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: [Read more…]

Silver Spoon Soldiers

soldiers relaxing

Morality face-off! Who’s the better man? The guy who joins the military right out of high school to pay the bills? Or the trust-fund baby who goes to college on his parents’ dime?

Our common sensibilities seem to side with the soldier on this one. Not mine. I’m going to have to with the privileged university student instead. He clearly displays more personal and social responsibility.

Now hear me out. To be fair, the life of the young soldier is more difficult and requires hard work, both of which build character. But that’s a discussion for another day. I’m talking about one thing, and one thing only: dependency.

You see, when you live off of your parents’ fortunes, you suck income off of a pair of individuals. These people have probably been planning their finances for years with you in mind, and voluntarily support their legally-adult children. And they can withdraw their support at any time if you push your luck too far.

The soldier, on the other hand, sucks finances from a whole country. These are individuals who didn’t plan on supporting him, and who only do so because they’ll be thrown in jail if they refuse. If at any time the people are dissatisfied with the soldier’s performance, too bad. They have to keep paying. And finally, let’s not forget that the soldier costs considerably more than even the swankiest education and lifestyle.

Soldier vs. spoiled student. Who’s the bigger parasite? The soldier. Hands down.

Coercive Compassion

taxation

Some would legislate compassion. Some would use the government to achieve charitable ends. Some would attempt to do good through the heavy hand of state authority. They believe that society can benefit the most through using coercive means, rather than by voluntary action.

They are wrong. Those who would use the brute force of the government to achieve their sense of morality are acting neither effectively nor morally.

In his article for The Freeman titled The Clenched Fist and the General Welfare, Gary Galles nicely dispels the fallacy that coercive action is efficient in promoting the general welfare of society. Galles equates government action to a clenched fist, a blunt tool effective at crushing and destroying, but not much else. This ability can be useful in areas such as preventing and punishing violence, theft, fraud, and other forms of aggression and harm, but would prove significantly less than ideal when applied to a role such as charity and economic stability. According to Galles, such a tool may benefit society only so long as it is relegated to functions which take full advantage of its destructive nature. Otherwise, if inappropriately used for other ends, the governmental fist causes more harm than good.

Using force and coercion for society’s benefit is, indeed, inefficient, as Galles noted. However, using violent, non-voluntary means to achieve compassionate ends is more than inefficient. It is blatantly immoral.

Before going any further, we must acknowledge one simple, ugly fact: every law is supported by a death threat. Even the most basic, seemingly innocuous piece of legislation meant to benefit the poor, if resisted, carries with it a potential termination order. In order to pay Paul, Peter must be taxed. If Peter refuses to pay, he is fined, and his assets may be confiscated. If he refuses to surrender his assets, agents are sent to procure them by force. If he resists, he may be imprisoned. If he resists imprisonment, he will be met with physical violence, and if he manages to maintain his resistance he will surely die.

This harsh reality of using coercive methods can only mean that government action is inherently immoral when used for any purpose other than preventing violence. If using the law for an aim means a willingness to kill to achieve said aim, the threat presented must be greater than or equal to killing; otherwise, such an action is immoral, even murderous. Therefore, while analyzing the inherent clumsiness and inefficiency of government action is a noble and important effort, it falls short. We must come to terms with the moral reality of the situation as well. We must face the truth that using murder and death to achieve goals of mere societal welfare is evil.

Using coercion to enact compassionate measures is more than inefficient. It is a contradiction in terms. It is nothing short of brutality. We would do well to keep this in mind before using government force to achieve societal goals, lest the blood of innocents stain our hands.

Photo credit: Riley Kaminer