Taxation, the government acquisition of property from the individual has mixed support in any Western democratic system. To make its way into the good will of the majority, taxation has surrounded itself with doctrines of justification. No law which lacks public approval or acquiescence is enforceable, and to gain such support it must address itself to our sense of correctness. This is particularly necessary for statutes authorizing the taking of private property. Sometimes depicted as 'theft' by those who are subject to taxation, the accusation is commonly based on the sentiment what do I get from it? However, one chooses to live in a democratic welfare state and to take up the services society has to offer the individual; the argument of free-will is combated here by the necessities of the individual. Often misunderstood by the tax-paying individual, taxation is not solely a legal obligation, but a social obligation as well; one has a duty to protect the weaker members of society in any welfare state.

Taxation is justified through constitutional law and social convention, and so any rejection of taxation's legitimacy is a direct condemnation of the legitimacy of the law, the legitimacy of the State, and the appropriateness of this social convention. Any claim that denies the legitimacy of such responsibilities and powers is a claim in favour of anarchy. Thus, the claim taxation is theft has the inferential meaning that government is illegitimate. Theft is conceptually reliant on social convention and legal definition, and so without government or social obligation, the concept of theft is void. Governmental power is entrusted in the State by the people it represents, and government policy in any democratic state is intended to represent public interests. As taxation is within government policy, and such policies represent the will of the people, taxation is therefore, the will of the people.

Theft, lexically defined as taking property without permission or legal right, is an incorrect classification for taxation, as taxation is legitimized through constitutional law. Taxes are part of a social contract, an agreement between voters and government to exchange money for the government's goods and services. Even libertarians agree that breach of contract legitimates a police response. So the real question is not whether a crime should be met with forcible intervention but whether or not the social contract is valid, especially to those who don't agree with it or devote their allegiance to it.

The relationship between the individual and the state is reciprocally beneficial. Through democratic participation, the social contract is two-way; the individual receives a multitude of supports from government and pays taxes in return. As the democratic 'contract' is made in representation of the individual, it is a mutually agreed transaction of services, and therefore, not theft. In exchange for taxes, the individual receives medical and welfare support when required, infrastructure, protection at a personal and national level, as well as utilities such as water, electricity, garbage disposal et cet era.

Liberals have two lines of argument against those who reject the idea of the social contract. The first is that if they reject it, they should not consume the government's goods and services. How they can avoid this when the very currency that the economy is based upon is printed by the government is a good question. Participating in the economy without using public roads, publicly funded communication infrastructure, publicly educated employees, publicly funded electricity, water, gas, and other utilities, publicly funded information, technology, research and development, is essentially impossible.

The only way to avoid public goods and services is to move out of the country entirely, or at least become such a hermit, living off the fruits of your own labour, that you reduce your consumption of public goods and services to a regrettable minimum. Although these alternatives may seem unpalatable, they are the only consistent ones in a person who truly wishes to reject the social contract. Any consumption of public goods, no matter how begrudgingly, is implicit agreement of the social contract, just as any consumption of food in a restaurant is implicit agreement to pay the bill. Many conservatives and libertarians concede the logic of this argument, but point out that taxes do not go exclusively to public goods and services. They also go for welfare payments to the poor who are allegedly doing nothing and getting a 'free ride from the system'. That, they claim, is theft.

But this argument fails too. Welfare is a form of social insurance. In the private sector we freely accept the validity of life and property insurance. Obviously, the same validity goes for social insurance like unemployment and welfare.

The tax money that goes to social insurance buys each one of us a private good: namely, the comfort of being protected in times of adversity. And it buys us a public good as well (although tax critics are loathe to admit this). If workers were allowed to unnecessarily starve or die in otherwise temporary setbacks, then our economy would be frequently disrupted. Social insurance allows workers to tide over the rough times, and this establishes a smooth-running economy that benefits us all. One has a moral and social obligation to ensure the weakest members in society are protected, and taxation is one way of regulating this social contract. Taxes are part of an agreement that voters make with government, a contract in which citizens agree to exchange their money for the government's goods and services.

To consume these goods and services without paying for them is itself theft, and is rightly punished as breach of contract. Some may object that they have not agreed to the contract, but if so, then they must not consume the government's goods and services. Furthermore, contract by majority rule is better than by minority rule, one-person rule or anarchy (which results in kill-or-be-killed). Opponents of taxation under democracy are therefore challenged to find an improvement on democracy. REFERENCES Heywood, A. Political Theory: An Introduction, Third Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004.

Mill, J. S. On Liberty, Penguin, London, [1859] 1974. Pearsall, J. (ed. ), The New Oxford Dictionary of English, iFingerTM online edit on.

Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998.