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Critique of voluntary taxation

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If the moochers didn't mooch, I'd pay less for the same service. How can this possibly not violate my rights? It's like saying bank robbers don't violate my rights because the losses are insured... and therefore we should make bank robbery fully legal.

 

Actually, its not the same argument at all. Bank robbers are taking your money without your permission (i.e. stealing).

 

Moochers are mooching by your permission. The way mooching would violate your rights would be if you donated to a government not designed to protect the rights of every individual, but only to those who contributed.

Edited by thenelli01
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This actually isn't true. Rand repeatedly said that compulsory taxation is wrong, and Objectivism is opposed to it. How are you going to protect rights with an agency that is violating rights as a mea

I have no idea, but one could track down the references listed on the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voluntary_taxation

A similar example: some economists will say that the free-market "rations" production one way, while a socialist state rations it a different way, but that national product has to be rationed out one

Actually, its not the same argument at all. Bank robbers are taking your money without your permission (i.e. stealing).

 

Moochers are mooching by your permission. The way mooching would violate your rights would be if you donated to a government not designed to protect the rights of every individual, but only to those who contributed.

 

Since when did I give the moochers permission to stick me with their government bill? It's the same exact thing.

 

Please tell me the entire argument for voluntary government is not predicated on the obverse of the Original Sin--that people inherently act unsinful and will automatically do the right thing? I'll continue the Bible references with this one: If you are waiting for a society that is perfectly chaste enough to be trusted with a completely volunteer government, you'll wait until Hell freezes over...

Edited by CrowEpistemologist
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Since when did I give the moochers permission to stick me with their government bill? It's the same exact thing.

 

When you voluntarily donated to a government that protects the rights of every individual in society.

 

 

Please tell me the entire argument for voluntary government is not predicated on the obverse of the Original Sin--that people inherently act unsinful and will automatically do the right thing? I'll continue the Bible references with this one: If you are waiting for a society that is perfectly chaste enough to be trusted with a completely volunteer government, you'll wait until Hell freezes over...

 

No, the whole argument for voluntary government is predicated on the idea of man's self interest to have a society that protects every individual's rights. 

 

Are you arguing that government should only protect the rights of those who contribute?

 

(The other nonsense in that post, I am going to ignore as I have already answered this and have not claimed or implied anything you described.)

Edited by thenelli01
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When you voluntarily donated to a government that protects the rights of every individual in society.

 

Wow, we're down to semantics here I guess. We certainly can't agree on the definition of "voluntary". To me it means paying for what I want to pay for (and morally should pay for). To you I guess "voluntary" means being forced to pay for others whom you do no care about because you desire to have a product necessary to your survival (in that sense the moochers engage in extortion to get their free ride).

 

All that said, this is the mother of all academic discussions: not only will we never get to a volunteer government in any of our grandchildren's lifetimes--we won't even get near it. "Voluntary" will equal "zero revenue raised", at which point the experiment will be ended and it won't be tried again until people forget about the last experiment's results.

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Wow, we're down to semantics here I guess. We certainly can't agree on the definition of "voluntary". To me it means paying for what I want to pay for (and morally should pay for). To you I guess "voluntary" means being forced to pay for others whom you do no care about because you desire to have a product necessary to your survival (in that sense the moochers engage in extortion to get their free ride).

 

I think the argument that you are making is that you didn't voluntarily make the decision because the nature of reality (i.e. the absence of an objective government) necessarily creates a context in which that decision is made under the threat of force. Am I correct on your use of the word force?

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I think the argument that you are making is that you didn't voluntarily make the decision because the nature of reality (i.e. the absence of an objective government) necessarily creates a context in which that decision is made under the threat of force. Am I correct on your use of the word force?

 

Rights cannot exist outside the context of a government to protect them. No government, no Rights.

 

Hence somebody must pay for the government in order for rights to exist for anybody.

 

Hence in a volunteer scenario, I am basically stuck paying for moochers lest I have the entirety of my rights evacuated. In that sense they are engaged in extortion, but with no legal recourse since their crime is legal in this scenario. This... completely ridiculous unworkable scenario...

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A system that enables and emboldens moochers is not moral. A system filled with (mostly?) moochers is the very definition of a cleptocracy.

 

It's not practical either. Thousands of years of human behavior shows us that in such a system, virtually nobody would pay, making the costs for the few that do pay untenable.

 

Enables and emboldens moochers to do what, specifically?

I am talking about externalities. For instance, if you pay the government to prosecute criminals, criminality becomes less rewarding... So "moochers" benefit. You fund a war of defense against an aggressor nation, "moochers" benefit. Never mind that they are probably engaged in some economic activity for which there are positive externalities for you. They haven't taken anything from you, they haven't violated your rights. They simply benefit from an externality caused by the payments you are willing and able to make. What exactly do you see as mooching?

Regarding practicality: History shows us no such thing, as far as I can tell. It's best to talk about specific governments you think confirm your position, rather than the vague generalities implied by "history." You may be referring to the government established under the articles of confederation... If you think that's a poignant example I can tell you why I don't think so. Let's hear specifics.

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So "moochers" benefit.

The discussion raises a question: what's the concept of "moocher". I see two plausible concepts. First, there is a person who is willing and able to create a value, but instead relies on someone else to do so, and then takes it from the creator without a trade. Or, there is the person who works to the best of their ability and would have a world of less material values if others were all like him, but who, instead, benefits from the inventions and productivity of others.
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Rights cannot exist outside the context of a government to protect them. No government, no Rights.

Do you realize that this is not correct?

Rights are first ethical principles, the ones having to do with how to treat other persons. Some of those principles are amenable to crafting into a legal system. Rights are epistemologically prior to governments. The proper motive to have a government is to better protect rights which already exist not to create them.

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Do you realize that this is not correct?

Rights are first ethical principles, the ones having to do with how to treat other persons. Some of those principles are amenable to crafting into a legal system. Rights are epistemologically prior to governments. The proper motive to have a government is to better protect rights which already exist not to create them.

 

Um, what? Rights presuppose a society and presuppose other persons who may violate your rights (and without a government to protect them, absolutely will). The concept of Rights is non-existent on a desert island.  We're not Aristotilians--we don't believe that concepts exist within humans innately. They are objective and are derived from cognitive necessity.

 

So no, Rights are not epistemologically prior to governments. They are epistemologically concurrent. One cannot physically exist without the other, nor does the very concept of Rights exist outside the context of government.

Edited by CrowEpistemologist
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Enables and emboldens moochers to do what, specifically?

 

Um, to cause the cost of the protection of my rights to skyrocket? This seems pretty darn tangible to me. If we made mooching legal, then a lot of people would do it. If a lot of people did it, non-moochers would pay a lot more.

 

And yes, history: unless you can illuminate us as to the highly successful society that once existed that was solely predicated on voluntary donations? Otherwise, every single society that's ever existed has include compulsory taxation in aid of common defense. Nobody's ever tried "the honor system", or at least no society that lasted long enough to actually have a written history...

Edited by CrowEpistemologist
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Do you realize that this is not correct?

Rights are first ethical principles, the ones having to do with how to treat other persons.

 

 

Um, what? Rights presuppose a society and presuppose other persons who may violate your rights (and without a government to protect them, absolutely will). The concept of Rights is non-existent on a desert island.

 

Grames implies the required social context in his post ("the ones having to do with how to treat other people"). 

 

Rights are epistemologically prior to governments. The proper motive to have a government is to better protect rights which already exist not to create them.

 

 

So no, Rights are not epistemologically prior to governments. They are epistemologically concurrent. One cannot physically exist without the other, nor does the very concept of Rights exist outside the context of government.

 

Rights are a discovered principle of human existence giving rise to the need for a government.  It makes no sense to say that the concept doesn't exist outside of that context.  Otherwise people are creating governments for no reason and then after they are created they suddenly discover their rights (??)  "oh wow, check it out man!   cool!   Now that we have this neat government that we just decided to make for no reason we have rights!"

Edited by Craig24
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You are context-dropping. 

 

Under an objectivist government, the trend in society must be objectivist for it to work.

Say what? Are you saying Objectivist principles only apply in the context of an Objectivist society? Is this true for reason, egoism, and rights? Or is it only the case when we run into serious difficulties, then we get to invoke this floating abstraction of an unprecedented and dare one say Utopian Objectivist society?

 

In a society where the trend and dominant viewpoint is capitalist (morally and politically), donations will not be an issue. There are no historical examples because there was no such society has ever existed. But, if you listen to Objectivist viewpoint: Government is good and in man's self-interest, then it won't be hard to see why funding will be there.

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Say what? Are you saying Objectivist principles only apply in the context of an Objectivist society? Is this true for reason, egoism, and rights? Or is it only the case when we run into serious difficulties, then we get to invoke this floating abstraction of an unprecedented and dare one say Utopian Objectivist society?

 

Yikes, is dat waht I sed?

 

I said that an Objectivist government could not exist (for very long, at least) unless the dominant trend in society was rational egoism. If, for example, the morality was altruism, the government would reflect that. So, the question: is voluntary taxation for a capitalist government practical? necessarily implies a context in which the majority in society holds Objectivist principles - namely and relevant to this topic: Government is good and in man's self interest. So, the majority would be willing and want to donate, so long as the government remains objective and in line with its original purpose: protecting individual rights. Your error lies in attempting to look at historical examples which have a completely different context: (different form of government, different philosophical beliefs within society, less technologically advanced i.e. less communication, etc.) 

Edited by thenelli01
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Rights are a discovered principle of human existence giving rise to the need for a government.  It makes no sense to say that the concept doesn't exist outside of that context.  Otherwise people are creating governments for no reason and then after they are created they suddenly discover their rights (??)  "oh wow, check it out man!   cool!   Now that we have this neat government that we just decided to make for no reason we have rights!"

 

Rights presuppose a society and a government to protect those Rights. You said it yourself above: if there was no government, there would be nothing to protect (i.e. to bring into practical existence) any notion of Rights, and based on Rand's Razor, the concept would therefore not exist.

 

Rights tells us how to from a government, not how to make a cake or a campfire.

 

The word I used above (and maybe you missed) is, "concurrent". A proper government protects Rights. Rights don't exist without a proper government.

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Rights presuppose a society and a government to protect those Rights. You said it yourself above: if there was no government, there would be nothing to protect (i.e. to bring into practical existence) any notion of Rights, and based on Rand's Razor, the concept would therefore not exist.

 

Rights tells us how to from a government, not how to make a cake or a campfire.

 

The word I used above (and maybe you missed) is, "concurrent". A proper government protects Rights. Rights don't exist without a proper government.

 

How can rights presuppose a "government to protect those rights"? How can a concept presuppose an entity created to protect itself? A (proper) government presupposes that we have rights to be protected in the first place.

Edited by thenelli01
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How can rights presuppose a "government to protect those rights"? How can a concept presuppose an entity created to protect itself? A (proper) government presupposes that we have rights to be protected in the first place.

Semantic issue? All I'm saying is that without a government, we effectively have no rights since they will not be protected and thus violated.

 

Anyhow, to reel all of this back in...

 

Ayn Rand once said we are "not Aquinus's Angel" (look it up). What she meant by that is that just because we hold a certain principle in our minds as true, that doesn't mean we automatically apply that principle. Humans have volition ever step of the way.

 

Hence the idea of a "Objectivist Society" is... well, not a very useful concept (read: invalid). One where its influence is much more pronounced, sure, but humans will not ever turn into a race of robots who automatically follow the right path in anything.

 

Anyhow, even in the alleged robot society, you still concede that only "most" people would want to donate to the government (how much?). What about those who are not part of "most"? Why do they get a free ride? Why do they get to violate my rights?

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So here's my take on the logical solution to this seeming paradox.

 

In the modern world, every human being on today's Earth must have the protection of some government in order to survive at all. By virtue of you being born in this world we live in, and the evils within it, you are necessarily consuming government resources insofar as you are alive and enjoy things like ownership and freedom of movement.

 

Hence paying your fair share of the government's protection of your rights is a requirement of your own life every bit as much as paying for your own food and shelter. Now, I said above that government funding can be voluntary if we allow the protection of your rights voluntary: you should be free to pay nothing to the government in exchange for receiving nothing from the government: no protection of your property or liberty for those who do not pay their share of the cost of the government necessary to secure our rights.

 

If you don't pay for food, you get no food, and you starve and die. If you don't pay for your government, you get no government, and you get robbed or killed. Life requires energy to sustain it. Etc.

 

Now, certainly there's a role for charity in a rational society, and paying for other's share of the government (above and beyond your own) might be something you are interested in, but such a think should not be compelled from individuals.

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Um, what? Rights presuppose a society and presuppose other persons who may violate your rights (and without a government to protect them, absolutely will). The concept of Rights is non-existent on a desert island.  We're not Aristotilians--we don't believe that concepts exist within humans innately. They are objective and are derived from cognitive necessity.

 

So no, Rights are not epistemologically prior to governments. They are epistemologically concurrent. One cannot physically exist without the other, nor does the very concept of Rights exist outside the context of government.

Here you're conflating society with government. Rights presuppose other people, sure. Indeed, Grames includes treatment of others in his definition of rights. That doesn't mean they presuppose government.

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I said that an Objectivist government could not exist (for very long, at least) unless the dominant trend in society was rational egoism. If, for example, the morality was altruism, the government would reflect that. So, the question: is voluntary taxation for a capitalist government practical? necessarily implies a context in which the majority in society holds Objectivist principles - namely and relevant to this topic: Government is good and in man's self interest. So, the majority would be willing and want to donate, so long as the government remains objective and in line with its original purpose: protecting individual rights.

Yes, it's true that the context in which we would need to figure out how voluntary funding would work is one where the majority think it is a good thing. Even if these voters are not rational egoists, they would at least agree that government should be funded voluntarily. Opponents of voluntary government funding often drop this context.

Your error lies in attempting to look at historical examples which have a completely different context: (different form of government, different philosophical beliefs within society, less technologically advanced i.e. less communication, etc.)

I think the right examples to look for are situations where a group of people wanted to fund something voluntarily, had the money to do so (as a group), and yet had problems with the funding.

Widespread good intent is an essential context, but I doubt it is sufficient. Legal structures and system would be needed to ensure the system addressed the key concerns that make people hold back when they want to give... if only... XYZ. One can speculate about what might be needed to address the various problems that have arisen in the past. Some have already been addressed in the area of voluntary funding of other things: via various forms of trusts, via pledges to donate in the future, via targeted donations, via "subscription-minimums" where donations toward some end are returned if some minimum is not collected. However, what really evolves would probably something unique that we cannot quite hit on today... and that's just fine, since none of us is going to deal with the question IRL.

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Yes, it's true that the context in which we would need to figure out how voluntary funding would work is one where the majority think it is a good thing. Even if these voters are not rational egoists, they would at least agree that government should be funded voluntarily. Opponents of voluntary government funding often drop this context.

 

Well, if you are speaking of voluntary taxation for a (sustainable) capitalist governmentthen the dominant philosophy must be rational egoism because it is the only moral justification for capitalism, and the government will reflect the morality of its voters (That doesn't mean that everyone will act rational or understand rational egoist principles). So, I don't think it is limited to good intent. But, what would be necessary for a voluntary taxation system to work (without getting into the specific structure) is complete laissez faire capitalism because it is the only government that does not put any controls on man (except by retaliating against the initiation of force). So, if government attempts to use force on man or give others special privileges, they will not want to donate because the government will be acting outside of individual man's self interest and, instead, be giving out favors to some group. People not receiving the benefits will withdraw their donations. This is the issue with looking at other examples of voluntary taxation. To deny the above is to deny the role of philosophy in human behavior. It is like claiming: how would a majority Christian (truly Christian) society pay for churches if we don't tax them?! or how will a free country defend themselves from attack if we don't draft?! etc. etc.

Edited by thenelli01
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9Doc: You're assuming that what's unprecedented is impossible. A society of Objectivists would be a whole new sort of thing.

A society is made of nothing except lots of individuals, who act according to their thoughts and values.

Since Objectivist thoughts and values are demonstrably unique (and I daresay actions, too) it's not all that unreasonable to presume such a society would match.

As far as implementing Oist principles today, most people in America want statism.

And if someone wants slavery, is it better to give it to them or force them to be free?

I think the question speaks for itself.

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