The always-outspoken Doug Casey addresses a broader view of taxation and its costs to both individuals and society in general in this interview with Louis James.
Louis James: We get a lot of letters from readers who know about your international lifestyle and wonder about the tax advantages they assume it confers. Is this something you care to talk about?
Doug Casey: Yes; something wicked this way comes, indeed. But first, I have to say that as much as I can understand the guy who flew his airplane into an IRS building, as we once discussed, I do not encourage anyone to break the law. That’s not for ethical reasons — far from it — but strictly on practical grounds. The Taxman can and will come for you, no matter how great or small the amount of tax he expects to extract from you. The IRS can impound your assets, take your computers, freeze your accounts, and make life just about impossible for you, while you struggle to defend yourself against their claims and keep the rest of your life going. The number of IRS horror stories is beyond counting. As the state goes deeper into insolvency, its enforcement of tax laws will necessarily become more draconian. So you absolutely don’t want to become a target.
L: So… just bow down and lick the boots of our masters?
Doug: Of course not. People can and should do everything they can to pay as little in taxes as possible. This is an ethical imperative; we must starve the beast. It could even be seen as a patriotic duty — if one believes in such things — to deny revenue to the state any way possible, short of endangering yourself. Starving the beast may be the only way to force it back into its cage — we certainly can’t count on politicians to make the right choices — they’re minions of the state. They inevitably act to make it bigger and more powerful… The state, the media, teachers, pundits, corporations — the entire establishment, really — all emphasize the moral correctness of paying taxes. They call someone who doesn’t do so a “tax cheat.” As usual, they have things upside down.
Let’s start with a definition of “theft,” something I hold as immoral and destructive. Theft is to take someone’s property against his will, i.e., by force or fraud. There isn’t a clause in the definition that says, “unless the king or the state takes the property; then it’s no longer theft.” You have a right to defend yourself from theft, regardless of who the thief is or why he is stealing.
It’s much as if a mugger grabs you on the street. You have no moral obligation to give him your money. On the contrary, you have a moral obligation to deny him that money. Does it matter if the thief says he’s going to use it to feed himself? No. Does it matter if he says he’s going to feed a starving person he knows? No. Does it matter if he’s talked to other people in the neighborhood, and 51% of them think he should rob you to feed the starving guy? No. Does it matter if the thief sets himself up as the government? No. Now of course, this gets us into a discussion of the nature of government as an institution, which we’ve talked about before.
But my point here is that you can’t give the tax authorities the moral high ground. That’s important because decent people want to do the morally right thing. This is why sociopaths try to convince people that the wrong thing is the right thing.
If an armed mugger or a gang of muggers wanted my wallet on the street, would I give it to them? Yes, most likely, because I can’t stop them from taking it, and I don’t want them to kill me. But do they have a right to it? No. And every taxpayer should keep that analogy at the top of his mind.
L: I also believe that the initiation of the use of force (or fraud, which is a sort of indirect, disguised form of force) is unethical. It doesn’t matter what the reason for it might be nor how many people might approve of the action. But some people claim that taxation is really voluntary — the price one pays for living in society… and if I’m not mistaken, the US government says the federal income tax is voluntary.
Doug: [Snorts] That is a widely promoted lie. It’s propaganda to help statists claim the moral high ground, confuse the argument, and intimidate people who aren’t critical thinkers. Just try not volunteering to pay it and see what happens. Taxation is force alloyed with fraud — a nasty combination. It’s theft, pure and simple. Most people basically admit this when they call taxation a “necessary evil,” somehow mentally evading confrontation with the fact that they are giving sanction to evil. But I question whether there can be such a thing as a “necessary evil.” Can anything evil really be necessary? Can anything necessary really be evil?
Entirely apart from that, if people really wanted anything the state uses its taxes for, they would, should, and could pay for it in the marketplace. Services the state now provides would be offered by entrepreneurs making a profit. I understand, and am somewhat sympathetic, to the argument that a “night-watchman” state is acceptable; but since the state always has a monopoly of force, it inevitably grows like a cancer, to the extent that the parasite overwhelms and kills the host. That’s where we are today.
I think a spade should be called a spade, theft should be recognized for what it is, and evil should be opposed, regardless of the excuses and justifications given for it. Ends do not justify means — and evil means lead to evil ends, as we see in the bloated, corrupt, dangerous governments we have all over the world.
L: That runs counter to the conventional wisdom, Doug. Evil or not, most people think taxation is part of the natural order of things, like rain or day and night. Death and taxes are seen as the two inevitable things in life, and you are a silly idealist — if not a dangerous madman — if you believe otherwise.
Doug: That saying about death and taxes is both evil and stupid; it’s a soul-destroying and mind-destroying perversion of reality. It’s evil, because it makes people reflexively accept the worst things in the world as permanent and inevitable. As for death, technology is actively advancing to vanquish it. Who knows how far medicine, biotech, and nanotech can delay the onset of death? And taxes are, at best, an artifact of a primitive feudal world; they’re actually no longer necessary in an advanced, free-market civilization.
People also once thought the world was flat, that bathing was unhealthy, and that there was such a thing as the divine right of kings. Many things “everyone knows” just aren’t so, and this is one of those. A government — for those “practical” people who think they need one — that stuck to the basic core functions of police and courts to defend people against force and fraud and a military to defend against invasion, would cost a tiny, tiny fraction of what today’s government costs, and that could be funded in any number of ways that essentially boil down to charging for services.
As it is now, the average US taxpayer probably works half of the year just to pay direct and indirect taxes. That doesn’t even count the cost of businesses destroyed by regulation and lives lost to slow approval of new treatments by regulators, or a million other ways governments burden, obstruct, and harass people.
Stay tuned for Part II of the interview, tomorrow…
Doug Casey,for The Daily Reckoning
Doug Casey of Casey Research is the author of the best sellers Strategic Investing, Crisis Investing, Crisis Investing for the Rest of the 90's, and most recently, Totally Incorrect. He has lived in seven countries and visited over 100 more. He has appeared on scores of major radio and TV shows and remains an active speculator in the stock, bond, commodity, and real estate markets around the world. In his spare time, Doug engages in competitive shooting and plays polo.
“taxation is … the price one pays for living in society”
oh now mr. casey. if you don’t want to pay taxes there are many many places you can go where no taxes exist. they’re called “wilderness” or “failed states” or “all against all”. think of how much money you could make there! how much you could keep there! how much more productive you could be without all those nasty roads and faa and medical services and food regulations to pay for! you’d be free! go mr. casey! be free!
another theft is to print money and drive up inflation – stealing some of the value of all the fiat money one has stashed anywhere. they do it and then look aorund like they do not know what happened, but they just robbed you!
And the corporate record is so much better than the government’s when it comes to ensuring the common good, citizen welfare, equal treatment under the law, environmental protection, and many other Constitutionally and congressionally specified rights and freedoms? NOT!
Corporate greed is THE single dominating factor with regards to the devastating malaise world society is currently suffering. Sure governments suck, they squander our future, they’re ineffective, bloated and slow. But if the last 40 years is any indication, leaving the management, maintenance and expansion of our roads and transportation system, our airways, our waterways, our local, state and federal security and protection, the policing of the purity of our air, land, water, food and drugs and a host of other tasks – to corporations? No thank you!
Humans are avaricious opportunists and corporations are the epitome and ultimate manifestation of those traits.
Much better to find a way excise all corporate infiltration in government and find an equitable means to collect and distribute our taxes to those endeavors which society deems desirable and necessary.
“And the corporate record is so much better than the government’s when it comes to ensuring the common good, citizen welfare, equal treatment under the law …”
it is for the corporations’ owners!
“Humans are avaricious opportunists and corporations are the epitome and ultimate manifestation of those traits.”
nah. the epitome is when corporations team with governments. which is what we have now. it’s a sight to behold. consider that goldman-sach’s biggest selling point is its loyal insiders in government. consider the senators and representatives who go to bat for this or that corporation. “we certainly can’t count on politicians to make the right choices — they’re minions of the state.” HAH.
what mr. casey is doing is nothing more than business competition. that’s all. he sees a weakness in his competitor and he’s going for it. that’s all. if he ever wins then he himself will be in the driver’s seat and the word from on high to the employees beneath will be stability and security and continuity and duty and property (his) and obligation and debt (ours) and company stores from then on. or until the next casey shows up saying “starve the beast.”
Right on! Casey. U got the folks thinkin 4 themselves. CLS the prefered way,is 2 prnt money,like u said and inflate there mistakes away. @ a 3% inflation rate a month they can get us 2 pay more 4 all there mistakes,drivin up the cost of everything in life. Y do u think RMN in the summer of 71 took us off the gold standard. Him & his Hench-Men knew some1 had 2 pay 4 Nam! The Space Race,Civil Wites,Social Programs, and 4 the Boggie-Man that the Miltary Industrial Complex created called Comie-izm! Now its call Terror-izm! Same scam,new izm,or should i say jizm! And it wuz’ent gonna b them! We spent the whole decade payin 4 that/those “Blunders,” not only in $! But in the precious lives of millions on both sides. And look @ that Decade,some high lites if u want 2 call them that? Stores started openin on Sun “The Blue Law!” “Our day of rest wuz gone 4 good,” the Oil crisis, Women havin 2 enter the wrk force cuz the Head of the house-holds salary wuz’ent enough anymore! Etc,etc, etc, Well there it is! Gotta go c watts goin on with the Euro! Happy Trails 2 all. Hang in There! *S*
You should move to Somalia. No taxation and no services. Perfect for you.
Seriously though, as much as we all want to pay less in taxes. This article is a bit over the top.
Kudos to Casey for the consistently
…and to ‘S’ for thinking for himself and eloquently reminding us of the value to of the origins of the forced move off the gold standard and
…jizm – g’nus.
… hit send prematurely. But appreciate the article and the tone of the comments that follow. Nice to see some thoughtful humor amongst the expected comments channeling the platitude ‘my country right or wrong’ – thank you, no. I’m quite sure we can do better than that.
Keep up the good fight.
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