You are walking down the street, and out from behind some
bushes a mugger (Sam Slime) jumps out and threatens your life. He
demands, “Your money or your life!” You give him your last $50 in
your wallet or purse. As Sam the mugger runs away, he turns the
corner where a policeman crosses his path. You scream, “Stop that
thief! He stole my money!” The policeman captures Sam the mugger.
He is charged with stealing, convicted at trial, and sentenced to
prison for his violent crime. Sam, our local mugger, is clearly
recognized as a criminal and you are his victim.
Now suppose that same mugger changes tactics. Sam now votes
for a politician who promises to raise your taxes $50 to transfer
it to the “disadvantaged” Sam Slime. Because he claims to be
disadvantaged and in “need,” both Sam and his political candidate
claim he has an entitlement to the transfer of your income. Once
elected, the politician introduces and passes legislation raising
your taxes $50 to give to his loyal supporter, voter Sam Slime.
You protest by refusing to pay the new $50 in taxes. The Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) declares you a criminal. You resist Sam
Slime’s “mugging” of you through the political process. The police
eventually come and round up you for tax evasion. Now you are the
criminal that goes to jail, and Sam Slime is your victim!
Questions For Your Paper
Where does the commonality between these two situations break
down, or, on the other hand, is there any difference? Is stealing
through the political process any less morally reprehensible than
stealing done individually? Finally, does regular political expropriation of another individual’s income differ from slavery?
Defend your answer using economic theory and ethical philosophy.