Competent adults are free to spend their money on any charitable or noncharitable purpose they choose. They should also be free not to spend any money at all. Many people already voluntarily spend their money to help others. While voluntary kindness is an essential ethical aspirational value in a civilized and virtuous society, forced kindness is not. We should strongly encourage and highly value voluntary kindness towards those less fortunate than ourselves.

As standards of living rise and people become wealthier, we should expect more people to voluntarily spend their money on those less fortunate.xxiii There are many opportunities to willingly help those less fortunate. The 3LM strongly encourages people to spend some of their money on charitable causes voluntarily. Although I have preferences about how you should spend your money, because you are the iron-fisted dictator of all your money, I recognize this is appropriately and entirely your decision. I acknowledge your right to live your life however you please so long as you do not violate the 3L Legal Principle.

We always begin the analysis by identifying the property at issue and analyzing the 3L Legal Principle. It is almost too obvious a point to restate that no person, group, organization, or government has a legitimate right to appropriate another person’s money without their consent. Taking the property of a peaceful person without their permission violates the 3L Legal Principle. This concept is precisely why civilized people agree theft is a crime. We all learned this rule in kindergarten. It was a good rule then, and it remains a valid one now for the same reasons. For all the reasons previously discussed, there is nothing different about this analysis, even if we contemplate a group, corporation, or government engaging in the theft. Theft remains wrong regardless of who or what entity is acting.

As with all issues, we should commit to being honest about what is occurring. That many people re-label the involuntary appropriation of another’s property “taxation” instead of “theft” or “robbery” does not change the nature of the act. The word we use to describe an act is irrelevant to the nature and the analysis of how the 3L Legal Principle applies. Simply referring to theft as “taxation” is akin to merely putting lipstick on a pig. Like a rose, theft by any other name remains theft. Taxation is simply taking another’s money without their permission. Taking another’s money without permission is among the most straightforward problems to analyze.

It is difficult for me to imagine you could sufficiently deceive yourself to sincerely conclude taxation is genuinely voluntary. However, if you believe taxes are voluntary, you could effectively test your conclusion by refusing to pay them. A fair test will quickly resolve your confusion. I do not recommend you run the test because the government will eventually seize your bank accounts and involuntarily take your money. I have repeatedly had the sad experience of formally representing people charged with felony crimes because they erroneously asserted taxes are voluntary. The government will undoubtedly initiate whatever force is necessary to obtain your money. You may be imprisoned for tax evasion if the government determines you willfully failed to pay your imposed taxes. If you run this test, you will find out the hard way there is nothing voluntary about taxation. We should not pretend otherwise.

That the majority may agree with the idea of taxation also changes nothing about the analysis. Theft remains wrong even if most people voluntarily agree to appropriate the property of a person who does not consent. Even if a full, free, and fair election is held on the point, and the majority votes to approve the theft, any theft still remains wrong. Does wrong become right if the majority agrees to engage in the wrong? What if a majority of kindergarten kids fairly vote to forcefully take the toy of one of their classmates?

That you are free to leave the jurisdiction does not change the analysis. That people are free to run away from a thief and thereby possibly escape the theft does not justify the theft for those victims who choose to stand their ground despite the option to flee. Should the kindergarten teacher advise the children in class if they do not want their toys forcefully taken by the majority of other children in the class, the proper solution is to move to a different class or leave the school?

Even if we dress up the thief in a fancy uniform, affix a shiny badge, and create complex schedules and rules to determine how much money to coercively appropriate based on a progressive graduated income scale, theft is still wrong. Even if we use the proceeds of the theft for truly important charitable purposes, theft remains wrong nonetheless. Taxation is simply legalized theft on a governmental level. There is no way to justify taxation as consistent with the 3L Legal Principle. Upon concluding that another’s money is appropriated without their consent, this is the end of the analysis for the person committed to the 3LP.

I suspect you are wondering how we could realize and maintain a civilized society without taxation. You may also be wondering how the less fortunate among us would fare without taxation and the various assistance programs taxation funds. I suspect that, before the abolition of slavery, many slave owners, when confronted with the issue of ending slavery, similarly wondered who would pick the cotton if slavery was abolished. There should be no doubt that some slave owners opposed ending slavery out of a concern that the cotton would go unpicked. Indeed, many people opposed ending slavery based on economic considerations. I expect slave owners argued that many other bad consequences would befall us if slavery were outlawed.

While slavery and property theft are obviously not equivalent evils, the point remains the same. Even if ending slavery would result in the cotton going unpicked and other harmful economic consequences, this would be no reason to continue the practice of slavery. Slavery violates the 3L Legal Principle. That slavery violates the 3LP is the end of the analysis for the person committed to the 3LP. The same is true for the issue of taxation. Even if we were to suffer various negative consequences as a result of ending the practice of taxation, continuing to appropriate the money of others without their permission coercively remains wrong and should be outlawed because it violates the 3L Legal Principle.

Fortunately, we can achieve a peaceful, prosperous, and civilized world without taxation. Indeed, there is no other way to achieve it. We cannot steal our way to peace, prosperity, or a civilized world. We must earn such a society by opposing all violations of the 3L Legal Principle. The good news is we can effectively help those who are less fortunate, as well as achieve many other important moral goals, without resorting to taxation. We can effectively and happily live our lives while only engaging in voluntary transactions with others. We should never accept that living peacefully requires us to sometimes engage in involuntary transactions with others. On the contrary, if we are ever going to live in peace, we must legally ban all involuntary transactions.

To these points, we already have substantial evidence. We should have firm confidence in the willingness of civilized people to engage in voluntary kindness towards others. Despite the high level of legalized theft disguised as “taxation” in our world, most people remain charitable. Private philanthropy in the United States currently equals 1.44% of GDP.xxiv Approximately 91% of wealthy households donate to charity.xxv Research shows as people increase their wealth, they donate a higher percentage of their income to charity.xxvi

In 2017, Americans voluntarily donated 410 billion dollars to charity.xxvii Despite the negative connotations towards people often described as “filthy rich,” fabulously wealthy people regularly, generously, and voluntarily donate to charity. In 2018, Warren Buffet alone donated 3.4 billion dollars.xxviii The same year, Bill Gates donated 2.5 billion,xxix Michael Bloomberg donated 767 million,xxx Mark Zuckerberg donated 410 million,xxxi and Jeff Bezos donated 131 million.xxxii Even considering the current heavy burden of taxation, many people remain inclined to voluntarily donate additional money to help those less fortunate. People of goodwill recognize helping others is the right thing to do.xxxiii

Further, it is reasonable to expect the current level of voluntary kindness will rise if people cease to be constant theft victims at the hands of governments. In a growing free market of charities, we should expect more efficient charities too. Without taxation to force people to help others, charitable organizations would undoubtedly take on an even more critical role. As the competitive market of charitable organizations grows, we should expect an even better selection of philanthropic organizations more focused on delivering assistance to people and places as determined by their donors. Competition would weed out bad charities and reward the best ones. Without taxation, we would be left with a wide selection of ever-evolving, highly efficient, market-responsive charitable organizations far exceeding what we have today.

You may be thinking about all the important goals you imagine we will not be able to achieve without legalized theft. Even if this were true, it would not cause me to abandon my firm commitment to the 3LP. Initiating aggression against others is never an effective, just, or long-term solution to any problem. If legalized theft were a good solution, it would have eliminated our problems long ago. Even if you cannot currently envision solutions to problems resulting from eliminating legalized theft, would this cause you to abandon your commitment to the 3LP and support initiations of aggression? I hope not.

Fortunately, most of what you likely envision as problematic has already successfully been provided or is available now, without legalized theft. There are many examples of private charities, private roads, private police services, private fire services, private arbitration services, private parks, and countless private utility companies that provide services to people who voluntarily pay for those services at reasonable market prices. It would be difficult to imagine a needed service that would long remain unavailable to people willing to pay a fair market price for that service. Unfulfilled market needs are exactly what successful entrepreneurs are constantly searching to find.

Even without legalized theft, there are many ways to raise money to fund needed services voluntarily, even for those who currently cannot afford the service and would not be supported by the voluntary kindness of others. To be fair, we should expect that as standards of living rise, as they always do in a free society, there will be fewer and fewer people who simply cannot afford essential services. Rather than merely think about eliminating taxes in a vacuum, it is more appropriate to consider removing taxes in the context of a revolutionary paradigm shift to a more free, just, and prosperous society and world for everyone.

If we eliminated taxes, that incredibly vast amount of money that would have gone to the government to inefficiently spend on politically motivated programs would not simply disappear from the economy. Instead, that same incredibly vast amount of money would become immediately available for the owners of that money to start or expand businesses, invest, or simply spend on the consumer goods and services of their choice, such as increased security, better quality education for their children, better quality food, or merely a better family vacation. Such expenditures contribute to a more robust economy that benefits both rich and poor. Even when a billionaire purchases a giant yacht, the billionaire inadvertently helps the less fortunate low-income workers who manufacture, sell, and service the yacht, along with many other low-wage workers whose jobs depend on such transactions.

Even if the owners of that incredibly vast amount of money simply park their money in the bank, thereby increasing the supply of money available for banks to lend at lower interest rates, this also helps contribute to a more robust economy for everyone. It is simply an error to imagine that eliminating legalized theft would remove even one dime from the economy. Instead, the same amount of money would flow more efficiently according to the preferences of the owners of the money rather than from inefficient political decision-making.

We already have mechanisms to voluntarily fund essential services that we could expand upon. Creative packaging of insurance benefits and homeowner associations are familiar sources to voluntarily fund essential services. People routinely agree now to privately fund joint projects like private parks, private roads, private security, and even essential utilities via voluntary agreements when they purchase a property. Consider that Disney World is a private, for-profit amusement park with privatized everything. It is also allegedly the happiest place on Earth.

There are several legitimate ways to generate money to fund needed services for people who cannot afford them. Because we can reliably predict some people will intentionally violate the 3L Legal Principle, those who have been appropriately convicted of crimes can, among other sanctions, be adequately assessed fines and fees as punishment for those crimes. We could also levy fines on people and corporations that commit civil violations such as negligent trespasses that spread pollution. We could use this source of revenue to fund essential services as needed and to fund the substantially smaller, far less expensive justice system required in a 3LP-compatible world.

Additionally, the federal government alone currently owns over 25% of the total land mass in the United States.xxxiv If we consider state-owned lands, government-owned land in the United States exceeds 37% of all land.xxxv Much of this government-owned land is exceedingly valuable. It would be easy to imagine the government could sell some or all of this valuable land to the highest bidders with appropriate restrictive covenants to preserve and protect the valuable lands. As with any person hopelessly in debt, selling assets to retire debt can be an excellent first step to correcting a bad financial situation.

In a free market, land generally rises to its highest and best use. As such, there is no reason to fear or legally ban a pig farm from being established on Las Vegas Boulevard or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Because of the strong demand for this valuable property, the purchase price is simply too high to justify a pig farm that could easily be located on a much less expensive piece of land elsewhere. Although we both have preferences, neither of us can likely determine the highest and best use for any particular land. This determination is for the market of individual people or groups of people who would seek to own the property in question. Many people would prefer the Grand Canyon to remain completely undeveloped forever. However, other people may prefer to enjoy a formal dinner while listening to live music at some beautiful resort located at the edge of the Grand Canyon. There is no need to employ or threaten force to resolve this issue.

If plots of land at the Grand Canyon were for sale, we could anticipate a bidding war from different groups seeking to own those plots for various purposes. Groups seeking to purchase land at the Grand Canyon could solicit investors to raise the necessary funds to win the bidding war and thereby decide how best to use that land. As with all property, how to use it is always a question for the owners, whether that is an individual, the community, a group of people, an organization, or a corporation.

In any event, privately owned valuable land is historically and routinely well kept. Uniquely rare land, such as the Grand Canyon, is often protected with reasonable and responsible restrictive covenants. There is no cause to fret about an evil corporation seeking to buy such appropriately expensive land for a purpose unrelated to utilizing the beauty and uniqueness of the quite valuable property. Otherwise, there is much less valuable land available. Imagine if we intelligently invested the substantial proceeds raised due to the government selling these valuable lands to the highest bidders in conservative, reliable interest-bearing accounts. The interest alone could be sufficient to fund certain essential services in perpetuity.

We could also likely go a long way towards retiring our ever-expanding national debt with the massive revenue generated. As the person in bankruptcy sells assets to retire debts, so should the government. No country is immune from financial collapse. For this reason alone, governments ought to responsibly sell their assets to the highest bidders to generate the revenue necessary to retire debts incurred from decades of reckless and irresponsible politically driven spending. Avoiding a catastrophic financial collapse ought to be one of our most urgent top priorities. Suppose you fret about selling off beautiful government lands to private entities. In that case, I urge you to consider what your life would be like if we experience a catastrophic financial collapse due to our endlessly-increasing debt and recklessly printing more and more paper money based on nothing of value. It is hard to imagine people struggling to obtain food and shelter due to a catastrophic economic collapse would be fretting about selling beautiful government lands. To the contrary, we would be fretting about not doing so.

In addition to valuable government lands, the government owns countless stretches of roads and bridges. The government could sell these assets to private corporations that would maintain them and charge market rates for their use. Alternatively, the government could use these assets as revenue generators by simply charging user fees. User fees for roads, bridges, and possibly government courts could become revenue generators to help fund essential services for needy people without the need for taxation.

It is always important to remember that when the government taxes and spends, it does not create any wealth. In reality, all that occurs is the government employs force, or threat of force, to shift money from the owner to someone else. Often, the “someone else” is expected to deliver votes for the politicians who supported the forced shifting of resources. It is easy to see how this process degenerates into an endless circle of what we sometimes call “dirty money” in politics. Moreover, there is a transaction cost for this forced shifting of resources. The government pays people to administer such a system of forced shifting of resources that is entirely unnecessary when the owners of the money simply and directly spend it as they wish. When people voluntarily spend their own money, voluntary market forces determine the flow of money instead of politics.

Some people have also proposed using revenues generated from a national lottery to fund essential services for people who truly cannot afford them.xxxvi Voluntary government-run lotteries already raise more money than corporate taxes in many states.xxxvii We should expect people of goodwill to intentionally play the lottery if we use the excess revenues for important charitable purposes. There may be many other ways to voluntarily fund essential services for those less fortunate if we think synergistically while consistently maintaining a firm commitment to the 3LP and its derivative 3L Legal Principle.

Rather than simply resorting to legalized and institutionalized theft on a massive scale, we should envision creative ways to accomplish our important goals without violating the 3L Legal Principle. Legalizing theft by simply referring to it as “taxation” is not an honest option for the person genuinely committed to the 3LP. There is no way to effectively advocate for a peaceful world while also advocating for institutionalized theft. We should agree to solve our financial issues, like all our other issues, without employing coercion against peaceful people.

Nothing about the laws of the universe prevents principled people from voluntarily working together to build a civilized, just, and prosperous society without forcefully appropriating the money of others. There is no reason to believe we cannot do it. Indeed, we could never build such a society that legally tolerates theft, whether committed by an individual or group of individuals. Theft remains wrong regardless of the size of the group and even if the group forms a government. Whether referred to as “taxation” or not, theft is always inefficient, destructive, and immoral. It should be evident that this remains the case even when the thief uses the proceeds for worthy purposes. The “ends” of a good purpose never justify the “means” of appropriating another person’s money without their permission. Therefore, all forms of taxation always violate the 3L Legal Principle.

While taxation violates the 3L Legal Principle, the practical considerations of reasonably and justly transitioning to a world without taxation is an entirely different and vital discussion. It is unreasonable to expect we can justly eliminate all forms of taxation immediately in one swoop. Indeed, those taxes that support essential services ought to be the last to be eliminated. Also, because we have not historically adhered to the 3L Legal Principle, many people currently receive earned and contracted benefits, pensions, and other unfunded government liabilities that are now entirely funded by taxation. As will be discussed later in this book, we must carefully and intelligently transition from a world replete with taxation to one without taxation.