Principled stances on taxation:
- “Taking property is theft!” (Anarcho-Capitalism)
- “Claiming you own property is theft” (Anarcho-Communism)
- “Taking property is theft, but acceptable for the Greater Good” (Various consequentialists)
Unprincipled stances on taxation:
- “You CAN own property but taking it isn’t theft because of a Social Contract that you never agreed to.” (Unprincipled capitalists, e.g. most modern ideologies)
- “Claiming you own property is theft, but if you use the car that Comrade Iosef drives, the police will get you even though it isn’t Comrade Iosef’s car” (Unprincipled communists, i.e: “communists.”)
Surely you can’t define theft without a concept of property, thus you can’t define property in terms of or in opposition to theft.
If you accept a consequentialist position on taxation then the debate is over:
“People would prefer to hang on to things, but there are reasons why we have to take things away from them, for the greater good”.
In practice most of the social contract viewpoint comes back to this anyway, as people wouldn’t defend a social contract if they thought it gave bad outcomes.
I prefer the rational, factual, logical stance on taxation:
Taxation isn’t theft because you’re paying the government for resources or services you voluntarily chose to use by not changing your lifestyle to not use those resources/services. Because there is literally no moral difference between paying the government to provide those resources/services and paying a private company to provide those resources/services. And if you choose to live a lifestyle which uses those resources/services, you’d just be paying a private company to provide them if the government didn’t do so.
So it’s got nothing to do with the Greater Good or a social contract. It’s just business. The business where if you want/need something, you’re expected to pay the person who is providing it to you if they choose to be paid for it, which does not magically change when the person providing it that chooses to be paid has a government title.
Now, people are certainly free to try to argue that nobody should have to pay for things they want/need and/or nobody should be allowed to expect payment for the resources/services they provide, but those ideas would have to apply to literally everyone, not only to people in the public sector.
(Also money is not property anyway, money is a medium of exchange of property, but an exploration of that fact is outside the scope of this particular topic.)
No. No. This is exactly, exactly, the unprincipled stance of the social contract, even if you say that it isn’t.
John is not chosing to use the service “Get shot by the police,” so any argument that it’s not theft because he chose to use that service and has to pay for it is super skeevy.
You cannot equip a large mass of people with guns, explicitly charge them to hurt you if you don’t do what they say, then hurt you anyway, then claim that it’s a service you have to pay for. What the actual