“No taxation without representation,” was the slogan of the American Revolution. Dissatisfied with the fact that the British government continued to tax colonists despite not allowing them any representation in Parliament, the American colonists rose into protest, ultimately leading to the Revolutionary War and the nation within which we live today.
So where are we today? It’s obvious that we still have taxation. Do we finally have representation? If representation is defined as a representative republic, functioning in a limited democratic manner, then yes, we have representation. However, the problem with that is the idea of a “representative republic” or a “democracy” itself. Both those two forms of government allow for one thing: majority rule. What happens to the minority? In our current nation, there is specific legislation outlined to prevent a “tyranny of a majority”. However, the effectiveness of it is debatable. With the existence of government, individualism is suppressed. The minority and the individual must compromise their inherent liberty to be part of a coercive government. They must, against their will, contribute to the operation of this government through paying taxes.
The most common statist argument in support for taxation is that “the government uses it to fund services that ultimately benefit you, so therefore it is beneficial”. This argument, however, is invalid. Metaphorically, this is as if a burglar stole a sum of my money and replaced it with a steak meal of equivalent value. One problem: I’m vegetarian. While the meat can be beneficial in the sense that I, as a human being, could consume it, I, as a vegetarian, would never want to. Nor did I ever ask for this man to provide me with food in the first place.
A similar argument could be made about government programs such as ObamaCare, or the ever-present libertarian argument against public roads. People realize that the private sector could likely do a better job at providing either service, whether it is healthcare or urban infrastructure, than the government. However, because the government has either mandated control or a monopoly on the services, one has no choice but to involuntarily use them and therefore, “benefit” from them. However, with the elimination of government monopoly on services that could be handled within the private sector, humans would not need to utilize government services.
Furthermore, the simple truth is that not everything is, in fact, beneficial. For instance, the idea that I, as a college student attending a private university, will have to pay taxes (on top of my own college tuition), that in part, will be used to fund a variety of public universities within my state, is ridiculous. In what way does that directly benefit me? Not only must I pay for the tuition of my own private institution, but will also be taxed to involuntarily contribute to the tuition and expenses of other students receiving federal funding or attending public schools. One may argue that paying toward other college students’ college tuition is the “selfless” or “morally” right thing to do. And they’re completely right! They have the right to be both morally right and selfless by contributing to private charity or scholarship organizations that will help those students rather than attempting to justify coercive government theft in the name of altruism.
Back to the steak analogy. Let’s say the robber leaves me the steak, takes my money, and uses my money to fund the murder of baby hedgehogs, something I would be very morally opposed to.
That’s terrible, right? What if the robber calls itself the government, gives you previously discussed “services” in return for taxation, and uses part of your money for funding the droning and murder of innocent civilians in war? War (something I assume most pacifistic and noninterventionist individuals would be morally opposed to) is the most obvious example of the government utilizing our taxes to fund things we are morally against, but other examples include more controversial topics such as abortion. While some may support it, others may equate fetal life with post-natal life and believe abortion to be the murder of innocents. In such cases, is it morally just to steal money from individuals and utilize it to fund things they are fundamentally opposed to?
Whether it is steaks and baby hedgehogs, or “public services” and brutal war, the underlying foundation of the argument remains the same: taxation is coercion, taxation is immoral, and taxation is theft.