Taxation and Forced Labor
When the government taxes you, it is taking away your money without your consent, and this is theft. This argument is well known, but there is another, though related, problem with taxes on income that you earn. By taking away part of the money you earn, the government is forcing you to work for it. Robert Nozick advanced this argument in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and what I’d like to discuss in this week’s column is a defense of Nozick’s argument by Adam D. Moore that was published this year in the Southern Journal of Philosophy. It’s especially timely to discuss Moore’s article now, because Moore uses a famous argument by the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson, who passed away last Saturday.
Thomson asks us to consider this case: “Violinist: You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own.” The violinist will die unless you remain hooked up to him for nine months. Do you have the right to detach yourself? Thomson thinks it is obvious that you do. You didn’t consent to the arrangement, and your body isn’t at the disposal of others, even if they need it in order to survive. (Thomson uses her example to defend the permissibility of certain cases of abortion, but that isn’t relevant here.)
Article from Mises Wire