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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6490/is-april-18-irony-day/

Is April 18 Irony Day?

April 9, 2007 by

If you live in the District of Columbia, your local income tax returns don’t have to be filed until April 17. That’s because the traditional April 15 Tax Day falls on a Sunday, and April 16 is a legal holiday in the District. What holiday, you ask? Why, Emancipation Day:

April 16 has special meaning for the District of Columbia. On that day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, For the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia. The Act freed about 3,100 enslaved persons in DC nine months before President Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation telegraphing the eventual end of slavery to the rest of the nation. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act represents the only example of compensation by the federal government to free enslaved persons.

And what better way to follow a day honoring emancipation than with an orgy of government confiscation that forces everyone to file detailed returns exposing every aspect of their financial lives to authoritarian regulators.

{ 38 comments }

Joe Cesarone April 10, 2007 at 12:11 am

Actually, the April 17 deadline applies to anybody filing U.S. federal income taxes, for the same reasons you outlined. Your point is still valid, of course, but it has nothing to do with living in the District of Columbia. All Americans therefore get to share in the irony.

Sam April 10, 2007 at 12:36 am

Pleeeeeaaaase tell me what the definition of ‘slavery’ is? Or for that matter difference between a ‘slave’ and a ‘free person’. Lest it’s a hollow hyperbole space-filler for use in the same way Eric Cartman said in the Dog Whisperer episode of ‘South Park’ when he was on a diet, “Now I know what it’s like to be a Jew in the Holocaust!”.

Axel Riemer April 10, 2007 at 7:05 am

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

eg,
“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
“What truth?”
“That you are a slave, Neo.”

Sam April 10, 2007 at 7:13 am

So that’s a yes then?

Person April 10, 2007 at 8:19 am

Oh! I know! They could make it a hybrid “Emancipation & Confederate Heroes Day!” Then move it to Labor Day. Make everyone happy!

Horace Cole April 10, 2007 at 8:20 am

Sam,

You don’t have to pick cotton to be slave. You just have to have your labor value taken from you under threat of force.

Sam April 10, 2007 at 10:28 am

No seriously, is there an obvious definition of slavery or is it a subjective term to be used willy-nilly?

To say ‘labour value’ is vague (and Maxist?). As many a laissez-faire economic says there no such thing as a ‘just wage’ as there is ‘just rent’ for an apartment. Just as supply and demand determine the rent for an apartment (and everything else really) so too does it affect wages. Hence, like any other business operator, a worker, in a free marktet, sells his/her skills on the marketplace and, if they’re on the short end of the stick, take what they can get.

DC April 10, 2007 at 10:48 am

Sam, no subjective or willy-nilly terms here. Slavery is involuntary servitude.

On a side note, economists can talk about a “just wage” or a “just price.” The just wage or price is whatever someone is willing to pay or receive (in the absence of aggression).

joe April 10, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Sam,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_slavery

It is quite easy to determine whether something is voluntary or not: just look for the gun.

joe April 10, 2007 at 12:49 pm

“…difference between a ‘slave’ and a ‘free person’”

Of course Cartman was right, it is a matter of degree: the relative difference between diet and concentration camp hunger…

Now, seriously, there is no exact boiling point but if between 1/3 and 1/2 of your income is extracted from you under threat of force, you can consider yourself well on your way to serfdom.

tMoC April 10, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Maybe Sam agrees with every action that the government funds with his contributions, and is therefore not really a slave. You never know.

To say ‘labour value’ is vague (and Marxist?).

Not at all; my labor has value to me. How is that vague or Marxist?

Hence, like any other business operator, a worker, in a free marktet, sells his/her skills on the marketplace and, if they’re on the short end of the stick, take what they can get.

What does this have to do with the topic at hand?

Now, seriously, there is no exact boiling point but if between 1/3 and 1/2 of your income is extracted from you under threat of force, you can consider yourself well on your way to serfdom.

If only taxes were the only manifestation of slavery we live under. There is also the fact that we need permission to work in the first place, and to spend our earnings.

Sam April 10, 2007 at 8:10 pm

Actually the wiki article on slavery was more clear isasmuch if I was to use the term ‘slavery’ as simply meaning when you are unable to leave your predicament.

However, also in the article, how is ‘tax slavery’ any different from ‘wage slavery’. If I was to say “gee that’s a good point, what of people who are forced to choose between a very-low standard job and no job at all and having no job means possible death?”. I’m sure I’d get a reply along the lines of “geez, you’re a goddamn left-wing, pinko, Marxist aren’t you! If a worker doesn’t have the skills to be productive beyond a working-poor level then that’s their tough luck! Sure let’s start restributing incomes from the productive to the slackers, bring Stalin back to life, send society to hell in a handbasket, etc.”.

But, seriously, if true slavery means no freedom to leave then ‘tax slave’ is simply a provocative political term just as ‘wage slave’.

Vanmind April 11, 2007 at 1:51 am

That tactic is hardly surprising. Government needed to legislate an annual Propaganda Day for the day after Tax Day, to encourage maximum reverence of the State and its so-called “emancipative” core values.

Takes away the sting, and all that.

joe April 11, 2007 at 3:00 am

“But, seriously, if true slavery means no freedom to leave then ‘tax slave’ is simply a provocative political term just as ‘wage slave’.”

Right… because you can just stop paying taxes, it’s as easy as quitting a job, nobody’s forcing you to live in this country… of course if you leave without settling your debts your property might be confiscated and you might be unable to come back, face jail-time…. but any employer can do that.. can’t they?

Only if your employer is a feudal lord.

TLWP Sam April 11, 2007 at 8:35 am

Well, Vanmind, was that a reply of “Geez, you’re a cheeky lil c@#! because you know can make smart-arse comments and hide behind cyber-anonymity and if you came into a Austrian Economics/Libertarian convention spouting the same bull@#*@, you’d probably get the s#@! kicked out of you and be thrown out of the complex!”?

I remember not so long ago D. Ryan & D. Coleman ripping into me for suggesting that private property owners could turn into feudal lords. Of course, the standard reply regarding private owners was: ‘well a private operator could be a meanie and try to impose his megomaniac ways onto others however since there are many private property owners, tenants would simply seek residence with other owners and the meanie would have to change his ways or go broke. So quit trying to compare private property owners to governments because even though private operators do lay a claim to some land, the private area is where all the good guys exists and the public is where all the bad guys mingle.

P.S. I thought I better add some initials to my name now that a Libertarian Sam has posted his/her comments too.

DC April 11, 2007 at 9:31 am

Sam, I am no longer clear on what your objection is. A slave is someone forcefully compelled into involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude is slavery.

What you call “wage slavery” looks like involuntary servitude, but, as others have pointed out, workers in a factory are free to leave at any time. No factory owner can chase them down with guns, if the laborer’s work is voluntary. If the owner does chase them down and shoot them, it is clear that the work wasn’t voluntary to begin with.

(Your summary of our other conversation doesn’t really ring a bell. (By the way, DC = Dan Coleman). Feudal lords who are so by voluntary arrangement may try to be ruthless, but it seems obvious that their regime won’t last without aggression. Ever notice how dictators have to force their populations to do things at gunpoint? There are few who voluntarily subject themselves to such treatment.)

Vanmind April 11, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Not sure why you think I was talking to you, Tulip Sam.

averros April 12, 2007 at 12:18 am

Because you can just stop paying taxes, it’s as easy as quitting a job, nobody’s forcing you to live in this country…

Oh, and to go WHERE? This planet is divided between gangs, each collecting taxes. Some are worse, some are not so bad, but there’s no place for you to go.

So they just don’t bother guarding their slaves, knowing well enough that they got nowhere to run. And if they start running en mass, the masters start bitching about “brain drain” and such.

Besides, why should I go anywhere from *my* land?

TWLP Sam April 12, 2007 at 1:07 am

Actually, averros, wasn’t that going to be inevitable? Since human existence relies on land then of course all land was going to be settled and owned anyway? Hence sooner or later landless are going to pay land rent or land tax? And the landowners aren’t going to sell off a much desired asset?

Hence in a Libertarian Earth all landowners would own every bit of land that could be ownable. Therefore I’d presume there’s be no complaints as people who don’t like one private landowner’s terms of agreement would pick up their stuff and look for a more reasonable private land owner.

Also I’m sure you know the difference between landholder and landowner. And the standard reply is that a government is an supposedly an illegitimate organisation and shouldn’t hold the deeds to the primary ownership of land. Yet in the U.S.A. that government’s right to exist is expressed every four years by its citizens and every day by the multitudes from migrants from all over the globe, especially Africa where some claim that it is a more anarchic continent.

Vanmind April 12, 2007 at 1:35 am

Yes, the majority still is a brainwashed State-worshipping mob. There’s no doubt about that, although things are changing all the time–which is something, incidentally, that mainstream economists never want to admit.

Legitimate economic theory teaches me that free markets with minimized State intervention and maximized liberty would tend to distribute wages and assets (including land) better than any bureaucrats could ever dream of doing by “planning.”

The government of British Columbia “owns” something like 92% of the land in the province. That’s frightening, at first thought. But then, government isn’t real anyway, and so cannot own anything in a legitimate sense. Government doesn’t count. Not really.

Imagine how much cheap land there is in BC. Now imagine a world with free trade and a healthy division of labour that allows a maximum number of humans to actually own some of that land.

Sam April 12, 2007 at 5:30 am

Actually I’d have thought free-market economics would let the most productive rise to the top of society (assuming there would be a conglomerate that could be called a society). And conversely not-especially productive folk would sink to the bottom (assuming they have a current cosy existence).

But it was nice of you say that anyone who doesn’t believe in Libertarianism has @(#* between their ears. I mean if I got a dollar for every time . . .

Brad April 12, 2007 at 10:33 am

All the debate comes down to the Federal/State government’s modern construct may the “least worst”.

Is 40-50% tax personally, embedded taxes via corporate taxation, savings tax via inflation, and behavioral control via fiat money and interest rate control, copious regulation, and an accrual basis debt of nearly $50 Trillion ($750,000 per working couple) slavery? No.

But being a five or a six on a scale of ten is no great shakes either. Having your labor threatened, and having few options of creating real equity free from the corrosive effects of inflation, tax increases, and limited modes (approved by bureaucrats) with which to do it is certainly not freedom by any reasonable definition. And all you need to see the proverbial whipping post is push the boundary. You’ll have all sorts of people with guns and shiny badges using all sorts of force on you.

So just work, have over half of your labor taken in one form or another and try and believe that your value as a human being is not being deflated at every turn. Just adopt the same mentality as a house slave – as long as the master is generally kind, live with the humiliation.

Tom Rapheal April 12, 2007 at 12:33 pm

TWLP Sam, govornment does not have a ‘right’ to exist. Rights are condtions that are natrual to individuals that do not require forced action on the part of others. The US govornment is also not responsible for the tremendous wealth of its jurdisticition, therefore not the reason Africans immigrate to the US.

Tom Rapheal April 12, 2007 at 12:49 pm

Sam slavery is taking the labor or the fruits of it from an indivdual. Slavery is stealing on a much grander scale. I’d say that 40%-50% qualifies as a grander scale. Remeber that mideval serfs paid 60%. Also even though it is not a qualification for slavery and only a symtom, we need govornment’s permission to do almost anything and we are by an increasing mesure being brought up by the govornment as universities are begining to be taken over by govornment. Look, we are registered with the govornment when we are born, traked throught our lives with social sucrity cards, enter govornment education at age 5, exit at age 18, then either go to an increasingly controled college or immedialy begin working with the govornment takes a good deal of the check. Then try to retire on the govornments dime and get govornment approved health care. Also when you die the govornment takes a good deal of whats left. From cradel to grave.

greg April 12, 2007 at 1:15 pm

t-sam> Yet in the U.S.A. that government’s right to exist…

Under the “american” theory, a government has no “rights.” A government has only powers and enumerated at that. Government is pure power. First, get that under your hat.

To me it doesn’t matter if one calls me a subject or a slave. I am ruled and taxed by the guvmint without representation. That the guvmint is calling me a “citizen” is just more doublespeak.

greg April 12, 2007 at 1:29 pm

VM> Imagine how much cheap land there is in BC.

There is plenty of land to be homesteaded. The scarcity is created by guvmints with their seizures, and also inhibiting the free movement of peoples to otherwise unclaimed, or at least cheap, land.

TR> The US govornment is also not responsible for the tremendous wealth of its jurdisticition,…

T-Sam was taught that all good things flow from the guvmint. Or that is the only thing I can surmise, given his/her comments.

Scott D April 12, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Sam, you would do well to seek knowledge rather than conflict. You’ve obviously got a lot of bitterness with libertarians for some reason, but nearly every comment that has been made in answer to your questions has been polite, helpful and informative. Many good people would at least like to help you understand where they are coming from.

When you attack an idea like the ownership of land in a free market, it is important to recognize the alternative that you espouse that would stand in opposition to that position. Either people own the land that their homes and businesses sit upon, or the government (or, if you’re a socialist, “everyone”) loans it to them conditionally. If you reject the first option, you’d better be prepared to think through and deal with the implications of the second one.

Anthony Gregory April 12, 2007 at 5:32 pm

I actually think there is some good in distinguishing between slavery and theft. Income tax is mass theft, and systematic, and purely evil. This surely makes Emancipation Day ironic.

But it is not, as I would define it, slavery. Now, forcing employers to comply to paperwork requirements is slavery. Compelling testimony or jury service is slavery. Conscription is most certainly slavery. But taxation is just, at its core, good old fashioned robbery.

TLWP Sam April 13, 2007 at 12:49 am

Ok, I’ll apologise, for cheap cheesy comments and remarks that sound as if they come from ’101 Pathetic Arguments Against Libertarianism Made By Liberals – and the Standard Replies’. And as not being a resident of the good ol’ U.S.A. I, of course, might not grasp how many regulations that everyday residents have to comply with.

Maybe my big bad gripe is perhaps with every ‘-ism’ that it’s all good and fine provided everyone actually abides by it. I personally subscribe to the concept of a Liberal Capitalist (where I’m sure many reply, ‘cough, cough, Commie, cough, cough’). Yes I can emphasise and agree with low taxes, minimal regulations, minimal government, greater self-responsibility, etc., but with a bare-bones safety net against people falling into abject poverty (and the standard reply here would, ‘duh it’s called charity on the free market’).

However, apart from D.C.’s reply and Brad’s first reply onwards, the answers came across as coming from ‘Standard Reflex Replies from Libertarians When Asked About Their Great Plan For Society’. Hence I keep getting buzzwords such ‘gangs’, theives’, ‘theft’, ‘slavery’, etc. And averros’s reply was fairly predictable, ‘to another gang’s territory’, ‘no free land to go’. It was even nicer to hear Vanmind polite remark, ‘of brainwashed slaves’ which I presume can only refer to anyone with doesn’t believe in Anarchism-Libertarianism.

Perhaps my biggest gripe concern is why Libertarianism is supposed to work? Saying everyone should cooperate and be good to one another is fair enough. But then the real world kicks in and plenty of people have no problems getting their own freedoms by trampling over everyone else’s. When the Roman Empire fell over, the masses didn’t go Libertarianism, new rulers took control over their small domains and started all over again to eventually the nobles and monarchs of Europe. There’s no clear-cut obvious reasons why a Libertarian society would last as soon as enough people start breaking ranks.

Brad April 13, 2007 at 8:21 am

***When the Roman Empire fell over, the masses didn’t go Libertarianism, new rulers took control over their small domains and started all over again to eventually the nobles and monarchs of Europe. There’s no clear-cut obvious reasons why a Libertarian society would last as soon as enough people start breaking ranks.***

Which is why Jefferson noted that revolution (bloody or not) would/need-to happen every 70 years or so, as whatever motivation there was inherent in the human psyche to bond with each other, when combined with Force, would eventually be hijacked for the benefit of certain sectors, namely those empowered with Force and their cohorts.

Libertarianism, generally, understands this. I agree there are some that are “hard-core”, and may have the bleary eyes of the zealot, but idealistic libertarianism, at least, stands as one principal that needs to have its tether in dabates that are the Pull-fest of Statism, to be the one to say that perhaps Statism, no matter how contrived, is generally bad when it zooms over a certain scale (suffice it to say that the Great Debates of the day are merely between two Statist houses).

I understand knee-jerk responses are not satisfying (I feel the same way in the past when I have frequented libertarian sites that trend more Conservative). Sometimes the dabates are so worn over that all that is left is a mantra. Sometimes it is essential to examine the building blocks of the argument.

Also, I agree that terms such as wage-slave and tax-slave may seem axiomatic, and toss in the word “slave” in for effect, but it still stands that being employed is a voluntary action on both sides, while taxes are enforced actions by one party and is not voluntary. One is a stretch, the other reasonably can be included on the scale of involuntary servitude.

Brad April 13, 2007 at 8:40 am

***But it is not, as I would define it, slavery. Now, forcing employers to comply to paperwork requirements is slavery. Compelling testimony or jury service is slavery. Conscription is most certainly slavery. But taxation is just, at its core, good old fashioned robbery.***

I disagree. Theft may or may not involve force. I can break into your house and steal your possessions and not directly threaten you in any way. If you are there, then maybe I’ll use force on you. It’s not necessarily essential.

Taxation, on the otherhand, exists because the inherent threat of force. Slavery existed in the same manner. They didn’t “voluntarily” work the fields, they did so because of the threat or use of force. See what happens if you refuse to pay your taxes and resist. There is no doubt that your possessions and person will come under direct assault.

So there is a psychological effect involved here. How would it be if I threatened to steal your possessions unless you behaved a certain way? Is that theft? Or is it coercive and extortionary? Or better yet, there is a sliding scale of what I’ll take depending on how well you meet a long list of demands. If you do 80%, I steal only 20% of your possessions. Is that theft? Or is that behavioral control via terroristic threats as well?

There is much more to taxation than mere theft. It is an ongoing assault on the individual, taking the better part of their value systems and behaviors and hijacking it with threats and use of force. I make all sorts of judgements in how I conduct my life. I have made sacrifices and invested in myself, make time-value judgements and live with the consequences. And I ask very little of anyone, and do not hand out free advice unsolicited, and would likely be very reserved if someone asked me for my opinion on how they should conduct their lives.

And in the middle of all of this, half way through the process – of making value judgements becoming behavioral actions, into money, and back out into choices of consumption or investment – comes threats of abuse if I don’t allow half or more to be taken to allocated by others and their values. The very fabric of who I am is constantly under threat of force. It is so accepted that $750,000 of accrued liabilities have been run up in my name, so I know that my future labor is going to be under an even greater threat.

So given the nature of the “theft”, it’s not just “things” being stolen, and the manner in which it is done – continually – that separates taxation from theft.

DC April 13, 2007 at 8:45 am

Sam, you write: Perhaps my biggest gripe concern is why Libertarianism is supposed to work?

Every theory is only good insofar as it corresponds to reality. Libertarians believe that our political philosophy best corresponds with (a) man’s nature, (b) ethics and morality, (c) keeping problems in check as much as possible, and (d) the flourishing and prosperity of society.

I have to point out that you have asked this question often but don’t seem interested in pursuing the answers outside of these comment threads. No one here is going to be able to recreate the literature in 2 paragraphs and in such a way as to satisfy you. I think that your best option is to read one of the following works: For a New Liberty (or) Man, Economy, and State by Rothbard; Human Action (or) Liberalism by Ludwig von Mises. They are all available free on the website and are easily navigable.

To expect someone to “sum it all up” for you on these comment threads would be an injustice to libertarian political theory as a whole. We can use the phrases that best represent our views: “Human action is purposeful behavior”, “Every person has the right to his or her person and property”, “Slavery is involuntary servitude,” etc., or write short summaries or descriptions, but you don’t seem convinced by these thoughts when encapsulated.

Please do yourself the great favor of taking time to engage the serious thought on the subject. You’re looking for answers in the wrong place, so it shouldn’t be surprising that you aren’t finding them in these comment threads.

Brad April 13, 2007 at 9:08 am

And, lastly, to no one in particular, there are two ways to look at slavery, the socio-economic reason it came into being, whether in antiquity to or its more modern manifestations. It was simply a way to order society and handle the “masses”. All those extra mouthes that needed to be fed, and hands that needed to be kept busy lest idleness became rioting. It was a system of mutual obligation handed down as writ from on high. Masters had some obligations to provide welfare, and the slave had an obligation to labor as intended for the benefit of the Master, and so for the whole subsystem. It was an ordering of society. Of course this was born in an era that understood little of capital, individualism, individual rights in property etc etc, the system that creates maximum wealth and maximum liberty.

The other way to look at it was that it simply crushed the spirit of the individual. That is the aspect that is handled with the modern term of slavery. The humiliation, the lack of self determination, the consequences of resisting, that’s what we take away from the concept today.

So what do we have? We have a system that coerces people, taxes half or more their labor directly, directs a rather large portion more via mandates and artificially narrowed choices (and the consequently higher, non-market, price). For what? To keep the masses in line. For the benefit of whom? Even if one believes in a minarchic State (which I by and large do, unlike the hardcore) when it goes well beyond providing protecting life and property, and maybe even a few cooperative services (which I willing to debate on a case by case basis), and squarely into behavioral control, it has gone from public policy of a proportional nature into the terrain of slavery.

And, again, for whom? It benefits the bureaucrat, the parasite, those whose decisions have broken them. We are slaves to an idea. That those who Need, regardless of why, are cherished, and those who actually create and labor, and make sound decisions, are to be reviled. So just as slavery was born in era that understood little of individuals, their decisions, for good or bad, and the use of force to preserve sound decisions made by individuals instead of reinforcing and subsidizing, collectively, the bad decisions made by others.

Simply put, any system that does not recognize individualism to the maximum, and resorts to collectivism as the clearing house of allocation, whether by direct ownership or an ongoing terror campaign of confiscation, that is a system that exists within a sphere of slavery.

TLWP Sam April 13, 2007 at 10:36 am

Anyhoo I s’pose it has to be said that one big difference between a (right-wing-ish?) Libertarian and a Conservative is that Consies have no real grudge against using force (and perhaps fraud), except they won’t admit to it in court. Here’s an article from Robert Kiyosaki, though I admit to not mind reading some of his articles (he’s against taxes and fiat currency but not Libertarianly so), but this one stunned me. It reminded me that he isn’t a Libertarian.

http://au.blogs.yahoo.com/richricher/36/lazy-people-dont-get-rich

Also I have to admit there was one phrase that Liberal debaters can pull out of Gods-know-where: ‘freedom of strangers’.

Admittedly I almost laughed upon hearing the ‘freedom of strangers’ argument for society. ‘Because people belong to a particular nation with a federal government with laws against crimes against persons this means people don’t look upon everyone else as potential criminals but as a fellow citizen’. Yeah right, I agree that a cheap, sappy, lame argument.

However with regards to the ‘Social Contract’, the first time I read it (before hearing the Liberal version) was in a book where it along the lines of, ‘in times gone by when freedom reigned, there was nothing to stop the strong bullying the weak and then one day some strong and weak made a pact where the weak submitted to work for the strong in exchange for some basic protections from the ruling strong and strong outsiders’ . . .

Anthony Gregory April 13, 2007 at 5:23 pm

“So given the nature of the ‘theft’, it’s not just ‘things’ being stolen, and the manner in which it is done – continually – that separates taxation from theft.”

Well, it’s contant robbery. And of course it’s pure evil. And theft is evil. And taxation is an attack on civilization itself.

But I still think it’s useful to distinguish slavery as something even worse, or different. Taxation is a the forced extraction of wealth. Slavery is being forced to do something specific, being owned by the employer of your labor.

Tom Rapheal April 13, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Slavery is robbery of the person.

Tom Rapheal April 13, 2007 at 6:43 pm

A better term for tax slave would be tax serf as it is more accurate. We right now are extremely close to tax serf-60% of income taken is serf level.

M-la-maudite April 15, 2007 at 11:42 am

Hi Sam and all,

Essentially, slavery boils down to forced labour; which implies an element of coercion + the provision of service(s). Namely, slavery is forced work.

Thus, ‘voluntary slavery’ is more of a metaphor, than an actual account of a possible situation; i.e., if you transfer your powers over your self and/or what you own to someone else, she becomes the rightful owner without you really being a slave since you consented to it in the first place. So, in this case, the element of coercion is missing. This is why you can’t speak of wage-slave or slavery for disadvantageous working conditions in a laissez-faire market-economy.

By opposition, tax-imposition, conscription and other governmental encroachments on our liberty that take the form of positive ‘obligations’ or performance-duties are quite straightforwardly making us all slaves of the state, in the sense that they are impositions/extortions of services (thus, the two elements are present). The only exception i could think about would be for people who consent not solely with the existence of the state but also with all its policies, since no actual delegation of powers from individual to state ever occurred in the real world.

Btw, the fact that some earth residents are allowed to participate every four years or so in the political circus that is called elections does not imply any manner of consent (especially so where the ‘right’ to vote is obligatory, as in my home-country, but even where it’s an actual option as in the US). As an old anarchist saying goes: “if voting could change things, it would be illegal”. More to the point, representation and majority rule are the two prongs of the so-called parliamentary democracy, and both aspects of it directly conflict with personal autonomy; that is, the right you have has owner of your own person to construct your own life the way you wish to, as long as you don’t trespass on your neighbours’ equal sphere of liberty. As you might know, both the immigration argument and the fairness theory have been seriously discredited three decades ago, if not earlier even.

Anthony, the reason why taxes are more a form of slavery than simply an act of theft does come from their regularity and their institutionalisation; namely, thefts are punctual acts of agression and misappropriation, while slavery implies a continuous practice of enforcing positive duties upon you. Further, taxes like slavery imply a claim of legitimacy on the part of the slave-owner or government to the effect that they attempt to justify the well-foundedness of the extortion (while thieves normally don’t). They are also based on threats and blackmail, and theft not necessarily so.

Besides, Nozick (who considered that “taxes are on a par with forced labour” and slavery) has written a very interesting couple-of-pages development on this question. In a nutshell, he claims that we’re actually working to be able to guarantee the attainment of our own material preferences. For example, if i’m only interested in a simple and frugal style of life, and my favourite pass-time is sleeping in the sun, i will work only what’s necessary for my getting enough to cover my most basic needs; if my tastes are more expensive (and i’m not a state-leech), i’ll work more to get for myself the additional goods i desire. It’s purely a question of personal preferences, and individual trade-offs resulting from a costs-benefits analysis. Now, if the powers-that-be tax me on the account that i worked or produced more and therefore earned more than the level X, they don’t only steal that money from me but (crucially) the hours of labour spent to get the additional money. Thus, analytically, there is no difference between the state taxing you and imposing you to work unpaid for governmental goals for a certain numbers of hours a day. This is a form of forced labour and slavery – so, taxes are equivalent to slavery (QED).

This argument is valid for any type of tax-system which is income-based; it is strongest against tax-systems which are progressive and where people end up being tax-deprived of most of what they earn in the higher revenue range. In Europe, where i come from, it amounts to 90% of your earnings (over a certain level of income) being directly stolen from you, in addition to indirect and inheritance taxes; which makes a great many Europeans much worse off than the medieval serves.

To answer Sam’s question, i don’t believe that the main concern of libertarians or anarchists is utility-based. What i mean is that, although we believe that a free society is also gonna provide people with better and more, the whole point is rather than no just or right society can be based on the coercion of any single individual. This is taking liberalism’s own pledge against totalitarianism seriously; and in fact, a consistent liberal has to be an anarchist, or at least someone extremely close to that (most minarchists would qualify as ‘a posteriori anarchists’ in the sense that the institutional model that they advocate is generally based on actual consent of a form or another and thus discredits any currently existing state-system as remotely legitimate).

This being said, in spite of being quite convinced that a purely laissez-faire economy is gonna solve nearly all so-called ‘market-failures’ and related issues (including that of social rights, basic needs, etc.) for most everyone in the medium to long run, -that is, if we’re ever left to try it; i, for one, still have a problem with the idea that some people are gonna live in the short term for whom charity might not be sufficient to garantee their basic needs. However, if two solutions are offered to you and none brings the results wished for, you always have to look for or create a third one. In the case in hand, get basic welfare money supposed to alleviate desperate situations from another source than enslavement, or even theft! That gives quite an opening for serious ‘left-minded’ liberals to work on improving things, instead of relying on taxes and making everyone’s life worse off…

One possible avenue has been recently proposed by left-libertarian philosopher Michael Otsuka, who suggests extracting the money necessary for welfare-payments from the fines imposed on criminals as a repayment to the whole community for the harm caused by their crimes. Obviously, you need to qualify the transfer in a libertarian fashion. Victimless crimes not really being crimes, they shouldn’t be punished by taxation-fines anymore than by any other means. The punishment of real crimes (crimes breaching the individual rights of the victims) implies a compensation of the victim + some retributive or symbolic element. This second element, which is supposed to embody compensation for the harm-risk done to all members of a society, is generally assumed to help funding the police and judicial system. A contribution to urgent welfare claims could also be included. Rand also toyed with a similar idea.

I’m sure other alternatives can also be though of. The problem is that loads of welfare-state advocates are relatively happy with supporting generalised enslavement and robbery. So, they don’t even have to bother about finding another way to prevent people from starving. This is clearly irresponsible on their part! … and it possibly accounts for their usual dismissal of libertarianism as selfish and inhumane: not being willing to do themselves the job of finding a creative solution, or to face the nastiness of the existing proposals, they have to dismiss the libertarian position precisely because it shows their own ethical attitude as the sham it is.

Cheers, M-

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