Size of Government

Conservatives complain about high taxes, gigantic bureaucracy, ridiculous lawsuits, piles of forms, and envy. Liberals lament the cost of the military, the number of people in prison, police tactics, inherited wealth, wage slavery, and poverty. How about a system with:

  • A low tax that is completely self-assessed with no legal penalty for non-compliance,
  • No forms to fill out,
  • Harsh penalties for frivolous lawsuits,
  • No standing army,
  • No jails!
  • No police!
  • Limits on wage slavery, a universal right to land ownership and interest-free capital so all have a chance at being financially independent,
  • A welfare system open to all without question.

This is what we find in the Law of Moses – the Law of Liberty – if we look deeply enough.

Deuteronomy 20:

8 In addition, the officers are to say to the troops, "Who among you is afraid and fainthearted? He may go home so that he will not make his fellow soldier's heart as fearful as his own."

(NET Bible®)

After the conquest of Canaan, there was no standing army. It was a purely militia-based system. And even in times of war, sensitive peace-loving hippies were exempt from military service. (Had the United States followed this dictate, we might have won in Viet Nam.)

As for taxes, there was the annual tithe (10% of the increase of farm output) to support the priesthood. But this was more religious observance than actual support of government. The priests did some governmental functions, but not much – at least as far as I can tell. (Another 10% was to be spent for the three annual religious gatherings, but that was spent on self and family. A third 10% was assessed only on the “third year,” presumably of the 7-year cycle, for feeding the poor and for the priests.)

Matthew 6:

2 Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward.

(NET Bible®)

As far as I can tell, assessment was purely on the honor system. I can find no enforcement provisions other than divine wrath for those who paid less. In the Gospel account we are given a picture of the rich bringing in large amounts of offerings in an ostentatious display to show off their prosperity – much as modern rich people pay for buildings at universities and the like.

Of course, life without real government requires personal and civic responsibility. People were expected to take care of their parents in their old age. Wealthy people were to give zero interest loans to their poorer neighbors. Farmers were to form spontaneous armies in times of invasion. Eventually, the ancient Hebrews tired of this responsibility and demanded a king. The prophet Samuel’s response is one of the earliest libertarian statements on record.

1 Samuel 8:

10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.

11 He said, "Here are the policies of the king who will rule over you: He will conscript your sons and put them in his chariot forces and in his cavalry; they will run in front of his chariot.

12 He will appoint for himself leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties, as well as those who plow his ground, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and his chariot equipment.

13 He will take your daughters to be ointment makers, cooks, and bakers.

14 He will take your best fields and vineyards and give them to his own servants.

15 He will demand a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards and give it to his administrators and his servants.

16 He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best cattle and your donkeys, and assign them for his own use.

17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his servants.

18 In that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD won't answer you in that day."

(NET Bible®)