the community has rights
>Theft is the wrongful taking of property, whether done by
>Slightly up from slavery
>To eliminate any misunderstanding as to what
>taxes are, it's helpful to define the word
>"theft." One good definition is "the wrongful
>taking and carrying away of the personal goods
>of another." The definition does not go on to
>say "unless you're the government." There is
>no difference, in principle, between the
>state taking property and a street gang doing
>so, except that the State's theft is "legal"
>and its agents are immune from prosecution.
>Many people do not accept that analogy,
>because the government is widely viewed as
>being of, for and by the people - even
>though it's also acknowledged as acting badly
>from time to time. Suppose a mugger demanded
>your wallet - perhaps because he needed money
>to buy a new car - and threatened you with
>violence if you weren't forthcoming.
>Everyone would call that a criminal act.
>Suppose, however, the mugger said he wanted
>the money to buy himself food. Would it still
>be theft? Suppose now that he said he wanted
>your wallet to feed another hungry person,
>not himself. Would it still be theft? Now let's
>suppose that this mugger convinces most of his
>friends that it's OK for him to relieve you of
>your wallet. Would it still be theft? What if
>he convinces a majority of citizens?
>Principles stand on their own. Even if a
>criminal act is committed for good purpose, or
>with the complicity of bystanders, (even if
>those people call themselves the government),
>it is still an act of criminal aggression.
>"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
>when the government fears the people, there is liberty "
> Thomas Jefferson
an individual, a gang, or the state, but not all taking of
property is wrongful. To have a civilisation we must have
a state and certain public facilities and institutions that
must be usable to all, regardless of ability to pay. I have
illustrated previously in this forum the disasterous results
of trying to have courts and police that are available only
to those who can buy justice and the unworkability of having
privately owned streets and sidewalks everywhere and the
difficulty of organising a military force to defend a country
without a permanent cadre hired by someone (and speak not of
private armies--private armies do the bidding of whoever pays
them, not the country's people).
There have been many times when taxes have been assessed for
the benefit of a small minority and not for the general good,
and this happens quite a lot in the modern USA (e.g. the
stadium tax here in Phoenix), and when this occurs I certainly
oppose it. Not all taxes are like this, however. I would say
that a tax assessed to keep the streets and roads in repair,
to pay the fire department, to pay the courts, to pay the
legislature, is a useful tax for all the citizens. It is a
community coming together to work for the common good. What would
truly be theft would be for some freeloader to expect to enjoy
these benefits without paying his or her fair share of the cost,
and these benefits could hardly be denied to this freeloader without
If someone says, "I never consented to pay taxes for these sidewalks
and these roads, so I won't pay.", how else could you keep him or her
from using them except to put him or her in gaol (or at least under
house arrest)? That would certainly be coercion.
I would further say that when you can't be paid back in wages enough
to buy back the product of your labour, that is theft, but then that
is the basis of the whole capitalist system. It is of little use
to complain of theft by the state (taxes) but praise theft by
Would anyone say that workers freely choose their wages by consenting
to work for them? When the alternative is to starve, or at least endure
destitution, I would say there is coercion. If my labour produces $20
worth of goods but I can't find an employer who will pay me more than $10,
that other $10 is stolen property. That is the real theft, the much
larger theft, than that of which Libertarians complain.
"We are 50 or 100 years behind the most advanced nations. We must make
good that distance in ten years. Either we do it or we go under."