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The great political theorist and economist Frédéric Bastiat wrote in The State: "The oppressor no longer acts directly by his own force on the oppressed. No, our conscience has become too fastidious for that. There are still, to be sure, the oppressor and his victim, but between them is placed an intermediary, the state, that is, the law itself. What is better fitted to silence our scruples and - what is perhaps considered even more important - to overcome all resistance? ...The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else."

A statist is someone who advocates the "concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government." All constituted governments are highly centralized, even if there are local governments like states. Therefore, unless you're an anarchist, if you support a centralized government (e.g., through voting), by definition, you'd be considered a statist. It's not necessary for you to agree with all of the policies of the government - just for you to support that a centralized government exist.

People choose to be statists for a variety of reasons. For example, statists generally believe most or all of the following to some extent: "Without a strong central government,"

1. The poor will suffer and never be able to get ahead

2. Capitalists/Companies will exploit/take advantage of people (e.g., poor working conditions, unequal pay)

3. Gangs or terrorists will take over and use violence against people

4. People who are sick won't get proper care

5. Only the rich will ever be educated

6. No infrastructure will be built (e.g., roads, bridges, clean water, electricity) as only these can be provided by the state

7. The environment will be destroyed

8. Generally, society will move backwards in progress, or even fall apart.

As a result, statists support taxes to pay for these "services." Now here's something to consider: let's say that the amount of taxes you pay to the centralized government is arbitrarily set at 30% of your income (we'll exclude other taxes by local governments for this example). Let's also say you pay that tax rate for the 45 years that you work. For all intents and purposes, that means that you spent 13.5 years of your life SOLELY working just to pay your tax burden. Imagine working in a job for 13+ years and not getting to keep a penny of what you've earned. Would you work for 13+ years straight without any earnings? Of course not. But when it's spread out, it's not as painful.

Some go further with this argument, calling taxes the initiation of force against innocent victims, calling taxes robbery, and claiming that you are actually working as a slave for 13+ years of your life. After all, slaves didn't get to keep any of their earnings. If the government made a deal with you, to work as a slave for 13+ years of your life but then you would be totally free from slavery evermore, would you take that deal? The answer is likely no. After all, who wants to work as a slave? Slavery is barbarous, right?

Statists claim that it's not the initiation of force because there isn't any violence - that taxes are being paid voluntarily. (Of course, this is clearly inaccurate as refusing to pay taxes will result in violence against you - e.g., guns will be used and you will be taken to jail). Statists also retort that taxes aren't robbery - they are payment for services rendered and, if you refuse to pay them, you are getting something for nothing (which makes you the thief). Statists put forth that, whether you vote or not, and even though you don't get to voluntarily choose your services, by living in some particular geography, you implicitly agree to the social contract. If you don't like it, you can leave.

Statists further claim that taxes go for worthwhile activities like altruism, education, and health care. Others properly note that taxes go for very destructive activities like war, torture, and other civil rights violations. Sadly, you don't get to really choose which activities your taxes support. Certainly you can vote for a politician who makes a promise about how your tax money will be spent, but very rarely do politicians keep their promises.

There are some people who will not change their opinion no matter what. However, try to put aside for a moment whether or not a world could exist without taxes. Also put aside for a moment the visions of the poor dying without tax-funded health care, kids growing up stupid without tax-funded education, and the like. Would you, personally, ever use violence against your neighbor to force them to donate money to someone in need of charity? If not, how do you justify voting for an intermediary to do that for you? On what basis do you advocate a group using coercion against an individual when you, yourself, would not use coercion against an individual?

George Ought to Help


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Apr 20, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=533

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