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I think getting rid of that last 5% of taxation will be impossible regardless of how rational America becomes so long as there are large collectivist countries to defend against.
]I think that if a country ever reaches the stage where they have extremely low taxes, they will surely hit a situation where they will not have enough money and people will rue this in retrospect. Apart from the civil war, one see the various times during the Revolutionary War when money was extremely short.

However, that does not imply taxation is required. All it means is that people will have to come up with some other solution. I don;t know what that solution would be, but I think there will be enough good and bad ideas when the time comes. For instance, one might have a system of callable pledges, so that a government going to war does not have to rely solely on new funds, but can also rely on being able to call upon certain pledges, if the conditions for such call are met.

Of course, for my lifetime and that of my child, if we ever get the government's share of GDP down below 10% INCLUDING any residual "transfer-payments", I'll be extremely shocked and happy.

Edited by softwareNerd
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YOU CANNOT CLAIM TO HAVE THE MORE REASONABLE ARGUMENTS AND THE GUN TO COMPEL ME TO SUBMIT TO YOU SIMULTANEOUSLY. If I don't agree that society must be forced to pay for government services, that doe

The alternative is that -- in its most core functions -- the government protects all people in its jurisdiction, those who pay, those who don't pay, foreigners visiting the country. I think the re

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 vo

Again, if people are unwilling to aid to their own security, they will face the consequences of their action. The fact that the Union winning the war is a better result than the Union losing the war is not a justification for coerced taxation.

I think Union victory was a justification for both coerced taxation and conscription. The South already had slavery so it was natural for them to resort to conscription first. The Union needed to respond with their own conscription law to win. The Union had the commercial, industrial and manpower basis to win the war because it was morally superior to the Confederacy, but those things do not cause victory automatically without being put to use by taxes, government debt and conscription.

And how does forced taxation solve this problem, and justify the violation of individual rights? Corruption by the rich is a possibility under any system. A rational form of government is not automatic, and requires continual action to maintain.

Some systems are inherently corrupt by design. A system where the rich pay for their judges and armies directly is corrupt by design, not by an individual act.

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So using your own logic- the virtue by which you would like to see a taxation although a small and "reasonable" amount for only specific things remain small and reasonable is the same virtue that those who argue for voluntary taxation are counting on.

You count on virtue to keep the government from taking too much.

I count on virtue to convince the free populace to give enough.

Yes. But my virtue is not the same as your virtue. Taxation has the advantage of objectivity; everyone knows how much to pay and the government knows how much it will receive. That allows serious war finance to proceed. People will limit what they will give when there is no expectation of return, but guarantee a man a couple of points of interest over the market rate he will subscribe with all the money he can raise and then raise more. The introduction of numbers to virtue is a powerful advantage.

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I think Union victory was a justification for both coerced taxation and conscription.

How does one decide when one violation of rights is justified to stop another?

A system where the rich pay for their judges and armies directly is corrupt by design, not by an individual act.

Such a system would exist under anarchy, not an objective government. Under an objective government, the government serves everyone, not just the people who pay them. If members of a previously-objective government decide to only help the ones who pay them the most, then that would no longer be an objective government. As I said, a rational government requires continual action to maintain, and does not come automatically.

Edited by brian0918
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Taxation can be greatly reduced by limiting government to its proper functions. I think getting rid of that last 5% of taxation will be impossible regardless of how rational America becomes so long as there are large collectivist countries to defend against. This is a measure required to defend individual rights and the individuals being defended ought to consent to it as the rational and moral course.

What is the moral thing to do to the individual who does not consent? Your argument is similar to the justification for a draft.

I agree that the number *required* for the proper functions of government would likely be at about 5% of what it is now. Why would this rational society knowingly leave such a crack in their foundational principle and allow that 5% to become 5.3% taken, and of course, so on?

I still don't see your concrete moral justification for the use of uninitiated force to take the product of individual labor ("without consent" being the crucial point here). And, by the way, are you arguing for a progressive tax here too? Flat? How then do you reconcile (morally) that a highly productive member of the society be forced to PAY more for being in this country than someone who may choose to live off the bare minimum of productive work?

I think we're too far off from this ideal to project accurately of the practicalities and difficulties that may arise in a voluntarily funded government. I don't doubt that there would be much to figure out. I just don't jump to the conclusion that only government force can be the solution.

If I were alive 250 years ago, "Impossible" might have been a word I'd use to describe man's chances of ever walking on the moon, but not for a tax free society.

I cannot imagine that. If Home Depot sells something to the government that is corruption. If Lowes wins a court case that is corruption.

The only way I can track your logic there is if I assume you envisioned a society where only these two companies were responsible for the funding of the government. Otherwise, it makes no sense.

The most wealthy and productive individuals in society are always going to be the ones who generate the lion share of funds which their government operates on (whether those funds are taken or given). The moral scenario is for them to be provided voluntarily.

Edited by freestyle
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How does one decide when one violation of rights is justified to stop another?

If it is a war measure it is a mistake to classify it as a violation of rights. Justified wars by proper governments are not initiations of force but responses to initiations of force.

Such a system would exist under anarchy, not an objective government. Under an objective government, the government serves everyone, not just the people who pay them. If members of a previously-objective government decide to only help the ones who pay them the most, then that would no longer be an objective government. As I said, a rational government requires continual action to maintain, and does not come automatically.
It is also non-objective if a government renders services to everyone but favors its sponsors or benefactors. Can you imagine courthouses being named after their sponsors like sports stadiums are today? For instance, would a theoretical Oracle vs. Microsoft patent dispute be sent to trial at the Microsoft Palace of Justice? That wouldn't be right, and it is not just Oracle that should have a problem with that.

Government funds collected by tax into a single fungible account "launders" the money of any association with particular donors. That will at least prevent the funding source from breaching the objectivity of government in practice.

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Government funds collected by tax into a single fungible account "launders" the money of any association with particular donors. That will at least prevent the funding source from breaching the objectivity of government in practice.

Do you suggest this is impossible to do with voluntary contributions to 3 fungible accounts? (Law / Police / Defense )

Are humans forever unable (in your estimation) to work this out without having to resort to forced taxation?

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Ask for it - like war bonds, except what you get back in return is not extra money, but your own safety.

Or military service eligibility fees - In order to be eligible for payment, should you ever serve, you have to pay a fee as soon as you become an adult. If you don't pay, and you want to join the military, you don't get a paid (and on top of that, you'll still have to pay the MSEFs).

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Do you suggest this is impossible to do with voluntary contributions to 3 fungible accounts? (Law / Police / Defense )

Are humans forever unable (in your estimation) to work this out without having to resort to forced taxation?

I think that if your contribution is entirely up to you there is a powerful incentive to want to negotiate over it, to get something for the money, to control it or at least not let it sanction evil or incompetence. Any feature or incident concerning the government which is a cause for unhappiness can become an excuse to withhold funds by somebody. This is basically the Federalist critique of the government of the Articles of Confederation, which also had no taxing power.

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I think that if your contribution is entirely up to you there is a powerful incentive to want to negotiate over it, to get something for the money, to control it or at least not let it sanction evil or incompetence. Any feature or incident concerning the government which is a cause for unhappiness can become an excuse to withhold funds by somebody.

So far so good.thumbsup.gif

This is basically the Federalist critique of the government of the Articles of Confederation, which also had no taxing power.

Of course. The issue of actual slavery was the moral issue of substance that would come next. A society free of any type of economic "slavery" was not possible at the time to realistically address.

And it still isn't now. But we're speaking in the realm of political philosophy and whether or not taxation is moral. I haven't seen an argument for forced taxation being moral yet. The closest justification I've seen is essentially, [paraphrasing] 'Well, I can't think of a way to make it work with out it, so things would be bad."

The essential hurdle in making voluntary financing of a free society is first that philosophical change mentioned above. The political and structural hurdles to make it a reality are premature to establish because they will necessarily rely on what is realistic at the time it is to be instituted.

So speaking of specific methods becomes very problematic. There are too many assumptions that cannot be realistically estimated correctly. When enough people in a given society hold to the principle that the nature of government is its monopoly on retaliatory force and, as a corollary to that, understand that the fundamental function of protecting the rights of the individual are limited to the force related functions of: Defense, Objective Law and Law Enforcement,-- Then, the landscape of that society will be open an array of creative financing options which will seem "impossible" to us now.

The way I imagine the actual structure is where people pay directly for all private and government services they receive (and would never expect not to). When they don't, they don't receive those services. There will be indirect benefits to those of lower economic positions (for instance, the amount they pay towards police protection while still being protected), this is the logical consequence of a free society. (Not every customer at Starbucks has contributed equally to the free wi-fi, have they?) In fact, the indirect benefits for all the members in that society woulld be impossible to quantify.

*I should note that a first step towards REAL private property ownership is very likely a moral issue that comes before complete voluntary financing. This is definitely an area where objective law is more easily able to be seen as... objective.

"Any program of voluntary government financing is the last, not the first, step on the road to a free society—the last, not the first, reform to advocate. It would work only when the basic principles and institutions of a free society have been established. It would not work today."
--
“Government Financing in a Free Society,”
The Virtue of Selfishness

Edited by freestyle
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And it still isn't now. But we're speaking in the realm of political philosophy and whether or not taxation is moral. I haven't seen an argument for forced taxation being moral yet. The closest justification I've seen is essentially, [paraphrasing] 'Well, I can't think of a way to make it work with out it, so things would be bad."

I agree with your post except for this. "Things would be bad" is so a type of moral argument. I understand that it is not what you are looking for, but morality is about achieving values and avoiding disvalues not obeying argued conclusions. If "taxation is bad" and "unilateral disarmament is bad" are contradictory, then I say the "taxation is bad" argument is the more abstract conclusion and is potentially qualified with exceptions.

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So Grames is your position that:

- there is a dichotomy between the moral and the practical

or

- it is moral for the government to use force against its citizens

or

- while taxation is immoral, ending it can only be achieved as one of the final steps toward a completely free Capitalist country

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I've always thought that this turns government into a sort of enlarged private protection/safety/standards company. Is that correct? I mean you pay for a guard if you have something valuable, now you help pay for an army. You did before but that was different as you never really had that money at all. Now you voluntarily give that money for your protection. It seems unstable. What happens when a threshold is crossed and there is not enough funds to adequately protect? Besides the national deficit, which I assume does not exist in this scenario.

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The closest justification I've seen is essentially, [paraphrasing] 'Well, I can't think of a way to make it work with out it, so things would be bad."

I agree with your post except for this. "Things would be bad" is so a type of moral argument. I understand that it is not what you are looking for, but morality is about achieving values and avoiding disvalues not obeying argued conclusions. If "taxation is bad" and "unilateral disarmament is bad" are contradictory, then I say the "taxation is bad" argument is the more abstract conclusion and is potentially qualified with exceptions.

You may have misread, or I was unclear. I was not granting the truth of "things would be bad". I was only pointing out the lack of a substantial argument for the morality of taxation. I want to convince first that, on principle, "(forced) taxation is bad". With political agreement there, I would argue that things would not be bad.

But I think we have identified our distinctions. Understanding your position, I would wonder how you would state the fundamental principle to underly your defense of taxation argument. Whereas I would say, "initiation of force is wrong, therefore forced taxation is wrong", how would you state your operating principle?

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... how would you state your operating principle?

At the ethical (personal) level an initiation of force against you imposes a cost. Either you surrender to the superior force and they take what they want or you pay the cost of resisting in time, effort, and expenses. If no one happens to initiate force then the cost never manifests.

At the political level the creation of a government entails forethought, planning and a continuing expenditure of money to provide for a military capability, payroll for civil servants, managing government property and payment of national debts. The government is continually resolving conflicts both foreign and domestic on the basis of its monopoly on retributive force. The government merely transfers the real costs imposed by the actual initiators of force to its taxpayers.

A government that forswears the power to tax will be a failure either by dissolving due to internal chaos within the territory it is supposed to govern or will be unequal to the challenge of the first collectivist government that is willing to ruin its own population in order to conquer.

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Why do you think people have to be forced to protect themselves? Of course some people are sheep and will allow themselves to be slaughtered, but you're talking as if we were all that way. You're obviously military-minded. I imagine you will freely give yourself to defend a free country if you think that right. Allow everyone else to share in that. People own guns, build walls, buy security systems etc. We're capable of looking after ourselves and we don't need and we don't want anyone "protecting" us.

If you can explain to the general public that the Commander needs 5% of their worth in order to finance our national defense then we don't need to have this conversation about the morality of forcing them to pay. I think it would be easy. Haven't we spent much much much much more than that in the past? Isn't the problem we face today not how to convince people to fund war, but how to get them to, for the love of God, stop?

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Why do you think people have to be forced to protect themselves?

Because there is a real and totally legitimate economic incentive not to do so. Taxes paid by a business are passed on to customers whether that tax is voluntary or not. Income taxes on an employee have the result of inflating wages until the take home pay is enough for the employee not to seek other employment, and wages are a cost of doing business which must ultimately be subsidized by the customer. Not paying taxes would be a competitive advantage for any business, and even all but mandatory in light of the fiduciary duty of corporate management to act in the financial interest of its stockholders. If there is any correlation at all between the largest corporations in any market and the most efficient corporations and the most efficient corporations reduce their expenses including their taxes, then we can count on the largest corporations not paying taxes beyond token publicity stunts.

And as I have already explained, not having the power to tax means the government of your capitalist utopia would have no means to tap the credit markets to win actual wars. Nobody will voluntarily give enough to fund wars because no one CAN give enough to fund wars, not the total wars of the industrial age which are struggles to the death or exhaustion of one people or the other. Wars are fought on debt, far more debt than any individual or circle of rich philanthropists can possibly take on.

Here is Alexander Hamilton stating the principle in the

Federalist Paper #31

As the duties of superintending the national defense and of securing the public peace against foreign or domestic violence involve a provision for casualties and dangers to which no possible limits can be assigned, the power of making that provision ought to know no other bounds than the exigencies of the nation and the resources of the community.
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If there is any correlation at all between the largest corporations in any market and the most efficient corporations and the most efficient corporations reduce their expenses including their taxes, then we can count on the largest corporations not paying taxes beyond token publicity stunts.

Corporations shouldn't contribute to any type of charitable causes. They're entities set up for the profit of their shareholders. But I don't see why shareholders wouldn't turn some of their wealth over for the defense of the country, either from the dividends hey receive or by selling some of their shares, in emergencies. Bill Gates (and 40 other billionaires) just agreed to leave all their wealth to fight poverty in Africa, out of moral conviction. Why would the moral conviction of Objectivists be any weaker?

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Corporations shouldn't contribute to any type of charitable causes. They're entities set up for the profit of their shareholders. But I don't see why shareholders wouldn't turn some of their wealth over for the defense of the country, either from the dividends hey receive or by selling some of their shares, in emergencies. Bill Gates (and 40 other billionaires) just agreed to leave all their wealth to fight poverty in Africa, out of moral conviction. Why would the moral conviction of Objectivists be any weaker?

I am not saying the conviction of Objectivists would be weaker, I am saying even the greatest imaginable conviction is simply inadequate. Bill Gates and all of his billionaires will not in fact stop poverty in Africa even though they may feed a few people, or more than a few. Nor could they completely fund a major war.

The 2009 GDP of the US was about 14 Trillion dollars. Using a simple proportionality relating war expenditures to GDP the year before fighting broke out for WW1 and WW2 for the major participants, a real war today would cost America about 20 trillion dollars. That is real money way beyond even Gates' and Buffet's powers of finance. And sure, maybe today there is no prospect of such a war breaking out but this fundamental issue of constitutional law has to be designed with the long view in mind. The Federalists could not possibly imagine World Wars One and Two but in principle they allowed for it because of the experience of Britain versus France and America's own war debts from the Revolution showed what could happen.

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I am not saying the conviction of Objectivists would be weaker, I am saying even the greatest imaginable conviction is simply inadequate. Bill Gates and all of his billionaires will not in fact stop poverty in Africa even though they may feed a few people, or more than a few. Nor could they completely fund a major war.

The 2009 GDP of the US was about 14 Trillion dollars. Using a simple proportionality relating war expenditures to GDP the year before fighting broke out for WW1 and WW2 for the major participants, a real war today would cost America about 20 trillion dollars. That is real money way beyond even Gates' and Buffet's powers of finance.

Gates and Buffet had the conviction to give away all their money. If the citizens of a free country had two-thirds that conviction, they would give two-thirds of their money to win a war for survival. That is already far more than any government could take by force.

Why would that be unimaginable? Why is it easier to imagine a group of Objectivists who would foolishly hold on to their possessions and allow themselves to be conquered by barbarians only to lose everything, than it is to imagine a group of Objectivists stepping up and doing whatever it takes to defend their country?

And sure, maybe today there is no prospect of such a war breaking out but this fundamental issue of constitutional law has to be designed with the long view in mind. The Federalists could not possibly imagine World Wars One and Two but in principle they allowed for it because of the experience of Britain versus France and America's own war debts from the Revolution showed what could happen.

America became a superpower (and managed to dominate the World militarily) because of its relative economic freedom. In total freedom, it would become strong enough to maintain an invincible military with a small fraction of its wealth. There would never be a chance of a totalitarian country becoming powerful enough to challenge that military.

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If we are discussing this issue within the context of a truly free market, the Grames arguments can't apply. The voluntary funding is the final (last) step.

With that understood- The market will create the balance.

Option 1 = Pay the exact minimum required to remain in free society

Option 2 = Act irrationally. Don't pay, suffer loss of achieved freedom and submit to force that WILL result in you paying more.

Option one costs less in dollars and freedom. That is not "utopia," it is merely a potential reality in the evolution of a civilization adhering to a philosophy of individualism and reason.

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You didn't address the points I made in my last post.

Why are you different? Why is the federal government intelligent, but the general public so stupid, that the latter must be treated as sheep. The government must shear its sheep 5% annually so that a foreign government can't eat the sheep entirely? Why are you different? If we are so intelligent, why can't we convince the sheep to willingly part with 5% annually in peacetime to make the necessary defense? Are our arguments not convincing? Is it that even the most convincing arguments do not affect the general public? It is palpably absurd to suggest we need a ruling class in this way. What if the public figures out 5% is being taken against their will? You say you can't convince them why it is necessary, so it follows that you will need to suppress any challenge to your proposed way of doing things. 5% exaction from all the sheep, unless some rebel against our system, in which case we'll need more. No, talking to the sheep is useless. They don't understand what it takes to win a war. 6% exaction from all the sheep who would jeopardize the safety of all the other sheep. It doesn't work, people want to be free. Which, incidentally, should be encouraging.

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Why would that be unimaginable? Why is it easier to imagine a group of Objectivists who would foolishly hold on to their possessions and allow themselves to be conquered by barbarians only to lose everything, than it is to imagine a group of Objectivists stepping up and doing whatever it takes to defend their country?

No one is dealing with my quantitative argument. If the necessary expenditures to win a war total to greater than the GDP then complete liquidation and confiscation of the assets of everyone in the country will not fund the war. Complete confiscation is not even practical, nor is complete liquidation possible.

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