Three Kinds of Theft

Have you seen all the “taxation is theft” memes floating around? Taxation most certainly is theft, yet I’ve seen some defense of taxes with the typical arguments like, it’s not theft because you get something for your money. Perhaps the confusion lies in the fact that not all thieves act the same. There are at least three different types of theft in which the government engages.

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1. The Con

Con artists cheat you out of your money, by making you think you are getting something of value, or by tricking you into being robbed without your knowledge. Most people are conned into paying taxes, thinking that it is the necessary price of civilization. They assume that is the way it has to be, and that taxes are justified because they will be getting government services.

So when someone argues that you are getting something for your money, this is a con. Yes, the government maintains the roads, but both the price and delivery are the con. You must use the government to get the roads, you have no choice. The con artist convinces you roads could be built in no other way, and for no lower cost, both of which is perfectly absurd. The same goes for security, education, food safety, and so on and so forth.

And of course sometimes long after the government has taken your money, you realize that they never delivered on whatever promise they made: to keep you safe, to create more jobs, to strengthen the economy, to reduce crime etc. Think you’ll get your money back? Think again, you’ve been conned.

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2. Extortion.

Maybe you see the con coming, as many of us do, and refuse to pay taxes. Well, then comes the extortion. “You’ve got a nice home here, it would be a shame if someone, say, seized it for back taxes. Come on man, don’t make us come back here, we ain’t gonna be as nice next time around. What you don’t have health insurance, what’s gonna happen if someone breaks your kneecaps? Pony up buddy.”

Those of us who aren’t conned into thinking taxes are necessary or proper, generally pay because we don’t want the government to ruin our lives. It’s the classic mafia example, being forced to pay protection money, even though they are your largest threat. Sure they might keep other thugs off the block, but then again, they might not. Either way you are going to pay, or they will hurt you in any way they can.

Ultimately, all taxes are collected under the threat of violence if they are not paid, and obtaining something through threats or force is extortion.

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3. Armed Robbery.

Finally, if you refuse to play into the con, and you refuse to be extorted, you will face a home invasion, which is really the final phase of extortion. When your home is invaded you will either be kidnapped or killed, depending on your reaction to the assault, and the mood of your attackers. Then they will commence to take everything of value until the original amount they said you owed them is paid, plus some extra for not cooperating. If they claimed you owed them an especially high figure, they will keep you caged as an example to others who refused to be extorted.

So yes, taxation is theft, and most people that disagree have been so easily conned that they simply think they haven’t been robbed. But they never bother to think about what would happen next if they didn’t accept the sham products and sham promises!

Being conned is theft: we are tricked into letting go of our money, or have it taken while we aren’t looking (like inflation). Extortion is clearly theft as well: the “alternative” of having your kneecaps broken or business burned down is no alternative at all, it is simply a method of having you turn over your money in order to avoid a violent attack. And armed robbery is clearly theft, but slightly more obvious than extortion: you are in the midst of the violence and can no longer avoid it. You must turn over your money, or see the violence escalate until ultimately you are killed.

No matter how you slice it, taxation is theft.

Pissing Away $4 Trillion a Year

How would you spend 4 trillion dollars? We really can’t even comprehend that amount of money. A better question is, how would 318 million Americans (or 243 million federal taxpaying Americans) spend a cumulative $4 trillion if they had a choice?

The federal budget for 2016, is 4.1 trillion dollars. This is not even talking about state and local government spending. Even if you think we need some government, the federal government could cease to exist tomorrow, and we would still have state and local sponsored education, roads, police, and even the national guard. If the United States government disappeared, state and local governments in the United States would still be spending over $3 trillion annually to “keep you safe” or whatever most people pretend the government is good for.

What this all means is that 41% of all the wealth produced in America is pissed away by government every-single-year. And I’m not even going to make my usual anarchist arguments in this post, I do that enough. I just want to point out that the U.S. government could vanish, and the only thing that would change is Americans could spend $4 trillion on the things they want and need instead of the things the American government wants and says we need.

If we are that concerned about crime (even with state and local “authorities” in tact) perhaps American households will purchase crime insurance, which would probably cost about as much per household as home insurance. If each of the 134 million households in America spent an additional $1,000 on average for crime insurance, that would come to $134 billion, which is about 22% of the United States’ annual military budget, and in the same ballpark as the next highest military spender on earth, China.

Maybe some “greedy corporations” would get their hands on the interstate highways, and –gasp– charge a subscription fee for fixing the potholes and infrastructure. If all 210 million licensed American drivers paid $126 per year (the cost of a premier AAA membership) to drive on these roads, that would come to $28.5 billion.

Perhaps without the feds “taking care of the poor” people would want to give a little extra to charity. Apparently 1.3 billion people on earth live in extreme poverty on the equivalent of less than $1.25 per day, so we could double the standard of living of the poorest 20% of earthlings for just $593 billion–still less than the 2016 military budget, and a little over half of the yearly federal spending on welfare.

Don’t know how to distribute that money properly? Neither does the government. But the free market does, or rather, millions of people working together each filling a different niche, interested in a different subculture, and focusing on a particular area, ethnicity, age group, disease etc. know how to get that money where it needs to go.

But you know what, the federal government sponsors a lot of science and research. I know! What if Americans were free to invest their money in their interests, where they think it will pay off, whether it is for new technology, disease cures, or random studies? Maybe without the feds stealing $4 trillion each year, the average American will invest $1,000 in stocks, or trust their local bank to invest it in a mutual fund. That’s $318 billion in extra funding for innovation, research, and technological advance.

And the best part is, all this wealth being properly placed by interested parties will mean even more wealth is created the next year! Sure, federal employees will lose their jobs, but the jobs won’t simply vanish! Instead there will be countless new jobs from the extra investment, countless new jobs from the new charities, countless new jobs from the new industries which create wealth that wasn’t there before.

With people holding onto more of their money, they can spend it on things they care about. A former government employee can finally start that woodworking business he’s always dreamed of, because now his neighbors have enough extra cash to afford his beautiful oak tables. The EPA official who loves nature can start his environmental sustainability website which is paid for by ads from companies who now have more customers to reach. The oak tables and environmental information are new wealth created instead of the unproductive endeavors the government was spending the money on.

The money that the U.S. government wastes on stupid crap like oil subsidies, corrupt politicians, bailouts, war, and ruining honest businesses would instead be spent on productive industry; productive according to whoever earned the money in the first place, and thus should decide how it is spent.

Currently the U.S. government runs on the broken window fallacy. A broken window does not improve the economy, because the person who pays to repair it must spend his money on a window instead of spending it on whatever he wants–a nice dinner out, a new alpaca wool sweater, or a novel by his new favorite author, Joe Jarvis.

Likewise, the U.S. government bombing children in the Middle East does not stimulate the economy, it gives money to defense contractors instead of allowing me and you to spend it where we want: my choice would be on plants for a food forest. What would you spend your stolen money on?

Can Individuals Delegate a Right They Don’t Have to the Government? -Video

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Jan: Can you properly delegate a right you do not have?

Sen. Inoue: You cannot tax your neighbor, but you can authorize me as a senator to vote for programs that will tax your neighbor…

Jan: Then you think that you can actually delegate a right you do not have? …It is interesting to me how the agent can have more power than the principle. If the principles are the people, and the source [of power] comes from the people, the individuals do not have the right to initiate force against others-

Sen. Inoue: As individuals-

Jan: Well, if they get together then all of the sudden they have the right?

Sen. Inoue: If they authorize the government to do so, yes. If they authorize the government to enter into a war and kill people, that’s a right.

Jan: Where does this right come from if it doesn’t come from the people?

Sen. Inoue: The people through the Constitution.

Jan: The Constitution was made by the people right? So then the people are the source of all legitimate power, so if the people did not have the right to initiate physical force against anybody, then the government cannot have- It seems like there’s a contradiction there as far as if you say that all legitimate governmental power is derived from the people, and you agree that the individual citizens do not have the right to initiate force against other citizens, then it would seem clear that they cannot delegate that right to the government.

Sen. Inoue: Why don’t we just leave it this way, we disagree.

What Jan Helfeld is saying is that if a citizen does not have the right to do something as an individual (like rob their neighbor), then what gives the government the right to rob his neighbor on the citizen’s behalf? If the government derives its power from the people, where does this extra power come from, that the people can never exercise as individuals?

What is so magic about government, that suddenly they can act on an individual’s behalf in a way that the individual could never act on his own? What is so magic about a group of individuals that allows them to rob their neighbor, or initiate force, when said force would always be illegitimate as an individual?

There’s nothing magic about it. It is wrong to initiate force as an individual, and it is also wrong to initiate force as a group, even with approval of the majority. The only legitimate way to take someone’s money (time, labor, wealth) is for them to voluntarily hand it over to you. Otherwise it is theft, even if the government is the robber.

Charity versus taxation is the difference between sex and rape.


Government is Horrible at Divvying Resources

Resources are limited, this is true. Even when creating wealth, such as growing a garden, it requires the resources of land, water, and sun. It does not follow, however, that the state is necessary to divvy up these resources appropriately. To put it another way, there is no evidence to suggest force is the best way to decide where resources will go.

I bring this up because I’ve heard people say we need a government because land, water, oil, etc. are all to some degree scarce resources, meaning they are limited. But why on earth would anyone think the government will be a proper arbiter or these resources?

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Just look at oil. This is a scarce resource, that many people want and need for industry. Are the governments of the world doing a good job splitting that resource? No, they spend more money fighting wars over oil than the actual oil is worth, and that is before we even place a value on human life lost! The only reason governments can spend more wealth obtaining a resource than it is worth, is because the wealth they spend is forcefully taken by them in the form of taxes!

[Fun Fact: there is enough habitable land on Earth for every person alive to own over two acres.]

A company that needs to turn a profit on the other hand, could not spend more obtaining the resource than it is worth. They cannot spend $1 billion mining gold if the amount of gold they mine can only be sold for half a billion dollars. But governments spend far more on wars to obtain land and oil than the total amount of production that said land or oil could sustain.

So if no one was allowed to rob us, including government, then these issues would have to be solved in a mutually beneficial way. In order to obtain oil, we would have to pay the price asked, or go elsewhere. Elsewhere would include solar, wind, hydro, and other forms of creating electricity. The government has helped keep us in the stone age of fossil fuel because they rob us to obtain the oil, then rob us to subsidize the oil, and keep the shelf price of it low enough so that we don’t bother seriously looking into alternative fuels.

But if we were not robbed by the government, that wealth would stay in our hands, and we would be able to spend that wealth in peaceful ways that create more wealth. Instead, government spends it on murder and destruction.

And somehow people still think government is the best arbiter of limited resources? They just don’t know any better alternatives. That is why they should read my fiction novel Anarchy in New England, in order to explore a world where coercion is never okay, and mutual benefit has monumentally raised the standard of living.

A Degree of Slavery: Words From Frederick Douglas

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I’ve been criticized at times for likening taxation to slavery. As the above meme demonstrates, almost everyone can agree that 100% taxation is slavery. So then a lesser percentage of forced labor, as I have argued, is also slavery, perhaps to a lesser degree.

Whether a cent or a million dollars is stolen, we call it theft, unless we call it taxation. And if someone forces you to work for them 1% of the time, or 100% of a time, that is still slavery. We need to stop letting the government off the hook by softening the perception of theft and slavery and allowing them to use the term taxation.

Frederick Douglas was a slave, by any reckoning. So it is interesting to read his own words, on the same subject of having his rightfully earned wages taken by force. First, he laments the state of his servitude, that all his hard work is confiscated from him.

Besides, I was now getting—as I have said—a dollar and fifty cents per day. I contracted for it, worked for it, earned it, collected it; it was paid to me, and it was rightfully my own; and yet, upon every returning Saturday night, this money—my own hard earnings, every cent of it—was demanded of me, and taken from me by Master Hugh. He did not earn it; he had no hand in earning it; why, then, should he have it? I owed him nothing. He had given me no schooling, and I had received from him only my food and raiment; and for these, my services were supposed to pay, from the first. The right to take my earnings, was the right of the robber. He had the power to compel me to give him the fruits of my labor, and this power was his only right in the case. I became more and more dissatisfied with this state of things…

Frederick Douglas sees here what I see: that the only “right” the government has to take your money, is the right of the robber. Yes, they have enough power to force you to give them money, and that is the only thing that makes it “legitimate”. Douglas then muses about what conditions make slave-masters able to keep men enslaved.

To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his earnings, must be able to convince him that he has a perfect right to do so. It must not depend upon mere force; the slave must know no Higher Law than his master’s will. The whole relationship must not only demonstrate, to his mind, its necessity, but its absolute rightfulness. If there be one crevice through which a single drop can fall, it will certainly rust off the slave’s chain.

And this is the same reason people accept taxation. We revere authority, and accept government as necessary, and still think we get some benefit out of our slavery. Of course people think this way, how often do you hear people support something because, “it is the law”. Is there no higher law than that which the government makes up for its own benefit, and then exerts through force? The will and force of government is the highest law we know.

But as soon as we realize that it is never okay to be robbed, no matter how small, the injustice is a potent demonstration that we are at the mercy of a thieving gang who has convinced most people that somehow in this case, theft and slavery are acceptable.

In case you are hung up on the percentage of stolen labor: it is interesting to note that Frederick Douglas did not always have 100% of his wages stolen from him by his masters.

I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my toil into the purse of my master. When I carried to him my weekly wages, he would, after counting the money, look me in the face with a robber-like fierceness, and ask, “Is this all?” He was satisfied with nothing less than the last cent. He would, however, when I made him six dollars, sometimes give me six cents, to encourage me. It had the opposite effect. I regarded it as a sort of admission of my right to the whole. The fact that he gave me any part of my wages was proof, to my mind, that he believed me entitled to the whole of them. I always felt worse for having received any thing; for I feared that the giving me a few cents would ease his conscience, and make him feel himself to be a pretty honorable sort of robber.

How often do people squeal that the rich need to pay their “fair share”? It doesn’t matter how much any person earns, the government always wants to steal more. And somehow they have convinced millions of people that the thieves are the good guys, and the wage earners deserve to be enslaved and robbed.

We also shouldn’t feel excited when we get out tax refunds, we should be all the more infuriated. The government knows and admits that it is our money, that we earned, to which they have no right. Yet they still take it, and we still stand by as helpless slaves while being robbed? The worst part is, that the robber undoubtedly thinks he is honorable in our circumstances! Welfare, roads, a military to “keep us safe”: our robbers, our slave masters, want us to thank them for giving back cents on the stolen dollar!

But I won’t accept it. I won’t pretend with the rest of the slaves that it is just. Yes, I will give up my wages at the point of a gun, but that is the only right the government has over me, the right of the robber.

He exhorted me to content myself, and be obedient. He told me, if I would be happy, I must lay out no plans for the future. He said, if I behaved myself properly, he would take care of me. Indeed, he advised me to complete thoughtlessness of the future, and taught me to depend solely upon him for happiness. He seemed to see fully the pressing necessity of setting aside my intellectual nature, in order to contentment in slavery. But in spite of him, and even in spite of myself, I continued to think, and to think about the injustice of my enslavement, and the means of escape.

That passage strikes an eery tone to me, because anyone can see the government has the exact same advice for us, as Frederick Douglas’ master had for him. Just sign up for Obamacare, pay your taxes, vote, pay into social security, it will all be fine! Don’t worry, you don’t need anything but us to be happy and content. If people feel dependent on the government, they are terrified to be free! The government will take care of you, just as long as you abandon your intellect, and push away any thoughts of influencing your future. Leave your fate to the hands of government.

Frederick Douglas had incredible insight into the true nature of slavery. He was the self aware slave that every master fears. Frederick Douglas was at times even placed in the same type of slavery we find ourselves in today, where we have the appearance of freedom. But it is really the worst of both worlds.

I was to be allowed all my time, make all contracts with those for whom I worked, and find my own employment; and, in return for this liberty, I was to pay him three dollars at the end of each week; find myself in calking tools, and in board and clothing. My board was two dollars and a half per week. This, with the wear and tear of clothing and calking tools, made my regular expenses about six dollars per week. This amount I was compelled to make up, or relinquish the privilege of hiring my time. Rain or shine, work or no work, at the end of each week the money must be forthcoming, or I must give up my privilege. This arrangement, it will be perceived, was decidedly in my master’s favor. It relieved him of all need of looking after me. His money was sure. He received all the benefits of slaveholding without its evils; while I endured all the evils of a slave, and suffered all the care and anxiety of a freeman. 

Precisely. We are “free”! Just so long as you give the government protection money at the end of each work week. If you can’t find work, you still need to buy healthcare, you still need to pay your property taxes, you still need to pay sales tax, and so on and so forth. We have all the stress of free men, without the benefit! And the government has all the benefits of a slave-holder, without all the intricacies of owning slaves.

The criticisms that Frederick Douglas expresses of his masters are perfectly interchangeable with all the criticisms I have for government. Heed his words. Douglas was 100% a slave at times, 99% a slave at other times, and even at a point 50% a slave, according to how much of his labor was confiscated.

But he was still a slave. Don’t let the masters keep you a thoughtless slave.

We Don’t Trust the Feds: States Need Their Power Restored

A new poll has found a “historic low” in the trust young people have for government. 18-29 year olds’ trust in the President, Congress, the military, the Supreme Court, and the federal government as a whole has declined for years, but especially over the last 2 years. Trust in the media has also declined, but trust in state and local government has remained the same for the past 4 years.

And that is what is so great about America, we have 50 state governments to pick up the pieces when the federal government drops the ball. The federal government does everything it can to boss the states around, in an attempt to exert control, but some states are starting to fight back. Since there is no Constitutional way for the federal government to issue orders to the states, the feds have been holding money over the states ever since the 16th amendment was passed authorizing the federal income tax. States comply with the feds if they want their handouts of highway funds, education funds, grants, and other bribery.

But when we think about all the failures of the federal government, we still seem to have this “it is a necessary evil” attitude; but why? Our state governments are practically like little countries anyway, and think of how much money they would have to work with if the federal government wasn’t stealing a quarter of the wealth created by Americans every year.

So really when you think about it, what would be so bad about the federal government just disappearing? States would finally have control back of their national guard. We would see competition among intelligence and other military capabilities where one state would build a good international spying system, and trade intelligence to other states in exchange for, say, the other state’s naval capacity, or just for a price. This would be the same specialization technique which allows business to thrive without having to perform every little task involved in making and marketing their product. And what is even better, the states would be hard-pressed to agree to send their own militias overseas to fight wars relatively unrelated to the states’ interests, so our national offense would be restored to national defense.

Other competition among the states would see industry boom, without the federal regulations, which currently cost businesses in America more than the entire gross domestic product of Canada! If one state has little regulations, businesses might set up shop there. If that lack of regulation leads to death and suffering, people would move out of the state, or use businesses from states with the proper regulation in place. But more likely, businesses would behave appropriately from the start, because they would have to succeed on their own making customers happy, unable to appeal to federal funds to bail out or subsidize their terrible business practices.

The state governments existed before the federal government, and created the national government by joining together, believing they would be just as able to exit the union peacefully. Today our national government works against the interests of individuals, and against the interests of the states. The 10th Amendment—anything not authorized under the Constitution is left for the states to decide, unless also prohibited by the Constitution—has gone by the wayside as the feds seize ever more control, ignoring the Constitutional limitations that the states originally placed on the national government. It is time state government stand up and refuse to recognize the authority the feds falsely claim to have, and restore balance and peace to our great nation.

IRS Perfect Tool for Government Control

Note: I will be on vacation for the next week or so. You might notice some old posts sprinkled in with some new ones. Thanks for reading!

In a recent column Walt Williams essentially said that collectively Americans deserve the IRS we have, because without such a powerful body we would be unable to take 50% of what individuals in this country earn, and allow it to be spent by government. The 16th Amendment which was passed in 1913 while Woodrow Wilson was President, allowed taxes to be collected on income, which was, until that point, unConstitutional.

Our Founding Fathers feared the emergence of an agency such as the IRS and its potential for abuse. That’s why they gave us Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which reads: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.” A capitation is a tax placed directly on an individual. That’s what an income tax is. The founders feared the abuse and the government power inherent in a direct tax. In Section 8 of Article 1, they added, “But all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” These protections the founders gave us were undone by the Progressive era’s 16th Amendment, which reads, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Today federal spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product is 25% while from the time our country was founded, all the way until the 1920′s no more than 5% of the GDP was spent by government, except during times of war. Williams argues that this is precisely why the U.S. became the most powerful nation on earth, which would explain why as more and more of the production of the country is taken in taxes and spent by the government, the U.S. is fading as a world producer and power.

As incentives to produce are diminished with higher taxes (plus the crony capitalist use of business-government relations as a way to make money without producing products that are in demand) it should be no surprise that the economy is slowing. The U.S. has historically been better off when it allowed people to keep more of what they earned; production which would fuel further production by allowing the people who earned the money to decide where it is spent. Since these people have already proved their worth in their ability to produce, you can bet that the way they spend their own money will be more productive than the way the government spends their money.

Today federal spending is 25 percent of our GDP. State and local government spending is about 15 percent of the GDP. That means government spends more than 40 cents of each dollar we earn. If we add government’s regulatory burden, which is simply a disguised form of taxation, the government take is more than 50 percent of what we produce.

And apart from money that the government inefficiently spends on things that we would spend it on anyway (schools, police, fire departments), it spends much of that money on unproductive activity such as politicians and bureaucrats salaries, failed loans, subsidies, bailouts, and grants. While it may seem that some of these activities are productive, they are taking the place of what the money would be spent on in the private sector, and changing the method which decides where the capital goes.

The government chooses to provide loans to solar companies that go out of business, or bailouts to car companies that are not providing people with demanded products. That money kept in the private sector would be spent based on the needs of the person who earned it, meaning a person must produce something before they can demand that something else be produced. This process ensures capital is spent in the most efficient way possible, to provide products most desired and needed by the consumer.

Walt Williams concludes by saying that the government needs a powerful, scary, and intrusive agency like the IRS if we wish to take half of the productive capacity of the country, and let the government spend it. However if we would like to see America advance economically, then we need to allow as much money as possible to remain with the people who earned it, and be used by the people who earned it. Repealing the 16th Amendment authorizing the income tax, and simplifying the tax code would be an excellent place to start.