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should the government charge for citizenship?

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No. What you are describing is basically anarchism. Government no longer has a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. What if I reject your citizenship fee and decide to offer people $450 for my citizenship to get my protective services? What happens then when someone under your protection services jurisdiction is accused of committing a crime against someone under my protective jurisdiction? Now we have polystatism.

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Government has a legitimate interest in extending police protection to everyone. Creating a class of people who criminals don't have to fear victimizing encourages criminality and, more importantly, is against the basic principles of justice.

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It would make perfect sense to only allow those who contribute and are not criminals to be citizens (who have voting privileges), but that does not have anything to do with what the government does: protect everyone's rights equally.

Even in today's society, voting is indeed a privilege, and the rights of non-voters are also protected. (children, visitors, felons) There's nothing wrong with extending that, as far as I can see, by having people actually earn the privilege by contributing to the government a minimum necessary amount. (as long as no other discrimination is allowed).

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As a form of voluntary taxation, suppose the government charged $500 annually for citizenship. Citizenship would be voluntary,

That much I agree with in principle...

but non-citizens aren't eligible for police and judicial protection.

... but this I don't.

What the difference should be is that the payers get to vote, the non-payers don't, and that's it. I think those who don't contribute money have no right to a say in how to spend the money that is contributed. The non-payers would still get full protection of their rights, including the right to have their grievances against executive authorities investigated by the legislative representatives of what constituency they're in.

The proper way of "enforcing" it would not be via government, but by individuals being free to discriminate against those who choose not to pay up. Having it as a private matter means that individuals would make their own judgements of why others don't pay, and then make an objective decision accordingly - it would be rational to give free-riders the flick, for instance, while not being unfairly rude to those who are genuinely cash-strapped. Thus government itself would not have to be in the business of judging people's motives and would only concern itself with individuals in this regard in terms of eligibility to enter the election booths.

This would be the only form of taxation.

What you're referring to is known in many countries as a "poll tax." If the sole difference were one of voting then I disagree with calling it a 'tax' at all. If access to government services were on the line, then it is not only a tax for real but also a rather pernicious one since that in principle is denying justice to the poor for being the poor.

JJM

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No. What you are describing is basically anarchism. Government no longer has a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. What if I reject your citizenship fee and decide to offer people $450 for my citizenship to get my protective services? What happens then when someone under your protection services jurisdiction is accused of committing a crime against someone under my protective jurisdiction? Now we have polystatism.

The question is, what would being a citizen mean? If citizenship is the privilege of getting your rights protected by a government, it would not be proper to sell citizenship. If citizenship is supporting government that you think is good, then it would be fine to sell citizenship.

If you offer $450 for your protection services, that doesn't automatically mean everyone will then want it. Like any product, lower price doesn't mean better quality. It's simply one more reason to buy that product. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by polystatism, I think it would be more like a declaration of war.

Edited by Eiuol
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"should the government charge for citizenship?"

No - they have no right to do that. They offer a service, they can only charge for the service they provide and do their job - to protect the people who pay them from internal and external threats.

They should screen out people who pose a threat to the public (criminals, terrorists, etc'), but they have no right charging people just for staying on that land. The only argument that could justify it is that they increase the value of the land by providing protection - but even then the argument would be wrong. People can improve the value of things (like a person rebuilding the area outside his store nicely), it doesn't put other people under obligation to pay them up.

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The question is, what would being a citizen mean? If citizenship is the privilege of getting your rights protected by a government, it would not be proper to sell citizenship. If citizenship is supporting government that you think is good, then it would be fine to sell citizenship.

If you offer $450 for your protection services, that doesn't automatically mean everyone will then want it. Like any product, lower price doesn't mean better quality. It's simply one more reason to buy that product. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by polystatism, I think it would be more like a declaration of war.

The answer to that would mean anarchism because under the premise, the government no longer has a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. It is a business now, not a government. It has obliterated the fundamental differences between a private action and a public/government action. You can replace the word "citizen" with "customer" or "client."

I agree that it would be okay, in principle, to grant the special entitlement to vote, (granted by government and no other privilege) to funding donors as long as the government protects the rights of all, citizen and immigrant equally and maintains the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force within its jurisdiction.

And what I mean by polystatism is that you have multiple entities that control the use of force over certain properties in the same jurisdiction. It doesn't really matter if my $450 service is better or worse, or if someone else comes along and offers protection services to someone for $400, or $350. Now if a rights violation is committed it either means war, or the violation goes unresolved (likely the employees of the protection services would just walk off the job rather than being shot at unnecessarily.)

Either way, it is improper for a government to deny protection to people because they didn't donate voluntarily. This is basically a street gang that funds its business through extorting the "citizens" for protection "services."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Please treat the word "taxation" with the disdain it deserves. "Voluntary taxation" is a self-contradiction.

The protection of one's rights must not be contingent on any form of payment. Posters above have explained why.

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The protection of one's rights must not be contingent on any form of payment. Posters above have explained why.

Dr. Peikoff addresses this question in his podcast of March 23, 2009. Go to 09:32 to hear the question:

"If government requires payment for its services, would those who choose freely not to pay for government services not have their inalienable rights protected?"

In principle, he disagrees with your statement.

Edited by Trebor
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In principle, he [Peikoff] disagrees with your statement.

But since it'd be better for the sake of those who pay if everyone's rights are upheld, that will still be the policy. In practice I doubt there would be any problems for people to make the requisite payments. Production in laissez-faire is much higher, and with the amount of people who can stay alive on today's unfathomably high taxes, the single digit fee should be no problem.

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