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Self-evident truths and moral turpitude

13 August 2009

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” so said the framers of the US Declaration of Independence. And some of their fellow countrymen seem even today to hold certain beliefs as self-evident truths.

Here’s one I came across the other day:

Universal healthcare is theft

from A conservative blog for peace

Now it could be argued that such a statement should not be taken at face value; that behind it lie arguments with lots of subtle nuances and so on.

But in my experience many Americans do seem to take such statements at face value. They treat them as statements of principle, setting out the attitudes with which one approaches a debate. It is held by many as an axiom, a self-evident truth.

For some, universal health care might be an aim, an ideal, a desirable goal. It might be a sort of daydream, a “wouldn’t it be nice if” kind of thought. This is the thought that it might be nice if health care was available to all people.

And one might say of such a thought or goal or aspiration, that, desirable as it is, it is impractical, that there are too many obstacles to its achievement, and so on.

But this statement does not make such criticisms of that goal. It does not say that the goal of universal health care is impractical or too difficult to achieve. It says quite flatly that it is undesirable and immoral. It is, according to this view, wrong to want everyone to be healthy.

The underlying value system of the statement that “Universal health care is theft” is that profits are more important than people, and that money is the highest value, to be loved above all else. And whatever the origins of such a value system may be, it is not Christian. In fact from a Christian point of view the statement “universal health care is theft” is an indication of gross moral turpitude.

The statement “universal health care is theft” is not an expression of Christian values, but precisely the opposite. From a Christian point of view, one could say that what is theft is not universal health care, but the lack of it.

As St John Chrysostom says, in a sermon on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

“See the man,” He says, “and his works: indeed this also is theft, not to share one’s possessions.” Perhaps this statement seems surprising to you, but do not be surprised. I shall bring you testimony from the divine Scriptures, saying that not only the theft of others’ goods but also the failure to share one’s own goods with others is theft and swindle and defraudation. What is this testimony? Accusing the Jews by the prophet, God says, “The earth has brought forth her increase, and you have not brought forth your tithes; but the theft of the poor is in your houses.” Since you have not given the accustomes offerings, He says, you have stolen the goods of the poor. He says this to show that they hold the goods of the poor even if they have inherited them from their fathers or no matter how they have gathered their wealth. And elsewhere Scripture says, “Deprive not the poor of his living.” To deprive is to take what belongs to another; for it is called deprivation when we take and keep what belongs to others. By this we are taight that when we do not show mercy, we will be punished like those who steal. For our money is the Lord’s, however we may have gathered it. If we provide for those in need, we shall obtain great plenty. This is why God has allowed you to have more: not for you to waste on prostittutes, drink, fancy food, expensive clothes, and all the other kinds of indolence, but for you to distribute to those in need. Just as an official in the imperial treasury, where he neglects to distribute where he is ordered, but spends instead for his own indolence, pays the penalty and is put to death, so also the rich man is a kind of steward of the money which is owed for distribution to the poor. He is directed to distribute it to his fellow servants who are in want. So if he spends more on himself than his need requires, he will pay the harshest penalty hereafter. For his own goods are not his own, but belong to his fellow servants (St John Chrysostom, On wealth and poverty: sermons on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31)

So not only is universal health care right, but it is right to fund it out of taxes (“tithes”).

And the failure to do this is not merely not theft, but it is itself the worst kind of wickedness, as St John Chrysostom says:

This cruelty is the worst kind of wickedness; it is an inhumanity without rival. For it is not the same thing for one who lives in poverty not to help those in need, as for one who enjoys such luxury to neglect others who are wasting away with hunger.

The rich man in the parable would no doubt have agreed with the statement that “universal health care is theft”, but he could not even offer minimal health care to Lazarus, the chronically-ill man whom he saw every time he went in and out of his estate.

Most of us fail to live truly evangelical lives, according to the gospel. We all tend to grasp what we have and to fail to share with the poor and the sick. But, says St John Chrysostom, even approving the patience of the poor man and abhorring the cruelty and inhumanity of the rich man is a start. “These are no small indications of a virtuous disposition. For even if we do not seek virtue, but at least praise it, we shall perhaps be able to attain it; and even if we do not avoid evil, but at least censure it, we shall perhaps be able to escape it.” But if we regard the statement that “universal health care is theft” as a self-evident truth, then we censure virtue and praise evil, and that is why the statement is an indication of the greatest moral turpitude.


This post is now part of a synchroblog on Christian approaches to health care

Here are links to the other posts in the synchroblog:

      I also have some other posts on the topic, with more links, as follow-ups to some of the comments on this one:

      34 Comments leave one →
      1. 13 August 2009 11:03 pm

        I’m having a hard time making the identification of tithes with taxes. The former are something that comes from one’s heart. The latter are something that is taken from you with the threat of violence if you refuse.

        It’s the reality of what taxation really means that is the reason behind the reference to [tax-funded] universal healthcare as “theft.” It is right for me to help someone else. But is it right for me to take your money from you at the point of a gun in order to help someone else?

        God loves the cheerful giver, but I have yet to see any blessings in Scripture offered to the giver under duress.

        • 13 August 2009 11:57 pm

          Well, perhaps in your country people who work in government revenue offices go round pointing firearms at people, but I haven’t noticed them doing it here.

          But the question of taxes is really a side issue and rather beside the point. In most countries, more tax money is used to equip armies to kill and wound people than is used to heal them, so if you believe in the general principle that taxation is theft, then concentrate on that, rather than the thoroughly immoral notion that universal health care is theft.

          If you think it immoral to take money at gunpoint to heal people (if that is what they do in your country), how much more immoral is it to take money at gunpoint to kill people?

          • 14 August 2009 3:38 am

            It is true that the IRS doesn’t usually use guns to collect taxes, but tax evasion does put you in jail. (It’s how they got Al Capone.) And if you try not to go to jail, they do indeed use guns. So the threat is always there, even if it’s not in your face.

            Anyway, I’m very much not in favor of most of the military empire-building that my government is doing with my money. That that’s wrong doesn’t make forced charity any more right.

            Health care, like food, clothing and shelter, is a good. In order to provide goods for someone, it has to be paid for. When you take someone’s money from them without their consent, it is theft.

            I understand that taxes may be a side issue in your society, but it is pretty paramount over here, and it’s what is informing the original statement that you objected to. I’m pretty certain that the statement “universal healthcare is theft” was not meant to be understood in absolute terms, apart from the taxation required to put various current proposals into place.

            The same gun that might enforce paying for your dental work (should you visit us) is also the same one paying for the wholesale slaughter of the unborn. It’s also the same one attempting to export “democracy” to the Middle East and elsewhere.

            The objection of those who favor liberty (so that we can do things from our hearts rather than be forced to them) is based on the Biblical principle of the cheerful giver. Before programs like Medicare came into being, it was standard practice for doctors offer free treatment to elderly patients who could not afford their care. But while God loves a cheerful giver, long-standing trends in the U.S. government hate a cheerful giver, because it is outside governmental control and people shouldn’t be trusted with freedom.

            The same controlling spirit which sticks its guns into other countries for no good reason is now threatening to stick them into even more of our freedoms, further eroding the basic dignity of humanity. Our political class suffers from the need for importance.

            I am very much in favor of universal health care, but I am very much against gaining it by forcing other people to pay for it. One cannot continue taking money from the productive part of society and giving it to the unproductive part and hope for an economy that can sustain itself. The Soviets learned that lesson the hard way.

            • 14 August 2009 7:15 am

              I find it interesting, however, that while some people seem fond of saying things like “universal healthcare is theft”, they don’t seem to be nearly as vociferous in saying that armies and navies are theft, rubbish removal is theft, street lights are theft, even the streets themselves are theft.

              But nor does St John Chrysostom mention these other things. What he does point out is that failure to care for the sick is theft. And that is why I believe that the statement “universal healthcare is theft” is an inversion of values, and is saying that good is evil and evil is good.

            • 15 August 2009 2:53 pm

              Fr. Andrew said, “I understand that taxes may be a side issue in your society, but it is pretty paramount over here” (meaning, I assume, America). That is one point of view; it is paramount for many on the conservative end of the political spectrum, not for all of us on this side of the ocean.
              The disjunction between Steve’s and Fr. Andrew’s views has to do with the distinction between public and private, individual vs. governmental. I agree with Fr. Andrew that the imposition of compulsion (in case of taxes and their forced collection) introduces a somewhat confounding element. But, if we are to follow St. John Chyrsostom where he leads — even through that thicket of tax law — this means than we must find an alternative. If healthcare is not being provided (a basic human need) and the government, through its taxing power, is the wrong entity to provide for that need, then the Christian must somehow ensure that folks have medicine and care through another method. Unless we are prepared to offer that other effective means, our objection to taxation becomes either disingenuous at its root, or conveniently self-serving at best. We cannot side-step our moral responsibilities by simply objecting to the vehicle being proposed.

              • 15 August 2009 3:55 pm


                I’m glad that you at least see the point I was making in the main post and distinguish between means and ends. My objection to the slogan that “universal health care is theft” is that it attacks the goal, regardless of means. It’s a nice little slogan, or mantra, for brainwashing people against Christian values and promoting the opposite.

                Any means by which one tries to attain the goal can be criticised from the point of view of practical politics, but this phrase says that the goal itself is bad.

        • Peter permalink
          15 August 2009 4:24 am

          The overburden of taxation that will take place in order to support universal healthcare is only part of the problem. I am looking at this as the nexus that eugenicists have been fighting for decades to arrive at. And they will not give up easily now that they are so close. The euphemism of ‘healthcare’ is just a cover for what lies beneath in HR3200. I read it and I find there some things that are health insurance-like, but overall there is a creepy evil feel to it that makes my hackles rise. If population control is your objective, I can’t think of a better vehicle to carry it in. I can only warn you all, I can’t make you agree with me. I have been putting all this together in an historical context which dates back to Margaret Sanger’s day. This is evil manefest, and it cries to heaven for vengeance. I won’t argue that there is desperation with respect of healthcare, but HR3200 will not fix it. It will only make more widespread the desperation because it was never intended to solve the problem.

          • 15 August 2009 4:48 am

            Sorry, I haven’t a clue what you are talking about. I haven’t heard of “HR3200” and nor have I heard of Margaret Sanger. I suppose I could Google for them, but I think that’s beside the point. As for what “healthcare” means, it means what Lazarus got. The only healthcare he got was from the dogs, not from the rich man.

            • 15 August 2009 1:07 pm

              HR3200 is the context for the comment you originally criticized — it is the proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress for attempting to reform health care in the U.S.

              Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood, a private (but government-subsidized) provider of abortions. Sanger’s motive in founding PP was her eugenicist philosophy. She wanted abortion to be widely available so that the “undesirable classes” would be shrunk by attrition.

              • Porlock Junior permalink
                17 August 2009 10:07 am

                Sorry to continue the digression into US politics and history, but some things can’t be allowed to pass uncommented.

                Margaret Sanger worked to make contraception available. Opinions differ on whether that’s a good thing, but (1) it’s not the same thing as abortion, and it’s hardly honest to confuse the two; (2) if you dislike contraception enough to make it illegal for other people to choose, just who is here enforcing his principles at gunpoint?

                Also, do we know that it is not really valid to attack something because someone once advocated it in part for what is now seen, quite properly of course, as a bad motive?

                Two more bits: In Sanger’s time “abortion on demand” was simply not on the table politically. As in, forget it. I was going to say here that I didn’t know what she thought of abortion, but per the Wikipedia article, which we all know might be inaccurate, she was against it. “While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.”

                What got her in trouble with the law was contraception: arrested at least 8 times, saith Wikipedia, for talking in public in favor ot contraception. I cannot speak for Christianity, but may I say that that was entirely unAmerican?

                In my own lifetime contraception was a criminal offense in the State of Rhode Island. A better situation, you may believe, but again: gunpoint.

              • Fr. Andrew permalink
                17 August 2009 1:30 pm

                I stand corrected. After doing some looking into it myself, it seems that Sanger was actually against abortion.

                She was, however, strongly in favor of contraception (as you noted), as well as forced sterilization and segregation “to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.” She also wanted to make sure that immigration was closed to “certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feebleminded, idiots, morons, insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class.”

                (The Wikipedia article is actually pretty well cited, so it’s probably one of the more accurate from that source.)

      2. 14 August 2009 11:36 am

        Hi Steve,

        One missed point here is that in the OT the King was supposed to pay for the poor, and there were institutionalised taxes imposed on the people. The early church fathers seem to consider that as the bare minimum of Christian ethics. As you quote, St. John goes way beyond that. So Fr. Andrew’s argument from the concept of freedom ignores the whole ethical framework of taxation. In fact, using the notions of “cheerful giver” and “freedom” as a way to avoid justice and compassion just proves your whole point about the sad displacement of Orthodox values by anti-Christian US concepts.

      3. 14 August 2009 11:39 am

        PS. The Code Justinian was considered Orthodox. The topic of taxation in it makes interesting reading. I’d argue that was a quite Christian legal framework, very different to the modern notion of good government espoused by many Christians.

      4. 14 August 2009 11:59 am

        And what is so wrong with healthy fear of coercive authorities? St John also writes: “Since therefore the rulers also make you afraid, and render you anxious, the Church, which is the common mother of us all, opening her bosom, and cradling us in her arms, administers daily consolation; telling us that the fear of rulers is profitable, and profitable too the consolation that comes from hence. For the fear of the former does not permit us to be relaxed by listlessness, but the consolation of the latter does not allow us to sink under the weight of sadness; and by both these means God provides for our safety. He Himself hath armed magistrates with power; that they may strike terror into the licentious; and hath ordained His priests that they may administer consolation to those that are in sorrow.”
        A lot of “Christian” argument on this issue sounds more like anarchism and anti-nomianism to me. (I’m not including Fr Andrew in this- he has rightly pointed out the issue). You have hit a nail on the head. Maybe an article needs to be written on the heresy in the Orthodox church of despising legitimate taxation!

        • 14 August 2009 7:04 pm

          Fr John,

          My concern is not so much with taxes, thought perhaps that is something that could be discussed as a separate issue. My concern is that St John Chrysostom described withholding health care as “cruelty, which is the worst kind of wickedness”, yet all sorts of people seem to try to weasel out of that and maintain the opposite — that providing health care is somehow wicked. To me that is calling good evil and evil good.

          Arguing that it is immoral to use taxes for the purpose is a red herring to weasel out of it — I don’t see those who make this objection objecting that roads and bridges and sewers are theft. Though perhaps Bill Clinton’s destruction of the Danube Bridges was his way of protesting against theft, though he was using stolen property (the US Air Force) to do it. Likewise Ehud Olmert’s destruction of bridges in Lebanon. It would be more convincing of those who protested against the use of taxes for healing protested more strongly against the use of taxes for death and destruction.

          • 14 August 2009 7:16 pm

            Unfortunately, most Americans prefer to take and waste our resources on things that are either outright evil or things that they don’t want to pay for themselves (somehow it’s “free” if the government provides it).

            There are a handful who want genuine liberty, though. Yes, it’s true that most Americans these days think of “freedom” as something one “gets,” as a license to get or do anything they like. But not all of us feel that way. Some of us (myself included) believe that liberty comes with a large dose of responsibility. Take away one and you eliminate the other.

            If you’re interested at all in American discussions of freedom that are quite different from what probably filters abroad (and unfortunately also quite different from what dominates politics here), I recommend you take a look at the work of Congressman Dr. Ron Paul. He routinely angers members of both our major parties, but it’s not because he’s out of his mind, but rather because he has integrity and wants something in our politics that isn’t just about extending politicians’ careers or extending our overseas empire or robbing people to prevent them from doing good themselves.

            • 15 August 2009 4:53 am

              Fr Andrew,

              But the issue here is not freedom or liberty, but care of the sick. I think St John Chrysostom is a better authority for Orthodox Christians than Ron Paul.

              • 15 August 2009 1:12 pm

                Indeed, He is. But the question really is whether I will be allowed to take the responsibility to care for the sick upon myself or whether I will coerce other people into doing it.

                Dr. Paul’s approach helps to make possible Chrysostom’s. Without the liberty to live as true Christians, our options are severely limited. There is of course much we can do even in a deeply unjust and oppressive society, but moving us closer to that society is by no means a proper avenue to fulfil Chrysostom’s teachings. One does not promote virtue by making it a crime not to enact it.

                In any event, our government’s track record for providing goods and services is that they do a pretty bad job at it. So not only will liberty by curtailed, no one will be getting any better health care. We just slouch further toward totalitarianism.

              • 15 August 2009 5:06 pm

                Fr. Andrew writes that, “our government’s track record for providing goods and services is that they do a pretty bad job at it.” Again, this is almost a defining feature of political conservatism. Those at the other end of the spectrum might cite our interstate highway system (80% funded by the federal government), or even our military establishment — even those of us who oppose its use think that it is pretty effective at doing what it is designed to do (while decrying our lack of mass transit, or good early childhood care, which other countries manage through greater public involvement.) The converse of this is that conservatives laud private initiative, despite the history of robber barons, child labor, consumer rip-offs and Enron-type scandals, while liberals look with a jaundiced eye at the corporate sector. Neither has a lock on truth — they each select their truths and edit reality to fit the ideology.
                I believe in pay-as-you-go financing, no public support for abortions, an end to capital punishment, non-violent diplomatic solutions to international disputes, and universal, privately-provided healthcare. Am I a liberal or a conservative? I don’t know, but my Christian conscience has no problem reconciling any of these with the others. Could I be wrong about any of them? Certainly, but it won’t be because I treat “Government” as either the root of all evils, or as our salvation. The Evil One is the culprit (who can work either the private or public side of the street with ease), and God is everywhere and fills all things.

              • Fr. Andrew permalink
                17 August 2009 1:23 pm


                I’m not a “conservative,” if that is supposed to mean that I adhere to a particular party or political philosophy. Politically, I’m simply in favor of liberty and justice. I think both our major parties (and both “conservatism” and “liberalism”) have done a pretty lousy job where liberty and justice are concerned.

                Anyway, I’m with you on all of the things you mention above. I’d also like to see our currency return to being sound money (among other things). Our monetary policy has been at the root of much of our woe.

                I don’t regard government as inherently evil (I am not, after all, an anarchist). But I do think that ours has FAR overstepped the boundaries laid out for it in the Constitution.

      5. 18 August 2009 1:51 am

        Fr Andrew,

        Yes, “liberty” and “justice” are fine words. But who enjoyed the liberty and justice — the rich man or Lazarus?

        • Fr. Andrew permalink
          18 August 2009 2:52 am

          I’m honestly not really sure what you’re driving at with that reference. The purpose in enacting liberty and justice on the political level is to see to it that the government that supposedly represents me is not coercing the innocent and is instead protecting them from coercion.

          In any event, liberty and justice, besides being fine words, are the right thing to do, not just politically but also theologically. Our whole soteriology is based around free will, and love itself means giving others their freedom and not coercing them. Justice also requires that we not be “respecter[s] of persons,” treating every person as a child of God, no matter how rich, poor, pious, wicked, colored, white, etc.

          It seems to me that you yourself are in an excellent position to know what fighting for freedom really means. My own country has gone through its own official racism (though of course differently from yours). Probably our largest problem these days in terms of invasion into the basic dignities of human persons is the unholy alliance between many sectors of our government and the corporate interests. The insistent attempt to turn human beings into cogs in some great consuming machine is, if not the root, quite close to the root of many of our societal ills. If I may say so, that is the “America” which so many outside our borders (and some inside, including me) despise.

          • 18 August 2009 6:05 am

            Fr Andrew,

            Yes, I do think that “liberty” and “justice” are fine words, and spent quite a lot of my life fighting for freedom.

            But we did not fight for our freedom in order that the sick should not be cared for, and I fail to see how caring for the sick diminishes my freedom in any way.

            I see both oppression, which deprives people of freedom, and disease, which deprives people of health, as aspects of the hold that the evil one has on the world. I see oppression and disease as part of the evil in the world, and freedom and health as good things we should aspire to. I do not see why liberty should be in inverse proportion to health.

            And so I ask again: who enjoyed liberty and justice — Lazarus or the rich man?

            • Fr. Andrew permalink
              18 August 2009 3:15 pm

              I think, as you point out above, that the difference between means and ends is crucial here. It is true that the original statement you criticized—”universal healthcare is theft”—on its face looks like a comment about ends and not means. But I am sure that the author meant to address the means to the end and not the end itself. I don’t think there’s anyone in our current debate here in the U.S. who believes that some people should be left without access to health care. The question is simply what are the best means.

              I completely agree with you that if you or I care for the sick, it in no way diminishes freedom. But if I break into your house to steal your substance so that I can supposedly “do good” with it, it certainly is a diminution of your freedom.

              With regard to Lazarus and the rich man: Lazarus certainly did not enjoy much in life. We don’t really know why, other than that the rich man refused to take pity on him. Whether that was a political problem or not, I do not know. How Lazarus got into his state, I do not know. We don’t know what the rich man enjoyed with regard to liberty or justice—we only know that he enjoyed riches.

              The point of the account of the rich man and Lazarus was that the rich man failed to do what he should have done in caring for the need in front of him. If there is anything directly “political” about that passage from the Gospel , it would be in favor of private, voluntary charity, not government-controlled welfare! After all, the rich man is not depicted as someone who fails to pay his taxes or fails to lobby for taxpayer-funded care for the poor. He is someone who fails to meet the need in front of him. Ultimately, it was the state of his heart which was lacking, not his adherence to state mandated social spending programs.

      6. 24 August 2009 8:56 pm

        Steve – Good post! – I like the way you keep bringing the discussion back to the point you are making. If it wasn’t such a serious subject I would almost find the conversation amusing with all the self focused reasons against universal health care. It seems that the majority of reasons I hear against universal health care have to do with the individual rights of people who have healthcare. I have yet to hear a person who doesn’t have healthcare be against universal health care. Do I believe that universal health care may cost me something? Sure I do. I also believe that it is my duty, not just as a Christian but also as a citizen, to assist in creating a society where everyone has healthcare (and food, water, shelter, clothing). I think it would be naive of me to believe that will happen without cost. I will probably have to pay more taxes and healthcare may not be as convenient for me as it is now – but it will be worth it if it provides healthcare that is available for everyone. And if it happens to end up no more expensive and just as good then it is even better.

      7. 29 August 2009 11:28 pm

        Wow, POWERFUL post. What a great read of the Lazarus story. Thank you – you are calling us more deeply into who we are meant to be as Christ followers.

      8. 1 September 2009 7:27 am

        Hi Steve–
        As always, I learn lots when I visit your blog–
        And this one with the spirited discussion was interesting, if not, as Ellen mentioned, almost amusing!

        Nothing of substance to add, except maybe a question about where does it end when looking at who is the thief?

      9. 2 September 2009 5:54 am

        hi steve, this is why i like the synchroblog, so many unique expressions. thanks, as always, for your thoughts & i just find it interesting what a huge hot button this idea is & what it seems to stir up…

      10. 16 December 2009 3:38 am

        Taxation IS theft, and in America it is backed by government use of force should you not comply. Perhaps you might not SEE someone holding a gun to anyone’s head and demanding their wallet, but think about if I were to refuse to pay my taxes. Ultimately, it would result in the police or Feds using force (violent, if necessary) to get me to comply or incarcerating me against my will.

        You say that our society exalts profits over people, but that’s not the case. When you work for a living, but someone else takes your money, that’s called slavery. Should I submit to slavery so that you can have free healthcare? Does one wrong produce a right?

        Also, should we relegate to government the role of the Church? You seem to believe that as Christians, we are neglecting the poor and the sick. Granted. But should we throw in the towel on improving the Church and allow the government to take up our job? ESPECIALLY considering that we are supposed to be doing good works in order to lead people to Christ? How exactly will government accomplish that? Have you noticed that in countries where the government provides all those things, the population is decidedly anti-God and anti-Christian? Why look to God or the Church when you have Big Brother?

        Also, are we thinking too small as Christians concerned about healthcare? Perhaps we should look to the example of Christ who did not start a sick fund or pay for people’s operations, but he healed them! He said we would do greater things than he did, was he referring to passing a healthcare bill? Maybe we need to think more with heaven’s mindset and start praying for the sick to be healed, than paying for the sick to maintain illness.

        I agree with your point that it is wrong to take money from people in order to kill people, but that doesn’t justify taking money from anyone for ANY reason. All taxes are immoral, whether they’re to fund libraries, streets, healthcare or war. Unfortunately, we’re either too lazy or too unimaginative to realize how effective (as well as moral) privatization is.

        • 16 December 2009 8:40 am

          Aye, well, mmm… perhaps you’d better go and find an uninhabited planet in a solar system far far away, because I don’t know of any country on earth where there are no taxes. And how do you take something from a shop without paying VAT or sales tax or whatever? At gunpoint, perhaps?

          What do you make of Romans 13:7? “Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due…”

          • Porlock Junior permalink
            16 December 2009 8:55 pm

            On the question of societies in which there are no taxes — maybe Somalia? Well, no real government, so the taxes are all levied by private enterprise, also called warlords; if you want that, you can have it — my standard rude answer is this:

            Since governemnts and taxes were invented in several thousand BC, there have been five classes of people who have historically not had to pay them: Kings, high priests(*), highwaymen, barbarians, and the penniless. Which of these classes does one aspire to join?

            (*) This is usually addressed to Libertarians, Objectivists and others who hate hate hate hate religion and priesthoods. Honesty requires me to use the same list when addressing mainly Christians, though in modern societies they do not have, even at the top of the hierarchy, the classic immunity from the civic duties of ordinary citizens.


      1. Health, disease, theology and politics « Khanya
      2. On public health care (part 1) « The Religious Politic
      3. Christian’s Response to Health Care Reform – August 2009 | synchroblog

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