Two Metaphors for Government
By Arnold Kling
On our left, we have George Lakoff, discussing the way taxes ought to be framed.
Are you paying your dues, or are you trying to get something for free at the expense of your country? It’s about being a member. People pay a membership fee to join a country club, for which they get to use the swimming pool and the golf course. But they didn’t pay for them in their membership. They were built and paid for by other people and by this collectivity. It’s the same thing with our country — the country as country club, being a member of a remarkable nation.
On our right, we have Robert Higgs.
The state cannot refrain from crime because it is an inherently criminal enterprise, living by robbery (which it relabels taxation) and retaining its turf by mass murder (which it relabels war).
On the one hand, the state is a country club, and our taxes are the dues we pay for the privilege of membership. On the other hand, it is a criminal enterprise.
Neither metaphor is entirely wrong. I pay my membership dues to the Maryland and U.S. governments because the other criminal enterprises offer an even less attractive package of benefits and dues.