Principles Meet Practicality

Last weekend, I spent my Saturday in a small public works meeting room with 30 other newly elected officials from around my state, being educated on the fundamentals of municipal legislation.

The attorney leading the workshop, made the statement that in addition to all the powers of other corporations, incorporated cities weld the additional powers of:

*  Taxes
*  Eminent domain
*  Police power

This was a clarifying moment for me.

First Principles

I hold as a first principle that aggression should be reserved only to defend from, or remediate damage caused by, other’s aggressive actions.  This is my understanding of the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP).  As such, I would take exercising any of these three ‘powers’ very seriously.

So when would I see use of these powers as legitimate?

Only to defend against, or remediate damage caused by aggressors.  By ‘damage’, I mean verifiable physical harm, financial loss, or quantifiable harm to property and/or the shared ecosystem.  I believe to exercise these powers without the existence of real damage to citizens, is to exercise aggression without cause.

When Principles Meet Practicality

For me, this is an easy belief system to hold in regards to eminent domain and police power.  Unless damages are created by living one’s will, neither property nor personal freedom should be threatened.

Taxes are where holding the NAP and the realities of legislation get blurry.  A purest libertarian stance would be to disband all government.  This is exactly why, in spite of many libertarian principles like the NAP being aligned with my own, I don’t see the Libertarian Party providing any real value to guide people who are actually trying to govern.

Taxes have been the reality for millennia and libertarians in practicality have failed to address the necessity of ‘public good’.  The ‘free market’ concept is as nebulous as the ‘public good’ concept, so it cannot provide meaningful guidance.

Libertarians argue any sacrifices that need to be made by the individual for the public good of the group, must be voluntary.  I don’t know if that is viable stance or not.  It seems to me that reasonable values to hold, as I wade through the blurriness are:

*  Defining ‘public good’ should be restricted to the people that are directly impacted (local vs. regional vs. federal locus of determination)

*  Tax burden for citizens should not increase, without the consent of the people who are being taxed (IS the implied consent of a representative democracy enough)

These are the types of discussion I think we should be having as a society.  I would love to hear your insights on this.

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