That’s right, taxation isn’t theft. At least, not in and of itself. There are forms of taxation that are theft, sure, such as taking money from one man and giving it to another for no compensation, but not all taxation falls into that category.
This is an increasingly common hashtag, although I doubt 90% of the people who share it know what it means.
But let’s go through the argument of LDS libertarians and anarchists. They will use the following quotes from conservatives out of context to support their ideas:
The Creature and the Creator
Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and late prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:
“The proper function of government, then, is limited to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by the people. No individual possesses the power to take another’s wealth or to force others to do good, so no government has the right either.
“The creature cannot exceed the creator.”
Powerful words. Can’t argue with that kind of logic! The government ought to have no powers that the people do not have on their own. Otherwise, they could not give those powers to the state. The creature cannot exceed the creator.
Bastiat said the same thing in in The Law. He also stated:
“Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.”
Bastiat goes on to say that when government comes in to take money from one man to give to another (socialism), it is called legal plunder; or in other words, legalized theft. As an economic and political theory, this is communism and socialism.
So if government can only do that which man can do within Natural Law, and government taking from one man to give to another is legal plunder, how can we say taxation isn’t theft??
It seems pretty cut and dry, but that is only half of the story.
The Proper Role of Government and Taxes
The proper role of government is to ensure the God given rights of mankind. I have the right to defend myself, my family, and my property, but I cannot do so alone. I do not have the time nor the resources to do so. In fact, no man has the ability to defend his home from invasion from superpowers such as China and Russia, much less local organized crime. I cannot man my own firetruck if mine or my neighbor’s house catches on fire.
What, then, is the solution?
The Preamble for the Constitution says part of the proper role of government is to “provide for the common defense.” The original Constitution itself gives the Federal Government the ability to collect taxes from the States, and leaves the collection of taxes up to the States (this changed under the 16th and 17th Amendments, which destroyed the checks and balances and protection of the States from the Feds).
On a national level our taxes are used to defend us from foreign invasion. On a State and local level our taxes are used to protect us from organized and unorganized crime. They are also used to protect our communities from wildfires, and even house fires. This is a great example of taxes being used within the proper role of government.
We cannot force police and firemen to do their jobs without compensation. That is slavery. Proper taxation is compensation for the protections of government, protection you would be doing alone if you could. You are giving a portion of your power of self defense against enemy nations and criminals to the government, and paying them for the time they take to do it.
What if someone doesn’t want to pay taxes? That’s fine, they can either leave immediately and lose those protections, or they can try to vote away those protections. I don’t recommend either, especially not the second (because most people have more sense than that), but you are here voluntarily. That’s where social contract comes in. If you really think all forms of taxation are theft, and you don’t want protection against crime, fire, and invasion, you can leave. There are places you can go and live totally isolated.
Now, this is not to say that our current tax system is remotely moral, by any means. That is part of the struggle, people see how messed up our current tax system is, and they then make a blanket statement against all forms of taxation such as, #taxationistheft.
I yearn for the day that the 16th Amendment is repealed, all forms of faux charity is replaced with true charity through personal donations to churches and non-profits, and the Federal Reserve is totally abolished. That will be a fantastic time for our nation, and the proper role of government and taxation will be restored.
Especially for Mormons
This section uses arguments scriptures from the LDS Church doctrine to further prove that God has no problems with taxation, so long as it is kept within the proper role of government.
Taxation is mentioned a few times in the scriptures, and it seems always in a negative light. But does it say, “taxation is theft,” or anything like unto it?
It refers to very specific kinds of taxations, such as the wicked Lamanites who taxed “one fifth of all our possessions” (so 20% taxes are immoral), and then they used that money so they could be lazy and not have to work.
Ether talks about wicked leaders who, “did tax them with heavy taxes,” so again with a large amount of taxes being immoral.
Then King Benjamin personally chose to work for himself and not rely on heavy taxes. This is ideal, and something the Founding Fathers also recommended. That is to say nothing of the full time soldiers who defended their borders from the Lamanites, or defended the roads and cities from looters and bandits.
Ideally, all men who serve in public office have already created enough wealth that they do not require money to survive. I would prefer that for our leaders as well, but I do not expect our police and soldiers to be taken as slaves and given no compensation for their work.
Lastly, let’s talk about the spiritual form of taxation. Tithing. Both tithing and taxes are used to support a kingdom or government. Even though this is apparent to most people, I regularly have the following argument:
“Well, yes, but tithing is voluntary.”
Sure, and so are taxes.
“No they’re not, if you don’t pay them you go to prison, and in some countries you are killed. God doesn’t use force, He gives us our agency.”
Yeah, and if you use your agency and choose not to pay tithing, guess what happens. You go to spirit prison. And in some cases you spiritually die. 1/3 of the hosts of heaven were FORCibly removed from the Kingdom of God and spiritually died.
Sure, God gives us our agency. But agency isn’t a world without consequences. Agency is a world of responsibility. We can choose to escape that responsibility by moving to the mountains, or a deserted island, but we will not be able to be a light on the hill if we do that. Tithing and taxes are both good and moral things, so long as they are used properly and being collected by moral entities. We don’t have to worry about that in the Church, we need to restore the proper role of government in our nation.
The idea that moral taxation is anything but compensation for protection and the proper governance of our nation is silly, and needs to fall back into obscurity. The idea that legal plunder is immoral is what we need to be fighting for.
Otherwise we will not only be wrong, we will be wasting our time.