the voluntary state
A New Political Concept

MANY people are persuaded that the purpose of the vote is to get from the government as much as  they  can  for  themselves.

To the contrary, it will be proposed here that  the  purpose  of  the  vote  should  be  to  decide  how  much  they  are  willing  to  give  the  government  for  its  services.

We have here the difference between getting and giving. These are two opposing views of the purpose  of  the  vote; it  cannot  be  both  ways.

It is little wonder that many people see the vote  as   the   instrument   for   getting   something  for  themselves,  because  those  in  control  of  the government have always used their power in  their  own  interests.

In  the  past,  voting  has,  supposedly,  been  a process to enable the voter to say what he wanted the  government  to  do  by  means  of  electing  those  who  promised  to  deliver  what  he  wanted.

But when the election was over, those elected (those left in control) delivered, not what the voter wanted,  but  whatever  would  enable  them  to  remain  in  power. 

This system of voting for someone because of  his  promises  leaves  man  helpless,  as  he  has been through all the turmoil of      history.  Even to this day his rulers make war, and confiscate what  he  has  toiled  for  through  taxes  and inflation.  Yet there always was, and still is, a longing for man to be what has been called free, which could be translated as a longing to determine  his  own  life.

Is this a goal led by man’s belief that God intends his life on earth to be good?  Or is this only a pipe dream?  Have all these thousands of years, with their many efforts toward self-government, been just a charade?  Is man incapable of self-government? 

If  we  truly  believe  man  capable  of  self-government, then we shall obviously have to give him the ultimate power to control government  _  the  taxing  power.

All  arrangements  such  as  voters  being represented by an elected legislator, who supposedly  is  better  prepared  than  the  voter  to  make  the  important  decisions,  are,  at  base, denials  of man’s  ability  (or,  worse,  his  right)  to  control  his  government  according  to  his  own  judgment.

The representative process lends the power of the vote to someone other than the voters,  so that we run smack into Lord Acton’s  immortal  dictum  that  power  tends  to  corrupt  _  and the dictum is especially applicable to delegated  power.

Power which is delegated is misplaced power,  and  as  such  is  more  dangerous  than  that      same       power       left       in       the      hands       of       the   voter,   however   lacking   he   may   be   in   the   fine  points  of  policy  questions.

There are two most important things of which the voter is sure.  He doesn’t want war, and he  doesn’t  want  his  taxes  raised.  All  else is insignificant in the way it affects his life, and gives no  support  to  the  argument  that  the representative  has  superior  knowledge  which  he  will  use  to  the  benefit  of  all.  

To the contrary, history gives us evidence that the  way  the representative  handles  the  power  he  has  been  lent  tends  to  serve  his  own  vested interests, or those of others with whom  he wants     to     curry     favor.

This historical evidence leads to the conclusion    that     we    need    to    abandon    the   belief  that  man’s  rights  should  be  delegated  to  representatives.

The Voluntary State is intended to do the reverse, which is to represent, faithfully, the combined  free  wills  of  the  voters.

Any  purposes  outside  the  purposes  of     the  voters  would  almost  certainly  represent interests   which   lie   outside   the   sovereignty   of  the  government  of  the  voters.   They  would   be   extra-sovereign   ends.

Extra-sovereign  activities  are  invitations  to  both  foreign  wars  and  increased  taxes,  as  the  twentieth  century  so  well  illustrates. 

The voters, by themselves, through the operation    of      The    Voluntary     State,     could   defeat  those  who  cooperate  with  foreign  interests  intent   on   exploiting   their  country.

The purpose of  The Voluntary State is to limit  government  to  self-government,  which  is  the  highest  end  of  all,  for  all  people.

Thus, there seems to be no substance to the argument  that  the  representative  system  is better, when it is examined.   The voter is subject to  corruption  only  if  he  is  offered  advantages for his vote _ almost always money from the pockets of others _ a contingency which is eliminated under a  system  which  cannot  forcibly  take  from  one  voter  to  give  to  another  for  his  vote.   Voluntary  taxation  is  the  only  method  which  totally  eliminates  the  corruption  generated  by  forced  taxation.

There is a large body of literature about freedom.  And yet nowhere is the enthusiasm for freedom carried through to its logical conclusion.  Man is given credit for the ideal and the right to self-government, but never the means to it.  When he  gets  control  of  the  tax  money  he  will  finally   have   the   means.

If no one can offer money and no one can receive money through the government, there is nothing  with  which  to  corrupt  anyone.  Government will get its revenues directly from those  who  have  always  provided  them  anyway,  but  in  the  sums  and  for  the  purposes  for  which  the  providers  are  willing  to  pay.

Here at last is the proper answer to the question,  “What  should  government  do?”

In the long run, government can exact no more than the populace will bear.  Otherwise,  it breeds revolution.  Here is the simple answer to how much, and what kind of, government the populace wants _ what it is ready and willing  to  pay  for.

Let us, now, look clearly at the cynicism which  says  that  people  will  not  voluntarily pay  taxes.  

Such  a  shallow  reaction  as  cynicism,  to  a    proposal    concerning    the    potential    of    man,   is not in  proportion  to  the  size  of  the  problem  we  are  considering.

If we see that the very idea of self-government is losing credibility because  we  have  not  found  the  answer  to  the  great problem involved, it ill behooves us to say that man is not worthy, when he has never been given the  authority  to  test  his  potential.  We  have lacked the vision to see  that  man  may  be  more  worthy  than  we  yet  know.  Why  not  look  at  this  possibility?

While  proudly  proclaiming  our  belief  in self-government,  we  have  consistently  put  the  power  of  government  in  the  hands  of  those  whom  we  consider  more  able.  We cannot continue  to  have  it  both  ways,  because  the  resulting  corruption  has  become  intolerable. 

We  are  facing  a  yes-or-no  answer  to  the  question whether man is or is not capable of self-government.   We  must  face  the  depth  of  the  problem  that  is  involved.

If   man,   indeed,   needs   someone   to   make  his  important  decisions  for  him,  and  we  are,  in  the  long  run,  sure  he  cannot  do  so  for  himself,  then  it  is  simple  logic  to  conclude  that  we   should   quit   pretending   that   self-government  is  possible.   For  what  is  self-government  but  an  arrangement  in  which  men  do,  in  fact,  operate  without  direction  from  others  in  power  over  them?

But if we retain, within the self-governing concept,  the  necessity  of  representatives  who make  the  policy  decisions  for  men,  then  we  have  dragged  into  the  self-governing  idea  the  necessity  of  the  power  of  some  over  others.    It  is,  then,  not  self-government.

We have never had true self-government.  The   policy  decisions  of  government  always  involve money _ for what purpose and how much.  That  man  is  incapable  of  allocating  the   money   he   has   in   common   with   others   makes no sense, in view of his  obvious  ability  to  handle  all  other  financial  aspects  of  his  life,  including  the  care  of  his  family  and  his  community. 

That the ordinary man cannot understand political problems _ those that need to be solved   through   government   action  _  defies  common  sense.    This  would  appear  obvious  when  his  choice  under  our  present  custom  is  twice  as hard.  Now, he must first consider which candidate  seems  to  offer  the  policy  that  is  nearest  to  his own.  Then  he  must  appraise  the  character  of  the  representative  for  whom  he  votes,  and  guess  whether,  under  duress,  the  representative  would  keep his word _ because most politicians do not keep their promises even when clearly   committed  to  do  so.   How  simple  it  would  be  if  the  voter  had  only  to  choose  the  policy  he  wanted.



Chapter 4