Should taxes be mandatory?

When is the last time you went to a restaurant – and did not leave a tip?

Chances are – never.

Or the service was so poor, you were ‘making a point’…

Why?

Because we all understand that servers rely on tips for their income.

And we wish to encourage good service and so on and so on.

Nobody has the right to force you to tip.  You may not like the practice, but chances are, you still do tip ‘good service’.

This same principle also ought to apply to taxes!

Governments would be much more careful with their revenue if they did not usurp onto themselves the power to extort taxes from its citizens.  Any government caught in corruption (AdScam, e-Health,  Sewardship Ontario and on and on), that government’s revenue would dry up – and rightly so!

This, in my never-humble-opinion, is the best (if not only) means through which citizens can keep governments ‘honest’ and fiscally responsible!

Perhaps this sounds extreme – and perhaps it is.

Still, ask yourself why is it that ‘tax collectors’ have powers much greater than police officers or the military.  Why is it that in the name of ‘collecting taxes’, governments create personal files about each and every citizen, where they collect and access decades very private information?

Governments only have the powers we delegate to them.

If you do not have the right to do something, you cannot delegate that right to anyone else (including the government) to do it on your behalf.

You do not have the right to demand to know the financial details of your neighbour’s life.  Since you do not have it, you cannot ‘delegate’ this ‘right’ onto the government.  Therefore, demanding to know the details of our financial circumstances is not a power any government can legitimately exercise on behalf of its citizens.

Again, please ask yourself:  why is it that when governments cannot seem to catch ‘careful’ lawbreakers, they try to ‘get’ them on ‘tax evasion’?

That alone should make us pause.

I know this sounds extreme – it is meant to.

The reason I am raising this point is not because I am advocating any sort of a tax revolt – at least, not on a practical level.

Rather, I am saying is that we ought to think very hard about exactly how we got into the current state where we consider it ‘normal’ that the State suspends our civil liberties in order to take from us whatever amount of money it has unilaterally set.

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24 Responses to “Should taxes be mandatory?”

  1. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    You have made your case masterfully. There is nothing to add. Except …

    The idea that a free man has the right to withhold taxes from a corrupt government only sounds “extreme” to a slave.

    Don’t shy away from the correct results of your own reasoning. Thinking about how we got into this mess is utterly pointless unless we are ready to act on the conclusions we draw. So let’s face it:

    Tax revolt is the least drastic action that has any chance of success!

    It’s probably too moderate, but it’s a good start.

    Xanthippa says:

    CodeSlinger,

    Now there is something I’m not accused of often!

    BEING TOO MODERATE!

  2. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    That’s because you spend too much time hanging around with slavish weenies who think the government is their friend and self-reliance is evil.

    I say you are too moderate because you want to change things in fundamental ways, while staying always within the confines of the law.

    Well, it would be nice if that could work. But it can’t.

    The law is written to support the hegemony of the state.

    Changes that occur incrementally, by completely legal means, always result in a slow but steady ratchet effect – which progressively tightens the hold of the state on the throats of the people.

    Changes, which curtail the power of the state and restore freedom to the people, happen by means of infrequent sudden upheavals – which always, always take place outside the bounds of the law.

    This is exactly what Thomas Jefferson meant, in his 1787 letter to W. S. Smith, when he wrote:

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

    Xanthippa says:

    CodeSlinger,

    Jefferson was wrong about this – and (if I am not mistaken) he is reported to have realized this towards the end of his life.

    Unfortunately, most of the time, things do get violent. I do not think that is good – or that people ought to think violence is the only way, or that it ought to be anything other than a last resort.

    This does not mean I think people ought to be unprepared for violence in defense of their freedoms: freedoms are WON, not ‘handed over’!

    Yet, history does have examples of people, by their efforts, loosening the grip of totalitarian governments without resorting to violence. In very recent history, think of the ‘Velvet Revolution’… That is one example of such a ‘sudden upheaval’ your referred to; one where the people did not take up arms against the state – and won!

    So, yes – do ‘carry a big stick’ and make sure everyone knows you know how to use it well and that you ARE WILLING to use it. But, do TRY to ‘walk softly’!

    In my opinion, there is a big, big difference between violence born of aggression and violence born of self-defense.

    Not only do I think that the ends never justify the means – I am convinced that the means often undermine and invalidate the ends!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Yes, of course, violence is always the very last resort.

      I described tax revolt as a “good start” for the same reason one fires a warning shot across a pirate’s bow: anything less may not be taken seriously, and anything more could be called an unprovoked attack.

      However – once you fire that warning shot, you must be ready, willing and able to escalate to whatever degree is required. Otherwise the pirate will destroy you and plunder everything you have.

      Therefore I don’t think Jefferson was wrong at all. But the terseness of his statement makes it vulnerable to attack by first exaggerating it and then knocking down the overstated result. A longer, more nuanced expression of the exact same message is the following:

      Let me give you a word on the philosophy of reform.

      The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.

      Find out just what any people will quietly submit to — and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

      Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

      – Frederick Douglass, The Significance of Emancipation in the West Indies, 1857

      Xanthippa says:

      Sorry, CodeSlinger – I had misunderstood your previous point. You are, of course, quite right!

      Here are a few inspiring words: “Lomikare, Lomikare! Do roka a do dne, zvu Te na sud Bozi! Hync sa hukaze – “

      • CodeSlinger Says:

        Xanthippa:

        Okay, I admit, I can’t read a word of Czech…

        Xanthippa says:

        Sorry!

        I thought the link was a sufficient explanation…..if I know what I mean, then obviously, everybody else knows it, too!!!

        These were the last words of Jan Sladky Kozina at the gallows – hence they were unfinished.

  3. Calculus Says:

    An interesting idea–one that has literally cost me hours of sleep wondering how it could work (if at all). If it were to work, I imagine government would be much smaller as fewer people would be as inclined to fork over their money to the government without extra incentives. Assuming there still to be local/city/town, provincial/state, federal governments, I would expect that on an individual level, people would give to the local level over the provincial/state or federal.

    Still, what of the other players, such as the corporation? It’s not government, and it is not an individual though it may possess aspects/properties of both.

    It is an interesting game, playing “what if” (and determining how things may go horribly wrong). What if it were not one vote per person? What if you could have more than one vote by paying more in taxes? What if people who work on behalf of the government were not eligible to vote?

    Xanthippa says:

    Yes – this is an interesting thought experiment…

    A few things you mentioned which I’d like to touch on, at least, briefly…

    Corporations: THAT, I fear, is when ‘things’ began to go ‘wrong’ with our society. OK, nor ‘began’ in an absolutist sense; rather, a particular level of ‘wrong’ began when non-individual-human-beings began to be officially recognized as ‘legal entities’…. However, that is such a huge ‘can-of-worms’ that I do not feel confident about ‘opening it’ – just yet! And, yes, that is why I intentionally avoided it in the post itself – focus, and all that.

    As to which government level people would give to – I suspect it wold very much depend on the particular person, the specific time (and its circumstances) and the various governments themselves!

    For example: if I thought the local government had an excellent proposal to improve the sewage treatment system, I might feel inclined to give them some money to go on with it. But, if they put forward a proposal to build a North-South railway-based public transit system when the city’s major growth is East-West and we had just finished building an award-winning bus-based transit system, I might decide to support a different level of government. Or, and this is perhaps most likely, I would give each level as much as I thought their performance warranted…

    Now, here is another idea that is ‘fun’ to play around with…

    Back in them Roman times, when somebody became a minister of ‘something’, he would not inherit the civil servants that ‘went’ with the department. Rather, he would get a set budget to ‘take care’ of that ministry and its responsibilities and he had to supply his own people to do the actual work.

    Now, THAT is what I call ministerial accountability!

    I HAVE seen this myself:
    After over a decade of one ‘regime’ in power, many of the top positions in the civil service are filled with people who are ‘officially neutral’ – yet who only got to their position because of their deep and unscupulous loyalty to the man in power. Then, when that man is voted out and his political rival gets voted in, these high-ranking civil servants (while appearing to e compliant and professional) will do their utmost to sabotage any of the new ministers’ plans in order to make ‘their’ masters’ political opponents appear incompetent and their policies look either ill-concieved, unrealistic or just plain idiotic!

    Which is what made me think back about them Roman times and how ministers brought their own loyal people with them to do the work…. Plus, if they saved money, they got to keep it: again, I don’t know if this is good or bad – perhaps this depends on the honesty of the minister.

    Still, it is entertaining to think about how this might be implemented ‘now’….both the positives and negatives are ‘interesting’.

    ‘Vote': interesting idea.

    Again, back in them Roman times, only adult male Roman citizens who owned land were permitted to vote. That might have a parallel to the wealth-based vote you mentioned, even if only somewhat indirectly. But, I am much more in favour of one citizen, one vote.

    Still – I have often pondered if civil servants were in a serious conflict of interest when voting….

  4. CodeSlinger Says:

    Calculus:

    Originally, it was the responsibility of the feudal lords to collect taxes on behalf of the king. In theory, this ensured that taxation was to the benefit of the people, since these lords were responsible for the well-being of their serfs. This was called the principle of noblesse oblige, and the evidence indicates that this duty of care was taken seriously by most nobles – at least initially.

    However, this system was brought down by the same process that is bringing down our current system – bankers instigated wars and lent the embattled kings more than they could have repaid through fair taxation, even if the bankers hadn’t been milking the economy by manipulating the price of gold and silver.

    Any system of government can work admirably – including absolute monarchy and total dictatorship – as long as those in power are not corrupt. Conversely, there is no such thing as a system of government that can prevent corrupt rulers from oppressing the people.

    In the long run, of course, the virtue – or lack of it – of the rulers is a direct function of the virtue – or lack of it – of the people, because a virtuous people will not long tolerate corrupt rulers.

    And that is why it is pointless to look for solutions to what ails the West by proposing better political or corporate structures. We already have those structures. What we have lost, is men of integrity to operate them.

    “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.”

    – James Madison

    Turning this on its head, the way to bring down the West is to corrupt its people – and this is the core realization underlying the evil genius of cultural Marxism.

    In short, the cultural Marxists and their masters, the international banksters, are the real enemy.

    And the real solution is to divest them of their influence and reverse the corrosion they have inflicted on our culture.

  5. derek s. Says:

    i think it’s too idealistic to make taxes optional. a reasonable amount of taxes are necessary for the government to fund defense, justice, and other vital programs.

    taxation is essentially a social contract, a mutual agreement between government and its citizens. if a government taxes people beyond a certain threshold, they are free to move to a different government which is fairer to them. a government can only tax its citizens.

    i don’t think there is a great government anywhere in the world, but its about being optimal.

    just my opinion.

    Xanthippa says:

    Of course it is an idealistic proposition!

    That was rather the point of it…

    Along with making us consider this whole situation: the state has the power to unilaterally set how much we pay in taxes, then it has the power to suspend our civil liberties to collect them.

    Contrast this with the story about serfdom which I wrote about this week: just how different is it?

    It is precisely in order to consider the similarities in the two situations that I wanted people to consider taxes from a point of view most of us don’t even think exists…

    By the way – the US is just introducing a bill which, if passed, will be even closer to serfdom than anything we have seen to-date: each and every citizen between the ages of 21 and 42 (I think) will be required to serve a specific number of days in the service of the governmet, either in military or civilian role….

    How is that NOT serfdom – by definition?!?!?

  6. derek s Says:

    i’ve heard of that supposed draft/service bill from conspiracy theorists for years now. it’s most likely just a fabrication or an exaggeration made by some libertarian blog (many of which make claims without any substantiation). as far as my knowledge goes, theres no such thing.

    but you are right about the taxes. obama is going to let most of george w. bush’s tax cuts expire and he’s probably going to enact tax increases of his own, both of which may worsen the recession. i’m not opposed to taxation when the money goes toward a good purpose (such as defending liberty through justice and defense), but the U.S. government spends more than half of its money on a broken (and destined to go bankrupt in 60 years) entitlement system which runs an abused welfare state.

    Xanthippa says:

    This is the 4th and most sweeping version of the bill, a version of which was first proposed in 2003.

    All versions were pushed by Democrat Charles B. Rangel.

    The latest version - HR 5741 – is for people between 18 and 42, and would require 2 years of service of both males and females.

    Unfortunately, you are correct about the Obama tax scheme.

  7. derek s Says:

    i highly doubt that bill will be passed.

    remember, that congressional elections are around the corner. nobody’s going to vote for that. that would be political suicide.

    Xanthippa says:

    Perhaps….if people notice…. It also depends on how it is spun and/or bundled.

    • derek s Says:

      people will notice. legislation that significant will make a lot of noise.

      moreover, the republicans are opportunistic and likely to gain a few seats in each chamber this november, so the democrats (as well as republicans) wouldn’t want to sign that because it would hurt their re-election bid.

  8. Steynian 418st « Free Canuckistan! Says:

    [...] XANTHIPPA– “I am saying is that we ought to think very hard about exactly how we got into the [...]

  9. CodeSlinger Says:

    Derek:

    What is idealistic – to the point of delusion – is giving the government unlimited power of taxation, and expecting them to take no more than a “reasonable” amount. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. What is idealistic – to the point of delusion – is thinking that this somehow does not apply to the power of taxation.

    In reality, they take more and more each year, and they use it to do more and more harm to the freedom and well being of the people. They use it to implement their agenda of “global governance” at the expense of the people, and to the detriment of the people.

    This is not government in good faith. This is oppression financed by extortion. And this alone is more than enough to put them in breach of whatever social contract they claim to operate under.

    Yet you claim that taxation is based on the social contract. Then tell me – what remedy do the people have when the government breaches the contract?

    In truth, they have no remedy. There is no quid pro quo, and there is nothing the people can legally do about it. Therefore there is no such contract. It is a fiction.

    And oppression in the name of this fiction will continue to worsen until the people resist the extortion.

    Peacefully, if possible. If not, then by whatever means necessary.

    • derek s Says:

      i disagree with you on this issue , codeslinger.

      it’s a straw man argument for you to say that i support the government having unlimited power to tax. that’s not true. i want stringent restrictions on the government’s power to tax.

      many all-or-nothing black-and-white moralistic Randite fauxlosiphers (i don’t know exactly where you are in the political spectrum, so this may not completely apply to you) advocate the complete or near complete removal of taxes because they impose force on people.

      what they fail to understand is indirect cause and effect relationships. for example, if the government does not tax enough to adequately fund defense, it will result in much coercion. indirect coercion yes, but still coercion. just because its indirect doesn’t mean its non-existant.

      and thats the problem with many philosophies. they sound great in theory, but they simply don’t work.

      there is an option for people in most developed countries who don’t want to pay taxes. leave, and move to a place where they are more comfortable.

      a reasonable amount of taxation is a form of coercion, but they are optimal, a lesser of two evils.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Well, I think that in this case, it is you who has failed to understand the main point of the argument, not Codeslinger.

        And you have not even attempted to answer the question: what MEANS are there available to the people to curb the imposition of unreasonable taxes?

        The government has military might at its disposal, it has given itself extraordinary powers of suspending citizens’ civil liberties and stripped them of all means of defense against the collections of taxes which the government unilaterally sets.

        It is just fine to say you support ‘stringent controls’ on government taxation – but the crux of problem is not ‘what’ but ‘how’.

        So, HOW does one the go about defending oneself?!?!?

  10. derek s Says:

    i concede that it is very difficult (and maybe impossible) to restrain a certain government. i said emigration is an optimal way for one to defend oneself, but overall, you are right. the people don’t have enough power to defend themselves against tax increases. i answered your question, but i don’t think that holds relevance.

    i suspect in some aspects that we may be arguing two different things. similar to an argument of “the grass is green” vs. “sky is blue”.

    the main question is “should taxes be mandatory”?

    my answer is that taxation is part of a social contract. by living in a country, one receives the services of education, infrastructure, domestic/foreign defense, and other services. if the people are using the services by living in a country, it it should be mandatory that they pay their fair share. if they don’t want to pay, then they should stop using the services. it’s that simple.

  11. CodeSlinger Says:

    Derek:

    It is empty to say “within reasonable limits” because the government can deploy armies of sophists to construct disingenuous arguments, making the most egregiously unreasonable acts of naked oppression seem reasonable and beneficial – or at least to introduce some degree of plausible deniability in reply to accusations of malfeasance.

    So, if you don’t advocate unlimited powers of taxation, then what limitations – specifically – do you propose, and by what mechanisms – specifically – are those limitations to be enforced?

    All modern governments are operating to the detriment of their citizens, at the expense of their citizens. They are therefore in blatant breach of the social contracts under which they claim to be constituted.

    So, what remedies – specifically – do you propose, to which the people can resort when the government breaches the social contract?

    • derek s Says:

      the topic was “should taxes be mandatory?”. i already answered that question. anything else is digression.

      Xanthippa says:

      The previous two comments were approved at the same time. Therefore, CodeSlinger’s post was written before he had had a chance to read your reply, immediately prior to his.

      Sorry about that!

  12. CodeSlinger Says:

    Derek:

    Say what?

    You want to restrict the discussion to address only the title of Xanthippa’s post? You want to declare all the issues raised by the body of her post to be, somehow, out of bounds?

    Frankly, that strikes me as a cheap shot – intended to stifle rational discussion of the issues bearing on the question, and calculated to avoid considering those issues in sufficient depth to do justice to the question.

  13. xanthippa Says:

    OK, Derek, let’s re-focus and get back to something you said earlier:

    “my answer is that taxation is part of a social contract. by living in a country, one receives the services of education, infrastructure, domestic/foreign defense, and other services. if the people are using the services by living in a country, it it should be mandatory that they pay their fair share. if they don’t want to pay, then they should stop using the services. it’s that simple.”

    Except that it is NOT that simple – you are forced to pay for all the services, even if you choose not to use them.

    Let’s use ‘education’ – one of your examples.

    I have to pay for ‘education’ through my taxes, whether I choose to use that service or not.

    When I sent my son to a private school – one which was, by law, not permitted to receive a single penny from taxpayer funds, I was financing my son’s education by myself. This is also true of all the people who home-school.

    I had, in a very real sense, ‘opted out’ and chose not to use the public service.

    Yet, despite the fact that I was paying the full cost of educating my son – that I accepted the responsibility of paying the cost of his education myself, I was still compelled to pay the cost of public education of less responsible people’s children as well. I did not even get a tax-break, letting me deduct the amount I paid for my son’s education from my income before the taxes were calculated (meaning I had to pay a dollar in taxes for every single dollar I spent on my son’s tuition).

    I do not have the right to opt out of this service – is that proper?

    I also do not have the right to opt out of paying for all kinds of other services I do not use – and which I do not think the government has any business providing. I don’t use them – so, according to your ‘simple’ assertion, I should not have to pay for them. Right?

    But I do not get to pick and choose – the government forces me to pay for it all!

    I should not have the right to force my ‘single mom’ neighbour to pay for a part of my new luxury car. Except that, with the ‘green subsidies’ – I DO!!!

    That’s just messed up…

    You said:
    “i said emigration is an optimal way for one to defend oneself”

    Really?

    Are you honestly suggesting that if I do not approve of government policies, I should abandon my home, family and property and be driven out, rather than try to change them?

    If I do take your assertion at face value: where should I go?

    The UN is closer and closer to imposing worldwide taxation to fund its fascist regime….

    Where in this world could I realistically go?

    • derek s Says:

      i apologize for my late response (this is going to be my last post on this discussion, as this topic is fairly old)

      we didn’t clearly define exactly what we were debating and what our positions exactly were, so for that reason, i feel we are both on the same page.

      we all agree that the government has too much power and should lower its taxes. we may not agree on the exact extent of how much they should be reduced, but overall we all favor limited government.

      the question of how citizens can stand up against oppressive governments you have raised multiple times.

      my answer is that citizens can’t, and that question shouldnt only apply to me. it should apply to you. we are both proposing two different social contracts. mine involves a little taxation. yours, i assume, involves none. but both of our proposals are far from what we have now.

      my overall point is that it’s not our jobs to try and be a hero and save the world. unless you or i are in a position of power, both of our efforts will do little to improve the situation. we, as human beings, can and should only do what is optimal for ourselves.

      • derek s Says:

        the second sentence should be “, so for that reason, i feel we both ARE NOT on the same page”

      • Calculus Says:

        Derek,

        People can stand up to oppressive people, groups and governments. The details may vary, but it always, always starts with the word ‘NO’. Every single time. Can you win? That depends upon how you measure it. To borrow a line from the episode of Babylon 5 titled “Intersections in Real Time” (Season 4) – “Every time I say NO.” The duration of the victory is another matter altogether.

        Also, any phrase that goes to the effect of “… government and its citizens …” is wrong. The word “its” is possessive. It suggests that the government possesses or owns the people. It also lays the groundwork to claim that the government can do what it chooses to the people as they are its possession. The correct phrasing is “…citizens and their government …”. Although that phrasing was not used in your recent posting, it was used in an earlier one and it had been grating on my nerves for some time.

        I would comment more, but as is often the case, I am unable to further find the right words to clearly express my thoughts.

        Xanthippa says:

        That’s right!

        You only have to have the strength to say ‘No’ one more time than they ask the question!

        By the way – this summer, I have been showing the complete B5 series to my younger son (our special summer holiday activity). And I would be lying if I said that when we recently watched episode 4.18 (as well as a few others), I had not thought of this very post and the ensuing discussion.

        You have GOT to LOVE ‘civil servants’ who are ‘only doing their jobs’!!!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Derek:

      This isn’t a debate in the formal sense; it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about arriving at a deeper understanding of the problem through rational discourse, and perhaps even putting our heads together to formulate a better solution.

      The idea that citizens cannot stand up to oppressive governments is simply false. Many of the most uplifting episodes in human history were instances when citizens did exactly that.

      But the statement that “we, as human beings, can and should only do what is optimal for ourselves” is utterly repugnant. It is an abject surrender to the basest parts of our feral natures and a spineless betrayal of everything that is great in the human spirit.

      When a man acts like that, he ceases to deserve to be called a man.

  14. Photos from August 7th anti-eco-tax protest in Ottawa part 2: the people « Xanthippa's Chamberpot Says:

    [...] for Saturday, 7th of August in OttawaHow a 13-year-old rape victim's execution is being reportedShould taxes be mandatory?Photos from 'McGuinty eco-tax' protest, OttawaPhotos from August 7th anti-eco-tax protest in Ottawa [...]


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