(I was not allowed to respond in the paper, due to a policy of letting the readers have the last word, so I am posting this here instead. My original column is here, and the letter I am responding to is here.)
I was quite excited to see the response by Karl D. Spence to my most recent column. I was slightly disappointed, however, to find he missed my point. Perhaps it gives me an opportunity to clarify some things.
My stance is not so much "anti-government" as it is pro-liberty. Other individuals and groups of individuals can threaten liberty just as much as The State, but those other threats are not usually protected from the consequences of their actions by quite as large a gang, and are not protected by the illusion of legitimacy that has been draped around The State and its actions. However, if someone considers it "anti-government" to be pro-liberty, I will wear that label with honor.
I'd like to address the main points in the letter. Is the city actually keeping the hotel "from continued deterioration" or does it continue to deteriorate? Why is there "no other entity" that could do the same (does it have anything to do with any of the consequences of government action I mentioned?), and why, if it is true that the city has both kept the hotel from continued deterioration AND that no one but the city could have done so, is that goal more important than keeping government out of the real estate business and from using stolen money?
But, I see Mr. Spence has an issue with me calling a spade a spade. Taxation IS theft. Anytime property, such as money, is taken from its owner when that owner would prefer to keep it for his own use, it is theft. If you trade the hours of your life for money, you own that money just as surely as you owned the hours you traded for it. Once they are gone they can never be regained. If the owners of that money did not prefer to keep their own property there would be no need to threaten or penalize people in order to get them to pay "taxes". An act doesn't change its nature simply because the perpetrator has a badge or a government job.
If taxes must be taken to pay for something, it is not necessary. There is no good reason roads must be government-owned. Do you think you use roads "for free" now? You don't. Parks suffer from "the tragedy of the commons". (Have you not been to a city park recently? I have.) Cities which have eliminated traffic lights and all other traffic signals have seen a dramatic reduction in accidents and an increase in courteous driving. What is the benefit in not following suit? I don't need police patrols, and neither do you. It is your responsibility to watch out for yourself (and those around you if you see them being harmed). You can no more delegate that responsibility to anyone else than you can delegate another to eat, drink, or reproduce for you. Fire protection can be, and frequently has been, provided by independent fire departments which use member fees or donations for financing. I have written extensively on such excuses for keeping government around. Government, once again, is completely unnecessary.
Yes, I'm sure cities are happy to get the federal handouts, but receiving stolen property, when you know it is stolen, is just as wrong as doing the stealing yourself. Where does that "federal grant money" come from? Some comes from Clovis residents and some comes from people who have never heard of Clovis. Do you think Clovis gets more than was taken from its residents, or less? Does that make a difference in how you view it? Just because a thief promises to only use the money he takes from you to feed widows and orphans (after keeping a percentage for "expenses", of course) does not excuse or justify his act.
Like Mr. Spence, I also hope a productive use can be found for Hotel Clovis, but "productive" necessarily means without government intervention.
Update: I got a comment on that letter that can be found here and which I wanted to reply to. The main points are that my "ramblings" here make no sense, and that taxation can't be theft because no governments could exist without it, and the world couldn't function without taxation.
For some reason the site is not allowing me to comment, so until I can add the comment there, I'll post it here.
The thieves have convinced a majority of people to believe otherwise, but taxation is still theft.
As for the restaurant analogy, there is no comparison. Are you forced to eat at the restaurant? Are you required to eat at any restaurant and not allowed to prepare your own food instead? If you choose to eat at the restaurant are you not allowed to eat only what you can afford? Are you required to pay for other people's meals too? Restaurants must compete for your business and if you would rather not do business with them they don't send armed thugs to your house to make you pay up anyway.
Why do you believe governments ("city, state or country") are necessary? Rules based upon not harming the innocent are good, but these don't come from government, and all governments violate these foundational rules by their very existence.
Instead of taking money from people, let people pay for the services they want, from the provider they prefer. End the monopoly that is government.