I agree with Mencken, fundamentally.
Voting (as he put it) is basically an advance auction of stolen goods. Ideally – and I concede it may be impracticable given human nature – there would be no voting at all because there would be no government. Just rules stablished on the basis of individual self-ownership and the property rights which flow from that concept.
If we must have some government, then at the very least it must – somehow – be restrained from serving as a redistributor of property taken from those who who own it and handed over to those who voted to relieve them of it.
Ay, that’s the question!
One might attempt to restrict the power of government to a civil/criminal apparatus which adjudicates contract disputes and protects the individual and his property from aggression by holding accountable those who violate (cause harm to) either. This could funded by a voluntary subscription, which entitled the subscriber to these services.
Roads and such could be financed on the same basis.
No one is forced to fund anything. Pay as you go – and only for what you wish to pay for.
And then they would be services – in the proper meaning of that term. A true service is something you can say no to; that you can refuse, if you do not wish to use that service. When I call the guy who digs trenches to come dig a trench for me, that is a service.
We agree on a price; the service is performed satisfactory. I freely pay for the services I solicited.
No one else is forced to pay for them.
When I receive a letter from the county government claiming I “owe” $1,800 because I own a home in the county – a home I paid for 15 years ago – on the basis that the county is providing education for other people’s kids and so on, that is not a “service.”
It is extortion.
I am not using these services; I didn’t ask for them. But I will be thrown out of my own home – the one I paid for – if I fail to pay for these unwanted/unused “services.”
The problem is how to limit the natural (it seems) inclination of people to demand the kind of “services” government provides – by which they mean “services” they want but which they use government to make others pay for.
This gets us into moral rather than legal territory.
Laws forbidding the use of the ballot box as means of theft-by-proxy are probably not the solution, for the same reason that “reasonable” gun proscriptions are not the solution to the problem of violence committed with guns. Moral people do not use guns to commit acts of aggression irrespective of laws forbidding it.
What’s needed, then, is recovery of the moral aversion to theft and the use of force to facilitate theft – rather than laws forbidding it.
Most people, of course, have been conditioned to euphemize theft as “taxes” – and thus blank-out their moral aversion to theft performed under that rubric. Language is critically important. Which is why language is used by immoral people to achieve their ends. They pervert language so as to make people who aren’t by nature bad people do bad things – or countenance bad things – by making those bad things seem (and sound) like not-bad things.
“It’s time to pay your taxes” sounds so much better than “give me your money – now.”
Your “fair share” – of other people’s property; which is to say, your fair share of those other people, since in order to obtain that “fair share,” those other people must be forcibly put to work as your servants, in order to produce that which you propose to relieve them of.
I think it was Franklin who wrote about a free republic being fit only for a moral people. He was right. The job, then, is not to advocate for new laws – or even for fewer laws – but rather for more morality.
To insist upon honest language – and to vigilantly call out euphemistic language.
This work must begin from the ground up, with children. They are already taught that it is wrong to steal. The task is to explain that stealing is always wrong as a matter of principle – and that it is wrong to call stealing something else.
That they own themselves, absolutely – but have not the slightest claim on anyone else. That they have the right, as owners of their own lives, to pursue happiness as they define . . . and a moral obligation to respect the right of others to pursue happiness as they define it.
To live – and let live.
That they are owed what they paid for – but that no one owes them anything who hasn’t incurred a debt to them or caused them harm in some way.
That rules based on property rights – which are based on the individual right of self-ownership – are morally valid; that laws which trample property rights affront the concept of individual self ownership and as such are indecencies and intolerable.
It’s all pretty simple, as most sound things usually are.
. . .
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