Thursday, May 21, 2009

Unjustly High Taxation is not Slavery

As Hayek points out in Constitution of Liberty, power is not a species of liberty, nor is wealth. To call power or wealth by the name "liberty" is a verbal trap which will cause one to think that because people have rights to liberty, wealth should be redistributed from the rich to the poor. This is to misconstrue the right to liberty as a right to others' property. It is to mistake property for liberty and to assume that since I have a right to liberty, I have a right to be given the property I need to do what I want to do.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, however. Libertarians are fond of arguing that unjustly high taxation is slavery. It is not. It is theft. When a man steals my property, even if it is the fruit of my labor he has not enslaved me or deprived me of liberty. Did the guy who made off with your TV set, enslave you for a day and a half? Of course not. Slaves must work, as they are coerced by their masters. Thieves coerce no one to work.

As Isaiah Berlin said, echoing the Bishop Butler, "Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice...." Unjustly high taxation is unfairness, injustice, and theft. It is not a violation of liberty rights. The price for ignoring this fact is that we let the verbal trap stand and you lose the basis for dismissing out of hand the leftist's argument for redistribution of wealth. There is plenty of reason to indict unjustly high taxation. There is no need to resort to verbal trickery. Leave the verbal trickery to the leftist, isolate it, and expose it.