For Platypus Eyes Only

bureau42 Anonymous Remailer remailer at
Fri Aug 22 08:53:21 PDT 1997

    THE LIBERTARIAN, By Vin Suprynowicz
    Define 'stealing'

    Winding up an ongoing but perhaps instructive debate with e-mail
correspondent J.P., I had offered:

  "The notion that it's all right to steal at gunpoint 'some modest
as long it serves a legitimate public need' ignores the simple moral
that the end cannot be allowed to justify the means."

  J.P. responded: "Define steal. If you are benefiting from having a
and national defense system, and pay nothing for its upkeep, then you
be stealing.

  OK -- one final time:

    #  #  #

  Hi, J.P. --

  Probably the one place where we are still furthest apart is the
definition of "theft."

  To me, it merely has to do with voluntarism, versus levying something
under the threat of force.

  None of my federal taxes are paid voluntarily. I allow them to be
"withheld" from my paycheck because if I tell my employer I won't work
any longer unless he stops "withholding," I'll be out of a job.

  Likewise, any other "compliance" I grant the federals is because they
have repeatedly demonstrated they will seize (start ital)all(end ital)
my paycheck, and all of my bank accounts (even if I find myself
and have so notified them), if I do not "comply"  -- all this without so
much as a signed court order.

  Under those conditions -- even if I didn't know how wasteful,
and counterproductive most of their schemes really are -- what would I
to how "noble" a purpose the federals assure me some of my moneys will

  Try approaching someone taking money out of her ATM. Assure her that
least 60 percent of the money you're seizing from her at gunpoint will
used to buy medicines for the poor. Proceed to (start ital)buy(end ital)
medicines for the poor with 60 percent of her money, and keep careful

  When you're identified from the ATM camera tape and arrested, show the
police your evidence that most of the money went to "a noble purpose,"
while the rest merely covered your "operating overhead." Thus, you
committed no "theft," and they'll let you go without prosecution. Right?

  I don't think so.

  Your underlying premise is that "government" can properly do things
would be crimes if they were done by individuals, as long as they're
the greater good of the many." But that one concession leads, in the
to all the evils of the police state.

  On the other hand, you puzzle me with the assertion: "If you are
benefiting from having a court and national defense system, and pay
for its upkeep, then you would  be stealing."

  Even if it weren't for the fact that more and more of these "Defense"
"court" dollars go to enslave and murder American citizens who have
no one -- whose only "offense" is refusal to kneel before their federal
masters -- I still wouldn't follow this.

  If a wealthy philanthropist builds a free public library, and I use
am I "stealing?" After all,  I have "benefited from it without paying
its upkeep."

  If a direct-mail scam artist mails me some gimcrack plastic camera I
never ordered, and then tries to bill me $29.95 for "shipping and
handling," do I have to pay? I don't think so. Yet under your theory, he
would be allowed to seize from my bank account or paycheck any amount by
which he could demonstrate I had "benefited" from his unsolicited "gift"
... couldn't he?

  Unless (again) government has a right to do things which would be
if undertaken by mortal men. In which case I ask again, since we the
citizens cannot possibly "delegate" to the government rights or powers
which we never possessed, where does government claim to derive the
or power to do these immoral things? From the same place the invading
bandit chieftain (or, perhaps, Union bluebelly?) gets his "right" to
your daughter and then ransom her back to you for half your wealth? At
point of his bayonet, and nowhere else?

  Your only answer seems to be, "The government has to do these things,
because we're not sure we could find enough funds, otherwise."

  Imagine a bank robber patiently explaining to you: "I have certain
absolute necessities, such as keeping my family fed, and buying
and gas for the car. In the past, the only reliable way I've found to
these requirements is bank robberies. Now, if you want me to reform my
robbery system, perhaps taking a larger share from the larger, richer
banks, I'll be happy to negotiate some reasonable reforms.

  "But heavens, you can't expect me to take the risk of giving up bank
robbing entirely, on the strength of this theory that 'Somehow, I could
probably keep my family fed by taking some kind of a steady job.' Don't
see panhandlers on the street every day? Aren't those people who tried
pie-in-the-sky, 'non-coercive' way of 'earning' enough money, and
I'd look a fine figure, standing at my child's grave, explaining 'I
you wouldn't starve if I gave up bank-robbing. I thought it MIGHT work.'
fact, no single bank robber of my acquaintance has ever given up the
voluntarily. Surely SOMEONE would have done so, in all these years, if
way could be made to work, don't you think?"

  If a private citizen told you this, you would doubtless judge him an
incurable sociopath, and hope to see him shot down or caged before he
terrorize and kill too many more innocent bank tellers and patrons. But
when a group of men who call themselves "the government" say this same
thing, you tell me they're being sensible and prudent.

  Others -- whether singly or in organized groups -- can volunteer to do
things which benefit me, without my permission. Presumably, they figured
the benefits to them would justify their proceeding, even without my
agreeing to help them.

  They have (start ital)no(end ital) moral right to then turn around and
bill me for a share of a thing they have done without seeking my
help and permission in advance (what would be the proper charge for my
taking aesthetic pleasure in someone else's architecturally pleasing
building, I wonder?) under the theory: "You benefited, so you have to

  They can only extract such a non-voluntary payment from me by force or
the threat of force ... which is theft.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at vin at The
site for the Suprynowicz column is at


Vin Suprynowicz,   vin at

"A well-regulated population being necessary to the security of a police
state, the right of the Government to keep and destroy arms shall
not be infringed."

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