Volunteerism, government action, taxes, and physical force


I have had many conversations with various people about taxes and government programs.  I see these two issues as integrally related to the concepts of volunteerism and physical force.  Taxation and government programs are both extremely emotional issues for many people from many varying points of view.  This is because, no matter who you are or where you live, you will be affected by taxes and government programs.  The best way to handle these issues lies in understanding the role that volunteerism and physical force play in both of them.

Volunteerism is an important part of any moral society.  All civil governments depend on the compliance of those who are governed to maintain their authority.  If those governed refuse to comply, the government is forced into choice of either using physical force (or threat of it) to accomplish their goals, or cease to govern.  In effect, all government is self-government on the part of the citizenry.  If the citizenry do not self govern, then the civil government will – in this order: lose its sense of morality, lose its freedoms, and finally be either completely destroyed or remade.

There is a quote by Penn Jillette going around Facebook among Libertarian minded people that is very similar to the following statement.  The original I have seen speaks directly about entitlement and welfare programs.  I have altered it from the original to apply to more than welfare programs:

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government do [insert praiseworthy project here] is virtuous.  Doing [insert praiseworthy project here] voluntarily is virtuous.  Voting for our government to use its authority for physical force to get others to [insert praiseworthy project here] is immoral, self-righteous bullying.  [Insert praiseworthy project here] is necessary and/or good.  If we are [insert desirable virtue related to praiseworthy project], we will do [insert praiseworthy project here], but there is no moral advantage or moral authority to force other people to do what you think is right.  There is great joy in [insert praiseworthy project here], but no joy in doing it under threat of physical force.

Because government has been vested with the authority to exercise physical force, everything it does has the authority of physical force.  If that authority is used inappropriately it is the thing that the Constitution was intended to protect against.

I have not met very many people who are thankful to have to pay their taxes.  Just like every project requires resources, every government program requires funding.  The way that a government gets funding is through taxation.  I think the country would be a better place if people looked at their political/public lives, such as paying taxes, with a spirit of intentional volunteerism, rather than victims of the system. They would probably take more responsibility for how taxes are spent and hold their elected representatives more accountable. Personally, I would not have any problem with most government programs in general if it were funded by taxes that are as voluntary as LDS tithing.

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