From a correspondence with friends:
I hold the very radical belief that taking someone’s property by force or threat of force is stealing, regardless of whether it’s done by an individual or institution or government, regardless of whether you call it taxation, and regardless of what virtues are invoked to justify the violence.
My apologies for the long-winded reply, but this stuff is my passion. I’m happy to make my case, even if we agree to disagree afterward:
> “Is it wrong to keep a standing army?”
Yes. The United States did not keep a large standing army during peacetime until 1948. Since then, we’ve had a foreign, undeclared war every decade, and never mind the fact that our Constitution requires congress to declare war. The psychopaths in government are having too much fun sending suckers like me off to war and their friends are making too much money.
How you like them apples? You’re a citizen of a country that can’t go a single decade without invading another.
How about the fact that we spend more than the rest of world COMBINED on “defense” which to me looks more like “offense”?
> “With all that you own and all that was given to you just by virtue of being born in the US, don’t you think that is worth protecting?”
I feel tremendous admiration and gratitude to all the entrepreneurs who risk their personal wealth to produce goods and services they hope I will VOLUNTARILY buy.
These are the people we should revere. These are the people to whom we should build monuments, not the power hungry politicians and bureaucrats who are too stupid, lazy, and cowardly to provide us with things we want. They cannot serve society, so they seek to rule it. Entrepreneurs build civilization. They are the ones who need protection, primarily from their government.
> “You use the services of the country, therefore, you have to pay your share.”
1- There are many that don’t use, which I’m also required to pay for.
2- I’d hardly categorize the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bank bailouts, the nationalization of General Motors, the TSA’s pornographic body scanners, the NSA’s eavesdropping on my telephone calls, the Guatemalan Syphilis Experiment, and the BULLSHIT speeding ticket I got as “services.”
3- I’d absolutely *love* to stop using ALL public “services” in exchange for keeping all the money which people VOLUNTARILY give me for my work.
But regardless, I’m glad you at least used the words “have to.” You acknowledge then that government-provided services are coercive.
Violence will be used against me if I attempt to do without the benefit of infecting unsuspecting Guatemalans with Syphilis, for example. Initially, my refusal to pay for this public “service” will only inspire increasingly menacing letters from the tax collector, but ongoing refusal to pay will be met with physical violence, including lethal force should I attempt to defend my property. (btw, I pay all my taxes — out of fear.)
Please acknowledge the violence.
It can be justified only if you believe that a peaceful system of voluntary exchanges cannot provide education, security, food for the hungry, housing the poor, transportation, culture, etc.
Then you are faced with a dilemma: Should we leave the poor to their fate or should we violently separate people from their wealth? Should remain ignorant about the advanced stages of Syphilis or should we use the threat of violence to force people to pay for government experiments?
Of course, I believe there is overwhelming evidence that all these things are better provided in a free market (all the ones which are worth doing that is, and none of the ones which aren’t) . Therefore, the dilemma you might feel between violent taxation and some societal need doesn’t even exist.
Because your statist approach is the violent approach, I think the burden of proof lies with you; you must to demonstrate the government’s superiority to the free market. Nevertheless, I’ll make the case that the free market is the better provider, just because it’s so easy to do:
> 1) Security.
If you search for “mall cop tasers” on youtube, you don’t find anything (I didn’t), because privately hired security, unlike security hired by the greedy, lazy, cowardly, power-hungry sociopaths in government is accountable.
You might also be interested in the not-so-wild west where private security flourished, and the murder rate was lower than that of most modern-day U.S. cities:
Also, gun town USA — where crime nearly vanished, and not a single person has been murdered in the 25 years since a renegade mayor required every household to purchase a gun:
(I’m philosophically against the requirement, because it’s coercive, but I think this demonstrates the ability of people to protect themselves peacefully.)
> 2) Transportation
The railroad was build on private initiative in pursuit of private profits. It worked great until government strangled it with regulation, then killed it by FORCING everyone to subsidize an interstate highway system.
The obvious failure of the free market then precipitated the nationalization of Amtrak, a government monopoly, which, if I remember correctly, has lost 32 billion dollars to date.
Despite the best efforts of the statist ideologues, Indiana, Chicago and California are considering selling roads to entrepreneurs who are willing to risk their private wealth in the providing of transportation services.
> 3) need a structured state government to implement changes
Like a hole in the head.
Local governments have either outlawed or required people to kiss the ring of governance, beg permission and pay a hefty licensing fee for the following privileges:
-arranging flowers in Louisiana
-selling coffins in Louisiana, even for monks
-interior designing in DC or Florida
-showing tourists around in Boston
-labeling GMO-free foods “GMO-free”
-selling raw milk
-running lemonade stands in Portland ($120 health department fee)
-selling pumpkins and Christmas trees into Lake Elmo MN
-delivering your neighbors garbage to the dump in San Francisco
-putting signs in your store windows in Dallas
-eyebrow threading in Texas
-training Yoga instructors in Virginia
You risk the violence of government for committing these “crimes.”
4) civil services
How about the fact that poverty in the US fell by 1% a year from 1950 until 1968 when the government’s “war on poverty” began? Since the government’s “war on poverty,” the poverty rate stagnated and remained so despite a quadrupling of the government’s anti-poverty budget.
Consider this next time you hear someone say the free market punishes the poor.
5) (I’ll cover education, though you didn’t list it.)
As I said, I believe the burden of proof lies with the advocates of violence. I challenge you to find any evidence that public education has been anything but a pathetic, disastrous failure despite a tripling of the federal education budget, and a doubling of the number bureaucrats per student:
There’s also the fact that before America’s first public schools appeared in Massachusetts, there was near 100% literacy.
I think all the evidence of the superiority of the free market in providing services generally provided by government is irrefutable. You may find ways spin, question and undermine it, but instead of doing that, can you find evidence that the government approach is superior? Can you find any evidence whatsoever to justify the coercive funding of public “services”?