Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Taxation is Slavery.

This is an opportune time to remind readers the blogs listed on my blog list (bottom right hand menu) are not necessarily ones I agree with, just ones I find interesting. Though one of them is starting to annoy me greatly. Yesterday Matt Zwolinski tried to raise an argument on Bleeding Heart Libertarians that taxation is not slavery. The below is simply a comment I made to that thread, and provides its own context.


"Except that [tax is not slavery]. Even with a rate of taxation of 100%, no one would be forcing you to labor, they would merely (“merely”) be forcibly extracting 100% of the proceeds of your labor."

Your central argument is I'm not a slave because I can choose not to work and thus avoid the imposition of a mandatory tax. The corollary is obviously that I am expected to either starve, or go back to feudal, subsistence living with no specialisation of labour, because if I trade my skills in the cash economy the tax surveillance state can, and will, jail me. I will lose all my freedom.

I once debated with a deluded socialist who seriously maintained he was a slave to the capitalist supermarket owner because his body forced him to eat.

I'm afraid that argument and the one being made here are a mirror image, and the mirror is one of those you find at circus side-shows. Absurd, not reflecting reality at all.

Just as von Mises said there is no middle way between a free economy and one bound by socialism, so is there no middle way between a free life, and one where the surveillance state owns me. Matt is merely arguing about the size of the chains that bind us, blind to the chains that bind us.

My further comment to thread:

BallsAndStrikes and Matt don't seem to understand that this issue falls entirely on voluntarism versus coercion.

A free society cannot exist without an ethos of self-reliance and self-responsibility. Thus yes, you have to work otherwise through the tax surveillance state the state will force me to work for you.

But working in the private sector, in absence of state regulation, is 100% voluntary. You can choose what job or career you do. You can choose who your employer is, and you can change that employer. You can choose to work for yourself and employ others. It is also remarkable how little work you need do to get by: it depends on what your goals and aspirations are. This is a society based on voluntarism.

Regarding the tax state, and its prerequisite, the tax surveillance state, your every relation is governed by force, giving you merely the slave's choice of comply, or lose your freedom. Under the tax state you have no right to privacy; no right to refuse interrogation in room 101; here in New Zealand, IRD can raid without warrant; even the burden of proof is turned against you, meaning for the victimless crime of not paying your taxes, before the law you are at the disadvantage of murderers and rapists whom the state must prove the guilt of (in tax jurisdiction the IR simply assesses you and you have to prove them wrong); and finally the state routinely applies both tax law and precedent retrospectively to rewrite a taxpayer's history.

Because the tax state and tax surveillance state can and does, daily, surveil its citizens, plus by force punish citizens for victimless crimes, that tax state under any definition most certainly owns you.

And if that's not slavery what is? .


  1. You appear to be struggling with this one Mark (I don't see an argument against, just a description of the obvious consequences of the Bolshevist argument Matt makes). Let me help you out.

    Abraham Lincoln, made an important argument against slavery. He is faced with the dilema that slave owners posited, a slave owner is morally superior to an employer because they own their work force. The employer only rents their work force so obviously they are going to take less care of their workers (they can always find others) and so slave owners treat their workers better.

    Lincoln however says that the northern system of rented workers (or wage slaves) is superior in the only regard that matters. That is that the renting of workers is voluntary, and/or temporary. That is the workers are able to use savings of their wage compensation to work for themselves should they so choose.

    The issue which must be taken with a 100% taxation regime is obvious, it denudes workers of any possibility to ever extract themselves from their employment, obviously it is exactly equivalent to slavery. In fact its striking the similarity between Matt's position and what Lenin set-up in the USSR. Its hard to understand on what grounds Matt considers such a position part of the libertarian spectrum.

    Unfortunately to make that argument one must also make the argument that wage slavery as a modern condition is not in any way voluntary or temporary. A workers compensation does seldom allow them significant freedom. I don't actually know how one can draw the conclusion that it is possible to live in a feudal subsistence state without working, as I can't see how you would acquire the land or other means necessary to subsist without working. In a modern setting the alternative to work is benefits or homelessness (probably both). Unfortunately Lincolns argument is founded on an egalitarian economy and in the modern setting the economy reflects no such egalitarian conditions.

    The argument that your "deluded socialist" makes appears to be the same argument that Lincoln makes, there is no real alternative to work in a capitalist economy, though it must be re-iterated that when there is greater equality of outcome in a capitalist system then it becomes possible for employed labour to be a temporary or voluntary condition.

    1. For once I get lucky, Nic. In two hours time I'm traveling to Christchurch, staying with an old flatmate of 30 years ago and we're going to watch Gravity in 3D at Reading cinema, then catch up. I'm not taking any Internet connected device.

      So just quickly, for the choir. It's about voluntarism versus coercion. Yes you probably have to work, otherwise the state forces - note that word - me via the tax system to work for you. However you can choose what job or career you do; what employer you work for; even to work for yourself. You can also choose to work surprisingly little to get by. When dealing with the government, however, you have no choices. You must follow the rules, you must give over your taxes to be used in ways you may have no agreement with, or you will be punished by fine or losing your freedom (and livelihood).

      But I'm in, this society of your's no one need work, where is it? Write me a 10,000 word essay and I'll read on my return.

    2. Far fewer than 10,000 words needed here Mark.

      As you rightly assert, the government has a monopoly over the issue of money (to some extent defrayed to commercial banks). That alone means you are not working for me, or the state by paying taxes. The state doesn't need your money, what it lacks is workers hardly money. A government employee might claim to be working for me or you however.

      Your assertion simply makes no sense in this regard.

    3. So given government according to you can print all its money requirement, why can't I stop paying tax?

    4. Well taxes do two things. One they take money out of the economy, this might be important if the government want to avoid inflation at some point. Two the tax liability gives the currency value. In order to be able to buy goods and services the government must enforce a tax liability, or its money would be worthless. I already explained that to you of course.

      I also consider that taxes should be used to keep some kind of bound on the wealth of the extremely wealthy, this is to stop the political system from degrading into a plutocracy, but this would be unnecessary if there was some other way to remove money from politics.

      Of course it would be unfair to tax in an unbalanced manner so the government should not exempt you personally, not that this stops them doing it. However, if you stop paying nobody should accuse you of responsibility for the government cutting spending as a result. There is a reasonable alternative, the government should keep up mandated spending regardless (this might result in some inflation in some economic circumstances not resembling the present).

    5. What are you talking about? I answered your question, 'why can't I stop paying tax?' succinctly. Were you looking for another answer such as, you can go right ahead and do it?

    6. To the subject of my header post. I'm just too busy and worn out for your games this thread Nic.

    7. Actually Mark, just because your ideological framework can't deal with an argument, that doesn't make the argument off topic. It would only be off topic to an ideology which is immune to criticism by virtue of only discussing a fantasy world, or attempting to do so. A ideological framework which deals with the real world, or attempts to, can not be immune to arguments in this regard. Obviously the role of taxation is relevant to the topic of taxation or taxation as slavery.

    8. Actually Nic, the role of taxation is irrelevant to the fact I am enslaved by being forced by the state to pay it.

    9. By the same reasoning Mark, any criminal could argue that the fact they have been convicted is irrelevant to the fact that they have been incarcerated.

      No, to ask if some institution is justified you need to address the actual basis for the institution. The basis for the institution can't simply be ignored (even if it's inconvenient).

    10. I don't agree with the institution that tax is taken for. Your first sentence is spurious to the argument in your usual attempt to troll and derail the argument. That's why I used to put time into arguing with you, but I don't anymore. Plus you have no ounce of good faith.

      This topic is, per my header post, about state coercion via the tax take, versus the voluntary society.


      “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
      ― Thomas Jefferson

      “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
      ― Winston Churchill

      “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
      ― John Marshall

      “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the canidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy--to be followed by a dictatorship.”
      ― Alexander Fraser Tytler

    11. Sure, a less incendiary phrase perhaps? In my argument that capitalism is non-voluntary I might maintain that,

      The role of capitalism is irrelevant to the fact I am enslaved by being forced by the super market owner to pay it.

    12. The word I used in my header post, thus sums that stance up nicely: deluded.

  2. Nic - how about instead of taxing people, the government printed less (fiat) money; then they wouldn't need to tax people to take money out of circulation?

    And do you think the government should have a monopoly over the issue of money? Hong Kong has banks which print their own currency.

    1. Well the government must collect some tax, or its money will be worthless. You probably noticed that money has no intrinsic value (its mostly account entries and fancy bits of paper) but it can be used to pay taxes. So without collecting some tax the government can't spend on anything at all.

      I don't see any functional alternative but to give the government a monopoly on the issue of currency, myself. I expect we would see a non-monetary economy if the government stopped collecting taxes. If the NZ government just stopped collecting I think the results would be horrendous. I did hear tales of a non-monetary economy in anarkist Spain, but its so remote its hard to imagine. I think the government monopoly can be justified, as long as the electorate knows about the monetary system so they can make economic decisions about the economies direction.

      In Hong Kong the banks print notes under license from the HKMA (this also happens in Scotland), but they are Hong Kong dollars which the government still collects tax in. Other than the plethora of notes this is no different to anywhere else.

      The connection between the rate of money printing and the tax rate is the inflation rate, at present (due to a large buffer of unemployed) inflation is not a threat (it has not been for quite a while). The government should spend more without collecting additional tax (or actually cut taxes) in my personal opinion. But the amount taxed has no other connection to the amount they can spend than inflation/deflation resulting from this decision.

    2. Nic, how about if the government allowed people to mint, and trade in, gold and silver coins. That way there would be no counterfeiting (printing money out of thin air). The government would not need to collect taxes if its operations were self-funding. The justice system could be funded on a loser-pays basis. The armed forces could be downsized, and police force likewise reduced in scale if there were strong enough disincentives to would-be law-breakers such as a robust restorative justice system. A government that protected private property rights might very well find itself the recipient of voluntary uncoerced funding from grateful beneficiaries.