Law Without Taxation
by, 07-26-2012 at 02:25 PM (3751 Views)
When most people are exposed to the idea of a society organized without taxation, they often jump to the conclusion that the services provided by government would no longer exist. After it is proposed that these services would still exist, but they would be provided by voluntary organizations, they assume only problems and chaos could ensue. Warlords, crooked arbitration, justice for only the rich… surely these are unavoidable consequences of a society without taxation!
These voluntarily organized services would not only exist, but they would do so with more order and efficiency than their coercively funded alternatives. There would be even stronger checks and balances than the beloved U.S. system of government adored by so many people.
How do we get there?
One objection to a society completely free of institutionalized coercion is that after the fall of the current system, it will be a war of all against all. Warlords and criminal gangs will take over as society tries to reorganize itself. This objection fails to acknowledge how Voluntaryists advocate the establishment of a voluntary society in the first place. The objection assumes that we will go from a society organized by taxation to voluntary over night through some sort of violent event. Most Voluntaryists recognize that the only practical way to achieve their ideal society is through education and persuasion.
The reason why our advocated means to achieving this society are important to understand is because if it is arrived at through a peaceful process, then there is no reason to assume there has been any change in the demand for law and order amongst the general population. Yes, if the system were to be violently overthrown without any sort of ideological direction, then there would likely be a power vacuum filled by the first charismatic and powerful person who promises prosperity. But if society changes peacefully due to a change in people’s beliefs, then any potential tyrants would lack the necessary support of the general public.
Some may object at this point on the basis that education and persuasion on a scale of this magnitude is utopian. How could it be possible to change the minds of so many on a subject that is so ingrained in our history and culture? One need only to look at history for the answer.
To quote Robert Higgs :
I think it is safe to say that the original slave abolitionists were scoffed at by the general public for holding such obviously utopian views. Somehow, institutionalized slavery in the western world was abolished. Other movements that seemed utopian by common knowledge standards but ended up becoming a reality include: The American Revolution, the idea of democracies or republics, violence against women being generally unacceptable, etc.Slavery existed for thousands of years, in all sorts of societies and all parts of the world. To imagine human social life without it required an extraordinary effort. Yet, from time to time, eccentrics emerged to oppose it, most of them arguing that slavery is a moral monstrosity and therefore people should get rid of it. Such advocates generally elicited reactions that ranged from gentle amusement to harsh scorn and violent assault.
In retrospect, however, these reasons seem shabby—more rationalizations than reasons. They now appear to nearly everyone to be, if not utterly specious, then shaky or, at best, unpersuasive, notwithstanding an occasional grain of truth. No one now dredges up these ideas or their corollaries to support a proposal for reestablishing slavery. Although vestiges of slavery exist in northern Africa and a few other places, the idea that slavery is a defensible social institution is defunct. Reasons that once, not so long ago, seemed to provide compelling grounds for opposing the abolition of slavery now pack no intellectual punch.
It is my contention that not only is the idea of an organized society free from taxation possible, but it is the natural next step. When I said institutionalized slavery was abolished, what I was referring to is the kind of slavery where the victims were 100% slaves. Right now we are enslaved to the extent that we are forced to pay taxes. Being forced to give up the product of our labor is slavery, even if it is only a percentage of it. I don’t see any reason to think going the last step is utopian when we have made it this far. Going the last inch in a mile journey seems like a very realizable goal.
One last objection raised on this point is: “But this has never been done before!”. We will ignore the fact that there are historical examples of every single function of an orderly society being provided without taxation. There are examples even today. There have been fully developed civilized societies organized by totally voluntary means. Voluntarily organized dispute resolution is only beginning to re-emerge. But that is a topic for another work. For now, let’s assume this is a new idea that has never been tried. To that the reply is, so what? If societies had never advanced goals on the grounds “but it has never be done before”, then we would still be living like primitive man. Do you want to form a republic? Well, we can’t even attempt it because it has never been done before. Do you want to abolish slavery? We can’t do that either because it has never been done before. This objection fails to show why we should not pursue new methods of organization.
If tax funded dispute resolution were abolished, there is no reason to assume that people’s desire for peaceful coexistence would disappear. In short, it will be provided because there is a very strong demand for it and plenty of willing people to provide it. So what would dispute resolution look like in a society free of taxation?
Conflicts would be dealt with by voluntarily funded courts and arbitration. Before exchanges are made, the parties will contractually agree to the terms of arbitration in the case of conflict. If there is a conflict between two people who have not made any prior agreements, or even one of the persons made no prior agreement, the case will still be taken to a court or arbitrator.
The party being accused of a crime would be sent a notice saying they are being charged with a crime, but would not be forced to defend themselves in court. They are more likely to have a favorable decision on their part if they provide a defense. It would be in their best interest to show up, but since they are not yet criminals, no force would be used against them.
If the contract assigns a single court to dispute resolution, then this court’s decision is final since the decision was agreed to be binding by both parties. If the two parties contractually agree to be represented by their own separate arbitrators, then the two arbitrators will make a decision. If they agree, then there is obviously no problem. In cases where they have different opinions, the case would be taken to a reputable third-party court or arbitrator. The court or arbitrator that would settle disputes between other courts and arbitrators would probably be agreed upon prior to any disagreements by the respective original agencies.
Why would the courts and arbitrators make prior agreements in cases of disputes? They would do so because of the consumers demand to have peaceful and non-chaotic dispute resolution. If any court or arbitrator had unnecessarily complicated conflict resolution processes, then they would lose business to the more efficient providers.