Ep. 137 Is Taxation Theft? Not If You’re Not Entitled to Your Paycheck in the First Place, Says Philosopher

7 May 2018     |     Tom Woods     |     14

Philip Goff argues that libertarians make a variety of unsupported and unsupportable assumptions when they claim that taxation is theft. We defend the libertarian claim against Goff. (What else did you expect us to do?)

Column Discussed

Is taxation theft?,” by Philip Goff

Contra Column

Does a Worker Help the Rest of Society?,” by Bob Murphy

Episode Mentioned (Tom Woods Show)

Ep. 470 Debate, Murphy vs. Block: May Libertarians Accept Government Money? (Bob Murphy and Walter Block)

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  • http://2vnews.com 2VNews

    If you are a slave, and continue to work as a slave, you can’t complain about slavery?

  • Tyler Folger

    They should really stop this. It’s like they contrive an even more horrific view of the state than we do when they try to explain how taxation isn’t theft, eg. “Don’t worry; it’s not theft because the state really owns you and everything else! Keeping some of the fruits of your labor is a privilege we grant you!”

    Statists would probably be better off with the Jason Stapleton position that it IS theft, and should be minimized, but it’s unfortunately necessary for various reasons.

  • Kristian

    I feel like those who deny the taxation is theft; if they had political motivations to do so, would in fact deny that 1+1=2…even if it was demonstrated before their very eyes.

    • Stuart Morrow

      Proponents of school vouchers are a pretty reliable example of this on the right. Reject school vouchers on the grounds that it’s a redistribution of wealth, and they will deny it. It’s like they don’t even understand the concept of what a school voucher is.

      • Galgus

        One can favor them as preferable to purely public school funding while advocating the ideal of no government involvement in education.

        • Stuart Morrow

          You can, but I don’t think it’s very good anti-statism. Collecting state pension is one thing – you’re just getting back money that was taken from you. Advocating school vouchers, that’s a qualitatively different thing: you’re bringing a new, immortal government program into existence.

          Second, he who pays the piper calls the tunes. Once vouchers are instituted, at some point the government will say schools have to meet certain “standards” (demands, bad ones) to be eligible to receive any subsidy. The only type of “school” I care for would be the most affected, since it deviates the most from what “everybody knows” is good educational practice. Relevant search term is something like discus-sudbury-model school vouchers. For libertarians who think the problem is statist subject matter, or egalitarian beliefs making it impossible to expel bad students (I don’t care about any of these things), he-who-pays-the-piper is again a problem.

          Third, subsidising schools might mean that people who would otherwise home-educate instead choose a voucher school. So that’s a problem, since I look at private schools the same way as basically privatising the TSA – it just privatises the problem.

          And if you still think that whatever the benefits of vouchers are outweigh all that: I can not see a single benefit of vouchers over just plain tax credits for anybody not using the government’s schools. So just go with that… And if people are logical, it’s easier to make the case for that than for the other thing. No need to dispel fears of ‘profiteering’ or whatever else.

  • Matt Hartley

    “If the article were answering the question ‘Is a mugging at gunpoint theft’, everything in the article would still hold”

    This is the biggest reason why arguments that taxation is not theft fail.

  • Stuart Morrow

    >join us as Tom Woods and Bob Murphy teach economics

  • Timothy M Laake

    I was all on board for the Contra-cruise until Bob started talking about getting ship wrecked.

  • Mackenzie Calhoun

    Taxation IS NOT theft.

    … it’s technically extortion.

  • Ben Eng

    Not sure about the marketing wisdom of promoting the Contra Cruise in the same episode as hypothesizing about a shipwreck in which only Woods and Murphy survive to swim to a tropical island.

  • Michael Thompson

    Read Goff’s article and object to his views on slavery. As long as a person is not an Israelite then it is a perfectly moral thing to make them your slave.

    Ref: Leviticus 25:42-46 42Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God. 44″‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Though if your a non Israelite I suggest caution when traveling through Isreal (do to verse 45)! <..>

  • zack

    if the slaves eat the food, then they are consenting and admitting that their labor isnt really theirs because it depends on their nourishment from the masters. but lets make this argument 20 paragraphs like a good sophist.

    and lets apply our own whims and fancies of who deserves how much money they make, and whos really contributing to society and who isnt. why should this person earn as much as that person? why should a basketball player earn more than an ivory tower professional sophist? lmao

  • http://blog.monstuff.com Julien Couvreur

    If rights come from the State (ie. the State owns the territory and sets rules for allocating it to the various citizens), then where does the State gets this right from?

    If it is from the citizens, as is often suggested, then we’re back to recognizing individual sovereignty and ownership. Citizen can’t delegate their property to the State (for protection or whatever) unless it is their property in the first place.

    On the other hand, if the State has some sort of “natural right” over its territory (ie. its sovereignty is not derived from some other source), then why does the same right not apply to individuals and their property?
    Recognizing the legitimacy of sovereign entities in a world of sovereign entities seems to concede the central point (sovereignty is not derived from some encompassing group), and only leaves the question the number and granularity of sovereign entities in the world.