[Excerpted from An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, vol. 1, Economic Thought Before Adam Smith (1995). An MP3 audio file of this
Statists are anti-progress. Statists claim their policies are for the common good. For some this claim is just a front to get more power, but for others it is a genuine goal. Nevertheless, even the most well-intentioned statists, who believe that granting government the power to control individual actions will result in a better outcome, violate rights and cause harm.
Perhaps the most valid justification of government is its defense of citizens against foreign aggressors. But when governments wage war, a thin line separates defense and offense. And even in a defensive war, governments typically deprive their own citizens of many liberties. Historically, war has done more than anything else to enhance the power of governments and to diminish the liberties of the people. Classical liberals have always recognized the dangers of war and supported policies, such as free international trade, that reduce the likelihood of war.
I have already said and illustrated this numerous times in previous articles, but I will say it once again: Taxation is theft, period. To continue this theme, I’d like to show what a few of my favorite laissez-faire economists had to say about the evils of taxation.
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