The Impersonal Middle Man – The Reason We Act Differently Through Government

Why do people act differently with each other personally than through government? For example, most people would not go to their neighbor and hold them at gunpoint and say, “Give me your money, I would like to use it to benefit me and/or some others. If you don’t, I will use force, and if you resist, I will escalate my force and maybe even shoot.” Most people wouldn’t do that because most people think that stealing is wrong, so they behave themselves more or less morally in direct face-to-face relations with others. However, what if you pay someone else named (Uncle) Sam to go to a person’s house and steal from that person, and then to split the bounty with you. And, you do not necessarily personally know the victim, Sam is to just do the deed to someone and then come back with the money. This is obviously still stealing and still wrong, but it is what we do all the time with taxation. So, why do people behave differently when it comes to taxation? Why do most people behave themselves in personal interaction, but then feel fine with violating others through the government?

I believe the answer is that the government offers a third party opportunity to indirectly violate others so that we don’t interact with the victims face to face, desensitizing us from the act. If we directly stole from others, we would be engaging in the physical act and this would remind us how wrong it is, and we would directly see the victim and feel bad about what we were doing. But, if we get someone else to do it for us, then it’s no longer personal and it has less emotional/moral impact on us. The Government acts as an impersonal middle man for our immoral violations of others, shielding us from the shame that we should feel.

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