Thursday, January 06, 2005

Posted in comments on Left2Right

Interesting points! I believe the taxation=theft equivalence comes from Bastiat, whose rule was that governments had no legitimate right to do anything individuals could not. Given Locke’s statements, one might argue that individuals legitimately can take from others, by force, what they need for survival.

I think, though, that the above interpretation may be mistaken. Note Locke’s words:

“As justice gives every man a title to the product of his honest industry, and the fair acquisitions of his ancestors descended to him; so charity gives every man a title to so much out of another's plenty, as will keep him from extreme want, where he has no means to subsist otherwise.”

Many political scientists put justice as the only legitimate concern of government. Charity is a moral virtue, but governments cannot force people to be charitable; they can force them to act charitably, but that harms their ability to actually BE charitable. This point is very strongly argued by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn; I am not a sufficient scholar of Locke to know whether he made this distinction, but the idea that charity is not a proper concern of government is fairly old.


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