Roy and Hal, I can’t help but wade into your discussion a bit, particularly given my role in starting the thread.

I just can’t go along with the notion that all taxes, all governmental claims on citizens’ income, are violations of their rights. That feels exceedingly un-Lockean. While not embracing Thomas Hobbes? expansive notion that all free individuals, upon entering into the social contract, give up all rights and yield to the power of the sovereign, Locke did believe that the (hypothetical) formation of the social contract, and thus a government, required individuals to give up certain rights preexisting in the state of nature. He was articulating what others came to define as the distinction between alienable rights and inalienable rights.

Alienable rights include the right to use force to settle disputes and the right not to be coerced by others at all, for any reason. By entering the social contract, one grants a role for government in monopolizing the first use of physical force and in standardizing the adjudicating of disputes via government courts. Both of these functions necessarily require some kind of taxation to fund, so it would be incoherent to argue that states should exist and perform functions but that they have no proper legal claim to revenue from their citizens.

Of course, in Locke?s view people retain many rights that cannot be alienated from what it means to be human, even within the social contract. These include(but are not limited to, nod to Randy) the right to preserve one’s life, to exercise one’s liberty, and, yes, to pursue economic opportunity and own property.

How can the latter be consistent with a legal governmental claim on one?s income? The matter will never be pristine. Reality is messy, and so is this. But the consistency comes from what government does with the money: if it is not fulfilling a legitimate function, not carrying out an enumerated power, then it is violating our rights to liberty and property by confiscating the money. Practically speaking, such a limitation on the taxing power can be defined and maintained only by the citizenry, acting through the electoral and constitutional-approval process, and by committed public servants, lawmakers and judges, who carry out the original intent and plain meaning of our founding documents and principles.