[This was originally an e-mail to Billy Beck, which I'm reproducing in a slightly modified version here. I'll post replies only with permission.]
On the nature of government:
I assert first and foremost that government is not a collective, not a representation of society, not any of the things it is normally asserted as being - I assert instead that government is a tool without moral value of its own, no different from a gun, or a nuclear weapon. (See this post for more on this)
Like a gun, government can be used either for good or for evil; for offensive purposes, or self defense purposes. I assert that a government formed on the sole principle of self-defense is a moral government. To argue this purpose immoral is to argue that self defense itself is evil, or that we have no right to band together for mutual self-interest. Whether or not government is doomed to expand beyond its moral purposes by historical evidence is, to me, as silly an argument as whether or not anarchy is doomed to spontaneous organization into governmental structure; no government yet has been formed on a moral basis, just as no sustained anarchy has yet arisen.
More, I'm going to assert that specific forms of taxation do in fact have a moral basis as well as a moral purpose - property taxes. Not the property taxes that exist today, which tax a person on their achievements with that property, but a property tax which serves solely to recognize and ameliorate that our right to property is derived from our conversion of it, and that consequently we have no right to the unconverted resources which we do not use, and which are always going to be a part of any property. That is, property tax should be proportional to the base value of the land, absent any improvements - the unconverted value of the resources upon which it lays.
They are rent, of a sort, paid not because somebody else has claim to something, but paid because somebody else has -equal- claim to that thing as you. They are paid as part of a broader - and yes, social (see note one, below) - agreement that expands our domain to go beyond our basic right not to have our property destroyed (by which we may rightfully claim the farm we have tilled and the house we have built) to further protect "property" which remains unconverted and thus for which we have no right whatsoever; it is an agreement that others will not mine beneath us, or build around us.
Wilderness we have staked claim to is not ours by any natural right; the planting of a flag does not invoke ownership. Thus property taxes allow land to be put to uses without any value of conversion - but do so solely on the basis of one's capacity to conversion, and disproportionate productive capacity on other land.
The second step in this argument would be a discussion of what moral purposes such taxes can be put towards, but that requires resolution of whether or not such an agreement to be moral to begin with, so I'll leave off here without response.
Note 1: There is a somewhat more substantial argument possible here over whether "society" has any right to trade away the miner's right to convert the iron and coal beneath your farm, provided he can do so without harm to your converted property; this is indeed a moral issue. While writing moral treatise is entertaining, the potential right to unconverted property is something I am already convinced of, and if my reader shares my convictions in the matter of whether one can meaningfully be said to own as-yet unconverted resources, the work involved would be meaningless. I may write a follow-up post on the subject, however, at a later date.