What is Property? Property is not what one owns. Property is not one’s material and immaterial possessions.
Property is a Right to something. Property is not a thing, but a right to a thing.
The following language appears in the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, October 1774, and it clearly lists three Rights, and they are life, liberty, and property:
"That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following Rights: That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent."
Property is the right of absolute ownership and control over some thing. Property is the complete right to decide what to do with some thing within the limits of not infringing the rights of others to their persons.
One’s major and fundamental property is property in one’s person. Having property in one’s person implies having one’s liberty, which is the unimpeded control over one’s own choices. It implies that one decides how to live one’s life without being controlled by others. And it implies absolute control over one’s possessions, material and immaterial. Thus, the right to one’s person implies the three rights: life, liberty, and property.
The Declaration quoted above says that persons are entitled to these rights, and it implies that they only can be ceded by consent, which is by agreement.
Property in one’s person means absolute control over one’s person. This includes control over one’s Labor. Labor is the major source of income by far for most people and in most societies. If one has property in one’s person, then one owns one’s labor and the fruits of that labor, which is one’s labor income.
A person is analogous to an orchard. A person produces income just as the orchard bears fruit. The person is entitled to that income just as the owner of the orchard is entitled to the fruit. The orchard owner has the right to all the future harvests of fruit, and the person has the right to all the future labor income arising from his labor. The orchard owner has expended time and resources to create the fruit-bearing trees, and the person has expended time and resources to produce the skills needed to produce labor income.
What is a slave? A slave is a person whose right to his person is limited. He does not have property in his person. That right belongs to someone else, which is his or her owner. He does not control his person. He does not control his labor income. He is like an orchard that someone owns.
What is taxation? Taxation is a "charge against a citizen’s person or property or activity for the support of government."
When does taxation violate property? When does it infringe the right to dispose of one’s income freely? When does taxation make the taxpayer into a slave who no longer has the right to his labor income?
In the pre-Revolutionary days of 1750—1776, many colonists believed that Taxation without Representation violated their rights. If they provided their consent to their government to tax, then they ceded some control over their labor income to their government. This they deemed legitimate and no infringement on their property.
Many Americans still believe this, and they have a right to the government of their choice. But what of those who do not believe this? I, for one, believe that taxation even with representation violates my rights, because I have never consented or agreed to the system of majority rule or to the Constitution. How many Americans would voluntarily pay the taxes they are paying if they knew what all these taxes actually were and if they were given the choice to pay them or not?
All of those who are being made to pay taxes that they do not consent to are slaves. Their property in their persons is no longer absolute but instead limited. These Americans have a right to the government of their choice, as much as does the majority, for that right is implied by property in one’s person. If the majority is entitled to this right, so is the minority. Life, liberty, and property are not rights valid only for the winners of elections or votes in Congress.
There are a great many tax-slaves in America and throughout the world. There were 86 million eligible voters who did not vote for any candidate in the 2008 presidential election. There are possibly very large numbers of disaffected Americans in this group who are registering their discontent by not voting.
Many of us were not around when the income tax was made legal. We did not consent to it. But let us leave that aside and think about those persons who today do accept not only the income tax but all the other taxes that government collects. Many of those who voted for either Obama or McCain may be among those who do not consider themselves as tax-slaves. Many of these may be quite happy with paying taxes, for they may pay little or think they pay little compared to what they get from government. It is also possible that some of these do not know how large a share of their income goes to taxes and how much better off they would be without these taxes. And it is possible that some of these satisfied taxpayers have been domesticated like work horses and, having a dulled capacity to think, do not realize that they are tax-slaves.
Whatever the psychology of those who support government, they should have the government they want. Only they should not impose that government on those of us who don’t want it. We do not all have to be in the same government boat even if all of us continue to live on this continent. There is nothing sacred about the Union, the U.S.A., or the U.S. Constitution. It has not been written anywhere that we must be "one Nation, under God, indivisible." The parts about "one Nation" and "indivisible" do not appear anywhere in my Bible, which is the Holy Bible. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by one Francis Bellamy. It has been an annoyance to schoolchildren ever since. As taxes imposed on non-consenters violate rights, so is the Pledge of Allegiance an oath against property and the right to one’s person.
Will Obama free the slaves? Will he free all those Americans who wish to opt out from this government? Now that I’ve told you what this question means, I don’t have to answer it.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.