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Ivan Raszl

Country voting itself in for social services

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I have another issue that bugs me.

If a democratic government through an election decides to give a certain free social service for example healthcare. An let's say 75% voted for it. Is it immoral to do this government based healthcare because the rest 25% didn't want it, yet they will be forced to pay for the 75% as well?

If that's the case, what if in a hypothetical situation 100% would vote for such a free social service? It can happen in a small community with only a few hundred people. They may decide to have free ER care or other service. Is it moral to do such a service for free (payed with tax)? And if somebody grows into the age of voting does he have to agree as well in order for the free service to continue?

Am I misunderstanding any part of this issue?

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In the first scenario of 75% against 25%, yes, it is definitely wrong to force those other 25%. Just because a majority likes it doesn't make it right. It is still just theft against those 25% that the government is not only not prosecuting, but itself perpetrating, going completely against its reason for existing in the first place. It is no more proper for a majority to vote away the property rights of a minority than for a majority to vote away any other rights of the minority, like their right to their life, of which property rights are a means toward.

Now as for the second scenario of 100% agreeing to it, nobody is being robbed anymore, but the problem now is just that a private organization should be set up to do it, not the government. This kind of thing is still not the government's place to be meddling in and even if everybody likes it now, it is best to keep the two separate anyway and not start blurring the lines on what they can and can't do. Maybe right now they all want it and vote it in, but then what? Does it become a law saying everybody has to do it? If so, then what happens if somebody changes their mind? Now we're back to what is essentially the same problem as the first scenario. If it is only to ever be done voluntarily, not forcing anybody even if they change their mind, then what is the point in having the government do it anyway, since having the legal monopoly on force is pretty much their shtick? Why would so many people insist on having the government do it? Government has other business to attend to which it specializes in and exists for and other people who are not part of the government who can specialize in this sort of thing can operate just fine and probably better without trying to find a way to go embed themselves into existing government bureaucracy. Keeping it out of the government's hands also allows all those people to more easily change things if the current set up isn't working out. Worst comes to worst in that case, you just stop using the old organization and start using a new one and see if it works out better than the last.

Edited by bluecherry

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There are many technical issues with your second scenario (the agreement is vague, the scenario is unrealistic, etc. ), but the main problem is this: the role of the government is to protect people's individual rights, as an unbiased third party. If the government has a vested interest in everyone agreeing to this contract, they are not unbiased, and they cannot enforce individual rights objectively.

Objectivist Politics is in favor of the separation of Economics and State for the same reasons the US founders were in favor of separation of Church and State. Once the government endorses (or supports) one participant in the economy (or a participant in the public religious debate), they cannot be trusted to also enforce economic (or free speech) rights.

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... what if in a hypothetical situation 100% would vote for such a free social service? ... Is it moral to do such a service for free (payed with tax)?
This would not be a legitimate thing to do qua government; it should be a private contract.

And if somebody grows into the age of voting does he have to agree as well in order for the free service to continue?
He should not be forced to be under aspects of a regime that go beyond the legitimate role of government. (His agreement is not necessary for the legitimate functions of government.) The question of him agreeing to the free-service does not arise if we assume that it is not a legitimate function of government. Edited by softwareNerd

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Objectivists would be in opposition even with a 100% vote.

She specifically condemned as immoral even voluntary communes. (However, she did not claim such a thing should be illegal, only that it was immoral. Hopefully the OP understands the distinction.) In the case of a 100% vote, my understanding is that that should be an illegal vote because it binds everyone in the community, including people who did not vote (such as the hypothetical person who's not old enough to vote yet) or those who didn't vote, etc., and someone could change their mind. And thus it's not truly voluntary, which is what would be necessary to make such an arrangement (merely) immoral.

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To add, if a community of people came together to solve a problem they'd identified, such as not having a ready, paid-for emergency healthcare service, they could make a call for willing doctors/nurses/other hcp's to open an establishment that caters to this common need. Those who wish to have the security of their services could pay in advance for costs beyond salary, and monthly for the salaries of the people who work in the clinic/hospital. There are lots of payment structures that would work in this scenario, and nobody who didn't wish to reserve these services would be in any way obligated. People who delight in such a thing could even set up a fund or finance a different payment schedule for those who could not afford the up-front payments.

There is just zero need for government involvement in such things. From personal experience with socialised healthcare, it is far more costly to have the government regulating it than to hire practitioners of my choosing. Currently, my family pays double for our needs in this regard because we choose to hire individuals in private practice to assist us when we have need, but we still pay steep taxes for the regulated system. I have personally found that this system causes a conflict of interest that shows plainly in the low quality of workmanship most common within it.

The private practitioners don't receive repeat business if they suck at their work, or deliberately evade the underlying health issues in order to keep people coming back. They don't return if that's the treatment they receive privately, but publicly-funded, gov. regulated hcp's can and do milk easily-cured illnesses/diseases for years, even decades, because they get paid per treatment as well as by roster of registered 'patients.' Most of the ones I've met have become complacent and lazy in their work, even to the point of having dirty examination rooms- dirty with blood, outdoor muck, and what we call 'mystery splashes' on the walls and floors. From my perspective, no matter what my skill level, I would not work in filth, even if I had to mop it up myself.

Recently, we had a consultation with the head surgeon of our gov. regulated local hospital regarding my son's nearly-severed toe. In walks a man with 30 years of experience, alive with charisma and youthfulness in spite of his age, and he sits down on a wobbly stool, next to mystery splashes, rolling his seat on a blood-spattered, mucky floor. He is one of the few I've met who are really 'on the ball' as regards his skills and knowledge, but even he works in filth. Would he if he had a private practice? I don't know, but I do know that he'd at least have the choice to hire cleaners if he wanted, or to do the cleaning himself. What is consistent in my experience is that private practices are impeccably clean, tastefully decorated, and catered to meeting the needs of clients individually. Gov. regulated practices are rarely executed with excellence and never catered to the individual- by necessity of being socialised and gov. regulated.

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Forced taxation is never moral, even if everyone votes for it. Democracy is not a moral primary. A dictatorship can be more moral than a democracy, depending on the actions that are taken by the government.

Likewise, a person cannot morally sign himself into slavery - his rights will be violated, whether he chooses to acknowledge them or not.

Edited by brian0918

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Ask yourself this: if they all think it is so great, why do they have to back it up with force? Why can't they voluntarily fund the system and make themselves the sole beneficiaries of that system? I know this is a hypothetical, so these questions are more directed at the real-life examples of this.

Edited by brian0918

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Thanks for this extremely useful example.

This is why I advocate selection of nationhood.

People are not all the same, we don't even know whether we descend from the same animal, or from related but different animals. Some people could be gentically pre-disposed to prefer a family-like conservative society, (the cro-magnon influenced Basques are a prime example in their suborness and natural-born xenophobia). Man should be free to chose.

I have another issue that bugs me.

If a democratic government through an election decides to give a certain free social service for example healthcare. An let's say 75% voted for it. Is it immoral to do this government based healthcare because the rest 25% didn't want it, yet they will be forced to pay for the 75% as well?

The above situation is as moral as theft - or extortion.

If that's the case, what if in a hypothetical situation 100% would vote for such a free social service? It can happen in a small community with only a few hundred people. They may decide to have free ER care or other service. Is it moral to do such a service for free (payed with tax)?

Am I misunderstanding any part of this issue?

It is perfectly moral to do such a service, as moral as setting up an insurance company. The part you are missunderstanding is that if 100% of the citizens agree on it, it becomes a utility, not a tax. That's the only part your are missunderdtanding. But you cover that, with the following:

And if somebody grows into the age of voting does he have to agree as well in order for the free service to continue?

This represents a problem with my advocacy of Nation-Shopping. In general, Children represent most of the problems I have with Objectivism - deserving a separate thread.

An example in reality are the Quakers or "Friends". When their children either legally or naturally come of age, they are sent to the City to decide whether they want to voluntarily join the ascetic community as adults, or go free into the vicious World.

I guess something similar could be instituted.

The problem with this scenario is the potential pre-conditioning of children - specially vulnerable to that- however in the case of Quakers it seems to work to a certain degree (as in numerous ex-quakers in mainstream society)

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It is perfectly moral to do such a service, as moral as setting up an insurance company. The part you are missunderstanding is that if 100% of the citizens agree on it, it becomes a utility, not a tax. That's the only part your are missunderdtanding.

Once again, this is not the Objectivist position. It is not legitimate for government to perform such a function. If 100% want this, they can set up a private corporation, and if they have some argument down the road they can come to government to rule on it.

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SW-N, re read my post and don't drop context.

The question is: If 100% of a group voluntarily agrees to pay for a service, that is perfectly moral. That is both the Objectivist position, and also most other ethical positions. If 100% agrees it isn't a TAX, it's not imposed, it's not tribute, but the pruchase of a utility.

If 99.9 agrees, it isn't and it does become a tax.

This hypothetical situation of voluntary citizenship, and abolition of taxes (a voluntary tax is not a tax, study 2 bits of etymology) could very well be real if instead of going in circles we tried to use our minds to figure out what would happen to minors in such a fully contractual society.

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SW-N, re read my post and don't drop context.

The question is: If 100% of a group voluntarily agrees to pay for a service, that is perfectly moral.

It is not perfectly moral because they are not merely agreeing to pay, they are agreeing to make a law to the effect of "pay up or else" over a service which has nothing to do with government and so which none of them have a right to do justified by a basis in self defense. It sets up the government as the final authority in medicine to decide such matters who gets treated and who does not and what is a permissible treatment, makes accusations of malpractice and attempts to collect damages under liability into conflicts against the state, removes price as a natural regulator between supply and demand, and so on and on. It can't work in the long term. The immoral is impractical.

Edited by Grames

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It is not perfectly moral because they are not merely agreeing to pay, they are agreeing to make a law to the effect of "pay up or else" over a service which has nothing to do with government and so which none of them have a right to do justified by a basis in self defense. It sets up the government as the final authority in medicine to decide such matters who gets treated and who does not and what is a permissible treatment, makes accusations of malpractice and attempts to collect damages under liability into conflicts against the state, removes price as a natural regulator between supply and demand, and so on and on. It can't work in the long term. The immoral is impractical.

Your twisted example is impractical - to read.

Maybe the original second hypothetical situation of the 100% is hard to imagine today, but again, it is hypothetical.

The question was "what if in a hypothetical situation 100% would vote for such a free social service?"

It doesn't mention the government but a "new" institution called the free and voluntarily funded ER service. Since the situation assumes that everyone is agreeing on it, and I assume if it contains clauses that specify the contributions and does not contain clauses that specify that failing to contribute constitutes a crime, then I don't see why it should be immoral.

Even if all citizens of a country did agree to include a clause that it does constitute a crime not to contribute to, more likely, the self-defense forces, if such a clause is ratified by everyone it remains a contractual deal. There's not too much else to it except the custody of those whose sign is not recognized.

If something is voluntary, consensual, and contractual, it might or not appear to some repulsive, anti-esthetic, useless, stupid, but it's still moral as there is no initiation of fraud or force.

That is provided, the voting of that 100% is on a non fraudulent document and not at the point of a gun. Well... now I feel like a dog chasing my tail.

Edited by volco

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Maybe the original second hypothetical situation of the 100% is hard to imagine today, but again, it is hypothetical.

The question was "what if in a hypothetical situation 100% would vote for such a free social service?"

It doesn't mention the government but a "new" institution called the free and voluntarily funded ER service. Since the situation assumes that everyone is agreeing on it, and I assume if it contains clauses that specify the contributions and does not contain clauses that specify that failing to contribute constitutes a crime, then I don't see why it should be immoral.

It doesn't matter if you see why it should be immoral or not. The point is that Objectivism is opposed to it(in an Objectivist political system, the government is limited to the protection of rights, it does not offer other services, no matter who agrees with what), and since you don't know that, you shouldn't be claiming that you do and posting nonsense all over the forum.

And if you had at least read the thread (forget reading about Objectivist Ethics), you could probably figure out why it is immoral, too.

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Your twisted example is impractical - to read.

Maybe the original second hypothetical situation of the 100% is hard to imagine today, but again, it is hypothetical.

The question was "what if in a hypothetical situation 100% would vote for such a free social service?"

It doesn't mention the government but a "new" institution called the free and voluntarily funded ER service. Since the situation assumes that everyone is agreeing on it, and I assume if it contains clauses that specify the contributions and does not contain clauses that specify that failing to contribute constitutes a crime, then I don't see why it should be immoral.

Because of the word "voting" I assumed it was being organized and administered by the government. Of course people can get together and vote outside the context of government decision making, in which case none of my objections would apply and it would be just another incorporated legal entity.

But the OP specified "If a democratic government through an election decides to give a certain free social service for example healthcare. . . . (payed with tax)?", that is not legitimate.

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If something is voluntary, consensual, and contractual, it might or not appear to some repulsive, anti-esthetic, useless, stupid, but it's still moral as there is no initiation of fraud or force.

I will again reiterate that one cannot morally sign oneself into slavery. If 100% of the population agree to sign a document stating that they will work for free and slowly die of starvation, that does not make it moral because they consented to it. Morality is not confined to political questions of "whether or not force was initiated". Your mistake is in assuming that politics precedes ethics, when it is the other way around.

Edited by brian0918

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SW-N, re read my post and don't drop context.
No, it is you who are dropping the OP's essential context which was about the role of government, not about taxation.

The question is: If 100% of a group voluntarily agrees to pay for a service, that is perfectly moral. That is both the Objectivist position, and also most other ethical positions.
And this is a good example of how you drop the essential context. You drop the fact that this was proposed as a function of government, not as a voluntary corporation. This is like the libertarian conflation of the concept "government" with the concept "organization".

On the other hand, the Objectivist position starts with laying out the notion of individual rights, but goes from there to identifying the need for an ultimate arbiter and enforcer (a "monopolist of force"). Corollary to this is that this enforcer may not also be an interested participant, unless being so is necessary to its role as enforcer in the first place. So, while Objectivism may agree with your sentence that I quoted, it does not agree with your conflation of government with organization.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I have argued before that Government operating/offering a business/service that was voted on by the general public in approval; and absolutely funded only completely voluntarily would not be immoral simply on the grounds that it was Government offering it.

While it is correct that such an offering would not be one of the mandatory proper functions of Government, if "the people" choose to have Government perform the task *without* violating liberty in any manner, so far I have yet to see any argument conclusively showing that Government offering it would make it intrinsically immoral.

But of course, since taxation is identified as the means of funding in the OP, the proposal would be intrinsically in opposition to liberty, thus in opposition to morality.

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If something is voluntary, consensual, and contractual, it might or not appear to some repulsive, anti-esthetic, useless, stupid, but it's still moral as there is no initiation of fraud or force.

Here is part of your problem Volco.

You are assuming that if some act does not involve the initiation of force, it is moral. WRONG. It would be legal if we lived under an Objectivist legal system, but it wouldn't necessarily be moral. As an example, in order to make the distinction clear: Under an Objectivist legal system, it would be perfectly legal to destroy your life using crack cocaine, but it would not be moral (under any context I can imagine) because doing so destroys ones life rather than enhancing it. Likewise, living in a commune, even voluntarily, is immoral, though there would be nothing illegal about it under Objective law.

And here is another part:

Governments proper role is solely to protect peoples rights, and those rights can only be violated by an initiation of force. The government's proper role therefore is only combating the initiation of force. If 100% of the people vote and approve of an otherwise-Objectivist government instituting a tax paid social service, that law is invalid on the face of it because government is assuming a role it is not entitled to assume, and it does not matter how many voted for it to do so.

If a bunch of people set up a social service network outside the government and require the membership to pay, and 100 percent of the people in the country join up, it's a contract. Possibly an immoral one (especially if there's no provision for canceling the membership), but a contract, and the government can enforce that contract, legally. (BTW a lot of the funky lodges and fraternal organizations that seem so silly to us today, here stateside (Elks, Oddfellows, Moose, etc., started out as such societies with dues going to pay to ensure someone is covered if there is a catastrophic event in their lives, but with the government having illegitimately assumed this role in peoples' lives the organizations are now an anachronism, or they have taken on other charitable causes.)

But part of a contract is the explicit consent of every one of the signatories! If someone were to immigrate to the country (or be born there) that has a 100% participation rate, he cannot be required to "join" the social organization--which a government program would require. So either you are making the entirely trivial point that someone may set up a co-op for social services and 100% of the people *might* join it, and that if it's non governmental, it's OK, OR you are advocating the "right" of a jurisdiction to enlarge its government's bounds beyond their proper limits IF it is by 100% vote--which would be WRONG again. Which is it?

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I have repeatedly looked for a quote from Rand that explains the claim that a Government cannot engage in a function which doesn't tie to the protection of liberty so long as it does not violate liberty while doing so.

The closest I can come is this:

The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.

I do not see how Rand's claim regarding to the only proper functions is supported.

Yes, it's correct that the only proper purpose of Government is the protection of rights - but how does that limit the functions it can perform? The only purpose of my car is to take me from point A to point B - so is it wrong for my car to have a stereo and a cup-holder? Those are functions not required to transport me.

Rand also said:

The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.

If the citizenry delegates a function to Government not directly concerned with the protection of rights, but which it can perform WITHOUT violating rights, what makes it wrong for the citizens to do so?

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I have repeatedly looked for a quote from Rand that explains the claim that a Government cannot engage in a function which doesn't tie to the protection of liberty so long as it does not violate liberty while doing so.

The closest I can come is this:

I do not see how Rand's claim regarding to the only proper functions is supported.

Yes, it's correct that the only proper purpose of Government is the protection of rights - but how does that limit the functions it can perform? The only purpose of my car is to take me from point A to point B - so is it wrong for my car to have a stereo and a cup-holder? Those are functions not required to transport me.

Rand also said:

If the citizenry delegates a function to Government not directly concerned with the protection of rights, but which it can perform WITHOUT violating rights, what makes it wrong for the citizens to do so?

Because the protection of individual rights is in everyone's best interest. (Miss Rand's argument for LFC is that it is in everyone's best interest to have it, therefor it will eliminate conflicts among rational men) Charities are not always in everyone's best interest, so rational citizens would be forced into moral compromise: whether by refusing to support the government (sacrificing the protection of rights) or by supporting it and thereby supporting some other activity that is not necessarily in their best interest.

The obvious solution is to separate such activities from a representative government rational citizens can support without reservations.

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Because the protection of individual rights is in everyone's best interest. (Miss Rand's argument for LFC is that it is in everyone's best interest to have it, therefor it will eliminate conflicts among rational men) Charities are not always in everyone's best interest, so rational citizens would be forced into moral compromise: whether by refusing to support the government (sacrificing the protection of rights) or by supporting it and thereby supporting some other activity that is not necessarily in their best interest.

This is a false dichotomy. Government would be soliciting its citizens for funds anyway - no reason why Government could not solicit "Liberty Funds" which were exclusively for protection of rights, and "Social Funds" which would only be used for non protection projects.

Please note - I'm not advocating the idea. I'd vote against the idea every time. I think it's far too risky to go down that path.

I simply do not see that the moral argument against the idea has been proved and if it has not been proved, then claims that it would be immoral must be supported.

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Yes, it's correct that the only proper purpose of Government is the protection of rights - but how does that limit the functions it can perform? The only purpose of my car is to take me from point A to point B - so is it wrong for my car to have a stereo and a cup-holder? Those are functions not required to transport me.

If government is not retaliating, it must be initiating. Those two alternatives are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive. In any activity beyond police, law, and defense the government's action cannot possibly be construed as retaliation, therefore it is initiation.

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If government is not retaliating, it must be initiating. Those two alternatives are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive. In any activity beyond police, law, and defense the government's action cannot possibly be construed as retaliation, therefore it is initiation.

The above is true to the application of force.

We are not necessarily talking about a situation where force is involved. Again, if the population chooses to have Government supplied healthcare, AND if said care is funded voluntarily, what force applies?

That Government must by necessity hold the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force does not mean all Government actions involve force.

Edited by Greebo

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