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Tax Day Reflections - fair fairnessEvery year when tax day comes along people start talkingabout tax fairness Yet strangely I hear very few peoplediscuss the fairness of taxation itself What right does thegovernment have to force people to pay for services thatthey may not even want In particular what right does thegovernment have to take money from people who neverconsented to pay Almost everyone sees that consent isthe proper moral foundation for other relationships To takeone eloquent slogan If a woman says no its rape Unlesswe can show that we really consent to pay taxes we cannotavoid the parallel maxim If a taxpayer says no its theft Many people think that we consented to pay taxes in theConstitution The cherished myth behind our ownConstitution as well as those of many other countries is thatat one pristine time the people consented to all of theseemingly involuntary practices we endure today Howeverno one alive today ever signed the Constitution so howcould it bind them Parents could only bind themselves nottheir children much less all their descendents throughouthistory Moreover the consent that ratified the Constitutionwas merely the consent of various voting majorities whoconsented not merely for themselves but for those whoexpressly denied the Constitution their consent Theminority voters might well protest that no one else has thepower to offer their consent for them a person can only offerconsent for himself or herself not for another Other people think that we consent to pay taxes merely byliving in the country but this just begs the central questionWhy cant I both remain in this country and refuse to paytaxes If a kindergarten bully told his classmates that theyreally consented to get beaten up since they could go toanother school instead we could only laugh at his effronteryfor the bully has no right to present this unfair choice in thefirst place Similarly only after it can be shown that I ambreaking a voluntary agreement by refusing to pay taxescould my
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