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But… who would build the roads?

Keith Farrell

            Are any taxes voluntary? Certainly not the income tax. Although Senator Harry Reid believes it is. No, almost all tax schemes eventually involve some form of coercion. As Mao Zedong said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and there’s nothing that gives a government more power than the laying and collection of taxes. But is there a way to collect taxes for public works without doing violence?


Every libertarian has heard the question:  If not for coercive taxation, how would society ever maintain infrastructure and provide services?  In other words, “Who would build the roads?”

Click through to read six methods of taxation or revenue collection that could implemented without force.

#1. Lottery

Of course, in a libertarian republic, government would not hold a monopoly on lotteries, but nonetheless lotteries could be used to generate revenue through voluntary participation.  Government could use a specific proportion of a lottery’s revenue for funding and one or more lucky participants could win the rest. The founding fathers used this method. George Washington signed lottery tickets to raise money for public infrastructure. (pictured above)

  • Yourownfault

    while a good idea, the majority of people are not “smart” enough to figure out how important Voluntary taxes would be. And while its great to let them fend for themselves, we unfortunately need them to be somewhat productive as the employees at entry level, skill-less, and labor groups.

    Land is a good thought, but I kinda like the fact that there are areas like Yosemite that i can visit and get away from reality. Not sure what kind of consequences there would be selling off some of the land.

    • Mita

      Some wilderness areas which the government has taken over (or rather taken and then emptied of any farms or ranches which have cattle, as well as driving wild mustangs off) have succumbed to desertification. In a normal ecosystem herds which migrate yearly go through, trample (till) and graze the land and then fertilize it, which results in returning vital nitrogen to the soil. When the herds of cattle replaced the bison in the last century, much of the land bison and other herding animals frequented remained fertile and productive because of the activity. Once the farmers and ranchers had to leave, the land began to turn into desert – plants which would normally come back year after year through reseeding and natural rooting from broken pieces began to disappear and following that, the smaller animals that are considered prey for larger predators also began to disappear. So, where once you had green grasslands and brush, now it’s dry and dying. And yet the government still feels they have to ‘manage’ the area.

      One gentleman in South Africa discovered this phenomenon after forcing cattle farmers to leave certain protected areas there – they even culled about 40,000 wild elephants thinking they could stop desertification. It didn’t work. It wasn’t until they began to study the natural processes in connection with migration/herd grazing rotation that they realized they were screwing it up big time.

      Now they encourage farmers to rotate their cattle in areas which were once blighted by desertification, and now they are lush and green and productive again in just a matter of a decade.

      Our government would do well to learn it is better to encourage the activities closest to what would happen naturally if they want to ‘manage’ federally owned lands – it would probably be so much better tif they would just let the citizens manage it.

      TED Talk: Allan Savory

    • Russell Wickham

      Why not sell it to conservation geoups like The Sierra Club or other like minded organizations? Also, land may be restricted for certain uses only so there is no reason it can’t be sold for the purpose only of conservation.

      • why bother

        The Nature Conservancy is sort of like that. In the 1990s is was purely about buying up pristine land through private donations and just sitting on the land. It’s still like that but they have become far more AGW and “progressive.” I have become disappointed in them because of their politics, preaching for big government. If they just stayed quiet and used donations to buy up land I would be contributing to them these days.

    • Mario Lawrence

      Sorry, to necro your post. lol Seeing as it’s been a month now.
      The voluntary tax could very well work. Even people that are not “smart” enough, are smart enough to know to pay their rent, phone, and electric bills.
      Paying the voluntary tax would simply be the smart thing to do, at least unless that individual citizen can develop his or her own private methods.
      Some areas could make it a requirement as grounds for residency, so that you don’t have the risk of people who aren’t “smart enough” being a liability and danger to others around them. 🙂
      Furthermore, there will always be people that will be willing to provide a small volunteer service to help out, or that would be willing to donate to volunteer service.
      The government wouldn’t be necessary. What would be necessary with such a system is learning to get along with your neighbors.

  • Bryan

    The government does not need a more limited role, it needs a more defined role. They already have no role whatsoever in actually doing anything for it’s people. There is nothing wrong with forced taxation when those tax dollars are actually being used correctly.

    The Left-wing wants more Government control so it can be used to build a Nanny state that has the power to strip our freedom. The Right-wing wants less Government control so that it can be handed over to
    corporations who can exercise their power to continue to rape the American public.

    I don’t care how big the Government is, as long as it protects and upholds the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and WORKS FOR THE PEOPLE, instead of working for themselves, lobbyists and special interest groups.

    Politicians make promises to the people (the tax payers) to work for them. But then spend the majority of their
    time in office (being paid with tax dollars) fund-raising for the next election. The rest of their time is spent working for those who raised the funds.

    This country needs to be taken back from corrupt politicians and corporate weasels. WE NEED MORE REGULATION AND OVERSIGHT ON THE GOVERNMENT ITSELF. Treat it like a corporation, and Americans are the board of directors. Politicians need to be judged like the officers and managers of that corporation. They are put in place with expected results and must perform. The Government is made up of OUR EMPLOYEES, and they need to be treated like it.

    WE NEED TO KEEP TABS ON POLITICIANS, like a corporation does it’s employees.

    WE NEED DETAILED PUBLIC RECORDS – of how every politician is spending their time in office!

    Start on a local, state, and federal level where there are no “national security issues” to become issues/excuses.

    – PUNCH IN TIME? what’s everything you worked on? time spent? progress made towards campaign promises? punch out time?

    – DETAIL TAX/REVENUES SOURCES like corporate accounts receivable/ accounts payable accounts.

    Post these ^ to all applicable .gov’s at the commencement of each day –
    where the public can become watchdogs, providing a citizen run oversight committee.

    Imagine being able to view the government under this magnifying glass, to hold politicians so accountable for their time in office.

    Privatizing these public services and funding them with private taxes/revenues would lead to chaos, neglect, and finalize a complete corporate takeover of America.

    Privatizing Roads!? Making roads private and not public would allow for more control of the American citizens. Is it supposed to be okay as long as that control isn’t being exercised by the government. What is stopping every one of these private road owners from making their own rules? Couldn’t a private road owner then make rules like “no guns allowed” like businesses like Target? This would effectively end our right to bear arms in public because there would no longer be a public!

  • Wesley Bruce

    The hard anarchists would object to all but two, the voluntary tax and the cooperatives and both of these have failed in war, financial or labor crisis’. The WW1 US government intentionally failed to set up army pay to cover mutual funds back at home. The amounts sent to wives was not enough. Many of the remaining mutual aid societies (coops) failed when money dried up in the depression and when the bulk of working men wound up on an army wage WW2. The same happened in Australia with a lag.
    Anarchists reject sales tax as a form of coercion, it requires some enforcement.
    They reject land sales by saying the government should not start off owning all the land. Its a confiscation from the would be homesteader.

    You left crowdfunding and trust based funding. If the latter is created by a lottery or a crowdfunding appeal its totally acceptable to almost all libertarians.

  • Carline Mcclure

    Great Article. comments . I Appreciate the insight , Does someone know where my assistant could possibly get ahold of a blank CO Form Letter for Proof of Residency example to work with ?