Should government limit itself to police, military, and law courts?
- Police, to protect people from criminals (that is, internal criminals).
- Armies and navies, to protect people from external criminals, meaning those seeking to invade, conquer, or destroy from spite.
- Courts of law, to settle disputes. Courts also tell those who
command the police and the armies and navy what they may or may not do.
of the United States, as James Madison and his colleagues originally
wrote it, stuck to these principles, with one minor exception:
The Congress shall have the power…to [set up] post offices and post roads.
The Constitution further refined the basic model of a government limiting itself to managing force. It separated the power to make laws from the powers to execute and interpret them. It further reserved armies and navies to the federal government, except in time of immediate invasion or similar emergency. It reserved police to State
governments (except for policing the capital city and the “forts,
magazines, arsenals, dockyard, and other needful buildings” of the armed
forces and the civilian administration).
What are taxes?
The word tax comes from ancient Greek words and roots that stand for order. Taxes are moneys that people pay someone to keep order. Paul of Tarsus recognized that taxes (or tributes as he called them) have their place in paying those who manage force in society. (See Romans 13:1-7.)
Ayn Rand believed
that taxes should be voluntary. But she never suggested how to collect
enough taxes to pay for the “insurance” against unlawful force that
government gives people. The closest she came to suggesting a way to
collect the “insurance premium” was a government lottery. More broadly,
she suggested that people must first regain their freedom, and then work out how to pay for government voluntarily.
However a “fully free” government would collect its taxes, it would not have to collect nearly as much
if it had to pay for only the three services that this article
describes. Though Ayn Rand did not describe this fully, anyone can
readily see that:
- These three services today account for less than half the total direct or “money” cost of government.
- Removing all services beyond these three would lift the opportunity cost of government.
That second point is critical. In an “Ayn Rand world,” the tax base would be larger, and the tax burden less, than they are today. So the tax rates would be lower than ever.
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