Receiving Government Payments – A Voluntaryist Dilemma – by a Veresapiens

I have only recently discovered the work of this Veresapiens and highly recommend his work. This particular piece concerning Social Security ‘benefits’ and other government payouts might not be what you want to hear, but you need to hear it. I look forward to gathering my thoughts and formulating a response, but for now here it is: This post is reprinted with permission from Veresapiens.org/blog:

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As a Veresapiens and voluntaryist, I consider government to be unHuman. A government is, by definition, based on theft and coercion. I want to shun government in every way possible, just as I would any other criminal organization.

But, the government keeps taking my money, and I want it back.

For example, I’ve had Social Security taxes ‘deducted’ from my paychecks for over 40 years, now.

So, here’s my dilemma…

If I think Social Security is a typically immoral government program, should I participate in it anyway when I become eligible to receive payments, especially after having been forced to make payments into the program for all those years?

Walter Block has written that since all government funds are essentially stolen loot, “…it is a positive virtue to relieve the government of its ill-gotten gains“. In fact, he writes, “…the more money you take from the coffers of the state the better libertarian you are“.

Sounds good. But here’s the rub…

The money the government has taken from me in Social Security (and other) taxes over the years is long gone. That money was spent long, long ago. The government no longer has my stolen property.

So, when I ask for the Social Security money that the government ‘owes’ me, where will that money come from? Well, the government, having no money of its own, will simply go out and steal money from my neighbors and give it to me.

How would I feel, as a Veresapiens and voluntaryist, about me using the force of government to take other people’s money?

I might try to make myself feel better by saying “The government is going to collect the tax money, anyway, and I might as well get my fair share”. But it’s still stolen money. Another person’s money.

And, as the US population ages, Social Security taxes will no longer cover Social Security payments. Beyond payroll taxes on current workers, the government will need to both borrow money, to be repaid by future taxpayers, and print money, a hidden tax on everyone.

I don’t think I’m really punishing the government when I “relieve it of its ill-gotten gains”. If anything, I’m doing it an invaluable service.

The government loves to dole out the cash. The government wants to give money to everyone. When everyone’s getting government money, no one wants to get rid of government, they just want to fight over who gets how much.

As Bastiat said in his essay Government,

“The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.”

When you take money from the government, you serve to perpetuate government.

If you want to end government, I believe the best approach is that suggested by Boetie in The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude:

“For if tyranny really rests on mass consent, then the obvious means for its overthrow is simply by mass withdrawal of that consent.”

If more people declined, whenever possible, to receive stolen goods (tax money) from the government, it would go a long way toward delegitimizing those government programs and the government.

So, here is how I think I should approach my dilemma:

  • Do whatever I can to minimize (legally) the amount of money that the government takes from me in taxes.
  • Accept that any money that is taken from me by the government is unrecoverable without causing harm to others (theft of their money).
  • And therefore decline, whenever I can, to take any ‘entitlements’ payments (freshly stolen goods) from the government.

I think perhaps those who take the least money from the coffers of the state are good libertarians, too.

7 thoughts on “Receiving Government Payments – A Voluntaryist Dilemma – by a Veresapiens

  1. There’s a big hole in this…I worked for the government…first as career military for which I was paid very little compared to my civilian counterparts, but guaranteed a modest pension to put up with the hardships of it, and then in civil service from which I don’t get shit in retirement. What little Social Security I’ll get is due to the fact that the SS taxes drawn out of my military pay came only out of base pay, not total pay…another way of screwing us when it comes to total lifetime earnings…I don’t feel one goddam bit guilty about drawing anything I get from Uncle Sam…It doesn’t even begin to cover what I had to do to get it…

  2. I’ve had a number of personal dilemmas of whether or not it’s worth taking government money.

    Part of me says bleed the government dry. Government will continue to take more and more money based on our actions. This process could speed up the slow arduous process of the public removal of consent.

    Another part of me says don’t wrestle with a pig.

    The ways this article suggests looking at it made the problem really clear.

    I wonder about the “what to do about it” though.

    Naturally, getting as little money stolen as possible is logical.

    The more of the entitlement payments go to the unethical, the longer the system will hurt people. I’d say take the dirty money and spend it on something good. They’re going to steal the money any way.

    But if it helps you sleep at night to avoid it then who am I to judge. I understand that completely

    • But isn’t “bleeding the government dry” essentially the same as bleeding your neighbor dry? The more I think about it the more I feel it is immoral to accept government benefits. On the other hand the government has made it so difficult for the common people to prosper I can not consider it immoral to receive enough money to live comfortably. The only problem with this reasoning is the ultimate conclusion, if it is moral to take less money, would it not be “better” to take nothing?

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