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Is taxation moral?

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Lakeside
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That's the answer I was looking for.

:thumbsup: My smile was meant to ask: "Concrete bound thinking? That's so stereotypical of a religious person".

By Devil's logic its fine if the government bans anything they tax. They can choose categories from liquor and cigarettes of course, but also computers and furniture and clothes and cars and tools and bulbs and appliances. Then, they can set up ten times the police force to curb people who trade contrabrand. And, they can send SWAT teams into homes if a snitch tells them the family is using a banned television. It's all the same. Where's the loss of freedom? How is it any different from taxes? How would the government use any more resources and money trying in vain to impose such bans?

 

Devil implies that If the government stops the war on drugs it will not lessen freedom and will not mean a cut in the size of government! The mind boggles. Thus, the smile. :)

Edited by softwareNerd
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Altruistically, you gave the example of rich/poor rationalizing the 16th Amendment.

Narcotic laws are rationalized on the premise that the government has the right to determine what moral boundaries one should hold for themselves, thus seizing "permission" from the people to initiate physical force when the imposed boundaries are overstepped.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Altruistically, you gave the example of rich/poor rationalizing the 16th Amendment.

Narcotic laws are rationalized on the premise that the government has the right to determine what moral code one should hold for themselves, thus seizing "permission" from the people to initiate physical force in such conditions.

True; the war on drugs is based on voter's philosophy. Prohibition of alcohol was similarly driven by voter's bad ideas, and this in a culture that thought they required a constitutional amendment for such a ban. Laws on homosexuality and abortion... the same. Truly democratic governments generally have laws that reflect the philosophy and opinions of a good proportion of their voters.

 

Still, altruism is so deeply entrenched that voters aren't going to let the 1% off the hook. The easiest laws to tackle are the ones where voters have imposed some concrete moral behavior on some other group, and where changing the law does not impact them in very direct ways. Some voters will still cling to a rationalization that lets them claim that the law protects someone's rights. So, drug laws are sometimes justified based on protecting children, and prostitution laws on protecting women. 

 

Pushing back any law is not easy, because it is almost certainly in place because a good number of voters want it there. Still, I think a slow roll-back of drug-laws has a slightly better chance of happening -- as we see in a few states -- than reducing the share of taxes paid by the rich.

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The rich got rich by putting their time and money into productive endeavors. Consider in contrast what lottery winners often channel their money and efforts into? By further contrast, if government were a productive enterprise, would they need the power of force to fund their activities? Does it cost more to protect Bill Gates individual rights than Joe Lunchbox's? While I would submit yes, I would not consider it directly proportional to their incomes. In a free market solution, would Bill Gates have a selfish interest in supporting the identification of what intellectual property rights consist of and the best way to ensure their enforcement?
 
Yaron Brook offers his view on The Morality of Capitalism. It's an hour and a half with about half the time given to Q & A. I think it's closely related, dealing with a moral defense of capitalism, it address how freer systems produce more contrasted with less free systems which produce less, among other things.

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Is reducing taxes on the rich universally good?

Yes, less initiation of force is "universally" good. (not sure what you mean by "universally", but it's definitely good).

By the way, how come you never addressed my post from two pages ago, where you claimed that defense and law enforcement costs 20% of GDP, and I informed you that it's closer to 5%?

Edited by Nicky
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The rich got rich by putting their time and money into productive endeavors. Consider in contrast what lottery winners often channel their money and efforts into? By further contrast, if government were a productive enterprise, would they need the power of force to fund their activities? Does it cost more to protect Bill Gates individual rights than Joe Lunchbox's? While I would submit yes, I would not consider it directly proportional to their incomes. In a free market solution, would Bill Gates have a selfish interest in supporting the identification of what intellectual property rights consist of and the best way to ensure their enforcement?

 

 

So I need to pay for somebody else's government protection because their wealth proves they produced more for... society as a whole? How exactly would we measure such value?

 

Also, are you suggesting that the government finance itself by engaging in profit-making businesses?

 

Also, Bill Gates' income is probably negative these days. He has, however, about 500,000 times more wealth than the median American citizen, and I'd submit that, while it might not be a direct proportion, paying thousands of times more than the average seems fair. As we discussed above, one can probably attach a protection price tag to assets, transactions, and possibly income...

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How can a "fact" that you brought up to substantiate a point you were trying to make, when countered as being inaccurate, be off-topic?

 

Actually, as the pedant himself said, the actual numbers in question weren't necessary to make my point. Also, there's an entire thread on this particular topic were all of the detailed numbers were discussed. No reason to side-track this thread into that one.

Edited by CrowEpistemologist
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So I need to pay for somebody else's government protection because their wealth proves they produced more for... society as a whole? How exactly would we measure such value?

 

Also, are you suggesting that the government finance itself by engaging in profit-making businesses?

 

Also, Bill Gates' income is probably negative these days. He has, however, about 500,000 times more wealth than the median American citizen, and I'd submit that, while it might not be a direct proportion, paying thousands of times more than the average seems fair. As we discussed above, one can probably attach a protection price tag to assets, transactions, and possibly income...

I think the view of government as a business is a misguided notion that I've noticed in some libertarian materials.

 

I'm probably not as engaged with this topic as I am with some others, but the point you made about "The real enemy of men is corruption, and the weapon against that enemy is reason." resonated with me in a way that I can't fully put my finger on.

 

I'm still trying to learn to defend this better. myself, but it seems we are asking the productive to pay more to compensate and cover for what the less productive are unable, by the virtue that they are unable. I find this unpalatable as a notion to consider.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Actually, as the pedant himself said, the actual numbers in question weren't necessary to make my point. Also, there's an entire thread on this particular topic were all of the detailed numbers were discussed. No reason to side-track this thread into that one.

Actually, what he said was:

If all you needed to make your point was a number that is non-zero, then how come you didn't just go with the truth instead of an obvious exaggeration?

 

It was you that stated:

All I need to make my point is for the number has to be non-zero.

 

No, there's no reason to side-track this thread on this basis.

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:)

 

So instead of answering how adding one more item to an ever growing list of taxable goods actually reduces the redistribution of wealth, you present me with the smiling patronizing saint of rationalizations?  The current effort to legalize pot is gaining ground on the promise of collecting higher taxes, not less.  And you want to play the religion card as well??  You're better than that.  As one whose actually sat in the pews, I recognize an appeal to faith when I hear one.

 

Never mind that efforts are underway to repeal the 16th amendment.  We should all be so jaded as to presume it will simply be reinstated in some other form after a few voting cycles, like that misguided Proposition 13.  But oh wait, that actually hasn't been undone yet has it?  Well never mind that, just keep tilting against the phantom menace that is altruism and maybe a few generations from now our great-greats will finally stop taxing themselves.

 

LOL, that's a promised land none of us will live to see.

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Actually, what he said was:

If all you needed to make your point was a number that is non-zero, then how come you didn't just go with the truth instead of an obvious exaggeration?

 

It was you that stated:

All I need to make my point is for the number has to be non-zero.

 

No, there's no reason to side-track this thread on this basis.

 

Wow you are right, that's totally different.

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Walt Kelly said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us". Mark Twain made a similar point, "A nation is only an individual multiplied." Those two observations, combined with Ben Franklin's two certainties, account for the creation and persistence of the IRS. Our government is a group of righted individuals, not a group with rights of its own. Groups don't have rights, remember? Only individuals do; individuals who voteThe working premise of our government boils down to providing services (sanctioned by vote) to voters, i.e., the customer is always right.

 

Capitalists would (and should) blanche at the notion of the cost of providing goods to consumers being recovered voluntarily; that bills ought to be considered begging for charitable donations, or as a gratuity for good service. Imagine walking into some future restaurant, eating a meal, and then being allowed to decide whether or not you feel like paying for it. Can you really have your cake and not pay for it, and what are the odds of that kind of "voluntary business" surviving against competitors in the real world?

 

I think the OP, CrowEpistemologist, et al, would be correct in defending taxation as consistent with the premise of you don't get something for nothing, and that agents of citizens must be paid for their services too. But perhaps the best arguement I read was introduced by Grames in post #10:  "Today and for the foreseeable future depriving the government of its power to tax has the exact same moral status as unilateral disarmament: it is an utterly immoral idea."

 

It's a shame that 5 years later in this forum, arguments for allowing government employees to expect the moral dignity of being paid for their services are still being dismissed as surrendering to a altruistic highwayman, and a headless horseman at that. If you, as a owner/operator of government, prefer a alternate menu of services and/or method of payment, take it up with the board.  They'll be voting again next year and you're invited to participate (and whine about the results like the rest of US voters).

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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It is as you said earlier, DA, a republic, if you can keep it.

 

Does it look as if it is being kept to you? Or moving more toward the democracy that would be brought about by embracing "the customer is always right" as its governing principle serving as a framework for establishing a government?

Edited by dream_weaver
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I don't see how the premise that the voter is always right in a democracy can be challenged except by proving the voter acted unconstitutionally.  Individual citizens have always been coerced into following the law because the perscription for disobeyance is punishment.  "Voluntary" compliance as such is about as meaningful as "voluntary" taxation.  If we ever get to the point where voluntary compliance works, then voluntary taxation to cover accidental non-compliance might be a consideration.  Until then the taxman is simply a public debt collector, that debt being incurred by a legitimate vote.

 

But yes, I am concerned by events that have recently linked government's ability to tax and spend with individual mandates.  That one will be taxed isn't nearly so repulsive as directing individuals on what they must purchase.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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I just noticed another point there that you tried to make.

Under a constitutionally limited government, the agent(s) can act unconstitutionally, but not the voter.

 

When the customer is always right gains enough votes to sweep aside a constitution, what kind of government do you have then?

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I realize that the judicial branch claims that Obamascare is essentially legislatively sound. If you view the constitution as a document that limits a government to the permissions granted to it, or outlined, by the constitution, would you agree with the judges that according to the constitution, the government has permission enact such legislation?

Edited by dream_weaver
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That's a good question. Justice Roberts initially expressed reservations but later justified it as a tax. That wasn't what Obama presented it as, so it seems like a back door technical approval.  It sets a bad precedent for similar enactments of individual mandates legitimized as taxes. I don't agree that laws presented as one thing should be enacted as another.

 

Edit:  Thinking about it further, the most disturbing aspect to me is that I can't reconcile how uninsured citizens represent a clear and present danger to national security.  If they are, then the government is correct to address the issue and tax for the expense.  If not, then the tax justification becomes invalid, and we have a real problem on our hands.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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