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epistemologue

Taxation is not theft

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75 posts in this topic

9 hours ago, epistemologue said:

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

Yeah, let's just ignore the bleeding obvious that is being said to you multiple times and play these games instead. If you have no clue what people are referring to, you clearly are incapable of carrying on a sensible conversation.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

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?

Look, I agree there are injustices. Even Epist does. But it's blown out of proportion. See below. Oppression isn't the same as all injustice. It starts to look like hyperbole when there are substantially worse injustices. Sorta like this (it's a joke, don't read into it):

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

I'm certain that a duty on tea was important at the time, both for what it was and what it signified.

Historical note: The Tea Act was a bailout of the British East India Company. The tea was made cheaper than normal for the colonists. More or less, the British were saying "look guys, cheap tea!" The colonists responded as "thanks, but we don't want the tea anyway". Not taking well to this, the British said "well, we're sending it, and you'll buy it". So the tea was sent on 4 ships to different ports. 2 ports sent the ships back. One port didn't let the British unload the tea. Boston totally trashed the tea. That's when it all went downhill.

Taxation was always a negotiable issue, as unjust as some tax policies were. Those tax laws were worse than today, except for income tax. There are substantial rights violations that wholly deny your life, and rights violations which impede your life yet still be ironed out and smoothed over.

All laws - taxation laws included - are part of a wider system of laws. That is, the law is the means in which to protect your life and property. As a system, they work together. Some parts are unjust, so those are amended later on. It isn't always a sacrifice to follow an unjust law, especially if it is negotiable and able to be improved by existing mechanisms within the system. Or if your life isn't -immediately- threatened. This is the rule of law. Errors occur, yet we don't throw it out and break the law piecemeal as it suits us. Breaking the law, if it's rational, presumes a significant and wide area of the law failing to tend towards protecting rights. Many civil rights protests showed major violations in the law. Taxation isn't at that stage. When an ENTIRE system tends to rights violations on a major scale (USSR), then that suggests no actual -objective- rule of law, so breaking those "laws" becomes respect for -objective- law.

Edited by Eiuol
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12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Look, I agree there are injustices. Even Epist does.

I think it's funny that you continue to try to drag epistemologue along with you, lol. :)

I'm pretty sure he can speak for himself.

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

But it's blown out of proportion. See below. Oppression isn't the same as all injustice. It starts to look like hyperbole when there are substantially worse injustices.

And this is what's bullshit. In what way am I blowing out of proportion the experience of someone, like the example I'd raised, who potentially could spend her life in prison for something which ought not even be criminal? I described that as "deeply, darkly unjust"; do you consider that hyperbolic?

The damage that we do to people is not not oppressive because there are "substantially worse injustices" in the world. The fact of someone else's suffering doesn't diminish the suffering I experience, or change it into something other than suffering, or make it more tolerable.

Or if you're simply chaffing at my use of the word "oppression," Merriam-Webster has it as "unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power," and yeah, I think that accurately describes much of what the U.S. Government (as every extant government) does to its citizens. Incidentally, the 1b definition ("something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power") has as its provided example "unfair taxes and other oppressions."

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Historical note: The Tea Act was a bailout of the British East India Company. The tea was made cheaper than normal for the colonists. More or less, the British were saying "look guys, cheap tea!" The colonists responded as "thanks, but we don't want the tea anyway". Not taking well to this, the British said "well, we're sending it, and you'll buy it". So the tea was sent on 4 ships to different ports. 2 ports sent the ships back. One port didn't let the British unload the tea. Boston totally trashed the tea. That's when it all went downhill.

I also think it funny -- perhaps in a Pythonesque manner -- that while you're trying to make the case that things aren't all that bad right now on the one hand, you'd also like to continue to defend a revolution over a tax on tea. :)

Eiuol, you may not have the perspective to see this, but I would bet all of my money (and all of epistemologue's, too, since that is the fashion) that if you'd lived at the time of the Revolution, you would have been making the very same arguments there as here: you would have been preaching fidelity to the crown in the name of the "rule of law."

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Those tax laws were worse than today, except for income tax.

LOL

You are doing a bit, aren't you!? I know you said "don't read into it," but that's the real meaning of including the Python clip, right? That was the tip-off. This is a gag! (Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!)

Or do you honestly mean to tell me that, if we ignore today's most offending taxes, then today's taxes don't seem quite as offensive? Have I accidentally walked into the Argument Clinic?

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

There are substantial rights violations that wholly deny your life, and rights violations which impede your life yet still be ironed out and smoothed over.

Well, so long as the taxes on tea aren't too strenuous, I suppose we can "smooth over" all of the other taxation schemes, and the war on drugs, and Patriot Act and surveillance, and Obamacare, and draft and eminent domain, and on and on and on.

Well argued, Eiuol!

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

All laws - taxation laws included - are part of a wider system of laws. That is, the law is the means in which to protect your life and property.

Here's where we go from Python to Orwell.

No, sir, the law is theoretically the means by which we protect life and property. That's what it could be. But when the law actually confiscates our property and endangers our lives, in reality, then it becomes the means by which we destroy life and property. Cases like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany are extreme examples of this, but the underlying nature of unjust governance (and its consequences for the individuals affected) -- as, for instance, the destructive power of taxation -- remains true even in relatively free, relatively good, "mixed" western democracies.

That's why we argue against it.

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

As a system, they work together. Some parts are unjust, so those are amended later on. It isn't always a sacrifice to follow an unjust law, especially if it is negotiable and able to be improved by existing mechanisms within the system. Or if your life isn't -immediately- threatened. This is the rule of law. Errors occur, yet we don't throw it out and break the law piecemeal as it suits us.

This is all mere assertion; you make no argument as to why we "don't break the law piecemeal as it suits us." After all, and generally speaking, why not do that which suits us?

But I argue that we may morally break the law as it suits us, specifically, because where the law is unjust, it initiates the use of force; and we have no moral obligation to allow that, or to obey it, or to sanction it (as you are doing right now).

Calling "unjust law" law, itself, is mere convention; in truth, no "government" has the right to violate rights, or impose its rules onto anyone. So the rules you're saying we ought to obey (because they aren't so bad as the ones in the Soviet Union) are not representative of the "rule of law." They are instead the dictates of thugs with guns.

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Breaking the law, if it's rational, presumes a significant and wide area of the law failing to tend towards protecting rights. Many civil rights protests showed major violations in the law. Taxation isn't at that stage.

Are you kidding? How is taxation law not at the "stage" of "failing to tend towards protecting rights"? Compulsory taxation is the violation of rights.

12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

When an ENTIRE system tends to rights violations on a major scale (USSR), then that suggests no actual -objective- rule of law, so breaking those "laws" becomes respect for -objective- law.

The entire U.S. system is run on taxation. These are rights violations on a major scale. If we were to try to catalogue all of the remaining rights violations (all of the unjust laws; all of the regulations; all of the military adventurism; all of the corruption), we'd be here forever.

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5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Compulsory taxation is the violation of rights.

How is taxation a violation of rights? You can renounce your citizenship if you don't want to pay taxes anymore. Nobody is forcing you and "violating your rights" in order to make you pay taxes.

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According to the link you provided epistemologue:

E. TAX & MILITARY OBLIGATIONS /NO ESCAPE FROM PROSECUTION

Persons who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship should be aware of the fact that renunciation of U.S. citizenship may have no effect on their U.S. tax or military service obligations (contact the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Selective Service for more information).  In addition, the act of renouncing U.S. citizenship does not allow persons to avoid possible prosecution for crimes which they may have committed in the United States, or escape the repayment of financial obligations, including child support payments, previously incurred in the United States or incurred as United States citizens abroad.

Continuing to work in the US after renunciation of citizenship may be more difficult, but I doubt it can be used as a dodge of future taxes if pursued here.

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21 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

How is taxation a violation of rights? You can renounce your citizenship if you don't want to pay taxes anymore. Nobody is forcing you and "violating your rights" in order to make you pay taxes.

All right, epistemologue. You may need to walk me through this, because I'm not an expert on the legal status of "statelessness" in the United States -- but the impression I've gathered over the years is that the sort of thing you're talking about would not work, in reality.

But say that I renounced my citizenship. If I own a home, would I no longer have to pay property taxes on it? If I am employed by some business, would I no longer be responsible for paying tax on my income (or contributing to SSI, etc.)? If I sell goods, would I no longer be responsible for sales taxes?

Is that how things would work?

I recognize that you'd linked earlier to a government site about renouncing citizenship. I did look at it, and wondered what you make of the following:

Quote

Persons who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship should be aware of the fact that renunciation of U.S. citizenship may have no effect on their U.S. tax or military service obligations (contact the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Selective Service for more information).

What is the basis for your belief that renouncing citizenship relieves one of tax obligations?

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6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

In what way am I blowing out of proportion the experience of someone, like the example I'd raised, who potentially could spend her life in prison for something which ought not even be criminal?

Citizenship properly implies certain obligations: funding the government and respect for its laws. Why funding? Tanstaafl. Why respect for its laws? You would seek rights protection within that system of laws. At times, people will make unjust laws, so a proper system allows laws to repealed, amended, or taken to court. For a system of laws to work, it is important to improve the law, and even vociferously demand problems get addressed. Sometimes, breaking the law is advisable despite getting arrested insofar as an entire subset of people are abused, and when negotiation loses its power. MLK and other broke laws to make a point, without going as far as revolution like the Black Panthers. 

What we know about taxation is that, as DW showed, renouncing your citizenship won't get you out of taxes. This is unfair and unjust. On the other hand, few people even wish to renounce citizenship anyway. As long as you want to be a citizen, you should fund the government as requested. The only people really impeded are those who see the US as a moral monstrosity, and anarchists. I don't advocate initiating force on those people, but taxing them is as low as traffic laws when it comes to rights violations.

6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

that if you'd lived at the time of the Revolution, you would have been making the very same arguments there as here: you would have been preaching fidelity to the crown in the name of the "rule of law."

I tried to convey that taxes were an issue for decades. Taxes weren't the big issue, it was the improper assertion of authority. The British ramped up the rights violations significantly after the Boston Tea party. Again, it wasn't the tea, or a raise in tea prices. The Tea Act made tea cheaper in order to appear nice while making some money - while not offering colonists rights as citizens. I'd only be for a revolution after the Coercive Acts.

Funny you mention fidelity to the crown. I'd probably be a Federalist post-revolution (e.g. people like Hamilton). Federalists were accused by Jeffersonians/Anti-Federalists of being pro-British monarchists.

6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Well, so long as the taxes on tea aren't too strenuous, I suppose we can "smooth over" all of the other taxation schemes, and the war on drugs, and Patriot Act and surveillance, and Obamacare, and draft and eminent domain, and on and on and on.

As Thoreau said in Civil Disobedience:

“If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Citizenship properly implies certain obligations: funding the government and respect for its laws.

What I'm about to say doesn't apply to just you, Eiuol -- it is a problem endemic among many Objectivists -- but you're conflating government in some ideal fashion with what we actually have.

There is no moral obligation to fund a government which violates rights. Any entity which violates rights in an ongoing fashion isn't even properly a government; for what seems like the eighty-second billionth time, there is no such thing as a right to violate rights -- yet you continue to treat the U.S. Government as though it has such a right. As though it has some legitimate power to tax in a coercive fashion, pass laws limiting liberty, and in general initiate the use of force. It doesn't have that right, Eiuol. But for some blasted reason you want to give it to them.

And there is no call to "respect" laws which are unjust, invalid, and ought not exist at all. I don't respect them. They are immoral. They ruin peoples' lives. In calling for them to be "respected," you are quite literally siding with evil.

If we were living in some state that actually serves the purpose of a proper government, then we could have a different conversation as to what "citizenship properly implies." But we cannot take that ideal vision and try to transplant parts of it to the current reality of a government which does not protect rights, and thereby reach moral attitudes or actions. To be moral, we must first be able to look at things as they actually are -- not as we wish them to be.

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20 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

But we cannot take that ideal vision and try to transplant parts of it to the current reality of a government which does not protect rights, and thereby reach moral attitudes or actions. To be moral, we must first be able to look at things as they actually are -- not as we wish them to be.

This is completely back-asswards.

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10 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

And there is no call to "respect" laws which are unjust, invalid, and ought not exist at all. I don't respect them.

Serious question, if it is so bad, why don't you renounce your citizenship? I mean, you'd be declaring in no uncertain terms that the US government is illegitimate to you and has no authority, that there is no rule of law worth respecting.

For me, I do -not- think things are close to ideal. Yet I think the meaning of citizenship is the same, and I desire to be citizen. That isn't to say I apologize for rights violations, or refuse to resist break laws as a citizen, or submit. I gave qualifications as to when resisting and even rebelling is appropriate. I see the US as tending to support rights and appropriately so, and I seek to amend injustices. Thus, as bad as tax law works, and I'm a bit conflicted as to accepting, I'm still willing to pay taxes.

I don't feel SO bad about taxes as they stand, I only mean to say I'm not about to go to the streets.

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26 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

This is completely back-asswards.

I'm not so sure. Referencing "The God of the Machine" (Pg. 27):

Men made the statutes; and it was understood that a statute might be inequitable or ill-advised, but a bad law reflected on the legislators; statutes were open to change, without impairing the majesty of the law in principle. The means of repeal or alteration were provided, without recourse to violence. Thus the idea of law answered to reason though it was superior to expediency.

Not speaking for Don Athos and simultaneously addressing part of Eioul's point, it seems that descriptive law versus prescriptive law again rears with regard to taxation.

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32 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

I'm not so sure.

The issue is, should our actions be guided by abstract principles or not? Don says no.

Our continual improvement and refinement of our concrete, written laws and legislation at the City, County, State and Federal levels is directed by principles (what Don incorrectly calls the "ideal").  We take the "given" (i.e. the government into which we were all born into in the U.S.) and seek to improve it by means persuasion, debate, elections, etc., guided by abstract principles.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

But we cannot take that ideal vision and try to transplant parts of it to the current reality of a

 I can only take this to mean that Don thinks making incremental changes is the wrong way of improving our government.

Edited by New Buddha

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4 hours ago, New Buddha said:

I can only take this to mean that Don thinks making incremental changes is the wrong way of improving our government.

That's not my meaning at all.

Eiuol argues (in a nutshell) that because government is the defender of rights, we ought to obey the law. But this is an idealistic way of looking at "government" that does not take into account the reality of the situation, which is that actual governments (including ours) sometimes defend rights, and sometimes violate them.

This reality means that there is no moral obligation to obey the law, as such; where the law violates man's rights, there is a moral option to disobey the law.

As far as "incremental changes" are concerned, that's a possible tactic for political change, but there's also no moral obligation to seek change incrementally.

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Serious question, if it is so bad, why don't you renounce your citizenship?

Because currently that would be a dumb thing to do. What benefits would it bring? Not freedom from taxation. Not freedom from immoral law. At "best," it would make me more susceptible to immoral law -- and for what? So that I could pay into Social Security for the rest of my life, but never see any of it back? So that I could have technical difficulties securing a job, or crossing a border? What exactly is the supposed benefit again? Would it score me chicks? (And would my wife be okay with that?)

But when Galt's Gulch is available and secure (in whatever far-off future we imagine that to be, and assuming we cannot right the U.S. ship in the meantime), this will become a meaningful option.

Quote

I mean, you'd be declaring in no uncertain terms that the US government is illegitimate to you and has no authority, that there is no rule of law worth respecting.

But I already know that the US Government is illegitimate; I don't need some badge reading "stateless" to know what's what. That it is illegitimate doesn't change much for me: the laws which are moral I would obey equally here, in Canada, in Galt's Gulch, or etc. The immoral ones, including much of taxation, I generally obey because there is typically no safe way not to. Some laws I flout, when they are immoral and it is safe to do so. If you look around you, I think you'll find that this describes most citizens' essential approach to the law.

The government is illegitimate because it does not protect man's rights but violates them -- and that makes it illegitimate for all of us; unless you'd like to declare that a government may legitimately violate rights? After all, that is the subtext to your arguments... so why not make it text?

Quote

For me, I do -not- think things are close to ideal. Yet I think the meaning of citizenship is the same, and I desire to be citizen. That isn't to say I apologize for rights violations, or refuse to resist break laws as a citizen, or submit. I gave qualifications as to when resisting and even rebelling is appropriate. I see the US as tending to support rights and appropriately so, and I seek to amend injustices. Thus, as bad as tax law works, and I'm a bit conflicted as to accepting, I'm still willing to pay taxes.

I don't feel SO bad about taxes as they stand, I only mean to say I'm not about to go to the streets.

In the first place, no one is talking about "going to the streets." (Although that seems to be fashionable of late; and who knows, perhaps Donald Trump will bring us to the point where that sort of thing strikes us both as reasonable, or even necessary.)

Anyways, you can "be a citizen" without arguing that individuals have a moral obligation to obey immoral law. Arguing that they have this moral obligation is an apology for rights violations, even if you don't want that to be so. You give qualifications for the times and places where a person may resist, but they aren't principled, and they do not help me to understand why some people, in some circumstances, are morally obligated to submit to the initiation of the use of force, as such -- but others are not. You do not explain why, if someone has the (safe) opportunity to lessen the damage done to him by flouting an immoral law, he shouldn't take it.

I believe that this is because your arguments are ad hoc and have no underlying principle, except some things strike you as "bad enough" to warrant resistance and other things do not. (And I believe you defend the American Revolution because it would look bad for you to argue that it was immoral, or it would be otherwise untenable for you psychologically; but I do not believe that your arguments would allow for that to have been a moral rebellion, yet disallow the same sort of action today.)

We could look at practical examples, if you'd like, to try to suss this out. Hiring undocumented workers, perhaps? Or engaging in prostitution/gambling? (March Madness is coming up; what's the law on office pools again?) People who work jobs "under the table." People who use drugs for recreational purposes -- let's say those who smoke marijuana in states that have not yet legalized it. People who had sodomy in states where such was outlawed (I don't know whether any of these sorts of laws are still on the books; but I know there are plenty of wacky and out-of-date laws out there, some periodically/haphazardly enforced). People who speed on the freeway when there is no traffic around, or jaywalk when the streets are clear. I mean, there are a bajillion possible examples of law flouting, because there are a bajillion-and-one laws/rules/regulations everyone is supposed to be following, all the time.

Are all of those examples of immoral action, because they violate "the rule of law" (and do not throw a man into the Gulag; and do not affect the price of tea)? Where do you draw your line, and on what principled basis?

Edited to add:

It's "funny." When I was done writing up this response, I went to the Yahoo! page and found this article staring at me. What an absolute clusterfuck of stupidity it is... but you should write these doctors, Eiuol, and let them know about their moral obligations to follow the law. I'm sure they'd appreciate it. ;)

Edited by DonAthos

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6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Eiuol argues (in a nutshell) that because government is the defender of rights, we ought to obey the law.

No, that's not right. The US government is both legitimate and tends to protect rights, so in general one ought to follow the law, and pay taxes as long as one seeks to fix injustices of tax within tax law. There are times when it is justified to break the law.

6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

As far as "incremental changes" are concerned, that's a possible tactic for political change, but there's also no moral obligation to seek change incrementally.

See above. Notice I didn't say "always obey the law".

6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

The government is illegitimate because it does not protect man's rights but violates them -- and that makes it illegitimate for all of us; unless you'd like to declare that a government may legitimately violate rights? After all, that is the subtext to your arguments... so why not make it text?

Well that's what I suspected. Since you say the US government is -illegitimate-, then yes, flout the law. My premise is that the US government is legitimate; illegitimate governments have no justified authority. Being a citizen of such a bad country has no value, thus the tax has no value. I think you're wildly wrong to call the US illegitimate, though.

I have nothing else to say regarding the US if you think it is illegitimate.

 

Edited by Eiuol

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17 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

No, that's not right. The US government is both legitimate and tends to protect rights, so in general one ought to follow the law, and pay taxes as long as one seeks to fix injustices of tax within tax law. There are times when it is justified to break the law.

Apparently one must either cast bones -- or consult Eiuol -- to determine when one is "justified to break the law."

How about this? One is justified in breaking the law when the law is immoral.

17 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

My premise is that the US government is legitimate; illegitimate governments have no justified authority. Being a citizen of such a bad country has no value, thus the tax has no value. I think you're wildly wrong to call the US illegitimate, though.

I have nothing else to say regarding the US if you think it is illegitimate.

The U.S. Government declares that it has the right to violate the rights of its citizens. That's the very thing we're talking about, with respect to "unjust" law, "immoral" law, and whether to "flout" it or not.

It is illegitimate because no individual and no group has the right to violate the right of its citizens. If you say that it is legitimate, in opposition, I take that to mean that you believe the U.S. Government does have the right to violate the rights of others. Because this is a case of "either/or," Eiuol. Either it has the right to do what it does, or it does not. And if it does things without having the right to do them -- well, that's the very nature of illegitimacy.

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Apparently one must either cast bones -- or consult Eiuol -- to determine when one is "justified to break the law."

I explained justifications in several posts and used history as concrete examples...

Anyway, as far as I see, this is the issue: that anything short of an ideal government is an illegitimate (i.e. their rule of law is illegitimate wholesale) government. I'd say this is absurd. To explain that point, and why in spite of some injustices I'd still support "the system" with its taxation, will you first tell me anything you like about the US system of law and government?

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18 hours ago, New Buddha said:

The issue is, should our actions be guided by abstract principles or not?

If this means stepping in front of the juggernaut, prudence dictates otherwise. As was indicated earlier, not paying taxes, or more specifically, individuals or even a small community actively seeking to secede are used as examples to put on the 10:00 news, keeping the silent machine rolling seemingly relentlessly forward.

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I explained justifications in several posts and used history as concrete examples...

Yes, you have given several ad hoc or "just so" justifications. Something strikes you as being "not so bad as the gulag," so that something isn't sufficient to "take to the streets" about (or flout a particular law); but taxes on tea in the late 18th century were ample justification for organized civil disobedience, leading into outright revolution.

Your justifications are not principled*; they appear designed to reach the specific conclusions you have already fashioned for yourself, and to the best of my understanding cannot be extended (by anyone not named Eiuol, at least) to examples you have not already commented upon.

________________________

* Or if they are principled, you have not yet articulated the principles involved.

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Anyway, as far as I see, this is the issue: that anything short of an ideal government is an illegitimate (i.e. their rule of law is illegitimate wholesale) government. I'd say this is absurd.

If we were talking about governments that were characterized by the sort of politics Ayn Rand wrote about, albeit with some minor flaws (and presumably institutional systems designed to address these flaws), then it might be sensible to say that the government was, on the whole, legitimate. (Even then, there would be moral recourse to flout a law in the event of some particular gross injustice; Edmond Dantes has no moral obligation to remain in the Chateau d'If, not even to satisfy "the rule of law," no matter how good the government is otherwise.)

But all current governments operate under fundamentally statist theories (and the results are about what you'd expect). They are funded almost completely by compulsory taxation, which is to say theft (and also deficit spending/inflation, which is another kind of theft). They give themselves leave to nationalize property, and to regulate business, and to conscript -- which is a wholesale and direct violation of the right to life. The laws they enforce violate liberty in any number of ways (you did not respond to it, but did you read my partial list earlier? must I reprint it?) and will continue to do so into the far future, unless something drastically changes; "liberty," as such, is paid only lip-service, and sometimes not even that. Our current President stands to do away with any number of liberties that we yet retain, and he is mostly held in check by an opposition party which wants to do away with most of the rest of our liberties. We are caught between Scylla and Charybdis, and our only salvation lies in the ineffectual cross-purpose nature of their maneuvering.

If there exists in theory a government which is not quite "ideal," yet still roundly legitimate (because by and large it does the only thing that proper governments do -- protect our rights), this is not it. It isn't even close. This government violates rights as a matter of routine, in widespread and deep and growing fashion.

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

To explain that point, and why in spite of some injustices I'd still support "the system" with its taxation, will you first tell me anything you like about the US system of law and government?

There's plenty to like about the US system, especially in historical context. It is an improvement on much of which came before, and much of which exists elsewhere. It serves to prosecute/protect against certain (actual) crimes, such as murder and theft. It offers some necessary military protection (though there are many problems regarding the military). And there are vestiges, at least, of ideas which are consonant with liberty, such as a general respect for "freedom of speech" (even if this is not always upheld as it ought to be).

I also like much of how the government is organized, in terms of checks and balances, and especially explicit constitutional protections (though both of these systems are under heavy fire, and I believe are weakening). The creation of the federal system was a masterwork of political science.

Along with this praise -- all heartfelt -- can I make an observation? There was plenty to like, too, about the British system as it developed -- even up to 1776. But when superior principles were realized and articulated, by Locke, Jefferson, and others, the British system became "intolerable" in the comparison.

If this were 1776, I expect (as I've said before) that you would be calling for respect for the established authority of the British monarchy in the name of the "rule of law." I would be fighting for the principles of the new republic, however, as the best governmental system yet devised (meaning: that which best promotes liberty).

But today, we know even more. We know better. In light of the philosophy of Ayn Rand (among other thinkers and writing), we can better understand and articulate the principles of liberty, and compare them against the reality of present-day governments. And in the light of that comparison, we can understand that the present American system, which was an improvement upon what came before it, must yet give way -- just as we once needed to throw off the British monarchy -- to create something new, something better.

Now, no "revolution" is currently possible. (And the ways of achieving such a "revolution" are multitudinous, and can involve New Buddha's "incremental change," or your "taking to the streets," or other approaches, alone or in combination. They may be bloody; they may all be completely peaceful.) There is no revolutionary spirit -- or actually, that revolutionary spirit which currently exists would take us in the wrong direction if actualized. Reason has not yet taken hold of the American psyche in the way that it must, in order to establish a better government. That's why I think that the future revolution is best served, at present, by promoting reason, critical thinking, egoism (especially through art); and then, one day, political theory.

But in the meantime -- again -- a moral man owes the government nothing. He owes "the rule of law" nothing. He has no moral responsibility to obey immoral law, or to sanction or submit to those who would dispossess him or violate his rights. He does not need to recognize the (non-existent) "authority" or the (non-existent) "legitimacy" of any person or group which asserts the (equally non-existent) right to violate the rights of others.

And if it serves him to flout an immoral law, any immoral law, he morally may do so.

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10 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Something strikes you as being "not so bad as the gulag,

That was about "you are relatively free". You are mixing up my arguments.

I had a post describing "wide areas of the law", and "entire rule of law", and taxation I explained as neither, as in it is really only a violation for people who really want no part of the government. That is, taxation is best fought (yes, -fought-, not justified) within the law as it is.

10 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I also like much of how the government is organized, in terms of checks and balances, and especially explicit constitutional protections (though both of these systems are under heavy fire, and I believe are weakening). The creation of the federal system was a masterwork of political science.

And do you desire this to continue? Are these possibly reasons you would like to be a citizen?

10 hours ago, DonAthos said:

If this were 1776, I expect (as I've said before) that you would be calling for respect for the established authority of the British monarchy in the name of the "rule of law.

Totally, especially after I said that colonists were really abused after the Tea Party... The Revolution wasn't about taxation any more than the Civil War was about states' rights! Taxation was an issue as a symptom of a worse problem. Taxation, to me, is never a primary issue.

 

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

That was about "you are relatively free". You are mixing up my arguments.

Perhaps I am mixing things up (if so, not intentionally); or perhaps your arguments are not completely clear, or some combination of the two.

Like I say, I do not see the principles you're relying upon to determine when someone may (or may not) morally flout a law; so that much of your argument, at least, remains unclear to me.

So can you help me to clarify your positions? Can you try to reduce your arguments a bit to the bedrock principles you mean to uphold?

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I had a post describing "wide areas of the law", and "entire rule of law", and taxation I explained as neither, as in it is really only a violation for people who really want no part of the government. That is, taxation is best fought (yes, -fought-, not justified) within the law as it is.

Compulsory taxation is the initiation of the use of force. Is that what you mean by "a violation"? If so, it is a violation for everyone. (People who wish to finance some government voluntarily may do so without compulsory taxation, after all.)

Or are you agreeing with epistemologue that all taxation (here in the US, now in 2017) is consensual?

Regardless, whatever it is we wish to "fight" or change, how we accomplish it is a matter of contextual tactics; there is no moral dictum that we must pay whatever tax is required of us (for example), for the sake of "rule of law," in the interim. And I'm growing frustrated that you continually resist addressing this point head on.

So once again, for the sake of clarity and understanding, can you simply state your position on this point? Does your idea of "rule of law" mean that one must seek to obey every aspect of the tax code? And that to do otherwise is immoral? (For instance, working "under the table" would be immoral; not declaring every source of income would be immoral; and etc., because these things are illegal.) Is that your stance?

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

And do you desire this to continue? Are these possibly reasons you would like to be a citizen?

Earlier I briefly raised the analogy of domestic abuse. Consider a marriage with a battered wife (or husband). Might there be discreet things or aspects about the marriage that the battered spouse likes? I expect so. But that does not excuse the battery, and it does not make submission to it moral. Even if the battered spouse decides to stay in the marriage for some reason (perhaps hoping to improve things over time; perhaps for the sake of children; perhaps for financial security; etc.), that does not mean that she cannot morally seek to escape from such beatings as might otherwise come her way. It does not mean that she cannot fight back.

I like the ideas of constitutional protection, and checks and balances, and redress against (actual) crimes, and military security. I'd like to see those features in a government which does not provide them on the one hand, and on the other hand routinely violate the rights of its own citizens.

Any group which claims the right to violate the rights of others has no legitimate authority. And once again, I'll invite you to weigh in on that directly, for the sake of clarity. Don't be shy. Does the U.S. Government have the right to violate the rights of others -- yes or no? And if it does not have the right to do what it does, then in what sense is it "legitimate"?

5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Totally, especially after I said that colonists were really abused after the Tea Party... The Revolution wasn't about taxation any more than the Civil War was about states' rights! Taxation was an issue as a symptom of a worse problem. Taxation, to me, is never a primary issue.

People in the US today are "really abused," too. Did you see that I've raised actual cases earlier in the thread? (People in jail for drug offenses; anti-abortion laws; the further examples I could raise are practically limitless.) Whether taxation is "a primary issue" or not (again: seemingly ad hoc; again: seemingly unprincipled; but how do you determine what is "primary"?), it is part and parcel to an entire system which routinely disregards rights.

A government is supposed to protect the rights of its citizens -- that is the very (and only) justification for government, as such -- but the U.S. Government violates the rights of its citizens, not just incidentally or accidentally, but in a thorough, widespread, and ongoing fashion. So whether one wishes to change the government "from the inside," a step at a time, or in one fell swoop (when such is judged feasible), or simply choose to flout immoral laws (depending on personal circumstances) -- this is, again, a tactical issue. Any of these responses could be moral, just as defending oneself against the initiation of the use of force presents several moral options. In fact, resisting immoral law is an act of self-defense.

But no, a government which violates the rights of its citizens has no moral authority, and we owe it none.

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59 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

So can you help me to clarify your positions? Can you try to reduce your arguments a bit to the bedrock principles you mean to uphold?

I don't have another way to explain the position. I can't formulate it more clearly other than it depends on the degree your right to life is hindered.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Compulsory taxation is the initiation of the use of force. Is that what you mean by "a violation"? If so, it is a violation for everyone. (People who wish to finance some government voluntarily may do so without compulsory taxation, after all.)

By "violation" here, I mean being forced to act in ways one doesn't desire. I desire to pay it even if it were voluntary.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

And I'm growing frustrated that you continually resist addressing this point head on.


Because I hate the phrase "moral dictum". It's not appropriate here. Quite literally, "it depends on..." is as context-related as it gets. You disagree with a principle I use, but that doesn't make it rationalistic.

1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Does your idea of "rule of law" mean that one must seek to obey every aspect of the tax code? And that to do otherwise is immoral?

Not exactly. Ok, so there's taxation as a general policy, and following that policy. I say in general, as there are some rules you could break and still follow its stated intent without flouting/ignoring the law. Flouting isn't just breaking rules, it's also disrespecting them. Perhaps it seems like a contradiction. No - it's just complicated, just as tax law is. I still desire to be a citizen and satisfied to work on tax policy via legislation in spite of any tax law unfairness.

No, of course the US does not have the right to violate rights. It's legitimate as in... well, think of it as one bad action doesn't make one evil. In the long-run, thanks to the Constitution, justice is paid for small and big bad actions. I desire to be a citizen for this aspect. There are periods of greater and lesser justice, while having a general tendency over decades towards more liberty. Thus, desiring to be a citizen and valuing the Constitution, I find it appropriate to still pay. I still want large swaths of the protections afforded to me.

The way I see it, the only people who should not still pay taxes are those who don't want any protections afforded to them, or people prepared to renounce their citizenship.

Given other threads I've posted on, I'm all for aggressive action as protest. Tax is a different story. On the other hand, if I were Thoreau in the 1840s, I too would refuse to pay my taxes. But his protest wasn't -about- taxes, it was about slavery.

It all comes down to desiring to be a citizen as far as 2017 is concerned.

 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I don't have another way to explain the position. I can't formulate it more clearly other than it depends on the degree your right to life is hindered.

I think we've reached a stopping point, then, for neither can I explain myself at present any better than I already have.

But to this formulation, I will only say this: to whatever degree one's right to life is hindered, it is moral to act in order to remove or avoid said hindrance.

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Might I suggest that the issues of context and hierarchy of values are coming into play possibly? Also, I do believe Tara Smith, who generally seems to be a pretty competent person in her writings, has written some potentially relevant things on the rule of law. Does anybody around here happen to have said stuff she's written on the subject? It may prove helpful here in facilitating the discussion to get some input from a clear writer who has already put a lot of thought and effort into the subject.

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3 hours ago, bluecherry said:

Also, I do believe Tara Smith, who generally seems to be a pretty competent person in her writings, has written some potentially relevant things on the rule of law. Does anybody around here happen to have said stuff she's written on the subject?

Good thought - I have her book on rights, so I'll take a look at it for relevant thoughts, and report back.

Rand had some thoughts as far as vigilantism, but that's not about the conflict of how to respond to mixed governments.

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On 2/16/2017 at 4:57 AM, softwareNerd said:

Let me restate my point this way: Epistem is praising/advocating tax on a certain premise. He supports that premise. That premise can be used -- with very similar arguments -- to support any populist law that violates individual rights.

 

OK, having read through his posting, I only agree in small part with his premise of taxation not being theft.  However, it has come to a point, ever since 1919 or thereabouts, where taxation has devolved into "legalized theft."  Taxation has been used to support government programs such as foreign aid, welfare, education, among other things.  This had become a part of our government "contract."  As we struggle through yet another instance where we locals have to vote on a town budget, and risk our property taxes being raised, we find that the bulk of our budget goes to education in our public schools. Talk about theft!  And these are taxes based upon our property values and have NOTHING to do with our ability to pay!  I can go along with paying an assessment based upon my ability to pay the government for their obligation to protect our rights, but beyond that?  No!

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