I actually enjoy paying my tax – does that make me weird?

By Sam Tomlin

Nearly a year ago I became self-employed. In my relatively young life, the jobs I had before had always been part of an organisation where HR teams paid my tax for me, so my pay-cheque would come in, PAYE and NI taken off already. This year, I have been invoicing for my time and receiving payments pre-tax straight into my bank account. Immediately when this happens, I put a set amount aside for tax.

Jimmy Carr – still rather missing the point?

Recently I received my tax-return reminder from HMRC that I needed to start the admittedly arduous process of declaring my earnings and paying my tax, which I have begun (but not finished yet). As I began to go through my records, bank accounts and invoices the Jimmy Carr tax-avoidance stories began to break, re-igniting debates around tax-avoidance. In my mind both Cameron and Miliband were right in their approaches to the situation. Miliband focussed on the fact that loopholes should not exist in the first place that people can exploit and clearly this needs to happen. However, strangely for a self-confessed socialist I found myself agreeing more with Cameron when he suggested it was ‘morally wrong’ to avoid tax even if it is legal.

I am aware of the difficulty of someone like Cameron making a statement like this with potentially many friends on such avoidance schemes, but my mind was immediately returned to my own situation. I have certainly benefitted from my family’s situation, receiving a fantastic education and an inheritance when my grandparents died (for which inherence tax was paid). In my mind this necessitates my contribution back to society – I have benefitted through no doing of my own and therefore basic fairness suggests I should give back a percentage of what I earn to create greater equality of opportunity. For those who have not received the benefits I did while growing up and still complain about tax, I will refer to Lord Paul Myners, formerly chief of the Guardian and RBS who claimed at a recent event I was at, that while coming from a difficult background and understanding the importance of hard work in where he now was, he also understood the vastly important role luck played in his success, and this was precisely the reason of his socialism. ‘Not everyone had the luck I had’ – therefore creating equality of opportunity through a fair tax system was paramount.

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph the other day went as far nearly to excuse tax avoidance: ‘Britain now has a tax code so monstrously complex that no one single person can understand more than a fraction of it. Avoiding tax was always possible in Britain, but for many years the rich did not really do so, and paid up in full. The mistake was to push the tax rate to the point where, the world over, widespread avoidance is the inevitable result.’ Inevitable maybe, but rather than blaming the tax system, why not more anger at the sense of inevitability? Indeed, he plunges the knife deeper, quoting one of my heroes, the Edge from U2 who famously said, “Of course we want to be tax-efficient – who doesn’t?”

Well, I’m afraid I disagree with both my musical hero and Fraser Nelson – I am an example of someone who not only earns a fraction of what the mega-rich earn (my current salary, I have worked out, is just more than a tenth of the average tax avoided by one of the 1,000 on the K2 scheme), but who actually takes joy in signing off my required rate of tax. This is because I see myself primarily not as an individual, loosely attached to a society which wants to take from me what is rightfully mine, but someone who is intrinsically linked to not only those I know and love, but those I see walking down the street whom I have never spoken to. My taxes are an expression of my relational nature as a human being – an acknowledgement that I am alive primarily not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Striving to make the world a better place, especially for those who are oppressed and cannot support themselves actually provides the happiness and joy which people ironically strive for by hoarding things for themselves. This is true at a local and personal level, but I also think it should be true on a national level, and paying tax should be part of this.

Tax can be seen as something positive & contributing to a joyful life

Thatcher may have won the cultural war, now embedded as part of our social consciousness, by insisting there is no such thing as society and looking out for ourselves and those in our small circle is the most important thing we can do, but I beg to differ. Certainly, part of being human is about this – caring for the ones we love directly is important for a healthy society. But if we forget we are part of a great collective whole, that of humanity, we lose part of our humanity.

This does not mean we should shirk the responsibility of scrutinising where our tax goes and evidently there is a lot of waste which can be cleared up. But let’s not kid ourselves that those who avoid tax do so because of such reasons. The more we equate tax-avoidance simply with selfishness, the more advanced and justice-based a society we will become. It shouldn’t be legal; currently it is. But because something is legal doesn’t necessarily mean it is moral. Interestingly, I have heard no suggestion from Mr Carr that he intends to pay the tax that he has avoided over however long he was part of the K2 scheme, which in my view suggests he is still rather missing the point.

  1. Interesting post Sam. Firstly I would highlight a recent Staggers post which is the best piece I have read on this affair to date (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/voices/2012/06/tax-avoidance-isnt-left-or-right-issue-its-cancer-eating-our-democracy)

    Secondly as a devils advocate for what Fraser Nelson was talking about I think his comments are in their core, true. Out tax system is a monster and far too complex. as the Staggers piece points out we now have a ludecrus system where CEO’s pay less tax than their cleaners. Thats just not right. But when we have a tax system that allows individuals to legally minimize their exposure to tax can we honestly blame them ? This is not to take a stance on the morality, but rather to look at the motivation.

    I am increasingly becoming an advocate of moving towards a flat tax or at least a vastly simpler system of income tax, ie if it comes in to your account (income) it is taxed at a moderate rate. This system is both fairer as the rich will always pay more in actual and not just in proportion (see this graph http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/46940000/gif/_46940074_blastland_tax1_466.gif)

    But this is a great subject and I think needs to be tackled in 3 areas:

    1. the philosophical debate – does morality lead law or the other way round
    2. the price of society – as you say is tax the most efficient method of pay our debt to being part of a healthy society
    3 finally what system of tax can help us reach the fairest means of delivering on the above

  2. Here’s a good ‘awkward silence at the dinner table’ question. Just to explain, the whole point of this question is to bring the subject of taxation away from the political (the abstract) and into the realm of people, human behaviour, human transactions, human relationships, life and death etc (in other words from the abstract into the *real* world). It is *supposed* to make you feel uncomfortable.

    So let’s say that I respect your decision to fund an illegal genocidal war (or any other government policy for that matter), although I strongly disagree with it. Even if the conspiracy theory about Saddam Hussein stockpiling WMD’s had been proven to be true, I would STILL personally disagree with the policy of invading a sovereign nation and murdering a million civilians and so would not wish to fund such activities with my money. AFAIC mass murder is never the solution to anything unless your goal is war profiteering (such as a bank loaning money to a government at interest or a weapons manufacturer selling arms etc)

    So anyway, I am saying that if YOU want fund terrorism against the Iraqi people then go for it. Write the government a cheque. I will not try and stop you.

    If I (or anyone else) were ever to stop funding the war against Iraq the government would eventually send men dressed in blue costumes round my house to kidnap me and lock me up inside a cage for ‘non payment of taxes’.

    (Here comes the question) …..

    As I said, I respect your decision to fund an illegal genocidal war if you want to do so, even though I strongly disagree with it. Do you afford me the same respect by allowing me to NOT fund the Iraq war if I do not wish to do so? ……. or do you support the government’s use of violence against me to force me to fund their war?

    Let’s imagine there was no government taxation by force. Would you (a) keep writing cheques to fund the Iraq war? (b) come round to my house and threaten ME with violence to force me to fund the Iraq war also?

    If, as you claim, you really do support taxation by force then presumably your answer to (a) and (b) would have to be ‘yes’ – you would keep writing cheques to fund the war and you would threaten me to do the same (or pay thugs to threaten me on your behalf). If you answer is not ‘yes’ then you’re admitting to acting under duress and paying taxes, and pretending to support taxation, because of the threat of violence (AKA the ‘law’) being used against you.

    Government taxation is obtained through the initiation of force against us. In other words the government uses violence and intimidation (fines, court cases, bailiffs, arrest, imprisonment etc) in order to force us to fund government and pay for its policies. If taxation didn’t use violence and intimidation it wouldn’t be taxation, it would just be paying for goods and services (ie entering into two-way contract with a service provider)

    My dictionary defines ‘terrorism’ as:

    the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

    Therefore taxation is terrorism by definition. As is the government’s war in Iraq, again by definition (or any government policy for that matter). If you support taxation by force then you are supporting force being used against you which is your business…. but you are also supporting force being used against me (or anyone else) in order for the government to obtain money. By definition you are supporting (and funding) terrorism. How can you not be?

    Isn’t it disturbing when we stop using government euphemisms and start using the dictionary instead!

    Anyone for more wine?

    • Are you suggesting that all taxation is definitionally terrorism? Perhaps look up the definition of taxation. It does not appear to define it as terrorism, so if we’re going to play the ‘definition’ game, I’m afraid you’re not going to win.

      OED online: Tax is “a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions”

      OED online: Terrorism is “the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”

      Tax is ‘official or authorised’, so even at this point fails to be terrorism. I have also not heard of many people in the UK required by the use of ‘violence or intimidation’ to pay tax. Yes, if you fail to pay tax you might get into legal trouble. I have just received a magistrates summons for mistakingly failing to pay my council tax. But that is most certainly not ‘violence’, and I do not in any way feel ‘intimidated’.

      Yes, the Iraq war was bad. But that’s a different question altogether as to whether taxation = terrorism. And your equation of taxation with terrorism, as well as being definitionally incorrect, dangerously devalues the worth of the term ‘terrorism’.

      Or – if your argument instead is that due to the government carrying out terrible deeds such as invading Iraq, you (and we all) should stop paying tax. At the moment, we don’t appear to be invading Iraq, or even stationing soldiers there. So I take it your argument is either retrospective or prospective, that we should be willing to go on a ‘tax strike’ in the case of another such invasion.

      That is to ignore the fact that we live in a social democracy. In such a democracy, if we disagree with government policies we can vote them out of office. Actually, following Iraq we voted Labour back in, so we obviously did not all disagree that strongly (though we should have done, and I for one have argued on this blog and elsewhere about the dangers of military intervention in sovereign states).

      Imagine if we said, ‘if you disagree with a government policy, you can stop paying your taxes’. Would anyone pay any taxes? Probably not. Everyone disagrees with something that the government spends (or fails to spend) its money on. Most people disagree with one such thing very strongly. On this reasoning, no taxes would ever be paid.

      Would that be the sort of society you want to live in? One where there is no state provision of any services at all? No healthcare, no education, no transport, no police? I would hope not.

      Yes, democracy is not perfect. In our system, a (large) minority can elect a government that the majority did not vote for. But, ultimately, we control who sits in government, and so indirectly the decisions that are made, by wielding our vote. Not by withdrawing our wallets.

      • josephcolman said:

        His argument is along the lines of JS Mills. its a legitimate libertarian stance. But I don’t agree. hence my 2 question. what is the price of society? I agree that taxation is one of the prices, but not the only. There is more, including civic engagement and social exchanges.

        Society is a whole big subject and Tax is one of the chapters, but if you follow the line of Abandon TV the rest of the book becomes pointless. Tax is a (sometimes painfull!) necessity of civic involvement and creates a bond within communities and societies which binds individuals together for a shared aim of wealth health and happiness.

      • Sam Hawke said:

        Sam I think you’ve got a few things wrong here in your response.

        For one, the dictionary definition of terrorism you cite is a crappy one. It seems very plausible to think, for instance, that states can commit terrorism and in ways that are perfectly authorised and official: we can think of Dresden, or the US’s bombing of Cambodia. Whatever that dictionary definition you cite says, I think it’s wrong to define away the (very real) possibility of state terrorism. At the very least, it’s not a very interesting way to win the argument: we can argue about which state actions we think are terrorism, and this will be an interesting and helpful exercise. We don’t want to engage in some silly linguistic argument. But, worse, I think it’s desperately unhelpful (and perhaps dangerous) to just claim from the beginning that no state by definition can commit terrorism. There may well be a connection between (a lack of) legal authority and something’s being an act of terrorism, but the connection is quite complex, I think, and needs careful spelling out – something we can’t do here, I suppose.

        So let’s try and reconstruct Abandon TV’s argument, which I think is a perfectly valid one, but which nonetheless operates with a false premise or two. Taxation is done by forcible coercion: if you don’t pay, you’ll be locked up. Terrorism can certainly be about the extraction of benefit by forcible coercion: in fact, that seems one of its central features. Hostage situations, for instance, usually operate on this basis. We won’t shoot these lovely schoolchildren if you simply release my grandmother from prison; you could also imagine terrorists demanding that they be paid money to fund their future campaigns. And this could all occur without violence strictly speaking: hostage situations may be run simply on the basis of threat. And it’s surely a threat that the government makes in saying it will prosecute you for refusing to pay tax. Also, it seems absurd to think, as you appear to be suggesting, that something could fail to be terrorism simply in virtue of the victims of the attack failing to be intimidated. I may be an unusually stoic and fearless hostage victim, but my being taken hostage still seems plausibly described as terrorism. Moreover, I’m not sure the aims have to be political or ideological for something to constitute terrorism, but at least the coercion has to be for some specific end. Note also that something can be terrorism even where the aim is a good one: the armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe committed a great deal of terrorism in its armed liberation struggle (I don’t think it could have avoided doing this), but for one of the best possible aims, the destruction of apartheid. It nonetheless remained terrorism, I think. Key also to the definition of terrorism is the fact that the victims are innocents, or describable by some other similar term (perhaps you could use ‘non-combatants’, within situations of conflict). For examples, hostages are in some important way unrelated to the hostilities between the terrorists and whoever they’re trying to coerce, or for some other reasons impermissible targets. So, prima facie, the argument seems valid. Taxation involves forcible coercion, for use towards certain specific ends, and against innocents; it’s therefore terrorism.

        I think there are two reasons we should reject Abandon TV’s argument. Firstly, if taxation is terrorism, this is, as you say, a fairly weak claim. The use of the word ‘terrorism’ imports a lot of moral force (like the word ‘murder’ or ‘refugee’) that may wrongly skew our assessment of the moral situation. I think it would be perfectly plausible to respond to Abandon TV with the claim, ‘Fine, taxation is terrorism, but who cares? So much the worse for the moral force of the word ‘terrorism’ in certain usages.’ You may not really be winning an argument by just getting something into the definition of terrorism: you’ll need to show how it’s seriously wrong in the way terrorism usually is. One reason I’d oppose, as you state, taxation falling into the definition of terrorism is that it seems useful to reserve the term terrorism as a means of identifying means of conducting hostilities that seem prima facie impermissible or seriously wrong (but which may nonetheless be all-things-considered justified), and expanding the definition to include taxation in general I think moves us away from this helpful usage. Secondly, Argument TV’s conclusion may simply be false, at least of our society, owing to the falsity of a key premise I haven’t mentioned: taxation usually takes place within a distributive scheme in which benefits and burdens are allotted to individuals according to some justice-based standard (say, fairness or desert). The tax you giving therefore is something that you morally owe to others within society anyway, as a matter of justice. This may make it the case that it can’t be terroristic to forcibly require you to give it up: I think we would be hard pressed to call something terrorism when it was just forcible coercion necessary to get you comply with duties of justice whose fulfilment you owe to others anyway. In cases of criminal justice, I’m happy to say that the police forcibly coercing you into not stealing is not terrorism: what matters is what you are required to do as a matter of justice, and it’s perfectly legitimate for others to force you to comply with the duties you owe as a matter of justice (and I think also other duties, like duties of assistance, but that’s another issue). This is obviously within limits, however: it may start to look like terrorism where the government decides to force others into complying with the criminal law by torturing or killing people. So there are things still to be worked out in fully understanding the concept of terrorism.

        Regardless, I think overall Abandon TV’s point is a good one. I think it’s not only permissible but may even be morally required that you conscientiously object by refusing to pay your taxes when your government is using that money to commit evil. The Vietnam War is a good example: a great deal of academics (Chomsky included, of course) faced imprisonment in the 1970s as a result of their refusal to pay tax. I think that was not only permissible, but may even have been morally required (provided other things were true, for instance, that your public refusal to pay tax would have some effect on halting the war proportionate to the costs you’ll incure). As Abandon TV states, quite accurately I think, it seems wildly implausible that we could all on the one hand be against, say, multinationals operating in Burma to the enrichment of the military junta, whilst on the other hand, as you seem, to be OK with personally bankrolling (albeit minimally so) similar atrocities your government may be committing. We can argue whether what our governments are doing are atrocities, of course, but on the assumption that they are, for the sake of argument, Abandon TV’s point seems a good one.

        I think you’re far too blithe about our capacity to object to policies through our vote. For one, our votes barely matter, even when they do (which is not always or even often, given our voting system). Whilst it’s not absurd to say that we control our governments to a significant extent (although it’s very complicated), it is certainly absurd to say we control them in a way that relates to individual policy to decisions to any extent and generates some obligation on us to refuse to withdraw our support for them in extra-Parliamentary ways, such as by refusing to pay tax. Did anyone who voted for Labour vote them in on a platform of not only invading Iraq, but also carrying out the war in the way they did? Even if they had said ‘WE WILL INVADE IRAQ’ in their manifesto (which they didn’t), they presumably would have been unable to divulge their strategic plans in a way that we could democratically mandate. This is for good reason, obviously, but ultimately means that even in the near-optimal scenario where the government does really ask the people for its view on an invasion and it assents, the people could then legitimately disagree at a later date to the conduct of the war. I fail to see how we gave the government any legitimating support for the Iraq, or the manner in which it was conducted, such that we can’t fairly remove our support through whatever means are available to us. Even when we voted Labour back in after the war, I fail to see how this has any relevance.

        My qualms about the morality of conscientious objection in respect of taxation relate to two issues. As you rightly note, it’s difficult to draw the line. One person’s horrifying atrocity is another person’s dinner plans. But this is a pretty weak objection. If you decide to protest any government action, there’s always the chance that you’ll protest something that in fact should be supported, or vice versa. I think it’s right that a lot of people refusing to pay tax for lots of different and potentially crappy reasons (‘pro-lifers’ refusing to fund abortions, for instance) would be a nightmare, and this is why I agree with governments generally forcibly coercing people into paying tax. But that says nothing about central cases where the government is supporting atrocities which we morally must oppose, and which we can say with confidence that we must oppose. The fact that lots of people disagree over the Iraq war says very little as to whether it was or was not an atrocity. It comes down to a matter of judgment in each case, and where the judgment is right, those who refuse to pay tax will be doing what’s right. Ultimately, those who conscientiously object will pay some significant costs for doing so, owing to the fact that as a matter of policy people should be forced to pay tax, but it may still be that you’re morally required to refuse to pay tax when government’s commit atrocities with your money. I’d ask you a simple question: surely you wouldn’t object to anti-Nazi campaigners refusing to pay tax, even though I’m sure there were plenty of people who they were thoroughly nice chaps? In fact, I think citizens of Nazi Germany may even have been morally required to do so.

        The second issue is that it all rests on its strategic efficacy: is the creation of a movement of conscientious objectors in respect of taxation viable, and likely to effect change proportionate to the costs the participants will suffer in refusing to pay tax? Again, it may not be morally required (although it will remain permissible) to refuse to pay tax where you’re doing so results in costs to you (death, for instance) not proportionate to the good effects your refusal so will bring.

        To return to the example of the Iraq war, I’m sure that refusing to pay tax over the war would have been permissible, and may even have been morally required. And Sam you also miss a key point implicit in Abandon TV’s argument: it’s actually not implausible to retroactively conscientiously object by refusing to pay tax. As tax funds are fungible, the state will still be benefiting now from having had taxation to fund the war in 2003; refusal to pay tax now may be wrong owing to the government having changed (although this may depend on that government’s retrospective stance on the war), but you could still build a movement after any war has finished to conscientiously object by refusing to pay tax so as to make it difficult for the government to properly budget after having spent so much money on a war. This may be a perfectly effective way of protesting a war, and is conceptually no different (other than along the dimension of time) from refusing to pay tax when the war is about to occur or is occurring.

      • “……Are you suggesting that all taxation is definitionally terrorism?….”

        Can you explain what you mean by ‘all taxation’?

        Are you talking about the different ways a government spends tax money once it has obtained it (hospitals, wars, roads, membership of the IMF, schools, welfare, conferences in Brussels etc)? This is irrelevant. How a government spends its money has no bearing on with how it obtains it.

        If you go shopping for a hat and I use intimidation and violence to take your wallet I am a mugger. If I then spend half of the money I stole from you to buy you a hat this does not mean I am now half mugger and half ‘hat provider’ does it? I am still 100% a mugger.

        Imagine I mug you every Saturday when you are out shopping and each time I spend some of the money buying you things …. maybe even things that you like. Imagine you get so used to this happening that I no longer have to pull a knife on you (although I still will if I need to).

        Am I still a mugger or have I now become a ‘service provider’ of sorts? Obviously I am still a mugger because if you don’t give me your wallet I will still pull a knife on you.

        So I would argue that there is only one type of taxation and that is taxation by force. Taxation is fundamentally based on a strategy of intimidation and violence if necessary. Therefore it is terrorism by any (logical, objective) definition.

        “…Perhaps look up the definition of taxation…”

        Well obviously the dictionary is not going to define taxation as terrorism because a dictionary is going to reflect of the current use (or misuse) of language in today’s culture.

        But what is culture? Culture is largely a product of *government* controlled education ….. which is itself largely a product of the Prussian Schule system of government indoctrination – LINK.

        “…Tax is ‘official or authorised’, so even at this point fails to be terrorism….”

        Exactly! Taxation and terrorism are both strategies of intimidation and violence, yet taxation is ‘authorised’, whereas terrorism is not. That is precisely my point! Taxation is a kind of ‘authorised terrorism’.

        It’s no good just accepting the fact that government taxation is an ‘authorised’ use of intimidation and violence. We need to ask HOW it is authorised? Answer: by law. So who defines and enforces the law? Answer: government does! And so who says that government taxation is an ‘authorised’ form of terrorism? Answer: government does!

        But wait a minute….don’t ALL terrorists define their *own* terrorism as the ‘authorised’ use of force, as distinct from everyone else’s terrorism which they regard as the ‘unauthorised’ use of force? Therefore it’s not possible to accurately or objectively define terrorism in terms of being ‘authorised’ or not.

        The only logical, consistent and objective criteria we can use to define terrorism is ‘the use of intimidation and violence for political aims’. And this definition makes all governments terrorists.

        Let’s also not forget that African slavery was once the ‘authorised’ (lawful) ownership of humans. The burning of witches or forcing native Americans off their lands was also ‘authorised’ (lawful) at one time. Did the ‘authorised’ status of these kinds of behaviour make them any less immoral and barbaric? I don’t think so!

        This concept of being ‘authorised’ is basically a clever ploy used by violent rulers whereby they make sure the rest of society adheres to a set of moral standards (as reflected in ‘laws’) while making themselves *exempt* from those same moral standards (reflected in more ‘laws’). Using this strategy governments are able to grant themselves a monopoly on immoral (and immensely profitable) behaviour LINK

        When you look at history it becomes clear that we evolve as a society whenever enough free thinkers look at certain ‘authorised’ behaviour and call it out for being morally and logically inconsistent and therefore unacceptable. Wouldn’t you agree?

        It’s all about consistency (universality).

        Logically speaking, there is nothing about a black man (or a woman) which makes him any less equal to a white man. The idea of ‘authorised’ (‘lawful’) ownership of a black man cannot logically co-exist alongside the idea of unauthorised (‘unlawful’) ownership of a white man. And yet for a while in the US it was perfectly lawful to own a black man but unlawful to own a white man.

        In the same way, the idea of ‘authorised’ (lawful) theft of half my wages by the government cannot logically co-exist alongside the idea of an ‘unauthorised’ (unlawful) theft of half my wages by a common thief or organised mafia gang.

        This is because there is nothing about a government’s use of intimidation and violence to get my money which makes it any different from a mugger or mafia’s use of intimidation and violence to get my money.

        The ONLY difference is that one is ‘authorised’ and one is not. Yet I’ve already proved this criteria to be totally subjective and therefore invalid. In a world where theft, slavery and rape are considered immoral then ‘authorised theft’, ‘authorised slavery’ and ‘authorised rape’ must also be considered immoral. Being ‘authorised’ or ‘officially sanctioned’ is simply a proclamation of self entitlement. (AKA “might is right” … which is ‘terrorism’).

        “…Yes, if you fail to pay tax you might get into legal trouble…”

        When it comes to taxation ‘legal trouble’ is the precursor to force/ violence being initiated against you. ‘Legal trouble’ only has validity if you have previously voluntarily entered into a legally binding contract and therefore agreed to be bound by the terms of that contract. Without a contract ‘legal trouble’ is just bullying (and thus terrorism).

        Where are the legal contracts we have with government with respect to the provision of healthcare, roads, education, wars, military spending, political unions, government borrowing, the economy etc? There aren’t any…. yet the government will drag us into court and start threatening us with violence if we don’t pay them taxes. This is terrorism (intimidation and violence for political aims).

        Can you name one other (lawfully operating) agency which does NOT use proper two way contracts for its transactions and instead uses the intimidation and violence to ‘do business’ with the public?

        A transaction is either voluntary and peaceful or it is based on coercion and violence. Taxation, like rape, is based on intimidation and violence. Without the intimidation and violence taxation would become commerce (ie a voluntary, peaceful transaction).

        “….Yes, the Iraq war was bad…”

        Blair and Bush have already been convicted of war crimes under the Geneva Convention. A million civilians are dead. About 4 million are displaced. The entire society is shattered. Depleted uranium has poisoned the water table and is causing birth defects to newborns (and to the babies of returning soldiers). It has cost trillions. I think it is a little worse than ‘bad’.

        “….But that’s a different question altogether as to whether taxation = terrorism…”

        Yes I agree. Strictly speaking taxation and an aggressive war are two distinct and separate acts of terrorism.

        (1) Taxation is terrorism because it is the use of violence and intimidation to obtain money to fund the government’s political aims. Any group who uses taxation to fund itself must be defined as terrorists whether or not they decide to call themselves a ‘government’ or try to label their coercive and violent activities with words like ‘democracy’/ ‘statism’/ ‘freedom’ etc.

        (2) An illegal war against a sovereign nation ‘justified’ by a made up and over hyped conspiracy theory about WMD’s is also an act of terrorism because it also fits the definition ‘the use of violence and intimidation to achieve political aims’. It goes without saying that a government engaged in terrorism will define its terrorism as ‘authorised’ violence and intimidation, and will try to pretend it is not terrorism really.

        “….And your equation of taxation with terrorism, as well as being definitionally incorrect, dangerously devalues the worth of the term ‘terrorism’…”

        Surely the opposite is true? Surely applying definitions *consistently* creates MORE value to those definitions than allowing arbitrary exceptions to exist? The definition of Newton’s third law has value because it is consistent. If metal objects were not bound by Newton’s third law then it would be a pretty valueless definition of the behaviour of objects.

        As for being ‘dangerous’ I would argue that if the public had applied a more rational and consistent definition of terrorism and refused to fund ANY group intent on using ‘intimidation and violence in the pursuit of political aims’ (including the government) then the Iraq war could not have happened and as a result a million people would still be alive today (and we’d all be a lot better off financially too).

        I think your inconsistent definition of terrorism (which magically exempts governments from being classed as terrorists when they clearly use intimidation and violence to achieve their political aims) is far more dangerous than my consistent definition. It has led to genocide and other horrific crimes after all, and has done throughout history.

        This blatant inconsistency whereby we allow certain ‘official’ acts of terrorism to be classed as ‘authorised’ devalues the definition of ‘terrorism’ to the point of making a complete mockery of it.

        If we accept that governments can use ‘authorised’ intimidation and violence to take our money or to invade sovereign nations commit genocide and set up permanent military bases then why not also accept the government using ‘authorised’ intimidation and violence to force women to have sex with them? If it’s ‘authorised’ then by your reasoning it must be OK. You’re clearly not too concerned with fundamental principles……only dictionary or legal definitions. What if dictionaries and laws defined rape as ‘unauthorised’ use of intimidation and violence against a woman to force her to have sex? We know that most women do actually want to engage in sexual behaviour, and so by your reasoning the government would simply be ensuring we are provided with it. Isn’t that your basic argument?

        Is that what you really think? ….. or is government’s ‘authorised’ use of intimidation and violence to achieve its objectives something you learnt was acceptable in government schools, never to question it again?

        If the government was ‘authorised’ to rape women once a week and we were taught from a young age that this was completely normal and acceptable behaviour, I bet that most women wouldn’t put up much of a fight and so intimidation and violence would rarely be used, beyond the occasional letter reminding women they are overdue for their next session of ‘government sex care’. The intimidation and violence would only need to be there lurking in the background. Women would understand that the government had the legal system, courts, judges, police and prisons at their disposal. No woman can stand up to that amount of force, and so laying down, ‘thinking of England’, and getting it over with would make the most sense. But the violence would still be there and so it would still be rape – agreed?

        Obviously we can see that this would be a ridiculous scenario because even though most women really do want to have an active sex life they should be allowed to provide themselves with sex through voluntary transactions with partners of their choice (dating, relationships, marriage etc). We understand that the ONLY thing which matters in this scenario is the government’s use of intimidation and violence – ie the fact that women can’t say “no” to sex with the government. Any other argument such as “women want sex anyway” is just a pathetic attempt to justify terrorising women and raping them.

        The same logic applies to taxation. We all want healthcare and roads etc but we should also be allowed to provide these things for ourselves through voluntary transactions (the free market). Once again, the ONLY thing which matters here is the use of intimidation and violence – the fact that at the moment we can’t say “no” to government taxation. Any other argument such as “the public wants healthcare anyway” is just a pathetic attempt to justify terrorising the public and stealing their wealth.

        “…That is to ignore the fact that we live in a social democracy. In such a democracy, if we disagree with government policies we can vote them out of office….”

        ‘Voting’ (and the entire political system) is just a psychological trick used to give people the illusion that they have choice/ freedom/ control over their lives and their earnings. Imagine buying a car and then the garage delivering the wrong car to your house and then finding out it doesn’t even run properly. You ring up the garage and they say, “well if you don’t like it in two years time you can vote for another member of our staff to be a new manager and if enough people vote the same way we will let the man you voted for become our new manager and he will then make non legally binding ‘pledges’ to make the garage a great provider of cars.”

        You would never accept this kind of nonsense with a garage, so why do you accept it when it comes to healthcare, roads, national defense, education of your children and the running of the economy?

        Voting is non specific, non contractual, non legally binding – it is utterly meaningless! Voting is little more than prayer. The people you ‘vote’ for hear your prayer but (like god) they are not legally obliged to actually do anything about it because there is no contract between you.

        There is no such thing as ‘government’. There are just PEOPLE interacting and transacting. Some people agree to use (and be bound by) contracts in a free market and some people call themselves politicians and they use violence and intimidation to take your money, then they use that stolen money to bribe you into voting for them. Then they rule over you through more intimidation and violence with absolutely no accountability whatsoever.

        Government only exists as a belief system and as such it is just another organised religion. Your belief in government is drawn out of you in government schools and maintained throughout your life with impressive but meaningless and overblown rituals such as ‘elections’. In between ‘elections’ your faith is maintained through propaganda via a controlled media (news, political debates, articles etc).

        You cannot vote to NOT have the government use intimidation and violence against you. But that’s the only part that matters! Everything else is elaborate ritual and distraction. Being allowed the freedom to choose to be raped by uncle John or uncle Joe is not the same as being free, is it?

        “….Imagine if we said, ‘if you disagree with a government policy, you can stop paying your taxes’. Would anyone pay any taxes? Probably not….”

        Then you agree that we pay taxes under duress. Therefore taxation is terrorism. Having the ability to stop government taking our earnings by force and spending it on things we disagree with such as wars, or bloated self service government departments, or schemes we do not want or agree with is a positive thing surely? You imply it would be bad. Why?

        Taxation and the provision of public services are not linked in any way, except in your mind. If you care about the provision of public services the very last thing you should be advocating is taxation!

        “…..Would that be the sort of society you want to live in? One where there is no state provision of any services at all? No healthcare, no education, no transport, no police? I would hope not….”

        Sounds wonderful! 🙂

        No crappy, bloated, inefficient, bureaucratic, over centralised, under staffed, over priced state run services ………..YIPPEEEE!!!!!

        You seem to have forgotten that the free market (something we’ve never really had) can provide all the services and infrastructure we want AND provide it a million times more efficiently and to a higher standard than the state can. In a free market there is competition to drive down prices and increase quality, innovation and choice. The state has zero incentive to deliver streamlined efficient quality services – quite the opposite. Why? Because it is funded through violence (taxation) and usually run as a monopoly. Even when the private sector is allowed to compete with the state it is never true competition because we can never withhold taxes from the state when we choose to go private. When the private sector provides poor service it goes out of business (or is forced to improve), when the government performs badly it carries on (because we are forced to fund it) and it usually ends up throwing more and more taxpayer money at the situation instead of dealing with the root cause of the problem, or simply going out of business.

        If we could withhold taxes when we choose to go private do you honestly think there would be any state schools left in the country? No way! The free market would have outcompeted the state and provided numerous alternatives to state schools and the state controlled syllabus. Competition and innovation would have created all sorts of imaginative, ‘vibrant’ and effective ways to become truly educated (and not just indoctrinated). Or perhaps being able to withhold our tax money and spend it elsewhere might have forced government schools to improve in order to stay in business. Either way we end up with decent education and not the dumbing down, barbaric, ‘prison system’ we are stuck with today.

        When the government takes things over innovation STOPS. Government itself – as a system of social organisation – is a legacy from the dark ages! Schools today are largely the same as the day governments took them over. They are like stopped clocks. OK maybe the black board is now a white board – big deal! Otherwise it’s still rows of kids sitting through fixed length lessons in a general prison-like environment permanently segregated by age all day long…. and government education is basically government propaganda (see my link above).

        The ONLY reason why you believe we need a government to steal our money in order to provide us with the things we want anyway is because you were indoctrinated in a government run school to think that way.

        If people want healthcare, chocolate, porn, roads, libraries, shoes, police, insurance, sparkly nail polish, education, pizza …then the market will provide us with those things. Do you honestly think there would be no transport without taxation by force? How would that happen? There would be wonderful, efficient, innovative transport because in a free market (a market not controlled through government violence), the moment people start to complain that there isn’t X then a million people will realise they can make some money if they can find a way to provide X – and they will all compete to provide X in the best way possible, and the best way will get our money.

        Think of all the trillions we’d save by not having the government steal our money and waste it and spend it on wars etc.

        “…But, ultimately, we control who sits in government, ….”

        Rubbish. No one even gets NEAR to being prime minister / president without being filtered through Oxbridge/ Yale the freemasons, skull and bones, CFR, Bilderberg, Bohemian Grove etc…. When Bush ran against Kerry they were both Yale, both skull and bones, both from oil families in Texas AND they were cousins AND they were related to the European royal family! Blair was a 33rd degree mason, Cameron goes on holiday with the Rothschilds. And on and on it goes….

        The whole political system is based on corporate donations and lobbing (bribes) while the politicians themselves offer bribes to the voters (tax incentives etc) which just means they end up borrowing more money and getting the country more into debt. Voting (competing parties) + the government’s legal right to borrow money in our names = spiralling national debt as political parties bribe us with our own money and take out more government loans to pay for all this increased public spending and tax incentives (‘free stuff’) = inevitable economic collapse.

        Thus the system of ‘democracy’ always ensures economic collapse eventually. Democracy is basically the equivalent of handing your credit cards to a bunch of competing crooks and then asking them to compete for your vote by having them all buy you presents each week. And underneath all of this bribery is the initiation of force – AKA terrorism! The whole thing is INSANE!

        The ability to ‘withdraw our wallets’ is the ONLY viable form of democracy / freedom there is. And we all know this! This is how the rest of society works. Our day to day personal and business transactions are all examples of voluntary, peaceful transactions in a competitive free market place. In our daily interactions and transactions if intimidation or violence enters the equation we all understand things have turned bad and that this is now a bad situation. But this is the permanent situation when it comes to the state.

        Wherever we are able to vote with our wallet we always see innovation, efficiency and quality and we are always happy. Whenever intimidation and violence is being used chaos, disaster and destruction is typically the end result.

        You worry about the free market taking over roads, hospitals, education etc…..but these things all existed long before the government took them over (and started raising costs and lowering standards).

        If the government taking over things is so great why not let the state take over, say, mobile phones and run it as another government monopoly? Imagine government ‘phone care’ paid for by taxation. Everyone would get the same government issue ‘free’ mobile phone and ‘free’ service plan paid for by taxes. No choice, no competition, no innovation, no contract, no accountability on their part. Phone innovation would stop immediately because there would no longer be the competition to drive it.

        Or better yet, imagine if the phone company you have now could behave like the government and also dispense with proper two-way contracts with T&C and instead start to use legal (‘authorised’) intimidation and violence to ‘tax’ you for use of their ‘free’ phone service.

        However bad their service became they could still force you to foot the bill every month – using force if necessary. There would be no contract so you could never get out! They could even start a war with a rival phone company overseas and use your money to fund this war. They could go into debt and force you and your children to pay the money back plus interest (your children would also be forced to use this phone company too). Eventually they would get into so much debt through inefficiency, bureaucracy and wars that they would start making cuts in everyone’s phone service while raising our phone taxes. This would spark protests on the streets and even riots where phone customers would march up and down the streets demanding an end to the cuts…. and they would end up getting pepper sprayed by armed thugs paid for by the phone company (ie paid for by the customers themselves).

        This is the reality of allowing intimidation and violence to be part of the equation. Wherever intimidation and violence is tolerated this is what happens.

        We would never tolerate such intimidation and violence to operate with phone providers because we are used to being able to VOTE WITH OUR WALLET and to use contracts with phone companies. This is what stops phone companies doing all those terrible things. Phone companies are not run by angels – I’m sure they would do all those bad things if we let them. But we don’t let them. We insist on contracts and we maintain our right to vote with our wallets.

        Government’s use intimidation and violence because we let them. We grew up being taught that this was normal. “It’s just how society works” we are told. Once upon a time people grew up being taught that African slavery was normal. “It’s just how society works” they were told.

        Governments are terrorists because they use intimidation and violence to achieve their aims – one of their main aims being to secure funding of course. Voting for a bunch of terrorists to carry on using terrorism and allowing them to steal half our earnings forever more will only encourage MORE terrorism, not less. The only sensible way to deal with terrorism is to stop funding it. To vote with our wallets.

        The first step in not funding terrorism is for people to become free thinkers and to look at certain ‘authorised’ behaviours (such as taxation) and call it out for being morally and logically inconsistent and therefore unacceptable. When enough people recognise that taxation is terrorism it will inevitably go the way of slavery. One does not fight a war against terrorism (just as one does not go around raping for women’s safety), one simply exposes terrorism where it exists and withdraws (emotional, financial, moral) support for it.

        This is how society evolved in the past and this is how we will evolve in the present. Once logical/ moral inconsistencies (or just plain evil) are identified in society these things always end up having to go. Terrorism is next on the list 🙂

  3. Sam Hawke said:

    Shit I need to get on with my day.

  4. Folk, cheers for your responses.

    Right now I don’t have time to give a full response. But I would say a couple of things.

    Firstly, I agree that how a government spends tax is irrelevant to whether taxation is ‘definitionally’ terrorism. I don’t think I ever disputed that.

    Secondly, surely terrorism has got to have something to do with intending to cause terror? We use the phrase ‘terror attack’ for an attack intending to cause terror. It just seems entirely meaningless to say that anything that is required by law is terrorism. Is it terrorism to require people to drive on the left hand side of the road? On your definition, yes. Is it definition to require people not to commit violent crime, or to steal, and so on? On your definition, yes.

    To define anything that is legally compulsory as terrorism totally devalues the concept of terrorism.

    I agree there can be state-sponsored terrorism. My purpose in quoting that dictionary definition was just to highlight the falsity of the claim that AbandonTV made in his/(her) first post, that taxation is definitionally (according to a dictionary definition) terrorism. It is not.

    As for this: “Wherever we are able to vote with our wallet we always see innovation, efficiency and quality and we are always happy”. We are always happy, always see innovation, efficiency, quality. Really? I don’t think so. And as for the suggestion that this can be empirically tested – there has never been a society with a free market, in which the state does not intervene. So there can be no possible proof of this assertion. Personally, I believe the concept of a free market is a fiction, just as much as the Hobbesian state of nature was before. It can never exist. There must always be some (state) regulation, or else there could be no common currency of exchange (to take the most basic example)

    How about the suggestion that there should be no state provided services? I’d say that has not worked too well for the millions of americans who lack health insurance. How would the poorest, the unemployed, fund their children’s education? Many infrastructure projects are only financially viable if they receive a massive input of capital that could only ever be provided by the state. Imagine a country without a state-funded police force.

    Abandon TV: I disagree with your view of how democracy operates. But don’t have the time now to go into it (your response was impressively long!).

    Sam H: what would refusing to pay your taxes achieve now in the context of a war which is now over, is not once again threatened, where the government which launched it is no longer in power, those who authorised are publicly disgraced? I can’t see it doing much good at all.

    As for withdrawing your taxes at the time. Again, I ask: in what situation would it be permissible to do so? Whenever a government carried out a policy we disagree with? Whenever a government carried out a policy that was not in its election manifesto? Whenever the government carried out a policy that we thought would have a morally bad outcome? Even ignoring the moral argument in favour of paying taxes, I just don’t accept that from a pragmatic perspective a democracy can function in such a way.

  5. Sam Hawke said:

    Just one comments.

    Your argument about the withdrawal of tactics is a bad argument largely for the reason that it proves far too much. Take a simple comparable case. Everyone disagrees about when they should go out onto the streets to protest actions or omissions of the government that they disagree with. And obviously if everyone decided to go out on to the streets to protest everything they disagreed with, democracy couldn’t function: it would be madness. So protest is in general wrong. This is an awkward conclusion, and so the argument must have gone wrong somewhere.

    I don’t think that everyone should refuse to pay taxes in protest of everything they disagree with; as I said, I’m in favour as a matter of policy the government forcibly coercing everyone into paying their taxes. This would not only be as a result of the undesirable breakdown in government that mass refusal to pay taxes would cause, but also because, if everyone refused to pay taxes to protest everything they disagreed with, I’d think a lot of what people protested about in this way didn’t deserve protesting or even deserved supporting – this would be as a function of the fact that we often disagree about what is right or wrong, what we should and should not support or protest. And I also think that given the alternative options open to you as a protester, refusal to pay tax may only be reserved for very grave wrongs that the government is supporting or committing – not least of all because the stakes for the protester are so much higher in this kind of protest, so you’ll want to be sure your sacrifice is for something sufficiently important.

    But, again, we’re not talking about what everyone would or wouldn’t do, but rather what you and I as individuals should do. It’s a complete fallacy to think that you can determine something to be wrong on the basis of the consequences of everyone’s doing it. It would certainly be bad for everyone to come to my house tomorrow night – thousands would be crushed and suffocated in the mass of people storming down my road, widespread destruction would ensue as hordes of people descended on South London – but that doesn’t thereby make the act of coming to my house morally wrong. It just makes that particular occurrence (everyone in the world coming to my house) morally wrong. We’re not talking about what would happen if everyone refused to pay their tax as an act of protest against everything they disagreed with. Again, I agree that that particular happening would be wrong and I’d support measures to stop it from happening. Rather, we’re talking about what, when we know a government is committing evil, we should do to oppose that government. And nothing that you’ve said has made it seem implausible to think that refusing to pay tax is not one of them.

    We will disagree about what is a grave moral wrong and whether our government is committing or supporting something that’s a grave moral wrong. As I said I think everyone should be forced to pay their taxes, and so this serves as a safeguard against the mass refusal you fear, not least of all as a serious disincentive to popularising this particular form of protest. I think it’s an all-things-considered fair occupational hazard of protest of this kind that you’ll be locked up for doing it – I agree that any other way of doing it would be wrong. We should face the consequences of so doing, even though those consequences will be unjust, if you’re in fact protesting real evil. But accepting that in no way contradicts the claim that protesting by refusing to pay taxes will sometimes be permissible and sometimes even moral required. As I said, I think this claim is true.

    • Sam Hawke said:

      For some reason I wrote ‘tactics’ instead of ‘taxes’ in the first line. Apologies.

      • I don’t think we disagree about whether Iraq was a ‘grave moral wrong’! I just think that there will always be a large number of people who think that any government is committing a number of ‘grave moral wrongs’ at any given time, and would on your approach be (morally at least) be entitled to withdraw their taxes.

        But then, given your qualification that they would not, due to concerns broader than the mere right to protest, be morally entitled to withdraw their taxes, I’m not sure we in fact disagree that much…As I say above, my main issue with the idea that people should be entitled to withdraw payment of taxes in protest is that democratic society cannot function in that way – which seems to fit with you saying ‘I think everyone should be forced to pay their taxes’.

  6. Sam Hawke said:

    Just like civil disobedience of other kinds, I think refusal to pay taxes is a protest strategy which should be used sparingly, largely or entirely in respect of the grave wrongs governments support or commit.

    Again, I don’t think people are in general morally permitted to protest by withdrawing their taxes. It’s only permissible, or morally required, in some special circumstances where governments support or commit grave moral wrongs. I think Iraq was probably one of those things: I think it was at the very least morally permissible to protest through refusing to pay your taxes. A lot of bad things that governments do won’t be something it’s permissible or required for you to protest by refusing to pay your taxes, and so most of the time I don’t think it will be the case that people are morally permitted or required to protest by refusing to pay taxes.

  7. Hey thanks for letting my ridiculously long comment(s) through. I just wanted to respond to a couple of points people have made. I’ll try to keep it really short(ish!) this time 😉

    – So is tax terrorism or not?

    I really don’t think it matters whether we classify tax as terrorism or not. Words are only there to convey meaning and it’s the *meaning* which counts, rather than the word itself. I only used the word ‘terrorism’ to make the point that tax is collected through the government’s use of intimidation and ultimately violence.

    Intimidation and violence is the underlying behaviour and strategy used by terrorists, governments, playground bullies, abusive husbands, mafias, street muggers and rapists. Whatever non violent persuasion tactics these people might use on you to begin with (sweet talking, oblique threats, a sales pitch, lies, patriotism, flattery, propaganda etc) they are all willing and prepared (usually with weapons) to use violence against you if you don’t do what they say.

    As long as we understand with crystal clarity that that is the nature of our ‘relationship’ with these people we can call them whatever we like. ‘Terrorists’, ‘thugs’, ‘bullies’ – whatever you like!

    This is *so* important to understand because when dealing with people who resort to intimidation and violence t get what they want there can be (by definition) no rational argument, no debate, no negotiation and no respect. there can only be the *pretence* of these things because in the end if you don’t agree to do as you’re told they will use violence against you anyway.

    Let’s say you walk into a bank to ask for a bank loan carrying a concealed gun which you definitely *will* use to rob the bank if they refuse to give you a loan. In this scenario you’re not really ‘asking’ or ‘negotiating’ for money from the bank, because you will use violence to get money if they refuse to give it to you. The ‘asking first’ strategy is just you trying to make robbing the bank easier and less risky for yourself.

    The same is true of the entire political system of left-right politics (‘democracy’), and of ‘political debates’ and ‘voting’ rituals etc. These are just ways for government to make life easier and less risky for themselves – but they will (and do) use violence against you if you don’t do as they say. So there is no debate really. Governments just use the IDEA that ‘democracy = freedom’ to make society appear to be free as possible, while still ruling it through intimidation and violence. It’s just a matter of efficiency. When we feel free we become far more productive (more taxes for them) and we become far easier and cheaper to control. That’s also why we are dumbed down and kept distracted by endless entertainments. It’s called ‘bread and circus’. It’s also why there is no philosophy in schools or on TV – otherwise we would figure out how we are being scammed by the ruling elite.

    – “Is it terrorism to require people to drive on the left hand side of the road? On your definition, yes…”

    No offense but this kind of argument is the product of a lifetime’s worth of government propaganda. You’re basically implying that without government laws to stop act as a deterrent, we would end up swerving onto the right side of the road and having head on collisions with oncoming traffic (or forcing them to veer off the road). After all, without ‘laws’ what is there to stop us from doing this? Nothing!

    In reality, of course, we all understand that agreeing to follow certain conventions when it comes to driving (or landing a plane at Heathrow or whatever) makes travelling a much more efficient, safe and pleasant experience for all! LOL

    Ad so we drive on the left because we WANT to avoid crashing into oncoming traffic and not because of any laws! It makes sense to all drive on the same side just as it makes sense to all use red lights for braking and orange flashing lights for indicating.

    Most road ‘laws’ have little impact on road safety (often making it worse), however they do provide a nice income for the government.

    – “Is it [terrorism] to require people not to commit violent crime, or to steal, and so on?…”

    Sorry, but this is more upside down ‘government un-think’. We cannot say that governments prevent violent crime or theft because governments use violence to steal half our earnings each week (that’s £billions every week – stolen by force!). Governments are also the world’s most violent and prolific mass murderers (statistically speaking). Western governments have murdered over a MILLION of innocent civilians in the middle east over the past few years alone. They have bombed the crap out of entire nations! Governments torture people!

    If governments and their ‘laws’ really did “require people to not commit violent crime, or to steal” then the FIRST thing governments would have to do is to arrest themselves and lock themselves up in prison for life for committing the most horrific violent crimes imaginable and stealing everyone’s money!

    Governments and their ‘laws’ are NOT there to stop people using theft and violence to make a dishonest living. Governments and their ‘laws’ are there to stop ANYBODY ELSE BUT THEM using theft and violence to make a dishonest living!!! Without using theft and violence governments could not exist! Governments do not earn a living like we do – instead they steal half our earnings by force. Governments are parasites which mind control their host (as many parasites do in the insect world, bizarrely!). Government laws ensure that only the government can steal and use violence and get away with it. Government laws protect the government’s monopoly on stealing and using violence. This is crucial to understand!

    This is how most people are indoctrinated to view government’s role in society:

    “We are the village elders and we say no one is allowed to rape the women of this village. If we catch anyone raping the women of this village we will lock them up in a cage!”

    But this is the horrific reality of the situation:

    “We are the village elders and we say no one else is allowed to rape the women of this village except us. If we catch anyone else raping the women of this village we will lock them up in a cage!”

    It’s almost the same……. and yet the difference makes a HUGE difference!

    – “Personally, I believe the concept of a free market is a fiction…. It can never exist…”

    But it already does exists in large pockets throughout all society. In fact most of our daily experiences are essentially examples of a free market. When I said voluntary transactions in a free market made us ‘happy’ I didn’t mean in a utopian sense. I just meant that when we are dissatisfied in a free market we are at least able to do something about it. For example, if you sign up with a crap mobile phone provider who turn out to be a PITA you can sue them for breach of contract…. or just switch to another company when your contract is up. If they are crap to everyone then they will soon go out of business as people switch to rival companies (or improve their quality service in order to stay competitive).

    Where the market operates freely is where things are always healthiest, and where government intervention (ie violence) is most prevalent that is where society is the most dysfunctional. In the US after the war poverty was being reduced at a rate of 1% a year and on course to be eliminated altogether until the very year when the government introduced welfare. Since that very year poverty has been increasing. Just look at the devastating effects of governments taking over education …… or healthcare.

    – “How about the suggestion that there should be no state provided services? I’d say that has not worked too well for the millions of americans who lack health insurance…..”

    Let’s look at the big picture shall we? Without government controlling society the US would not have been bankrupted by perpetual wars which syphon off all the wealth generated by society and put it in the pockets of a tiny minority of international banks and weapons contractors.

    I could give a million other examples where government intimidation and violence causes the very problems in society which people then use to justify the need for more government intimidation and violence.

    Also have you ever considered that without government taxation we (the majority of society who have sound moral principles) would be far MORE able to contribute directly to helping the poor and helping them escape poverty. Have you ever considered if we got to keep 100% of our earnings we could spend half the amount we currently pay in taxes and achieve four or eight or twenty times the results, in terms of helping those in society who really need a little help?

    In a statist society the MOST morally virtuous and altruistic people end up with the LEAST amount of control over society’s resources (including their own earnings!) and the LEAST morally virtuous and altruistic people end up in government with the MOST control over society’s resources – to the tune of billions each week. This is why as governments get bigger so does the dependent underclass, the wastage, the national debt and so do the wars. ALl western governments have bankrupted their countries and got them into massive debt. This is because they were able to use intimidation and violence to collect taxes and then they were able to use this tax revenue stream (your hard work!) as collateral to take out private loans which they used to fund wars and give to their friends, while also using it to bribe us with welfare, pensions and tax incentives so we keep supporting (and ‘voting’ for) government to rule us.

    Now the economy is crashing because the debts have gotten so HUGE. Will any of these government leaders who borrowed all this money and their friends (the international bankers and corporations) have their assets seized – of course not! Instead services will be cut, ordinary people will lose their jobs and homes and the poor and uneducated underclass will lose their welfare and turn to an even more wretched life of crime.

    You think taxation does good in society? Taxation is terrorism! It can only end in disaster because using intimidation and violence ALWAYS ends in disaster. Letting governments (terrorists) ‘look after the poor’ is the most irresponsible and immoral thing imaginable. What happens when the debts are too big, the money runs out, the economy collapses and the welfare stops? I bet you never even thought of that!

    If government really worked as a system of social organisation then the bigger and more powerful a government became the more functional and happy society would be! In reality the opposite is always true: the bigger a government gets the worse things get until society eventually collapses completely and starts over. Study history.

    – “Again, I don’t think people are in general morally permitted to protest by withdrawing their taxes…”

    Maybe it’s a good time to ask the question: what ARE taxes?

    We all agree that intimidation and violence are used by governments to obtain the money (AKA ‘taxes’). Usually this is called theft, but when governments do it it’s called ‘taxation’ and it’s justified because some (certainly not all!) of that money is spent on inefficient government programs to provide (usually quite crappy!) services like healthcare, roads, welfare etc.

    But wait a minute…… government’s also use this tax revenue to fund itself (always increasing in size and power) as well as to fund various destructive and immoral activities such as illegal wars of empire and profit (which only profit the banks and the weapons manufacturers, not for us).

    And this is the insanity (and the genius) of government taxation! By inventing the idea of a single ‘tax’ which goes towards *everything* from helping the disabled to funding wars, governments keep society in a permanent state of emotional blackmail. The government is effectively saying “If you don’t let us rob you and then use half the money to fund evil things then we won’t be able to use the other half to fund hospitals or roads or welfare for the poor”

    And because the government ALWAYS taxes to population to the max (leaving us with just enough money to live on) we are always dependent on government to provide those services because we sure as hell can’t afford to fund them after tax. And so we are left fearful of the poor and the needy not getting their state welfare because we know that in the short term this will lead to social breakdown and suffering and a massive increase in crime.


    When you say we have a moral obligation to pay taxes what you really mean is we have a moral obligation to help people less fortunate than ourselves if they can’t help themselves. (I hope you do NOT mean we have a moral obligation to fund illegal wars, self serving government departments and inefficient and bloated government schemes which are useless or even destructive).

    Helping the poor and generally ‘giving back’ to society has nothing to do with allowing a small group to steal half our earnings every week by force. The two couldn’t be much less connected!

    The problem is that the government does not allow us to fund hospitals, libraries and roads but NOT fund wars, wasteful bureaucracy, corruption, black budgets and overpriced inefficient monopoly services. The problem is that we are forced to either fund it ALL ……. or else break the law and withdraw ALL funding by refusing to pay tax (in which case we end up in prison anyway).

    That is blackmail. That is terrorism. The terror is the thought of being sent to prison and the thought of social breakdown and crime if government suddenly stopped providing its services.

    The root problem is that the whole system is run through intimidation and violence. The problem is that we have let terrorists, bullies, criminals, mafia (whatever) to take over the running of society. The problem is that we TOLERATE violence being used against us by governments. THAT is the problem.

    Withholding taxes is only a form of ‘protest’ if you consider violence being used against you to be legitimate in the first place. When you kick a mugger in the groin when he tries to steal your ipad you are not ‘protesting’ against the mugger – or against muggers in general – you are simply defending your property from being stolen!

    What needs to change first is for people to understand that all governments are by definition terrorist organisations (no matter who is running them) and that taxation is theft (no matter what it is spent on).

    Pay your taxes to avoid being kidnapped and locked up inside a cage, but have the pride to say “I surrender to the violence of the state!” when you pay them.

    Eventually people WILL come out of their ‘mind controlled’ trance and (just like with African slavery or sending children up chimneys) paying taxes and generally being ruled by intimidation and violence will also be recognised as fundamentally immoral and we will begin to organise society and fund the services we want through voluntary transactions instead.

    The government will, of course, be welcome to join in and start offering its services (healthcare, education, roads etc) in a free market place for us to CHOOSE to use and pay for, or CHOOSE to get from some other service provider if we think they are providing a better service than government.

    Or if they want, the government can carry on trying to use intimidation and violence to force us to fund it and force us to use its services…..

    But in a world which is continually evolving to a more advanced and enlightened society (as we always are) the government (and all who support it and fund it) may soon find itself becoming increasingly marginalised and ostracised as more and more people correctly identify them as a terrorist/ mafia organisation.

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