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Taxation is theft, but we also need roads

Trevor speaks in support of a minarchist tax model based upon the non-agression principle

Sex is sex and not rape because of consent. A job is a job and not slavery because of consent. A transaction is a transaction and not a robbery because of consent.

Likewise, unless you consent to having your capital taken by the state, taxation is theft.

I never really understood why this was such a controversial statement. The Oxford English dictionary defines theft as “the crime of stealing something from a person or place” with steal defined as “[taking] (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.”

In other words: do you consent to the government taking money out of your paycheque for taxes? If you answered yes, you believe taxation is theft. If you answered no, you don’t. It really should be as simple as that.

It isn’t, of course.

As another tax season comes to a close I’m reminded about the lack of autonomy we the people have over a system ostensibly put in place to provide amenities for all of us. For all my libertarian groaning about individual sovereignty and right to self-determination, you might be surprised to hear I’m not diametrically opposed to taxes as a concept — as long as they make sense.

As long as funds are going toward programs, infrastructure or paid positions I support I’m happy to finance them via taxation. The problem here, of course, is that taxation is not some sort of pick-and-choose process where you decide what plan works best for you.

Quite the opposite, actually — the government puts you into a prescribed group based solely on your income and subsequently tells you how much money you will pay for various programs you may or may not support, all under the threat of incarceration if you refuse.

That needs to change, which is why I propose a new system based on giving the taxpayer more autonomy with regard to what they finance with their hard-earned capital. This way individuals could pick and choose what their tax dollars would finance, in a similar fashion to what we do when we choose our own car insurance.

Have no kids and don’t think that you should have to finance childcare incentives? Sure thing, it just means you won’t get to take advantage of any of those benefits.

Die-hard anarcho-capitalist living on a self-sustainable homestead 20 kilometres from the nearest highway? Feel free to not finance roads (or anything else, for that matter) but make sure you don’t get caught on one as you haven’t contributed to their upkeep.

Don’t want to pay into the EI program? Feel free to opt-out, but if you lose your job don’t come knocking for benefits.

You get the point.

This is, of course, not a perfect system. For many, like myself, who consider the state an illegitimate entity, the argument could be made that they do not have a legitimate claim to infrastructure like roads in the first place. I’m a pragmatist, however, and short of a literal revolution, I see this as a compromise that would keep the most taxpayers happier while optimizing the system to run in a more utilitarian manner.

Then there is also the question of who is more efficient at spending taxpayer money: the government or private industry. Here I will always side with the latter.

Take me for example. I don’t think there’s been a one-week period where the five-kilometre stretch of rural road I have lived on since May 2019 has been pothole-free. I would happily pay taxes toward maintaining this specific stretch, but the program doesn’t work like this.

On the other hand, our little community could get together and hire a private contractor to keep our stretch specifically clean. Likewise, if enough of this went on independently throughout various communities it could improve the overall state of road infrastructure without the need for taxes (or rather, without the need for compulsory taxes) one community patch at a time.

I know what you’re thinking: what happens when your relative gets sick and you have to travel halfway across the country on a bunch of roads your dollars haven’t gone toward funding? Easy, we’d just have a lot more toll booths (financed by the geographic areas they correspond to versus the province or federal government).

In fact, the essence of this system is not only that you’d be able to pick and choose where your hard-earned dollars went, but that you’d be able to consent to additional charges on more of a piecemeal basis.

Not only would this help the taxpayer, it would help our essential services. The police would have less calls to respond to (based on who actually opted into paying their salary), likewise with paramedics and firefighters. This might sound harsh — like I’m suggesting people shouldn’t be given access to these emergency services — but remember that’s not what I’m saying. They simply deserve the choice to opt-out of them, should they consent to doing so.

Taxation is theft — so let’s give people the opportunity to decide how much they want to be robbed.