Monday, April 23, 2012

Government is Theftish

Hardcore anarcho-capitalist libertarians will tell you that all government is theft.  They are wrong of course but they kind of make a good point.  Government is not necessarily theft but it is necessarily theftish

What does "theftish" mean?  A theftish act is one that is very similar to the immoral act of theft.  For example, "stealing" food if you are starving is theftish, but because of the universal destination of goods it is not theft.  A starving person who takes food without paying for it is not stealing but claiming that which becomes his property by virtue of necessity.  Such an act, while not immoral, is very similar to an immoral act and must only be done in truly dire circumstances so as to avoid committing actual theft.

Similarly, government is theftish, because while it is not necessarily immoral, it does run on property taken from someone else.  Because it uses money taken from others, certain government actions can easily cross the line between theftishness and theft. Government spending that is completely removed from any benefit to the public is obviously theft.  For example, a government sponsored modern art exhibit is not only unsightly, it is immoral, because it is stupid and of no use to anyone.  However, even a good and noble government act, such as the commissioning of a postage stamp with my face on it, is theftish and must be considered very carefully before it is done.  The government cannot simply spend money on whatever it wants, but must remain strictly within its proper role, lest it commit theft.


  1. To build on this, when it comes to the Federal government, it is those things specificly assigned to it by the Constitution that are its proper role, beyond that any moneys taken (like the bad art example) are theft as you point out.
    As for the postage stamp with your face, unless you are a dead president, the federal government would have to wait until you were dead 10 years 1st. & then it would probably decide to do so based on how well it would sell to collectors. & since that is the primary aim these days, selling to collectors, not those who wuld use them, I guess theftish might apply.
    Meanwhile, through some private companies, the US allows you to print stamps that you pay for through the company, with your picture on it (or your dog, etc).

    1. You are exactly right about the constitutionally enumerated powers, which means that in addition to being simply unconstitutional, much of the federal government constitutes theft.

      You just taught me way more than I ever previously knew about stamps.

    2. Glad to be of service when it comes to enlightening you on stamps. Bluntly, I used to collect stamps, until the USPS turned it into a means of making money for pure profit, not mainly providing postage stamps for use. The US Mint has started down that same theftish path.

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  3. Mr. Button, I propose a third sort of government spending, which I call "lootishness". Lootish spending
    is theft, with the added dimension of being done by a political party that uses the spending to line its
    own pockets and perpetuate its lootish reign.

    An example of lootish spending would be this administration's Solyndra scandal. As you are probably
    aware, this administration awarded $500 million of taxpayer dollars to the Solyndra company, claiming
    it as an effort to stimulate 'green' businesses. This was done even though the company had yet to
    manufacture a single thing, and in spite of the objections of the GAO, which had pointed out that the
    company was troubled financially. Solyndra quickly filed for bankruptcy, but not before its executives
    both awarded themselves robust bonuses and bundled large donations to the administration's party.
    The $500 million is of course gone forever.

    A libertarian can object to government theft. A fiscal conservative will object to government
    theftishness. Any decent person, regardless of political affiliation, should be infuriated and out-
    raged by lootishness.

    1. Well put! Things like Solyndra are many times worse than modern art exhibits.

    2. "Lootishness" another huge problem!!!!!Solyndra is an excellent example.