The right to property is not a construct of civilization, but rather an indisputable, indefeasible, divine right born of the natural law. It is based on the ownership by every person of his own body. This was explained by John Locke:

Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labor something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men. For this labor being the unquestionable property of the laborer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others. (Two Treatises of Government, 1689.)

The worst abuse of property rights is slavery. Slavery occurs when the fruits of a person’s labor are taken from him against his will. It makes no difference that the money pays for public services he has access to, or that the taxation laws were democratically passed. Freedom comes from spending your own money as you see fit, not as the government sees fit.

Nevertheless, the proper functions of government, such as the defense forces, law courts, police, etc., must be paid for. Thus taxation to pay for the proper functions of government is not a breach of property rights. It is only when the taxes are used for wealth redistribution and other schemes not properly within the remit of government that taxes amount to a violation. Thus it is the duty of every government to constantly reduce the level of taxes so that we steadily move, with the aid of technology, toward the ultimate goal of a virtually tax-free society.

The socialist belief that society has a better claim on the fruits of a person’s labor than the laborer can only be morally defended if the taxpayer is regarded as less than human. A socialist government tells its people, “We know better than you how to spend your money. If we let you keep your money, the general welfare would be worse off and that includes you.” This paternalistic argument ignores human dignity. Human dignity is more important than physical well-being. Which is just another way of saying the ends do not justify the means.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove