"Can There Be A 'Just' Tax?"
Murray N. Rothbard
|The only substantial attempt to give some rational support to the “ability-to-pay principle” rests on a strained comparison of tax payments to voluntary gifts to charitable organizations. Thus Groves writes: “To hundreds of common enterprises (community chests, Red Cross, etc.) people are expected to contribute according to their means. Governments are one of these common enterprises fostered to serve the citizens as a group….” Seldom have more fallacies been packed into two sentences. In the first place, the government is not a common enterprise akin to the community chest. No one can resign from it.No one, on penalty of imprisonment, can come to the conclusion that this “charitable enterprise” is not doing its job properly and therefore stop his “contribution”; no one can simply lose interest and drop out. If, as will be seen further below, the State cannot be described as a business, engaged in selling services on the market, certainly it is ludicrous to equate it to a charitable organization. Government is the very negation of charity, for charity is uniquely an unbought gift, a freely flowing uncoerced act by the giver. The word “expected” in Groves’ phrase is misleading. No one is forced to give to any charity in which he is not interested or which he believes is not doing its job properly.|