given. There are too many statists in too many positions of power (particularly in the educational establishment) for that to happen. But their arguments are being ruined by the competition for ideas on the internet, and people are gradually getting smarter, so we are gradually moving in the right direction in terms of a higher level of widespread understanding.

                      2) I have no desire to promote arguments which promote mild reforms of existing structures and modes of behaviour. My primary objective has been to understand what the truth is in terms of how humans ought to behave towards each other. If the truth is that some big changes would improve things, so be it. I will take accusations of not having a “workable solution” as badges of honour, when they are received from apologists for the status quo.

                      3) Finally, it is true that there will always be selfish people who have no interest in playing by the rules, whatever those rules might be. There will always be violent criminals and fraudsters, and there will always be statists who want violence to be institutionalised. The great thing about libertarianism is that it provides a framework for understanding what types of behaviours are likely to be in the interest of the greater good, and which types are likely to act against it. It’s a logical system which can be applied in a variety of situations. That’s why it’s spreading – because libertarians won’t admit that they are wrong simply because they are in a minority or because somebody uses an emotional argument against them. Somebody actually has to disprove their logic – which it turns out is not very easy. Watch MH explode in the comments here as an example. MH can take consolation from the fact that the statist grip over the educational establishment is likely to keep him in the mainstream for at least one more generation – but perhaps not much longer than that.

                    • Mike Huben

                      “Writing both sides is sometimes more productive than the alternative.”

                      Any propagandist, fundamentalist, huckster or other professional liar will affirm that. What’s your excuse?

                      “But their arguments are being ruined by the competition for ideas on the internet, and people are gradually getting smarter, so we are gradually moving in the right direction in terms of a higher level of widespread understanding.”

                      Ah, fact-free assertions that you’re “winning”. A staple of ideology.

                      “My primary objective has been to understand what the truth is in terms of how humans ought to behave towards each other.”

                      And what are you going to do when we laugh at your ideas about the “truth”? Coerce us?

                      As for your “understanding”, it seems to have degenerated to vague platitudes. Because it is so empty of content, when challenged by real-world problems you just make up fictitious dialogues and other stories.

                      “Finally, it is true that there will always be selfish people who have no interest in playing by the rules, whatever those rules might be.”

                      No, the problem is far worse than that. The problem is that there will be holdouts who do not even want rules. You will never have unanimity for large groups of people, but many important goals (pretty much all public goods such as defense) require broad cooperation whether or not everybody agrees. There is no libertarian solution for these sorts of problems: they are well-known market failures where government is the second-best solution.

                      And finally, you make the laughable assertion that libertarianism is “logical”: that’s one of many Libertarian Self-Delusions.

                    • GM

                      You’re laughing, really? Seems more like your panicking, Mike. Statists generally run a mile when challenged so I will give you points for at least not running away from the thread.

                      To answer your question, I’m not going to coerce you. I’m going to accept that there are many many violent people in the world, including yourself, and make the best of it.

                      The wonderful slice of content you’ve left us with here is “public goods”. Never heard that one before! Defense! Defense from warmongering statists in other countries using the same rubbish arguments on their own populations! Good one, Mike!

                      We don’t have euphemisms on our side of the debate, Mike. Peace is referred to as “peace” and war is referred to as “war”. Thanks for reminding us that we’re on the pro-peace side over here. You won’t find any defenders of war over on this side of the debate. And after more than a decade of lethal and unnecessary US rogue state war, I’m surprised that you can’t find a less embarrassing argument for statism.

                    • Mike Huben

                      Panicking? Project much, newbie? I’ve been arguing against fools like you for decades.

                      Oh, and people “run a mile when challenged” by libertarians the same way they walk away from Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, 9/11 Truthers and other people with uninteresting, looney beliefs.

                      Oh, and you do violently coerce everybody already: that’s what property is all about. Libertarians smugly think they are non-violent and that somehow property just magically, non-violently happens. Sorry, you can’t freeload that way either. Raised in a stable, relatively well governed society, you think you hit a triple when you were simply born on third base.

                      “We don’t have euphemisms on our side of the debate”

                      Oh no? I have a page with 76 libertarian propaganda terms which says otherwise.

                      Like most libertarians, you either repeat propaganda or make up unsupported assertions. The only thing that keep you going is your fervent belief in your ideology.

  24. NYOB

    Robert,
    I don’t necessarily agree with everything you said in this article, but I do agree with one thing. Taxation is not theft. I understand that some people hate the government. I, however, believe that government is a good ordinance in some ways. Back to taxation…the entire purpose of taxation is to supply the government with money. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that is all the government uses taxes for…that’s what taxation is for…getting revenue for our governments.
    Now, from reading your bio, I understand that you a left winged Social Democrat, which is fine. I don’t really care what side you are on. I do however care that you think it’s perfectly fine if the government wants to give people free stuff. I’m not sure how it is in Ireland, but in America, that’s not okay. We live in a capitalistic economy…a free market economy. Under the American constitution, there is no hope for socialism because it strips the American people of all her freedoms. It just bothers me what people rely on the government when they can be doing something so much better, making a profit for them and their families.
    Is it right that the government has control over every aspect of my life? I don’t think so…but for all those who are against taxation….it’s the government. What are you going to do about it? Fight back? No, vote! Vote for the right people who have you in mind not just themselves. They say, I want change, and they vote for some lunatic whose just like the rest of the politicians. Like, come on! Get a head, people!

    • Mike Huben

      “We live in a capitalistic economy…a free market economy.”
      If you think that, you are not being realistic. We live in a mixed economy, with both capitalist and socialist elements. Nor can there be a “free market economy”: see here.

      “Under the American constitution, there is no hope for socialism because it strips the American people of all her freedoms.”
      That’s silly hyperbolic word salad. “No hope”? “All freedoms”? But let’s start with the most obvious thing: our government’s Constitution is socialist in that it requires involuntary financing and produces good for all. The most obvious Constitutional example is our socialist defense system. And what part of our Constitution is capitalist? No part. No more than the Constitution is a Christian religious document.

      As for “give people free stuff”: you mean like defense, roads, police, courts and education? None of these are actually free stuff: they are all (technically) “club goods” and “public goods”. We all pay for them in a large social contract. Or are you talking about welfare, unemployment insurance, social security, medicare, etc? Those too are part of the social contract, the social insurance part. It is only by closing your eyes to shout libertarian rhetoric that you can pretend we are giving away free stuff. It is as if you were talking about retirement plans and insurance company payouts as “free stuff”. You have to ignore the institutions and myopically focus on individuals to think it is free.

      But I’m glad we agree that taxation is not theft.

    • NYOB,

      I’m curious, if you don’t believe taxation is theft, yet (I assume, based on your comments) you don’t believe the government rightly owns all the land in the United States, what logical basis do you have for declaring taxation not to be theft?

      I think any pro-tax argument logically leads to the evil conclusions of the OP. And I don’t think anti-tax arguments logically lead to “Somalia.”

      BTW: the comments by different people of “rigid ideology” are really no more than a “We don’t want to be moral so we’ll mock the people who are” and should be ignored. Please don’t fall back on that. Explain why taxation is OK.

      Thanks.

    • I’m glad we agree but you use far too many bland cliches in your comment. You complain about the government giving people “free stuff”. Do you mean education, healthcare and security?

      You then jump to criticising socialism as if there are only two types of government, as if the only choice is between the USA and the USSR. I am not in favour of either socialism or the government controlling every part of your life, so I’m not sure why you brought it up.

  25. Doug

    Gosh, I have been convince to change my evil ways. How could I be so stupid and misguided? So if one person wants to steal my car, then I and others in my community will vote to stop it. But if a majority of the people in my community want to steal my car, then that’s perfectly okay (as long as they vote on an emissary of the State to do it on their behalf, of course).

    What an idiot.

    • Mike Huben

      You sort of missed the point that “your” car is leased, and the required rental payments are what you contracted for. Property owned in the US comes with strings attached such as taxes, and has for centuries. For you to pretend otherwise is childish.

  26. “Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent and giving nothing in return.”

    And what else wouldn’t you think is theft?

    I know. Probably slavery, cause who owns himself, right? They certainly got something in return for their slavery, and the fact that they did not run to the neighboring slave master demonstrates their “consent” to the actions of their own master.

    Thankfully anyone who thinks can see through your anti-propertarian, violent bs. Statists gonna state; and all that EVER means is an endless vomit of excuses to justify initiating violence against peaceful people.

    Brah, we know you’ve got tons of excuses; it’s in the nature of the morally disgusting. Unfortunately, none of them are actually good reasons to initiate violence against peaceful people.

    • The individual is the enemy of the state, they are fair game for increasing taxation, they are kept in the dark as what politicians are up to until its just put out what is going to happen, to them, instructions to police as revenue raising, council rate increases, pension cutting, the fact is the general public are all outsiders to what the politicians scheme, they in turn are instructed by institutes such as the IMF, as to how to create the rules and handle the public, all you need to know its not in your interest.

  27. SHIVANK MEHRA

    //The state owns the land// Unfounded claim. If property depends upon who can use force to back his claim, then why have laws at all? The ultimate origin of property is life itself. Property comes into being when you mix your labor with unclaimed resources to transform them for your use. Since the created product is a product of your labor and of your life, aggression against that product is aggression against your life. This is how property comes into being: by production and exchange, not by brute force.

    • Mike Huben

      Ah. The The Lockean Fable of Initial Acquisition. Expend some effort and some mystical process has magically converted something into “property”.

      And then there’s the sympathetic magic of “aggression against that product is aggression against your life”. You made a voodoo doll of yourself, and when Joe steals it and sticks pins in it you are supposed to be hurt? Give us a break.

      Property comes into being by brute force: it is easily observable and well recorded throughout history. It is only by shutting your eyes and wailing “does not!” that you can pretend otherwise.

  28. “Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.”

    -John Derbyshire
    This quote about sums up this article.

  29. Mike Huben

    As opposed to your preferred “Gun shooting a human face, with a white, male, racist libertarian explaining that economic freedoms are not being violated”?

    It is easy for third-rate hack John Derbyshire to pervert an Orwellian metaphor to any purpose he wants, as long as we conveniently forget about the fact that Orwell was a democratic socialist writing against fascism.

  30. You almost defined theft properly when you said “Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent and giving nothing in return.”

    You should amend that to say “Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent.”

    It doesn’t matter what you give me in return. It doesn’t matter that YOU value what you’re giving me more than what you’re taking. It’s not for you to decide. I didn’t tell you you could take it. That makes it theft.

    As far as consent being given by “us” collectively…I mean, the oldest argument in the libertarian book explains exactly why that is nonsense. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner does not mean the sheep consents to being eaten. As Rothbard (I know, I know) put it:

    “The government does not in any accurate sense ‘represent’ the majority of the people. But, even if it did, even if 70 percent of the people decided to murder the remaining 30 percent, this would still be murder and would not be voluntary suicide on the part of the slaughtered minority. No organicist metaphor, no irrelevant bromide that ‘we are all part of one another,’ must be permitted to obscure this basic fact.”

    • Mike Huben

      Property owned in the US comes with strings attached such as taxes, and has for centuries. For you to pretend otherwise is childish. Theft doesn’t come into it.

      Your redefinition “Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent” fails the real-world tests of foreclosure and reposession, which are not theft. In those cases, as with taxes, you may HOLD assets, but you might not OWN them completely. In most nations of the world, you do not own your earnings completely: the government has a legal tax claim on them. If you don’t want to consent to that tax claim, renounce your citizenship and move to one of the nations without income tax. You don’t own the US, and don’t just get whatever law you want.

      I deal with the wolves/sheep strawman in my Non-Libertarian FAQ.

      Rothbard is an idiot. The government does represent the majority in most things, though it is often checked by strong minority interests. And he doesn’t seem to realize that our US government DID slaughter the indigenous minority, or he won’t admit it because it would necessitate return of lands and reparations to their descendants. And the reason that could occur is not because they were a minority, but because they were disenfranchised from democratic representation in our government.

      • With reference to Hubens, comment on Rothbard, I have to say I join these group of idiots, in principal I am sympathetic to his view on banking and also military, the problem with leaving say America, for avoidance of income tax is not practical for most people, as the costs outside income tax payment is too great, unless you have millions of dollars, as it happens corporations that have multi millions are able to avoid most taxes.
        If the individual is against state policies as a conscientious objector to the state, as in military objectives and has beliefs such as their mind being owned by the state and such like, as some people believe. The state is a organization run principally by what is considered the legal authority? of a few, this authority is backed by the ability to enforce the rules of the rules, a police state and military organization, beyond this condition the state has no moral nor spiritual validation of any agreed status.

  31. Amir

    “The state owns the land and if you want to live on the land you must pay rent.”

    The state owns nothing. The state is—supposedly, and in theory—a representation of the people. Whatever is “owned by the government” is actually collectively owned by the people. So if I’m paying rent for land to someone and they don’t actually own the land then that’s fraud.

    “It is not theft if you receive something in return.”

    No, a voluntary transaction is one defined where both parties agrees to what exchange should take place. If I take all your money and buy you a nice house for that money it’s still theft, regardless whether you enjoy your new house or not.

    “Libertarians sometimes act as though taxes disappear into a black hole and are never seen again. In reality, we receive from the government protection and a commitment to justice.”

    What happens with the money is completely irrelevant so they might as well have disappeared into a black hole. We certainly do not receive a commitment to justice—at least not a sincere one.

    “We also receive education, healthcare, transportation, safe food, employment protection and enforcement of contracts. There is also redistribution and welfare in the event of sickness, poverty and old age. So libertarians make the bizarre argument that the government is a thief who gives more than he steals (due to economic inequality most people receive more than they pay in taxes).”

    All these things people can do without governments and you most certainly cannot prove that this isn’t so. You certainly can’t extrapolate by saying that it’s never been tried and therefore it doesn’t work—any system was untested at some point. The difference here is that libertarians are not interested in using violence to implement their fundamental ideas. And no, governments take more than they give—that’s why the debt is enormous in the US. Basic economics: I take item A of value X, item B of value Y and produce item C with value Z. If Z > X + Y then I’ve generated wealth. If Z < X + Y then I’ve destroyed wealth. How is trillions of dollars in debt giving more than taking?

    “Furthermore, what sort of thief lets you decide how your money is spent or how much he takes?”

    Completely irrelevant. The act of theft is to take the property of someone else without their explicit consent. Once again, what happens afterwards is irrelevant.

    “Yet the government is subject to the will of the people. We choose whether we want our taxes to be higher or lower when we vote.”

    We don’t choose. We vote. And then about half the population don’t get their choice and so are subject to the will of others and get more money taken from them than they would consent to. Again, theft.

    “Based on the failure of libertarians to win elections, most people seem quite content with taxation. There’s nothing stopping a libertarian party from being set up and winning an election.”

    Libertarianism is an ethical philosophy more than a political one. I suggest you read, preferably as objectively as you can, a bit more about libertarianism as ethics. The politics follow relatively simply from there.

    “A key element of the definition of theft is that the victim does not consent to it. But if people do not vote for parties that promise to reduce taxes, but instead for parties that keep taxes at the current level, then must not consider themselves the victims of theft. They must consent to taxes.”

    It seems that you are assuming here that everyone votes. I don’t think you actually believe this, though, but I could be wrong. Certainly, if I vote for a party that wants to keep taxes at 15% and that party gets selected then it’s not really theft, I consented to it. If I vote for a party that taxes only 12% but the 15% party wins then those 3% I did not consent to. If I did not vote at all—because voting legitimizes state violence which many libertarians fundamentally oppose—then any percentage is theft.

    “But a libertarian would argue that they never agreed to this. Even if they receive more than they pay, they never consented to pay anything. But that is an implicit part of citizenship. Being a citizen comes with rights and responsibilities.”

    The entire problem lies specifically with the whole “citizen” thing. Being a citizen is something that must be recognized by the state whereas (some) libertarians claim that the state does not have any particular authority—beyond its monopoly on “legitimate” use of force—to decide whether or not I’m a “citizen”. There are rights, yes. My responsibility is to respect other people’s rights. What those rights are is the key difference between libertarians/anarcho-capitalists and statists.

    “You have a right to protection and certain services but also a responsibility to pay for these services.”

    This is one of those rights that libertarians and statists disagree on. It seems more and more that you may not have fully understood why rights were implemented in the first place and how they work and the underlying logic behind ethics and principles, the core things that any civilization rests on. A right to protection means a right to force someone to protect me and a right to force someone to pay so that protection may exist in society. You’re using aggression to provide a service meant to prevent aggression, and that’s where your logic falls. Especially when that institution itself commits acts of illegitimate aggression all the time.

    “You have a right to vote but a responsibility to accept the result even if your party does not win.”

    Same as above: it boils down to a right to initiate force against others to get what I want or be subject to the aggressions of others.

    “Sure I never consented to being a citizen of Ireland, but then again I never consented to capitalism either. I never agreed to live in a society with either democracy or private property. I never agreed to elections being held every five years or the current distribution of property.”

    You not consenting to capitalism is moot because you have no authority over other people’s lives. Capitalism is essentially individual/private property rights and that system is in place because of the scarcity of resources that exist in the world. If we had a limitless supply of anything we wanted then capitalism—private property rights—would be almost pointless from an economic point of view—but even then emotional bonds to certain services or goods may give them a higher value than other, almost identical things. For example, if there are three plates that are identical and my mother gives me one while two other strangers give me the other two I might consider the plate my mother gave me to be more valuable to me than the rest. So I would want to keep it. Can communism, for example, respect this wish if someone else wants the plate?

    “Do we have to have a social revolution every time someone disagrees with the way things are? The fact is that there are lots of things we never agreed to, but have to live with. We have to live under some sort of political and economic system that will be to some extent arbitrary, but it simply isn’t feasible to have everyone make up their own rules.”

    Not everyone is going to make up their own rules and the level of arbitrariness can be significantly lowered. Libertarianism is a very minimal one in that sense wheras democracy is pretty up there.

    But let’s take a step back. Why do we have to live under some sort of political and economic system? Certainly lions, whales or foxes do not have to. We don’t either. It’s just beneficial to cooperate. Cooperation can be very much facilitated by a promise that people won’t be randomly assaulting or killing each other. If Adam wants to kill Ben and Ben wants to be left alone, technically their wills have equal value—that is, none. The fact that Ben’s will is considered to be prevalent is rather arbitrary but based on the fact that people in general prefer to not be killed over killing and that cooperation is usually better for both than fighting each other. It’s based on emotions and limited experience but a bit arbitrary nonetheless.

    So no, we don’t actually need any system of any kind, it’s just very beneficial to have one. Then there are good systems and bad systems, and what constitutes good and bad is also, well… a matter of opinion. The important thing of course is that the opinion of statists involves initiating force against others whereas libertarians reject such use of force.

    “The problem with most libertarian arguments is that it assumes we have only rights but no responsibilities. It assumes that we have no duties to the poor, the sick, the elderly or even to children. If a man was starving and a libertarian had two loaves of bread, he wouldn’t share it with the man unless he felt like it.”

    Please tell me where this responsibility comes from. Explain to me who gets to decide what responsibilities individuals have. We do not have duties to them. This is another statist way of thinking that is remarkably close to religious ways of thinking. If I have two loaves of bread and some adult on the street is starving and you forcefully take one of my loaves to help the starving person, you may think you’ve done good but to me you’re just putting yourself above me by aggressing against me in order to decide the outcome you wish to have. Your actions are based on your emotions and without respect to my feelings or rights. This makes you a person who cannot be trusted because any system with rights relies on people respecting those rights. It is also a bit conceited to think that you have some moral right to aggress against me for doing something you think is good. What if I was planning on giving half a loaf of bread each to four starving children, and now two children starve to death because you stole that loaf from me? Do you still feel like your actions are justified?

    “That is not a political ideology but a mental problem called sociopathology.”

    You are right in that it is not a political ideology. It is certainly not a mental problem. A mental problem is believing that a system involving governments who have killed hundreds of millions of people, constantly committed fraud and systematic imprisonment and torture of millions of people is necessary for civilization. That mental problem is called “no reason”.

    “We do have responsibilities to others in society and the government exists to enforce them. Our common humanity unites us and means that the suffering of others is our suffering too.”

    No responsibility. You invented this responsibility because it makes you feel good and you simply cannot stand people who don’t feel the same way you do. You don’t get to decide what unites who and whose suffering is another person’s suffering, etc. You’re clearly extrapolating from a subset of the people and applying to the whole set.

    “We cannot rest easy if the streets outside our house are full of destitute. A libertarian world would be a cold and empty one, where people sit alone counting their money, blind to poverty, hunger and misery.”

    How do you know this would happen? How do you know what a libertarian world would look like? This is grand delusional because no one has nearly enough facts and data to even begin attempt a simulation of what a libertarian society would be like and how it would end up. Have the humility to accept that you don’t know.

    “Libertarians make the mistake of thinking of people as isolated individuals isolated from the rest of the world.”

    Wrong. There is tons of stuff out there that speaks about people cooperating in a libertarian society, where things happen peacefully and voluntarily. You probably just missed it.

    “They act as though, I and I alone earned my wage and therefore it belongs to no one else. In reality, we are hugely dependent on others and society.”

    Do you understand economics? Do you know what money is? Let me give you a very brief breakdown: Money is credit, a quantitative way to measure the value of something I produced, be it an item or a service. Therefore, my wage is exactly the value I receive from offering something of value to me to someone else. Of course, we are dependant on others—but not society. Society is not something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Society is just what sort of naturally arises from people cooperating. This is yet another problem with statists: they view states and societies as entities of their own that are somehow larger and more valuable than the value of the things that make them up. It is value placed completely arbitrarily at the whim of emotions and without respect to those who disagree with your values—and the kye is that the statists are the aggressors, not the libertarians.

    “Would we earn anywhere near enough money if we did not have public roads, education, health, energy etc?”

    I don’t know and neither do you. Claiming otherwise is a lie. As for your roads, read this: http://libertarianmoney.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/the-definitive-guide-to-who-will-build-the-roads/. Then apply the same concept to education, health care, energy, infrastructure, security—what have you. If you don’t believe humans are good enough or capable of doing these things voluntarily then why are you letting the same people have so much power in the form of a government? How do you ensure that only the “good” people get power? You can’t, and history has clearly shown that even democracy is horribly poor at making sure the good people get to the top. There is nothing stable about waging world wars that cost more money than available gold (why do you think fiat currencies were invented?) and there is certainly nothing stable about warmongers who sit on nuclear weapons.

    “I did not create everything myself, but instead built on the work of previous generations and worked alongside other members of society. No man is an island and there is no such thing as a self-made person, in reality we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We got to where we are today due to in large parts due to the society we live in, so it is only fair that we pay something to support it. If you don’t believe me, compare your life to what it would be if you lived in a Third World country? Isn’t it worth paying to avoid that?”

    Our society in itself is built on systems that were far less civilized. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without them. By your logic, we should pay something to support them as well, or in some way make sure that they are also fairly compensated. No, it is not “fair” that we pay something to support it. “Society” is not an entity, something you seem to believe. Fairness is a social construct that only applies between individuals. And this system is also doing a lot of harm and it is conceited to believe that anyone or any group of people has the moral right to rule over others and decide what is fair or what level of harm is acceptable for something so arbitrarily and imaginary as “the greater good”.

    “In reality, libertarians do not truly object to coercion or taxes, they only object to the government doing so.”

    Wrong. Please read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-aggression_principle

    “If a private landlord compelled people to live by onerous rules about drugs, guns and religion, libertarians would have no problem.”

    It’s their private property so anyone who decides to rent (part of) that property will certainly have a written contract where all involved parties agree on the terms of the deal. As I mentioned before, the state does not own the land because the state is a representation of the people. If the state legitimately owned the land then I would like to see a written contract that spells out when the population relinquished ownership of the land to the government. By the way, that land was stolen from natives. It is not legitimately owned by the state.

    “If a starving man agreed to work for half the normal wages because otherwise he would die, a libertarian praises the free market.”

    If an individual decides that working for a poor wage is better than starving to death then this should be acceptable. Why do you meddle with this person’s individual choice? If you feel it’s not right to give someone such a low salary, find someone who will employ that person and pay them more. Solve the problem peacefully. Statists love the easy way out, and that usually involves violence.

    “If a man has to pay half his wages in taxes without which he would die, a libertarian is outraged.”

    Not true.

    “Every abuse of government power that libertarians rail against would still occur in a libertarian society, the only difference would be that it would be even worse.”

    I suggest you ponder your beliefs more carefully before subscribing to them. Examples of abuse of government power that cannot occur in a libertarian society: massive concentration camps, huge prisons, massive privacy intrusion, police abuse (there is no police to police the police). And you certainly do not know that these things would be worse. This is completely arbitrary.

    “The very notion of property is dependent on the state, without which we would be reduced the endless strife and the rule of the strongest.”

    Is it now? Because I’m pretty sure that property is essentially property rights and rights can ultimately only be defended with violence. Who said only the state may use violence? If I have a gun in my home I can defend my property myself, I don’t need the state to protect it for me. I could hire a security firm if I wanted to take that off my mind. I’m sure the market demand for security is enormous. Why a monopoly on that? What if the state isn’t handling it well, and this goes on and on? At what point do we decide that it just isn’t working anymore and that they’re not handling the monopoly on violence the way they should and that this power should be taken from them? It boils down to this: Not everyone feels they have some moral obligation to humanity as a whole and you forcing them to live under your system is nothing but oppression based on your arbitrarily chosen belief. If you can prove to me that this obligation exists naturally I will reconsider my position.

    “Taxes are a payment to support civilisation and avoid a descent into anarchy."

    Anarchy is a beautiful thing. Anarchy means no rule; it does not mean no rules. You want to use force to prevent force. You employ uncivilized methods to have a civil society. It’s a contradiction.

    “Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent and giving nothing in return. Taxes on the other hand are consented to by citizens (as seen by their continual support for taxation parties and their refusal to vote for libertarian parties or move to tax havens) in exchange for services.”

    I’ve already answered this. Those who disagree with the (level of) tax you employ have a full moral right to claim that the difference is theft.

    “Citizens choose the level of these taxes and where they go as well as consenting to abide by majority rule if their preferred option is not selected.”

    Some citizens make the choice and then men with guns force others to obey.

    “Taxes are no more theft than rent is extortion, by living in that location we are agreeing to abide by its rules and pay the charges. If we don’t agree we can either change the rules or move.”

    http://libertarianmoney.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/7-reasons-youre-not-free-to-leave/

    • Mike Huben

      Now that’s a long rant for a reply. I’m going to reply to just your first claim:

      “The state owns nothing. The state is—supposedly, and in theory—a representation of the people. Whatever is “owned by the government” is actually collectively owned by the people. So if I’m paying rent for land to someone and they don’t actually own the land then that’s fraud.”

      You could make the same exact argument about a corporation representing its stockholders. So are all payments to corporations then fraud in your book? Your argument doesn’t pass the sniff test.

      For all your ranting, your basic problem is that you do not own the government, US territory, national resources or rudimentary intelligence. If you presumed that these were privately owned, then almost everything the government does that you complain about would be fine with you.

      • “Now that’s a long rant for a reply. I’m going to reply to just your first claim:

        ‘The state owns nothing. The state is—supposedly, and in theory—a representation of the people. Whatever is “owned by the government” is actually collectively owned by the people. So if I’m paying rent for land to someone and they don’t actually own the land then that’s fraud.’

        You could make the same exact argument about a corporation representing its stockholders. So are all payments to corporations then fraud in your book? Your argument doesn’t pass the sniff test.”

        WHAT? Are you retarded? It wouldnt be fraud if a corporation asked their shareholders to pay them a fee, then backed it up with threats. It’d be extortion, a form of up-front theft. When someone doesn’t hide their theft to the victim, and employs threats to facilitate the theft, that’s extortion.

        And you really shouldn’t have been so lazy in your reply. The guy totally blew away the whole article piece by piece, and you’re like “imma say something about your first claim out of 25, and be wrong about it too.” You come off like a 12 year old.

        • Reference to theft and corporations, here in Australia, Coles, the supermarket, require money from their suppliers, they have threatened suppliers that they may be dumped if they do not respond with cash, if they do not pay up, I would think this is extortion, the outcome is unknown to me on this issue.

      • Amir

        First, the shareholders of that company volunteered to buy those stocks. Second, upon purchasing these stocks you come to a certain agreement, voluntarily, with that company about what it means for you to own a certain amount of shares in that company. Owning stocks means owning a part of that company. I can sell my share of the stock and no longer be tied to the company. I cannot do the same with the state. My argument holds. Your counter-argument does not.

        My “rant” is the use of logic to counter your arguments and you have yet to even begin to counter mine.

        “…your basic problem is that you do not own the government, US territory, national resources or rudimentary intelligence. If you presumed that these were privately owned, then almost everything the government does that you complain about would be fine with you.”

        It is quite simple: It does not matter who the aggressor is—government, terrorists, nazis, liberals, christians, hockey players or soccer moms. It’s wrong. The problem is with aggression and the government exists only because they were, by a subset of the people of a geographical area, given a monopoly on legitimate use of aggression. If these were privately owned and they aggressed then I would be exactly equally against them.

        Let me reiterate this point: I am not concerned over whether something is “publically” owned or “privately” owned. I am concerned with illegitimate use of aggression.

        Now, I have made about thirty or so other arguments I would love to have countered.

  32. Thross

    So if I choose to live in a neighborhood where every day I walk out of my house and a guy comes and takes money from me at gunpoint, I’m not being stolen from because I chose to live in that neighborhood and because he spends the money on things that are supposedly good for me (but I have no idea if they actually are because I haven’t had an opportunity to experience the world that manifests where I get to keep my resources and spend them 100% how I want) and because the majority of the people who live in that neighborhood voted for that guy to have the right to mug everyone?

    I must respectfully disagree.

    • The point of this post was that even if the state was abolished a man would still take money from you (implicitly at gunpoint), the only difference is that he would be called a landlord rather than the government. Also unlike with a robbery we get to decide how much we are robbed and what it is spent on.

      Sure you have never experienced a world without the state, but you have also never experienced a world without capitalism either. How do you know that a system of private ownership of the means of production is better than one of communal ownership when you have never experienced it?

  33. There are many many many (!) errors and fallacies in this post.

    “It is not theft if you receive something in return.”

    So you’d be okay with me stealing $100 from you, and returning $80 worth of food to you? I met your simple criteria. I returned something.

    There’s nothing stopping libertarian candidates from winning elections….except the public school system which discourages kids to think critically (especially of government), plus all the tens of millions of entrenched police officers, bankers, bureaucrats, politicians, lobbyists, and corporations that depend on the state existing for a living. You expect them to vote against their own paycheck?

    There’s just so much wrong I can’t even cover it all.

    Yes, I drove on a govenrment road to get to work today. What other choice did I have? The government won’t let anyone build private roads to compete with them. Plus we pay through the nose via gas taxes. If we didn’t have that burden, we could have more money to put towards private roads.

    Government is not like a landlord at all. There is no mutual consent.

    You say “by living somewhere you consent to abide by the rules” which means in your dumb analogy you are born in a house and in that house a gun, or threat of one, is pointed at your parents, and they are given the choice to either pay 25%+ of their income or go to jail, unless they leave not only the house but the entire street. Once you start working, you pay too And every other street has the same rules.

    Government policies hurt the poor more than any other group. So you’re wrong about that too. Ending the state would raise the poor’s quality of life exponentially.

    Basically you’re wrong about everything

  34. >Government policies hurt the poor more than any other group. So you’re wrong about that too. Ending the state would raise the poor’s quality of life exponentially.<

    Do you have evidence to support these assertions? Because currently, millions of poor people depend on government assistance to help supplement their incomes each month. That assistance is literally the difference between having food on the table and keeping a roof over peoples' heads. Take that assistance away, and where are people going to magically acquire the money needed to make basic ends meet? It certainly won't be charity, bc charities cannot meet the needs of the poor.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/30/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20140330

    “The truth is that private, communal and religious giving simply can’t meet the needs that government programs handle. Let’s examine why.

    To begin with, charitable organizations typically fall prey to the same economic pressures as the rest of society. “Giving falls when it’s needed the most,” observes Christopher Wimer, an expert on poverty and the social safety net at Columbia University.

    In economic terminology, charitable giving is pro-cyclical, not counter-cyclical, unlike programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps, which expand to meet rising needs.

    The trend from the Great Recession is evident in data from Giving USA, a clearinghouse for information on philanthropy. U.S. philanthropic giving fell from $344.5 billion in 2007 to $293.7 billion in 2009; then rose back to $316.2 billion in 2012 (the figures are adjusted for inflation).

    But the total still hasn’t returned to inflation-adjusted levels seen in 2004. Reductions were seen in all categories of donors — corporations, foundations, bequests and individuals — and also fell as percentages of personal income and gross domestic product.

    Nor was that a new phenomenon. Part of the mythology of the Great Depression is that charitable giving rose during those hard times, but the truth is exactly the opposite. Overall giving fell by more than a fifth from 1929 through 1933, adjusted for inflation, before starting to recover. Among the wealthy, it fell an inflation-adjusted 70% in 1931-35 — about the magnitude of the stock market drop that had devastated wealth in the capital-owning class.

    As the Depression took hold in the 1930s, the cost of caring for the unemployed and elderly quickly wiped out the resources of community and church groups, and then of state relief programs that had stepped in to fill the gap. The federal government responded with a series of relief programs, the most far-reaching of which, of course, was Social Security, which provided for not only old-age pensions but federalized unemployment insurance to relieve the states’ burden.

    Another issue is that philanthropic giving is not synonymous — at all — with helping the needy. Quite the contrary.

    As charitable giving is structured in the United States today, it too often plays out not as the rich helping out the poor, but as the rich increasing the gap between themselves and the poor.

    A 2007 study by Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy found that only 30% of individual giving in the benchmark year of 2005 was aimed at the needs of the poor — including contributions for basic needs, donations to healthcare institutions, for scholarships and allocations from religious groups. (The study was commissioned by Google.)”

  35. Mariana

    You can’t “own” a country, this is ridiculous. Just because it is written in some paper that the state owns a huge land doesn’t mean it is actually theirs. If some bureaucrat signed a paper that gave him the entire universe it woudn’t mean he is the king of the universe and that he every alien should pay him rent.

    • Mike Huben

      I recommend that you look above at my postings with the word “allodial” in them. They explain the meaning of the word, and why government owns a country.

      By the way, there are plenty of examples of people privately owning countries. We often called them kings, in case you’ve forgotten.

    • You can make that argument against all private property. Just because it is written on a piece of paper that [insert company or individual] owns a huge land soesn’t mean it is actually theirs. If some private individual had a piece of paper claiming they had the property right to the whole universe . . .

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