Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Create Account now to join.
  • Login:

Welcome to the Online Debate Network.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 39
  1. #1
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
    Posts
    962
    Post Thanks / Like

    Lightbulb Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    I was going through some old internet links on my computer, when I came across a web page with an interesting analogy that I had not read in some time. It calls itself the "How Many Men" argument, and it pertains to the morality of taxation.

    THE "HOW MANY MEN" ARGUMENT
    The following is a thought-experiment intended to illustrate the moral problem of taxation as a matter of simple common sense.

    "Suppose that one man takes your car from you at gunpoint. Is this right or wrong? Most people would say that the man who does this is a thief who is violating your property rights.

    Okay, now let's suppose that it is a gang of FIVE men that forcibly takes your car from you. Is this still wrong? Is it still stealing?

    Now suppose that it's ten men that stop you at gunpoint, and before anything else they take a vote. You vote *against* them taking your car, but the ten of them vote for it and you are outvoted, ten to one. They take the car. Still stealing?

    Let's add specialization of labor. Suppose it's twenty men and one acts as negotiator for the group, one takes the vote, one oversees the vote, two hold the guns, one drives. Does that make it okay? Is it still stealing?

    Suppose it's one hundred men and after forcibly taking your car they give you back a bicycle. That is, they do something nice for you. Is it still stealing?

    Suppose the gang is two hundred strong and they not only give you back a bicycle but they buy a bicycle for a poor person as well. Is it still wrong? Is it still stealing?

    How about if the gang has a thousand people? ten thousand? A million?

    How big does this gang have to be before it becomes okay for them to forcibly take your property away without your consent? When, exactly, does the immorality of theft become the alleged morality of taxation?"


    Now, I'm not saying that I agree with the argument that the analogy is trying to make, but I do find it intriguing, and will do what I can to defend it.

    What do the rest of you think?
    -=]emtee10[=-
    ODN Super Moderator



    I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
    - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

  2. #2
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    4,156
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    You consent to live in the United States of America. With this comes responsibilities. By living in the US you implicitly "sign a contract" stating that you agree to abide by the laws and pay the taxes of the country.

    So, to bring things back into your analogy, if you had signed a contract with these men telling them they could take a portion of your property (your car) in exchange for being permitted to be in that area, of course they're not stealing. They're employing their rights under the agreement you made with them. Likewise, you're not a victim - you're just living up to your obligation under the contract.

    This is the essence of living in a democracy. You choose to live here. You have free will. If you voted in favour of taxation, then you should have no problem paying taxes. If you voted otherwise or disagree with taxation, it is still not unethical for you to live here. Because in a parliamentary democracy it is the majority that rules and by choosing to remain here of your free will you agree fundamentally to obey the laws created by the majority whether or not you like them.

    If we take, for example, the two types of people we'll find in our democracy...
    People who support taxation: These people do not complain about taxation as a concept, though they may believe in different rates. These people are not victims as they have what they want.
    People who do not support taxation: These people are the victims. They are living in a democracy and face taxation against their will.

    The fundamental question remains: Are the people in group number two the victims of injustice? Though they love to claim it, they aren't. Why? As I described above, in a free country it is their decision to keep living here.

    It's like the person who signs a contract stating that he gets to live in a company house in exchange for A. doing his job and B. dancing around on the streets for 1 hr per night. He then says "Well, I hate clause B of that contract but I do like this company house, so I'll sign it. Then, I'll call myself the victim of an injustice as I don't agree with clause B and have to obey it." Well, he's not a victim at all - it was his decision to enter into that agreement. Just as it is the US citizen's decision to live in the US, where he has agreed, in exchange for being able to live there, to abide by the law. Case closed.

    Taxation is just like any other law. You must obey it if you choose to live in the country. If you think murder is right and think that the murder law is an injustice to you, you are incorrect; it is completely fair, because the agreement you make tacitly by living in this country states that you will obey the laws of the majority, like them or not.
    Last edited by starcreator; February 5th, 2006 at 09:33 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    9,471
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    I disagree that taxation is stealing. All American citizens enter into a contract, whether implied through birth, or consciously pursued, through naturalization. Through taxing a citizen, the government is readying itself to provide for that citizen's needs in a way he cannot or will not himself.

    This includes, first and foremost, defense. The government maintains an army to protect the citizen. The government also provides public services, such as education, transportation, and even welfare.

    Unless a citizen is a subsistence farmer, and even then there are exceptions, no case can be made for taxation being theft. And even that loophole is a weak one, because even subsistence farmers are part of a community unless they farm with primitive technology they have crafted themselves with no help from factories or stores.

    So basically, I see absolutely no angle for one to argue that taxation is theft, in a representative democracy with an interdependent market economy. Of course, oftentimes it has been, in dictatorships and supposed communes of the past and present.

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Borneo
    Posts
    2,089
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    You consent to live in the United States of America.
    False.

    This is the standard argument put forward for taxation and it fails at almost every level.

    A 5 year old child can figure out involuntary taxation is theft and immoral. How does a 5 year old child leave the country? Name a country he or she could go to that is not currently under the grip of a taxing mafia, sorry "government"?

    By the time a child has learnt enough of the language, the cultures of the world, developed sufficent skills to seek gainful employment and come anywhere near able to choose where to live, the child has already been brainwashed with the idea that their country is the bestest country ever, government is good and tax is "inevitable" and "probably for the best" and even "fair".

    That is the whole point of the "many men" argument, to make you see through all that crap and realise that the bottom line is that people are taking your wealth by force.

    There is no difference between 'protection money' paid to the mob and tax paid to the government.

    That's a simple but powerful statement.

    Both feature well-dressed men who'll smile a lot, assure you that you "need" them and their services and who will be quick to resort to violence if you refuse to pay up.

    There was an excellent article about the early days of the US on LRW the other day, hold on..

    Here ya go, it's quite long but a fascintating read:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard107.html

    If you don't know who Rothbard is I suggest you check before attempting to diss the article.


    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  5. #5
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Borneo
    Posts
    2,089
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    This includes, first and foremost, defense. The government maintains an army to protect the citizen.
    I rest my case.



    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  6. #6
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    7,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Pibs
    I rest my case.



    P.
    Your case is a little weak. An Army costs money - do you suggest we eliminate the Army or solicit voluntary contributions to support them?
    While laughing at others stupidity, you may want to contemplate your own comedic talents. (link)
    Disclaimer: This information is being provided for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only.

  7. #7
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Borneo
    Posts
    2,089
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Good old fashioned militia.

    The majority of the time an army is only used to back up the threats and follies of the government controlling it.

    It's hard to get into an argument with every member of another country without governments forcing the issue.

    Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910):

    The opinion expressed in your estimable letter, that the easiest and surest way to universal disarmament is by individuals refusing to take part in military service, is most just. I am even of opinion that this is the only way to escape from the terrible and ever increasing miseries of militarism.

    Armies will first diminish, and then disappear, only when public opinion brands with contempt those who, whether from fear, or for advantage, sell their liberty and enter the ranks of those murderers, called soldiers; and when the men now ignored and even blamed – who, in despite of all the persecution and suffering they have borne – have refused to yield the control of their actions into the hands of others, and become the tools of murder – are recognized by public opinion, to be the foremost champions and benefactors of mankind. Only then will armies first diminish and then quite disappear, and a new era in the life of mankind will commence.

    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  8. #8
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    2,190
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    So basically, I see absolutely no angle for one to argue that taxation is theft, in a representative democracy with an interdependent market economy. Of course, oftentimes it has been, in dictatorships and supposed communes of the past and present.
    To the extent that the government taxes for what it needs to protect its citizens, I agree. However, taxes are stolen when they are misused and not returned back to the taxpayers. For example (of which I have personal knowledge) - a government organization decides that it should have an inventory system rewritten for a contractor that already has an inventory system which has been working for the past 5 years. The reason for the rewrite is to "standardize" the platform. However, there is only one contractor, so how much standardization do you need?

    Anyway, the government contracts a 3rd party (no bid) to develop the new inventory system. The third party has no clue about the business rules, requirements, specs. They do make a superficial attempt to gather this information, but didn't really bother to get an understanding of the business. The project plodded along for two years with delay after delay. I would conversatively guess about $500k spent per year. Finally, the government said that the project has been cancelled, the originally inventory system should be used.

    So basically, at least $1,000,000 out the window - no penalties, no reprecussions, no reprimands, no accountability. Sounds like theft to me. $1,000,000 later, everyone still has their jobs. Which means it will happen again, and again. And this was one small division of a much larger organization.

    I would imagine this happens all over the government, a million here, a million there, just pissed away into the toilet of incompetent contractors and management.

    As far as the "democratic" approach to taxation - do you honestly believe that a majority of Americans was for Bush's tax cut for the wealthiest Americans? Do you honestly believe that a majority of Americans approve of the pensions, benefits, and salaries, and committee salaries congresspeople award themselves?

    The city I work in just went from a $10 "occupational privilege" tax to a .3% tax - did I vote for that somewhere?
    Only what can happen does happen. ~Watchmen
    When the Standard is defined you will know how right or wrong you are.
    electricShares - a work in progress

  9. #9
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Borneo
    Posts
    2,089
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    BTW, anyone read that article I linked?


    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  10. #10
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Sheffield, S.Yorks., UK
    Posts
    8,862
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Pibs - A 'good old fashioned militia' would get smashed by a powerful and well trained modern army - what we then end up with is your country trashed and a long a bloody attrition. If the attacking/occupying army is as ruthless as was a huge proportion of the Third Reich's the chance of you claiming your homeland back without outside help is highly contentious.

    Then of course what about issues of piracy, drug and people smuggling, where professional and armed naval forces and air and land groups are far more effective than ad hoc militia patroling - 'Dad's Army' style.

    For a whole multitude of practical reasons in a populous 'sophisticated' urban multicultural and nominally civilised society - taxation is needed to fund things. Perhaps you would feel happier if the very poor took on the lion's share of the bill. It could be argued that in 'selling their labour cheaply' they in effect already do.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
    Posts
    962
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by star
    You consent to live in the United States of America. With this comes responsibilities. By living in the US you implicitly "sign a contract" stating that you agree to abide by the laws and pay the taxes of the country.
    Really? Let's say that I live in a bad neighbourhood, where crime is rampant, and someone steals my car, or breaks into my home and steals my property. Now, I could have moved, and chosen not to live in that part of town. Does that excuse the actions of the thief?

    According to your logic, I have implicitly "signed a contract" with that thief, by choosing not to move away when I knew that the neighbourhood was dangerous. Have I really signed a contract, star?

    So, to bring things back into your analogy, if you had signed a contract with these men telling them they could take a portion of your property (your car) in exchange for being permitted to be in that area, of course they're not stealing. They're employing their rights under the agreement you made with them. Likewise, you're not a victim - you're just living up to your obligation under the contract.
    Again, I think that your contract theory could use some work. In being "permitted" to live in the bad neighbourhood by the local gangs, have I agreed that they are allowed to steal my car?

    This is the essence of living in a democracy. You choose to live here. You have free will. If you voted in favour of taxation, then you should have no problem paying taxes. If you voted otherwise or disagree with taxation, it is still not unethical for you to live here. Because in a parliamentary democracy it is the majority that rules and by choosing to remain here of your free will you agree fundamentally to obey the laws created by the majority whether or not you like them.
    The fact that the majority has voted in favour of taxation does nothing to show that taxation is morally justified or is any different from theft. It simply shows that the majority agrees with it. And the majority can sometimes be wrong.

    If we take, for example, the two types of people we'll find in our democracy...
    People who support taxation: These people do not complain about taxation as a concept, though they may believe in different rates. These people are not victims as they have what they want.
    People who do not support taxation: These people are the victims. They are living in a democracy and face taxation against their will.

    The fundamental question remains: Are the people in group number two the victims of injustice? Though they love to claim it, they aren't. Why? As I described above, in a free country it is their decision to keep living here.
    And if I agree to continue living in the bad neighbourhood after my car is stolen and I have bought a new one, have I consented to having my car stolen again?

    It's like the person who signs a contract stating that he gets to live in a company house in exchange for A. doing his job and B. dancing around on the streets for 1 hr per night. He then says "Well, I hate clause B of that contract but I do like this company house, so I'll sign it. Then, I'll call myself the victim of an injustice as I don't agree with clause B and have to obey it." Well, he's not a victim at all - it was his decision to enter into that agreement. Just as it is the US citizen's decision to live in the US, where he has agreed, in exchange for being able to live there, to abide by the law. Case closed.

    Taxation is just like any other law. You must obey it if you choose to live in the country. If you think murder is right and think that the murder law is an injustice to you, you are incorrect; it is completely fair, because the agreement you make tacitly by living in this country states that you will obey the laws of the majority, like them or not.
    There was a time when slavery was the law of the land in America. The majority of voters approved of it at the time, and it was codified in law. Now, were the African-Americans who wanted to live as free people in America victims of injustice? Of course. You are basically saying that a law is fair, just, or right (in a normative sense) simply because the majority approve of it. Was slavery right, then?

    Your attitude of "the majority says X, like it or not" explains why the laws of taxation exist, but do not explain why the laws of taxation are moral or just.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    I disagree that taxation is stealing. All American citizens enter into a contract, whether implied through birth, or consciously pursued, through naturalization. Through taxing a citizen, the government is readying itself to provide for that citizen's needs in a way he cannot or will not himself.
    But there is no "opt-out" mechanism in place. If I believe that I am able to provide for myself just fine without any help from the government, should I still have to pay taxes?

    This includes, first and foremost, defense. The government maintains an army to protect the citizen. The government also provides public services, such as education, transportation, and even welfare.
    I recognise the necessity of certain government services, but their necessity does not make them moral. Taxation could simply be a necessary evil which we must endure.

    Unless a citizen is a subsistence farmer, and even then there are exceptions, no case can be made for taxation being theft. And even that loophole is a weak one, because even subsistence farmers are part of a community unless they farm with primitive technology they have crafted themselves with no help from factories or stores.
    So we have to pay taxes to the government in order to be allowed to use technology invented by individuals and private companies, and we have to pay taxes in order to use tools which we have bought from private enterprises? Is this your argument?

    So basically, I see absolutely no angle for one to argue that taxation is theft, in a representative democracy with an interdependent market economy. Of course, oftentimes it has been, in dictatorships and supposed communes of the past and present.
    If you don't see the angle, you should read the OP. The analogy that I have presented shows a step-by-step progression from petty theft to taxation, and asks where the line of morality and immorality is drawn. Where is it drawn, Kev?

    Also, what makes taxation in a dictatorship or commune fundamentally different from taxation in a democracy, with regards to the morality of the act itself?

    Quote Originally Posted by F&N
    Then of course what about issues of piracy, drug and people smuggling, where professional and armed naval forces and air and land groups are far more effective than ad hoc militia patroling - 'Dad's Army' style.

    For a whole multitude of practical reasons in a populous 'sophisticated' urban multicultural and nominally civilised society - taxation is needed to fund things. Perhaps you would feel happier if the very poor took on the lion's share of the bill. It could be argued that in 'selling their labour cheaply' they in effect already do.
    Again, I recognise the practical necessity of taxation, but it does nothing to argue that the act itself is any different from theft. If I am starving, and I steal food in order to survive, haven't I still committed theft?
    -=]emtee10[=-
    ODN Super Moderator



    I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
    - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

  12. #12
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    I am omnipresent.
    Posts
    2,657
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    This is indeed a good question. It takes us back to the fundamentals of government itself.

    In the "natural state", to borrow a bit from Locke, man is perfectly free to do whatever he wants. This is the state without any government at all. Of course, he is also perfectly unsafe, in that he has no protection outside what he can do himself.

    Thus, he bans together with others to form a society, which is intended to pursue to betterment of the whole. This is done through providing for their common protection, first and foremost. Beyond that, this society also provides whatever benefits those who make it up desire, and are willing to put forth their resources for. The simplest goal of such a society, though, is defense. To provide for this defense, each person gives some of their work up, in order that they may live unhindered by the threat of violence from without. This is taxes. If all consent to taxes, then they are just.

    Now, it is unfeasible to gain the input of all people in a society, so we form governments, in various fashions, to determine how to collect and use the taxes for the common good. Thus, if you agree to live in a country, you get it's benefits (defense, welfare, etc), and you agree to accept the burdens (taxes).

    Now, it has been mentioned that many people have no option as to where to live; this is not the concern of the government, as they (and the people who elected them) have the rights to this land. That is one of the other benefits of being in such a societal group: that you have the ability to live on the piece of land that they claim for their own. You can always float in the ocean, set up shop in Antartica, or float off the face of the earth. You want to gain the privilege of living on a given plot of land, and receiving the benefits of being there, you are expected to give your fair share to those who own that land (the US gov't, in this case).

    Taxation is not theft, as you enter into an agreement. You get protection from internal and external threats, along with the right to live somewhere, and you agree to give up some of your labor (in the form of currency). This is pretty simple, and is the basis for all governments and societal groupings since the first tribes.

    Really? Let's say that I live in a bad neighbourhood, where crime is rampant, and someone steals my car, or breaks into my home and steals my property. Now, I could have moved, and chosen not to live in that part of town. Does that excuse the actions of the thief?
    Lets try a more accurate analogy. The thief owns a 2000 acre plot of land. He says that you can live on it, but you have to pay rent. In return, you can build a house, start a family, etc there, and he'll fight off any rival thieves, and try to make sure that no one else who lives on that plot of land takes any of your stuff.

    It's not theft, it's rent.
    -=]Iluvatar[=-
    Lurker, Former Staff

    "I'm not really here. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what's good for them."

  13. #13
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Borneo
    Posts
    2,089
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Brilliant, in one quick swoop you just destroyed private property.


    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  14. #14
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Sheffield, S.Yorks., UK
    Posts
    8,862
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Pibs - Like a lot of extremists you seem to find little merit in compromise. There is such a middle way where public and private can co-exist. Since as a group we may never all be totally content with any particular arrangement it is perhaps more equitable that we are all in part satisfied. Unless of course you would prefer a robber baron society that is in constant strife, revolution and civil war, which seems to be the lot of all too many countries that go in for DIY/Ad Hoc politics.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Borneo
    Posts
    2,089
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    "If I were the chairman of a college political science department, there are two things I would immediately do: (1) drop the word “science,” as it does not apply to what is essentially a normative field of study; and (2) have the introductory course in this department be titled “Follow the Money.” “Constitutional government,” “checks and balances,” “democratic systems,” “political theory,” and other traditional course offerings, have no bearing on inquiries into the nature of modern government.

    My wife and I watched the film Why We Fight, a wonderful exposé of the military-industrial-congressional complex. With Chalmers Johnson and Karen Kwiatkowski providing clear focus, the present war system is revealed for what it is: a racket for siphoning money from the pockets of gullible people willing to be convinced of the presence of ever-evolving bogeymen who pose a never-ending threat to their lives. These “threats” can, of course, only be repulsed by a strong government that (a) has sufficient police powers to detect their presence both at home and abroad, and (b) can generate weapons systems to “protect” Americans – and their hot tubs – from attack by these sinister forces. Boobus Americanus – like its cousin Boobus Britannia and other close relatives – has become so conditioned to both the concocted threats of the ogre du jour and to an omnipotent and omnipresent government scarecrow, that it is willing to surrender, without question, its wealth and liberty for the sake of “protection.”

    To demonstrate the effectiveness of this shakedown racket, look at the Bush administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2007: $2.8 trillion in government spending, with $439 billion to be tossed into the national defense trough. This budget is twenty-eight times greater than the $99.9 billion budget proposed by President Kennedy, who did not want to be the first president to have a $100 billion budget!

    Unfortunately, the budget will whiz through the collective sinecure of Congress with no substantial objection. The defense swindle has – by intention – metastasized into every state, thus assuring the support of senators and congressmen who do not wish to incur the wrath of “what have you done for me lately?” voters. There will, of course, be the token objections to fringe government programs (e.g., National Endowment for the Arts, Public Broadcasting, etc.) about which a few millions of dollars will be deleted in order to allow the congressional rubber-stamps to bleat to their constituents about “toughness” on government spending.

    The conservatives will love this budget, as it promises major increases in defense spending while, at the same time, proposing cuts in Medicare and other welfare, foreign aid, and various other non-defense programs. I can imagine many conservative legislators urging even greater amounts for military spending, as if to confirm their super-patriotism. Those who resist such legal levels of looting – which will cost each American over $9,000 a year, or $36,000 for a family of four – will doubtless be condemned by Fox News tub-thumpers for being “terrorist sympathizers.”

    The liberals will find no objections to such runaway spending, seeing it as the opportunity to raise the ante for programs they hope to shove down the throats of Americans upon their return to power.

    For every Ron Paul struggling to revive even a modicum of integrity to a corrupt system, there will be one hundred congressional pimps working to insure their corporate clientele favored rooms in the beltway brothel. With numerous untold stories of military-industrial corruption inviting their inquiries, members of the established media can be counted upon to supply diversions. Like the purple smoke or multi-colored strings of silk used by magicians to distract their audiences, television newscasts will continue their in-depth reporting on missing teenagers and bridegrooms; tunnels used to smuggle marijuana into the United States from Mexico; unsolved murders; and chickens that can play the xylophone. For truths of a more significant nature, you must turn to either the Internet or documentary film-makers.

    It has been suggested, by some, that political systems grew out of piracy, with brigands – tired of having to chase the lootees – establishing permanent ports through which tradesmen would have to pass and pay fees. It should be evident to any rational mind that, contrary to the view that governments were instituted to protect property, wealth preceded political agencies; otherwise there would have been nothing to steal or control.

    The state exists for one purpose only: to forcibly extract from people money that could not have been obtained in the marketplace. Coercive power is desired for no greater end than to exercise decision-making authority over others concerning money, and the resources that can be exploited for monetary benefit. References to “freedom,” “democracy,” “constitutional principles,” the “proletariat,” the “general welfare,” “love of country,” the “fatherland,” “terrorism,” or any of an endless supply of bromides, are made for precisely the same reasons that underlie television commercials: to get you to part with your money. Beer ads promise you the “good life;” automobile commercials suggest that members of the opposite sex will fall in love with you if you are driving the new Belchfire 99X; even Viagra is peddled on behalf of the happiness of women!"


    The rest of the article can be found here:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer/shaffer130.html


    Regarding the ultra-efficent uber-troops just around the corner, poised to invade and rape our women-folk, you know, like Saddam's mob, you miss the fundamental point.

    If you have no army, you have no gung-ho muppet El Grande Presidente The Great clutching his codpiece and sneering "bring it on" etc.

    a few points to ponder:

    Japan was never keen on the idea of invading the US. See the quote about "..behind every blade of grass".

    The US is having a spot of trouble quelling the irate Iraqis, and that's in a country where the mostly irate are the Iraqis the majority hated - but not quite as much as they dislike being invaded.

    See also the Soviet Union and Afghanistan.

    Note the reluctance to invade Scandinavian countries, due to 2 key points. a rifle behind every tree and the fact they tend not to go out of their way to pee other people off in the first place.

    The other day I was teaching a local silat guru a few ju jistsu moves. We both agreed the most effective defence of all is to avoid getting into fights. More people should try it. Politicians would have little choice if young men would quit believing there's something good and decent about armies and military "service".

    As for finding some happy compromise, that's exactly what politics is, the jostling for spoils while figuring out who's plans and ideas will be forced upon everybody else.

    As some wa put it, it's the auction of future stolen goods.



    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  16. #16
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Sheffield, S.Yorks., UK
    Posts
    8,862
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Pibs - Where do all the other warlords and robber barons, secular or clerical, get their money to do battle from? - Their family trust fund, their savings account or pension fund? - I think not! At least in a 'democracy' there is some leeway for change and protest.
    Last edited by FruitandNut; February 7th, 2006 at 09:35 AM.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  17. #17
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    6,250
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Pibs is certainly on the correct tract, but I fear he supposes that all threats are make-believe. Unfortunately, governments do serve a purpose. Let's suppose that we, personally don't wish to involve ourselves in world affairs. I am pretty much fine with this. Let commerce dictate policy so to speak. One problem. Other governments (i.e. pirates) do exist. So, if we wish to maintain our freedoms, we need an organized defense. The militia could not support the types of warfare that exist in the 21st century. It did not work against the British in Africa. It only provided a stop gap against the British here in colnial America. It didn't work in the civil war. Now, it would certainly prevent overseas wars. We wouldn't have a Vietnam in our collective memory. But, I wonder, what we would have done about the rise of fascism in Europe without an organized army. Was Nazi Germany a figment of our imagination? Was Japan willing to leave us alone? The evidence suggests not.

    Now, in terms of the topic at hand, and the point where I agree with Pibs 100%, is that our Congress acts more like pimps and mobsters rather than public servants and civil administrators. The recent scandals with Abramoff, the rampant use of labbyists should be a red flag. Our taxes are not being used to protect our civil liberties, they are being used to further enslave us. Whenever the government decideds to take money from one individual in order to give to another individual, this is stealing. Using democracy or majority rule to rationalize this behavior brings us back to the original premise of the thinking experiment. This country was never meant to be mob rule. It is a democracy, but has very specific restraints. Most importantly, individual's right to life, liberty, and property. When government erodes these basic rights, it is acting as something other than its intended purpose. Inventing new basic rights is nothing short of imposing tyranny of the masses.
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

  18. #18
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
    Posts
    962
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Wow. The responses to this thread are better than I could have hoped for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Iluvatar
    Now, it is unfeasible to gain the input of all people in a society, so we form governments, in various fashions, to determine how to collect and use the taxes for the common good. Thus, if you agree to live in a country, you get it's benefits (defense, welfare, etc), and you agree to accept the burdens (taxes).
    But the problem with this is that there is no effective way to "opt-out" of this program, so to speak. While deal agreement that one can make, paying taxes in exchange for things like welfare, is a wise decision, the problem is that people are not given the choice of whether or not they want to be a part of this exchange or not.

    Taxation is not theft, as you enter into an agreement. You get protection from internal and external threats, along with the right to live somewhere, and you agree to give up some of your labor (in the form of currency). This is pretty simple, and is the basis for all governments and societal groupings since the first tribes.
    Emphasis mine.
    As Pibs mentioned, what about private property? If I own my land, why should I need to pay anyone for my right to live on it?

    Lets try a more accurate analogy. The thief owns a 2000 acre plot of land. He says that you can live on it, but you have to pay rent. In return, you can build a house, start a family, etc there, and he'll fight off any rival thieves, and try to make sure that no one else who lives on that plot of land takes any of your stuff.
    The problem in your analogy is that the theif is the owner of the land, and has the legitimate right to collect rent based on the agreement which the theif and I had made. However, if I own my own property, then I'm not really paying the owner through taxes at all. I'm simply paying the government.

    ------

    As an aside...
    Let's say that it could be legitimately shown that the government has ownership rights over my land (I'm not making a concession, I'm simply thinking in terms of hypotheticals). Would'nt that only justify property tax, but not things like income tax or sales tax?
    -=]emtee10[=-
    ODN Super Moderator



    I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
    - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

  19. #19
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    4,156
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by emtee10
    Really? Let's say that I live in a bad neighbourhood, where crime is rampant, and someone steals my car, or breaks into my home and steals my property. Now, I could have moved, and chosen not to live in that part of town. Does that excuse the actions of the thief?

    According to your logic, I have implicitly "signed a contract" with that thief, by choosing not to move away when I knew that the neighbourhood was dangerous. Have I really signed a contract, star?
    Wrong. False analogy. If you move into a neighbourhood you certainly do not implicitly sign a contract with the thief, as the you are obviously not within his jurisdiction. When you move into the United States of America, you are under American jurisdiction and you move in knowing full well that you must pay taxes in order to live there. As well, unlike having a car stolen (something which you do not consent to and which comes as a surprise) you know the marginal tax brackets and know the taxes that you will have to pay. Unlike being the victim of theft, where you have no say in the matter, being taxed is entirely a choice: you choose where to live, you choose where the money goes democratically, and you choose how much is taken. Your point is consequently invalid.

    Quote Originally Posted by emtee10
    Again, I think that your contract theory could use some work. In being "permitted" to live in the bad neighbourhood by the local gangs, have I agreed that they are allowed to steal my car?

    Er, if you know that every Sunday they'll come by and ask you to pay forth a portion of your earnings (not steal your valuables) to spend on the community, and consent to live there, then yes, you certainly have. What kind of irrational person would waddle into a neighbourhood knowing that every month, for instance, they would pay taxes and then complain about it afterward?

    Quote Originally Posted by emtee10
    The fact that the majority has voted in favour of taxation does nothing to show that taxation is morally justified or is any different from theft. It simply shows that the majority agrees with it. And the majority can sometimes be wrong.
    Emtee, you're wandering into logically invalid territory. Moral values don't come into play at all here as they depend on religious truths which aren't universal.

    As for comparing it to theft, there are many differences. 1. things stolen from you usually aren't spent with your benefit in mind. 2. theft isn't voted on by the majority. 3. you choose to be taxed by living in a certain jurisdiction, meaning that you implicitly consent to pay taxes; you do not choose to be the victim of theft. This is just the tip of the iceberg, emtee. Theft =/= taxation. Many differences.

    And finally, of course the majority can be wrong. But if you're living in an area where something is being done that you don't think is right, do you continue living there? Do you say nothing? Do you do nothing? Is that in any way logical or rational? If you believe taxation is wrong and sit there in the jurisdiction of the government forced to pay them, you are the victim of your own decisions, not anyone else. It is your choice to live there and in order to live there there are certain obligations you have.

    Quote Originally Posted by emtee10
    And if I agree to continue living in the bad neighbourhood after my car is stolen and I have bought a new one, have I consented to having my car stolen again?
    If by living in the area you know that they will steal from you every so often, then yes, you absolutely have. Your analogy doesn't demonstrate anything. All that it shows is the absolute ludicrous thought of remaining somewhere being the victim of a practice of which you don't approve when you have every right to get up and leave.

    There was a time when slavery was the law of the land in America. The majority of voters approved of it at the time, and it was codified in law. Now, were the African-Americans who wanted to live as free people in America victims of injustice? Of course. You are basically saying that a law is fair, just, or right (in a normative sense) simply because the majority approve of it. Was slavery right, then?

    Your attitude of "the majority says X, like it or not" explains why the laws of taxation exist, but do not explain why the laws of taxation are moral or just.[/quote]

    This is not the argument I've made. Reread what I've said.

    If the Blacks had the choice to leave, had complete human rights, had the ability to take off rather than remain the victim of oppressive laws, then they would be the victims of their own decisions. In other words, regardless of whether or not slavery was right, they would be tacitly consenting to it and perpetuating it by remaining there. However, they did not have a choice. They had to work for their masters and consequently slavery limited human rights.

    Furthermore, I have at no time said that the majority's ruling makes something just. All I have said is that if you are not part of that majority you can either A. obey the laws or B. leave the country. If you choose to remain in the country you must obey the laws. And if you are in the country obeying the laws you are paying taxes of your own free will, and thus you are not a victim of any sort.

  20. #20
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    4,156
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Taxation: A Thought Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by emtee10
    The problem in your analogy is that the theif is the owner of the land, and has the legitimate right to collect rent based on the agreement which the theif and I had made. However, if I own my own property, then I'm not really paying the owner through taxes at all. I'm simply paying the government.
    Let's analogize further, then. The government owns America. The people own the government. In order for you to be permitted to live, work and enjoy America you must obey the law. One of those laws is taxation. And voilà - we see that you've entered into a contract with the government. You are accepting the benefits - living, working and enjoying - and must consequently pay the price - the taxes due.

    People who hate paying taxes are like tenants who hate paying rent. They love the benefits and hate the costs, and think that it's ethical to take one and refuse the other.

 

 
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Is the Bible 100% the word of God?
    By AntiMaterialist in forum Religion
    Replies: 487
    Last Post: April 14th, 2007, 02:31 PM
  2. Non-Verbal Thinking.
    By PerVirtuous in forum Philosophical Debates
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: November 18th, 2005, 11:31 AM
  3. Agnosticism vs. Atheism
    By Vorketh in forum Religion
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: September 25th, 2005, 12:47 PM
  4. Little hominid may have been failed experiment
    By Dionysus in forum Science and Technology
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: July 26th, 2004, 04:37 PM
  5. 1984: Chapter 7: The Proles and Winston's line of thought
    By Meng Bomin in forum Book Club Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: May 1st, 2004, 11:16 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •