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epistemologue

Taxation is not theft

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79 posts in this topic

On 2/12/2017 at 8:20 PM, Eiuol said:

Any -citizen- should willingly pay and/or make every effort to pay. It means they at least grasp that the government matters, and gives a damn. Those who don't give a damn should be left alone - as long as they don't expect their life and property to be actively protected by that government. In other words, they're left to fend for themselves any brutes that attack them.

As for an implementation, I don't think birth should grant citizenship. At best, they should be granted a temporary citizenship that lasts until adulthood, at which point they would register, pass tests, and anything else  required of citizenship. This way, all people will really be consenting.  

Agreed with all of the above.

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On 2/12/2017 at 8:27 PM, Eiuol said:

today's taxation in the US is voluntary

Yes, it is essentially voluntary. The US was founded on the principle of consent of the governed, and you have a right to renounce your citizenship. So taxes are being levied on you with your consent.

Taxation, today in the US, is not theft.

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15 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I'll retract that charge if epistemologue's idea of "becoming stateless" involves being utterly left alone, where I am, and free to continue to conduct my personal business as I see fit.

In the US today, you are free to renounce your citizenship and become stateless. Of course they have a lot of disclaimers about how incredibly stupid that would be. But you're free to do it.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I'm not clarifying his words per se. I think his argument has been straw-manned...

Oh?

1 hour ago, epistemologue said:

Taxation, today in the US, is not theft.

And...

1 hour ago, epistemologue said:

In the US today, you are free to renounce your citizenship and become stateless.

So are we all on the same page now?

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6 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

So are we all on the same page now?

I doubt you expected that, eh? But, at least for me, Epistemologue's position is clearer: he says that he not arguing about the morality of the law, just about whether one should follow it. He says the same would be true of an immoral law on slavery.

He's not arguing that one should follow the law because it is practical not to go to jail (as an Objectivist might), but basing it on his fictional concept of an agreement to be a citizen, and also a fictional agreement between countries (e.g. Canada and US) when it comes to foreigners.

The argument is the same as saying: "God says you should follow laws, so you should"

The formal structure is: "Fictional thing is true" --> therefore --> "False conclusion follows"

There's really no way to argue once this structure is revealed, unless someone wants to attempt the impossible task of showing that the fictional premise is fictional. 

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7 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

I doubt you expected that, eh? But, at least for me, Epistemologue's position is clearer: he says that he not arguing about the morality of the law, just about whether one should follow it. He says the same would be true of an immoral law on slavery.

He's not arguing that one should follow the law because it is practical not to go to jail (as an Objectivist might), but basing it on his fictional concept of an agreement to be a citizen, and also a fictional agreement between countries (e.g. Canada and US) when it comes to foreigners.

The argument is the same as saying: "God says you should follow laws, so you should"

The formal structure is: "Fictional thing is true" --> therefore --> "False conclusion follows"

There's really no way to argue once this structure is revealed, unless someone wants to attempt the impossible task of showing that the fictional premise is fictional. 

I was arguing neither about the morality of the law, nor whether you should follow it. I was arguing whether the laws are consensual. I don't know why this is unclear, I haven't discussed whether or when one should follows laws or not at all.

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Just now, epistemologue said:

... I was arguing whether the laws are consensual. ...

Yes, that's what I said in my last post, with one exception: you aren't arguing, that is simply your premise.

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@softwareNerd what do you mean? I'm not following you at all.

1 minute ago, softwareNerd said:

Yes, that's what I said in my last post, with one exception: you aren't arguing, that is simply your premise.

I'm not taking the consent of laws as a premise, I've been arguing how and why they are consensual.

From your last post:

13 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Epistemologue's position is clearer: he says that he not arguing about the morality of the law, just about whether one should follow it.

No, I was never arguing about whether one should follow the law or not. I have not addressed that issue whatsoever.

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1 minute ago, epistemologue said:

@softwareNerd what do you mean? I'm not following you at all.

I'm not taking the consent of laws as a premise, I've been arguing how and why they are consensual.

Maybe you're thinking of it this way:

Premise: citizenship is a consensual contract

Conclusion: consent to the laws flows directly from that premise

In that case, your premise (as now restated is false).

2 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

No, I was never arguing about whether one should follow the law or not. I have not addressed that issue whatsoever.

You explicitly said that one should pay taxes. 

Now, if you come back saying that one is free to leave, and think that you're demonstrating your premise then you've got to think about what freedom really means. People are often "free to leave" as in "your money or your life".

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34 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

I doubt you expected that, eh?

Well, epistemologue's claims seemed clear to me from the get-go, so in that sense, I'm not surprised. However, I wasn't certain that epistemologue would come back in to stand behind his original post, and in that way (though I continue to disagree with him), I think he deserves a large measure of respect.

The willingness to stand openly for what one believes, even in the face of potential scorn, is commendable.

As to the content of what epistemologue believes, let's try to clarify it even further:

22 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

I'm not taking the consent of laws as a premise, I've been arguing how and why they are consensual.

The issue is "consent," right, as sN alluded to when writing that "the core issue here is not taxation as such, but the concept 'voluntary'."

Following the Netflix analogy, it is as though we are born into an agreement with Netflix. They charge ten bucks a month, and perhaps there are penalties associated with certain actions, and we receive some level of service in return... and there is a process by which we may cancel our membership (and no longer get charged... but also no longer receive the services we'd been getting).

Therefore, we would say that remaining in this agreement with Netflix is consensual/voluntary, insofar as we do not pursue the process by which we could cancel our membership. And in this way, by analogy, epistemologue makes the argument that taxation in the US (today) is similarly consensual, because we may otherwise opt out: by moving to another country or becoming "stateless."

I mean, quite honestly, I have no interest in making a "straw man" out of anybody's arguments. So this is it, right? This is the argument.

If we're clear on that, let's look at some of the ancillary arguments raised:

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

...so I'd rather focus on the topic: should the government demand money from its citizens?

Yes, in the same way as Netflix. (Only the contract involved should be explicit and not automatically entered, and an individual should have the right to cancel without penalty.)

Should a government demand money from its citizens in any compulsory or non-voluntary fashion? Absolutely not.

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Take this line by MLK:

"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

I like the quote, and it's a good sentiment. I'd agree with him as far as laws about slavery, the Vietnam War draft, Japanese internment, prohibition. I'd disagree as far as taxation, decency laws for network TV, labeling rules from the FDA.

Sometimes I wonder whether you hear yourself, Eiuol.

You like the quote by MLK? But he's saying what I'm saying -- and not what you're saying.

Or rather, he goes a step further than I would, in that I think one's moral responsibility remains in doing what's best for the self -- and that could include disobeying unjust laws, or complying with them, in variable contexts. But absolutely one has a moral responsibility to obey just laws... and no such moral responsibility to obey unjust laws.

When you say that you'd agree with him on certain issues, but disagree on others, I wonder how you decide which unjust laws we have a moral responsibility to obey and which not. If you don't think I have the "wisdom or authority or infallibility to pick and choose which laws to follow," then how do you manage to do so in separating slavery and prohibition from taxation and obeying the dictates of the FDA (per their "egregiousness")? Are you secretly infallible, Eiuol?

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

There is an obligation to obey the rule of law if you think the rule of law is important.

Important? The "rule of law" is only as good as the law is just. Obedience to the rule of law in a just, capitalist country is virtuous and life-serving; obedience to the rule of law in a tyranny is monstrous and self-sacrificing; obedience to the rule of law in a mixed state will tend towards destruction, insofar as the law restricts liberty, and as such, no moral man has any obligation to be obedient against his own interests.

Compulsory taxation is immoral, and no, no individual is morally obligated to suffer it in the name of "the rule of law," which then is no longer man's benefactor, but man's destroyer. What you're advocating (directly and literally) is "the sanction of the victim."

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Oh?

And...

So are we all on the same page now?

It's simple enough on -this- point that one isn't free to become stateless. The US government will chase you down, send you to jail. You will have your businesses taken over or otherwise taken from you. You won't be allowed to peaceably secede. In other words, there is no real option to renounce your citizenship. On the other hand, you aren't locked in behind the Berlin wall, there are still generally free places to go. (side point: freedom of movement is critical here for these options to exist).

I think today's taxation is theft. Epist doesn't think so. Part of the problem is that since requirements for citizenship are not sensible these days, taxation amounts to theft. The US operates on a social contract. Epist seems to desire an actual agreement. I don't see how his ideal aligns with the world as it is, because the consequence of not paying taxes is loss of property, or being forced off property that the government claims permanent jurisdiction over.

As I said before, taxation in the US is not so bad that we need to revolt as the colonists did. We still by and large prefer the US and how it works, at least here on OO.net. For us, as improper as some laws are (Epist for example says that citizenship-at-birth is to some extent unjust), we can properly bear with altering the system.

Yes, the MLK quote is a lot like your idea, Don. I brought it up to point out I like your sentiment, and MLK stated it well. I disagree in part though. Some laws are clearly wildly unjust and don't require a law degree to suss out. The bill of rights are in plain language, and the issues I pointed out fundamentally deny liberty of all sorts. Compare that to decency laws that still permit a degree of liberty. Not all decency laws are even improper. The latter is complex, and I won't begin to flout decency laws. I know too little.

If taxation is like the first example, make your case.

"obedience to the rule of law in a mixed state will tend towards destruction, insofar as the law restricts liberty, and as such, no moral man has any obligation to be obedient against his own interests. "

Sometimes gradual change is better. Gradual change for liberty will make the bad laws gravitate to an ideal form. Taxation is bad, but there is some good in it as far as payment being part of citizenship.

(As you know, in a past thread of mine, I argued that outright revolution is required at times.)

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

It's simple enough on -this- point that one isn't free to become stateless. The US government will chase you down, send you to jail. You will have your businesses taken over or otherwise taken from you. You won't be allowed to peaceably secede. In other words, there is no real option to renounce your citizenship.

All right. I'm no expert in tax law/secession/"statelessness," but what you say agrees with what I've gathered over the years. If it really were the case that folks in the US could simply "opt out" of the system (in some relatively painless fashion), yet retain their property and their rights (not necessarily in the enforcement of them, but remaining free from abrogation by surrounding governments), then there would be a real conversation to be had.

Without that ability, however, all the rest is moot: the system is coercive at its core.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

On the other hand, you aren't locked in behind the Berlin wall, there are still generally free places to go. (side point: freedom of movement is critical here for these options to exist).

I agree that freedom of movement is critical, but I don't believe that having "generally free places to go" either excuses or lessens the fact of the immorality here at home. Because women's shelters exist, that doesn't make domestic abuse more palatable.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I think today's taxation is theft. Epist doesn't think so.

On this point, you are right and he is wrong.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Epist seems to desire an actual agreement. I don't see how his ideal aligns with the world as it is, because the consequence of not paying taxes is loss of property, or being forced off property that the government claims permanent jurisdiction over.

If we were discussing "ideal" systems, then I would agree with epistemologue that we should desire "actual agreement." Much like I think a "choice to live" ought refer to an actual, in fact, choice (should it exist at all), I believe that "the consent of the governed" should refer back to actual, informed consent such as human beings give, in space and time, on Planet Earth.

I suppose that among Objectivists we should expect something like a divide over baptism: either at birth, or "believer's." Were I a Christian, I could only argue for believer's baptism, and as an Objectivist, I can only endorse "choice" and "consent" by entities actually capable of both choice and consent.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

As I said before, taxation in the US is not so bad that we need to revolt as the colonists did.

Don'tcha think, Eiuol, that at the time of the Revolution, some colonists said that their level of taxation was not so bad as to justify outright revolt? What's the principle involved in determining when taxation is "so bad" as to require revolt?

Anyways, the choices are not "complete compliance with the law" on the one hand and "full-scale revolution" on the other. There is a middle being excluded here, wide as the Pacific. And none of this makes the case that there is any moral obligation to adhere to any immoral law.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

We still by and large prefer the US and how it works, at least here on OO.net. For us, as improper as some laws are (Epist for example says that citizenship-at-birth is to some extent unjust), we can properly bear with altering the system.

LOL. You don't get to speak for "we...here on OO.net" any more than I do. But even if you did, that would be ad populum; what some collection of people believe themselves to "properly bear" does not constitute an argument for what is moral, what is right, what is just.

And besides, we prefer "the US and how it works" to what? A better system? I don't think so. We want to create a better system than what currently exists -- do we not? And part of what makes the US bearable to some of us, in the interim, is that enforcement of law is not perfect, and many laws can be flouted regularly, with relative impunity. Drive the freeways in Los Angeles for a while and you'll see what I mean.

While we're waiting for the world to embrace reason and liberty, we don't have to suffer injustice any more in our individual lives than we need to, to secure for ourselves greater happiness/longevity/pleasure/flourishing -- life.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Yes, the MLK quote is a lot like your idea, Don. I brought it up to point out I like your sentiment, and MLK stated it well. I disagree in part though. Some laws are clearly wildly unjust and don't require a law degree to suss out. The bill of rights are in plain language, and the issues I pointed out fundamentally deny liberty of all sorts. Compare that to decency laws that still permit a degree of liberty. Not all decency laws are even improper. The latter is complex, and I won't begin to flout decency laws. I know too little.

If there's some abstruse point of legal/political philosophy that a person can't suss out for himself without a law degree, then perhaps he should defer to the law; just as, without sufficient medical knowledge, a person might wisely defer medical judgment to a physician.

But what is unclear to some is clear to others, and I have no doubt that compulsory taxation (to say nothing of all of the ends I'm also aware of, to which that taxation will be directed) is "wildly unjust." Do you think I need a law degree to work that out?

If I don't, if I am capable of reaching these conclusions all on my own, then why shouldn't I flout such laws?

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

If taxation is like the first example, make your case.

Shall I reprint Rand's various essays on the nature of government, and rights, and the initiation of force? Or can I simply reference them, as such?

But then, you'd said above that "today's taxation is theft" -- and you managed to do so without a J.D., so far as I know. So if (today's) taxation is theft, as you've claimed, why shouldn't a moral man seek to avoid getting robbed?

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

"obedience to the rule of law in a mixed state will tend towards destruction, insofar as the law restricts liberty, and as such, no moral man has any obligation to be obedient against his own interests. "

Sometimes gradual change is better.

Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is not. But "gradual change" on a societal level does not necessarily speak to the morality of an individual's decisions within some given system and personal context.

It may be moral, in context, for a man to fight for outright revolution, gradual change, or no change at all (to outward appearance, at least) -- yet obey or flout a given law, when it stands to impact his life.

In any event, what I'd said and you quoted stands as written: no moral man has any obligation to be obedient against his own interests. If you'd like to argue against that somehow, then do so, but please find the courage to do it directly.

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It's simple enough on -this- point that one isn't free to become stateless. The US government will chase you down, send you to jail. You will have your businesses taken over or otherwise taken from you. You won't be allowed to peaceably secede. In other words, there is no real option to renounce your citizenship.

I'm curious, why do you say this?

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4 hours ago, epistemologue said:

I'm curious, why do you say this?

There've been a few pekple who tried to secede here and there. They usually figure on the news when the cops surround their homes with military style vehicles and persuade them to come back into their voluntary, consensual citizenship, :)

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6 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

There've been a few pekple who tried to secede here and there. They usually figure on the news when the cops surround their homes with military style vehicles and persuade them to come back into their voluntary, consensual citizenship, :)

Along with some of the more sensational episodes you're referring to, this also reminds me generally of something like the "sovereign citizen" thing.

Even if someone believes himself to have found some legalistic loophole (which is probably just a partial and incomplete reading of the law), it's worth keeping in mind the difference between what is de jure and what is de facto. The Soviet constitution promised all sorts of rights to her citizens, after all, but try making a claim on them against some party member's interests and see where it would land you -- straight into the gulag.

If it were a practical and realistic option, today, to "opt out" or "secede," then hell yeah, why not just do it? We could make Galt's Gulch a reality right now. But the actual reality we're dealing with is that such is not an option; the US Government, for all of its relative virtue against other extant systems, would never suffer something like that to exist.

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"Because women's shelters exist, that doesn't make domestic abuse more palatable. "

Bad comparison - this isn't Soviet Russia. The point is that there is a degree of freedom. I didn't say anything about injustice being palatable.

"Don'tcha think, Eiuol, that at the time of the Revolution, some colonists said that their level of taxation was not so bad as to justify outright revolt? What's the principle involved in determining when taxation is "so bad" as to require revolt? "

Before the Tea Act, this is what happened. The British were lenient and reasonable some of the time. The Tea Act was a bailout forced on the colonists, they were forced to buy the tea, essentially culminating in the British just putting a clampdown on Boston. It transformed from a taxation disagreement to the British taking measures to deny rights to colonists. To be sure, the taxation was unjust, but at first the British still had a general respect for rights.

"If I don't, if I am capable of reaching these conclusions all on my own, then why shouldn't I flout such laws? "

You can figure out that it is injustice. Whether the best and therefore moral option is to flout the law or change the law from within takes a lot more than identifying injustice. I'd say we're morally obligated to fix the injustice, but it doesn't follow that ALL unjust laws must be broken. Some laws are fine-grained and flouting some will cause more rights violations if those laws are suddenly repealed.

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

"Because women's shelters exist, that doesn't make domestic abuse more palatable. "

Bad comparison - this isn't Soviet Russia. The point is that there is a degree of freedom. I didn't say anything about injustice being palatable.

When we talk about the US having a "degree of freedom" -- and it certainly does -- I fear that we sometimes lose the importance of the ongoing injustices in the system, or even apologize for them.

But let's be clear: injustice ought not be stood for, or apologized for, or minimized. And if this isn't Soviet Russia, what does that matter to the people who suffer real injustices in the United States? The family that's broken because the breadwinner has been sent to prison, for years, for some drug offense that ought not be a crime -- what do they care that this "isn't Soviet Russia"? (And in fact, Soviet Russia wasn't Soviet Russia, in the way that you mean, for plenty of people; injustice was more widely spread there, and ran deeper, but not all people were equally impacted by it, and some even thrived. Just like here.)

The innocent man condemned to death due to corruption is not buoyed by the fact that Eiuol considers himself "mostly free." The rancher who (foolishly? heroically?) decides to make a stand for his rights, and is shot dead by federal agents for it, is no less dead than his Ukrainian counterpart. The mass of regulations and taxes that strangle enterprise and abort dreams and stifle research are not lightened because those regulations are written in English.

In my own immediate family, I have a relative who had his house taken via eminent domain. And I've had family members drafted. And arrested for things which ought not be crimes. I'm sure they still preferred the U.S. to Soviet Russia, but when the government is taking away peoples' homes, sending them to war against their will, imprisoning people for things which are not actually criminal... well, it makes me wonder what you're driving at by saying that this isn't Soviet Russia.

I continue to believe that the comparison is apt. There are people who are being abused (some gravely) in this country.

6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

"Don'tcha think, Eiuol, that at the time of the Revolution, some colonists said that their level of taxation was not so bad as to justify outright revolt? What's the principle involved in determining when taxation is "so bad" as to require revolt? "

Before the Tea Act, this is what happened. The British were lenient and reasonable some of the time. The Tea Act was a bailout forced on the colonists, they were forced to buy the tea, essentially culminating in the British just putting a clampdown on Boston. It transformed from a taxation disagreement to the British taking measures to deny rights to colonists. To be sure, the taxation was unjust, but at first the British still had a general respect for rights.

Yes. And if anyone raised a stink over taxes commensurate to what the colonists did (and I haven't run the numbers, but I'd bet you that our current tax burdens are more onerous than theirs were; what do you think?), I'd expect that the US Government would ramp up its response, just as the British Crown did.

Taxation, being coercive, is backed by the gun -- in Britain in the 18th Century and in the United States, today. Just because the system is streamlined for most, and because the gun is hidden under paperwork, don't mistake the underlying nature. And if you push back against the system, you can expect the gun to reveal itself eventually.

That's what happened for the colonists, and it's what would happen today. So were the colonists better justified (per some principle you can identify) to travel down that road than someone would be today?

6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

"If I don't, if I am capable of reaching these conclusions all on my own, then why shouldn't I flout such laws? "

You can figure out that it is injustice. Whether the best and therefore moral option is to flout the law or change the law from within takes a lot more than identifying injustice. I'd say we're morally obligated to fix the injustice, but it doesn't follow that ALL unjust laws must be broken. Some laws are fine-grained and flouting some will cause more rights violations if those laws are suddenly repealed.

This is thoroughly confused.

First of all, it's not a choice between flouting the law or changing it from within; a person can do both, if both are warranted in his personal context.

Second, the extent of our "moral obligation" to fix injustice is similarly limited by personal context. No one has any duty to crusade, except that he may do so and benefit his own life in the process. No one is called to martyrdom; in fact, the call is to reject martyrdom (including in the name of "the rule of law").

Third, I've never argued that "ALL unjust laws must be broken." Only that there is no moral obligation to obey any unjust law. I'd ask you to spend some time reflecting on this, because I think that until you understand the distinction here, we are bound to remain at loggerheads.

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

First of all, it's not a choice between flouting the law or changing it from within; a person can do both, if both are warranted in his personal context.

Yes, that is also an option.

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Second, the extent of our "moral obligation" to fix injustice is similarly limited by personal context. No one has any duty to crusade, except that he may do so and benefit his own life in the process. No one is called to martyrdom; in fact, the call is to reject martyrdom (including in the name of "the rule of law").

I already agree and the part you quoted addresses this: " Whether the best and therefore moral option is to flout the law or change the law from within takes a lot more than identifying injustice. " It depends on the law and what's at stake.

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Third, I've never argued that "ALL unjust laws must be broken." Only that there is no moral obligation to obey any unjust law.

Then we agree on this. I argue that flouting taxation laws isn't proper generally but not always. The reason why coincides with how Epist says taxation is not theft.

More tomorrow.

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On 2/18/2017 at 7:08 AM, softwareNerd said:

There've been a few pekple who tried to secede here and there. They usually figure on the news when the cops surround their homes with military style vehicles and persuade them to come back into their voluntary, consensual citizenship, :)

What are you referring to?

People can and do renounce their citizenship peacefully and without trouble all the time. I don't understand why you guys are suggesting that this is impossible or crazy, it's legal and it does happen. The state department even has a website on it: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal-considerations/us-citizenship-laws-policies/renunciation-of-citizenship.html

Edited by epistemologue

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2 hours ago, epistemologue said:

People can and do renounce their citizenship peacefully and without trouble all the time. I don't understand why you guys are suggesting that this is impossible or crazy, it's legal and it does happen.

You can't stay on your property, right? You'd have to leave your house on your land, and move all your stuff. I think sNerd is referring to people who wanted to secede -and- were violent in some way, so it's not a good example. Either way, it's not like you'd be allowed to stay. If you could stay put on -your- property, it'd be wholly voluntary.

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2 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

You can't stay on your property, right?

There's no law against non-citizens owning property.

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1 hour ago, epistemologue said:

There's no law against non-citizens owning property.

Right, but I don't think you'd be allowed to stay unless you paid a property tax, citizen or not. Unless I'm mistaken.

Edited by Eiuol

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20 hours ago, DonAthos said:

well, it makes me wonder what you're driving at by saying that this isn't Soviet Russia.

I mentioned it to point out that you are at least able to freely leave, while in Soviet Russia you'd be shot at the Berlin Wall. It'd be foolish to consider that taxation in the US is as unjust as being sent to the gulag, or as unjust as eminent domain in the US. It doesn't mean I'm okay with it if I say there is a pretty good degree of freedom regarding taxes despite some real injustices.

20 hours ago, DonAthos said:

So were the colonists better justified (per some principle you can identify) to travel down that road than someone would be today?

They lacked representation in Parliament, and the taxes that were at issue was on tea they did not want, and a number pf oppressive laws that built up over time. Taxation in the colonies was done without any benefit of citizenship.

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19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Then we agree on this. I argue that flouting taxation laws isn't proper generally but not always. The reason why coincides with how Epist says taxation is not theft.

More tomorrow.

I was expecting a fuller explanation as to how "flouting taxation laws isn't proper generally." Because if we are actually agreed that "there is no moral obligation to obey any unjust law," and if taxation laws (as presently constituted) are unjust, then I don't see where you're finding a moral obligation to follow them at any point. (Apart from what we can all agree on, presumably, like not wanting to go to prison. It typically makes sense to comply with tax laws, if the alternative is jail.)

Earlier, I thought you were making the claim that it's important to obey tax laws because that... shows respect for "the rule of law" or something. But I cannot make that consistent with "there is no moral obligation to obey any unjust law." Can you?

It seems to me that either we are morally obligated to "the rule of law" or we are not. I say that we are not, because we have no moral obligation to obey unjust laws. What say you?

50 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I mentioned it to point out that you are at least able to freely leave, while in Soviet Russia you'd be shot at the Berlin Wall.

Eh, let's not get too bogged down in the fine details of history and geography, but I have it on good authority that the Berlin Wall was in Berlin. And a few people did manage to leave Soviet Russia, including a certain philosopher you may be familiar with. ;)

But yes, certainly, it is better to be able to leave a country freely (or enter it) than be denied that right. The United States has many more freedoms than the Soviet Union allowed; the United States is a far superior country, in any number of respects (including moral); that doesn't make the United States' abuses any less heinous.

50 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

It'd be foolish to consider that taxation in the US is as unjust as being sent to the gulag, or as unjust as eminent domain in the US. It doesn't mean I'm okay with it if I say there is a pretty good degree of freedom regarding taxes despite some real injustices.

It's funny. So, in preparation to write this response, I decided to look up the most famous case of tax evasion I'm aware of -- that of Al Capone. It turns out he was sentenced to (though didn't serve in full) eleven years in prison. One more than many prisoners in the Gulag who (early on) routinely received ten-year sentences. (Though Stalin would later bump that standard sentence up to twenty-five.)

Anyways, I'm not saying that all unjust acts are equally bad, or that there is any equivalence between (for instance) U.S. tax policy and the Soviet legal system. But I am saying that the good in the United States (which is substantial) does not make the bad that it does any less bad, any less immoral, any less tolerable. And how good the United States itself looks might depend in part upon how much oppression you personally suffer.

Here's an article from a couple years back about a woman sentenced to life in prison on drug charges. It is awash in complicating detail, naturally, and I don't mean to defend her actions -- but I would still maintain that the punishment she received is deeply, darkly unjust. She might not have done well in the Soviet Union, although some did, but it is hard to say that she would have done worse. (Stalin's government, at its most draconian, would have given her a max of 25 years.)

How much oppression is a man expected to bear? And why should we consider it moral for him to do so, if he can relieve himself of some measure of that oppression by casting off the idea that he has any moral duty to obey those laws which serve to oppress him?

50 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

They lacked representation in Parliament, and the taxes that were at issue was on tea they did not want, and a number pf oppressive laws that built up over time. Taxation in the colonies was done without any benefit of citizenship.

I'm well aware of the old "taxation without representation" chestnut. It might be fun to discuss the moral claims of men who wanted greater "benefits of citizenship" (though let us not kid ourselves that Great Britain provided nothing to the colonists; they were relatively rights-respecting, too), and cheaper tea, and initiated a war to secure it, while... keeping their own slaves.

But leave that aside for now. I'm certain that a duty on tea was important at the time, both for what it was and what it signified. I'm equally certain that scores of people today suffer as much or more from current US policy. And are they all adequately "represented"? Is everyone taxed today benefited by US citizenship?

Are those even the right questions? Speaking of slaves, they were accounted "represented" in Congress through the "three-fifths compromise." I am accounted "represented" today by politicians who have no interest in my rights, or even what "rights" are, and that includes our charming new Commander-in-Chief. (He "represents" you, too.) What precisely does "representation" get us, if we cannot agree on the ground rules as to what government is and is not allowed to do?

It is akin to saying that you're "represented" when the robber asks of you "your money or your life" -- because you get a "choice."

This idea that because we might one day convince the mob not to continue to tyrannize us in the fashion that they currently do -- and that there are technical legal provisions to accommodate such a change -- I know, is supposed to convince me to bear the tyranny in the meanwhile, and perhaps even endorse it. But I think I'm of the opinion that tyranny ought not be borne. Or if it must be borne temporarily, because it cannot successfully be resisted, that any measure of resistance that can be safely undertaken in the meanwhile is moral.

"Government" is not magic -- not even so-called "representative" government -- and no man has the right to violate the rights of any other, not even by vote.

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