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Why eliminate controls gradually instead of immediately?

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Mnrchst
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Rand said we should transition from the status quo to the tax-free non-government regulated society gradually (over a few years). I'm not sure why we should. Why not just do it overnight?

Rand said that this would mean some people wouldn't have time to adjust/they thought that their social security would keep coming indefinitely. I'm not sure how this is a problem. They can appeal to charity. Why does it matter that they thought SS/welfare would keep coming? Would we object to eliminating slavery immediately because people expected to keep getting revenue from it? If initiating force is wrong, why keep doing it if we can stop doing altogether immediately?

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One reason that immediately comes to mind: some old people would literally wind up starving. The charity you speak of which would take care of these people does not exist. Maybe it would or will exist, but it doesn't right now. Hence, gradual.

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Furthermore, no matter how wrong these laws are that violate our rights, they are the law right now so rational people do act in accordance with the fact that this is the way the law works. In many cases that creates massive distortions, and it requires time for people to adjust to the new status quo.

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"Rand said we should transition from the status quo to the tax-free non-government regulated society gradually (over a few years). I'm not sure why we should. Why not just do it overnight?"

Because that's a dream, and bears no relationship to reality. The reality is that it took time and incrementalism to get us where we are now, and if there is to be change towards a better direction (and that is very much an "if"), it will only be achieved by time and incrementalism.

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What advantage is there to an overnight change? I personally think whether things are the law is besides the point. The idea is that there are government agencies in place which people use often because there is no other option unless they are billionaires. Government is such a big part of society in general that any action taken in favor or against government action has a far reaching impact. I'm not expecting the US government to collapse anytime soon, so I make certain decisions based on the systems already in place. If you remove those systems suddenly, then I'd need to find new solutions just as suddenly. I'm sure I *could* deal with such issues, but the best option would be for a gradual change. You don't need to have a banzai charge to do the right thing. While yes, it may be nice if all there was to ending a particular kind of force initiation was to merely kill an agency, that's not how the world works. There are more consequences to think about after supposing something like social security is ended.

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Let's take a program like social security. Not only is there the issue of completely shutting down this program tomorrow leading to mass poverty, many people have a rightful expectation of receiving this money. They have paid into the system. They should be allowed to draw out. It's an issue of justice. Simply wiping the slate clean screws over a lot of people.

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Let's take a program like social security. Not only is there the issue of completely shutting down this program tomorrow leading to mass poverty, many people have a rightful expectation of receiving this money. They have paid into the system. They should be allowed to draw out. It's an issue of justice. Simply wiping the slate clean screws over a lot of people.

I don't think SS is a good example. I think the Supreme Court has ruled already (a long time ago) that there is no actual obligation that you're getting back the money you paid in. SS is a wealth distribution scheme, where current tax income goes towards paying current benefits. Legally (and as far as I can tell constitutionally) speaking you have no claim whatsoever on the money you paid in. I know a lot of people refuse to believe that this is true, as it seems to be a very common misunderstanding that because someone paid in their whole life they have a claim to get benefits, but the fact of the matter is that all the money you paid in is long spent, and you are claiming a right to money payable by future workers. I don't know about you, but no matter how wrong SS taxation is, that doesn't make it suddenly okay to force future generations who never voted for the program to begin with to pay your benefits.

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One reason that immediately comes to mind: some old people would literally wind up starving. The charity you speak of which would take care of these people does not exist. Maybe it would or will exist, but it doesn't right now. Hence, gradual.

Why would anyone starve? Most people object to the idea of no-taxes (eventually) by saying "But what about all those people who depend on the government to like!" This means that even without taxation, most people would still be donating enough money to the poor so they could live. Anyone who would starve would just be the person who no one wants to support (they'd have to be pretty terrible).

Just because the charity doesn't exist now doesn't mean it couldn't exist very very quickly. If the government has a list of the people getting help, people can take this list and create a charity for donating to these people ecumenically. There would also be "only for people with Aspirger's, only the elderly of sound mind/body, etc." I don't see how this couldn't happen quickly, or, better yet, how Objectivists could prepare for this ahead of time.

You're going have to be more specific. Is your position consistent with the non-aggression principle, or is NAP not something we want overnight? If so, how do you draw the line between inherently bad things, and things which aren't bad because you have to get rid of them gradually?

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Furthermore, no matter how wrong these laws are that violate our rights, they are the law right now so rational people do act in accordance with the fact that this is the way the law works. In many cases that creates massive distortions, and it requires time for people to adjust to the new status quo.

Why does it matter that people act in accordance with them? Should we have kept subsidizing slave owners once their slaves were freed?

I don't see how the massive distortions couldn't be solved quickly. If ethanol subsidies ended overnight, then employment would transition to other sources of fuel. If it were detrimental to society (in terms of overall economic production) for a lot of jobs in the ethanol industry to end, I don't see how that would happen in the first place (it would merely become less popular).

When you say "adjust", you're implying that something bad would happen if we made this change. I'm not sure what, specifically, this is.

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The reality is that it took time and incrementalism to get us where we are now, and if there is to be change towards a better direction (and that is very much an "if"), it will only be achieved by time and incrementalism.

The other criticisms seem plausible to me, but this criticism is incredibly expansive. Just because we got to wherever we are now incrementally doesn't mean we should do everything incrementally (even Rand said we should eliminate all antitrust immediately).

Does it take time for things to improve? Sure. Time would still be going by with the elimination of controls immediately.

There have been plenty of large/sudden changes our society has made for the better. This reminds me of how Keynesians said 1946 would be a terrible year for the American economy.

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The idea is that there are government agencies in place which people use often because there is no other option unless they are billionaires.

Why? Billionaires aren't the only people paying for these things as it is. People can just pool their money together the way they do now (except voluntarily).

If you remove those systems suddenly, then I'd need to find new solutions just as suddenly. I'm sure I *could* deal with such issues, but the best option would be for a gradual change.

What if you're a slave owner? How are you going to feed yourself with that much of your income gone?

You don't need to have a banzai charge to do the right thing. While yes, it may be nice if all there was to ending a particular kind of force initiation was to merely kill an agency, that's not how the world works. There are more consequences to think about after supposing something like social security is ended.

I'm honestly not sure what to say other than I find this too vague to understand. Could you please elaborate?

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You're going have to be more specific. Is your position consistent with the non-aggression principle, or is NAP not something we want overnight? If so, how do you draw the line between inherently bad things, and things which aren't bad because you have to get rid of them gradually?

The posts following mine were more specific. Eiuol summed it up by noting that "cold turkey" just wouldn't be better than gradual, for reasons others helped point out.

I'll say it again: these charities don't exist and couldn't exist in time for everyone to transition in the best possible way. Yes, the end goal is to end government intervention. But, the greatest of all ideals would have been to have no intervention in the first place. Since that has already been violated, now it is basically a matter of pragmatically working back toward the ideal principle of total private freedom of exchange, in the best way possible. "Cold turkey" is a way (though not even realistic for the world today), but it's not the best way to reach the goal.

Edited by JASKN
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They have paid into the system. They should be allowed to draw out.

Wouldn't the logical conclusion of this be to never eliminate SS? If you eliminate it at any point, many people will be getting a lot less than they paid in. Rand said she wanted all controls out in 3-5 years, which for someone who's 60 years old, basically means they paid into this system for a very long time and get nothing back. Do you object to her position and want SS to be phased out over a period of something like 20 or 40 years? (I'm not saying this would necessarily be worse than the 3-5 years phase out)

Simply wiping the slate clean screws over a lot of people.

I assume you're talking specifically about the poor only. This includes all the businesses which get huge tax loopholes (often driving their taxes down to near-zero). I don't see how they'd really be getting "screwed".

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"I'll say it again: these charities don't exist and couldn't exist in time for everyone to transition in the best possible way."

What is the best possible way? Why is it the best possible way?

Why couldn't these charities exist in time? The government already has this list, so all people have to do is (within a week? a month? however often the checks go out) donate to a charity. To simplify the issue, let's assume it's the same government people doing this, and their salaries are from donations. All people would have to do is go online/make a phone call/mail a check, etc. I don't see this as a huge change/not feasible.

This case needs to be made on more moral than utilitarian/pragmatic grounds (which is what it seems to be to me right now). I don't see the adjustment as being all that big. If people want to make the case that these people deserve to keep benefiting from money extracting by the barrel of a gun, that's what I'd need to hear.

Edited by Mnrchst
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"The other criticisms seem plausible to me, but this criticism is incredibly expansive. Just because we got to wherever we are now incrementally doesn't mean we should do everything incrementally (even Rand said we should eliminate all antitrust immediately)."

I never said that we SHOULD do everything incrementally: my point is that you need to talk about reality, not fantasy. There is NO chance that big changes will be made overnight. I see no signs that such fundamental changes are on the horizon. You can fantasize all you want, but that doesn't get you anywhere.

"I'll say it again: these charities don't exist and couldn't exist in time for everyone to transition in the best possible way."

Nonsense -- there are plenty of existing charities. I used to volunteer at a Catholic Charities soup kitchen, making chili and serving it to whoever needed it. Prior to the government's involvement with welfare, poverty was handled by charities and families.

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"not even realistic for the world today"

Meaning, we're probably not going to see any changes, and if we do, it will be a series of lengthy, baby-step laws as people change their views on things. Of course, people have to first change their views. Neither will probably happen (pessimist in me).

What is the best possible way? Why is it the best possible way?

Why couldn't these charities exist in time? The government already has this list, so all people have to do is (within a week? a month? however often the checks go out) donate to a charity. To simplify the issue, let's assume it's the same government people doing this, and their salaries are from donations. All people would have to do is go online/make a phone call/mail a check, etc. I don't see this as a huge change/not feasible.

The best possible way is to give people ample time to adjust their whole lives which they have spent their whole lives building around the expectation of a myriad forms of government intervention, which skews and screws. It takes people time to adjust. It is literally impossible for people to figure out how to adjust everything about their lives simply overnight. In the case of the old person who lives completely off of Social Security and Medicare, at the very minimum she would need to locate and sign up for these new charities which will supposedly agree to support her for the rest of her life. Not to mention, what makes you think people will automatically, immediately begin donating every single cent that had previously gone to the government now instead to private charities, for the same reasons as before: to support others? Some people will, some won't, either way, more time is needed for adjusting. Edited by JASKN
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Nonsense -- there are plenty of existing charities. I used to volunteer at a Catholic Charities soup kitchen, making chili and serving it to whoever needed it. Prior to the government's involvement with welfare, poverty was handled by charities and families.

So, these charities you volunteered at exist on the scale of SS, Medicare, and Medicaid, right?
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Additionally, there is the very real possibility of backlash to consider. Similarly as with quitting any harmful activity (like a heavy addiction), if you do it too suddenly and you end up not being able to stay off it, you're back to square one. This is much more of a strategical discussion, for that reason, similarly as to how there are different potential, fully rational strategies to stop drinking or smoking. Yes, it is bad for you and not doing it is good qua life, but if you improperly stop doing something then you can end up being worse off than you were before.

Just because you have good intentions about stopping a harmful law doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to work out all right.

At the end of the day we do live in a society with elected politicians, and if we were to suddenly stop any and all welfare programs overnight there's a pretty good chance that tomorrow we'd have significant political pressure to revert everything back to the way it was (or even worse because usually backlash takes you further back than you start with)... You do have to take into account that the (political) culture places certain limits on what is possible.

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"So, these charities you volunteered at exist on the scale of SS, Medicare, and Medicaid, right?"

I never claimed that they did. I don't know -- I'd have to look into it. But I will repeat: prior to the programs you mentioned, families and charities handled the problems of poverty. Were they perfect or completely successful? No -- but they are more efficient than a government program.

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But I will repeat: prior to the programs you mentioned, families and charities handled the problems of poverty. Were they perfect or completely successful? No -- but they are more efficient than a government program.

My point was not that charities could never make up for the difference, although they would probably refuse to make up for the number of lazy Americans that exist today, but that they do not exist now, to cover a successful "cold turkey" plan.
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"My point was not that charities could never make up for the difference, although they would probably refuse to make up for the number of lazy Americans that exist today, but that they do not exist now, to cover a successful "cold turkey" plan."

Agreed! But since I don't think a "cold turkey" plan is likely ever be implemented, it's a moot point.

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my point is that you need to talk about reality, not fantasy....I see no signs that such fundamental changes are on the horizon."

I'm not talking about how likely this scenario is (I know most people will, probably, remain very anti-Objectivism/similar for a long time).

There is NO chance that big changes will be made overnight.

WHY is there no chance that such big changes could be made overnight? People have free will.

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Meaning, we're probably not going to see any changes, and if we do, it will be a series of lengthy, baby-step laws as people change their views on things. Of course, people have to first change their views. Neither will probably happen (pessimist in me).

I'm not talking about how liking it is that all taxes will be eliminated tomorrow. I'm asking why doing so would be immoral.

The best possible way is to give people ample time to adjust their whole lives which they have spent their whole lives building around the expectation of a myriad forms of government intervention, which skews and screws. It takes people time to adjust.

People can spend their whole lives dependent on charity with no guarantee the money will keep coming in, but they might still build their whole life around continuing to get it. Does this mean there should be no charity? Of course not.

If people want to keep donating to these people, they're still going to get it. There doesn't have to be any fundamental change in their life--money keeps getting sent to them by people.

It is literally impossible for people to figure out how to adjust everything about their lives simply overnight.

How is this relevant? Are we talking about people adjusting everything in their life? Nope.

In the case of the old person who lives completely off of Social Security and Medicare, at the very minimum she would need to locate and sign up for these new charities which will supposedly agree to support her for the rest of her life.

Not necessarily. They can keep getting sent a check from Social Security (run by the government), which is taking in money from donations. She wouldn't have to change anything.

Not to mention, what makes you think people will automatically, immediately begin donating every single cent that had previously gone to the government now instead to private charities, for the same reasons as before: to support others?

I never said I did. What I said is that (at the very least) most of that money will keep coming in. However, it's probable that all the money will come in--the 90% of people who still send money will generally send more. I think this is a safe prediction because (1) most people in our society care a lot about the non-criminal and/or non-drug-addicted poor living well (2) they would have the money to spend without taking on a higher burden (because of all the government crap that gets cut, like bridges to nowhere and ridiculous subsides--which would certainly exceed the needed amount to cover the difference of some people not donating) and (3) the purchasing power of what comes in for the dependent would quickly go up because of how much better the economy would become. Lets also not forget (4) that the minimum wage would be gone.

3 and 4 aren't going to kick in overnight, but 1 and 2 would. Since these people are getting checks every week/month, it's not like they're going to starve the next day.

Also, remember that people can take care of this with a couple minutes of online time or a phone call "Sign me up for X amount for the next 6 months for the XYZ fund, which goes to all the old entitlements and is spent in the exact same way."

It boils down to this: Why is it good to keep taxing from the barrel of a gun for a while instead of just ending it tomorrow?

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Additionally, there is the very real possibility of backlash to consider.

I doubt there would be backlash if people generally decide that taxation is, in principle, immoral.

But let's suppose there is. So what? Does this mean we shouldn't advocate lowering taxes gradually if we knew there would be a backlash to that? It's like you're saying "Let's only advocate whatever people will like."

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