Libertarian Ramblings

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

Posted by gravisman on November 11, 2012

One of the ideas I find myself most often thinking about and evangelizing is the general philosophy of non-aggression ethics in creation of laws. That is, the idea that any law that aggresses against citizens, or takes liberties from the same, is unethical. By far the most typical form of aggression is that which steals from the citizens – i.e. through income taxes.

I find that virtually every argument in favor of the modern governmental system which steals 1/3 or more of citizens’ income is, rather obviously, centered around bragging about the wonderful services rendered with the plundered coin. Moreover, proponents of large government like to make a counter-factual argument by supposing that if we did not have a large government, surely we would not have anything that is good like health care, electric service, roads, or any other necessities of life. That might be true or it might not be – none of us can know because do not live in that world. That is precisely why the counter-factual argument is a fallacy, but that’s the beside the point for the moment.

The more important idea, philosophically, is that even if it is true that without government, society would lose a lot of great things, the government is still unethical. We would not have a good highway system, health care, or (god forbid) even the internet itself. Even if all of that is true, a government funded via income taxes is still not justified. The issue is that income taxes are simply stealing, even if the masses tacitly consent. If all the voters but me believe taxes are good, but I would rather keep my earned income, the masses use their strength via the “legal” system to steal of my income without my consent. Therefore any income tax which lacks 100% agreement from the citizenry is certainly stealing from some.

Returning to thoughts of the wonderful services provided to us by the government, of which there are arguably many (with trillions of dollars in operating budgets, there ought to be). Problem is, no matter how great the services provided, they are all stained with the red hands of the thief, and therefore none of them can be considered ethical. They are all fruit of the poisoned tree, so to speak.

What I say to those who justify taxing people like me against our will is that your argument boils down to this: “Look at all the cool stuff we can build by stealing from people.” I have no doubt you can do great things by stealing great amounts of wealth. Stealing is still wrong.

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