Does it make sense to spend money to harm yourself? Not at all. We work hard all week long to spend money on good things, like food, shelter, and the occasional pair of leopard-print pants. But do you spend money on harming yourself? Unfortunately, yes.
I’m not talking about that box of donuts you finished all by yourself yesterday. At least you got plenty of sugary satisfaction out of that, and only later did the regret set in. I’m talking about actual, direct, intentional harm to your property, your person, and your freedom. How can this be? Like most of the world’s greatest problems and injustices, this one can be explained in one word: government.
Who supports the government? All of us. Every action they take is only possible by our financial support. This really shows the seriousness of public policy, and puts democracy in a whole new light. Your government enacting policies contrary to your beliefs isn’t just a matter of not getting your way, it’s a matter of being forced to aid and support activities you find morally reprehensible. This gets even worse when your personal safety and well-being are being targeted by goons whose paychecks you are currently paying.
Do you smoke weed? Too bad for you. There’s a government agency of over 10,000 members out specifically to get you, funded directly by you. Did your parents bring you from another country the wrong way? No, it doesn’t matter if all you remember is this country. Doesn’t matter that you got good grades in school, never hurt anyone, worked hard, and in every way have been a productive, model citizen. There’s an army of almost 60,000 trying to hunt you down, and you’re contributing to their salaries. The disheartening list goes on.
At the root of all things, we use government to take care of things like national defense and rule of law. Forcing people to pay for this isn’t so egregious, since the protection of rights and property is such a basic and universally-needed service, and citizens unwilling to participate even in that low of a form of government can move away, if a more favorable situation is available elsewhere. The big problem with trying to have a government do more than the pure basics is that the people are increasingly forced to spend their livelihoods on things they don’t value, transforming their role from that of an employer of the government to that of a victim. Eventually, the citizen becomes a slave, and taxation ceases to be a contractual contribution and becomes full-on extortion.
Being robbed is no fun. But even worse is buying your own proverbial coffin. Paying protection money is bad enough, but paying the thug to actually break your kneecaps? Is there anything worse than that?