Do taxes rob people of their free agency and subvert the Great Plan of Happiness?
Some quotes from members around the web:
“[Forcing] me to pay for the upkeep of another is simply the application of Satan’s plan here on earth.” (Comment from post on The Life I am Choosing…)
“Socialist policies and governments just result in greater economic extremes, i.e. greater poverty. More serious than that however, is the reduction of personal freedom and liberty… The Great Plan of Happiness is founded upon LIBERTY. Free Agency is the Lord’s plan, bondage (to any degree) is Satan’s.” (Comment from post on Welcome To My Soapbox)
“Capitalism… is the only economic model under which true charity may be performed. Any other method of government that compels its citizens to give up a portion of their money is practicing a false altruism that puts us on a slippery slope to absolute communism. Force should be shunned at all times, but especially when used as a method of supposedly helping those in need.” (Connor Boyack)
These beliefs seem to be quite common in the bloggernacle, and they often incite all kinds of vitriol. Simply put, many LDS people (don’t even get me started on Glenn Beck) are convinced that taxes used for helping the poor & needy take away our most valuable gift from God, our agency.
Elder Oaks asserted that while many laws and taxes necessarily restrict our freedoms to some extent, they can never take away our agency. Sorry about the length, it’s just really good:
The science of government is a consideration of the procedures by which and the extent to which the official representatives of one group of citizens can impose restrictions on the freedom of another group. Decisions on the extent to which government power should restrict the freedom of individuals are among the most difficult decisions we face in an organized society… How many taxes should we extract, and what compulsory functions should government perform with them? … These are all questions of freedom.
We have to accept some government limitations on freedom if we who live in communities are to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A condition of uninhibited individual freedom would allow the strong to oppress the weak. It would allow the eccentric desires of one person to restrict the freedom of many. Interferences with our freedom do not deprive us of our free agency. When Pharaoh put Joseph in prison, he restricted Joseph’s freedom, but he did not take away his free agency…
The Lord… established the Constitution of the United States to assure “that every man may act… according to the moral agency which I have given unto him” (D&C 101:78). In other words, God established our Constitution to give us the vital political freedom necessary for us to act upon our personal choices in civil government. This revelation shows the distinction between agency (the power of choice), which is God-given, and freedom, the right to act upon our choices, which is protected by the Constitution and laws of the land.
Freedom is obviously of great importance, but as these examples illustrate, freedom is always qualified in mortality. Consequently, when we oppose a government-imposed loss of freedom, it would be better if we did not conduct our debate in terms of a loss of our free agency, which is impossible under our doctrine. We ought to focus on the legality or the wisdom of the proposed restriction of our freedom.
For those of you who think socialized medicine is the plan of the devil because it takes away our agency, Dallin H. Oaks, apparently, does not agree with you.
What do you think? Do taxes that are used for social purposes or individual welfare restrict our God-given agency? Is capitalism the only system under which “true charity” can be performed? Or should we vote to restrict some of our ‘freedom of the pocketbook’ for the benefit of others?