Monday, November 14, 2005

Reason and Taxation?

I find it rather interesting that someone is offering taxation as an example of reason at work when the two are in fact mutually exclusive. The value of reason is in its ability to reach conclusions through peaceful, rational thought and discussion. Reason allows us to avoid physical struggles amongst ourselves by substituing muscle with the mind.

The value of taxation is that it forces people to contribute to the community. But this value is directly at odds with the value of reason. Taxes replace the rational dialogue that informs reasoned choices with the bludgeon of the state. If a person fails to pay taxes, the state works physical violence against him and his property. This is why taxes seem so unsettling, even to the hunter who sees the immediate impact of his contribution. This tension between reason and taxation should be obvious, although I suppose for some the guise of the state makes violence disappear, along with that tension. It seems to me that any advocate of reason would naturally also be an advocate of self-determination and non-violence; taxation relies on the evisceration of both.

Clearly, this latter consluion is not universally ture, because the path to forced communalism involves a great deal of violence. Yet, all the benefits that communalism supposedly bestows on a society can be had at a much lower cost, in both lives and capital, through trade. Schooling, police and fire protection, food, military, highways, voting machines, even government itself (through arbitration and private law, like contract) can all be more effectively acquired through consensual trade. It is true that the state has provided these things in the past, but only at the price of reason, self-determination, and violence. Some even attribute the success of America to communalism, yet this country was founded and continues to prosper on principals far afield from anything resembling communalism. Perhaps you distrust trade and the market that develops with its free exercise, but it is simply irrational to suggest America has prospered for any other reason but trade, or that our societal structures and benefits would fall apart if not for the forced communalism of taxation.