By S.D. Plissken | May 16, 2019
For well over a month now, some of New Hampshire’s Republican legislators have been working the phrase “Taxation is theft” into their speeches on the House floor in Concord. (See video compilation in the References below).
One might ask what they mean by this. By way of explanation, the classic “How Many Men?” thought experiment took us along a continuum of theft. It comes in many variations, of which we will here provide but two. You are challenged to identify the point at which theft ceases to be theft.
British theologian J. Budziszewski provided the following How Many Men? sequence.
- On a dark street, a man draws a knife and demands my money for drugs.
- Instead of demanding my money for drugs, he demands it for the Church.
- Instead of being alone, he is with a bishop of the Church who acts as bagman.
- Instead of drawing a knife, he produces a policeman who says I must do as he says.
- Instead of meeting me on the street, he mails me his demand as an official agent of the government.
If the first is theft, it is difficult to see why the other four are not also theft. Expropriation is wrong not because its causes are wrong, but because it is a violation of the Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal.
[Ed. note: the church in this example is an “established” church, i.e., an arm of the British government].
Strictly speaking, the menaces threatened make taxation more of an Extortion, or perhaps a Robbery, but the Taxation is Theft phrase reaches for some degree of alliteration.
American jurist Andrew Napolitano provided a similar How Many Men? sequence from a legal point of view.
- Is it theft if one man steals a car?
- What if a gang of five men steal the car?
- What if a gang of ten men take a vote (allowing the victim to vote as well) on whether to steal the car before stealing it?
- What if one hundred men take the car and give the victim back a bicycle?
- What if two hundred men not only give the victim back a bicycle but buy a poor person a bicycle, as well?
The experiment challenges an individual to determine how large a group is required before the taking of an individual’s property becomes the “democratic right” of the majority.
For many, there is no point at which it ceases to be a theft. They claim there can never be such a point. Individuals lack the right to perpetrate theft. Aggregate groups of individuals, such as democratically-voting majorities or their democratically-elected representatives, also lack that right, as groups cannot acquire any extra rights above and beyond those of the individuals of which they are composed.
One might hope that this newly-expressed awareness of majority theft spreads like wildfire throughout the Republican caucus. Perhaps it might temper their own actions when they regain the majority.
One might hope also that this awareness is infectious and crosses over the aisle to the current majority Democrat caucus too.
In fact, awareness of the true nature of taxation should permeate through every level of government, right down to Milton selectmen. It might have the happy effect of limiting some of their wilder fancies.
As the WW II posters asked when seeking to save scarce resources, “Is this trip really necessary?”
Meanwhile, those of us in the peanut gallery may watch these interesting floor speeches by these few “woken” representatives. Too funny.
Wikipedia. (2019, May 15). Extortion. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion
Wikipedia. (2019, May 16). Robbery. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbery
Wikipedia. (2019, May 12). Taxation as Theft. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_as_theft
Wikipedia. (2019, May 13). Theft. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft
Yokela, Josh (Concord Monitor). (2019, April 1). My Turn: Taxation is Theft – and Here’s Why. Retrieved from www.concordmonitor.com/Taxation-is-theft-2441211
Youtube. (2019, April 4). NH Representatives Stating That Taxation Is Theft. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGO7m8O83ZQ