A week from today, millions of Americans will rush to post offices to mail last-second tax returns to the IRS. Many of them will grumble about what they’re having to pay, but most will accept the process as legitimate. They believe it’s moral for governments to take money from us.
I’ve said before that taxation is theft, but this is a good time of year to revisit the question. Most people have never even questioned the morality of taxation. They were brainwashed from an early age into believing that they owe unquestioning obedience to the governments that rule over them. They were taught to love the national government — and the things they were taught confused them into believing that loving the land in which they were born was the same as loving a government.
If you’ve been taught to be “patriotic” and love your country — and if you’ve been taught that your country is “the best in the world” — it’s natural that you’d grow up trusting the national myths you were taught. And even when you got old enough to realize that politicians are lying to you and are leading the country down the wrong path, it doesn’t occur to most to question the basic system. For the most part, people just start believing the fiction that dishonest politicians have hijacked the pristine and holy system that was handed down by the Founding Fathers.
In other words, it never crosses the mind of most that the problem might be that coercive government is flawed and immoral as a basic idea.
There are two primary reasons why most people never question the assumptions behind taxation. First, they’re emotionally committed to the idea of their nation-state, for the reasons I just outlined. They grew up being taught to virtually worship various leaders from the past and being taught to revere the government. The second reason is that they don’t believe there are any alternatives to provide the services that governments currently provide. When the idea of taxation is questioned, they ask how roads will be built, how schools will exist and who will protect us from criminals.
It’s a legitimate question to ask how we’re going to provide those services, but the question has nothing to do with the moral issue. I’m sure slaveowners wondered how the cotton would ever get picked if their slaves were taken away, too. When you see things such as this as pragmatic issues, you miss the moral question — which is whether anyone has the moral right to take your money just because they assert the right to do so.
Larken Rose is a well-know tax protester who has spent time in federal prison for his refusal to pay taxes. Most people would consider him a “tax cheat” who deserves to have been punished. In the video below, he briefly explains why writing something on a piece of paper doesn’t give someone the authority to take your money. The production values of the video aren’t very high, but the message is worth the 10 minutes to watch.
I don’t recommend taking the route that Rose did and I think some of the arguments that he presents against taxation on his site are overly convoluted. I pay taxes, not out of a sense of moral obligation, but because I don’t want to be harmed as a consequence of standing up for my rights. If a thug with a gun demands your money, you generally give it to him — not because he has a moral right to it, but because you don’t want him to shoot you. That’s the basis upon which I pay any taxes.
If enough people would understand the immorality of the coercive government system, there would come a point at which the government wouldn’t have the ability to punish all of those people. As long as you believe that you have a moral obligation to turn money over to the state, you’re the worst kind of slave. You’re the kind who doesn’t even understand that he’s enslaved.
If you want to find a way to escape this slavery, it’s going to be a long-term process of finding enough people who agree and who want to escape with us in various ways. Even though it’s a long-term process, though, there’s a clear first step. Before anything else can happen, you have to free your mind of the brainwashing that taught you that someone else owns you and the things you produce. Until you do that, absolutely nothing else can change.