Reporting from: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. claimed “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

But are they?

Ask any progressive and they’ll tell you the work of government is never done.

There’s always another reason for the overburdening hand of the state to slap someone else down, because there’s always someone oppressed.

In the west, these things have gotten pretty out of hand. Up until a few years ago, the leftist crowd constantly bemoaned how the United States was the only “developed country” in the world with no government health care scheme. Now that Obamacare is the law of the land, they’re griping they don’t have a single-payer system.

Because, after all, they are oppressed.

Statists use words like “our” and “us” and “we” to make you feel like you’re part of THEIR fight. They shape the public discourse to reflect their desire for more legalized government theft and more infringement on human liberties.

Over time, you’re made to feel like doing anything than go along with their dreams of a big, socialistic government, makes you a traitor. The rich business owner who won’t chip in an extra twenty-five grand a year so they, the oppressed majority, can get free healthcare is not part of “society”.

Here on the other side of the world, this whole idea of a “society” hasn’t exactly caught on yet. People go to work, earn money, and provide for their families. They start businesses and fail. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and figure something out.

In the developing world, there is little safety net. And somehow, people have managed to sock away tidy sums of money – sums that rival or exceed the savings of their developed world counterparts – despite much lower incomes.

After all, Vietnam and Asia in general has one of the world’s highest savings rates.

Back in the developed world, the idea of “society” is fully engrained in the population. If you don’t succeed, it must be someone else’s fault. Everyone is a victim. There’s an excuse for failure at every turn.

You, the person of aspirations and dedication, get to pay for that failure.

Because statists in the west have advanced the idea that, without high taxes, there is no such thing as society. They claim “taxes are the price we pay for civilization”.

Let’s examine that.

It’s a refrain I hear often. Yesterday, I wrote about the 1,130 US expats who torched their passports and renounced their citizenship. While their reasons for doing so are likely rather varied, many of them are no doubt tired of the US tax dragnet that has turned them into criminals merely for having a bank account in their new country of residence.

While I applaud these expats for finding a solution to a problem THEY did not create, money-grubbing statists who will use any excuse to steal money from government slaves were up in arms.

Words like “traitor” and “tax evader” were thrown around with the casualness of the Kennedys throwing a football around in Hyannisport. Proponents of bloated government, bothered by the loss of 1,130 productive tax slaves, were crawling the walls looking for any rationalization as to why these citizenship renunciants were evil people.

In the world, not paying for their government goodie bag is tantamount to treason.

But are taxes really the price we pay for “civilization”? For as cultured and refined as these statists want to portray themselves, I doubt any of them have traveled far outside of the United States.

As I write this, I’m eating a delicious hamburger in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s top five-star resorts. The service is excellent. The waterfall near my seat is relaxing. The security guards who will open the door for me on the way out are pleasant. And on the busy street outside, there’s a sense of order.

In over a month in Vietnam, I’ve yet to see anyone robbed, mugged, or kidnapped on the street.

You could say that here, in the so-called “third world”, there is a great sense of “civilization”. True, there are parts of Vietnam where running water is a new idea. But by and large, every developing country I’ve been to has quite a sense of “civilization” about it.

For what is civilization other than people being civil to each other? Letting them go about their daily lives?

The idea that legalized theft by a tyrannical government makes a place civilized is nonsensical. Since when was stealing someone else’s stuff a civilized thing to do?

So let’s make some comparisons.

Andorra, located between Spain and France in the Pyrenees, has a 0% tax rate. (Although the EU is bullying it into changing that.) According to one international crime survey, Andorra’s crime rate is literally zero. All of 71 people are in jail there.

Meanwhile, unemployment is 1.9% or even less. Banks in Andorra there are among the most highly capitalized in the world. And they’ve got several top-rated ski resorts.

Sounds pretty civilized to me. While I found Andorra rather boring, it would be hard to call it uncivilized.

A little to the east, the principality of Monaco also has a 0% tax rate. (Again, they were bullied by France into taxing French nationals as if they lived in France.) The country is one of the wealthiest in the world. People spend their days at the tony casino or on their yacht.


Because of the thousands of yachts registered to Monaco for tax reasons, a huge yacht and luxury travel industry has sprung up there. It’s quite a sight to behold. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been to many places more “civilized” than Monaco.

Bermuda, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and more… all pretty civilized. You may not like their culture, but it’s not like you’d be shot dead as you stepped off the plane.

And while places like Singapore do have income tax, their levels of taxation are very low and are often a flat tax. Statist do-gooders balk at this, too. Perhaps they should see just how much it costs to rent a broom closet there before they write it off as “uncivilized”.

Compare these places to The Land of the Free. The US has a world-leading 2.1 million incarcerated prisoners, a decrepit educational system, a sky high murder rate in cities like Chicago, and one of the highest AIDS rates – save sub-Saharan Africa – in its capital city.

Meanwhile, the idea of keeping one’s door unlocked at night is a relic of the 1950s, and women’s groups promote stats saying one in four women will be raped before turning 18.

Oh, how civilized that all sounds.

Statists will make up excuses to tell you why these examples – and there are more – are just outliers. “It’s just oil money” or “that country is so small” are frequent retorts to the idea that a government could get along without robbing its own people.

Let’s set aside the fact the tax-happy places like the United States have plenty of resources to exploit, too. The reality is, huge swaths of the world are civilized. Many have high-tax regimes, but others don’t. It’s not the taxes that make the places civilized.

At the end of the day, I don’t want my government to have the power to steal from me at gunpoint. I’m happy to live in a small country; in fact, I believe those born in places like Andorra or Liechtenstein or Singapore are some of the luckiest people in the world.

You’d think the UN-loving big government crowd would be a little less racist to cultures they don’t understand before writing them off as a bunch of savages. But such is the character of a dishonest thief: they’re all about love and diversity and cultural understanding until those cultures decide they can run a better economy without an income tax.

For to them, if you believe tax collectors – the world’s most disdained profession since the Bible – don’t make for great civilization, then you’re quite uncivilized, indeed.

Of course, if the statist crowd REALLY believed taxes were the fuel behind civilization, they’d follow in Holmes’ footsteps and leave their entire estate as a gift to the United States government. Imagine how much civilization that could bring about.

Of course, I suspect most of them have nothing, which is why they resort to making a living by theft, with the government as their proxy.

Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Andrew has been internationalizing since 2008, and has learned what works and what doesn't work when it comes to reducing taxes, increasing personal freedom, and creating wealth. Click here to work with him personally.
Andrew Henderson
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