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Is taxation moral?

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Lakeside
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Anthony Kennedy might agree with you in spirit, but that don't make it so.

 

"Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was thought to be the swing vote on the decision, joined the minority in describing the whole law as invalid. 

'The act is invalid in its entirety,' Kennedy said from the bench. He went on to say the administration went to 'great lengths to structure the mandate as a penalty, not a tax' -- challenging the majority's rationale for upholding the mandate."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/28/supreme-court-upholds-individual-mandate-obamacare-survives/

 

Got a more credible example to forward? :devil:

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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I've not followed all the hoopla on Obamascare, and did not review the linked article.

 

I wasn't thinking a more credible example, rather a simpler one. The census the government takes every 10 years, what are they constitutionally permitted to do?

And have you seen the "long-form" census, as contrasted with how it used to be conducted? What is the data collected by this process supposed to be used for?

 

I do not believe this one has gone to the supreme court.

 

Would you deem this to be constitutional or unconstitutional by your own grasp of reading this excerpt from Article 1, Section 2:

 

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, No rth Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

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...

 

I wasn't thinking a more credible example, rather a simpler one...

 

Apparently...

 

...

 

I do not believe this one has gone to the supreme court.

 

....

 

It's gone a few rounds...

 

"Questions beyond a simple count are Constitutional

 

It is constitutional to include questions in the decennial census beyond those concerning a simple count of the number of people. On numerous occasions, the courts have said the Constitution gives Congress the authority to collect statistics in the census..."

http://www.census.gov/2010census/about/constitutional.php

 

Next?

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Interesting that you name the 21st in that it has the distinction of being the only repeal forwarded by State Conventions.  A lesson not lost on the Tea Party among others, who've initiated the same process in the wake of the SCOTUS 5/4 decision to allow individual (tax) mandates via Obamacare.

 

Other noticable events subsequent to that questionable (but constitutional) decision include the return of Congress to republicans in the last election, and the introduction of HJ Res 104 in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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OK so like

 

1.  Taxation IS immoral because it is initiation of force; a form of theft: taking by force.  That's easy.

 

2.  In a "society" where some people are delegated authority NOT TO RULE but to protect individual rights of self-sovereigns, those people require resources (also delegated) voluntarily by members of society.  In such a situation the delegation and the resources go hand in hand... I want you to do X for me, here is y which I would have used to do it... I pass it to you so you can achieve X on my behalf. 

 

Clearly free-riding is immoral.  That also is easy.

 

 

3.  The HARD part is figuring out how to untangle the following:

 

Is society just the group the people who happen to live in a common geography whether or not they are self-sovereigns who have delegated authority to retaliatory force, whether or not they are free-riders, and whether or not they are criminals (initiate force or fraud)....

 

Are only some of those people in the common geography part of that society? Does the delegation of retaliatory force extend to serve those in the geographical area those who are not part of the society, i.e. those who did not delegate authority or resources?

 

Really, does the protection of individual rights ... delegated by self-sovereigns along with the accompanying required resources, extend to the benefit of people within the same geography who are not part of the society and/or are not self-sovereigns who have delegated that authority and/or the accompanying required resources (free-riders) or for example does it even extend to violent criminals? 

 

If the protections do extend, are they limited to protecting the free-riders from the society members initiation of force or does it also extend to protecting them (non-society members) from each other?  for that matter does the protection of rights extend to protecting violent criminals from each other? 

 

Perhaps the line to draw in the sand as to what is "given" as extended protection is in some way linked to the society being rationally responsible for its members actions...and what is done to its members... and not for actions of nonsociety members amongst themselves.  

 

 

Like I said... 

 

3. who morally gets the benefit of protection of individual rights is not easy to answer.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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"I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion. I want it real. I want to know that there is someone, somewhere, who wants it, too. Or else what is the use of seeing it, and working, and burning oneself for an impossible vision?"

      

-- Ayn Rand / Anthem

 

So here we are, defending... taxes...

 

Not exactly a populist sentiment. Not exactly something that is going to help politicians get elected.

 

So what now then? Surely all of this reason and reality should be useful for something, shouldn't it?

 

In a post-tax universe, where do we turn our guns?

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...

Like I said... 

 

3. who morally gets the benefit of protection of individual rights is not easy to answer.

 

Not easy to practice perhaps, but not too complicated to understand.

 

If you live in America as a citizen (and respect property rights),

1) your participation is voluntary,

2) services obtained and maintained by vote are paid for by tax.

3) the current government is owned and operated by you.

 

The current working premises of American government are,

4) justice for all,

5) innocence until proven guilty,

6) you don't get #4 or #5 for free.

 

The US Constitution can and has been altered several times (for better or worse) since its original draft.  You are free to participate in every aspect of shaping the society in which you live, but freedom comes at a price; you don't get something for nothing.  It is moral to pay for services obtained and maintained by vote, and you may renegotiate the method of payment provided you can persuade a majority of your fellow board members to support your plan.

 

We meet again next year.

 

edit:  Grames presented and defended a moral argument for taxation during the 1st 10 pages of this thread.  Please have a look, if you haven't already, and perhaps you can find an adequate rebuttal;  I couldn't.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Saying I can be forced to pay money by being out-voted is a collectivist bate and switch tactic.  Morality is not subject to mathematics or any form of aggregate.  It's the old two lions and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch analogy.    

 

The U.S. document, especially it's history is a poor analogy actually.  While it is a great document in context to when it was created, not to mention it's historical place in history, it is also flawed from the perspective of moral philosophy.  How it has evolved through amendments, especially how it has been interpreted, is a sad testament that documents the corruption of Western thinking.  One only needs to read the different judicial opinions of SCOTUS regarding Obamacare to see this.  

 

We already know that Taxes are immoral.  This is not an ideal floating in the sky but a fact proven objectively, which means integrated from real data and confirmed through reason.  The question from here is how to make it happen, not how we cannot do it despite the truth.

 

Its as if we are saying mankind is not good enough to be free so how do we minimize the force.  Might as well concede to the religious left axis at that point since we just handed them them the high ground.  

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Not easy to practice perhaps, but not too complicated to understand.

If you live in America as a citizen (and respect property rights),

1) your participation is voluntary,

2) services obtained and maintained by vote are paid for by tax.

3) the current government is owned and operated by you.

The current working premises of American government are,

4) justice for all,

5) innocence until proven guilty,

6) you don't get #4 or #5 for free.

The US Constitution can and has been altered several times (for better or worse) since its original draft. You are free to participate in every aspect of shaping the society in which you live, but freedom comes at a price; you don't get something for nothing. It is moral to pay for services obtained and maintained by vote, and you may renegotiate the method of payment provided you can persuade a majority of your fellow board members to support your plan.

We meet again next year.

edit: Grames presented and defended a moral argument for taxation during the 1st 10 pages of this thread. Please have a look, if you haven't already, and perhaps you can find an adequate rebuttal; I couldn't.

There have been many adequate rebuttals to the social contract argument, and perhaps the most concise rebuttal to the US Constitution version was provided by someone you quoted earlier, the 19th century abolitionist Lysander Spooner in his work "No Treason: the Constitution of No Authority."

I quote only a portion his rebuttal at length:

If it be said that the consent of the most numerous party, in a nation, is sufficient to justify the establishment of their power over the less numerous party, it may be answered:

First. That two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one, than one has to exercise the same authority over two. A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.

Second. It would be absurd for the most numerous party to talk of establishing a government over the less numerous party, unless the former were also the strongest, as well as the most numerous; for it is not to be supposed that the strongest party would ever submit to the rule of the weaker party, merely because the latter were the most numerous. And as a matter of fact, it is perhaps never that governments are established by the most numerous party. They are usually, if not always, established by the less numerous party; their superior strength consisting of their superior wealth, intelligence, and ability to act in concert.

Third. Our Constitution does not profess to have been established simply by the majority; but by "the people;" the minority, as much as the majority. [*8]

Fourth. If our fathers, in 1776, had acknowledged the principle that a majority had the right to rule the minority, we should never have become a nation; for they were in a small minority, as compared with those who claimed the right to rule over them.

Fifth. Majorities, as such, afford no guarantees for justice. They are men of the same nature as minorities. They have the same passions for fame, power, and money, as minorities; and are liable and likely to be equally --- perhaps more than equally, because more boldly --- rapacious, tyrannical and unprincipled, if intrusted with power. There is no more reason, then, why a man should either sustain, or submit to, the rule of the majority, than of a minority. Majorities and minorities cannot rightfully be taken at all into account in deciding questions of justice. And all talk about them, in matters of government, is mere absurdity. Men are dunces for uniting to sustain any government, or any laws, except those in which they are all agreed. And nothing but force and fraud compel men to sustain any other. To say that majorities, as such, have a right to rule minorities, is equivalent to saying that minorities have, and ought to have, no rights, except such as majorities please to allow them.

Sixth. It is not improbable that many or most of the worst of governments --- although established by force, and by a few, in the first place --- come, in time, to be supported by a majority. But if they do, this majority is composed, in large part, of the most ignorant, superstitious, timid, dependent, servile, and corrupt portions of the people; of those who have been over-awed by the power, intelligence, wealth, and arrogance; of those who have been deceived by the frauds; and of those who have been corrupted by the inducements, of the few who really constitute the government. Such majorities, very likely, could be found in half, perhaps nine-tenths, of all the countries on the globe. What do they prove? Nothing but the tyranny and corruption of the very governments that have reduced so large portions of [*9] the people to their present ignorance, servility, degradation, and corruption; an ignorance, servility, degradation, and corruption that are best illustrated in the simple fact that they do sustain governments that have so oppressed, degraded, and corrupted them. They do nothing towards proving that the governments themselves are legitimate; or that they ought to be sustained, or even endured, by those who understand their true character. The mere fact, therefore, that a government chances to be sustained by a majority, of itself proves nothing that is necessary to be proved, in order to know whether such government should be sustained, or not.

Seventh. The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that --- however bloody --- can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave.

You mention that people may participate in the government by voting, and that this means participation is voluntary, but neither will this do to establish taxation and authority as legitimate.

In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having ever been asked, a [*6] man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, be finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot --- which is a mere substitute for a bullet --- because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency, into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.

Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby ameliorating their condition. But it would not therefore be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or ever consented to.

Therefore a man's voting under the Constitution of the United States, is not to be taken as evidence that he ever freely assented to the Constitution, even for the time being.

Consequently we have no proof that any very large portion, even of the actual [*7] voters of the United States, ever really and voluntarily consented to the Constitution, even for the time being. Nor can we ever have such proof, until every man is left perfectly free to consent, or not, without thereby subjecting himself or his property to injury or trespass from others.

Edited by 2046
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We already know that Taxes are immoral.  This is not an ideal floating in the sky but a fact proven objectively, which means integrated from real data and confirmed through reason.  The question from here is how to make it happen, not how we cannot do it despite the truth.

 

 

Ah yes, we know that fact a priori and before... facts. And it's not a floating abstraction. ... :-)

 

Technically, as an implementation detail of a political system, taxes are neither moral or immoral. War is like that too. One wouldn't call war "immoral" per se although certainly a particular context could make it so.

 

Yes, the popular Objectivist promise of "no taxes" falls by the wayside, but that was always an false promise, and one that lead people on the wrong epistemological track, as near as I can tell...

 

***

Now, what would have been immoral (or maybe, just a bummer) would be for the Founding Fathers to have taken the above advice and accepted the above critiques,, not levied taxes and thus inevitably disintegrated, and for there to have been no USA...

 

There are bad people in the world who want to rob and kill. Not a majority and not even a lot, but they exist and always have. I submit they always will, and clearly the FF's thought so too (and so far they were right).

 

Insofar as bad people exist in the world, your Rights are not "automatic" in the sense that an utter absence of action on your part will leave you with practicable Rights--they will be violated instantly. Pacifists only have Rights in their own heads--their physical life is that of a slave.

 

Insofar as a government is a necessary component to secure actual, practicable Rights, and insofar as a government is not "free", then somebody has to pay for it.

 

Therefore the only logically valid conclusions are:

 

1. That there exists some "voluntary" scheme which would work at scale and wouldn't violate anybody's rights.

 

2. We must have compelled taxes that correspond to each citizen's usage of government resources.

 

I haven't seen an argument for #1. I can't even start to imagine one. Nobody has ever thought of one, and it certainly has never been tried anywhere. As such, we must accept #2 as a metaphysical fact of our existence. Ben Franklin was right.

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Ah yes, we know that fact a priori and before... facts. And it's not a floating abstraction. ... :-)

 

 

We will stop the presses right there.  

 

It is not an I Priori.  It is a well documented fact objectively proven and more importantly you know it.  

 

A ridiculous amount of literature has been made on this across many non-fiction works, plus OPAR and VAR.  

 

I can spend a ginormous post doing this too but I see no point as you are familiar with it too. 

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We will stop the presses right there.  

 

It is not an I Priori.  It is a well documented fact objectively proven and more importantly you know it.  

 

A ridiculous amount of literature has been made on this across many non-fiction works, plus OPAR and VAR.  

 

I can spend a ginormous post doing this too but I see no point as you are familiar with it too. 

 

Where exactly in the Objectivist literature does it say, explicitly, that taxes as such are immoral?  I certainly don't recall Ayn Rand ever come out with anything so explicit. Maybe LP or others have.

 

Regardless, if they did, it would be wrong in any case...

 

Moreover, the entire notion that a vast, generalized judgement of the predicted future actions of Men should be an "objectively proven fact" is also... bad epistemology...

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We will stop the presses right there.  

 

It is not an I Priori.  It is a well documented fact objectively proven and more importantly you know it.  

 

A ridiculous amount of literature has been made on this across many non-fiction works, plus OPAR and VAR.  

 

I can spend a ginormous post doing this too but I see no point as you are familiar with it too. 

 

I don't know about your priori, but I could use some evidence of the possibility of voluntary taxation.  The closest historical/contemporary example I've found is the quaint practice of Noblesse Oblige, where rights based on wealth come with "voluntary" duties to provide a library or two.  But hey, there's plenty of work available keeping your betters afloat.

 

“X is possible” means: in the present context of knowledge, there is some, but not much, evidence in favor of X and nothing known that contradicts X." ~ ARL

 

What possible voluntary taxation evidence is there?  Nothing ginormous mind you, just a single case of a nation securing freedom at cost, by those who felt generous enough to extend justice to all the little people.

 

You know we could save a lot of time and expense by reducing justice for all to justice for just us who can afford to pay for it.  No free riders = justice for policy holders.  And then if one of them moochers gets outta line we just toss their ass in jail.  It's not like free riders can afford to defend themselves.  It's criminal not to have a paycheck I tell ya.  Innocence until proven guilty and jury of your peers, that's a twofer against all that BS about taxation.  And who needs voting when you never get what you vote for?  Phooey!  Remind me again why we need a government anyway??

 

Sounds like a lot of commy-prizes to me.  And ya know where that gets you...

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Crow:

 

 

I do not see what the issue with "voluntary taxation" is, other than it being a contradiction in terms.  You say such a thing is impossible as if it were unnatural to the psyche of man.

 

Do you believe that "naturally" human beings, by some quirk of a defective cognitive process are unable to determine that ... for example.. if he wants SOMEONE ELSE to DO something for him,  whether it is to go fetch some water, catch a rabbit or grow lettuce... that he is required to trade SOMETHING for it?  Is such a thing far to complex or enigmatic for his grey matter to grasp?

 

I think the truth of the matter is quite the contrary.... the natural tendency (observable in children... and adults with healthy self-esteem) is to offer a trade for the doing of something... ANYTHING for him by someone else... from the mundane and almost inconsequential to the most serious and important of tasks.

 

How is it then, that people who want to delegate authority for a justice system, a police force, and a military, and who would otherwise need to spend energy, time, and resources to fill these kinds of roles for themselves had they not delegated it, would not automatically (or at least naturally) assume they also convey resources in exchange for WHAT THEY ARE ASKING FOR OTHERS to DO FOR THEM?

 

I do not think this is riddle of the ages or some implacable Gordion knot.

 

 

Far from being wholly foreign to the natural tendency of man, so called voluntary taxation (better called trading value for value or paying for something with something) is completely in accord and in harmony with man's nature.

 

 

That said, BAD philosophy, irrationality, altruism, paternalism, lack of self-esteem.... all poisoning a writhing mass of mentally crippled souls, such a situation does make spontaneous adoption of what IS natural and proper... and OBJECTIVELY moral, extremely difficult.

 

SL

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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@ StrictlyLogical & 2046,

 

While I appreciate and agree with your recognition of natural rights (or moral abilities) independent of government, I don't think a independent right to life seeking the shelter of society can get very far on an argument of no consent = no duty.  Your voluntary presence within a community implies consent to trade with others and not steal from them, I.e., a duty to behave in a proper manner.  If the community is providing shelter for its members and you arrive as a guest, you will be no less sheltered or expected to behave.  The only true freedom you enjoy not to consent is not to participate, i.e., to remove yourself from society.

 

In the case of taxation, payment is required to provide for a monopoly on force.  Can it not then be presumed that same force will be used to collect for whatever services the consequences of your presence creates?  Suppose you pay no taxes and commit a crime.  Will you not be expect to pay for it??

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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If the issue is, "I didn't ask to be born a taxpayer", then the question reduces to one of inheritance. If you wouldn't mind being born a milionaire, then you shouldn't object to being born a pauper. Luck of the draw. In either case you don't have to accept the inheritance. A social contract is just another form of inheritance, isn't it?

 

But then the issue seems to become, "I should be allowed to stay and accept the benefits without being expected to pay rent." Most parents will correct you on this point, but if they are remiss, the first landlord you look to take shelter with will make it clear you don't get something for nothing. You remain free to shop around for a better arrangement, don't you?

 

But if you just hang around you'll be expected to follow the rules of the house, as was recently pointed out to me in another thread ;) 

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Moreover, the entire notion that a vast, generalized judgement of the predicted future actions of Men should be an "objectively proven fact" is also... bad epistemology...

 

Um... The point of a principle is to tell you the future consequence of your actions to help you choose an action, otherwise they would be pointless... 

 

It's the only proper epistemology and the point of ethics.

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Where exactly in the Objectivist literature does it say, explicitly, that taxes as such are immoral?  I certainly don't recall Ayn Rand ever come out with anything so explicit. Maybe LP or others have.

 

 

You really have gone through all of the objectivist literature and somehow total missed that?

 

About the only thing I say about Rand or others hitting you over the head with it is because, as Peikoff said, the Income didn't upset her as much as philosophic errors as the later causes the former and it's root cause.

 

Wither way, you know the objectivist position on force as evil and the virtue of the trader principle.  

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I don't know about your priori, but I could use some evidence of the possibility of voluntary taxation.  The closest historical/contemporary example I've found is the quaint practice of Noblesse Oblige, where rights based on wealth come with "voluntary" duties to provide a library or two.  But hey, there's plenty of work available keeping your betters afloat.

 

“X is possible” means: in the present context of knowledge, there is some, but not much, evidence in favor of X and nothing known that contradicts X." ~ ARL

 

What possible voluntary taxation evidence is there?  Nothing ginormous mind you, just a single case of a nation securing freedom at cost, by those who felt generous enough to extend justice to all the little people.

 

You know we could save a lot of time and expense by reducing justice for all to justice for just us who can afford to pay for it.  No free riders = justice for policy holders.  And then if one of them moochers gets outta line we just toss their ass in jail.  It's not like free riders can afford to defend themselves.  It's criminal not to have a paycheck I tell ya.  Innocence until proven guilty and jury of your peers, that's a twofer against all that BS about taxation.  And who needs voting when you never get what you vote for?  Phooey!  Remind me again why we need a government anyway??

 

Sounds like a lot of commy-prizes to me.  And ya know where that gets you...

 

There is no case of a society being completely free which is the whole point.  That is why it's called Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.  

 

The evidence is in the evil of initiating force and the virtue  of a contract society based on voluntary association, not forced. It's in the  sorry history of man kind looting it's members through force and the painfully obvious consequences of those actions.  It's in looking at the nature of man and integrating what it takes for man to thrive and be happy, then reasoning how that works in a social setting. Etc.

 

As for the rest about justice, that is just a straw horse.  I have no idea how you get from free association to moochers getting tossed in jail.      Economy of Scale render the cost argument moot at any rate.

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