no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

War Tax Resistance and Agorism

March 24th, 2008

Some people think that a good tactic is to withold some amount of their taxes due, in order to prevent the government from using that money to finance its empire-building. This is a symbolic gesture, at best, because it’s not going to prevent the government from monetizing more debt and stealing the value of your savings through inflation.

But more importantly, perhaps, every single “on the books” transaction in which one participates, is in fact a transaction that fills the coffers of the government. The gasoline, bubblegum, manicures, hotel stays, airfares, etc., that one purchases, money is remit to a corporation or an individual who eventually pays taxes to the government. There is truly not a single “on the books” transaction in which one may participate that is free from taxation at some level.

Fortunately, nobody likes paying taxes and many people are already accustomed to avoiding taxes whenever possible.

Did you gamble on the Super Bowl? Vegas took, by some estimates, $100M worth of wagers, yet the total estimated amount of wagers on the Big Game are probably $1B. Of course, gambling is often illegal, which fosters the black-market. In this instance, and using these figures, 90% of the Super Bowl betting was essentially agorist in nature: people voluntarily transacting without even thinking about reporting their gains for confiscatory taxation.

Do you buy things online, in order to avoid paying a local sales tax? Buy a snowboard or a bike or a nice winter coat online, and save yourself $20 or $30 (or more). But this is also illegal, if your state government has laws on the books calling for “use taxes.” Use taxes conveniently explode any argument the statist might use in favor of taxes based on needed “public goods,” and should be exposed for what they are: outright theft. There may be an argument for remitting a tax payment to the locale from whence you purchased your online goods, but there certainly isn’t one for the mere use of that good in another locale.

Have you paid the neighbor kid to mow your lawn, and neglect to 1099 him at the end of the year? That’s kind of like agorism, you just didn’t know it. Of course, to be truly agorist, you’d have to stop paying the kid with government FRNs.

In order to stop financing the war, one needs to extricate oneself from the government’s system entirely. This doesn’t necessarily make it impossible for the government to finance its wars (see monetization, above) but at least the resister can take solace in the fact that he’s no longer helping. Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that at the present, the cost of removing oneself from taxation, in terms of personal welfare are excruciating. It would cost even more to eliminate reliance on the State or its co-conspirators. (E.g., one can’t blog without relying, to some extent, on the State.)

I just bought a house, and to do this requires that I begin paying property taxes. Unless I go primitive, there is no other option. I want to buy a car, or food. Same problem, because I’m not fucking dumpster-diving. Because of this, (and the pesky fact that there’s a gun to my head) I can’t feel guilty for paying taxes at one level, any more than I can feel guilty for paying them at another level. What I really want is not to pay taxes at any level.

There is also the problem of negative network externalities, as a result of competing with the government. Until there is a critical mass of reliable agorist traders, anyone who defaults on an agorist-style (off-the-books) contract, can simply blend back into the government system. If I agree to an “illegal” transaction, I can’t sue the other party in the event of default, because the legislation as written precludes contests involving contracts with illegal (as defined by the state) purposes. I suppose it would be possible to insure against this sort of risk by forming a mutual with other agorist traders.

What this unfortunately all comes down to, is that all efforts to resist paying a portion of one’s income taxes are essentially futile, because one is still paying all other forms of taxes (I estimate my burden is 80%), or sacrificing his personal livelihood to wage a symbolic war. In order to really strike at the root of the government evil, it’s imperative to extricate oneself from the entire economic system as we know it. This is peaceful and non-violent revolution by secession; if you can be free of the state in the economic sphere, you’re about 90% free from dealing with the state, at all.

So anarchists should lead the way for “off the books” transactions, making them more available. This is the essence of agorism and counter-economics. Find me a way to buy my house, agorist-style, and I’ll listen.


no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics