Sunday, 28 August 2022

On The Incoherence Of The Claim That 'Taxation Is Theft'

The idea that 'taxation is theft' is one of those thrilling, paradigm shifting recognitions that are continually being rediscovered and shared. It is a classic case of pseudo-intellectuality, in which the excitement around an idea determines its popularity, rather than its quality (previously).

First, unlike theft, taxation is legal - and this turns out to be a more significant difference than it first seems since we rely on laws to determine who owns what. Second, taxation is a device for solving collective action problems and thus allowing us (by coercing us) to meet our moral obligations to ourselves and each other - including our obligations to respect each others' property rights. One can't coherently be in favour of enforcing property rights, e.g. by having a police force and judges to catch and punish thieves, without also being in favour of a sustainable system for funding that enforcement.