Today I’m going to take issue with two phrases from contemporary political discourse: “wealth redistribution” and “gun buybacks.” Both are popular ideas on the Left, and both carry the same insidious deceit, one that is both wrong on its face and emblematic of a deeper falsehood.

Simply put, the government cannot “buy back” guns, because those guns never belonged to the government in the first place.

Similarly, the government cannot “redistribute” private wealth, because that wealth never belonged to the government.

That this factual error goes largely unchallenged is not just about sloppiness of language and infidelity to facts. It’s born of a socialistic attitude towards individual rights, including the ownership of the fruit of one’s labor. That is to say, a mindset that doesn’t believe that an individual owns the fruits of his labor, but that “society” does. And, by “society,” it means “government,” or more specifically, the subordination of an individual’s rights to the whims of elected officials of an acceptable mindset and worldview.

Libertarians are very fond of the slogan “Taxation is Theft.” Statists are derisively dismissive of both the idea and the principle behind it, because they don’t like being told that they can’t appropriate other people’s stuff when it suits them. Sure, they’ll wrap it up in some carefully crafted pseudo-moralism, but that doesn’t make it any better.

I have two issues with “Taxation is Theft,” which I’ve detailed on these pages.

The first is that there is a justifiable case for “fee-for-service” taxation, detailed here. If you use a road, it makes sense that you pay for that privilege. If a police force exists to protect your rights, expecting you to contribute to its funding makes sense.

The second is that “theft” is too soft a word, detailed here. Taxation is armed robbery. Don’t pay? You will be either forced to, or be deprived of your liberty. At the point of a gun.

“Redistribution,” more correctly dubbed “confiscation and bribery,” is not fee-for-service. Nor is it disbursement of money the government earned. It is the aforementioned armed robbery, the taking, by force, of the fruit of someone’s labor merely to give to someone else, with a vig extracted to fund the bureaucracy. There’s nothing “re-” about it because the money taken was not given to those it’s being taken from.

Ditto for gun buyback programs. The government did not sell me any of the guns I have purchased and subsequently lost in tragic boating accidents. I bought them from private-sector firearms dealers. Therefore, they cannot be “bought back,” and to use the term “buyback” is to engage in a deceit intended to undermine my right to own that which I paid for.

What’s the point of such misuse of terms? Is it just sloppiness, or is it part of a deliberate manipulation of language to undermine association with principles that oppose the imposition of the State’s will on the citizenry? The answer lies, I suppose, in one’s degree of cynicism.

Mine grows every day.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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