Financing a Government

A moral government must ban the initiation of force. Taxation is a form of coercion and an initiation of force, and is not a moral method for financing a government. There are other methods for financing a government which don't undermine man's means of survival. Here are some examples.

Trust Fund

Existing governments could create a large trust fund from their current assets. All government land and supplies which are not needed for police, military, or the courts can be sold. The real money, however, comes from selling intangible assets which are currently "publicly owned". The airwaves - i.e. portions of the EM spectrum - which are currently given away under special leases by the government to private companies should be sold at auction and made into permanent private property. Also, permanent, transferable pollution licenses should be auctioned off to private industry to bring environmental management into the free market rather than in the clutches of some bureaucrat. The resulting trust fund from selling these and similar assets could likely more than pay for all the necessary jobs of a proper government, depending on the country.

User Fees

User fees are fees paid directly to government by individuals or legal entities who want specific services. An example of this would be court costs for civil actions. The plaintiff would be responsible for paying all court costs unless his suit is successful, in which case the court cost would transfer to the defendant. In the case of a successful criminal prosecution, all court fees would also be paid for by the defendant.


A moral government with a narrowly defined role of preventing the initiation of force is a great good to all citizens. Certain functions which don't have specific beneficiaries could be financed largely through donations, just as charities are financed. Americans donate billions to charity each year, a cause such as the military for national defense is surely as worthy as any other cause. One aspect to note about this is that individuals will tend to donate more depending on how much they benefit. Bill Gates, for example, has a lot to lose if this country gets overrun by some enemy, so a few million donation for him would be in his interest to help insure his fortune. If individuals feel that the country is inadequately defended and they are at jeopardy, the marginal beneficiaries will donate more.

Flat Citizen Fees

It is not necessary that everyone residing within the jurisdiction of a government be citizens. Citizenship could be optional for all residents of a country, with a flat yearly citizenship fee. Citizenship would have such advantages as the right to vote and the right to run for public office. These fees would go to further finance portions of government without specific beneficiaries, such as the costs of unsuccessful criminal prosecutions. Citizenship status could never be allowed to determine the availability of government protection.

Copyright 2001 by Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands