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Is taxation moral?

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Lakeside
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I'll just respond quickly since I'm here now.

I don't find the same statement troubling, but perhaps I'm missing your point. I see it as simply her, as a philosopher, pointing out a fundamental principle of the relationship between the individual(s) and their government, as well as combating the ever-present altruistic code by stressing that the relationship is not only voluntary, but that one should pay for what benefits one gains from the service of others, such as the police, the military, the courts, etc. (It's voluntary for all parties.)

As Dr. Peikoff says in his podcast Episode 54 (09:32), in response to the question, "'If government requires payment for its services, would those who choose freely not to pay for government services not have their inalienable rights protected?'", "In principle, yes, if you don't pay for the services, there is no obligation on anyone to provide you the unearned. The people who pay, get the services. The people who don't, have no right to them, have no claim to them." (There's more to his response.)

Ok, this is responsive to the question I asked. I listened to the whole thing.

Dr. Peikoff's answer is horrible. The borders of a country's territory distinguish those who are protected from those who are not, not payment status. The direct implication of Peikoff's answer is a second class of citizenship, discarding the principle of equality before the law. If there is no equality before the law, there is no law. A government is properly a monopoly on retaliatory force, yet the second class of citizens would have to resort to some degree of vigilantism in dealing with each other. The government would be defaulting on its monopoly and competing governments would in fact arise as those the main government disdains organize in self defense into gangs with knives or whatever they have available. This is anarchy.

Should one turn one's back on a murder because the victim had not kept up with the payment schedule? If the murderer has a track record of only murdering unprotected people, why would that not be a demonstration of not being a threat to the first class citizens? If the murderer was detained for some crime, would the charge be murder or just disturbing the peace? If the murder charge is the 'right' answer, then that admits the principle that an attack on the rights of one is an attack on the rights of all, so there is a claim for protection without payment after all.

This is great answer from my perspective, it helps my case for taxation by exploring the consequences of taking the voluntary financing idea concretely instead of in principle. I would call it an example of reduction to the absurd, but I don't think everyone here agrees it would be absurd.

The principle that "an attack on the rights of one is an attack on the rights of all" is in a nutshell the principle of government itself. Government is inherently a collectivist enterprise because collective force is mightier than any individual's force. Collective force is how government ensures its superiority over criminals within its territory and defends that territory from invasion. The trick to a proper government is to keep that collectivist principle focused only on retaliatory force for defending rights. Shrinking away from the collectivist nature of government force by insisting on selling it at the retail level is an evasion of a fact which must lead to ridiculous conclusions such as described by Peikoff.

I do not here use 'retail level' as a disparaging term, it is the accurate term to name what is impossible by the nature of individual selling and nature of what is to be sold. Analyzing the necessity of taxation only in terms of altruism is just a misidentification of the nature of government. Collectivism is evil because it is an -ism, it does not follow that every collective activity is evil. Sports teams are not evil. Corporations are not evil. Dividends are not evil. Taxes are not evil. I emphasize that last: Taxes qua taxes are not evil, they only become so when used to fund rights violations.

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She's not advocating for taxation, she's talking about voluntary contributions. It's not just that I haven't seen anything in Miss Rand's writings to suggest she was in favor of taxation, out of all the people I've talked to or read from who have shown a good understanding of other areas of Objectivism, you are the first one to suggest such a thing.

Rand clearly is not in favor of taxation. She should have been, that would be consistent with facts and the rest of Objectivism. I freely admit I am going beyond what Rand wrote, but I deny I am contradicting any principles of Objectivism. Even the principle of voluntary funding is not contradicted, which I will further demonstrate when I respond to Trebor's post #142. I apply the principle differently.

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You, individually, I'm not responding to simply because you bore me. You are making elementary mistakes that have been refuted over 9000 times on other threads by other people. I'm just not interested.

I tell you I'm waiting patiently, and I acknowledge that you have plenty of other people to respond to, and this is your response?

Could it be that you just don't want to address what I said?

Stop lying. You don't have my consent. I don't want you taking any part in my government. I frankly don't trust you. You twist the meaning of my words, misquote me as having said "I just don't feel like paying my taxes", which I find insulting. You ignore whatever you can get away with and then dismiss me very rudely after I politely remind you I'm waiting for answer. I respect your position not at all, but I don't fault you for that. I fault you for a lack of intellectual honesty.

EDIT: For anyone else looking to have an excuse to leave this conversation, I think all you need to do is pick up the point I've been making. And Grames, if you can finally pin him down, will become very bored with this whole topic. It is either that my arguments bore him and are easily refutable, or that he has no answer to them. I know he has no answer to them, because I know I am right and I know he is wrong.

EDIT: My entire post should have been the following: Look, he is defeated, he refuses to answer my arguments. It is a simple, powerful fact.

Edited by Brian9
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A stable government which facilitates and protects the use of an efficient means of exchange provides great value to its citizens. That value is enhanced when the government provides protection of contracts and protection against fraud when the protected means of exchange is used.

As long as the government allows alternate means of exchange, not protected by law, the protected exchanges can be taxed, and the tax can be considered voluntary. If the tax is far less than the value provided by protected currency-based exchanges, then a rational person would be inclined to use that currency and pay the tax voluntarily.

Such a system provides a natural check and balance against an abusive government, which would not exist in the case of a compulsory taxation or a donation system.

A donation system creates a conflict of interest as soon as the contributions of a small number of donors become important to the government servants dependent on those donations.

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Allow me to paraphrase what you just said. As long as there is peace and order, the government can forcibly take money from me in order to pay for that peace and order. If I want, I can use an "alternative means of exchange" which presumably means going somewhere where is no peace and order, like leaving the country, that way, my freedom is not being violated, since I have an option. If the government demands in taxes less than than the value of your entire life, which you presumably only have because of peace and order, then it is a fair trade. You should in fact be thankful. Such a system provides checks and balances against people forcibly taking my money unfairly. Whereas if people have to trade value for value voluntarily, the government will be in bed with whoever pays its bills.

That is all wrong of course and I explain why my paraphrasing is completely and totally apt. There are a few things you overlooked in your line of thinking. 1) Anytime anyone is free anywhere, a group of law enforcers can claim that they and only they made that freedom possible. 2) Even if they could make that claim, it doesn't follow that they have the right to any part of my life. If you rescue a drowning man, does he owe you a percentage of his estate every year from then on? 3) The price of security is determined by the purchaser of the security. It isn't an infinite value, it is determined by market forces. Your argument has government services be "priceless", because your life depends upon them. This simply isn't so. The price is a factor of production costs, and interest rates, and how much competition there is. I think I subscribe to the Austrian theory on time preference. Possibly some other factor as well. It's clearly more complicated than "priceless". You can't say food is priceless, because you need food in order to survive, therefore farmers can charge whatever they want and you must pay and of course you are always free to go somewhere where there is no food. 4) What checks and balances?? You're saying government is priceless, I can be forced to pay with anything less than my life, and I am always free to flee from the government, run, and hide. 5) We want the government in bed with the people who pay for the services. The problem isn't that the government is motivated by the profit motive. Everyone is motivated by that. You can't escape that. You shouldn't want to escape that. The problem is there are more socialists in the world than capitalists, i.e. people don't appreciate the value of freedom. There are plenty of people who already value government. Government is way over valued, currently! That is a fact and it is because everyone is taught that government is great and made up of lofty, nice people who have magic wands that are able to heal the economy, fight off pestilences, and in general make live worth living. It is such a gigantic con that most people never even realize what happened to them.

Edit again: Why in the world do people have the idea that we have to force people to pay for government? Look around. Aren't there plenty of big governments? How I long for the day when there will be difficulty in persuading people around the world to fund government programs. All government programs - from World War and Genocide to the Post Office. There is no difficulty in getting people to fund this monstrous evil. Quite the reverse.

Edited by Brian9
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I found a contradiction in what I said. I offer an explanation for why people value government more than it is worth and then just some lines later, I'm totally amazed why anyone would think an argument has to be made in favor of government. People don't appreciate freedom. It is that simple. It is just incomprehensible to me. How can so much of the world not get it? I understand why freedom is so great, why don't they? Is it possible that I am upside down, and the world is right side up? Of course, it must make sense, if one looks at the history of civilization, and the history of thought, and calmly breaks it all down. But just at a casual glance, isn't it just staggering? What Earthly reason is there that freedom is not the law of the land? Why does freedom seem like the exception to me? Is it? There is obviously something I don't appreciate. I may have heard about it intellectually, but it hasn't sunk in.

Edited by Brian9
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What I'm talking about is the attitude that "all taxation is immoral." While the issue certainly can cover federal employees (from the military on to the IRS to the local law enforcement official), I'd like to limit the discussion to just the principal of taxing in this modern world. Like I had said, I'm not going to defend this monstrous money-cyphoning organization, but the principals behind taxation for the proper purpose of government.

Taxation is extortion and theft enshrined into a legal and cultural institution encysted in this stage of civilization. Only tradition gives it an aura of respect.

To tax means to appraise or label, or both, from latin touch, tangere (in) ego tango (s). In Romance languages like Spanish the word for it is Impuesto (Imposed), while in Latin it was plainly called tribute - which is what it is. Pay tribute or suffer under the heel of Rome.

Tribute, or tax, is a naturally occuring phenomena when people settle and depend on crops that can be easily raided by maurading herders. The sudden inability ton run or be killed opened a new window of opportunity for exploitation and civilization building: Slavery and Taxation. The farmers learnt that they could keep their lives if they gave part of their crops to the attackers, and the fighters discovered the value of keeping your prey alive and milk it in either slavery or taxation. It's an earlier, cruder version of the give a man a fish saying. In this horrible "past" the warrior learnt that "kill a man you'll rob him once, enslave a man you can rob him forever!".

Other advances followed, for instance the witch doctor arose and exchanged some more crop for peace of mind. He'd stop tormenting the populace with paralyzing fear if he gets his share to ease the furious gods of his tormented awakening mind.

In time the regular payments to the warriors would become tradition and the slaves begin to thank, or at least prefer, life in bondage but with some food and security than the obscurity of the uncharted forest hiding worst deamons than his own mind.

Eventually tribute was paid by everyone living sedentarily, either or both by individuals and by whole countries. Just as an example, the precursor of Russia, the Principality of Novgorod was a tributary state to the Khanate of the Golden Horde.

Genghis or Kublai Khan knew the slavs knew the fate of those who fought the Mongols and simply demanded the booty without war. A more updated example would be America as a tributary state of Egypt, where Pharaoh demands billions every year from you taxpayers in exchange for the courtesy of not dynamiting Suez and Israel.

A lot has changed, the forest has been charted, and people have recently (500 years or so, 200 in the Anglo world) began living in cities by choice where the abudance of wealth through different productive activities rendered taxation a minor affair, a secondary business. Florence was a mighty example, where land purchases, defense, sewage, and monuments to the glory of man were all financed by private hands competing to expiate the sin of compound interest.

This (Italian Renaissance) is a turning point in history because it is the first time producers formed professional guilds which in turn formed their own city states which could pay voluntarily for their self-defense.

Fast forward to today the concept remains the same. When something nice is built yet not properly protected, someone will ask you for money in exchage for not destroying it. Be it your life, or be it a commercial sea lane.

No, taxation is thus in no way moral. How could it be? How can it differentiate itself from theft? The only situation in which it could be moral, would be under an emergency. For instance, a giant comet is coming and unless a certain amount of energy is pooled together, everyone will die. Or the Mongols are coming and if we don't pay them tribute we'll all worse than die. In that situation it could be said that not paying a forced tribute would endanger everybody in the same "bag" and could maybe be considered initiation of force.

The reality is that there is no comet, but there are Mongols (of different shapes and colors of course).

In this situation taxation remains rather than moral or immoral, inescapable. The only way is to be able to select which "bag" you belong to.

If you voluntarily enter into contract with a society that agrees to mantain a certain level of security that costs X, then you are not paying a tax, a levy, a tribute, but a utility, even if it is for self defense. The difference would be technical at first, but it would render the solution to the problem, moral.

But, since in reality we don't have contractual societies, but governments instituted without the UNANIMOUS consent of the governed, we are all trapped in different bags, each in a piece of turf belongin to a different warlord and their complicated arrangements. That still doesn't make it moral - just inescapable for now.

However, if you, as I advocate, move to a different country, shop around for it, and ask for citizenship or simply reside in it, then you are VOLUNTARILY acceding to the terms of the country you've CHOSEN - taxes being one of them. For a foreigner, taxes are actually as moral as a utility bill.

See? Migration solves everything! ;)

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Just what are the specifics, the relevant specifics in principle in relation to taxation and conscription, of this "contract voluntarily entered into" which you claim exists? And when and how do individuals voluntarily enter into it?

Her caveat was not to the principle, but to the implementation of the principle. You are implying otherwise; do you not understand the difference?

Rand was against both taxation as a means of funding the government, as immoral (See Taxation in the Lexicon), and she was against conscription, as immoral as well. (See Draft in the Lexicon) And she was right. But then she was not a pragmatist.

There are three sources of consent. The first source and occasion of consent is at the creation of a new government, meaning the adoption or modification of a constitution. The second source of consent is the continuous activity of representatives to the legislature who act as attorneys for their constituents, who are bound to them and receive instructions from them. The third source of consent is the continuous sufferance implied by remaining within a country, participating in its commerce and complying with its laws even while disapproving those laws.

The plainest example of consent from the first source is direct democracy as exemplified from ancient Athens to New England towns. Consent exists in degrees when summed into a vote tally, thus the higher vote margin required required for unusual acts of government such constitutional amendments and legislative overrides of vetoes. The consent of those not voting or voting in the negative derives from the other sources, and is conditional upon the respect of rights. This sense of direct personal consent is consistent with Rand's most frequent usage of the term.

As to the second source, Rand was also familiar with the theory of representative government and showed its relationship to the rational faculty and conditionally defended abiding by the decisions of a majority vote.

From "Representation Without Authorization"

The theory of representative government rests on the principle that man is a rational being, i.e., that he is able to perceive the facts of reality, to evaluate them, to form rational judgments, to make his own choices, and to bear responsibility for the course of his life.

Politically, this principle is implemented by a man's right to choose his own agents, i.e., those whom he authorizes to represent him in the government of his country. To represent him, in this context, means to represent his views in terms of political principles. Thus the government of a free country derives its "just powers from the consent of the governed." (For the basis of this discussion, see "Man's Rights" and "The Nature of Government" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.)

As a corroboration of the link between man's rational faculty and a representative form of government, observe that those who are demonstrably (or physiologically) incapable of rational judgment cannot exercise the right to vote. (Voting is a derivative, not a fundamental, right; it is derived from the right to life, as a political implementation of the requirements of a rational being's survival.) Children do not vote, because they have not acquired the knowledge necessary to form a rational judgment on political issues; neither do the feeble-minded or the insane, who have lost or never developed their rational faculty.

From "Collectivized 'Rights'"

The citizens of a free nation may disagree about the specific legal procedures or methods of implementing their rights (which is a complex problem, the province of political science and of the philosophy of law), but they agree on the basic principle to be implemented: the principle of individual rights. When a country's constitution places individual rights outside the reach of public authorities, the sphere of political power is severely delimited—and thus the citizens may, safely and properly, agree to abide by the decisions of a majority vote in this delimited sphere. The lives and property of minorities or dissenters are not at stake, are not subject to vote and are not endangered by any majority decision; no man or group holds a blank check on power over others.

Since the present practice of representation in the American federal government is defective, I urge everyone to reacquaint themselves with the original theory and its justification. The present experience does not justify the conclusion that representation does not and has not ever worked. An eloquent and compressed account is available at The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution in chapter 5 Transformation, section I Representation and Consent. pages 160-175. (Google books redacts pages 164-165 and 171-172).

On 164-165 the quote from Speaker Onslow is completed, he affirms that voting instructions are information, advice and recommendations and not binding. Bailyn then describes the experience of the colonists as settling America with seventeenth century assumptions taken from their contemporary English institutions and regressing backward to the medieval forms of attorneyship in representation. Colonial towns and counties were distant and autonomous from each other, each assessed they had more to lose than gain and would be net benefactors rather than beneficiaries of central government. Massachusetts town meetings issued voting instructions to their deputies to the General Court for the first century and a half of the existence, and Bailyn has a long footnote on practices for qualifying representatives.)

On 171-172 completes Arthur Lee's claim that issuing instructions to representatives is an ancient and unalienable right in the people, and deprecates Blackstone's commentary to the contrary as sophistry and fiction originating in Blackstone's office as a court lawyer, a solicitor for the Queen. Some implications of this doctrine appeared in print at the time. A strictly accountable representative would act "in every respect as the persons who appointed him . . . would do were they present themselves." A representative assembly "should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason and act like them." There might be some permanent ratio by which the representatives should . . . increase or decrease with the number of inhabitants." Quotes sourced in footnote 11 to J. Adams and Jefferson.)

The consent of the third way, implied by remaining within a country, participating in its commerce and complying with its laws, is a form of physical causation for which one can be held morally responsible. It is differentiated from intellectual approval or moral sanction when it is given grudgingly and unwillingly, but ultimately volition controls behavior so compliance entails consent. The obedience of a slave is not a form of consent, there must be freedom to emigrate or withdraw from commerce. Ayn Rand gave the following answers to questions at the Ford Hall Forum:

Can you defend one country attacking another?

The source of this kind of statement is the idea that nations do not exist, only individuals, and if some poor noncommunist blob in Soviet Russia doesn't want an invasion, we mustn't hurt him. But who permits governments to go to war? Only a government can put a country into war, and the citizens of that country keep their government in power. This is true in the worst dictatorships. Even the citizens of Soviet Russia-who did not elect the communists-keep them in power through passivity. Nazi Germany did elect its dictatorshiple for the government we have, and therefore, even those Germans who were against Hitler were responsible for that kind of government and had to suffer the consequences. Individual citizens in a country that goes to war are responsible for that war. This is why they should be interested in politics and careful about not having the wrong kind of government. If in this context one could make a distinction between the actions of a government and the actions of individual citizens, why would we need politics at all? All governments would be on one side, doing something among themselves, while we private citizens would go along in a happy, idyllic tribalism. But that picture is false. We are responsible for the government we have, and that is why it is important to take the science of politics very seriously. If we become a dictatorship, and a freer country attacks us, it would be their right.

Assume the Soviet Union started a war of aggression; assume also that within the Soviet Union there are individuals opposed to communism. How do you handle this conflict?

I'll pretend to take the question seriously, because it's blatantly wrong. The question assumes that an individual inside a country should be made secure from the social system under which he lives and that he accepts—willingly or unwillingly, because he hasn't left the country—and that others should respect his rights and succumb to aggression themselves. This is the position of the goddamned pacifists, who won't fight, even if attacked, because they might kill innocent people. If this were correct, nobody would have to be concerned about his country's political system. But we must care about the right social system, because our lives depend on it—because a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it.

If we go to war with Russia, I hope the "innocent" are destroyed along with the guilty. There aren't many innocent people there; those who do exist are not in the big cities, but mainly in concentration camps. Nobody has to put up with aggression, and surrender his right to self-defense, for fear of hurting somebody else, guilty or innocent. When someone comes at you with a gun, if you have an ounce of self-esteem, you answer with force, never mind who he is or who's standing behind him. If he's out to destroy you, you owe it to your own life to defend yourself.

Since there is already consent, requiring additional demonstrations of consent is a redundancy which becomes obstructive when the absence of the redundancy is taken to mean absence of consent. Since there is consent, the principle of voluntary financing is obeyed.

I'm not going to defend conscription. The real issue is taxation, if there is enough money the recruitment drives would be successful. For example, in the American Civil War the Union was always too cheap in its soldier pay (both during and long after the war), partly motivated by social prejudice against the men who could not afford the $300 fee to buy out their draft obligation and partly because they were short on money because they lagged in raising taxes to fund the rising expenses of the war. Only in 1865, the last year of the war, did they figure out income taxes and boost revenue to 61 million from only 20 million the previous year. They also could have expanded the use of immigrants and black troops, but irrational social prejudice limited those measures as well.

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Ok, this is responsive to the question I asked. I listened to the whole thing.

Dr. Peikoff's answer is horrible.

Here is the whole thing, the questions as well as Dr. Peikoff's answers:

Question: "'If government requires payment for its services, would those who choose freely not to pay for government services not have their inalienable rights protected?' (I leave out rights for now.)"

Dr. Peikoff: "In principle, yes, if you don't pay for the services, there is no obligation on anyone to provide you the unearned. The people who pay, get the services; people who don't, have no right to them, have no claim to them. Now, for practical purposes, the government might decide to consider or look into crimes to you, the non-payer, if it has an implication for others. For instance, if you call and say, "My husband was murdered," the government is not going to say, in a rational society, 'Well, you didn't pay, so to hell with it!," because if there's a murderer on the loose, that's a potential threat to everybody else, but then the government there is properly doing it to protect the others, not you, if you haven't paid for it."

Question: "'Doesn't that violate your inalienable rights for the government not to pay for it?'"

Dr. Peikoff: "Inalienable means no one can violate your rights, no one can use force, no one can enslave you or kill you; if does not mean that someone must protect you against others. No one can enslave you, but it's up to you whether you achieve your freedom in your life or not. In other words, inalienable rights doesn't mean rights financed by others or protected by the finances of others.

Now, as a matter of fact, this is a perfectly theoretical, academic question that would never come up because in a lassez-faire society where the government did so few things as Objectivism advocated, the courts, the police and the military, the costs of it would be so miniscule that it would probably not even require payment from all citizens. I've heard discussions that maybe just a few people or maybe just like a half a percent on contracts, voluntarily, would be all that's required, but government financing is not an issue; you wanted a moral one."

End Quote.

Dr. Peikoff's answer is consistent with the principle of individual rights. (See "Man's Rights").

Your view is, in essence, that if others do not provide you an unearned protection of your rights against those who have violated your rights, they too have violated your rights, and that if they do not provide you with the unearned protection of your rights, it will lead to anarchy.

I do not agree. Wealth is obviously advantageous in every way, in education, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc, and even in the protection of one's rights. Even were you to not contribute to the protection of your rights (to government), in a free society you would gain an enormous benefit by virtue of a general climate of recognition and respect and protection for individual rights.

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Dr. Peikoff's answer is consistent with the principle of individual rights. (See "Man's Rights").

Your view is, in essence, that if others do not provide you an unearned protection of your rights against those who have violated your rights, they too have violated your rights, and that if they do not provide you with the unearned protection of your rights, it will lead to anarchy.

I do not agree. Wealth is obviously advantageous in every way, in education, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc, and even in the protection of one's rights. Even were you to not contribute to the protection of your rights (to government), in a free society you would gain an enormous benefit by virtue of a general climate of recognition and respect and protection for individual rights.

Protection of one's rights is earned by obeying the laws that protect rights, a trade of commensurates that everyone can afford. This is the only principle that makes all those who violate rights by the objective standard of initiated force also criminals according to the legal code; anything less entails a tolerance for certain crimes committed against certain persons. A society that does not obey the principle that all men are equal before the law but instead holds rights for ransom is a criminal protection racket.

The criminal protection racket you advocate does not respect rights, it respects money. That is an inversion of the proper moral hierarchy and makes money a stolen concept. It is a stark contradiction of the Objectivist politics, ethics and epistemology.

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There are three sources of consent. The first source and occasion of consent is at the creation of a new government, meaning the adoption or modification of a constitution. The second source of consent is the continuous activity of representatives to the legislature who act as attorneys for their constituents, who are bound to them and receive instructions from them. The third source of consent is the continuous sufferance implied by remaining within a country, participating in its commerce and complying with its laws even while disapproving those laws.

...

The consent of the third way, implied by remaining within a country, participating in its commerce and complying with its laws, is a form of physical causation for which one can be held morally responsible. It is differentiated from intellectual approval or moral sanction when it is given grudgingly and unwillingly, but ultimately volition controls behavior so compliance entails consent. The obedience of a slave is not a form of consent, there must be freedom to emigrate or withdraw from commerce.

Consent and responsibility are two distinct concepts.

To consent is to give one's permission to or to agree to do something. (Obviously this means voluntarily. Involuntary consent is a contradiction.) Being responsible is the state or fact of being accountable (or to blame) for something.

If a majority of the citizens accept your view on taxation and consent to taxation as a means of funding the government, those who do not agree, do not consent, but they will be forced to pay the tax, and their rights will be violated, with the consent of your majority. Complying with the law or obeying the law does not imply consent or moral approval of the law or the government.

Still, even those in the minority are responsible in the sense that it is their government that will be initiating force against them (with majority approval), and that, given that they are ultimately responsible for their own lives, rights and freedom, they have to decide what to do in the face of such a violation of their rights: flee or attempt to change the government, etc.

"The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all." Bastiat, "The Law"

The phrase, "the consent of the governed," simply means the consent of the individual(s) for the government to defend his rights, acting as his agent of self-defense, in accordance with the principle of individual rights. The individual has the right of self-defense, and it's only that use of force that he has the right to delegate or entrust to the government. He has no right to consent to the violation of the rights of others.

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Protection of one's rights is earned by obeying the laws that protect rights, a trade of commensurates that everyone can afford.

Given what you've said, here and in other posts in this thread, I assume that you think that most people would be violating rights - breaking the law - and therefore be required to pay for their government's services. If most people are law-abiding and therefore have earned the right for others, their government, it's agents (such as the police, the military and courts) to actively protect their rights by right, then there's no justification for making them pay for their government; they've already earned the services of their government.

Obviously you don't really regard obeying the law as the means of earning protection of one's rights as you fully intend to impose taxes on people to support your quasi-rights-protecting "government," even though you claim that they're already earned it if they're law-abiding.

If one earns anything by virtue of respecting the rights of others it is their respect for your rights, not their active protection of your rights. By your logic, were you and I walking down the street, perhaps discussing the morality of taxation, and we were confronted by a mugger ("Your money or your life!"), I'd be violating your rights were I to not protect you from the mugger.

"Individual Rights" (Lexicon) "Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights."

Not providing you with protection of your rights is not a violation of your rights. You clearly do not understand what individual rights are, nor what, therefore, a government to protect rights would need to be on principle.

Dr. Peikoff (again): "Now, as a matter of fact, this is a perfectly theoretical, academic question that would never come up because in a lassez-faire society where the government did so few things as Objectivism advocated, the courts, the police and the military, the costs of it would be so miniscule that it would probably not even require payment from all citizens."

A society that does not obey the principle that all men are equal before the law but instead holds rights for ransom is a criminal protection racket.

Equality before the law means that the law applies to everyone equally regardless of their status, wealth, station in life, etc. Murder is a violation of the rights of the victim regardless of the murderer's status, wealth, station in life, etc. It does not mean, for instance, that everyone has the right to the best lawyer(s) available by right, paid for by others.

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Consent and responsibility are two distinct concepts.

To consent is to give one's permission to or to agree to do something. (Obviously this means voluntarily. Involuntary consent is a contradiction.) Being responsible is the state or fact of being accountable (or to blame) for something.

If a majority of the citizens accept your view on taxation and consent to taxation as a means of funding the government, those who do not agree, do not consent, but they will be forced to pay the tax, and their rights will be violated, with the consent of your majority. Complying with the law or obeying the law does not imply consent or moral approval of the law or the government.

Consent and moral approval are two distinct concepts.

Volition controls behavior. So long as there is an alternative and a choice then the option chosen is voluntarily chosen. Voluntary action is consent, consent rendered objective and observable by taking the form of physical action. Rand distinguished physical compliance with the law from moral sanction in her advice to students on government aid for schools. Government is objective: it depends upon your consent, not your love.

"The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all." Bastiat, "The Law"

"Let us never forget that, in fact, the state has no resources of its own. It has nothing, it possesses nothing that it does not take from the workers. When, then, it meddles in everything, it substitutes the deplorable and costly activity of its own agents for private activity. If, as in the United States, it came to be recognized that the function of the state is to provide complete security for all, it could fulfill this function with a few hundred million francs. Thanks to this economy, combined with industrial prosperity, it would finally be possible to impose a single direct tax, levied exclusively on property of all kinds." Bastiat, "Property and Law"

I am against the direct property tax Bastiat advocates, and am still with Rand in focusing on credit transactions as the only properly taxable item.

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Given what you've said, here and in other posts in this thread, I assume that you think that most people would be violating rights - breaking the law - and therefore be required to pay for their government's services. If most people are law-abiding and therefore have earned the right for others, their government, it's agents (such as the police, the military and courts) to actively protect their rights by right, then there's no justification for making them pay for their government; they've already earned the services of their government.

Obviously you don't really regard obeying the law as the means of earning protection of one's rights as you fully intend to impose taxes on people to support your quasi-rights-protecting "government," even though you claim that they're already earned it if they're law-abiding.

Strawman. Taxes are a law like any other. It is possible to obey the tax law and pay little or nothing and maintain one's status as a law-abiding citizen meriting full defense of all rights.

If one earns anything by virtue of respecting the rights of others it is their respect for your rights, not their active protection of your rights. By your logic, were you and I walking down the street, perhaps discussing the morality of taxation, and we were confronted by a mugger ("Your money or your life!"), I'd be violating your rights were I to not protect you from the mugger.

. . .

Equality before the law means that the law applies to everyone equally regardless of their status, wealth, station in life, etc. Murder is a violation of the rights of the victim regardless of the murderer's status, wealth, station in life, etc. It does not mean, for instance, that everyone has the right to the best lawyer(s) available by right, paid for by others.

You interpret "the defense of rights" concretely, and not in principle.

No, what you and the government owe me is a prosecutor that will put a mugger or murderer behind bars. And you can be summoned against your will and at great inconvenience to testify in court. The law requires that you not obstruct justice, and if that is not your voluntary uncoerced choice then you are an outlaw by voluntary uncoerced choice.

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"No, what you and the government owe me is a prosecutor"

Nobody owes you anything. Your need is not a claim.

To use that slogan on a proper function of government is self-refuting, fatuous, and revealing of the quality of your thought. Stop trolling the thread.

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Let me try.

I'm arguing for forced taxation.

1) The purpose of government - explicitly - is to provide a single standard concerning the proper use of force for all of its participants. This is derived from man's rights, which are derived from his nature and the corresponding ethical principles. Thus, the purpose of government - abstractly - is to create conditions by which reason and consent are the only legitimate modes and means of interaction between men.

2) The need of government is derived from the fact that men are not omniscient. It is not the scope of a man's knowledge, or reason, that define him as a man, but rather his capacity for reasoning. Different men have different levels of knowledge, due to time, experience, choice, or born capacity. If all men were capable of employing some perfect or equal level of reason to their lives, there would be no need for government. When one man seeks to understand a principle by observing nature and integrating the results, he employs reason. When man does this during his interactions with other rational beings, the employment of reason and resulting integration occur within the processes and actions of government.

3) Government properly holds a force monopoly, and may employ force against individuals even possibly against their judgment. When two men disagree, reality can judge who is right. This, however, is only an effective principle when two men have divergent opinions based on their process of reason. Reality cannot properly judge the rational correctness of something when men employ whim or force in their opinions and actions. Thus, while men might make mistakes in their process of reason, if those mistakes lead to a justification of disproportionate or inappropriate force, then the natural and free process of interaction between men fails. To give an example: two men drill in a valley for oil, both reason that they have rights to the oilfield. You either have an irrational race to the bottom, or violence, if each man's reason alone is to resolve the issue.

There are appropriate times to use force, and property is often an abstract and difficult issue to resolve. So, government exists to establish clear and objective laws ahead of human action, to govern the the use of force in society. You might disagree with how, say, oil rights are assigned, but as long as the process sought to objectively decide how men under that government ought to employ retalitory, moral, force, then the outcome itself is not morally illegitimate. Interaction with men, in particular the establishment of a standard for the moral use of force, requires accepting the outcome of the political process even when you rationally might disagree. You are not sacrificing your thought process to others, rather, if the process is moral, and you are the minority, requiring others to accept your thought process is asking them to sacrifice theirs. Ideally, a system of government will compartamentalize decisions so that this 'will of the majority' only applies when one has business with that majority. It is the price of interacting with other men.

4)Taxation by force is moral. When it comes to funding a war effort, the same principles apply. Many men might conclude, rationally, but incorrectly, that the funds the military leadership requests are too much. It might be the case that they might not be. Now, the generals shouldn't run the government, but if a majority agrees with the generals, and are donating the requested amount, then the minority's ignorance (that's generous of me really) will cost the nation the war.

There cannot be a diversity of opinions concerning the conduct of war, just as there cannot be concerning the form of the law. Rational people can legitimately disagree about how to conduct a war. Because the issue involves force, and not reason alone, it is morally legitimate for there to be a single standard established by force. Ideally, the minority will begrudgingly volunteer what they did not want to give, but by all measures not doing so is as much criminal as theft. It is material support for the enemy, because the government has reached a consensus on the conduct of war, in a morally legitimate fashion, and so your refusal to support that effort is maybe treason.

Note that war and national defense are not business arrangments. The employment of deadly force is not subject to a rational trade. You cannot pay someone to use force, in a normal marketplace. Instead, the employment of force for national defense (like crime fighting), is subject to a consensus of minds. The soldier, the funding, the operations, are all monopolized under that consensus (at least as far as a legal commission). People form nations in the first place to reach a necessary level of critical mass so that at the level of consensus, enough force can be brought to bear to defend against the perceived threats.

5)The issue of why a government holds a moral mandate to maintain a unified posture against outside threats is better understood if the same scenario is considered for internal crime.

Mafia organizations have, throughout history, worked at the edges of the law to gain an illegal edge and accumulate wealth. Law enforcement has a history of sometimes having a really difficult time breaking conspiracies, proving guilt, and busting the mob. This is because the mafia exploits the fact that men have disparate levels of knowledge. They exploit the fact of human nature that justfies government in the first place. They organize their extralegal efforts from within the safe umbrella offered by the law. This is how corruption operates, and only highlights why an 'imposed' consensus is needed. One way to think of it is to diminish cheating.

If government were only rules, and not an actual arm of enforcement, then people could exploit the disparity of knowledge to break rules. So, not only must the rules be centralized, but for the same reason their enforcement must also be centralized. There has to be a 'big picture' agent that looks at all interactions (not just one person's, or one set of clients) to ensure the rules are applied equally. Otherwise the rules are invalid. To reiterate: points 1), 2) and 3) discuss these rules and their necessity. Without the big picture agent to deal with force uniformly, reason cannot properly remain the standard of interaction between a large group of men.

Crime and economics do not occur in seperate spheres. In fact, that they occur in the same sphere is why the former must be prevented. If a criminal agent (mafia) is using force for an edge in society, it will skew the economics in its favor. In fact, that's the reason for using illegal force in a society. The government executive agent must enforce the law, and that means it morally must retain the right to forcibly interfere in economics, in order to uphold the legal standard for the use of force. Likewise, a national army protects the entire economy itself, and the rules established to create it. Thus it has a right to use force in economics, to prevent force in economics. Forced taxation to prevent foreign conquest.

[EDIT - This last point is important, so I'll give a crude but clear metaphor to further explain it. The market is like a swimming pool. The government keeps the pool clean. If someone pees in the pool, the whole pool's dirty. This metaphor applies because government is the agent that creates moral legitimacy in a marketplace.]

(Conclusion)

The issue is moral legitimacy. Is it moral to forcibly tax? Many here have used the standard of initiation of force vs. retaliatory force, almost nearly as a stolen concept.

Between men, there is force, or reason. Morally, men should use reason in all initiations of interaction. Morally, men should use force in retaliation to force.

Defining force, its nature, and man's actions require the employment of man's reason.

When the outcome of two men's reason differs, reality can judge, but only if neither has reasoned that the use of force is justified.

Thus the moral purpose of government is to establish a universal consensus - a meta-process of reason (in other words, the limit where men can come to rational agreement) - so that in a large group of men force can be employed morally, and reason can remain the proper standard for interaction. The nature of this consensus is that it represents the final word on force. Because the concept is morally legitimate, derived from the ethical standard for the use of force between any given two men, it can apply force at its discretion, morally.

While the method for obtaining this consensus (form of government) is *extremely critical*, its abstract moral legitimacy is not in question.

Taxation can be a necessary employment of force in an effort to defend the very survival of the system that is required to establish a moral standard of the use of force in the first place.

Edited by ZSorenson
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I believe the following must be given some serious consideration. If the conundrum has been solved I'll beg you to direct me to the appropriate thread.

Grames, all of that exists in the real world. Armies for hire have always existed. Competing police forces have always existed. Competing court systems have always existed. Competing systems for the incarceration of prisoners have always existed. I think somehow people imagine that competing police forces would have to be shooting at each other all the time for control. Most people have a difficult time fleshing out the concept of competition in any sphere of life and when force is involved, it doesn't make the task any easier I will grant you. But competition exists all the same. Competition is a law of nature. I compete with my local policeman for my own protection for instance. The more I can rely on myself, the less I need him. If I hire private security, I need him less. The FBI and the CIA compete, don't they? All levels of government compete with one another. One policeman competes with his partner for the promotion. States compete for population. Yes, it is true that government often tries to grant monopoly rights to certain agencies. It does this all the time. It never works. Prison systems compete with one another I'm certain. You can think of a thousand way in which the laborers in force compete. They compete with the laborers in other markets as well, because competition is pervasive and goes across all boundaries. So, what do you think? Are you ready to concede that there is a market in force?

And governments are consumers of other goods. The whole market is an integrated whole. Any agency of force has technology costs, transportation costs, you name it. They have to integrate with the rest of the market in an intelligent and efficient way. As time marches on, some ways are shown to be better than others. One can't snap one's fingers and say, we've figured out the business of governance. Everyone send your checks to us and we'll get the job done. It doesn't work that way. You have to compete. You have to be good at the job and who is the judge of that? Not you. Because anything you can do, I can do better.

Market and competition is a natural phenomenon, that evolved progressively much like language did. Both are indeed forms of communication. If the communication is harmonic, something achieved by good rapport, a healthy psyche and specially lack of fear, then there wont be senseless yelling.

Likewise while in some neighborhoods one restaurant might hire goons to trash his competition, we don't see that happening between Carl's Jr and MCD. Or between both and health bars. There is a considerable amount of lobbying that emulates fighting but a short look at history shows that the trend is towards more mutual benefit, and less expensive confrontation. We don't need to convince Objectivists of this. But we do need to analyze -yet again- why Ayn Rand made that exception in her philosophy.

While in other threads the discussion between Objectivism and Anarcho Capitalism has been exhausted in one way, other ways to see the issue of government have remained unchallenged:

To what point did the context of Ayn Rand's world AND personal experience, influenced her to sort of ensrhine, or at least give it a free pass to the United States Government.

Don't at leat some of you think that being born in Russia, escaping Totalitarianism to the last beacon of Freedom in the World at that time, and finding that it indeed contained invaluable founding principles, makes the subject of Government a case closed?

What about the World that is not America, now that most of it is rather free? What about present and future America which in turn is not as free as before?

Some -psychologists- say that to acquire identity, one needs to know what one is not. Whether you agree with that statement or not, you can prove yourself that you identify the shape of an object by either looking at the positive or negative space within the frame.

Now that the Soviet Union is gone and Russia is not even a major player in the World. Now that people can live as freely, in some not most cases even more freely, as in America in half the continents of the world: should we not address the subject of Government for those states not so lucky to have been born with a Declaration of the Rights of Man?

Or is/does remain Objectivism an American-exclusive philosophy?

Even if so, if the Constitution of the United States were to be exported, or promulgated, what would be the Objectivist stance on how to control government? No change, no lesson learnt in 200+ years?

Edited by volco
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I'm sorry I'm not addressing all you wrote, just a few comments.

I'm arguing for forced taxation.

(...)

Thus, while men might make mistakes in their process of reason, if those mistakes lead to a justification of disproportionate or inappropriate force, then the natural and free process of interaction between men fails.

To give an example: two men drill in a valley for oil, both reason that they have rights to the oilfield. You either have an irrational race to the bottom, or violence, if each man's reason alone is to resolve the issue.

Why would that race -to the top reallly-, be irrational? It is when they stop racing and as you dread resort to hacking the competition that reason can't be found. But it can happen that's why we use laws and give a proxy the role to enforce them.

There are appropriate times to use force, (...) So, government exists to establish clear and objective laws ahead of human action, to govern the the use of force in society.

And Rule of Law is something I enshrine. The more sophisticated the codified law system the more clauses can be added to "a" Constitution and Civil Code. Specially in times when literacy is about tenfold the levels when America was born the possibilities of the creation of "a" fully contractual society are bigger. In a hypothetical fully contractual society where each citizen would have to sign a contract instead of "pledging allegiance"; could you still argue for forced taxation and how?

Likewise if all 100% of the citizens of the United States voted and signed a contract to pool resources and carve a huge statue of Barbara Streissand's head out of Mount St Helen I could find many aesthetical reasons to complain but not a single ethical one.

The only issue to be resolved would be the non emancipated children - but that's another problem we wont be able to begin analyzing until we conclude dealing with the subject of consent and voluntary interactions and its codification, among adults.

Edited by volco
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Let me try.

I noticed that the later paragraphs were longer, and the longer your paragraphs got the worse your expression and more confused your reasoning. I don't try to write my longer pieces all at one sitting. Copy and paste the post to a text file and edit it again later.

It is not common knowledge how to resolve oil field rights so I have no idea if the example actually supports your position or not, and it is not entirely clear if you classify that "race to the bottom" as a legitimate competition to solve a problem first or an illegitimate attempt to steal the oil first.

"There are appropriate times to use force" is horribly vague, and is the first of several sentences where it sounds like you are about to endorse initiations of force to solve problems. You describe conflicts among men as always requiring someone to sacrifice and call that "the price of interacting with other men." Maybe every court case has a loser but that does not create a sacrifice. Ayn Rand would argue the opposite.

"Morally, men should use reason in all initiations of interaction." "Initiations of interaction"? Why use the word "initiations" at all? That just fires off brain circuits that recognize the similarity to the phrase "initiation of force" and creates confusion.

Your fourth point starts with the assertion "Taxation by force is moral" but then merely argues that you shouldn't disagree with authority who might be right. That does not establish taxation as moral. Then comes this beauty: "Because the issue involves force, and not reason alone, it is morally legitimate for there to be a single standard established by force." No, the single standard is established by reason and objectivity even in war planning, and some procedural rules like seniority between generals to help decide between nearly equal options, and civilian control of the military. Force never decides anything except actual battles. I do not approve of thought crimes, a tax evader is not guilty of treason just because there is a war on.

The fifth point is unclear. Even if you did establish a chain of logic from crime to a unified executive, what has that got to do with taxes? "Thus it has a right to use force in economics, to prevent force in economics. Forced taxation to prevent foreign conquest." This logic can work to justify taxation as a measure to prevent foreign conquest, but in the case of crime it is not self evident that the cure is better than the disease. Most organized crime is built around smuggling anyway, in a free society there would be no need to smuggle and no money in it. How much weight should be assigned to this crime argument when crime probably won't even exist in this form? This is one of those sentences where you use 'force' unmodified by the word 'retaliatory', which gives the impression you might advocate initiating force as long as it is for a good reason.

"When the outcome of two men's reason differs, reality can judge, but only if neither has reasoned that the use of force is justified." No one ever "reasons" that force is justified. This implies a relativist definition of reason which is philosophically disastrous.

"Thus the moral purpose of government is to establish a universal consensus " Oh hell no. The moral purpose of government is defending rights, consensus be damned. Objectivity is the only feature of a proper government that might approach the role of consensus as you wrote about it.

"Taxation can be a necessary employment of force in an effort to defend the very survival of the system that is required to establish a moral standard of the use of force in the first place." This is a "lesser of two evils" argument: taxation is not as bad as destruction. It concedes that taxation is bad. It is stronger to deny taxation is an initiation of force in the first place.

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Dr. Peikoff's answer is consistent with the principle of individual rights.

It would only be consistent with the principle of individual rights if these non-paying pariahs were allowed to defend themselves. You see, the only claim a government has on the legitimate monopoly on the use of retaliatory force (and personally I consider it a tenuous claim in the first place) is that you choose not to use retaliatory force yourself, though you have a right to, because the government will use it on your behalf.

If you make rights protection conditional at all this premise is out the window and it is morally mandatory to accept the individual's right to use force to defend himself - including in retaliation to extract compensation for a crime suffered. Otherwise you are actually denying that individual's rights.

This is what Grames cut directly to: Conditional rights protection is a surrender of the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force.

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This is what Grames cut directly to: Conditional rights protection is a surrender of the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force.

Right. I got radicalized (meaning finally understood the issue and made up my mind) on this when Jake Ellison challenged my own speculative version of conditional rights protection based on obtaining an explicit "consent of the governed".

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That is a conclusion I also reached on my previous post, that the link between payment and protection cannot be maintained by a proper government, but I'm still not sure how you got from that to "taxation is not an initiation of force." It is a false alternative to "either have anarchy or taxation." I don't think Peikoff's answer is inconsistent with individual rights then. He's saying you have no obligation to extend protection for their sake, but you do it because it is in the actual benefactors' self interest to avoid anarchy. You yourself said you were unconcerned with the free rider problem, so I'm not sure what your objection is now besides that you seem to think voluntary financing would be susceptible to bribery and that not enough people would sign up to pay war debt without taxation.

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"The link between payment and protection cannot be maintained by a proper government."

What on the planet Earth does this mean? Even if you forcibly made a claim on everyone's life in order to support the hired gunmen of your choice, and to the exclusion of every other independent mind, how would you be severing the "link"? You would only be making every man & woman not ends in themselves, but ends to the tax collectors, and people like Grames who insist that the people are too dumb to keep themselves alive, and that therefore he and his cronies must step in and pay for our government with our money. The Link would be -slaves/sheep-Grames' tax collector's -Grames' Government. What is proper about that? Why do you think a proper government can't be conscious of who is paying the bill? The idea that a government even could possibly make itself unaware of who is footing the bill I find patently absurd? That notion must be a result in the fact that our culture is steeped in this giant lie that the people who govern us are somehow a more noble breed that can't be tainted by the power of money. We must keep them from our dirty money as much as possible, because we don't want to corrupt them with our concern for profits. Its rubbish I tell you!

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Apologies for the poorly constructed argument. It's a bad habit, as the translation of ideas into words is no small feat.

There was much confusion about my argument, justifiably so. I still need to clarify.

One principle about forcible taxation is that it is only moral when it serves its moral purpose. Forcibly acquired funds can only be morally used by the government in order to to facilitate its efforts at retaliatory force. Moreover, those efforts must also be morally legimate. As a point of logic, because there exists a condition under which forced taxation is moral, than one can rightly argue that forced taxation is not inherently morally illegitimate. That will probably explain much of my argument. It seems as if some believe that I'm saying taxation is always, or generally moral. No, I'm saying that it can be moral in specific cases.

My oilfield analogy is worth revisiting, because it captures the issue that explains both the necessity for a force monopoly (government) as well as why that monopoly may employ force in taxation (or perhaps even iniate it in general).

If you take two oil drillers in a valley, under which is one oilfield, then the actions of one can adversely affect the other. This is a real scenario from history. The market might favor a slow steady supply, but competition between the two drillers would cause them to ramp up production above that which market demand would otherwise favor. It's an example of tragedy of the commons, and is a consequence of what happens when human beings' actions overlap without clearly defined standards of property. The historical solution to the oil problem was to assign ownership rights to the oilfields themselves, not just the drilling sites.

Reason and human nature determine how property should be defined. A man who decides to drill a well employs his reason to anticipate what sort of gains he might achieve from that well. It is therefore not controversial to rely on a rational standard of ownership for natural resources.

What happens when two people disagree about that standard? There are three possibilities.

1) The men employ force to resolve the issue.

2) The men let reality determine who's process of reason was more accurate.

3) The men find where they are agreed (consensus) retain those points, and omit the measurements (areas of disagreement, or subjectivity).

1 - Between two men, the first option is a possibility. The first man might reason that the second is an irrational brute, and that his actions constitute an initiation of force. Thus he reacts with what he reasons is moral retaliatory force - say by burning down the gent's oil well. This scenario seems rational, but it is far from it. It represents a stolen concept. Just as man must employ reason to obtain his values, he must also employ reason to discover them. Assuming that a standard for property is universal, and therefore justifies the personal dispensation of justice, ignores human nature.

I won't go so far as to say that we all have to wait around for men to discover that they have to use reason. But once a man is using reason to discover ethical principles, they have as much a right to that process as they do to property, for the same reason.

But aren't some men truly brutes? Yes. A good threshold for labelling a man as a brute (and more broadly rebelling against a government), considers the point after which that man no longer seems to even be attempting to employ reason to determine what is just.

2 - This option works only if force isn't an issue. Rational disagreement implies a disparity of knowledge between men, who therefore come to different conclusions despite using reason. In business, this equates to competition, because a man would not rationally compete with another whom he perceives to be more effective (parenthetically, I want to point out that this is good evidence of the basic fact that reason very often does not produce the same conclusions between men - as part of human nature).

If two men are competing in business, they are free to take whatever actions, engage in whatever consensual trades, they desire. Reality will vindicate whose reason was more consistent, and tied to the facts of reality.

If two men disagree over, say, a standard of property, they disagree over the use of force. Reality can only resolve this issue along the lines of who has bigger muscles. Thus reason is divorced from human action in this scenario.

3 - Just as a lone man must employ concepts to understand himself and his actions, multiple men must use the same epistemological process to govern their interactions. If two men are interacting morally, the standard for their interaction must be shared. This is as simple as getting what you paid for. Five dollars for a burger has to mean the same thing for both the vendor and the customer.

Like I said, the realm of voluntary interaction can deal with epistemological disparity. If you want to pay five dollars for a burger, and the vendor charges six, you won't engage in the trade. When force is involved, that's not possible.

Back to the oilmen, let's imagine that one believes he has scientific proof that the majority of the well is under his property, and wants total production rights to be split proportionately. The second doesn't trust that conclusion, and supports free pumping while it lasts. There's no voluntary standard of trade to resolve this dispute. Only force will resolve it. And if neither employs violence against the other, both actors' actions represent force if not violence, because both adhere to their respective individual standards.

A majority vote, and the resultant consensus, is basically an epistemological process. That's all it is. Such a process, between two oilmen, might literally involve drawing of straws. If the omitted measurements include the standard of property itself, but both men agree that there must be *a* standard of property, then drawing straws would be the best option. Sounds bizarre, but I've explained my reasoning well.

- Finally:

Consensus is the only rational way to resolve rational disagreement between men over the use of force. Ideally, indeed morally, that consensus would only apply insofar as a man is participating in trade with other men. Therefore, peaceful market interaction occurs under that consensus on the use of force. Trade and property are possible because of these sort of agreements. Note that the government (the agreement/consensus) is not justifying and creating trade or property, but that trade, property, and government are all equally derived from the same objective ethical principles.

Yes, I'm saying government is as natural as trade, property, and reason, to man.

Now a brief word on force. Force is used by men specifically to make economic gains. Those gains are used specifically to increase the power of the thug. Thus, force, power, and economics are interrelated. Economic power doesn't equate political power you say? That is because of government, and creating the legal standards that seperate economics from politics is essentially the purpose of government. (so a government that gives equal representation, and has the power to tax, would not require an anti-trust rule to preserve that seperation)

When I discuss the oilmen, and talk about reason and force, I can equate the former with economic gain, and the latter with political power. I'm extrapolating their situation to one involving a population of men.

So: if a government is applying force, acting according to the consensus, then what amount of force it applies is also subject to that consensus, as well as the resources expended towards that effort.

The oilman who wanted proportional rights to the oilfield loses the gains he might have under that situation, if the consensus ruled against him (in this case it is a random draw). Taxation is the same situation over a broader scope. Yes, there are personal loses to a person's economic gains. However, those losses, where they legitimately fund the proper use of retaliatory force, were never the moral entitlement of the person who lost. No one is morally entitled to the product of their reason at the expense of someone else. Economic gains are only legitimate when the market is more or less free from coercion. Just as consensus determines the standard of property, it determines the means of enforcing the law, which naturally includes funding.

On a more practical note (I anticipate misunderstanding), let me explain what *sort* of taxation might be moral. I'm not sure, but I imaginge a flat consumption tax might be one example of a moral tax. It doesn't punish success, or discriminate. You can think of it as a market user fee, if you want.

And the utility of democratic processes, properly limited, should be obvious in terms of determining this 'consensus' I keep mentioning.

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