It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.
All of the services commonly thought to require the State—from the coining of money to police protection to the development of law in defense of the rights of person and property—can be and have been supplied far more efficiently and certainly more morally by private persons. The State is in no sense required by the nature of man; quite the contrary.
For there is one crucially important power inherent in the nature of the State apparatus. All other persons and groups in society (except for acknowledged and sporadic criminals such as thieves and bank robbers) obtain their income voluntarily: either by selling goods and services to the consuming public, or by voluntary gift (e.g., membership in a club or association, bequest, or inheritance). Only the State obtains its revenue by coercion, by threatening dire penalties should the income not be forthcoming. That coercion is known as “taxation,” although in less regularized epochs it was often known as “tribute.” Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects.
This process, this method necessary to man’s survival and prosperity upon the earth, has often been derided as unduly or exclusively “materialistic.” But it should be clear that what has happened in this activity proper to man’s nature is a fusion of “spirit” and matter; man’s mind, using the ideas it has learned, directs his energy in transforming and reshaping matter into ways to sustain and advance his wants and his life. Behind every “produced” good, behind every man-made transformation of natural resources, is an idea directing the effort, a manifestation of man’s spirit.
The individual man, in introspecting the fact of his own consciousness, also discovers the primordial natural fact of his freedom: his freedom to choose, his freedom to use or not use his reason about any given subject. In short, the natural fact of his “free will.” He also discovers the natural fact of his mind’s command over his body and its actions: that is, of his natural ownership over his self.