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Ask ten people what purpose the government serves, and you are likely to receive ten very similar answers. Government provides for the common defense, they’ll say, or guarantees that society runs smoothly. Perhaps they’ll mention the benevolent safety net that our social programs provide, things like food stamps or public education. Depending on the respondent, they might even mention roads, the internet, or other infrastructure needs. Some might mention conceptual goals like democracy, equality, or scientific advancement.
These are legitimate goals, all of them. People ought not to be subjugated by foreign powers. Mutually beneficial exchanges benefit us all. That the poor do not starve, that children learn to read, that we have access to transportation and that these words are transported to as if by magic over a distance of many miles – these are good things. Any rational creature, having fully considered the implications of the alternatives, would agree.
The distinction, then, between our non-violent anarcho-capitalist philosophy and the philosophy held by those who believe that we must have Government lies not in the ends we wish to see achieved, but in the means we wish to use to achieve those ends. We do not want to see the poor starve, or the world’s children rendered illiterate. We do not want to return to the days of travel by horse and carrier pigeon. We’d like to have a say in our own destinies, and to see new breakthroughs in all sorts of science.
What we do not want is for a different human being, be he a king or a president, to presume that he knows how society might use our resources to feed the poor, educate the ignorant, or travel from our homes to our workplaces. We do not want Washington to decide what is best for Montana, or for Phoenix to decide what is best for Yuma, or even for 101 Maple Street to decide what is best for 203 Oak Street. We want to achieve the same safety and freedom and betterment that Government falsely promises, but we want to achieve it in our own way, of our own accord.
To conflate opposition to taxation and government oversight with opposition to these other goals is an intellectual trap, one into which we must take care not to fall.
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