Previously, I said I would defend a topic even MORE unpopular than the eternal deprivation of human souls from seeing their all-good Creator. That time is now; that article is this. I am going to defend, as the title has already proclaimed, the collection of taxes.
I'm defending these guys.
Exhibit A: Those Guys
The Absolute Taxation of the Hasharchy
I will not be the first to point this out, nor was this originally my idea, but I proclaim it now: simply by owning bitcoin, ether, steem, or any other form of cryptocurrency, you are participating in a system of taxation.
I don't refer to capital gains or the like. I mean that every block, you, personally, have a tax levied on your savings.
Take bitcoin for a simple example. Every ten minutes, more or less, close to fifty thousand dollars worth of bitcoin are minted and given to a random party, weighted by size, of the government. Your wealth is diluted, theirs is increased, just as if a tiny fraction was directly transferred. This government, the Hasharchy, has absolute discretion on what to spend these collected taxes, and need not consult you or anyone else.
And what does the Hasharchy actually spend it on? Quite likely, the maintenance of mining equipment, the purchase of more, rent on mining warehouses, employee salaries, or ultimately, profit. But in any case, this money did not come from the sale of goods or services, but simply an arbitrary transfer.
But wait! Isn't mining a useful activity, in the sense that it prevents attackers from destroying bitcoin? Well, yes. It's as if the Hasharchy is also a police and military force. One that uses its authority to demand payment, regardless of anyone's consent, explicit or otherwise. You cannot chose to pay your crypto-taxes to a different Hasharchy, except by liquidating your assets and moving to a different blockchain altogether.
Indeed, this is true of every crypto, regardless of governing algorithm. The moment the protocol assigns rewards, either by creating new tokens by fiat (AAIEEGH!!) or by enforcing transaction fees (essentially, sales tax) the governing body--the miners, stakers, witnesses, or what have you--has in an irrefusable and inescapable way collected taxes.
But what about taxation in real life?
It's ultimately the same thing. The governing body of a nation, through its various methods of law enforcement, orders you to pay, much ignoring your feelings on the matter. It collects taxes for, hopefully, the good of the nation, but quite possibly just for defense spending. Or even profit.
And, I note, there is no other place to remit one's taxes to in case one does not like the current government.
But despite this perhaps bleak picture, I've frequently noticed the following sort of complaints.
- Government Program X is underfunded, or not funded at all.
- The national debt is increasing.
- Taxes are too high.
(And I speak not merely of the USA. I am certain that you can go to nearly any country and see the same complaints.)
These complaints are intrinsically related.
A formula for your consideration
All the governmental budgeting and planning in the entire world ultimately comes down to the following equation:
Revenue - Spending = Surplus or Deficit
Hopefully, we all know where Spending goes. Now, let's ask ourselves, where does the Revenue come from?
That's right. To reduce the deficit without decreasing spending requires more taxes. To increase spending without increasing the deficit also requiring raising taxes. To reduce taxes either implies increasing the deficit or decreasing spending. This is the math.
And are not all methods of government revenue taxes? Inflation is a tax on savings. Issuing bonds is a tax on the future. Fines are taxes on crime. Registration fees are taxes on activities. Tariffs and customs are taxes on trade. Even plundering other countries and reparations are essentially taxes--paid by other nations.
In fact, the only method of revenue I can think of that is not a tax is voluntary donations to the government.
What if tax paying was voluntary?
Really, let's think about it. Heck, the US Treasury accepts donations!
Is a purely voluntary donation system possible? Well, there's certainly no physical or philosophical reason such a society could not exist. But in the real world, could it? Would not the free rider problem strike immediately? Why pay for policemen when you can count on someone else paying for policemen? But if everyone thinks that way...
I argue the only stable government is one where everyone is forced to participate in its upkeep. In fact, if some paid and some did not, would it not be unjust to the former?
For a government to exist, it must tax.
But does it have the authority to do so? Of course, insomuch as a government has any authority at all. If it is morally unacceptable to dump trash on your neighbor's lawn, because the city ordinance says so, then it is morally unacceptable to refuse to render unto Mayor Joe what is Mayor Joe's, also because an ordinance says so.
I would even argue that a government has this authority by default. Once the people of a nation have established a rulership, it is not just to change it, simply because a few disagree with its policies. But a true defense of the State must wait for another article.
I have heard the Argument Ad Somali before, and do not intend to use it here. Yet the arguers perhaps touch on something profound. Is it really morally just to use a road made by the government without paying for it? Or to enjoy police protection without paying for the police's salaries? Indeed, this is the basis of a just taxation system in and of itself.
But what if they spend it on teh evulz!?
I am dead certain that you cannot find a single US Citizen who agrees with every expenditure of the US Treasury, myself included. In fact, some things are not merely disagreeable, but evil.
Is it still morally obligatory to pay taxes?
I answer yes. The collection of taxes and the spending of them on evil are two separate actions. The government could spend its revenue on anything, but it simply choose wrongly. It would be as if you could blame anyone who held bitcoin for the evils of the Hasharchy, because their taxes paid for some sort of crypto-Gozoltry.
In Conclusion, BRING IT!
I realize a segment of my audience has been waiting with clenched teeth to let loose their opinion of the taxman. Go ahead! I never said my opinion was popular, only correct. I welcome disagreement!
Appendix: Hey! You didn't really defend those guys!
It's true. Although this article defends taxation, does it actually defend the Internal Revenue Service and the present US tax code? That, my friends, is another article.
The IRS Logo is in the public domain; this article's copy was taken from Wikimedia Commons