Taxes are the price we pay for being uncivilized

Patrick Gibbons

“paying taxes is a privilege” – Brian Greenspun.

Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun has it all wrong – again. In his latest diatribe against the good citizens of America and all those who protested at the Tea Party last week, Greenspun announces “Rather than look at our tax dollars as something confiscated by our government – that’s us, by the way – we would be better to understand that paying taxes is a privilege.”

Paying taxes is a privilege? Greenspun spent the first half of his article announcing that most Americans hate paying taxes. We hate it, yet it is a privilege?

Mr. Greenspun seems to be the type of person who dogmatically believes the government will always do the right thing and will always be responsible if we simply elect the right people into office (his people, of course). On this, Mr. Greenspun is dangerously wrong.

He is correct, however, to acknowledge that many people in the world would give a great deal to become citizens of this country. And many do, despite no universal healthcare, no protection from job loss, no right to a house, no living wages, and not even a 35-hour work week. For more than 200 years people have voted with their feet and moved from the Old World, with its ancient ways and outdated beliefs in the supremacy of the state over the individual, to come to this country where the philosophy was one of limited government and the freedom of the individual to pursue his own nonviolent self interest – rather than the interests selected for him by some officious collective.

Indeed, the best thing our government does to advance freedom and prosperity is to simply stay out of the way. While both Republicans and Democrats of late have recklessly expanded the size of government and the scope of its power, our country still remains freer, politically and economically, than the vast majority of states on the planet.

Sadly, American government has grown well beyond appropriate limits – protecting citizens from coercion and theft, and arbitrating conflicts. Today billions are taken from those of modest means and redistributed by government to the rich (rich people such as Mr. Greenspun), an infamy that is lighting grass-roots fires all across America. An increasingly petty state regulates businesses like never before, compelling more and more free Americans to procure government-approved licenses to even hold a job. Our coercive statist nannies demand that people wear seatbelts, helmets and don’t smoke, and if the people don’t listen, they unsheathe the iron fist behind their nagging.

For the last century Americans have waged a philosophical battle over how much or how little force should be used to compel the citizens to adopt one set of morals or another. All those who advocate the use of government to reengineer society are, in truth, advocates of violence against their fellow man.

Mr. Greenspun, the cliché has it wrong. In truth, taxes are the price we pay for being uncivilized. For the more we citizens move in the spirit of non-violent voluntary cooperation, the less government we actually need.