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Is taxation moral?

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Lakeside
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@Grames:

In clarification, I add this to my previous post. It would seem we are at a series of mutually exclusive alternatives.

(1) protection services should follow from payment received

or

(2) equal protection must be provided to all regardless of payment status

Then, if (1) protection only follows from payment received:

[a] a proper government must maintain its monopoly of force and deny protection to non-payers (presumably they still have to follow the law, but they themselves go unprotected)

or

allow competing agencies of defense (that is anarcho-capitalism)

But, if (2) government is necessary and equal protection must be provided to all, then we have the options:

[d] the government's revenue should consist of voluntary contributions

or

[e] the government's revenue should consist of coercive transfers

It is my view that 2d is the only moral and practical, that is proper, government, which means that all the other options per se involve legalized violations of the right to life. (Of course, even if you choose 1, you must also choose between d and e, but I choose 2 for the above reason.)

Usually the argument against voluntary financing contends that it is inefficient because people would evade payment, but you said yourself that you are unconcerned with the "free rider problem," so I'm wondering if the two aforementioned reasons (bribery and war debt) are your only two remaining objections to a government that is both voluntarily financed and supplies protection to all indiscriminately?

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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.

If there is no obligation, then who does the option rest with, who decides? Are law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges bound by written instructions to extend the equal protection of the law to all or do they have discretion to decide on their own? If government officials decide on their own that is a problem that in principle leads to anarchy. If government officials are obligated by law, then what is left for the principle of direct voluntary financing to accomplish if no one is to keep track of payers and nonpayers?

Edited by Grames
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"What the advocates of a fully free society have to know, at present, is only the principle by which that goal can be achieved. The principle of voluntary government financing rests on the following premises: that the government is not the owner of the citizens' income and, therefore, cannot hold a blank check on that income--that the nature of the proper government services must be constitutionally defined and delimited, leaving the government no power to enlarge the scope of its services at its own arbitrary discretion."

...

"When a government, be it a monarch or a "democratic" parliament, is regarded as a provider of gratuitous services, it is only a question of time before it begins to enlarge its services and the sphere of the gratuitous (today, this process is called the growth of "the public sector of the economy") until it becomes, and has to become, the instrument of pressure-group warfare--of economic groups looting one another.

The premise to check (and to challenge) in this context is the primordial notion that any governmental services (even the legitimate ones) should be given to the citizens gratuitously. In order fully to translate into practice the American concept of the government as a servant of the citizens, one has to regard the government as a paid servant Then, on that basis, one can proceed to devise the appropriate means of tying government revenues directly to the government services rendered."

...

"It is important to note that this type of free protection [read the article] for the non-contributors represents an indirect benefit and is merely a marginal consequence of the contributors' own interests and expenses. This type of bonus cannot be stretched to cover direct benefits, or to claim - as the welfare statists are claiming - that direct hand-outs to the non-producers are in the producers' own interests." [To avoid anarchy, for instance.]

...

"But, in a free society, under a system of voluntary government financing, there would be no legal loop-hole, no legal possibility, for any "redistribution of wealth" - for the unearned support of some men by the forced labor and extorted income of others - for the draining, exploitation and destruction of those who are able to pay the costs of maintaining a civilized society, in favor of those who are unable or unwilling to pay the cost of maintaining their own existence."

Excerpts from "Government Financing in a Free Society" by Ayn Rand

Personally, I find it bizarre that people seem to think that in a free society, a society based on the principle of individual rights, there would be indifference to any violation of anyone's rights. There once was a common saying, "When one man's rights are violated, all men's rights are violated." People in general, apparently, used to understand and value the principle of rights.

A culture, a people that recognizes the paramount importance of individual rights would not be callous towards those who's rights are violated. But there is no right to the unearned; need is not a claim on the property of others. If some individual(s) cannot afford to pay for government services, they'd be in the position of those who can't afford other needs, they would have to depend on the charity and generosity of others. But then, they would already have gained an enormous benefit in the protection of their rights just by virtue of living in a society founded on the principle of individual rights. I can't remember where it was, but Miss Rand noted that there was a time when, if some man or family suffered some unforeseen disaster, they were wealthier afterwards than they were before due to the generosity of their neighbors. Surely the same generosity would be there to aid those who have suffered a violation of their rights.

The solution to financing a government in a free society is not statism, not a system of taxation, not an institutionalized violation of individual rights in the supposed name of protecting individual rights. The solution comes, in whatever manner it is ultimately worked out, from an uncompromising respect for the principle of individual rights.

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I think that some of the points here are employing a serious fallacy.

This fallacy is the idea that because government is a certain way today, that it must be that way.

History provides evidence of how government has been, and therefore offers insight over how government can be, how it might be, and even perhaps how it possibly must be. Nevertheless, "government" does not receive its exclusive definition from history. Government is a concept derived from ethics and human nature, primarily.

There has not been a government historically, that has been founded primarily on the foundation of objective ethics and individual rights. America had come close, because of how Lockean philosophy approximated Objectivist principles, but it was never, by any measure, and objective government.

Therefore the argument that taxation opens the door to tyranny, or redistribution of wealth, is completely fallacious.

Yes, unlimited power to tax - for the 'general welfare' - would indeed lead to that outcome. But if taxation is defined in its proper, moral, context, these arguments don't apply.

This sort of argument is similar to the 19th century argument that 'equality' was a societal ideal because of the aristocracy of the previous century. Was Alexis de Tocqueville's 'equality of conditions' refering to equal individual rights over an aristocratic system, or what he refering to economic equality? I actually don't think he had worked that out completely. He employed this same fallacy, of viewing ideal government through the forcing lens of historic government.

Another fallacy I've seen in these arguments is the contextual misapplication of ethical principles.

Initiation of force vs. retaliatory force is an ethical standard, not a form of government. Government serves to preserve that ethical standard between people. That doesn't mean that government's means of doing so is strictly retaliation for strict initiations of force. Wave a gun in my face, and you put me at risk, even if you aren't threatening me. Government has the right to initiate force against you because your actions constitute a tangible risk - a risk of force initiation.

Don't tell me the waving is already an initiation. It is if you explicitly threaten me. But if you're joking around carelessly, there's no force. Saying so would imply that breathing and living, for its potential implications, constitutes force. No, the waving of the gun represents a plausible risk. Government provides the process by which people can define common standards to deal with these sort of situations.

And I explained very clearly why consensus is a legitimate standard for law. Consensus is an epistemological process. Consensus cannot hold claim to a man's life, rights, actions, and gains. Consensus can tell a man what standard of use of force he must use when he's dealing with other men. The consensus has a scope that applies to the men who engage in it, no greater.

Challenge that, or rather, I challenge you to justify the unjustifiable notion: "Each man is free to independently create a standard of the use of force with any or all other men".

By standard I do not mean the foundational ethical standard of initiation vs. retaliation, but rather, the specific modes and means of measurement and enforcement when applying that foundational standard.

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"Challenge that, or rather, I challenge you to justify the unjustifiable notion: "Each man is free to independently create a standard of the use of force with any or all other men".

By standard I do not mean the foundational ethical standard of initiation vs. retaliation, but rather, the specific modes and means of measurement and enforcement when applying that foundational standard."

Zsorenson,

I'm unsure what you mean. I am free, as a matter of fact, to create 'modes and means of measurement and enforcement. Explanation: Anyone can become a lawyer, or a judge, etc. I'm a lawyer and a judge. The tricky thing is getting anyone to pay me to do it. That is what I have been talking about. You're free to try to improve upon the ways in which things get done. All you have to do is convince people to let you try. In order for that to happen, you should have a solid business plan, as they say. What you aren't free to do, as a matter of fact, (and you shouldn't be able to) is to declare that you know better than everyone else, and everyone else must be forced to support whatever you say works. That doesn't work and there are lots of holes which show why it doesn't work. For example, under your system of forced taxation, who hires the tax collectors? I want to be a tax collector, under your system. Let everyone be a tax collector. I will collect taxes from myself and mail you an appropriate amount. Silly, isn't that idea? That couldn't work, because I can't be left in charge of my own situation. Fine, have your government hire me on as a policemen of some kind. Who should I apply to? Not myself, or any other taxpayer. They don't have the right to buy the government of their choice. I should apply to...you? Grames? I don't need to apply to the person who'll be paying my bills, that's clear. I just need a gun and the willingness to declare that I know whats best for everyone else, don't I? We'll submit our business plans to each other and rubber stamp them.

Edit - what you have to understand is that freedom works. That is whole idea. By saying that we need good government before we can be free, you are turning things upside down. We need to be free in order to have good government. Perhaps I should leave it there (feel free to ignore this last bit if you want), but I will add that I could easily say, with some justification, that we all need food in order to survive, so everyone should be fed first. Then we will be alive, and we can set up government and be free. No, we need to be free in order to have food. In short, we need to be free.

Edited by Brian9
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@Trebor

“Government Financing in a Free Society” is a very interesting essay. Her writing on government financing is very generalized and vague, but strongly grounded in her more rigorous political conclusions, which were all well elaborated and proved. I wish Rand had elaborated more on this topic in detail, much like Rand wished Aristotle had elaborated and developed his ethics more fully (or that more of his writings had been preserved.)

Of course, she states that the particular methods or programs of voluntary financing is not what she intended to explain and that she only intended to give “the nature of the principle” and “demonstrate that it is practicable.” But it does seem that the very principle she is advocating is 1ad above, then it seems she is advocating 2d at times.

Consider the relevant quotes (there is much context omitted from all these quotes, read Chapter 15 of VoS for details, italics are Rand's original, color is my own emphasis in order to avoid this becoming a ZSorenson-style unreadable wall of text):

“The principle of voluntary government financing rests on the following premises: that the government is not the owner of the citizen's income... Consequently, the principle of voluntary government financing regards the government as... an agent who must be paid for his services, not as a benefactor whose services are gratuitous, who dispenses something for nothing.”

“The premise to check (and to challenge) in this context is the primordial notion that any governmental services (even the legitimate ones) should be given to the citizens gratuitously. In order fully to translate into practice the American concept of the government as a servant of the citizens, one has to regard the government as a paid servant. Then, on that basis, one can proceed to devise the appropriate means of tying government revenues directly to the government services rendered.”

This is clearly an advocation of 1ad in my post above. Especially when you consider the earlier illustration she gave regarding a fee placed on credit transactions:

“Suppose the government were to protect... only those contracts which had been insured by... payment, to the government... Such an insurance would not be compulsory; there would be no legal penalty imposed on those who did not choose to take it—they would be free to make verbal agreements or sign uninsured contracts, if they so wished. The only consequence would be that such agreements or contracts would not be legally enforceable; if they were broken, the injured party would not be able to seek redress in a court of law.”

This is quite clearly 1ad, and I would posit that this represents a denial of the right of self-defense to non-payers for reasons already mentioned in this thread, which broaches the earlier stated “Objectivist principle that the government of a free society may not initiate the use of physical force and may use force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use.”

However, then she goes on, and I think this is what Peikoff was drawing from and elaborating on in his podcast comments:

“It may be observed... that the cost of such voluntary government financing would be automatically proportionate to the scale of an individual's economic activity; those on the lowest scales... would be virtually exempt—though they would still enjoy the benefits of legal protection, such as that offered by the armed forces, by the police, and by the courts dealing with criminal offenses. These benefits may be regarded as a bonus to the men of lesser economic ability, made possible by the men of greater economic ability—without any sacrifice of the later to the former.

Here it seems that the armed forces and criminal justice system would still be made available to non-payers, but not the civil court system. That is perhaps what Grames was describing ealier in the thread, but that does nothing to solve the problem of still denying legal arbitration to some individuals who don't pay, whilst denying their ability to seek competing services. Indeed this is the route that anarchists usually go to prove that justice, protection, and security are the same as any other economic good and that Rand's own conclusions merit the necessity of anarchy.

But she also is describing what I was trying to explain about protection being guaranteed to all regardless of payment status, not as a moral duty or obligation by the benefactors of government funding to the poor [or “noncontributors” in Rand's words], but as being in their rational self-interest to avoid the state of anarchy and the state of depriving the right to life from non-payers, who then receive the protection services as a bonus, not as a sacrifice. And I think this is what Peikoff's podcast response amounts to as well:

“It is in their own interests that the men of greater ability have to pay for the maintenance of armed forces, for the protection of their country against invasion... The same is true of the costs of maintaining a police force: it is in their own interests that the abler men have to pay for the apprehension of criminals, regardless of whether the specific victim of a crime is rich or poor.

“It is important to note that this type of free protection for the noncontributors represents an indirect benefit and is merely a marginal consequence of the contributors' own interests and expenses. [That is a very interesting sentence...] This type of bonus cannot be stretched to cover direct benefits, or to claim—as the welfare statists are claiming—that direct hand-outs to the non-producers are in the producers' own interests.”

Then she gives the example of the train which gives its leftover empty seats our for free, as opposed to the poor non-payers having a claim on the seats.

I do not think that the reason given, to avoid anarchy, is to be considered "a direct hand-out to the non-producers," I think here is means "direct hand-out" literally as in being on the welfare doles. The protection the noncontributors receive is a bonus from the benefactors because it is in the self-interest of the benefactors to live in a society where the initiation of force is banned by government, not because the legitimate functions of government constitute a hand-out to non-payers.

This seems now to be advocating 2d, or at least very close to it considering the exception for civil court access. Regardless, taking her advice, we must challenge the proposition that legitimate government services should follow from support, or should be made available indiscriminately. As I see it, the only logically defensible conclusion based on the standard of individual rights is 2d. What do you guys think? Grames, Jake, etc.

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If there is no obligation, then who does the option rest with, who decides? Are law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges bound by written instructions to extend the equal protection of the law to all or do they have discretion to decide on their own? If government officials decide on their own that is a problem that in principle leads to anarchy. If government officials are obligated by law, then what is left for the principle of direct voluntary financing to accomplish if no one is to keep track of payers and nonpayers?

I see how I could have caused confusion. There is no individual option for police agents and judges, etc.: the law mandates equal protection. But now I am confused. (My brain has been addled by years of stupid, so focusing is an atrophied muscle at times.) I'm trying to understand, but I'm not sure what you mean by your last sentence, if you don't mind elaborating. What is left for the principle to accomplish? Nothing. That is the accomplishment: the fully free society, viz. government without coercion. Who is to keep track? I see that as a superfluous question. Perhaps benefactors can be given a receipt, or perhaps nothing at all. Why is this necessary?

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I’d like to put forth a line of thought that’s occurred to me through reading this thread, and see what others think about it. So, the whole purpose of individual rights, and a government charged with enforcing them, is to “set man free from men,” as Ayn Rand described civilization. My freedom should not depend on other people deciding to allow me to be free. I should have my rights respected independently of whether or not my neighbor judges that he should respect them. A police force is necessary precisely because others in society might choose to violate my rights, and I should be protected regardless of their judgment on the matter.

A police force which is funded solely through voluntary contributions seems to fail in this regard. The protection of my rights in that situation is not independent of the judgment of other men. The very entity which is charged with defending my rights relies crucially on other people recognizing their own rational self-interest and funding the government.

Now, that sort of situation is fine in a marketplace setting. My success in marketing a product or my set of skills as a laborer is dependent on the independent judgment of those I’m trying to sell to. If I’m selling an objectively good product but no one recognizes it as such, tough cookies. However, this is certainly not how government should work.

The government should be designed so that my rights are protected regardless of what type of society I’m in, or what the prevailing opinions on rights are. If the culture around me believes it’s legitimate to steal from the rich, an objective law system would still protect the rights of the rich. But how can such a law system actually be effective if its funding is crucially dependent on the independent judgment of members of society? Those who don’t understand property rights would refuse to fund this objectively proper law system, and the rich would be at the mercy of the masses, same as in anarchy, through a more indirect route.

It would seem, from this argument, that coercive taxation is a necessary part of the task of setting man free from other men, and I see no obvious resolution to this line of reasoning.

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Dante, The context you suggest is one where enough people want to soak the rich, etc. The context assumes that these people are a threat even without doing anything positive. Merely by inaction (i.e. by not contributing toward government) they have the effect of making government impossible.

However, why would these people not simply have a government other than Objectivism-style Capitalism? How did they come to choose to be a Capitalism-based country?

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I see how I could have caused confusion. There is no individual option for police agents and judges, etc.: the law mandates equal protection. But now I am confused. (My brain has been addled by years of stupid, so focusing is an atrophied muscle at times.) I'm trying to understand, but I'm not sure what you mean by your last sentence, if you don't mind elaborating. What is left for the principle to accomplish? Nothing. That is the accomplishment: the fully free society, viz. government without coercion. Who is to keep track? I see that as a superfluous question. Perhaps benefactors can be given a receipt, or perhaps nothing at all. Why is this necessary?

It is not necessary. I am just clarifying whether or not you and others agree that the directness part of the principle of direct voluntary financing is not a strictly necessary condition for providing all government services, or in other words position "2d" is the only defensible position.

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I should have my rights respected independently of whether or not my neighbor judges that he should respect them. A police force is necessary precisely because others in society might choose to violate my rights, and I should be protected regardless of their judgment on the matter.

So should I be protected from your police force's fiscal department regardless of your judgment on the matter? Evidently not, then it would seem your argument falls into contradiction.

The government should be designed so that my rights are protected regardless of what type of society I’m in, or what the prevailing opinions on rights are. If the culture around me believes it’s legitimate to steal from the rich, an objective law system would still protect the rights of the rich.

But this is impossible. An objective law will protect NO ONE if the culture around ultimately holds it is legitimate to initiate force. It is just a piece of paper, and it depends on the ideas the members of society adopt (Cf. For the New Intellectual, OPAR.) Even taxation depends ultimately on the consent of the mass of the people. If the government raised taxes 99%, the majority would probably strike and start a revolution, the taxes would go unpaid. If the government lowered taxes to 0% and the mass of the people and intellectuals clamored for an interventionist government, taxation would return regardless of the constitutional limits.

All government or social systems and their funding is necessarily dependent on the judgment of the members of society. The question is what should the members of society objectively adopt, and, trusting we do not have to have a back-discussion on the Objectivist ethics, the principle is that they ought to adopt a government that does not initiate force, therefore does not tax.

The argument falls back on the same “there wouldn't be enough rational people.” Which means: not enough people would recognize individual rights, therefore we shouldn't adopt individual rights.

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It is not necessary. I am just clarifying whether or not you and others agree that the directness part of the principle of direct voluntary financing is not a strictly necessary condition for providing all government services, or in other words position "2d" is the only defensible position.

I'm not sure what you mean by directness.

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How did they come to choose to be a Capitalism-based country?

Any number of plausible stories could be made up, but it ultimately comes down to volition. It is impossible, even in a capitalist society, to prevent people from choosing to be wrong or even evil. People have the right to be wrong and evil in every sphere of life except rights. A political unit which is defined by a geographical border will have foolish and evil people within it because it cannot exclude the irrational as Galt's Gulch did.

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But this is impossible. An objective law will protect NO ONE if the culture around ultimately holds it is legitimate to initiate force. It is just a piece of paper, and it depends on the ideas the members of society adopt (Cf. For the New Intellectual, OPAR.) Even taxation depends ultimately on the consent of the mass of the people. If the government raised taxes 99%, the majority would probably strike and start a revolution, the taxes would go unpaid. If the government lowered taxes to 0% and the mass of the people and intellectuals clamored for an interventionist government, taxation would return regardless of the constitutional limits.

You just conceded the point I have been arguing that taxation ultimately is, or can be, by consent.

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You just conceded the point I have been arguing that taxation ultimately is, or can be, by consent.

No, we don't agree on that because this does not imply that taxation is “voluntary.” Numbers do not take the place of a right, for even if the majority support be very numerous and enthusiastic, this support is not unanimous by every individual. Further, the backing of punishment for non-payment would still be an initiation of force. Even then, if you were to have every individual consent to taxation, you would have to admit that the forcible nature of the transfer would be superfluous.

The point I was making was simply analogous to the point you made back in post #23. The essential acceptance of any policy hinges on the ideology that the masses accept, in this case, that taxes are necessary and a great tool of social justice. That doesn't make it right.

Edit: And on the subject of directness, I get what you mean now, I was labeling this the "economic link," borrowing from Mises. Yes, my position is that the economic link between services and support, or directness as you say, cannot be maintained by a proper government.

Edited by 2046
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I do not think that the reason given, to avoid anarchy, is to be considered "a direct hand-out to the non-producers," I think here is means "direct hand-out" literally as in being on the welfare doles. The protection the noncontributors receive is a bonus from the benefactors because it is in the self-interest of the benefactors to live in a society where the initiation of force is banned by government, not because the legitimate functions of government constitute a hand-out to non-payers.

This seems now to be advocating 2d, or at least very close to it considering the exception for civil court access. Regardless, taking her advice, we must challenge the proposition that legitimate government services should follow from support, or should be made available indiscriminately. As I see it, the only logically defensible conclusion based on the standard of individual rights is 2d. What do you guys think? Grames, Jake, etc.

I think 2d is correct, and agree the legitimate functions of government do not constitute a hand-out to non-payers. I do not agree with Rand that she has demonstrated her principle of direct voluntary financing is practicable, the "directness" part has problems and so has the narrow construction of "voluntary".

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No, we don't agree on that because this does not imply that taxation is “voluntary.” Numbers do not take the place of a right, . . .

The essential acceptance of any policy hinges on the ideology that the masses accept, in this case, that taxes are necessary and a great tool of social justice. That doesn't make it right.

You argue that lack of consent makes taxes not right.

You argue that consent does not make taxes right.

I conclude you argue taxes are not right regardless of whether there is consent or not.

But what makes taxes an "initiation of force" and not right is precisely the presence or absence of consent. This position is not defensible.

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You argue that lack of consent makes taxes not right.

You argue that consent does not make taxes right.

I conclude you argue taxes are not right regardless of whether there is consent or not.

But what makes taxes an "initiation of force" and not right is precisely the presence or absence of consent. This position is not defensible.

Consent of the majority does not make taxes right for the minority that does not consent. What makes "absence of consent" an initiation of force is the threat of physical violence. I might go snort cocaine against my family's consent, but that does not make it an initiation of force per se.

But additionally, consent flows from both parties. It would seem that if I announced to you that I intend to take every dollar in your wallet and go on a cocaine binge, and you said “Okay, go have fun,” that would then be mutually consensual (all else being equal, “else” being the general criteria for valid consent, such as legal capacity are present.)

But that I planned on taking the money from you whether you consented or not makes the transaction differentiated from a transaction in which I would respect your decision if you changed your mind. If you don't change your mind, then okay I see your point, but the second you do, then I am stealing from you, it is no longer mutual.

Therefore, if A announces to B “Your money or your life,” that carries an explicit threat of physical force regardless if B (perhaps under 'sanction of the victim') decides “No, but I want to pay.”

In any event, if it were truly totally unanimous for every individual in the country, then the threat of legal persecution for non-payment would be unnecessary and should be removed, (perhaps this is analogous to the discussion going on in the other thread about “we owe it to ourselves” and democratic voting of social services.)

But back in the real world of 300 million plus people in the USA, this doesn't happen. In the end, if the funding is truly voluntary, then there would be no legal penalty imposed on those who do not pay, including denial of access to protection.

Edited by 2046
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Consent of the majority does not make taxes right for the minority that does not consent.

...

If you don't change your mind, then okay I see your point, but the second you do, then I am stealing from you, it is no longer mutual.

The two complicating factors you are objecting to I will identify as collective action and time.

Can consent can be made subject to the collective action of voting? You have the power to do so. You have the right to make that agreement. The real question is do others have the right to hold you to your agreement to abide by the decision of the group? Yes, so long the agreement is not an abdication of your rights. It does not matter if the agreement is with one other person or a group, the principle is that rights are inalienable. It is not and cannot be true that any cost of acting in accordance with the agreement violates your right to property, if it were true there could never be agreements or contracts. Agreeing to give up some particular amount of cash is not a surrender of your right to property. Ayn Rand knew what representative government was and approved of it. (see "Collectivized 'Rights'" quoted in post 158 on consent.)

Can consent be granted in advance of an agreed upon action? If yes, then I can be held to my prior commitment despite the fact that I may have changed my mind at the moment of action. The objective means to establish such a prior commitment is called a contract. Ayn Rand knew what contracts were and approved of them. (see "The Nature of Government" quoted in post #124)

Both of your objections, the collective action aspect and the time element, are resolved by recognizing government is by contract. Not the Social Contract of Rousseau which is unconstrained by any definition of rights and force but a Civil Contract that establishes a government limited by rights.

Ayn Rand was against a government that had a "blank check" over the lives and property of its citizens. A government that has no authorization to nationalize businesses, no authority to expropriate goods, no power of eminent domain to seize land, no power to declare a paper currency legal tender and then roll the presses forever, but does have a defined power to tax credit transactions to an amount specified by law enacted by a representative government is not a government with a blank check.

Edited by Grames
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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 does not make me a criminal. You have no right to compel me by force. Your need for some man-made good is not a claim on any producer. Want a prosecutor to argue your cause in court? Pick up a law book. Do it yourself. Get a job. Stand on your own two feet. BE A MAN. No, wait. MAN UP. Yes, I like that better.

Edited by Brian9
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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 does not make me a criminal. You have no right to compel me by force. Your need for some man-made good is not a claim on any producer. Want a prosecutor to argue your cause in court? Pick up a law book. Do it yourself. Get a job. Stand on your own two feet. BE A MAN. No, wait. MAN UP. Yes, I like that better.

Did you know that you are not limited to all-caps and the bold style, you can also make in a bigger size like this:

YOU CANNOT CLAIM TO HAVE THE MORE REASONABLE ARGUMENTS AND THE GUN TO COMPEL ME TO SUBMIT TO YOU SIMULTANEOUSLY.

That is soooo much more impressive. :thumbsup:

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The two complicating factors you are objecting to I will identify as collective action and time.

Can consent can be made subject to the collective action of voting? You have the power to do so. You have the right to make that agreement. The real question is do others have the right to hold you to your agreement to abide by the decision of the group? Yes, so long the agreement is not an abdication of your rights. It does not matter if the agreement is with one other person or a group, the principle is that rights are inalienable. It is not and cannot be true that any cost of acting in accordance with the agreement violates your right to property, if it were true there could never be agreements or contracts. Agreeing to give up some particular amount of cash is not a surrender of your right to property. Ayn Rand knew what representative government was and approved of it. (see "Collectivized 'Rights'" quoted in post 158 on consent.)

Can consent be granted in advance of an agreed upon action? If yes, then I can be held to my prior commitment despite the fact that I may have changed my mind at the moment of action. The objective means to establish such a prior commitment is called a contract. Ayn Rand knew what contracts were and approved of them. (see "The Nature of Government" quoted in post #124)

Both of your objections, the collective action aspect and the time element, are resolved by recognizing government is by contract. Not the Social Contract of Rousseau which is unconstrained by any definition of rights and force but a Civil Contract that establishes a government limited by rights.

Ayn Rand was against a government that had a "blank check" over the lives and property of its citizens. A government that has no authorization to nationalize businesses, no authority to expropriate goods, no power of eminent domain to seize land, no power to declare a paper currency legal tender and then roll the presses forever, but does have a defined power to tax credit transactions to an amount specified by law enacted by a representative government is not a government with a blank check.

I think my response can be summed up to: there's a difference between initiative and retaliatory force.

I agree with everything in your response, and I don't think that contradicts any of my propositions, until the 4th paragraph on. That is, the idea that government is any kind of contractual agreement, which I shall attack. The initiation of force is of course immoral regardless of what point in time it is brought to bear. As you say, contractual agreements are a legitimate transfer of ownership, and in fact the only way to obtain ownership of resources outside of homesteading original goods. And of course collective action is valid in the way you described, so long as a man may choose to take what rightfully belongs to him, if anything, and leave the arrangement.

Where the right to transfer ownership from a previous owner to a later owner across time ends is when one some party interposes the threat of physical destruction to override the rational faculty and compel one or both parties to do or not do some thing that they would have otherwise done or not done, such as a coerced transfer of property from one party to another. The person that uses retaliatory force to enforce his contract would not have agreed to the contractual exchange if the other party would not complete his end of the deal in time, therefore the non-payer in that scenario is stealing, that is, has initiated a coerced (in this case, indirectly through fraud) transfer of property.

This use of retaliatory violence as enforceability of contract argument against a non-payer is not applicable to a mugger or what not, because, in short, they are the ones stealing (initiation as opposed to retaliating.) That is the reason why consent was invalidated, because the interposition of physical violence negates the would-be participant's ability to freely offer or accept the transfer, it is not up to him any longer. Voluntary consent is tied directly to the faculty of reason, which is paralyzed by the party that introduced the threat of physical force.

There is no such thing as a contract to which both parties did not voluntarily execute, or a threatened with force for not agreeing to (such as the earlier suggestion of a contract forced upon citizens, which I thought you abandoned, but maybe not.)

All valid contracts require:

1.offer and acceptance, by which one party extends an offer and the other party has an opportunity to freely accept or refuse to accept,

2.consideration, usually understood to mean that there is an exchange of value for value, as in the trader principle, but in a proper government at the very least an exchange of wills in accordance with (1)

3.legal intent, that is, the contract may not oblige parties to do anything which is illegal, but in a proper government this would mean something which initiates the use of physical force

4.capacity, that is, the parties are both of mind sound enough to give valid consent and agreement

A further significant difference, and that which I object to, would be a contractual agreement between a group of individuals, which you refer to as "collective action," to form that organization that enforces contracts, including those contractual agreements involving itself. Therefore it is absurd to posit a group of individuals saying “We want you to be a part of our group, our society so badly that we’re willing to use physical violence upon you if you reject our enlightened offer!” is a valid contract.

Obviously, this applies to any coerced transfer from a person to government where the threat of physical destruction applies for non-compliance. If no legal penalty is imposed on noncontributors, then we cannot call it “taxation.” And thusly we cannot call taxation “voluntary” any more than we can say a mugger is simply “enforcing a contractual agreement in time” where no valid offer and acceptance was given.

So in conclusion, this contradicts calling government itself a contractual agreement where it involves either imposing legal punishment for non-payment of taxes or denial of the right of self-defense to noncontributors. I think that premise, i.e. that I am delegating my right of self-defense to the government therefore transferring money payment in exchange for protection services, the non-payment of either which would bring about enforceability in either party, leads to option 1b, that is anarchy (which will quickly devolve into 1be, that is rule by the biggest mob or gang which imposes a protection racket.)

Also, as a minor point, as is my understanding, Rand did not actually specify that she supported any kind of particular representative government, just that she had no problem with any individual electing another individual as a representative provided that no initiation of force was involved therein. Which means, her position basically boiled down to: voting is okay only if no rights are voted away. Therefore, one can elect a representative or agent, but his moral sanction on the freedom of action goes no further than his constituent and I would posit that as a consequence of this, no or almost no voting should occur in regards to governmental action in the kind of fully free society we are theorizing. This is the kind of literalistic view of “police, courts, and military,” I can't imagine it being compatible with any kind of centralized legislature having periodic elections and voting on things.

Sorry if that was long and wordy.

Edited by 2046
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Did you know that you are not limited to all-caps and the bold style, you can also make in a bigger size like this:

...

That is soooo much more impressive. :thumbsup:

Hey, at least you didn't ignore me, say I was boring, or call me a troll. This is progress, Grames. Man Up. If you want something in this world, you should have to earn it. Be a Man. Your need ain't a claim on any producer. Is any of this getting through to you?

Edited to make everything bold, just for you Grames. :santa:

Wait, you're bold. I'd have never gone with that big of a font myself. Thanks for amplifying my message, buddy. You should be wearing the Santa Hat. I give you the Thumbs Up :thumbsup:

This is getting fun.

Edited by Brian9
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