Just about every time some trouble-maker like myself wants to question the practice of taxation, someone will ask: But aren’t taxes the price of civilization? This is how people hope to get rid of us with a single shot. Usually, they do it in some sort of cocktail-party setting, where they can throw out their line, then move away before a proper response is made. (And while the other “right-thinking” folks nearby scowl properly.) Conversation over – they win.
Except, of course, that the slogan is ridiculous: People pay taxes in non-civilized places too! Any time anyone can make himself boss, he takes a cut of everything he can. And there’s a name for that – taxes!
Let me throw out another question: Is the United States ten times more civilized than it was a hundred years ago? Have the crime rates really fallen by 90 percent? Well, we’re paying about ten times as much in taxes – shouldn’t they?
Here’s an even better example: Communist China had an effective tax rate that approached 100% under Mao. Were they the most civilized society that ever existed?
Indeed, I could pull out the old history book and find plenty of other great examples where the level of taxation and the level of civilization had absolutely no correlation to each other.
Let’s get this straight: Rulers tax as much and as often as they can. And this statement is confirmed by every single page of the history of the world.
The mark of a civilized society is that it can restrain rulers and their take of production.
Taxes are not the price of civilization. They are the price we pay for our unwillingness to control government.
[“Are Taxes the Price of Civilization?” s an excerpt from Paul Rosenberg’s book, Mindless Slogans – 101 Cheap Substitutes for Actual Thought]