Column by Stephen Nichols.
Exclusive to STR
I don't know about you, but I take a look at my financial situation pretty regularly. I like to keep tabs on my family's spending and keep things under control. I also like to reduce or eliminate any unnecessary expenses. Take a moment to review this chart of some recent family spending:
Notice anything big that sticks out there? Yeah, me too. Taxes! Our single largest monthly expense is federal income taxes. I'm self-employed, so my family has the joy of cutting a check to the federal government every month to the tune of about $2,800.
By comparison, we spend only $1,268/month on our mortgage. Our federal income tax liability is 2.2 times our housing costs!
I took some time recently to break down what that $2,800 per month is spent on by the federal government. I computed these numbers by looking at the budgeted expenditures of the federal government in 2012 and applying the categorical spending percentages to my monthly expense (source: www.usgovernmentspending.com ). The results were both shocking and horrifying to me. Take a look:
$672/month for defense
$616/month for health care
$616/month for pensions
$336/month for welfare
$168/month for interest
$140/month for "other spending"
$112/month for education
$84/month for transportation
$56/month for protection
Now, some interesting facts about this breakdown in regards to my family:
1. We don't agree with the wars being prosecuted by our government.
2. We don't use government health care.
3. We don't receive a government pension.
4. We're not on government welfare or assistance.
5. We home school our kids and, as such, we don't benefit from government spending on education.
6. We didn't decide to run up absurd deficits to incur monthly interest payments.
Those elements above account for $2,520 of our monthly federal tax bill (a whopping 90%!). These are programs that we explicitly disagree with, don't want, don't use, and yet, are forced to pay for. Looking at "other spending" and "protection" in more detail would likely uncover more spending that fits this description. But, for the purposes of this essay, focusing on the top 90% is good enough.
The problem with this situation is simple: we're being forced to pay for things that we don't want by people we don't know that have no interest in looking out for our best interests. If we don't pay, we may be jailed, fined, penalized or financially destroyed. The fact is that this money is taken from my family under threat of force, just as it's taken from you and your family under threat of force.
Any person capable of reason can see the inescapable conclusions of that fact: taxation is not voluntary. And, since taxation is not voluntary, it is clearly a form of extortion and robbery.
Chances are that you've been brainwashed into thinking that taxation is voluntary. The government makes this claim regularly when approached on the subject (sources: Forbes , YouTube ). Yet, what reasoned argument can you make to defend that position? In any other case, you would see clearly that something taken from you, under threat of force, is obviously not voluntary.
Perhaps it's because you agree with the taxes that you do pay, and thus your agreement makes them voluntary. If you voluntarily agree to pay your taxes and agree with how they are spent then there's no problem. The problem arises when you disagree with taxation itself or how the money is spent once it's paid. Unless you're an unreasoning fool or are an unquestioning "patriot," you likely have some disagreement with the levels of taxation or how your taxes are spent once taken. If that's true, then this point on the voluntary nature of taxation applies directly to you.
This force-based funding behavior that the government engages in has one natural consequence in my mind: it destroys any shred of legitimacy government would claim.
To a reasonable person's mind, this is obvious. Do you see a thief as legitimate? Do you see murderer as legitimate? How about a rapist? Of course not. Yet, if you see government as legitimate then you are deluding yourself. Because, just like a thief, government takes the product of your labor through force. Because, just like a murderer, government would deprive you of your life if you choose to deny its take. Because, just like a rapist, government would beat you into submission if you refuse its advances.
Think on that. Government exists because of force, not voluntary exchange. Government feeds itself through extorted funds at your expense. And, once it takes your livelihood, it does as it pleases without any oversight or control. It is an out of control beast whose gaping maw can never be filled. It always wants more and more and more! It won't stop until we are all consumed.
If government funded itself on voluntary payments then it would at least be well on its way toward gaining legitimacy in my mind. Yet, we all know that government will never do that. And we know very well why that is. If taxpayers were given the choice to pay or not, the system would rapidly collapse. This is because most people would choose not to pay. Why is that? The reason is simple: government doesn't provide a service that people would choose to pay for. If government were a business, it would have no customers. As such, it would rapidly dissolve.
Government knows this. So, it is compelled to use force to achieve its goals. Force is the only way to fund an organization that, given the free choice, people would choose not to fund or participate in. Extortion and robbery are the required foundations of this crooked scheme.
At its very core, government is a thoroughly contemptible entity unworthy of the support of any moral human being. Any entity that lives only because of the threat of force and coercion should be flatly rejected on moral grounds. I don't mean some morality handed down by God (although nearly all religions abhor such forceful entities), but the morality of reason. If you can reject a thief on the one hand but not the government on the other, then you must be an unreasoning brute. By what machinations of non-thought can you withhold contempt from one but grant it to the other?
Refuse to think all you like, but the conclusion is inescapable to me: government is not legitimate.
Voting is Immoral
Voting isn't just the simple act of marking a ballot on Election Day. It is a statement of principle. When you vote, you grant to others power you don't have. Do you claim to have the right to take $2,800 a month from my family and spend it as you please? Would you do so yourself? If so, you're a thief. If not, you're a hypocrite. Because, when you vote, you purport to grant this power you do not have to others. When you vote, you are a thief by proxy.
By what right do you do this? Can you even articulate your reasoning for this action that is so antithetical to freedom? I dare you to try. You might surprise yourself with the answer.
When you vote, you participate in the theft and extortion of yourself and others. When you vote, you are an accessory to theft, extortion and all the crimes perpetrated by the beast of government. Your vote is what gives legitimacy to the illegitimate.
The conclusion is inescapable: voting is an immoral act. It defies reason and incriminates the voter in all manner of transgressions -- not unlike holding down a victim while your neighbor has his way with her. It's detestable and I see no reason to ever participate in it unless I choose to be a criminal too.
There are only two answers to this problem: embrace being a thief or don't vote. For me, the only answer is don't vote.