Roving Bandit, Stationary Bandit, and Income Tax

by | Feb 18, 2018

Roving Bandit, Stationary Bandit, and Income Tax

by | Feb 18, 2018

Many libertarians have embraced the slogan “taxation is theft.” I myself think it is more precise to say that taxation is extortion. But even saying that fails to capture how egregious taxation really is, especially income taxation.

When a mugger or a home invader accosts you, he points a gun at you or waves a knife in your face and demands your wallet or some other property. In most cases, if you surrender your property to him as he demands, he takes it and flees, and you will most likely never see him again. He is, in the classic phrase, the roving bandit.

In contrast, the state is, in Mancur Olson’s classic term, the stationary bandit. It extorts your money constantly, ceaselessly, and no amount of plunder sates its appetite for what rightfully belongs to you. You are milked endlessly by people who have no rightful claim to loot you, but do have the power to take even more of your wealth in the form of interest or penalties or to place you in a steel cage if you make too much of a fuss about being looted.

With income taxation, however, the matter is even more exasperating and outrageous. In this case, the state’s legal henchmen construct an immense body of rules for determining how much tax is “owed” by persons in a nearly infinite variety of circumstances, depending on the form and source of the income, the amount, the timing of its receipt, the permissible deductions from the taxable amount, and so on. The rules run to thousands of pages, and tax experts themselves, including those employed by the tax collection agencies, cannot agree on the amount of tax liability associated with even a moderately complicated tax return.

Read the rest at the Independent Institute.

About Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.

Our Books

thisone

Related Articles

Related

How Much Worse Can the Economy Get?

How Much Worse Can the Economy Get?

The most important question for asset prices right now, from stocks to houses to Bitcoin, is whether we’re due for a recession. Last week we got confirmation that according to the traditional definition of a recession—two quarters of negative growth—we are already in...

read more
Veteran Says Good Riddance to Liz Cheney

Veteran Says Good Riddance to Liz Cheney

Yesterday was a very important day. It’s the day the America First movement exiled the most despicable, most debased Swamp Monster on Capitol Hill. Yesterday Liz Cheney lost renomination for Congress after three terms of using and abusing the people of Wyoming. The...

read more
In Rebuke of the Dishonorable David Petraeus

In Rebuke of the Dishonorable David Petraeus

In a recent article for The Atlantic David Petraeus came to the conclusion that American soldiers should still be in Afghanistan today. Two thousand, three hundred twenty-four American servicemen killed, $2.3 trillion dollars and over 20 years later convicted criminal...

read more
We Don’t Believe You

We Don’t Believe You

David French, maybe National Review’s most reliably wrong scribe, issued this gem in response to the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s residence in Florida: Imagine thinking federal police agents and lawyers will be “held accountable,” or that presidents are not above the...

read more
How to End the Culture War

How to End the Culture War

The following is a section from The Voluntaryist Handbook, organized by Keith Knight. There exist two blatant contradictions which roughly ninety-nine percent of intellectuals, journalists, and voters erroneously believe. On the one hand, they say that the free market...

read more
Cops Sicced on 8 Year Old Girl’s Lemonade Stand

Cops Sicced on 8 Year Old Girl’s Lemonade Stand

Asa Baker is an 8-year-old girl from Ohio with an overwhelming entrepreneurial spirit. Over the hot summer, rather than spend the days inside watching TV, Asa would set up a lemonade stand in her front yard to make some cash. “It’s fun and you get lots of people,”...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This