"The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." ~ Thomas Jefferson
An Open Letter to Voters: Please Don't
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There has recently been much applause for Ron Paul and the prospect of his election as President of the United States. I respect Ron Paul greatly as a person, as he is a very humble and sincere individual. I cannot in good conscience vote for him, or any other political candidate.
Why would I not vote for a man who would diligently work to reduce taxes, bring American imperial soldiers home from sovereign countries overseas, and in all other ways work to decrease the size of the government? I will not vote for Ron Paul or any political candidate because I am a libertarian, and thus, a believer in the principle of non-aggression. A politician is someone who performs his work and implements his policies at the expense of innocent individuals who are coerced, through force or threat thereof, to surrender their property in exchange for services that they either do not need or want, or which can be supplied in a voluntary manner by the free market. I will not vicariously rob my neighbor by voting to continue a coercive entity by which everyone is victimized. I refuse to participate in selecting the person who will rob my neighbor in order to supply my needs or wants. Ron Paul will necessarily and ultimately rely on violence or the threat thereof to implement his policies, the same as every other politician does.
Voting is ultimately the act by which one chooses how to use another person's property, usually against his will. To deprive others of their property is an evil, and everyone who votes participates in this evil. In the study of ethics, there are two kinds of participation in evil: formal and material cooperation. Formal cooperation is a deliberate choice to support an evil end. For example: If you vote for a candidate because he supports torture, you are a formal cooperant in electing a man who supports torture. A vote for him means that you ideologically support torture. Material cooperation in an evil is performing an action that makes the evil possible, even if the cooperant does not approve of the evil act itself. For example, if you vote for the candidate not because he supports torture, but because the other candidates support torture and eugenics. You are a material cooperant in torture, because you helped elect a man who supports torture. Your vote in fact enables the act of torture, though it may not have been done for that reason. One may never be a formal cooperant in an evil, but one may sometimes be a material cooperant in an evil, if the evil is remote enough, as is discussed below.
In addition to the difference between formal and material cooperation in an act, (good or evil) there is, for the actor, a difference in the proximity in the material cooperation with the act. For example, the man who mines the copper that is used to manufacture the round of ammunition that is ultimately used to shoot innocent people is far more removed from the act of slaughtering innocents than the man who is actively reloading magazines for someone who he sees is gunning down innocents. The responsibility of the miner for the killer's action is negligible compared to the responsibility of the man who supplies ammunition to the man who is actively killing innocents.
To pay taxes is remote material cooperation in the core evil aspect of government: robbing others of their property. Atrocious deeds (including taxation itself) are being performed by means of taxation, even if you do not personally approve of any of these acts. Ultimately, if you pay taxes to keep the government from coming to your door and imprisoning/killing you, you are a material cooperant in these evils. If you pay taxes while approving of the acts being done with that money, you are a formal cooperant in the evils being done. To deliberately select an individual who deprives other people of their money to accomplish an end is a formal cooperation in the act of depriving other people of their money. One can morally pay taxes to someone who is holding a gun to one's head. One may not morally choose someone to put a gun to the heads of others.
In any act of moral value, there is always an end and a means. The end is that thing which you intend by your action. For example, I may choose to give a sandwich to a homeless man. The ends of my action may be many: to satisfy the hunger of the homeless man, to boost my own pathetic ego, or it can be done with the end of desiring that your act of kindness inspires him to share what he has. The means to any of these ends is to give a sandwich to the homeless man. In this case, the means are intrinsically good, or at least morally neutral. If you act for an end, you are also choosing the means by which it is done, by the very act of consenting to it. When you act for an end, your means must be at least as moral as the end, or else one would be performing a morally evil act to accomplish a good end, which is a contradiction of morality. For example, I may not punch a peaceful restaurant patron in order to take his sandwich and give it to a homeless man. Likewise, if a sadistic tyrant told a man that unless he bayoneted a baby, he would destroy a city of thousands of innocents, the man may not morally bayonet the baby. It does not matter that the man who bayonets the baby would intend this intrinsically immoral act of murder as a means to the desired end: saving the city. In the study of ethics, the idea that the end can justify the means is known as proportionalism, a morally and logically untenable theory that must ultimately end in moral relativism: the idea that any action whatsoever can be 'good,' if only you can find some way to rationalize it.
Like the man who bayonets a baby to save a city, when a man votes, he necessarily approves of the means used to obtain his end. The means of attaining any political end in a tax-based government is the coercion of tax dollars from innocents: an act of aggression. Quite simply, if you vote, you de facto support the infliction of violence upon your neighbors, because you support at least some tax-funded activities.
Somebody is going to get elected anyway: why shouldn't it be Ron Paul? Certainly, someone will be elected President. It may be the candidate who will inflict the most damage, through taxation and other means, on the individuals who live in these United States . It may be the candidate who will inflict the least amount of damage. I ask, however: Even if you knew that one of five nuclear weapons of varying warhead yields was going to be dropped on innocent civilians, would you participate in the process of selecting which one would be used to slaughter innocent people? Would you pull the lever that released the least-damaging bomb? Speaking only for myself, I could not, in good conscience, deliberately choose to harm non-aggressors. I would refuse to participate in such a foul and odious 'choice.' No one has the moral right to deliberately choose any moral evil, even if there exists a choice between a lesser or greater evil. If you are a religious person, you must realize that there is a contradiction in doing evil to achieve a good. St. Paul crushes any doubt of this in Romans 3:8: 'Why not say'as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say'"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.'
Any tax-funded government is, by its very nature, fueled with violence. It forces innocent people to surrender their property in return for goods and services, most of which are altogether unnecessary. Invariably, the services that are necessary are of a very poor quality, compared with what might be available in the free market. Whatever services are truly necessary can always be supplied in a moral, voluntary manner. It is, however, entirely unreasonable to provide for the continuance of a coercive system that invariably causes more destruction than it ever prevents.
If Ron Paul, however well-meaning he is, were to ever succeed in ensuring that the Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of the federal government only functioned within the confines of the Constitution of the United States , he would still be unable cure the destructive nature of taxational government. Every government appropriates more power for itself, and then destroys property and lives. Ron Paul would only delay the worst symptoms of these certainties for a time, but at what cost, both in money and innocent lives?
As Joshua Katz wrote in his excellent government/tiger analogy on LewRockwell.com, growth is natural to every taxation-based government. He compares a government to a tiger: It can accomplish some things its handlers want, but it continues to grow, eventually killing its handlers. I believe Mr. Katz's argument goes wrong, however, when he says that it is not the fault of the Founding Fathers that the tiger has gotten so big. It is the fault of the Founding Fathers. They drafted a Constitution with ends specifically provided for by the means of taxation: the 'food' of coercive government. If you adopt a tiger when it is a cub, you must feed it. Otherwise, it starves to death. You cannot possess a tiger as a perpetual cub. A small government, like a small tiger, is a cute idea. The ideal of a small, controllable government is quickly dashed by the perennial historical fact that no taxation-based government has ever remained small, and in the blink of an eye, governments, like tigers, get too big for their handlers to control. A written constitution is a cage intended to keep the tiger of government contained. Common sense dictates that you cannot keep a tiger in a parchment and ink cage. It is ludicrous to believe otherwise.
Part of what makes the tiger so dangerous is that it is so charming an animal. It convinces people that they need not fear the danger that temporarily lies sheathed under its lips and in its toes: tools it promises will only be used for the protection of those who feed it. To assure its continued food supply, the tiger promises it will keep a close eye on itself to make sure it does no evil. If, for a time, the tiger refrains from slaughtering too many constituents of its food supply chain, and continually assures them it will do no evil, the majority of people begin to believe that anything the tiger does is good. Alas, history shows that when it is big enough to not fear anyone, the tiger will invariably tear out of its parchment and ink cage. Then, those who fed the tiger, willingly or not, will die by its teeth and claws. The tiger feasts on your lifeblood and that of your neighbors. Don't elect anyone who will continue feed the tiger: It is an act of aggression. If you believe that you have any right to take and use your neighbor's money, then go take it from him by violence or threat of violence yourself. Don't be a coward by voting for another man to do the same thing by proxy
 Cf. St. Thomas, in In Duo Praecepta Caritatis et in Decem Legis Praecepta. De Dilectione Dei: Opuscula Theologica, II, No. 1168, Ed. Taurinen. (1954), 250.
New International Version.