Michele Seven Decides to Resist Her Taxes

Michele Seven didn’t file her tax return in , not for ideological reasons, but due to some turbulence and disorder in her life. The IRS caught up to her and sent her a letter claiming that she owed $640,000 and that they were looking to seize that much from her.

Well, that’s about ten times what she earned in . The IRS got its figures by adding up all of her gains but not bothering to try to estimate her costs and losses.

She called up to find out what to do about it, and the IRS said, “just file your return.” But the more she thought about it, the less she wanted to file. She felt that by filing she’d be conceding a debt that she considered illegitimate, that it would be like certifying her own slavery.

I believe it’s my duty to resist laws that are unjust…

I know this is probably going to upset some, but I believe that Iraqis have a right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as well. And the fact is that hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi people have been killed — paid for by United States tax dollars.

I am a Christian and I do believe that one day I’m going to stand before God. And when I do, I really don’t want to say, “Well, God, I was so afraid to go to prison that I was willing to have babies aborted, people murdered…”

The travelling libertarian video blog MotorhomeDiaries.com caught up with Seven and interviewed her:

In section two of the first book of The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle tries to pin down what the “ultimate end” of human activity and aspiration might look like.

He figures, for one thing, it would be something that we desire for its own sake (not as a means to some other end). This seems to satisfy the criteria I mentioned back in my introduction to this review, when I said I was most interested in an ethics that begins from a starting point of assuming that values are things judged by human standards (not by God or by reference to some myth or something overly-metaphysical). Here Aristotle defines the “ultimate end” in terms of what people desire.

Aristotle dismisses (a little too quickly, I think) the possibility that there is no such “ultimate end” — that the means-subends-superends structure is something more complex than a simple nested hierarchy. What if ends become means to other ends that are means to ends that wrap around on each other like snakes eating their tails? It wouldn’t surprise me to find that it’s something really messy like this. But, again, Aristotle isn’t having it. He says that if there is no ultimate end, this would mean “our desire would be empty and vain” (as though this were a reductio ad absurdum) — but perhaps, as the preacher says, our aspirations indeed are empty and vain!

So I guess we have to add a caveat to the rest of this book: that it’s valid unless life is meaningless and all our hopes are in vain, in which case it’s void.

But, granting that caveat, if there is an ultimate end to which we should aspire, what is it? Aristotle nominates, to my surprise, politics. Politics? This is because it’s the science of governing all of the other arts and activities of man, deciding what resources to allocate in what ways, educating citizens in various sciences and wisdoms, legislating which means are to be encouraged and which to be banned, and so forth. It’s sort of the superscience that regulates and directs all the other ones.

While it’s easy for me to see politics as a very complex example of an end (and a means to many others), to see it as the (or even an) ultimate end is too much for my imagination. I’m curious to see how Aristotle justifies his choice.

Index to the Nicomachean Ethics series

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics