Thousands of Americans chose not to pay their federal income tax this year as a political statement, many because they don’t want their money supporting the U.S. military. [Associated Press, 4/16/03]
I would gladly concede to war protesters the right to withhold their taxes from government action they oppose–if they would accord me the same right. Social security? Public education? Save the spotted owl? Not in my name. Here’s my version of a “statement of conscience“:
The signers of this statement call on Americans to reject the political and philosophical ideas that have emerged since the late eighteenth century, and that pose grave dangers to all. These ideas are altruism, collectivism, and socialism. We call for a return to the original American philosophy of self-interest, individualism, and capitalism–and to their source, reason.
We believe that each individual has the right to determine his own destiny, free from coercion by any person, group, tribe, race, community, or government. With the American founders, we believe that each individual has a right to his own life, his liberty, his property and the pursuit of his own happiness, and that the sole legitimate purpose of government is to protect those rights. We reject the idea that service to others is the purpose of human existence, and deny that anyone has a right to be provided with something simply because he needs it.
No “social contract” can authorize the government to treat citizens as its property; a contract to enslave is void. The power of government is the power to coerce. Those who, armed with that power, believe in advancing their goals by using people have no right to complain when they are so used.
We believe that free men must take responsibility for what their governments do. Thus we call on all Americans to resist the welfare state in all its manifestations. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate.
Each of us who signs this statement calls on every American to join in this affirmation: My life belongs to me, and not to anyone else or to the community as a whole. It is my responsibility and no one else’s.
Too many times in history people have waited until it was too late to resist. Too many leaders the world over have claimed the right to enact their programs at the expense of unwilling victims, with millions of corpses as the inevitable result. Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for us. We will not give up our right to our lives. We will not willingly hand over our property in return for hollow promises of social utopias. We each say NOT IN MY NAME. We refuse to provide any voluntary support for these programs–from public education to Social Security, and everything in between–and we repudiate any inference that they have been enacted in our name or for our welfare.
Let the world hear our pledge: We will resist the machinery of altruist collectivism and rally others to do everything possible to stop it.