A Basic Question

I’ve been poking around some other blogs tonight, leaving snarky comments (as I’ll freely admit if asked, it’s a hell of a lot easier to poke holes in arguments made by bloggers and repliers to bloggers–or “me toos” to either of those groups–than to actually fully engage my brain and come up with something of my own to get the ball rolling). One of them involved an idea that I’d had before, but never really put down on paper before (real or virtual). I’m going to do so here, putting as a question to be debated:
RESOLVED: “That except in times of extreme national emergency, a state which takes more of a citizen’s income in taxes at all levels of government than he or she retains for his or her own use is objectively engaging in thievery, regardless of the outlook of any of that nation’s democratically empowered institutions on the matter.”
I’ll state that I believe this question should be answered in the affirmative–it does not impress me that a democratic majority may decide it has the right to confiscate more than half of someone’s income; after all, any mob represents a majority as far as the immediate environment goes, and I doubt that many of the people who think that it would be fine to so increase taxation would endorse unlimited majority rule in other areas of their lives, such as sexual freedom and capital punishment, whether it might be imposed by a literal mob or by democratically elected representatives. I have further thoughts on this matter, but I’d like to kick the question to the readers of this forum for further refinement–and dissent, I expect–first.
Discuss. 🙂

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8 comments

  1. tony

    not only do i believe that this question should be answered in the affirmative, i believe that any state which takes one cent of a citizen’s income in taxes is engaging in thievery.
    taxation is theft. period.

  2. Bruce

    Out Federal Government existed without taxes until about 1913. When first enacted federal taxes were about 5 dollar per person.
    Some people seem to think that certain forms of taxation are not taxation; Unemployment insurance, Social Security, and etc. I disagree. Social Security is a tax that is taken from me and is immediately spent by congress on something else. Congress has taken all the money the people beleived they were ‘investing’ and spent it all on pork. It is certain that I will never recieve from Soc Sec anything like what I have paid into it.
    All of these things are taxes. So I like to add up all my taxes. Payroll takes 38% right off the top. Yeah, that includes Social Security and everything but the health insurance… Then out of the 62% I am allowed to keep I pay more taxes. On my house I pay 1000.00 a year. On my car I pay 150.00. When I buy anything I pay 8.5% on every dollar. If you just add 8.5% to the 38% already paid (not actually equivalent percentages) then you have like 46% of my income paid in taxes without looking at property taxes, state taxes or anything else.
    I am one of the evil rich who don’t pay their fair share according to the ever greedy Democrats. I earn 70K a year and I get to have about 37K of that for myself after the government takes their cut. I get to have about 54% of the money I earn. And this is after Bush’s tax cuts. And the percentages are supposed to be even higher on people who actually make a lot of money. If you make 200k a year I imagine you get to keep maybe 70K or 80K after you pay off the taxes.
    And the baffling thing is that Democrats want to raise taxes. Always. There is no time that democrats are ever willing to lower taxes…

  3. Bruce

    Of course, I would be unfair not to point out that Bush hasn’t really done anything at all to reduce spending. He has actually increased spending.

  4. Dr. T

    Anarchy does not work. Therefore, societies need governments. Governments need money. Citizens are disinclined to donate money to government. Therefore, some type of mandated revenue stream such as taxation is necessary. In a democratic society, the decision to maintain a government through broad-based taxes is not theft. However, taxation crosses the line to theft when it targets selected persons or groups or when it becomes excessive.
    Back in the 1970s, the top federal income tax rate in the US was 70%!!! Couples earning around $150,000 fell into that top bracket. This was pure thievery. And, the victims fought back by taking advantage of “loopholes” in the tax code. Their tax burden fell to more acceptable levels, the majority of voters who had supported this theft did not achieve their goal of economic leveling, and the big winners were tax lawyers and commercial real estate developers. We wised up after a while and changed the tax code to something more sensible (but still not great).
    I don’t agree that taxation rates above 50% are automatically theft. Some societies may want government to handle most needs (think Sweden), and therefore elect a high rate of taxation. I would not like that, but it is a valid choice. However, when society puts a huge tax burden on one group to reduce taxes on the majority (think England pre-Thatcher with its >90% tax rates on the wealthy), then the government and the majority who support it have committed theft.

  5. Dr. T

    The federal government has ALWAYS had taxes. Import duties, levies, sales taxes, stamp taxes, value-added taxes, etc. supported the federal government. Income tax was a late addition to the list of tax types.

  6. Bruce

    Oh! Yeah! Thanks for reminding me! Many products have ecessively inflated prices because of import duties, levies, sales taxes, stamp taxes, value-added taxes, etc. supported the federal government… These are all hidden taxes we pay in the form of higher prices for goods. If you could gage the cost of these hidden taxes on the money I am allowed to keep from my earnings I feel sure that I am now getting to keep some thing like 40% of what I earn. And considering I make less than 100k a year I shudder to think what the rest of ‘evil rich’ pay in taxes.

  7. M. Scott Eiland

    “I don’t agree that taxation rates above 50% are automatically theft. Some societies may want government to handle most needs (think Sweden), and therefore elect a high rate of taxation. I would not like that, but it is a valid choice. However, when society puts a huge tax burden on one group to reduce taxes on the majority (think England pre-Thatcher with its >90% tax rates on the wealthy), then the government and the majority who support it have committed theft.”
    Dr. T makes an interesting point that I hadn’t considered, since most societies with very high taxes also have steeply progressive tax structures. If everyone in the society pays, say, 75% of their income in taxes (less a standard deduction based on a minimum cost of living), is that somehow more justifiable in a democratic system than one where the higher income brackets pay a disproportionately large share of their incomes?
    For my part, I’d look at it somewhat differently, particularly if capital gains and interest were taxed at a substantially lower rate (since it would be hard to invest income effectively enough to make fighting a 75% bite on the profits worth risking the principal), if property taxes were eliminated (since 75% should be more than enough to pay for everything), and if a person could freely decide to leave the nation with whatever property he had accumulated and income that had been already taxed (certainly not always the case in socialist nations today). As Dr. T put it, I wouldn’t like such a system, but I’m not sure I could call it thievery, even though the very concept of a state keeping more of my income than I get to keep is very disturbing to me.

  8. tony

    if you think the state has the right to forcibly tax its citizens, then you shouldn’t complain about the amount taken. taxation IS theft. the amount stolen is arbitrary and incidental.