Economics/Class Relations

No, it’s not your money: Why taxation isn’t theft

This has to be one of the stupidest left-wing articles I have ever read, but it illustrated very well what is wrong with democratist thinking. Anyone who believes the state is merely a value neutral social umpire probably believes in Santa Claus somewhere along the way.

By Philip Goff

Tax Justice Network

Many political arguments start from the assumption that taxation is the government taking ‘our money’ off us. When austerity hit the arts in 2011, Dr Steve Davies of the pseudo-think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs argued on Channel Four news [TJN: a mainstream UK television current affairs programme] that the 20% cuts to the arts didn’t go far enough: art funding should be entirely abolished on the grounds that it’s unfair to take people’s money off them by force to pay for something they may not want. Again and again the economic right stoke resentment at the state allegedly taking what’s ours by force, and use this resentment to build support for a programme of small government.

But even those who believe in relatively big government tend to share this understanding of taxation as the appropriation by government of ‘our money’. Most on the economic left start from the assumption that it is all things being equal a bad thing that the state takes our money from us, but hold that this prima facie bad is justified by the public goods which taxation makes possible. Well-meaning [UK] public intellectual Alain de Botton encourages us to think of taxation as charity: we give up what’s ours for the greater good of our society.


1 reply »

  1. Geez. If you don’t have a right to what you’ve earned, then what could anyone say they have a right to, if not something as basic as that?

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