Government, taxes and protests

You should use force only to defend your own rights or those of other people against people who are trying to violate those rights, and not otherwise. You have no obligation to defend others whose rights being violated unless you have specifically agreed to do so, but you can do it if you want to. However, there is a problem with defending rights by force. Consider somebody who sees you using force legitimately. The observer has a legitimate reason to be concerned about whether you’re using force properly. If you’re not using it properly, then you’re a dangerous person and he may be your next victim. And an illegitimate use of force is a problem even if it’s targeted at somebody else.

So there can be disputes about the legitimacy of any particular use of force and we need some way of settling such disputes. Settling those disputes itself often involves force because if somebody runs around using force illegitimately then he won’t stop doing this just because you ask him nicely. In Western countries institutions for settling such disputes are mostly provided by the government: police, courts and the military.

Governments currently raise money through taxes and inflation. This money is itself raised by threatening people with force. If you don’t pay your taxes, the government will use force against you. If somebody offers to pay off a debt in government money, then you can’t sue them for non-payment of the debt. So if a debtor tried to pay you in government money and you used force to get payment in a form you found preferable, the government wouldn’t regard that as a legitimate use of force and might punish you. So you can’t avoid government devaluing its currency by simply refusing to accept government money. So government money retains its value in part because of the government’s use of force. The government uses force to raise money. It then uses that money to do X. So part of the means by which the government does X is the use of force. So if X isn’t a purpose for which force can legitimately be used, then the government shouldn’t spend that money on X. No current government even makes much of an attempt to approximate that rule. All governments pay for stuff like bridges, medical care, housing and other stuff that nobody should use force to obtain. However, since tax money is used for some purposes for which the use of force is legitimate, you should pay it.

We should reform in the direction of governments only using force for legitimate purposes. We should also be willing to reform in the direction of governments using means other than force to raise money.

In some countries a lot of people are dissatisfied with governments and they are protesting. In France, some people are protesting over fuel taxes. In the UK, some people are protesting about the government’s refusal to honour the results of the brexit referendum. These protests sometimes block streets and some of them involve the use of force. One protest in the UK blocked an ambulance from getting to a person who was ill, which I think is the use of force. In cases like that the police may be right to stop protesters from blocking the ambulance and using force might be necessary. But in general, if people are protesting in the streets either government policy sucks or it hasn’t been explained well, so the government is at fault.

In the case of the brexit protests, the government has fucked about for two years and tried to appease the EU. The government could and should have delivered the promised policy two years ago. The government is entirely in the wrong on this issue.

In the case of tax protests in general both sides are in the wrong. The protesters generally want the policies the taxes are paying for. Government officials never properly explain the enormous cost of government provision of healthcare, leaflets and meetings about slippers and all the other junk that governments shouldn’t be doing. Both sides are guilty of remaining deliberately ignorant about the costs and consequences of their preferences: both sides are lying. And if they don’t stop lying, then one or both sides will resort to much more serious violence than we have seen so far. If you want to understand where this problem comes from, then read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, especially the first section of Part Two, Chapter X “The Sign of the Dollar”. The same problems will arise soon in other countries. People need to understand individual liberty better or they will lose it.

About conjecturesandrefutations
My name is Alan Forrester. I am interested in science and philosophy: especially David Deutsch, Ayn Rand, Karl Popper and William Godwin.

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