Objective Differences

When talking about the corruption of the government, there are a few metaphors that help illustrate its method of operation. The mafia, slavery, and “just another company, but with guns” come to mind. During a discussion, I’ll equate taxation with slavery, and someone will object at the idea. At this point, I need an objective difference between the two ideas to distinguish them, so that they aren’t comparable anymore. To this date, I’ve yet to hear an objective difference.

One of the most common objections – sometimes called commands – I get when talking to people of the statist persuasion, is that if I don’t like getting my money taken from me, then I’m free to move. So why is this not an objective difference? Because an objective difference would need distinguish why taxation is good and slavery is bad. Since “being able to move” is the criteria that makes taxation good, then we can apply that if slave owners allowed the slaves to move somewhere else, that makes slavery okay. This is nonsense.

There are two possibilities for the now “freed” people. They can either go to another slave owner, or they can live in the wilderness and away from the state’s reach. Scenario A is still slavery, and option B is the only option for freedom. So what do we do in scenario B if the slave owner finds us in the wilderness, just move again?

Another common argument is that we get to vote for who taxes us. I don’t think it takes a lot of explanation to see why this line of reasoning is wrong. “I get to vote for the guy who whips me” isn’t a statement that gives me a lot of confidence in your ability to distinguish what is moral from what is immoral.

Once I remember someone so desperate to win the “slave” argument that they forgot entirely on the taxation part. “Well, if everyone who didn’t want to be a slave got a restraining order on every slave owner, then you wouldn’t have to worry about it.” Honestly. Yes, if that’s the way slavery worked – if it was permission based, then it would be moral. Looking at his proposition, it’s clear that he was no longer comparing slavery to the way that government works in reality, because government isn’t permission based. If I could get functioning restraining orders against the government, then I’d agree that it’s a moral institution. Since it’s not an actual option, it’s not an objective difference.

What suprises me the most – when people give me more than two non-objective reasons, and continue to list even more differences without thinking them through. If you’ve just been disproven on your first two objections, then maybe you should stop and think about your third. Follow its implications on both sides of the comparison to see whether or not it’s objective.

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