Victimless “Crimes”: How to Keep Immoral Behavior out of Our Communities without Violating Liberty

Introduction

In a previous article I wrote about how in the scriptures, the only actions which governments led by a righteous people defined as crimes were those in which there is a targeted victim: actions in which the life, liberty, or property of another is violated. These actions include murdering, enslaving, stealing, lying, and abusing [Mosiah 2:13, Mosiah 29:14, Alma 1:17–18, Alma 30:10–11].

Outlawing these behaviors as crimes, and not others where there is no targeted victim, is consistent with a fundamental principle of government as taught by prophets: the Power of Government is Derived from the People.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “People are superior to the governments they form. Since God created people with certain inalienable rights, and they, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that the people are superior to the creature they created… Governments should have only limited powers… People who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude” [The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner].

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “The people are the source of governmental power. Along with many religious people, Latter-day Saints affirm that God gave the power to the people, and the people consented to a constitution that delegated certain powers to the government… The sovereign power is in the people” [The Divinely Inspired Constitution].

James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” even understood this principle, for he wrote: “The federal and State governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes… The ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone“ [Federalist #46].

In fact, all of our founding fathers agreed upon this principle, for they wrote: “We the people…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” [United States Constitution] and “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” [Declaration of Independence].

Note the use of the words “delegate” and “derive”. As Latter-day Saints, we should have a clear understanding of what this means, since we often apply these words to the priesthood. Can a deacon delegate to someone the power to baptize? Of course not—because he doesn’t have that power himself. If 100 deacons get together and the majority votes that a certain person should receive the power to baptize, does that person now have the power to baptize? Of course not—the power to baptize cannot be derived from 100 deacons because none of them have the power to baptize in the first place. For power and authority to be delegated (or derived), it must first exist in the person or group who is delegating it.

To apply this fundamental principle, President Benson provided a great rule of thumb to determine whether government has the authority to require or prohibit a specific action: “There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me” [The Proper Role of Government].

Victimless “Crimes”

There are many behaviors prohibited by our government today which it does not have the authority to implement, sometimes called “victimless crimes”.

For example, apply President Benson’s test to drug use. If you found out your next door neighbor sometimes uses a substance known to harm their health, would you feel it morally acceptable to go over, take them by force, and lock them up in your basement? Most people would say no. Of course, if while your neighbor is using drugs they’re abusing someone, or they’re killing someone (abortion), then you would feel it morally acceptable to go over and stop them by force—based on the fact that there’s a victim. However, in these instances you are stopping them from abuse or murder, not simply drug use. If your neighbor is using the drug and minding their own business, then most would feel it immoral to personally stop them by force.

Similar applications could be made to prostitution. To clarify, if one of the individuals involved is married, then force could justifiably be used because such would constitute a breach of contract (marriage), and therefore the spouse is a victim of lying. However, if two unwed individuals decide to engage in this sick and immoral behavior, would you feel okay personally locking them up for a time or forcing them to pay you a fine?

The same principles apply to pornography, gambling, etc. We should remember that just because something is immoral, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be illegal. A crime should only be an action which has a targeted victim: one which threatens the life, liberty, or property of another.

Prosecuting Victimless “Crimes” Impedes using Liberty for Righteous Causes

Because our current government has violated constitutional principles and prohibits certain victimless behaviors that many deem immoral, this has often resulted in limiting the freedom of people to use liberty for righteous causes.

In Missouri, practicing “Mormonism” was previously considered immoral by many of the citizens and government leaders, so many of our ancestors were persecuted, falsely accused of crimes, had property stolen, and were threatened by death if they didn’t leave.

Even after the Mormons fled lands where they were persecuted, such as Missouri and Nauvoo, and settled in an obscure desert out West where they could be alone, the government continued to impede their freedom of religion, based on prosecuting victimless crimes that most of the US population deemed immoral. One example is the 1882 Edmunds Act which outlawed polygamy. Many members of the Church were imprisoned, including Lorenzo Snow (imprisoned almost 11 months, before becoming an apostle).

Another example to consider is the war on drugs. Because our government is so adamant about controlling dangerous substances, there is a barrier of using drugs and devices for medical purposes. There are many drugs and devices that more effectively treat certain conditions which we will not have access to for several years due to US government regulations, even though they are available in other countries now. In fact, patients in the US may never have access to some. People are suffering and dying because of this. Isn’t it better to let doctors and patients have the freedom and authority to decide what treatment is best for a given condition rather than a politically biased body which is driven by special interest groups? This is one example of how the war on drugs is harming and killing innocent people (for specific examples of how blocking medications has done harm and an in-depth discussion, see).

Another example is education. There are many barriers to parents who wish to take more responsibility in their God-given right by home schooling their kids. This is something the current US administration has recently taken steps to make even more difficult, as they are seeking to deport home-schooled families which are here legally. This is generally done in the name of “what’s best for the kids”; many of those implementing these barriers probably have good intentions and simply think home schooling is bad for our society. Ironically, parents have to go through great lengths if they want to incorporate God and Christianity into their children’s education, while the government demands they be sent to a government school system in which drugs, swearing, and sex are prominent while prayer and biblical teachings are outlawed. Who do you think God intended to give authority to educate children: their parents or government?

These are only some examples in which the government hinders righteousness by prosecuting victimless crimes. Once government takes power to enforce any type of victimless crime, it becomes a slippery slope which quickly impedes the Plan of Salvation.

Keeping Victimless Crimes Out of Our Community: Shun Thy Neighbor

Discussion of why victimless “crimes” should be abolished often leads people to become concerned. While they may agree that it would be immoral for them to personally use force stop a victimless crime from occurring, they mistakenly think that a majority of people can impose their will on a minority. However, such violates others’ right to liberty, and undermines a fundamental principle of government: The power of government is derived from the people. Not protecting others’ right to liberty contradicts the plan of salvation. Agency is a key part of that plan. During the pre-mortal war in heaven, we rejected Satan’s plan of forcing everyone to act a certain way to return to God. We understood that agency would entail people making bad decisions—but we still fought for their right to liberty, even if it meant some would make mistakes and act immorally.

One of the major concerns of abolishing victimless crimes is that people don’t want themselves and their kids to be exposed to those kinds of behavior. However, there is a way to discourage and keep these immoral behaviors out of our communities without violating anyone’s right to liberty. I really like the phrase that JC Bollers and Jeremy Ashton have used to describe this principle: Shun Thy Neighbor.

With your right to liberty, you can refuse to interact in certain ways with individuals who exhibit certain behaviors that you disapprove of. For example, if the majority of people in society don’t want prostitution, instead of charging prostitutes as criminals, they can simply refuse to provide services to that individual. If the grocery store owner refuses to sell food to prostitutes, the gas station owner refuses to sell them gas, the department store refuses to sell them clothes, neighbors refuse to invite them to parties, etc, then the prostitute either learns to give up prostitution, or moves out of that society. If the majority of people in a given community shun their immoral behavior, it will keep that behavior out the community without violating the rights of the immoral person.

To clarify, shunning doesn’t necessarily mean that you completely ignore the person with the behavior. You can let them know that you care about them and want what’s best for them, but explain to them that you can’t support them acting in a certain way because it’s destructive to society. You tell them that if they change their behavior, then you will help them, conduct business with them, and befriend them.

Abolishing Victimless Crimes: Other Laws Must Change First

Victimless crimes cannot be abolished overnight; there has to be order in rolling back these laws. We must restore free enterprise to our country.

Right now, there are laws and regulations that force people to enter certain contracts. For example, employers aren’t free to hire or fire whoever they want: sometimes they are forced to hire a certain percentage of individuals or they have to pay fines, higher taxes, lawsuit damages, etc. We need to restore to employers the right to hire and fire whoever they want for whatever reason. For example, such would let them refuse to hire druggies. Can you imagine the lawsuits that would happen today if an employer refused to hire someone (or chose to fire them) on the basis that they are using legal substances that the employer disagrees with such as birth control or alcohol? If other substances were no longer criminalized, what would stop further lawsuits which violate rights for other drugs or “non-criminal” behaviors? Another example of regulations we must abolish are those which force companies to offer certain goods. In recent years, pharmacies such as Walmart have been forced to carry and sell certain drugs they don’t necessarily want to, such as abortion pills [here and here]. How can immoral behaviors be discouraged if individuals and private organizations (such as companies) are forced to support them, sell them, etc?

We also must rid ourselves of all forms of socialism. If we were to suddenly “legalize” all vice “crimes” (such as drugs, prostitution, and gambling), but not get rid of socialist programs such as government welfare, healthcare, and unemployment benefits, then we would be shooting ourselves in the foot because we would be forcing ourselves to support these practices by subsidizing the lives of those who engage in these activities. Private organizations and charities are better equipped to deal with these situations, as they would have the freedom to only help those who are honestly working to change their lives. Plus, if you disagree with how a private organization is dealing with these immoral behaviors, you can choose not to give your money to them and give it to an organization you agree with instead. If the government is running it and you disagree, then you go to prison if you refuse to support it through taxes.

So, we must first get rid of socialism and certain regulations which impede free market exchanges, and then move towards fully restoring personal liberties.

Conclusion

Agency is an essential part of the Plan of Salvation. In our pre-mortal life, we all fought to cast out Satan on the basis that he wanted to deprive us of liberty. Part of agency is that people will make bad choices. To protect liberty, and therefore support the Plan of Salvation, we should only use force (government) when someone violates the life, liberty, or property of another. Even though someone may act immorally, if they aren’t violating the rights of others, we should use discouragement and persuasion (such as shunning your neighbor) instead of force. The rule of thumb is that if we wouldn’t feel okay personally forcing something upon our neighbors, then we cannot give the authority to government to do such. This is founded in the principle that the power of government is derived from the people, the basis of our own US Constitution.

Image: Neil ConwayCC BY 2.0

61 comments

  1. Johnny Hardy,
    I hope you will not summon the guns of the government on me for a “victimless crime” of opting-out of your contradictory US Constitution system which gives the Congress legal power to tax me without my consent.

  2. Dear Johnny Liberty,

    In order to be consistent, you must follow your quite logical arguments on government to their only logical conclusion.

    You quote the Declaration of Independence, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” Allow me to point out that I do not consent to any government. Nor do I suppose you have given your own formal consent to be governed by a Constitution you had no part in formulating, as remarkable as that effort may have been for its time, a time long gone.

    You rightly say, “People who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.” Obviously, no one has the right to take another person’s property through force or coercion, nor can they possibly delegate the illicit “authority” to tax, as every government on the face of the earth professes to possess–without warrant. Taxes and government are inseparable, you can’t have one without the other, at least not as we have always known them.

    The only logical conclusion to your arguments is: “There’s no government like no government.” You must adopt voluntaryism (www.voluntaryist.com) if you are to be consistent. Join us in the new abolition movement to abolish government and taxes.

    1. Ned,

      I think we should clarify the difference between governance and statism. Statism is when the government takes on powers not rightly theirs, like taxation. But governance is when people choose to have a leader to help guide them. So, King Benjamin did not tax the people, so he did not practice statism but governance.

      Johnny, Mosiah 26 is a great subject on this topic where Alma takes those who have committed “divers iniquities” to the King and then the King says that he doesn’t judge them, but that is for the church to decide – not the government.

      1. Jon,

        Thanks for the great reference! I hadn’t caught that before–that does go perfectly with this article.

        Ned,

        I agree with Jon in that you should distinguish between principled governments that is bound to protecting rights versus government/statism that extends to powers that is not rightly theirs.

        Although I think voluntarism is better than socialism, I don’t think completely abolishing all government is the best answer. Prophets have consistently taught that “governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man” [D&C 134:1]. I don’t know of any prophet or apostle that has supported complete abolition. Government is justified and a great answer as long as it is limited to only protecting our rights of life, liberty, and property. I highly recommend you study D&C 134 and “The Proper Role of Government” by President Benson for a better explanation of this.

  3. Well, that is your definition, not mine. Statism, by my way of thinking, is when someone asserts a “right” (a misuse of a fine word) to control by force or coercion the behavior of another. It is hardly necessary to point out that generally speaking it is only agents of the almighty state who claim to possess such illegitimate “authority.”

    You say statism is when the state takes on powers not rightly theirs. This makes no sense by my way of thinking, because the state claims the “authority” to monopolize the provision of security within its claimed jurisdiction, and no state can provide this service without resorting to taxation. Indeed, every state in history has asserted the perverted right to initiate the use of force to collect the taxes on which it utterly depends. Without the power to tax, I doubt very much that any nation-state woulod exist. Without the power to initiate force the state would wither away, and people would perforce (no pun intended) turn to nonviolent, peaceful intercourse and voluntary exchange as the only productive alternative. That’s voluntaryism.

    Involvement with the state in anyway, whether by working for it, voting, or voluntarily paying taxes, etc., all seem to me to be proscribed by principles taught by Jesus, particularly some of those he enunciated in his Sermon on the Mount. Manifestly, government agents cannot practice the Golden Rule.

    1. Ned,

      I really like what you are saying, in that voluntarism is the way to go in the end. But I do take issue with this: “Without the power to tax, I doubt very much that any nation-state would exist. Without the power to initiate force the state would wither away, and people would perforce (no pun intended) turn to nonviolent, peaceful intercourse and voluntary exchange as the only productive alternative. That’s voluntarism.”

      Please address the following questions if you have some spare time,
      1. If you established that nonviolent, peaceful, and voluntary exchange-ful society, I think that it is very likely a neighboring tyrant would take advantage of the lack of protection this society might have. Unless…

      2. Is it possible to fund a police/military entirely by voluntary contributions?
      A military so strong, that it could repel a tyrant who didn’t respect liberty in the seizing of his/her power and military might!?

      1. Logan,

        Assuming that a people have liberty in their hearts enough to live in a voluntary society then, yes, it would be possible for them to defend themselves. It could be done by everyone owning guns of their own and be trained in the use thereof. Or it could be done through the use of insurance companies that people voluntarily pay into.

        But the real question is: Why would an opposing government even try to rule a people that refuse to be ruled? It will only end with the other nation running away with their tale between their legs.

        We can see this in Afghanistan – although they do have a government but it is the people that refuse to have an occupying force there – they can’t be ruled, at least not by a foreign occupation.

        We have Switzerland as an example too. All the people are taught how to use guns and own them. They live in a very volatile land. When the continent is embroiled in war they seem to always skip the Swiss. Not a perfect example, since there is coercion used to have the people join the military when they are young, but you get my drift.

        It’s really a cultural thing where the people need to realize it is their responsibility. Just like healthcare, education, etc.

    2. Ned, I posted a reply but apparently it never posted properly.

      By posting on an LDS themed website I’ll assume you are LDS. With that assumption I’ll assume you believe that King Benjamin/Mosiah were people that lived in the Americas. Now, if they did what they said they did, that is, rule without taxation, then they did have governance without statism. There really aren’t many details on how this worked in this “ideal” society. Regardless it is an admirable goal.

      BTW, I consider myself a voluntaryist also.

  4. Jon and Logan, Thanks to both of you for replying to my comments. Logan, I think Jon answered your questions as well or better than I could have. I would add that I think a people adhering to the principles Jesus prescribed in his Sermon on the Mount, most of which derive from ancient Jewish morality, such society would soon be so abundantly productive that before long the people in foreign lands would be adopting the same principles. If their rulers were warriors, they would be ignored or removed. Even atheists would, I think, embrace such a society for in it they would be free from any effort to control their thinking.

    Jon, I am not LDS. I hope, nevertheless, I am welcome to express my views here. If not, I shall refrain from further posting. I was traveling once with a friend in the middle of the Utah back country in a truck on dirt roads, it was late, we were tired, and looking for a place to pitch our tents. We saw a track with a sign indicating a “camp” of some sort so we pulled in to see if we might stay there. It was an LDS camp but it was closed. However, a caretaker, LDS, welcomed us warmly and invited us to stay. He was so gracious in his offer of the use of the camp’s facilities at no charge that I have had a warm spot in my heart for LDS ever since. I don’t profess any religion. I think of myself as a disciple of Jesus and if anyone asks me about my religion that is what I tell them I am–however haltingly I live up to his principles.

    1. Ned,

      No biggy, that is why I put the assumptions out there for my arguments. You never know when using the internet! Without those assumptions I just have to make a different argument is all. As Ron Paul notes, you have to speak the language of your audience.

      So, without the BoM, a voluntary society can have governance without taxation. Like churches, they govern without taxation (contributions are voluntary). Churches have even performed “functions of the state” when the state has become so corrupt that it isn’t worth working with. Some say that churches do use coercion by using Heaven and Hell as a carrot and a stick – but it isn’t nearly as bad as statism. If you don’t like the state and act on it you are thrown in jail or killed. If you don’t like the church and act on it you are excommunicated and maybe shunned by members and that’s it.

  5. Interesting. I guess Afghanistan, Vietnam and other similar situations do provide a powerful example of people unwilling to be ruled by an outside influence.

    It seems that to answer your question “Why would an opposing government even try to rule a people that refuse to be ruled? “. I would think that it would be very likely that a neighboring tyrant might not want to rule another people, as much as want to seize valuable or bordering lands, steal goods/food and other similar things from vulnerable people.

    Sometimes when I think about it, and it just seems that you would need to have a sizable military to protect any significantly sized geographic area from pot shots from nearby bullies. Especially if those bullies were extremely well armed.

    I hadn’t thought of the insurance argument though. That seems like it could address a lot of the issues that might be faced when dealing with bullying neighbors.

    Thx for the quick responses guys.

    1. Logan,

      One thing I just thought of. Implicit in your question about who will protect us is that the government already protects us from foreign invaders. First, not all governments are powerful enough to keep off foreign invaders, e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan governments couldn’t stop the US from invading them. Germany, et. al., couldn’t keep the US from spying on them – in fact the governments are complicit in the NSA spying.

      Look at 9/11 and read the reasoning behind it that Osama gave. Look at Pearl Harbor and the reasoning given by the Japanese government for the attack. What do they have in common? The US government (military, CIA, etc) going abroad and initiating force against other peoples/countries either through direct force or through economic sanctions (AKA blockades in olden times). The current US government makes our lives more in danger than protecting us. You could say that in general for government.

      I have to hire a lawyer retainer (HSLDA) just to protect my family from the government. Wasn’t I already paying for this by paying taxes? I fear the government that could kidnap my kids more than any stranger. I have more money stolen from me through the government than any individual has ever stolen from me – or ever will.

      No, the government makes us less safe in all aspects of our lives. There is no room for it and I’ll try to avoid it as much as possible.

  6. Jon, governance I’ll allow, not government. Governance can be accomplished through leadership, persuasion and by example. Government, on the other hand, always operates by force and coercion. I cannot imagine true freedom existing within any nation-state. However, if governance involves so-called authority to–in any way or by any means other than persuasion–control any individual, that is government, and it is illicit no matter what form of government it is. As Larken Rose posited this point in his delightful little book, THE MOST DANGEROUS SUPERSTITION. He argues that there can be no such thing as “authority” to exercise control by one person of another, because no individual has such a “right,” and thus no one can delegate to government something they do not themselves have. It is a simple and logical as that. A government that didn’t exercise illicit control (e.g., a voluntary government) would not be a government as we know it. So, why even call it government when it is different than government?

    Logan, why makes you think a voluntary society would be vulnerable? I think it would be more impenetrable than any alternative society. The concept of replacing the security business that nation-states have long monopolized with insurance has been advocated, thoroughly analyzed as a theoretical concept, and otherwise explored by Austrian economists, voluntaryists, agorists, and anarcho-capitalists. The Ludwig von Mises Institute’s website, mises.org, may be the best place on the Internet to begin exploring the concept.

    America’s foreign policies and military excursions necessitate a powerful military for defensive purposes. Eliminate the provocations these policies and foreign adventures engender and there would be no retaliatory attacks on America whatsoever. Ron Paul has made this point on many occasions.

    1. Ned,

      Yes, the state and government have become synonymous terms. I use them interchangeably also. But if you use Wiktionary’s definition #4:

      (uncountable) The management or control of a system.

      Then you can use the term “government.” But it would confuse people. I suppose another term would be better. I guess other ones have been proposed, like DROs. Regardless, I think you are right, it is better not to use the term government to refer to free societies.

  7. Very good article and well-thought posts! My friend and I have been discussing this very issue for the longest time, ever since he and I started regularly reading this website among other libertarian-oriented ones. We finally reached a consensus after reading the scpritures and incorporating the works of Verlan H. Aderson into our studies. As an apostle of the Lord, Elder Anderson’s works could be summed up as an explanation of the “Golden Rule as Law” philosophy. Which, according to Matthew 7, it is.

    Ned is absolutely correct in asserting that voluntaryism is the highest form of association possible using our God-given agency. Evidence of this may be found in the Book of Mormon, where every single land and even city states operated on this principle. If a man did not like the rulers or the judges or his neighbors he was free to associate with whom he will. If he did not appreciate what his contributions purchased in their government he was free to live outside of the protection of his former land’s and society.

    This brings up two very important points in the whole voluntaryism movement: Government as an organisation (not the State) and Defense. But before I go into those, the issue of the Constitution needs to be addressed.

    The uS constitution was designed, drafted and placed into the hearts of the men who began this country by the Lord Himself. As scripture (as it was given by the Lord), it should be the duty common to all men of every nation to uphold and protect its pure, righteous precepts. Care has not been given nor appreciation shown for the blessing of that inspired document in the lives of every human being on this earth, so it has been allowed to be corrupted, perverted and twisted into the political tool it is today.

    Lysander Spooner wrote years ago about a “Constitution of No Authority,” stating exactly what Ned did about the time factor and its agreement lapsing with the passing of the writers’ generation. He neither considered that perhaps each successive generation and peoples would DESIRE to be under its rule of law, nor the possibility that since it (in its original form) perfectly protects liberty, agency and property from the individual on up to the federal government, it SHOULD be constantly upheld and supported.

    If government is indeed endowed by the will of the people, why cannot the will of the people be such that they would voluntarily support a constitution written 200+ years earler or pay in such monies or resources (including time and perhaps sweat) to delegate a portion of their responsibility to another? Elder Andersons books make it quite clear that the government, if contained to its primary function and purpose would do nothing more or less than ensure the property rights, liberty and agency of men remain inviolate. This purpose would by necessity be delegated to it by those WHO WISH TO PARTICIPATE in its particular flavour of protection and enforcements of duties and rights. If they did not wish to participate, they could simply be denied the protection those governments can provide. Which leads me to defense.

    Concerning defense, the founding fathers saw the wisdom in creating a modular system of rights and resposibilities, some best satisfied by the individual and only one satisfied by the delegation of many: law and defense. A dispersed force composed of individuals and utterly lacking in the type of organisation and communication systems of a large army canot ever hope to defeat an invading force that not only acts as one but is able to eliminate the “white noise” and indecision of battle with their command and communication structure. I don’t want to get too deep into military science, but I’ll use two examples.

    The first is the continental army that defeated the British army. If they had not organised themselves (voluntarily, mind you) into armies, platoons and units and fought in greater, coordinated numbers they would have been massacred to a man by the Red Coated war machine. The early colonists not only gave of their food and substance for the war effort, many men also gave their lives for the common defense. The second is the Anti Nephi Lehies in the Book of Mormon. They chose to eschew war completely, making themselves a peaceful people. And the Nephites with whom they associated were more than happy to protect them as a people, provided they materially assist any war effort with food. Even that voluntary agreement between those two peoples included the paying into a larger pool for common defense! War and defense are areas requiring too many resources to be done entirely by insurance companies, who may (at best) go broke and or (at worst) become traitors in a vital time during a war. Soldiers must be had from states, counties and towns for the defense of all if war does occur.

    And those that do not wish to pay money toward the courts and the common defense? If they withhold from the courts it is a simple matter of them then providing solely for their own security (which can be prohibitively expensive for an individual), however they may. If it is during an actual invasion that man would be like the King Men in Alma, who were traitors to their country as if men withhold their support when their contrymen are in danger of being killed, they are literally aiding and abetting that slaughter.

    The point is, voluntarism IS God’s plan, but it must be tempered with duties and responsibilities for our fellow men. Salvation is made on an individual basis, but men are commanded everywhere to aide his brothers and sisters, and care for them as much as they can. And that means fulfilling individual duties, including those of supporting good, righteous government. For a good government, as King Mosiah’s, will never make its people slaves or seek to live but by every word that proceedeth from the Lord’s mouth.

  8. Ned, you are advocating anarchy. Anarchy and liberty cannot co-exist.

    “Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: . . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.”—Ayn Rand

    (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/anarchism.html)

    I would compare anarchy to hedonism. Hedonism is self destruction. Man needs life sustaining rational happiness, not whims.

  9. Aaron, Nothing I read in your comments answers the objection to government (re: Larken Rose) that its so-called authority is illegitimate because it has no legitimate source. It certainly can’t come from the people, because the people cannot delegate an authority they do not possess themselves, such as the right to take other people’s property by force or coercion, which in the case of the state is euphemistically called taxation. Do you say it comes from God? The Book of (1:7) Samuel says otherwise. Certainly Jesus never, ever, ever said or did anything that could remotely be construed as sanctioning human government. Rather, he proposed in opposition to it and negation of it the kingdom of God.

    Aaron, you argue: “Evidence of this may be found in the Book of Mormon, where every single land and even city states operated on this principle. If a man did not like the rulers or the judges or his neighbors he was free to associate with whom he will. If he did not appreciate what his contributions purchased in their government he was free to live outside of the protection of his former land’s and society. ”

    If he wanted to live outside the protection of the government while remaining on his land, that might be a legitimate form of governance, but if he had to leave HIS land to accomplish his desire, the government would be illegitimate.

    Aaron, you argue: “Concerning defense, the founding fathers saw the wisdom in creating a modular system of rights and resposibilities, some best satisfied by the individual and only one satisfied by the delegation of many: law and defense.”

    This argument fails to address the question, where does the government established by the founding father derive its “authority.” Since I know you can’t point to something that doesn’t exist, I am safe in saying that the government of the founders was and is illegitimate. They didn’t get it from God, and they couldn’t have gotten it from people who themselves didn’t have it.

    Aaron, regarding you comments on war and defense, I start by asking you why you believe war is an inevitable factor in human relations? It isn’t. And why would anyone want to create armies or other organizations to prepare for the eventuality of war? Those preparations in and of themselves could very well serve as the cause of war. Aaron, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything you need, including your defense, will be given to you. Jesus guarantees it.

    Aaron: “If government is indeed endowed by the will of the people, why cannot the will of the people be such that they would voluntarily support a constitution written 200+ years earler or pay in such monies or resources (including time and perhaps sweat) to delegate a portion of their responsibility to another?

    It isn’t endowed by the will of the people and it is silly to say it is. I’m one of the people and I don’t will it. And if people really did voluntarily support it, why in the world would their government write laws that require the initiation of force to sustain it. Utter nonsense. And again, you may delegate a responsibility under certain circumstances, but you can never delegate an authority that you don’t have to begin with. Keep going back to that dictum, and you will find solid ground for refuting every argument on behalf of government.

    Aaron, you said, “The point is, voluntarism IS God’s plan, but it must be tempered with duties and responsibilities for our fellow men.”

    That goes without saying, but by introducing government with its reliance on force into the equation of duties and responsibilities you take those important qualities out of the hands of individuals and vest them in government, which has no heart or soul. In effect, you negate them; you substitute force for persuasion; coercion for cooperation. You create a society not worth living in.

  10. Thales, I am arguing voluntaryism and laissez faire. Anarchy is a word that has been besmirched beyond redemption by fools who use violence to oppose the state and anything else that happens to be bothering them on any particular day. What you are arguing is statism and statolatry, for you obviously believe that men cannot survive without the man-created institution called government or the state. Statolatry is clearly the most common religion throughout the world, for it is practiced by Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Budhists, Atheists and you name it without regard to the fact that the dictates of their other religions may require only one God.

    As for your comments in your first post here, if you will examine it carefully you will see that it consists entirely of your opinions, which you haven’t bothered to support with facts or logical arguments. Since you are entitled to your opinions, no matter how weird, I wont trouble to dispute them.

    Nor am I going to try to dispute any of the tenets of Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism” here, because the economists and philosophers over at Mises.org have accomplished that task remarkable well on many occasions before. If you want to delve into them consulted the archives at Mises.org.

    As for the two article to which you cite they too offer little in the way of substantive reasoning beyond mere opinion. As for the little they do offer, I can refute it all by pointing out to you, as I did to Aaron, that the “authority” for government authority is nowhere to be found. If you ever think you’ve found it, let me know and I’ll try to show you where you erred. Oh, and btw, statism, like hedonism, is self-destructive. Just my opinion, of course.

  11. Ned,

    I appreciate your comments and the discussions you’ve spurred. However, I’d like to clarify, and perhaps correct, something you’ve stated a few times in one way or another. You said: “Involvement with the state in anyway, whether by working for it, voting, or voluntarily paying taxes, etc., all seem to me to be proscribed by principles taught by Jesus, particularly some of those he enunciated in his Sermon on the Mount.”

    As a disciple of Christ, I assume you believe in the Bible, and therefore believe that Moses was a prophet who communicated with God. When The Lord gave Moses the ten commandments on Mount Sinai, he also gave Moses several government laws to implement among the Children of Israel. Many of these can be found in Exodus chapters 21 and 22. These were in protection of life, liberty, and property. For example, Exodus 21:12 “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.” Exodus 22:1 “If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.” These are only two examples of government laws that Moses implemented.

    (Note that LDS believe that Moses was communicating with Jehovah here, and we believe that Jehovah was Christ himself, simply a different name he used before he lived on the earth. We believe Jehovah was acting under the direction of God the Father). Whether you believe it was Christ or God the Father that gave Moses the government laws, as a disciple of Christ you should at least believe believe (as we do) that Christ and the Father are in full agreement on what each other does and teaches. So, based on this reasoning, you should believe that Jesus agreed with this government that was instituted through Moses on earth. Therefore to say that Jesus never supported any government on earth is false.

    However, I would like to point out that the government portion of the Law of Moses, as I understand it, was based on only punishing and protecting against violations of life, liberty, or property, and therefore victimless “crimes” would not have been punished.

  12. It seems to me that one of the main rifts between those of us who promote a Constitutional government strictly bound to only protect rights versus those of us that promote strictly voluntaryism is the matter of taxation. For example, most of us would agree that any form of wealth and resource distribution or social engineering is unjustified use of force. Militaristically, we’d generally agree that only wars that protect our homeland are justified.

    Hopefully we can all agree that we should work together to drastically reduce taxes and, if possible, eliminate them. For example, in addition to cutting the socialist and military expenses, we can promote that many government leaders become voluntary (aka no salary), such as the all-too-many legislature (including their staff). We know that King Mosiah and Benjamin worked with their own hands so they wouldn’t have to live off tax money. Can taxes be completely eliminated? I’m not sure, but we can definitely get close by making criminals carry the biggest burden of government costs by paying a “government fee” in addition to restoring damages to the victim. For example, if someone steals a car, not only should they return the car, but they should also be charged a “government fee” to help pay for the police, court system, etc.

    To move this direction, in addition to directly educating our neighbors, friends, and family, it is vital that we are involved with elections. We need to support those politicians that agree with this philosophy. Although they may be few, there is often at least one in the primaries. In other primaries and general elections, even writing in votes can help. By not participating in elections, we lose out on great opportunities to show the general public that there is a significant portion of us who refuse to support aggressive force. Showing up in the polls could help push fence-sitters to move to our side, and help intrigue others to seriously consider candidates within a party that are not “main stream” and even third parties. Even those that think no government is the best answer should be supportive of politicians that want to drastically reduce government. How else would you move towards voluntarism other than revolution? (Note that in a revolution, your life, liberty, and property would be much more at risk than it is now under the current US government)

    1. Johnny, It seems the time for voting is over. Voting only matters when the slight majority of voters are informed and righteous. Right now the voters are neither – hence voting doesn’t matter. Voting might matter at a very local level, but even in my conservative town the majority of voters are neither informed nor righteous. None of the candidates want nor advocate smaller government. Voting is a waste of our energies and we should focus our limited time and energy on things that will actually make a difference. Far more good is done out of home educating our children and sharing the ideas of liberty with our family, friends, and acquaintances than voting will ever amount to.

      1. Jon, every major election the first presidency sends a letter to be read in sacrament meeting, exhorting us to go out and vote. This is from the prophet in an official church setting, and therefore the voice of the Lord. No, voting is not a waste of time and energy, because the Lord’s mouthpieces are directly telling us to do it!

        Realistically, voting does not take that much time and energy. Especially now with mail-votes. Of course, you could take as long as you want studying out candidates and propositions up for vote, but a couple hours should be sufficient for most to make an informed, liberty-based vote.

        What you may be confusing with voting is being involved with campaigns, political rallies, etc. I agree that often those can be a waste of time and energy, but taking a couple of hours each year to actually vote is not a big cost to follow the prophet.

        I agree that directly educating family, friends, and neighbors is just as important and perhaps more so. However, voting and educating aren’t mutually exclusive. When voting season comes upon us, talking to others (at FHE, work, etc.) about why you voted for certain things (or wrote-in because you agreed with none) makes for an excellent education opportunity!

        1. Johnny, I’m not a believer anymore. To properly vote in AZ it takes about 10 hours (propositions take a while to study) – maybe shorter now that I understand the principles of liberty better. I can still talk to people about voting without actually going to the polls and talk about candidates. But I’ve found when it comes to politics it doesn’t matter – people like to route for the blue or red team, if you tell them that their best guy (like Romney) is actually anti-constitutionalist they will not even listen to you (granted I guess that means that I need to have more tack when presenting my ideas). I’ve found that when I stick to principles people agree with me, but when I show an application of the principle – like Romney wouldn’t make a good president – people get turned off.

        2. Voting is immoral. It is merely an attempt to get the gang called government to force people to act and live the way you think they should. And it makes you a party to all the crimes government perpetrates, as you vote for people to “represent” you. Thus you are responsible for their actions. And if they don’t represent you then why would you vote for them?
          You have no right to initiate force against your neighbor, whom Jesus commanded you to love. You have no right to steal their property and have your representatives kidnap them and throw them in cages, because they do things you don’t approve of, which DON’T harm you at all.
          I believe the general authorities encourage people to vote purely as a defensive measure against the state. All the while hoping the members are smart enough to see what a fraud voting is and that supporting a completely immoral, evil system like the state is contrary to the gospel. So the real message is Don’t vote!

  13. Ned and Jon, I had a few more question for you guys. Keep in mind that whenever I use the word coercion below I mean: the act or threat of harming or seizing another’s person or property.

    Assuming a society with no traditional state that is largely based on volunteerism, do you think that this society would be void of people willing to use coercion to get what they want? If yes, why, and if no do you think that the level of coercion would remain small?

    I think that due to some negative aspects of human nature there is an extremely high chance that there will always be people willing to use coercion to get what they want. Their efforts may be stemmed by individual or small group defense, but I would also suggest that innevitably there will be large groups of people willing to use coercion to achieve their goals. This is evident in the fact that the earth is, i think, fully covered with societies that at some point claim legitimacy in government from sources other than consent or diety. The earth is full of large groups of people willing to use coercion to accomplish their goals.

    I think most modern societies use the convinient fiction of a Hobbesian social contract for their claimed legitimacy. But I would be in support of a more Locke-esque social contract of delegating to the state your right to self defense. Those who do not willingly enter this contract are not obligated to support its maintainence nor expect its services. I think, and I believe Locke would agree, that this social contract would get wide and strong acceptance. More than enough support to ensure justice in a large geographical area from offenders in large or small groups.

    This contract maintains legitimacy and consisentcy with justice based on these two assumptions. First, I do not need your consent to justly use coercion to stop a criminal from using coercion on you. Second, I do not need your consent to to stop you from unjustly using coercion on another.

    Not sure if any of that made sense, but I would enjoy your input ned and jon.

    1. @Logan,

      I would think that there would be people that would continue to use coercion. The scenario you describe goes back to a government as we know it today. So, your worst case scenario is what we already have.

      Your second idea on a voluntary government would fit the description of voluntaryism with the caveat that if I chose to opt out and hire a different “government” for protection I wouldn’t be told “no” with coercion.

      Check out The Myth of National Defense by Hans-Hermann Hoppe freely available on Mises.org.

    2. Of course there will be people who will try to harm, control and rob you. Question is would you be better able to protect yourself from them in a free, voluntary society where almost any option would be available, or in the current monopolistic statist societies? The biggest threat to life and property is and always has been the state. It is far easier to protect oneself from small, intermittent threats than from a huge, constant one. The “state” has huge resources available to it which it has used to create monstrous weapons which it has used to kill tens of millions. It is very unlikely these weapons would have ever been created without the states and their endless “enemies”. Those weapons don’t make you safer. And only states fight wars.
      You should read the free book, “Practical Anarchy” by Stefan Molyneux. It has some really good, logical ideas of how a stateless society could work.

  14. Johnny Hardy wrote: “…those that think no government is the best answer should be supportive of politicians that want to drastically reduce government. How else would you move towards voluntarism other than revolution? ”

    Johnny, The voluntaryist statement of purpose found on the voluntaryist.com website tells why we do not support any politicians or politics in general, and it answers you question, how else…

    Statement of Purpose: Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society. We reject electoral politics, in theory and in practice, as incompatible with libertarian principles. Governments must cloak their actions in an aura of moral legitimacy in order to sustain their power, and political methods invariably strengthen that legitimacy. Voluntaryists seek instead to delegitimize the State through education, and we advocate withdrawal of the cooperation and tacit consent on which State power ultimately depends.

    From a moral perspective, government is the sanctioned (Q. sanction by who? A. by government) use, whoops, make that “initiation” of the use of force, if for no other reason than to collect the taxes on which the state invariably depends. By supporting the state in any way–paying taxes, voting, saluting a flag, pledging allegiance, etc.) you are perforce endorsing violence. A government that did not rely on the initiation of force against harmless people to collect its taxes would not be government as we know it, and I don’t think it should or would be called by that name. You may try to come up with a voluntary form of government by one device or definition or whatever, but I think the simplest thing to do, given you obvious devotion to liberty, is to throw in the government towel, recognizing that the two–liberty and government–are incompatible.

  15. Logan, the unspoken, underlying assumption of your position, and that of all honest advocates of strictly limited minimal government, is that your “good” government will perforce by comprised of fallible human beings. Unfortunately, that is never the case. Indeed, the power wielded by controlling even strictly limited government is such that it tends to turn honest people into dishonest people. Those who support government cannot deny the fact that the worst atrocities, the most deaths and the greatest destruction has all been perpetrated, not by lone criminals, but by agents of governments, some of which government regimes, including Hitler’s Germany, were given their unholy powers by the democratic process. I will allow for your limited government if you will ensure me that the people who comprise will will be perfect human beings, akin to Christ.

    As for the government-by-Lockean-contract you propose, it sounds good to me and it might find sufficient support to work, but, again, it would not be government as we know it. It would be so much better than what we know that it would deserve a better name. And as a practical matter, I think achieving such a contractual social order would be more easily accomplished by first delegitimizing government as we know it, and starting from there build the non-coercive defense mechanism(s) rather than starting from where we are and trying to reform government until it reached our ideal. Delegitimizing government is not so far fetch, I think, as reforming it because the government we know has a very vulnerable Achilles heel that can be “attacked” nonviolently, and that is its dependence on taxes. It wouldn’t take too large a percentage of a population refusing to pay taxes to bring the entire superstructure down.

  16. Thou shalt not steal is a commandment which applies to all humans with no exceptions.
    Taxation is Stealing since it is a demand for money backed by the threat of force.
    ALL governments exist by stealing(taxing) their subjects.
    ALL governments exist by breaking the commandment all are subject to, as all governments are made up of individual people. All governments are illegitimate as they are based on the violation of the ten commandments.
    Voting for any politician is condoning and supporting the theft all perpetrate on their subjects.

  17. Welcome to this discussion, Greg Scott. Your analyses of government, taxes and voting are spot on. You must be a voluntaryist–and your comments qualify you as a disciple of Jesus.

    1. Thank you.
      Yes, I am a Voluntaryist because I believe it to be the only moral, gospel-centered position to take. I am in control of me and solely responsible for my actions. I have no right or wish to control another person. And I certainly have no moral, legitimate right to initiate violence against my neighbor directly or indirectly by subscribing to the myth of authority. My three kids have been home-schooled and also share similar views.

      1. Home Schooling, Hope for America. I think that is the title of Carl Watner’s anthology on the subject, and I believe it! Carl is The Voluntaryist (.com). You are doing right by your kids.

  18. Guys, what do you think of the first part of D&C 134, specifically verses 1 to 3. And also to Ned, do you think that if King David was appointed by Samuel to be King, did that make any taxation that David do just because he was appointed by Deity?

    ” We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man” and ” We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same”.

    If you believe the veracity of the D&C, (which I understand some may not), do you think that God here was giving the ok for a limited traditional government? Even considering the fallibility of human beings? Are the necessary civil officers to be funded by taxation just due to the ok given by Deity?

    I personally think that verse 2 outlines a social contract that only applies to those who give explicit acceptance, but that’s because I feel it is consistent with other parts of the Gospel. However, I do think that it is reasonable to assume that God was giving the ok for a limited government. This is based on the assumption that legitimacy can be established by consent of the governed or granted by Deity.

    1. Logan,

      When I read the verses you cited in D&C 134 I don’t know of any government on this earth which “secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” NONE!
      I believe the U.S. Constitution may have been the best God could get done at the time working through the people he inspired. And that is all it was. Certainly wasn’t the ideal system as it was based on limited theft and limited control which logically and inevitably became the evil monstrosity it is today. You can’t ever give people power over other people and not see that power grossly abused. History is clear on that.
      Nobody has the moral right to forcibly control another person as all are created equal in the eyes of God. Nor does one have the right to hire(vote for) somebody else to do it.

      1. Thanks for the response Greg,

        So as you pointed out, there are no governments that either of us know of currently that fully protect life liberty and property. Obviously some do better than others, but no one on earth is fully protected it seems. According to verse 5 then, do you think that rebellion and sedition are justified? I don’t.

        Which leads me to this question, how do you suggest one should work toward a more just and liberty oriented society which you describe? (and with which I agree) Others on this forum seem to feel the best way is to dissolve government completely, then build volunteer organizations, or no organizations, from the ground up.

        I tend to lean in the direction of moving back towards what we had in the U.S. from about 1870 to 1910 ish. Then from there promote as much liberty as is sustainable into the future. While always keeping in mind the goal of a totally just and free society. Personally, I don’t think a jump away from the principles in the U.S. Constitution would happen until the millennium, but I’m not really sure.

        1. Logan,

          My decision is to withhold my support from government in so far as possible without putting a target on my chest. I am not morally bound to support or recognize it as being legitimate and I don’t. Rebellion and sedition are terms which the state uses, not me.
          I believe in and will support a volunteer society and I believe that is the future.
          Not at all interested in trying to turn back the clock in the U.S. for many reasons. First of all I think it is pretty much impossible and secondly I am opposed to ALL rulers and thus being their subject.
          Nobody has a right to rule and rob me and nobody has a right to vote for that outcome either.
          I don’t hold the constitution in high regard because it was based on force and theft and control, all of which I oppose. I don’t see how it can be legitimate for other people to vote for a system to control you which you oppose and make you subject to it. That would be like Satan getting together his followers and voting to make you join him in his rebellion against God. It just doesn’t make sense.
          I own me and you own you and neither of us has the right to impose our will on each other.
          All government no matter how limited its power relies on force to operate. Take away the force and it would no longer be government. You would merely have organization that people voluntarily belong to and support, which is the ideal in my opinion.

          1. To you voluntarists, here is my challenge: show me a quote from a prophet or apostle that says all government is evil or that no government is the best solution.

            I can show you quite the opposite. Virtually every modern prophet has said that the Constitution was inspired of God, and we should support a move back to it. This website has links to many of these quotes: http://www.latterdayconservative.com/quotes/.

            Again, it seems to me that the biggest rift between those that believe in government (limited to simply protecting rights) versus the voluntaryists, is that of taxation.

            Hopefully if you’re LDS and believe libertarian principles, you’ve read “The Proper Role of Government” by President Benson [http://www.zionsbest.com/proper_role.html]. If not you need to! In my understanding, President Benson was more vocal than any prophet about supporting libertarian principles, and in this talk he talks over-and-over that government should be limited to protecting rights and that we can only delegate power to government that we have as individuals: these are the pillars of libertarian principles. He gives numerous examples of applying these principles.

            In this talk, he also states the following about taxation: “I maintain that every person who enjoys the protection of his life, liberty, and property should bear his fair share of the cost of government in providing that protection; that the elementary priing that protection; that the elementary principles of justice set forth in the Constitution demand that all taxes imposed be uniform and that each person’s property or income be taxed at the same rate.”

            So, based on this talk (and many others he’s given), I have come to understand that God has granted to man the power to tax his neighbor, which is contingent upon at least two things, 1: that tax is a flat tax for everyone, and 2: that tax is ONLY used to protect life, liberty, and property (no socialism, no social planning, etc.). If God has granted me the power to tax based on the above, then I can delegate this power to government.

            To be quite frank, when it comes to understanding what power and authority God has given me to force upon my neighbor, I trust a teaching directly from a modern prophet of God much more than I trust a voluntarist.

  19. Johnny,

    I think there are some good arguments made by Alma in Mosiah 23. Verse 7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king. And in 13- And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

    I see no difference between a king or a president or any other ruler.
    And explain to me where government gets the right to steal from its subjects if the ten commandments apply to all people, as they do.
    In the U.S. supposedly the government gets its power from the people which was then delegated to them. But how could the people delegate powers they never even had? And how can I morally have the right to make decisions for other people who don’t want any part of them?
    I don’t see the government as a protector of my life, liberty and property and in fact it is the biggest threat to all those things so why would I morally be obligated to pay for it?
    I have no problem paying for things I value and want and in fact do pay for all those things.

    You are making a faulty assumption that only the gang called government could provide protection, security, etc. The free market if allowed could and would provide all the products and services people wanted at a lower price and with far more freedom than a state could. And it could also take steps to prevent people from getting things without paying for them without using force and theft.

    Going back to what you said, “that the elementary principles of justice set forth in the Constitution demand that all taxes imposed be uniform and that each person’s property or income be taxed at the same rate.” There were no income taxes or property taxes authorized when the constitution was written. All taxes were duties and excise taxes and amounted to about $1 per person per year.

    I read the talk you cited by President Benson and NO government on this earth fits the description he gave of a proper government.
    An excerpt, “The proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man can delegate a power that he does not possess. The creature cannot exceed the creator.”
    I don’t see how you can construe this to mean the government has the right to steal from people.
    To me it is quite obvious all governments on this earth are immoral and all break the commandments as their foundation of operation and existence. Morally, I have no obligation to obey any of them.

    1. Greg,

      Thanks for reading President Benson’s talk. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do (every time I read it).

      Just to clarify, the quote you cite above about taxation isn’t my invention. It’s from President Benson, in the VERY SAME TALK that you quote right below. This is my point–President Benson clearly taught that government can only have power that we have as individuals, and then IN THE SAME TALK he talks about how everyone should pay their fair share of taxes based on a flat tax.

      “The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner” is another great talk from President Benson (it’s much shorter), where he teaches the same basic libertarian principles, and refers these to the fact that the Constitution is built upon those principles: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=87

      To Logan’s point, the prophets have never said the Constitution is perfect, but it is close, and supporting a move back to it is definitely fighting for liberty. If we ever do get our government back to it, then we can worry about fixing some of it’s imperfections.

      Regarding your reference to Mosiah 23, you should also refer to Mosiah 29 which clarifies the abolition of kings (specifically 16-17, 25-16). Voted representatives replaced the kings–the government didn’t just disappear.

      There is a HUGE difference between a king and a leader of a constitutional representative democracy (e.g. President or High Judge). To give you a couple 1. most kings live above the law (i.e. they make laws that they don’t have to follow themselves). 2. Kings are in for life, not allowing the people to judge them and throw them out, and they deny the right to secede when rights are infringed upon by the government. In the Book of Mormon, under a constitutional representative democracy (i.e. the reign of the judges), the only crimes we hear about being punished are murder, theft, abuse, and lying–this also is not the case under most kings.

  20. Johnny,

    I don’t know if we should be resorting to an appeal to authority. If God is reason and evidence then let us use reason and evidence to prove our assumptions and not the “arm of flesh.” The conversation is over if we appeal to “authorities.”

      1. I just wanted to add, while I think it is very unlikely that this country could roll back the clock on the Constitution as a step along the path to liberty, I think it is more unlikely that we will be able to dissolve the state completely without stepping it down.

        Restated, risking reinforcing the system by participating in it still provides a higher likelihood of achieving liberty than does ostracizing ourselves in an effort to avoid coercion.

        I believe that the second great commandment compels us to strive for liberty not just for ourselves, but for our neighbor as well.

        I also believe that the 12th article of faith, D&C 134:5, and countless admonitions from modern day prophets teach us that trying to work in the system is not evil or compromising, but the way that Christ wants us to take.

        1. I understand your desire to continue to believe in a system you have spent your whole life under and in hoping that it can be reformed. I just disagree. I believe you have the right to believe whatever you want but you DON’T have the moral right to try and control me directly or indirectly.
          I don’t believe in the 12th article of faith and I think my reference above to Mosiah 23 supports that position.
          I think AOF 12 is merely disinformation put out by the church to protect itself from becoming a target of the state which at this time would wipe it out without direct intervention by God.

          God commanded all people NOT to steal.
          ALL states steal as their basis of power and control and for their own gain.
          ALL states are made of people who are subject to the ten commandments.
          So where do you see God gave those people who joined the gang called government an exemption from obeying or being subject to the ten commandments ? ? ?
          Please show me the revelation or scripture.

          1. We have the same ideal. I honestly don’t understand how some people can come to a different ideal if they support the church and its doctrine.

            I think where we differ is the road to that ideal. It is here, in all sincerity, that I think you are treading on a very dangerous road. Not in your tremendous support of pure liberty, something that I think most people on this forum share, but the danger arises when you pick and choose which prophetic words to prioritize and even some to disregard. I do believe the 12th article of faith, and until the Prophet tells us that there is a glaring error in it I’ll stand by it. Careful review of D&C 134 also echoes the same message as the 12th article of faith in my opinion.

            Before every election the First Presidency encourage us to vote and to participate in the political process in all countries. Ezra Taft Benson, Rueben J Clark, Gordon B Hinkley, David O Mckay, and many many other living and dead oracles have voiced the importance of participating in the political process to promote the cause of liberty. These same men have told us that the Constitution is a banner that we can stand under for the time being. I do not believe that this is a ploy to maintain popular support neither is it a misunderstanding by these men. It is too consistent over time and too heavily stressed for that to be the case.

            I don’t want to sound condescending. Sorry if I do. I very much admire your support for liberty and the obvious effort you have put into sorting out the realities that government ignores. I just feel that maybe your not looking at the whole picture. I always reserve the right to assert that I could be wrong.

  21. Johnny Hardy said, “and that we can only delegate power to government that we have as individuals:” You do not have the power, unless you are behaving as a criminal, to control your neighbor by force. You cannot give government what you do not have. That makes government, ipso facto, illegitimate.

    You want authority? How about that of Jesus of Nazareth? “Do unto others as you would have them do to you?” No tax collector, not government agent can live by that principles. It makes all people in government illegitimate by Christ’s standards.

    Johnny Hardy: To be quite frank, when it comes to understanding what power and authority God has given me to force upon my neighbor, I trust a teaching directly from a modern prophet of God much more than I trust a voluntarist.”

    Johnny, What evidence do you have that your modern prophet speaks for God.

    Johnny, Do you believe in slavery? If we can believe the Bible, God himself, speaking through the Prophet Moses, put his stamp of approval on human slavery. (Levitcus 25:44, and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.) The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution obviously believed in slavery too, for that unholy document made slavery legal in the U.S. for the best part of a century, and it resulted in the deaths of several million people through the practice and the Civil War. Its unholy effects continue to plague the United States and its people to this day. The Constitution, if it had any spiritual influence, was inspired by Satan more than by God.”

    Johnny, try living by Jesus’ principles enunciated in his Sermon on the Mount, and you will find yourself divorced from the state and its evil influences.

    1. I think you may be barking up the wrong tree questioning the authority of LDS prophets in this forum Ned.

      To the credit of many of the founding fathers allowing slavery in the Constitution was not unanimous by any stretch of the imagination. I have heard some very convincing arguments that by including the apparent contradictions to slavery in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that one of the documents sole designs was to eliminate slavery in the long run.

      Just because the Constitution isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it isn’t close to it. Some may argue that its all or nothing, either perfection or tyranny, but I honestly think there is value in the massive strides the Constitution took for liberty despite its few flaws.

      1. Ned,

        “What evidence do you have that your modern prophet speaks for God?”

        Jesus himself answered this is Matthew 7:15–20: “Beware of false prophets… Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

        To know if someone who claims to be a prophet and speaks with God’s authority is a true or false prophet, you can examine their “fruit”. For example, examine their teachings and actions. Joseph Smith, the first prophet of our modern time (lived in the early 1800s), claimed to speak with God’s authority. One of his main “fruits” is the Book of Mormon, which I know to be a good fruit. It is a pro-liberty book, which hopefully you’ve been finding through this discussion. More importantly, it is a pro-Christ book. By living its teachings, it has brought me closer to Christ. Ultimately I have prayed and asked God if the Book of Mormon is true, and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and God has answered in the affirmative.

        I invite you to do the same–read the Book of Mormon, study the teachings and actions of these modern men who claim to be prophets (today it is Thomas S. Monson). Most importantly, ask God yourself if these things are true, and God has promised that he will answer you individually.

        To answer some of your other questions… Yes, a tax collector and government agent can follow Jesus and “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. If they pay the same exact tax rate that they charge you, and they obey the same laws they tell you to obey, then they are doing exactly what they want others to do.

        Regarding slavery, not all the founding fathers supported slavery. In fact many of them saw the Declaration of Independence and Constitution as necessary steps to in fact abolish slavery because other efforts didn’t work. Here is a great article that discusses it and quotes some of the fathers: http://christiananswers.net/q-wall/wal-g003.html

        Regarding the Bible’s references to slavery under the Law of Moses, I don’t necessarily have a great answer, but here are some of my thoughts. First of all, we don’t know for sure what the Bible originally said. It was originally written in Hebrew and has been translated through several languages before coming to English. Some of the wording and intent can easily have changed through that process.

        Second, I’ve heard an interesting theory that, under the Law Moses, “slaves” may have been individuals who had committed crimes and were in the process of paying restitution. For example, if someone were to damage a large and valuable portion of your property, you can demand restitution. What if they don’t have the money to compensate it for you? Shouldn’t they work for you to pay it off. If this sense, they have become a “slave” to you until damages are compensated. For large damages (which certainly happen today) this may take years to pay off. Sure makes better sense to have them work for you rather than sit and rot in a prison cell, where nothing gets restored to you. In a free market system, if a criminal is completely in your service (a “slave”) until a certain debt is paid, you would have the freedom to sell their services (and therefore the person until the debt is paid) to someone else. Perhaps someone else would pay you a pretty penny for them because they have more suitable manual labor for the criminal. This theory seems plausible to me, and perhaps the word was quite different when originally written by Moses in Hebrew, but now when translated several times then to English the closes word we have is “slave”.

      2. Don’t know why I can’t reply to the post where I asked you about where people in government get an exemption to the ten commandments. You didn’t answer that question at all. Do you have one?
        And here is another. You stated that before every election the First Presidency encourages all members to vote. Encouraging, definitely is not a commandment, right? So which should you obey? Being encouraged to vote which accepts and condones, theft, violence, oppression and murder, violating many of the ten commandments, which apply to ALL people with no exceptions granted to people who join a big gang or to just follow the ten commandments?

        1. I agree in your assessment of the 10 commandments and their application to theft via government. I don’t rebut that, that establishes a pure liberty ideal which I agree with.

          I most definitely will follow the encouragement of the brethren. They stand as watch men on a tower. The prophet does not need to say “thus sayeth the Lord” to give something the gravity of inspiration from the Lord, encouragement still holds weight with me. I will also obey that and the 10 commandments. I see working within the system to promote liberty not only as compliant with both the encouragement from the Lords mouthpiece today and the 10 commandments, but this path is also consistent with counsel given through prophets and apostles from Joseph Smith until today.

          Ask yourself this honestly, would the first presidency consistently and emphatically over the course of almost 100 years counsel the members of the church to participate in political systems across the globe if it were against the will of God?

          Use Levi Savage (look him up if you don’t know who he is) as an example on how to treat apparent contradictions you see in the counsel of the brethren. Even if you think you know better than the brethren, if you follow them, you will be on the right path. Don’t assume your tower is higher than theirs, its a dangerous game to play. There is a reason we have prophets, they explain, expound and guide us through the pitfalls that the adversary lays.

          I feel really preachy and I don’t like that. But this is one of the most fundamental principles of the restored gospel.

          Again, i really do respect your well thought out position and hope that you don’t hold my self righteous words against me.

  22. Logan, Rest assured that I would not hold anything you say against you. As a woefully deficient disciple of Jesus, holding anything against anyone has no place in the conduct he proclaimed righteous. God gave me an intellect and the ability to reason. I certainly heed the counsel of the wise and learned, but when their words appear to conflict with those of Jesus, I dismiss them.

  23. Sometimes the Lord gives conflicting commandments as he did to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and expects us to choose the “right” one. I think encouraging people to vote is another conflict.
    Voting promotes, accepts and condones disobeying the ten commandments. I see that as an absolute fact. There are no exceptions granted to people who join the gang called government. I will not vote for my own slavery, robbery or oppression nor will I vote for any of those things for my neighbor. Supporting government or the state(not governance) is opposing God as it is based on theft and force.
    We chose to each vote individually(the only moral type of vote) against force in the preexistence and were rewarded for that choice with mortal and immortal(in the future) bodies. Why would we come here and then turn around and vote for something we already voted against?
    You only have the right to vote for something which applies to you and never for another person, a lesson learned in the preexistence.
    I think the brethren encourage voting as an act of misdirection to protect the church from being directly targeted by the state.
    I don’t know better than the brethren what is best for the church but I do know what is best for me.
    And I know I have no right to decide what is best for you and especially have no right to initiate force against you directly or indirectly. And likewise you have no rights over me.
    I respect your opinion although I think it is confused. I don’t get offended when somebody disagrees with me nor do I think I then have the right to use violence against them.
    I would welcome a discussion about this one on one with any of the brethren.

    1. Greg: “Don’t know why I can’t reply to the post where I asked you about where people in government get an exemption to the ten commandments… Voting promotes, accepts and condones disobeying the ten commandments.”

      Like you, I don’t believe that government officials get an exemption to the ten commandments. That is why I vote for candidates and propositions that I understand are most compatible with D&C 134:2 “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” By voting for such, I am actually promoting the ten commandments, because if government does secure to us our rights of life, liberty, and property, then they are supporting many of the ten commandments. To state this more clearly to your points, by voting for candidates that have positions such as eliminating taxes, supporting the free market, and only fighting wars when we are not the first aggressor, we are better following “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not kill”.

      Greg: “I will not vote for my own slavery, robbery or oppression nor will I vote for any of those things for my neighbor.”

      That is an interesting point of view. Perhaps God is inspiring you to gain more freedom in a much different way than he inspires me. However, by voting for candidates that will work to better secure my life, liberty, and property rights I am also NOT voting for my own slavery. I am in fact voting to become more free. If I don’t vote at all, I feel like I’m slave that is not working to get my freedom because I am giving others more power to keep me enslaved, but by voting for liberty (and encouraging others to do such) I am actually taking action to relieve myself of slavery. I could use your same logic and argue to you that by NOT voting you are supporting slavery because you are NOT taking action to remove our bonds.

      In the first presidency letters, the prophet and apostles often give stronger wording than just “encouraging” us to vote. They often state it is a duty (same word used with the priesthood), they often “urge” us, and in at least one case say “Latter-day Saints as citizens are to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest. ”

      Note that they say we “are” to seek out…, this sounds like a command to me. You can read the text of one of the letters here: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/first-presidency-issues-letter-on-political-participation

      1. Johnny,
        You said, “That is why I vote for candidates and propositions that I understand are most compatible with D&C 134:2 “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”
        There isn’t a single candidate you can vote for which doesn’t use the power of the government to steal the property of others. Not one.
        Not voting for theft isn’t even close to the same thing as voting for it.
        By not voting I am choosing not to support or be a part of theft, control, murder, etc.
        By voting, no matter who you vote for, you are supporting all those things because those conditions are always a result of any voting.

  24. Here is the thing, y’all. The people posting on this site on the side of “voluntarism” or a “stateless” society are missing a vital point, made by Johnny and Logan: the appeal to the prophets and scriptures to make their points, where as all of the arguments to the contrary rest on various secular authors (some rather intelligent, to be sure and who have made other important advances in political theory, economics, etc. ) and questioning even the wisdom of following the revealed prophets of the Lord. This is what I know:

    The Lord, even Jesus Christ, has reestablished His true church on the earth, and has named it “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”. To aid His people and the whole earth know His will in all things, He has given us the scriptures, including the Bible (as far as it was traslated correctly), the Book of Mormon (which was translated by the power of God and given specifically to the Gentiles (us non-Jews) for the convincing of the house of Isreal through our preaching and teaching that Jesus is the Christ, the very God of the Old Testament and our Saviour), the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, as well as modern-day prophets to guide all men on the earth as to the true will and law of the Lord.

    I know God is not a God of confusion, but of order. He has but one way to have us act and believe in all regards, and has revelaed those means and truths in the scriptures but most importantly our prophets. I urge all of you who lack the testimony that the Lord works through His servants the prophets to kneel as soon as you read this and sincerely ask God in faith, nothing waivering, if He does indeed use prophets to further His work among His children and I testify to you that He will confirm this truth to your mind and spirit through the Holy Ghost.

    Until I had personally done this, I thought as many other people did about this subject: I thought voluntarism and a stateless society was the bees knees, and no-one but God could convince me otherwise. But convince me He did! I sought out the teachings not of the great minds of men but of prophets and apostles, both modern and recorded in scripture on the subjects of liberty, freedom and agency, and my testimony of the truthfulness of modern-day prophets and the pattern of revelation laid out by the Lord for all the world led me irrevocably to where I am today.

    I testify to you that God Himself operates within a government, and that organisation and functions for our earthly, non-religious governments which mimic as closely as possible His perfect organisation can be found not only in Doctrine and Convenants section 134 but the Constitution for the united States as well. I also know that while God uses imperfect people to perform His work (people who may not even be in possession of the whole truth or gospel), what is most important to keep in mind is the overall structure and plan, as laid out by God. Doctrine and Covenants 134 verses one and two especially highlight this truth, showing proof to all men that while governments are necessary, liberty, freedom and agency cannot be preserved unless the government form and function are done in the Lord’s manner.

    God lives and loves each one of His children, and is saddened when we fight amongst ourselves and especially reject His word and wisdom and lean on our own (and other men’s) understanding. I promise each of you that if you seek the Kingdom of God first (as provided in the scriptures and possessed in its fullness by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and then base your learning and studying on the doctrinal truths found in the gospel, not only will your learning of so-called secular subjects increase (truthfully no subject or matter is secular, for it is all spiritual to the Lord) but your testimony of the Lord and confidence in His word will also have an increase. Read your scriptures. Read the words of the prophets and meditate on what the Lord has given the world in way of revelation, and you will grow to know and understand the truth of all things. Amen.

    1. Aaron’s comment is one of the reasons I decided that I must disassociate myself from religion. Too much mysticism. Too much reliance on the arm of flesh. Besides all the other problems with Mormonism and religion in general.

      Aaron, you can find quotes that say you shouldn’t just rely on all the words of the “prophets” even from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. If God is a god of reason (which Mormonism alludes to) then you ought to use logic and reason to persuade us. If you cannot, but must just say that “God said so, so repent ye sinners,” then you will not find an audience with me.

      This same reasoning is why people support the ungodly war on drugs and support killing innocents in foreign lands. Enough is enough. Stop the violence and accept love and peace as solutions – rather than violence.

    2. Aaron,

      I appreciate your comments and your faith. I did however refer to scriptural and prophetic support for my position on voluntaryism. I cited Mosiah 23 verses 7 and 13. I also repeatedly cited the ten commandments written by the hand of God Himself and given to a great prophet named Moses. We have been told by each and every subsequent prophet they apply to ALL people. Never heard of any exceptions granted from them, to people just because they joined a big gang, have you?
      ALL government breaks almost every commandment as the foundation of their existence and rule and yet government is just people. So where did those people acquire the exemption to the ten commandments and thus the right to lie, steal, covet, murder, etc.?

      1. The Ten Commandments should indeed make a great deal of the foundation of all human action (the Golden Rule making the entire, but the ten commandments being a kind of exposition on that), and governments nor the people who choose them and their leaders are never exempt from following that Golden Rule. Doctrine and Covenants 134 verse 1 explains that the Lord does indeed hold every man accountable for the sins he commits while at the ballot box or which political philosophies and programs he defends.

        Saying that, governments, as stated in those scriptures, are instituted for the protection of man’s life and liberties. If it happens that the government of a particular nation does overstep its role and authority and mission, their actions are then illegitimate and a change of the mode or form of the government must change to bring it back to the Christ-approved ideal.

        The trick is (and subsequently our mission in this life) is to learn the best forms of governance, only supporting those intellectually and physically while trying to teach the truth to everyone as quickly as possible.

        And what then, is the proper scope of government, since A government is indeed necessary? The proper scope of gvernment is nothing more or less than this: The protection of liberties and freedom of every man, through an impartial, righteous judicial system whose laws are based on the laws of God, not man. That’s it! Anything more or less than that is counter to God’s plan for us because anything more or less reduces the agency of man. More actions by government would restrict action and agency, while because of economics of scale, any less would result in each man being wholly responsible for his own security and protection of property rights (which would be prohibitively expensive in time or money), which would mean less time spent reading scriptures or other good books and actually learning and advancing.

        And for all those who are not satisfied with an answer based on scripture or faith in prophets, you are probably in the wrong forum. The Church teaches its members to do all things by faith, having Christ as their foundation. Not human logic or rhetorical argument. The Lord has spoken on these issues, and that’s the way it should be. It is up to us then to figure out the ‘why’s’ behind each commandent. But those reasons are always given (in time) to those who obey.

  25. John Hardy, you say, “To answer some of your other questions… Yes, a tax collector and government agent can follow Jesus and “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. If they pay the same exact tax rate that they charge you, and they obey the same laws they tell you to obey, then they are doing exactly what they want others to do.”

    No, because others don’t take money from the tax collectors, while the tax collectors take money from those others. Its a one-way street. Can I take some of the tax collector’s earnings, by force if necessary? An IRS agent or any other federal enforcement agent can use force, up to and including killing their victim, in order to collect taxes. I can’t do to them what they do to me. My friend, Irwin Schiff, was sentenced to 13 years in prison at age 76 for writing and speaking in opposition to the income tax laws. You defense of those criminals who work for the government crime syndicate is absolutely inane. A tax collector may pay tax, but it is a small fraction of what the tax collector is paid in money, 100 percent of which is stolen from other non-tax collectors. What criminal wouldn’t desire a lucrative salary comprised of stolen property with no risk of prosecution in exchange for paying a small part of it back to the criminal gang. Mafia members are happy to return some of their loot to their bosses. The same is true of all of the thugs who work for the government gang. They use force to control you, you cannot use force to control them. Your defense is specious, illogical and tiring. There are LDS members serving as IRS agents, and they and your Church should be ashamed of them. I suspect you know that as well as I do, and that is what is forcing you to defend the IRS and its agents. LDS, though its members, is closely allied with local, state and federal governments and constitutes a powerful voice in the politics of several states where its members comprise a large percentage of the electors. For this reason alone, I suspect its teachings on the subject we are discussing to be compromised according to the precept Jesus enunciated in his Sermon on the Mount: “No man can serve two masters.”

    Your other answers are not answers. You are trying your best to defend an indefensible criminal enterprise. I have quoted the words of Jesus and other passages from the Bible, and you find a non-germane answer in LDS scripture, and cite it as authority. I go by the words and Way of Jesus as my authority, aided by logic and common sense. Jesus said, “Do unto others ONLY what you would have others do to you.” You have yet to explain how government operatives can live by that “rule.” Unlike Jesus’ Golden Rule, which is self-enforcing, so to speak, because those who follow it do well in life and those who don’t don’t. His Rule doesn’t require calling upon agents with guns and tanks for enforcement as your government rules do. If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints refuses to heed the wisdom of Jesus, it ought to drop his name from the church. If you think God put his stamp of approval on government, read the First Book of Samuel and you will see that He did not. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, the devil offered him all the power and authority of all the kingdoms of the world, saying that it had been given to him and he could give it to whoever he pleased. Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim, and if it wasn’t a factual statement by that notorious liar it wouldn’t have constituted a temptation, as the Bible professes it was. You are probably also aware the tax collectors, particularly IRS agents, routinely hide their occupation from their casual friends and neighbors. Why do you think that is???

  26. Here are some articles about how “shun your neighbor” worked in Mesquite, Nevada. Unfortunately they did try to go to the government first to try shutting down pornography store, but when government couldn’t help, they used “shun your neighbor” to shut it down themselves. Great example of keeping evil out of our community without the need to violate rights. If anyone tells you “shun your neighbor” is great in principle but wouldn’t work in practicality, here is an example of when it did work in practicality!

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/317505/CUSTOMERS-OF-NEW-ADULT-BOOKSTORE-ARE-BEING-WATCHED.html?pg=all

    http://mesquitecitizen.com/viewnews.php?newsid=1619&id=3

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