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My Social Contract Debate

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I was talking to someone who said he's a fan of Obama. I didn't have a desire to debate, but I began asking him questions because I knew his answers would contradict one another.

He decided to ask questions because I asked so many. My honesty sparked the debate I tried to avoid. He asked if I support stem cell research. I told him that I'm opposed to federal funding for stem cell research because I'm against taxes, not for any religious reasons. He asked why I'm against federal funding for stem cell research. I told him it's because I'm against taxation. He asked me why I'm against taxation. I said it's a method of using brute force to steal from individuals rather than voluntary exchange.

This began the debate. He used social contract theory. He said that if a person doesn't want to pay taxes, that person can leave the country.

I was familiar with this from reading this link. I'll quote it below.

Taxation is theft.

Two simple rebuttals to this take widely different approaches.

The first is that property is theft. The notion behind property is that A declares something to be property, and threatens anybody who still wants to use it. Where does A get the right to forcibly stop others from using it? Arguments about "mixing of labor" with the resource as a basis for ownership boil down to "first-come-first-served". This criticism is even accepted by some libertarians, and is favorably viewed by David Friedman. This justifies property taxes or extraction taxes on land or extractable resources if you presume that the government is a holder in trust for natural resources. (However, most people who question the creation of property would agree that after the creation of property, a person is entitled to his earnings. Thus the second argument)

The second is that taxation is part of a social contract. Essentially, tax is payment in exchange for services from government. This kind of argument is suitable for defending almost any tax as part of a contract. Many libertarians accept social contract (for example, essentially all minarchists must to insist on a monopoly of government.) Of course they differ as to what should be IN the contract.

Saying taxation is voluntary because a person can leave the country seemed flawed. Why? The argument assumes that the government owns the United States's territory, not anyone else, and that the people are merely the government's customers.

But something seems even more wrong. I would be very interested to know what Ayn Rand said about the social contract theory argument and what your position is (and most importantly, why you take that position).

Edited by determinist

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Well you basically summed it up, that the assumption is the United States is an apartment complex and the citizens have some sort of voluntary contractual agreement with the owner of the apartments, and if they don't pay they can leave. It's basically a “love it or leave it” or more accurately a “we own everything cause we say so, and if you don't like what we say, get the F out” argument, with the goal of pronouncing state force-initiations as voluntary. Which is to say, it's an argument for feudalism: the government owns everything, we are merely its tenants, who can leave after paying our expatriation taxes.

Of course, since there is no such contract which individuals could have consented to, the entire territory of the US is not owned by the government, which therefore does not have a right to keep people out, then the question is why doesn't the statist leave if he doesn't like my freedom to exist for my own sake, since he's the one that seems to have the problem with it (i.e. since he's the one that wants to be taxed for the services, why does the dissenter have to be the one to leave, when he can just be left alone.)

So to what extent does it go deeper, the other thing I can think of, is that it goes further to ignore the difference between commercial exchange and a government. Since the government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force, it is therefore fundamentally different from an organization selling a services contractually on the market. The government is the agency that formulates and enforces the laws of a country, essentially a territorial jurisdiction of law. Laws are those rules of actions pertaining to the men inhabiting a country. The moral purpose of government is only to enforce those rules of action required by man's nature for his proper survival and flourishing as a rational being, which necessitates the principle of individual rights embodied in objective legal code.

BTW though, I don't think Rand ever said anything about the social contract theory. But you might be interested in “No Treason” by American individualist Lysander Spooner, which is thorough demolition of the social contract argument.

http://lysanderspooner.org/node/44

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Saying taxation is voluntary because a person can leave the country seemed flawed. Why? The argument assumes that the government owns the United States's territory, not anyone else, and that the people are merely the government's customers.

But something seems even more wrong. I would be very interested to know what Ayn Rand said about the social contract theory argument and what your position is (and most importantly, why you take that position).

Threat of force is initiation of force. Saying, "I am giving you two choices - either you quit your job, cut your family ties, pack up your things, and run for the border... or I will put you in a cage" - that is certainly the initiation of force, even if it becomes commonplace, even if the public doesn't recognize it as such, and even if the force is indirect. And these days, "leaving the country" isn't even a valid option - the IRS will find you and extradite you to the US, or empty your foreign bank accounts.

Edited by brian0918

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Yeah, also forgot to add this, looking at the concepts of "contract," "property," and "government," which are integrated into each other. The concept of a contract logically presupposes the concept of property as a normative right, which he is ignoring in claiming the US can unilaterally subjugate all its citizens to a contract they can only refuse by leaving all their possessions and going out of the US. In addition to the previous point that there is a difference between exchange of goods and services, and the use of physical force, the concept of property as a normative right logically presupposes that there is some agency of law which should ensure that property rights will be observed (i.e. the government.) So there is no way whatsoever, using logic at least, to get from the assertion of contractual exchange as a normative basis of voluntary social interaction to the political claim that the government should embody some collectivized national contract that magically turns physical force into consent.

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A government of social contract is a street gang running a protection racket, and it answers to no authority but itself, deriving none from the

protection of individual rights. Ask why he doesn't think we can do better than that and he'll most likely talk about man's inherent evil and

conflicts of interest and social interaction as a zero sum game.

Walk through the trader principle, tell him to point out where a conflict of interest can arise without the use of force subject to objective law,

and then ask again, why are taxes and the social contract needed and who do they benefit? If he continues mumbling about needing a paternal state to

watch over him, leave it at that and maybe you will have planted a seed so the next time he has his contrat enforced he'll have an alternative

to consider.

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A brilliant argument I first heard from Stefan Molyneux involves starting with the question, "I respect your right to disagree with me. Will you extend the same courtesy and respect my right to disagree with you?" If they say no, they're not actually open to debate and continuing would have been stupid anyway.

Once the conversant says, "Of course I will respect your right to disagree with me on ______ (i.e. taxes)." At this point you simply point out the blatant contradiction inherent in him advocating a position which involves the initiation of force. If he advocates FORCING you to participate in his social program through taxation, he does not really support your right to disagree. The whole problem with the social contract is that people want to replace reason and self-interest with force and duty (which is the opposite of being allowed to disagree).

The root of the validity of this argument lies in Ayn Rand's observation that force negates free thought.

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It is simply absurd to claim all taxation is theft. Even Ayn Rand's proposed contract tax is a tax, because if the tax is not "voluntarily" paid then by definition the agreement is not enforceable and not a formal contract. It is exactly the same "my way or the highway" situation being complained about, not paying is analogous to leaving the country in that it is still too impractical in the risks and costs that choice entails.

And contrary to Q.E.D., although force negates thought if that thought becomes a criminal act then it ought to be negated with counter-force, and the quicker the better. Counter-force requires money. Arguments against social programs cannot be extended to cut off taxation as a means to support legitimate functions of government.

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There is only one argument against taxation. It is immoral. And the only way to successfully demonstrate the truth of that accusation is to start at the beginning—at the derivation of the ethical necessity of liberty for all. As Rand pointed out, politics is a normative science that is a derivative from ethics. Specifically, politics is the application of individual ethics to a social context. Therefore, no political idea can be completely vindicated without tracing its derivation back to a demonstrably valid ethical root.

I have recently been working on a condensed presentation of my understanding of the Objectivist derivation of radical laissez-faire capitalism from my understanding of the Objectivist ethics to shorten some of my longwinded, argumentative blog comments. Here is a current version:

1) The existence of living organisms is conditional on self-generated action in the face of alternatives.

2) The most fundamental of all alternatives for all living creatures is life or death.

3) Of all living creatures, only man can choose which alternative to pursue.

4) The choice (deliberate or implied in all other choices) to act in pursuit of life makes life one's most fundamental goal.

5) One's fundamental goal is implicitly the standard of measure for all values one acts to gain or keep in its pursuit.

6) Therefore, that which contributes to one's life (consistent with one's nature) is necessarily the good, and that which detracts from it is the bad.

7) The long run pursuit of life necessitates a hierarchical code of values in principle (= ethics) to guide (by programming emotions) one's spontaneous choices in any alternative faced, and it requires one to opt for the higher value per that code in lieu of the lower one (= morality of egoism).

8) Man's singular means to fulfill these requirements of his nature in the pursuit of life is by applying the product of his reason to his actions in the production and exchange of values needed to survive and flourish consistent with the nature of the human being he is.

9) The extension of individual ethics to the social context of an individual living in a society of other volitional (and therefore fallible) men requires that one seek to preserve one's own autonomy over the application of one's own reason to one's own action in the pursuit of one's own life (= freedom from the fallibility of others).

10) The only threat to a man's pursuit of his life in that context would be the initiation or threat of physical force by others to coerce certain choices of action against his will thus diminishing the above defined individual autonomy.

11) The single most fundamental political alternative is therefore: freedom vs. force (= liberty vs. coercion, autonomy vs. servitude).

12) The sole moral requirement for any government of a society of men must therefore be to remove the use or threat of force from human interactions and guarantee thereby that all human interrelationships shall be entered into and conducted voluntarily. (= Rand's radical capitalism in which every individual retains his morally justified autonomy).

13) A moral government must therefore guarantee that:

No person shall initiate the use of physical force or threat thereof to take, withhold, damage or destroy any tangible or intangible value of another person who either created it or acquired it in a voluntary exchange.

It should be obvious that a government so charged would be precluded from taxing anyone for any purpose whatsoever.

The first answer to someone who asks how could we finance that government, is, "in whatever way you want to, so long as it does not involve the use or threat of force." If a society cannot devise a way to fund a moral government voluntarily, it cannot have a moral government.

Edited by islander

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It is simply absurd to claim all taxation is theft. Even Ayn Rand's proposed contract tax is a tax, because if the tax is not "voluntarily" paid then by definition the agreement is not enforceable and not a formal contract.

I suggest rethinking your conclusion here.

Taxes as such are things we are forced to pay for though we may disagree with or not have use for the thing being created by the tax. Social Security, Welfare, Foos Stamps, Public Schools, National Endowment for the Arts- all a great deal of money taken from me involuntarily for something I want nothing to do with. The right to force taxation is a blank cheque for the government to give itself more power.

A "contract tax" is improperly called a tax. You want a contract. You want to voluntarily enter the contract. One of the few legitimate functions of the givernment is the court system. Because you want to voluntarily enter this contract you are saying that you want the government to be at service to remedy any conflicts that may arise in the carrying out of the terms of the contract. This makes it a "fee"- it a service that having decided you want you must pay for. Same as having your oil changed really.

You are not prevented from doing anything by not paying the fee and not having the contract- you simply must do it without the protection of a contract should you choose not to pay the fee.

Lets say that (rightly) businesses no longer had to get licenses. That is only correct. It is not proper for the government to not only choose who can and who can't earn a living for themselves- but to also charge them for the privelege of being allowed to work. What would be proper though would be government fees to register trademark and copyrights and such intellectual property of your business. Again- you want a service rendered- court protection of your claims- and it is right that there be a fee for it.

I admit I'm not at most most articulate today... but do you at least somewhat see what I mean here?

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It is simply absurd to claim all taxation is theft. Even Ayn Rand's proposed contract tax is a tax, because if the tax is not "voluntarily" paid then by definition the agreement is not enforceable and not a formal contract. It is exactly the same "my way or the highway" situation being complained about, not paying is analogous to leaving the country in that it is still too impractical in the risks and costs that choice entails.

If all taxation involves a coerced transfer as opposed to a contractual trade or a gift, then all taxation is theft, robbery, expropriation, plunder, deprivation, seizure, mugging, rape, a.k.a. taking away by the initiation of force, a.k.a. a sacrifice of one party against his rational judgment by another party through the initiation of coercion. You should be clear that your assertion to the contrary is your own theory, and not Rand's. Her's being the clearly stated principle that the method of financing government in the fully free society should be voluntary and leaves no room for the initiation of force. In addition, any of her suggestions were only an illustration of approach, not a definitive answer or a program to advocate. And anyway, saying “Even Ayn Rand...” isn't an argument any more than the statists' favorite phrases of “Even Milton Friedman...” or “Even Adam Smith...” etc. It just means the following statement is, at worst, an inconsistency, not a disproof of the coercive nature of taxation.

That being said, yes I agree with you that her suggestion of a fee placed on credit transactions does involve, at least in the consequences of non-payment she describes, an initiation of force in that it denies the non-contributor his right of self-defense (technically, this would be a subset of theft: extortion.) However, it should also be mentioned that this is in direct contradiction to her own 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,” and contradicts the later statements of the same essay that non-contributors should still receive all the benefits of legal protection.

But this is just a re-hashing of the 1ad versus 2d in the “Is taxation moral?” thread.

What I find ironic (or “absurd” if you will) is that you can recognize this inconsistency in Rand's Chapter 15 in VoS, but are unable to admit the same exact inconsistency involving the same exact principle of extortion in your own “taxes are a social contract, so love it or leave it” pet theory.

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That being said, yes I agree with you that her suggestion of a fee placed on credit transactions does involve, at least in the consequences of non-payment she describes, an initiation of force in that it denies the non-contributor his right of self-defense (technically, this would be a subset of theft: extortion.)

No no no. If you think Ayn Rand has contradicted herself, in writing and in such an important article, you need to check your premises.

The government by its nature has monopoly on the retaliatory use of force, which it uses to enforce laws against the initiation of force. Counting the transfer of your right and power to retaliate that exists in anarchy to the government as itself an initiation of force is invalid. Insisting upon doing so is insisting on retaining your own power to retaliate outside of the law, or in other words you are insisting on the right to be an outlaw. You can only exercise that right in one way which does not itself eventually entail initiating force: the travel beyond the borders, the physical limit of the legal jurisdiction of the government you object to so strongly.

I think this is the key point implicit in all of the objections above.

When I pointed out the similarity in the "love it or leave it" objections to emigrating or not contracting, I was not conceding that those were valid objections merely that they were similar. In fact neither is a valid objection, for the reason just given.

It is absolutely a travesty that the justification of government should be in the hands of leftists, such as in that link to A Non-Libertarian FAQ. Ayn Rand is not a libertarian as she explicitly, vociferously, and repeatedly asserted. Libertarian arguments about taxation and government are the true contradictions of Rand.

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But your response is a convenient libertarian strawman for your false dilemma of “either have anarchy or taxation.” It isn't the fact that the government retains its monopoly on retaliatory force to enforce laws against the initiation of force, or the delegation of one's right of self-defense that is the initiation of force. It is the threat of depriving you of that right, thus leaving you defenseless, if you don't pay up that is an initiation of force, specifically extortion. Forcing someone to pay at the threat of violence is per se an initiation of force, violating equal protection under the law, a key tenet of objective law.

The alternative is not to allow competing protection agencies or gangs, the proper action is simply to stop initiating force. A proper government is restricted from initiating force (the idea that force has to be initiated to restrict force initiations is logically absurd), but it is legally obligated under the equal protection principle to employ retaliatory force against any and all who initiate it. The non-objective government is the one using force outside of the morally proper objective law, as an outlaw and a predator, in this specific issue. It is actually this illogical government that is premised on a political implementation of anarchy because in denying to protect the non-contributor's rights, it has given up on its monopoly on the use of force (i.e. it has given up its ban on the initiation of force and refused to exercise its monopoly on retaliation), and it therefore either has to implement equal protection under the law or cease being a proper government.

It is fitting that this so-called justification “It's not an initiation of force when we loot and enslave you! It's enforcement of a voluntary social contract! Love it or leave it!” is in the hands of a leftist, because it is a justification of serfdom and feudalism or unlimited government more generally.

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But your response is a convenient libertarian strawman for your false dilemma of “either have anarchy or taxation.” It isn't the fact that the government retains its monopoly on retaliatory force to enforce laws against the initiation of force, or the delegation of one's right of self-defense that is the initiation of force. It is the threat of depriving you of that right, thus leaving you defenseless, if you don't pay up that is an initiation of force, specifically extortion. Forcing someone to pay at the threat of violence is per se an initiation of force, violating equal protection under the law, a key tenet of objective law.

"Equal protection under the law" applies to criminal law. Ayn Rand proposes to sell the protection of civil contracts. The result would be that the fraudster who cheats you can be tried by the government while simultaneously you are denied the legal standing to sue to recover losses because you (voluntarily) did not pay up front for contract protection. Seized assets would simply be kept then liquidated by the government instead of being restored to you the victim. This scheme does not violate any rights. Your right to self-defense is inalienable, your right to personally retaliate and repossess goods is not. Because you live in a certain location the government with jurisdiction over that area has the right to retaliate on your behalf, if you pay for that retaliation. You are free to choose not to pay. You are not free to steal back what was stolen, that would be an lawless resort to force. The government acted in the criminal case, so the charge you level about being left defenseless is false.

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Yes, that distinction is true, but the point is that equal protection applies to more than just criminal cases, because the concept of justice is in not two separate chunks. You cannot logically separate the two and divorce them from their relationship with individual rights and the moral purpose of government on the distinction of non-contribution.

The government, in your example, is still being unjust and is still denying the right of self-defense. NOT in refusing to allow the victim to exercise retaliation according to his sole whim, but in denying lawful prosecution of the victim to recover his rightful property on nothing but the threat of extortion. Whatever was taken from him through fraudulence is rightfully his, whether anyone chooses to recognize it as so, and the government that does refuse to recognize that is still giving up on its proper reason for existing in the first place and operating on the premise of the anarchists (that is, of a street gang that has monopolized its turf.) A person who could not afford his protection racket fee could be bankrupted without recourse, i.e. made defenseless. The fact that his property was liquidated by the government is not justice. The fact that he did not contribute to the financing of government is irrelevant because a person need not do anything special, such as give his money to the Girl Scouts or the government, to deserve his rights-protection (leaving aside the obvious condition that the rights-holder respect others' rights.) The proper government, therefore, is morally obligated to retaliate according to objective law, and its obligation to respect the rights, including to restore just property to victims, is not contingent on such variables as funding status of the victim, and the government is morally proper to the extent that it does just that and nothing but that.

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There are no moral obligations, at all. Furthermore, justice is an ethical concept and does therefore come in separate chunks, there is justice which is within the relatively narrow and derivative realm of the legal system and the justice within the broader category of ethics. That an asset may rightfully belong to someone can only mean that he ought to win his court case, not that he ought not exert any effort or not have expenses in getting it back.

Retribution for rights violation is distinct from property restoration. In the case of a simple theft conviction the stolen property would be returned to the victim, but a breach-of-contract is not necessarily also a criminal fraud. Objective criminal law uses the standard of physical force to define its extent: political rights can only be violated by physical force. Objective contract law can only be only be defined according to the terms of the particular contract involved: constructed contract rights can be violated by actions that would not be classified as initiations of force in the absence of the contract. (example: failure to perform a service)

The rest of this post is me trying to understand how Ayn Rand's proposed contract tax would be implemented.

Because it can be proven in criminal cases of theft who is the proper owner of property, I retract my statement in my previous post that the government could seize assets. I can no longer imagine a scenario where the government seizes assets and keeps them (except for storage of evidence). Either assets belong to a victim in a criminal case, or the plaintiff or defendant in a civil case. Government revenue only comes from contract fees.

Here is an example walk-through:

Auto dealer sells a car to a buyer on an installment payment plan with the contract fee paid to the government. When the buyer stops making payments the auto dealer repossesses the car. The government does not even need to act, the dealer had a legal right to repossess the car (assume that was specified in the contract). The buyer was immoral but in the same way a drug addict is (or ought to be) immoral without being a criminal. If the car could not be recovered because it was destroyed, the dealer could sue for a monetary equivalent value. There is no theft, no criminal act here because everything that has happened is covered by contract law. If the buyer defied a court order to pay, that would be criminal.

Auto dealer sells a car to a buyer on an installment payment plan with no contract fee paid to the government. When the buyer stops making payments the auto dealer repossesses the car. Is the dealer or the buyer a victim of theft? When the dealer permitted the car to be driven off the lot with no legal obligation of the buyer to make payments he forfeited his legal right to repossess the car. The dealer is guilty of criminal theft. Again the buyer's action was immoral but not illegal. I can't imagine why anyone would ever extend credit without paying the contract tax.

Note that if the buyer paid the full amount up front in cash for a car sold as-is with no warranty, it would be perfectly safe for the transaction to occur without a contract fee paid and the buyer would save both the contract fee and a risk premium (or loan interest). The entire cash economy would be untaxed. So not only is there a theoretical freedom to contract without paying the tax, there is also the possibility of using cash to avoid the tax. Taxation is voluntary, no one forces credit transactions to occur.

Edited by Grames

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Of course there are moral obligations. There are no duties, or unchosen moral obligations, but that is certainly different. The government, for example as I have mentioned, as a moral obligation to retaliate according to objective law, including property restorations to the winner of the court case. It has this obligation because that is the entire reason for government to exist in the first place. There are also moral obligations arising from certain actions taken by an individual. For example, a cheat has a moral obligation to restore that property he wrongfully took possession of. The victim has a moral right to that specific property, specifically because he had a moral right to the other person's performance of agreed-upon actions, which he was morally obligated to, and failed to take. If there were “no moral obligations at all,” we wouldn't even be having this discussion because contracts would be impossible.

There is a distinction between the criminal justice system and the civil court system, but ultimately both involve the use of force in society, which is the whole reason why governments are (or ought to be) instituted among men. This does not mean the ethical concept of justice comes in two separate “chunks.” I guess I should specify what I mean by that is that justice is an ethical concept that comes from the nature of man and reality. There aren't two different “chunks” of justice because there aren't two different realities and two different species of rational animals. The distinction of criminal law and civil law is not two different justices, but rather a different set of methodological rules that apply to the prosecution of force and fraud with regard to different natures of violations of statues and violations of contractual agreements.

My point is that the concept of justice is still applicable to both, and stems from the same source. Even the fact that one deserves to possess some specific asset and the other has a moral obligation to turn it over, and the government has a moral obligation to enforce this principle of action in law stems from the same source: the fact that man has a moral obligation to respect the rights of others. All morally proper government action stems from that ethical source. (Hence our need to be consistent here about its functioning in the protection of individual rights.)

Furthermore, your assertion that a fraud victim rightfully owns some asset and he morally ought to win his court case is odd, given the fact that he cannot win his court case if he is prevented by physical force from having access to the courts. The fact that he should exert effort and incur some expenses is true. If he decides not to leave his couch or even show up, then he won't win and deservedly so. But that is wholly different from being denied the chance to even be heard before the court by failure to pay a tax. Of course, as you say, I can't imagine any rational person choosing not to contribute voluntarily to the protection of his rights either, but where these individuals may be immoral short of aggression against the rights of others, we cannot punish them by initiating force onto them.

The idea that no one forces the transaction is not sufficient to make it a voluntary donation because force is still being employed against an individual who did not himself use force (and in fact was himself a victim of fraud!). It being a credit transaction as opposed to a cash purchase is irrelevant because engaging in a credit transaction is not a use of force. This is like certain conservative politicians insisting a “sin-tax” (really an excise tax) on cigarettes, beer, and whatnot is really voluntary because “no one forces you to buy these things.” It is still a threat of initiation of force to transfer property, a coerced levy under threat of extortion. The only difference between that intervention and the usual types of taxation is that, instead of immediate and direct violence by the government onto you as punishment, the government denies you the use of its retaliatory force on your behalf and declines to ban initiation of fraud onto you. If no action were taken to deny the right of self-defense to non-contributors, then it would be purely voluntary, and therefore not a tax (“voluntary taxation” being a contradiction in terms.) Rights-protection simply cannot be conditioned on payment received.

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Ayn Raid said:

"A group, as such, has no rights. A man can neither acquire new rights by joining a group nor lose the rights which he does possess. The principle of individual rights is the only moral base of all groups or associations."

What individual man has the right to tax his neighbors? The social contract is invalid, because individuals do not have the right to create contracts for other men - so therefore groups do not have the right to create contracts for other men. I do not care what some tyrants in Washington D.C. vote to do with my life, because it is not their life to vote on.

Grames, you said that no moral duties exist, but you said that in a proper society I could be forced to pay taxes by (moral) law. For a law to be moral it must be necessary for my life, but to say that I _MUST_ contribute to my own welfare is to make protecting values a MORAL DUTY. If you advocate taxes, you advocate duty and murder, no matter how you try to dress it up. A voluntary tax isn't really a tax, its a donation. Claiming that donations are moral and calling them taxes, just so one can say, "Taxation can be moral" is a laughable abuse of language. As if changing the meaning of the word taxation somehow allows one to change the moral stature of a man who takes property by force.

I also find the following statement to be absolutely collectivist, however the author of the statement may have not been thinking about what he was saying?

"If you think Ayn Rand has contradicted herself, in writing and in such an important article, you need to check your premises."

Another human being is never the standard of truth.

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Of course there are moral obligations. There are no duties, or unchosen moral obligations, but that is certainly different. The government, for example as I have mentioned, as a moral obligation to retaliate according to objective law, including property restorations to the winner of the court case. It has this obligation because that is the entire reason for government to exist in the first place. There are also moral obligations arising from certain actions taken by an individual. For example, a cheat has a moral obligation to restore that property he wrongfully took possession of. The victim has a moral right to that specific property, specifically because he had a moral right to the other person's performance of agreed-upon actions, which he was morally obligated to, and failed to take. If there were “no moral obligations at all,” we wouldn't even be having this discussion because contracts would be impossible.

The government does not have the unchosen moral obligation to enforce any and all contracts, it agrees to enforce only the ones that are paid for.

Contract rights are not political rights. Political rights are the universal and inalienable human rights, while contract rights only apply to the parties of the contract. Government is involved in contracts at all only because its monopoly over the employment of retaliatory force makes it the arbitrator of last resort in cases of disputed and broken contracts. If you want force employed to resolve your contract dispute you may not employ it unilaterally but must use the legal system put into place to subordinate force to objective law. And you must pay for the service.

Furthermore, your assertion that a fraud victim rightfully owns some asset and he morally ought to win his court case is odd, given the fact that he cannot win his court case if he is prevented by physical force from having access to the courts. The fact that he should exert effort and incur some expenses is true. If he decides not to leave his couch or even show up, then he won't win and deservedly so. But that is wholly different from being denied the chance to even be heard before the court by failure to pay a tax.
No actually it is exactly the same kind of failure to initiate the cause of the desired effect.

It being a credit transaction as opposed to a cash purchase is irrelevant because engaging in a credit transaction is not a use of force.

Cash transactions without any warranty are like completed contracts that are rendered moot. There is simply nothing left to breach or enforce. Analogies of credit transactions to initiations of force or sins are invalid and irrelevant.

If no action were taken to deny the right of self-defense to non-contributors, then it would be purely voluntary, and therefore not a tax (“voluntary taxation” being a contradiction in terms.) Rights-protection simply cannot be conditioned on payment received.

In which case there would be no government. There would be no entity exerting a monopoly over retaliatory force, and no financing to create one.

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A simple and short refutation of this libertarian view of contracting from A Non-Libertarian FAQ.

7. Social Contract? I never signed no steenking social contract.

That argument and some of the following libertarian arguments are commonly quoted from Lysander Spooner.

The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the government.

There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.

Immigrants, residents, and visitors contract through the oath of citizenship (swearing to uphold the laws and constitution), residency permits, and visas. Citizens reaffirm it in whole or part when they take political office, join the armed forces, etc. This contract has a fairly common form: once entered into, it is implicitly continued until explicitly revoked. Many other contracts have this form: some leases, most utility services (such as phone and electricity), etc.

Some libertarians make a big deal about needing to actually sign a contract. Take them to a restaurant and see if they think it ethical to walk out without paying because they didn't sign anything. Even if it is a restaurant with a minimum charge and they haven't ordered anything. The restaurant gets to set the price and the method of contract so that even your presence creates a debt. What is a libertarian going to do about that? Create a regulation?

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The analogy to the restaurant is no good unless we accept that the Government owns the country in the same way the restaurateur owns the restaurant.

The government has authority over the use of retaliatory force without ownership. Government would be pointless if crimes on private property were beyond the reach of the law.

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The government does not have the unchosen moral obligation to enforce any and all contracts, it agrees to enforce only the ones that are paid for.

Contract rights are not political rights. Political rights are the universal and inalienable human rights, while contract rights only apply to the parties of the contract. Government is involved in contracts at all only because its monopoly over the employment of retaliatory force makes it the arbitrator of last resort in cases of disputed and broken contracts. If you want force employed to resolve your contract dispute you may not employ it unilaterally but must use the legal system put into place to subordinate force to objective law.

The source of any right to a specific thing or particular asset (“contract rights” as you say, between the two parties of an agreement) comes from the individual rights of those parties involved, otherwise again, no contracts would be possible. The very concept of “contract” includes “property” as its genetic root concept, which down the conceptual line includes the moral obligation to respect the rights of others, again otherwise no contracts would be necessary or possible. All morally proper government action stems from the normative obligation to respect the rights of others as a requirement and need of man's life qua man, therefore government a moral obligation to enforce any and all objectively valid contracts, and the need of which forms the most important function a proper government can fulfill.

And you must pay for the service.

This continues to ignore the distinction between government and the market, operating on the premise of anarchy.

No actually it is exactly the same kind of failure to initiate the cause of the desired effect.

This drops the context of the injustice of having to initiate the cause of payment for the desired effect of not being victimized as a product of extortion. You do not say “He deserved to have his rights violated because he failed to enact the cause of failing to pay his extortionist.” Justice forms a direct link with the principle of individual rights and the latter cannot be dropped.

Cash transactions without any warranty are like completed contracts that are rendered moot. There is simply nothing left to breach or enforce. Analogies of credit transactions to initiations of force or sins are invalid and irrelevant.

Only if you think the ethical proposition that force may be employed only against those who initiate it is invalid and irrelevant, which apparently you do.

In which case there would be no government. There would be no entity exerting a monopoly over retaliatory force, and no financing to create one.

Your argument has exhausted itself. You continue to offer us the same false dilemma between taxation and anarchy. You are embracing statism in order to conduct an argument against anarchy. Luckily, Ayn Rand already provided us with a different option than no government or statism:

Since the imposition of taxes does represent an initiation of force, how, it is asked, would the government of a free country raise the money needed to finance its proper services?

In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary.

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A simple and short refutation of this libertarian view of contracting from A Non-Libertarian FAQ.

7. Social Contract? I never signed no steenking social contract.

That argument and some of the following libertarian arguments are commonly quoted from Lysander Spooner.

The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the government.

There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.

This argument holds if and only if the social contract was valid for one’s parents, but since it has assumed that which it needs to prove, then it just begs the question.

Immigrants, residents, and visitors contract through the oath of citizenship (swearing to uphold the laws and constitution), residency permits, and visas.

This argument holds if and only if the government has the right to keep everyone out, which would have to assume the state already owns the entire territory of the United States (which the author does assert when he goes on to compare the territory of the US to a giant apartment complex, and then paradoxically asserts that there are no property rights because he believes all property is stolen.)

Some libertarians make a big deal about needing to actually sign a contract. Take them to a restaurant and see if they think it ethical to walk out without paying because they didn't sign anything. Even if it is a restaurant with a minimum charge and they haven't ordered anything. The restaurant gets to set the price and the method of contract so that even your presence creates a debt. What is a libertarian going to do about that? Create a regulation?

This is a strawman argument that completely ignores property rights and continues to assume the United States owns the entire territory of the US. Claiming as you do next that the US government has the right to use retaliatory force without ownership is a strawman of the objection (nobody said some oxymoronic thing like private property somehow includes the right to initiate force without government), and tacitly admits the distinction between jurisdiction of law and order and jurisdiction of ownership.

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