|Counting the cost|
Libertarians occasionally come under criticism for labelling tax as theft. The objections to the
'theft' label are many and varied. Some claim that property is theft, therefore
tax is 'redistribution'. Some claim that tax is 'necessary', and therefore
couldn't be theft. Some claim that theft is wrong, so if the majority of people
approve of it, then it couldn't be wrong, and therefore couldn't be theft. Such
claimants are morons. However one of the logical and compelling claims is that
Australia is a for profit corporation owned by its shareholders
(citizens). It's private property. By consenting to live on private property
you have have agreed to live by its laws and one of those laws is that you must
pay rent (tax) to live there.
The objections to this are twofold:
- This is not how Australia is run.
- Even if that were true, it is a very inefficient way to run it.
Is Australia a Corporation?
There is nothing inconsistent with the view that all of Australia belongs
to Australia Inc, and that people in the sovereign territory have no rights
other than what the government gives to them. Just as there is nothing
inconsistent with my view that I have a God-ordained right to enslave you and
your family. Equally there is nothing inconsistent with the view that Saddam
Hussein & sons have the right to rape, torture, and enslave the entire
If you start with the axiom that 'society' (whatever that is)
owns your mind, your body, your thoughts, your house, your car and your family,
then you will end up with all kinds of weird conclusions.
Extreme socialists do indeed start with that axiom, and they are extremely
difficult to argue with.
I could also quite intelligently and consistently argue that I have the right
to rape your family because 'God told me', and you would find me quite hard to
argue with too. And we won't even mention forced Islamic conversion ..
[ Incidentally, the socialists who are easy ones to deal with are those who drop the term
'individual liberty' in their argument - as soon as they do that, they have lost.]
So the issue is not the conclusion you draw ('tax is not theft'), but the
axiom you have started with
('Australia is a for profit corporation owned by its
shareholders'). Actually I have a great deal of sympathy with that view.
However there are little chinks in the argument that I will draw to your attention.
If Australia Inc is a corporation, then
- Who are the shareholders? Presumably those with Australian Citizenship?
Why then does the government have the right to strip people of citizenship, and
therefore taking their asset by force? Isn't this theft? Could a normal
corporation decide to take a shareholder's shares away?
- If the corporation is 'for profit', then why don't the shareholders get a
dividend? If a corporation doesn't make a profit for 7 years, I believe the
tax-office closes it down. Australia Inc doesn't make a profit 104 years
and we still call it a 'for profit organization'?
- Why can't the shareholders buy multiple shares? Why should Australia Inc be
different from other corporations?
- Why does the Australia Inc Board of directors (ie the government) pass (or
attempt to pass) laws in other countries? [eg it is illegal to have sex with
minors in other countries even if it is legal in those other countries]? This
is like Macdonalds dictating the price that Greasy Joe's can charge for hamburgers.
- Why does the government talk of home 'ownership' when they know that no
such thing exists? Why do they deliberately mislead their shareholders into
believing they own something when they don't?
While none of these things disprove the conclusion that 'Australia is a for
profit organization', they indicate that the government itself doesn't regard
itself this way, and doesn't make its decisions based on this belief.
Try this experiment - ask a number of politicians what the primary purpose
of government is, and measure how many say 'to protect the asset Australia
Inc', how many say 'to do the bidding of the shareholders', and
how many say 'for the good of the people'. Don't bother posting the
result - we all know it already.
How can you say that Australia is a corporation when the board of directors
themselves deny this?
In fact Australia has never been a corporation. It has never been run like
a corporation. One only has to read the Australian Constitution to realize that
it is not a contract with the share-holders, but a document on how to
administer a country, and control the people.
The US constitution has been progressively undermined over 200 years. The
Australian constitution didn't need to be.
Then there is the separate issue of, if Australia were a for profit
How should Australia Inc be run?
and this is a perhaps topic for another time, but ..
If the political experiences of last century, the scourge of communism, and
the disaster of the social democracies' flirtation with socialism hasn't
convinced anyone that the key to prosperity, wealth and freedom lie with
secure property rights, they will never be convinced.