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Is taxation moral?

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Lakeside
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Working with your premise that everyone needs government and life without government isn't worth living, so much so that we should force everyone to pay for government for his own good...

...

 

There you go again...

 

RE TAXATION:  NO ONE IS BEING FORCED TO PAY FOR THE STATUS QUO IN PERPETUITY

 

Elections, amendments, freedom to leave (and return) to this country...  does any of this sound familiar and do any of these choices represent anyone being forced to do anything?

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This conjures images of Washington, Jefferson, Paine, - who originally purchased their freedom, and if you ask me, it was done so, in part, voluntarily. The only involuntary part I see in that equation is what drove them from without to drive them from within.

 

Bacon's observation serves as good an explanation as any I can imagine.

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There you go again...

RE TAXATION: NO ONE IS BEING FORCED TO PAY FOR THE STATUS QUO IN PERPETUITY

Elections, amendments, freedom to leave (and return) to this country... does any of this sound familiar and do any of these choices represent anyone being forced to do anything?

Ok, well, I guess you're just not gonna see that taking someone's money without his consent is literally forcing him to do what you want.
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But that's just it... I (the taxman) can't get to his money until he chooses to earn and spend it here under the existing terms and agreements he inherited as a citizen born in the good old USA.  The whole question of paying taxes is initiated by his first acquisition of a secured right to property.

 
I'm not putting a gun to his head saying, "Buy USA or die."  He chooses to do that long after others have chosen to alter or maintain the system he inherits.  I'm not forcing him to start paying at the moment of his birth, and I'm not getting in his way to prevent him from understanding or altering the system prior to his legal participation.  But you can bet your minted dollar I'll sure be there to collect if he voluntarily hangs around profiting from my security and thinks it's morally acceptable to get something for nothing.  The very same as the collections agent from a private insurance company will do.  Ignorance of the law is not an legal excuse or a moral exemption.

 
If he consents to enjoying the blessings of liberty, he consents to shouldering the responsibility of maintaining it.  We can leave it at that, if you choose to.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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At least we are at the fundamental of the argument and here is the impasse. 

 

I simply will not agree to continuing thousands of years of force because of expediency or the lack of will to move beyond it. 

 

Yeah, and I won't pretend there's a solution when there isn't one. You have your hopes and prayers and I have my reason and reality.

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But that's just it... I (the taxman) can't get to his money until he chooses to earn and spend it here under the existing terms and agreements he inherited as a citizen born in the good old USA.  The whole question of paying taxes is initiated by his first acquisition of a secured right to property.

 

 

 

Why not? Again why must I be forced to pay for freeloaders? Why is the increase in the cost of the products I buy in order to make up for those who don't pay any different than a tax on me?

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Honestly Crow:

 

Govt services would be package deal.  Police, justice, and military.  You can't pay for domestic bits... and somehow "opt out" of the military bit.  The number of freeloaders would be very small.  Who would want to forego police and justice services   ... due to an ill advised desire not to pay for military services?

 

So the freeloaders would be minimally freeloading... using Geography as a shield from foreigners, but having no guarantees against theft murder etc. 

 

They would not participate nor enjoy government in the to the same degree animals (sorry DA  :)) also would not participate or enjoy the benefits of a proper government.  Accidental freeloaders with regard to foreign invasion.

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*shrug* There are probably several good reasons that can be explored once we get past resolving the initial morality of taxation, but...

 

A tax on you it is, primarily because as a consumer you are the one with the minted money to spend on acquisitions of secured property.  Remember the right to life is what is being secured and the right to property is the only implementation of it, correct?  I think something like a flat tax on sales (rather than income) shares the primary expense of security in a manner more consistent with who the main beneficiaries* are, but we cannot approach that aspect until we get past the presumption that voluntary taxation is in fact possible.

*and yes, I'd apply that tax on junior's first pack of gum acquired from his allowance.

 

edit: This was addressed to CrowEpistemologist

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Honestly Crow:

 

Govt services would be package deal.  Police, justice, and military.  You can't pay for domestic bits... and somehow "opt out" of the military bit.  The number of freeloaders would be very small.  Who would want to forego police and justice services   ... due to an ill advised desire not to pay for military services?

 

So the freeloaders would be minimally freeloading... using Geography as a shield from foreigners, but having no guarantees against theft murder etc. 

 

They would not participate nor enjoy government in the to the same degree animals (sorry DA  :)) also would not participate or enjoy the benefits of a proper government.  Accidental freeloaders with regard to foreign invasion.

 

Got it. So basically we'd add up the costs of all necessary govt. services and people would pay their corresponding usage, with general overhead things like the military baked into the costs of the local services? Fine I guess. Within this contrived example. Which of course is all totally impossible since not having police/court protection is just something we make up for sake of argument, but in actuality could not exist in any sort of real world.

 

Or to put it another way, the penalty freeloaders would pay would be, most likely, all of their belongings and probably also their lives. Okay. Sorta the same as deer pay during deer season.

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In the event there remain a few (more than two) in this forum who aren't intransigent anarchists, I'd like to introduce an interesting link to a discussion on, "What is the Role of Government Vis-à-Vis Capitalism?"

 

sample:  "Scott's primary thesis is that "Two systems of governance—capitalism (involving economic actors) and democracy (involving political actors)—prevail in the world today … [T]hey can and do influence each other. Indeed, participants in one system can use their positions in that system as a base from which to compete for power in the other."

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6304.html

 

I found it useful in attempting to evaluate where the tipping points between providing security for a free market vs directing the actions of a free market were.  I wasn't prepared to defend taxation against the POV of an anarchist whose position on the morality of taxation is redundant at best, following from their primary view that all government is evil just because, which I don't consider to be a serious response to the OP.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Got it. So basically we'd add up the costs of all necessary govt. services and people would pay their corresponding usage, with general overhead things like the military baked into the costs of the local services? Fine I guess. Within this contrived example. Which of course is all totally impossible since not having police/court protection is just something we make up for sake of argument, but in actuality could not exist in any sort of real world.

 

Or to put it another way, the penalty freeloaders would pay would be, most likely, all of their belongings and probably also their lives. Okay. Sorta the same as deer pay during deer season.

 

Well now.. I would not say deer season.  I mean we wont protect the dear and the wolves from each other ... at least not on behalf of the free riding victim.  But govt would still ensure non initiation of force by gov't and by participants in the society.  e.g. anarchist attacks citizen... police step in.  Citizen attacks anarchist ... police step in.  anarchist attacks anarchist... police step in if victim asks for intervention (is sent a bill later) or simply don't step in if anarchist victim does not ask for intervention.  After all one of them (the victim fighting back) is simply exercising his non-delegated right to self-defence.  now it may be that the criminal (the perpetrator) will be punished afterward not for the benefit of the victim but to protect society and deter other criminals.  In any case free-riding could be kept to a minimum. 

 

When you say "Contriving a system"... I assume you mean planning and deploying one?  If so yes... systems are contrived.... hopefully with great detail of forethought.

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Huh? Are you saying the inmates have taken over the asylum?

 

LOL, you can imagine how tempting it is for me merely respond to this with a smiley, but the doors were wide open when I came through so who am I to complain about the presence of fellow dissidents?  Rather self defeating when I think about it...

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. . . could this have benefited by stating "Yes, despite Rand's seeming opposing views about it . . ."?

I don't think so.

DA was specifically asking whether I support the idea of a government (any government), as such, which I don't. In that respect Rand's explicit ideals contradict my own.

A concretization of what I've been glossing across, though, is definitely in order. Thank you.

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OK, so as an anarchist who dismisses a government monopoly on force, please clarify how laissez-faire force is avoided?

Well, I try to be as ruthlessly rational as I can (not just in socialization, but in EVERY action) and when I do not know whether some proposition about someone is true or false, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Unless of course you mean how I intend to prevent OTHER people from choosing to be irrationally violent, in which case the answer is even simpler:

I don't. I reject the notion that you can control anyone else in the world.

Therefore taxation is moral primarily because it meets the standard of those actions that are necessary to preserve a right to life.

What about the draft?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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[...] Citizen attacks anarchist ... police step in.  [...]

 

For the thousandth time, WHY? Why must I be forced to pay the "freeloader tax"? Why must I pay for the protection of those whom do not pay for their own protection? Since when do I owe them free... anything?

 

Police provide a preventative service as does the military, etc. Providing this service for more people costs more money no matter what. The difference could be very significant even if you don't engage in my so-called bleak view of human nature (wherein I predicit a lack of compulsion would utterly multiply non-payers).

 

If you protect non-payer's rights, you are violating the rights of payers. Period.

 

So yes, deer. Rabbits. Pheasant. All the fish in the sea. You don't hear them forcing me to pay for their protection them do you? The only way for a voluntary system to actually not violate rights en masse is for it to be fully legal to hunt non-payers down like animals for sport. Quod erat demonstrandum. Reductio ad absurdum. :-)

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I think everyone here can agree that doing what one "would and should" do regarding payment for services rendered means pay for what you get, or at least, you get what you pay for.

Absolutely not.

The primary principle isn't that one should trade value for equal value, in all ways and at all times, but that one should trade by CHOICE. To concretize this, imagine how you would feel if, during a perfectly typical operation, your surgeon unilaterally decided to 'improve' your gender without your consent- and then stuck you with the bill.

This is a point which contradicts Rand's arguments for intellectual property rights, but is necessitated by the rest of her politics. If we accept the alternative- that our hypothetical surgeon has the right to demand payment for their 'trade' -then there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't have taxes, the draft, prohibition or mandatory Monty Python Mondays.

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Elections, amendments, freedom to leave (and return) to this country... does any of this sound familiar and do any of these choices represent anyone being forced to do anything?

But then - what defense do we have against lassiez-faire force??????

What's to prevent this whole thing from returning to - ANARCHY?!?!!!!!!!

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Yeah, and I won't pretend there's a solution when there isn't one. You have your hopes and prayers and I have my reason and reality.

 

Way to ignore my point and the olive branch.  

 

For get it.  I can't make you want to be free and I won't bother you with trying to work together on it any longer.  

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There you go again...

 

RE TAXATION:  NO ONE IS BEING FORCED TO PAY FOR THE STATUS QUO IN PERPETUITY

 

Elections, amendments, freedom to leave (and return) to this country...  does any of this sound familiar and do any of these choices represent anyone being forced to do anything?

 

As a complete aside, you may want to rephrase that argument.  That implies the group has the right to vote your property at best or that people are products of the state at worse.  I know you don't mean that however but that is very open ended.  

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As a complete aside, you may want to rephrase that argument.  That implies the group has the right to vote your property at best or that people are products of the state at worse.  I know you don't mean that however but that is very open ended.  

 

I'm certainly not promoting that, but as we veer further from a republic towards an absolute democracy, that becomes the likely destination.  At this point in the journey I'd say the voter remains in the driver's seat, and whether or not he takes us over the edge remains to be seen.  There are at least two embedded perils to free elections that I see,

 

1) eminent domain, in which elected representation can force the sale of private property, and

 

2) that a significant number of voters are unapprehended thieves and/or murderers.

 

There may be some honor among thieves (they at least have a sense of the value of property), but I really feel uncomfortable responding to the will of murderers (e.g., giving them access to tactical nukes).  Of course this is to be taken as a response to an aside, i.e., not too seriously.

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For the thousandth time, WHY? Why must I be forced to pay the "freeloader tax"? Why must I pay for the protection of those whom do not pay for their own protection? Since when do I owe them free... anything?

 

Police provide a preventative service as does the military, etc. Providing this service for more people costs more money no matter what. The difference could be very significant even if you don't engage in my so-called bleak view of human nature (wherein I predicit a lack of compulsion would utterly multiply non-payers).

 

If you protect non-payer's rights, you are violating the rights of payers. Period.

 

So yes, deer. Rabbits. Pheasant. All the fish in the sea. You don't hear them forcing me to pay for their protection them do you? The only way for a voluntary system to actually not violate rights en masse is for it to be fully legal to hunt non-payers down like animals for sport. Quod erat demonstrandum. Reductio ad absurdum. :-)

 

Crow:

 

 

The government is the sole delegatee of the proper use of retaliatory force which the citizen, had the right to use in the first place.  You cannot "delegate" as a citizen the desire to murder someone to the government, it is not delegatable, it simply is not your right.

Anything that can be delegatable to a proper government must arise as a proper moral right to be begin with.  One cannot delegate acting on rights which do not exist... there would then be nothing proper to delegate. 

 

In a civil society where the citizens have delegated the power to use retaliatory force they have done so irrevocably for all circumstances except during times of emergency when that force must be used in self-defence, i.e. police cannot get there in time etc..

 

If you as a citizen attacks ANYONE, you are initiating force, you are acting outside of their delegatable rights, and in fact you are becoming a criminal.  There is no open season.  When the police stop you they are not rescuing the victim, they are rescuing civilized society and putting you away for their safety and for deterrence.

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So in short, yes, my rights must be violated on a daily basis in that I must pay for non-payer's use of government whether I want to or not, insofar as I want any government at all, and insofar as I want my rights to be not violated on a daily basis by non-government actors.

 

Okay.

 

That was actually my point all along. Sorry for the Latin above, I'll clarify: that was reducing the argument [in favor of a volunteer government] to its logical absurdity. I'm glad you agree its absurd.

 

So I'll lay out our options once again:

 

Option 1. The government forcibly extracts taxes from everybody according to their proportional use of government services. This form of government has been in place in one form or another for about 10,000 years. The USA is a recent example that has been relatively successful at it. The right approach to taxation (and the as of yet unknown ideal as it were) is to compel all citizens to pay taxes according to their use of government services. Objectivists ought to advocate for taxes that correspond to objectively derived formulas based on people's use of government services, not based on their ability to pay as much of the system is now.

 

Option 2. We have a volunteer system, which has never been tried in any form at any kind of scale and defies mountains of evidence about what we know about how people tend to act in large numbers, and we allow anybody, through simple non-action, to violate the rights of everybody else in their society by not paying their share of the government they use.

 

In both cases, a citizen who wishes to live free and have their rights and is a moral person protected must pay. In the case of the second, immoral people are rewarded for their immorality by reaping a windfall from not paying their share of services they use, instead foisting this burden onto others. In the case of the first, everybody is forced to be, in this context, moral.

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Well, I try to be as ruthlessly rational as I can (not just in socialization, but in EVERY action) and when I do not know whether some proposition about someone is true or false, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Unless of course you mean how I intend to prevent OTHER people from choosing to be irrationally violent, in which case the answer is even simpler:

I don't. I reject the notion that you can control anyone else in the world.

...

 

Then you are mistaken, as anyone who has been enslaved or imprisoned can attest. Avoiding laissez-faire force isn't about creating a bubble of rationality around yourself.  That won't protect you, your family or those you depend on for trade.  Try holding back the sea with your own personal sand castle and you will get wet.

 

...

What about the draft?

 

While I believe we all have a moral share in providing for the common defense, individuals must be allowed to choose their own battles, which logically includes not being forced to rush towards gunfire, burning homes or even to be charitable.  If they are not acting criminally according to objective law, they ought to be left alone.

 

Absolutely not.

The primary principle isn't that one should trade value for equal value, in all ways and at all times, but that one should trade by CHOICE. To concretize this, imagine how you would feel if, during a perfectly typical operation, your surgeon unilaterally decided to 'improve' your gender without your consent- and then stuck you with the bill.

This is a point which contradicts Rand's arguments for intellectual property rights, but is necessitated by the rest of her politics. If we accept the alternative- that our hypothetical surgeon has the right to demand payment for their 'trade' -then there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't have taxes, the draft, prohibition or mandatory Monty Python Mondays.

 

I can't get my head around this response (my brain hurts), but I could live with mandatory Monty Python Mondays... at least until the next election cycle... Your hypothetical surgen obtains consent to do what is necessary and is liable for damages against anything that isn't.

 

But then - what defense do we have against lassiez-faire force??????

...

 

A voluntarily formed/inherited government with a monopoly on force to secure rights... owned, operated and funded by the consent of the governed, and designed to accept alterations or be dismissed.

 

...

What's to prevent this whole thing from returning to - ANARCHY?!?!!!!!!!

 

The elections are free (and powerful) but, "You can't fix stupid." ~ Ron White

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