Lysander Spooner No Treason. No. VI. The Constitution of No Authority (1870):
"But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat."
The highwayman takes full responsibility for his actions without pretending to be anything other than a robber. He doesn't claim or use any right to your money for your benefit. Unlike a deceitful "protector," he doesn't force you to follow him, command your obedience, or take more money from you whenever he pleases. He doesn't label you as a rebel or enemy if you disagree. In essence, he doesn't try to deceive or control you beyond the act of robbing you.
As the government does, the highwayman of the past physically ambushes individuals in solitary places. He points a weapon at our heads to rob us and/or force us into compliance with his arbitrary rule. Nevertheless, the underlying principle remains the same: The state demands money from the people under the implicit threat of legal repercussions or violent force for non-compliance. This compulsory nature of taxation raises ethical questions, especially when considering whether citizens willingly contribute or merely do so out of fear.
Today's relationship between the people and their government has evolved significantly from the days of highwaymen and outlaws. While we may no longer witness masked bandits on horseback demanding money at gunpoint, a closer look reveals that the essence of the analogy remains strikingly relevant. Let us explore the concept of modern robbers in suits or uniforms, shedding light on the parallels between traditional highwaymen and our government. You'll find they aren't so different.
As individuals, we are supposed to perceive our government as a protector, an entity established to ensure our well-being and safeguard our interests. However, beneath this facade lies a more complex reality. When we examine certain aspects of government taxation, we can draw intriguing parallels to the practices of highwaymen - the notorious robbers of the past. In this discussion, we will explore four modern examples that resonate with the highwayman analogy: Policing for Profit, Court Fees, Property Taxes, and Income Taxes. Through a critical lens, we will uncover how these practices inadvertently evoke the essence of highway robbery.
Policing for Profit: The Modern-Day Highwayman's Extortion
Law enforcement agencies are financially incentivized to seize property and assets from individuals, even before any criminal charges are proven. This practice, known as civil asset forfeiture, is akin to highway robbery. Individuals are confronted with the ultimatum: surrender their belongings or face legal consequences, deadly force, or death. We were led to believe these practices are supposed to curb criminal activity, but the lack of due process and abuse of power raise serious ethical concerns. How often do these thugs solve actual crimes, and has true justice been served?
When law enforcement is just a "legal" version of highwaymen in disguise, profiting from citizens' property, it challenges the very principles and values of liberty and justice.
Court Fees: Pay Up or Face the Consequences
In modern court systems, court fees have become integral to the legal process. While these fees are supposed to serve administrative purposes, they present another parallel to the highwayman's demands for payment. When charged court fees, individuals may feel compelled to pay under the implicit threat of harsher penalties or contempt of court. For those already facing financial hardships, these fees are already burdensome and further exacerbate the inequalities within the justice system. Don't pay your fees? We'll send men with guns and badges after you. If you let your license expire, you can't renew your license. If you drive without it, we'll make you a criminal and force you to go through this extortion process all over again.
Like a highwayman brandishing a pistol, court fees put individuals in a difficult predicament: comply or face the consequences.
Property Taxes: A Highwayman's Claim on Your Home
We were also told property taxes generate revenue for local governments, which they claim enables them to provide essential services to communities. However, this form of taxation can also be likened to a highwayman claiming possession of your home. Failure to pay property taxes can lead to severe consequences, including the potential loss of one's property. Even those who have paid off their mortgages must continuously render these payments or risk their homes and land being stolen from them. This perpetual obligation is like being held at gunpoint, forced to relinquish a portion of one's hard-earned property, or face violent force.
Income Taxes: The Government's Highwayman-Like Demand
Income taxes, one of the most pervasive forms of taxation, also parallels the highwayman's extortion. While the government claims income taxes fund essential public services and infrastructure, their compulsory nature evokes the same practices of a highwayman demanding a share of your earnings under the threat of legal consequences and violent force.
The Highwayman's Responsibility versus the Government's Claims:
The highwayman took full responsibility for his actions, openly admitting to being a robber without any pretense of righteousness. On the other hand, modern robbers, i.e., most aspects of the government, claim a "legitimate right" to citizens' money, ostensibly taking it for the greater good of society. However, this claim is often questioned when it comes to allocating tax revenue effectively and transparently.
The Evasive "Protector" Role:
Unlike the highwayman, who never disguised his intentions, the government often portrays itself as a protector of individuals' interests. It justifies its theft as a means to safeguard the well-being of the people. However, this facade conceals policies that violate our natural human rights, wasteful spending, a lack of true accountability, and politicians becoming millionaires while in office, raising doubts about whether the funds are genuinely used to benefit society.
The government highwayman's audacity to assert control over every aspect of their victims' lives finds an uncanny parallel in certain governmental practices. Beyond merely stealing from individuals, these modern thugs assume an ever-expanding authority over our personal choices and freedoms. Whether it's imposing restrictive regulations, increasing tax burdens, or disregarding individual rights, these actions raise concerns about the fine line between governance and overreach.
Although we may no longer encounter the same masked bandits on desolate roads, the essence of highway robbery remains pertinent in certain aspects of government taxation. The examples of Policing for Profit, Court Fees, Property Taxes, and Income Taxes shed light on the intricate relationship between us and our government.
The underlying concept of coercion and compulsion for financial gain remains relevant today. As responsible citizens, it is crucial to engage in informed discussions and demand transparency, accountability, and ethical practices from those selected to "serve." It is up to us to hold them accountable by any means necessary, or we are simply these crooks' subjects.
This needs to be a part of our daily dialogue, and we must actively participate to ensure that if this government is to continue to exist, the government's role should only be to protect and serve and no longer devolves into mere highwaymen in disguise.
Doni Anthony (Doni The Don)
Introducing Doni Anthony (Doni The Don), Founder of Liberty Or Else and a passionate advocate for individual liberties and natural human rights.
Join her engaging podcast, subscribe to her blog, and catch her inspiring speeches at public events. Support her work on Cash App or Venmo. Follow Doni on Facebook and Twitter for valuable insights and updates. #LibertyOrElse