The Principled Libertarian’s Guide to Using Food Stamps

Taxation is theft. Living off of tax money is leeching from productive workers. So, naturally, I’m going to teach you how to use food stamps and still keep all your libertarian cred.

No, this isn’t some convoluted rationalization for people looking to be parasites while pretending they’re not. This is how taking government assistance can actually help preserve, and expand, liberty. Think about it: if taxation is theft, and tax money is stolen from the people, taking it from the government is okay as long as it’s returned to its rightful owners. Just using it for your own benefit doesn’t cut it, though. There’s a process to make sure you use funds reclaimed from the state in a moral and responsible way.

So if you’re going to go on food stamps, but don’t want to lose your libertarian soul, here’s what to do:

Step 1: Deduct from your earnings what you spend in government assistance

The biggest pitfall of taking government money is reliance. Once you depend on the state to feed yourself, all your principles become irrelevant, and you are now a slave to the system. To avoid this, for every dollar of EBT you spend, take out a dollar from your paycheck and set it aside in a special fund (bank account, Bitcoin, gold/silver, whatever). That way you can still support yourself just as easily if the benefits ever got cut off abruptly. At this point you’re just reclaiming tax money.

Step 2: Reimburse yourself at the end of the year for taxes paid

At the end of the year, or after filing taxes, figure out how much of your income you actually lose to the government. Then, you can pay yourself back from the EBT savings you’ve been squirreling away all year. By keeping accurate accounting, you can make sure that the money you get is actually your money that the government took, not other people’s taxes. Even though you didn’t steal it to begin with, taking stolen money for yourself is still kind of shady.

Step 3: Donate the balance to a private charity helping the poor

So you’ve already paid yourself back for all that the government stole from you, but you still have some reclaimed funds left. What now? The responsible thing to do is to give it away. However, instead of donating it to your favorite libertarian think tank, it makes more sense to use funds taken under the excuse of helping the poor to, you know, actually help the poor. Find an efficient and reliable chariy, or identify someone in your community who needs help, and donate the balance of your reclamation fund.

BONUS: Give it all to the poor

Alternatively, you can just take the whole amount set aside from government assistance and donate it to the poor. If the state is truly inefficient and terrible at helping the needy, what better way to show it than spending the exact same money on the exact same purpose, only to greater effect? If one of the most common arguments against liberty is that no one would take care of the poor without coercion, how great would it be to prove that wrong in a world where government still exists?

Living on the dole is one of the least libertarian things imaginable. With a little creativity and discipline, however, if can be a powerful act towards the creation of a voluntary and self-reliant community. Why not give it a shot?

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • Donald Meinshausen

    I spent time in prison for pot so I consider any government compensation as a way of reparations.

    • That’s definitely a fair case for compensation! Fleece ’em for all you can.

  • Caroline Roesch Lee

    How in the world would anyone have extra money to put aside? I always run out and have no money for at least the last week of the month. We never leave the house if possible to save gas so we have enough to last the month.

    • This article is targeted at the libertarian who realizes that they may qualify for food stamps, or had been considering it… meaning they were scraping by without them. Then you can just set aside the money you saved not having to buy food.

      If you can’t set aside money and need them to survive, then I’d guess you have bigger things to worry about than whether or not you’re a principled libertarian, don’t you think?

      • toolbag

        If you can set aside money, you don’t need food stamps. Principled libertarian is an oxymoron.

    • Scott Biddle

      You see Caroline, what you have described as living from paycheck to paycheck, is what is more commonly known as the American Dream.

  • toolbag

    There are Free Staters who bring home paychecks?

    • miseshayekrothbard

      I’m as amazed as you are

  • miseshayekrothbard

    What kind of insane logic is this, Joel. Not to mention that food stamps cut off after a certain income

    • This was inspired by someone who works hard to feed his family, has two jobs, and still qualifies. So no, logic is sound.