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Critique of voluntary taxation

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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

If your argument is that we either have a society which violates its citizens' rights in order to protect them (!?), or we have no society at all, I think the answer is clear: forget about society!

 

Yep. I suspect, JASKN, that the psychoepistemology implied in that statement are parallel to many of the folks I'm arguing with here...

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I've been trying [to find out [why people react so irrationally to my posts]. There seem to be parts of my posts people seem to read, and the other parts they seem to ignore. I can't quite see a pattern yet. It certainly leads to some very weird interpretations of my views by some.

 

After re-reading the OP, I think I get it now.

 

Some people think that the impossibility of a fully volunteer-financed government invalidates all of Objectivism. Hence my defense of charging people for the services they use (here called, "taxation") is, in many people's minds, an attack on the entire system of Objectivism. That saying that at least some taxation is necessary to protect Rights means that Immanuel Kant was right all along, and that a priori modes of knowledge are entitled pure when there's no admixture of anything empirical.

 

I'll just say this, folks: it's not my intention to piss in your punchbowl. If you need these rose-colored Revos to keep yourself from tossing out Ayn Rand altogether, then maybe you should keep it...

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After re-reading the OP, I think I get it now.

 

Some people think that the impossibility of a fully volunteer-financed government invalidates all of Objectivism. Hence my defense of charging people for the services they use (here called, "taxation") is, in many people's minds, an attack on the entire system of Objectivism

 

'Some people' is such a vague way to present a fact. Do you have evidence that someone specifically thinks this way? Can you provide quotes?

 

I think most people (including myself) don't agree that it is an impossibility and (I) have qualified why. That is what you do when you come up with a conclusion, you provide the reasoning behind it, otherwise your words are effectively meaningless.

Edited by thenelli01
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You are equivocating between the personal use of force and that of the government's use of force:

It is good to finally hear you acknowledge that you think the government should be allowed to initiate force against its citizens. But now you want to pretend that that was Ayn Rand's position? No matter how many times she explicitly said no to that proposition? It would be far too kind of me to call an evasion of that magnitude chutzpah.

Here is Ayn Rand's actual position:

"[...] But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his."

-- Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, pg. 183 -- From the Lexicon

Oh, and for your edification, she wrote the last sentence in that quote just for you: it is the definition of anarchy. No one here is advocating anarchy except you.

 

[Remainder of nasty personalized rant ignored]

Ignored? Yes, ignored and evaded.

What a pathetically weak response. I will take it as your acknowledgment that:

- You are ok with treating everyone like a criminal.

- You are ok with putting a rational, hard working person in jail for doing nothing.

- You want to abrogate rational, objective thought and outlaw independent thought altogether.

Can you please settle the argument and tell us which you are: an anarchist or a communist?

 

[Ayn Rand] wasn't an anarchist because anarchy is retarded... It's not even worth arguing against since it's self-evident how unworkable it is.

Well, Ayn Rand wasn't eight years old either so she would never write what you have written here. Nor would she call an argument "self-evident". In fact she said: "Nothing is self-evident except the material of sensory perception." [from the Lexicon]. Ayn Rand wasn't an anarchist because every principle she ever discovered pointed away from it. You, however cannot say the same thing.

I could say that in principle you support and defend anarchism and in a sense I'd be correct, though inaccurate. Because here, as everywhere else on this forum, you show an inability (or unwillingness) to think in principles. All you have to say about anarchism is that it is "unworkable". Meaning that if it was workable you'd be for it. In other words you have no principled objection to anarchism, but whether that is because you are an anarchist or a pragmatist is up for debate.

Everyone can see what you are doing here, it is called: avoid, deflect, evade. There is no logical way you for you to defend your position that objective laws require the government to initiate force or that individual rights can be protected only by violating them. These positions are self-contradictory!!!

So what you do is pretend that those of us standing on the principle that civilized society requires the initiation of force to be outlawed are somehow advocating the opposite. I'll call it the argument from defeat and it is reprehensible and as childish as pretending someone said something they didn't and then arguing against it by calling it "retarded". What a joke.

I was going to recommend that you give up while you still have a shred of integrity left but it is too late for that.

 

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Man has volition, we aren't robots. This means that man can be irrational (and often is), and can choose not to think or evade or can come up with different conclusions than other men.

WHY?

Yes, people are perfectly capable of being irrational and those alive right now demonstrate this on a daily basis.  They're also capable of getting sick or injured; would you consider those inherent traits?

Of course people can be irrational, and have been throughout most of history- but WHY have they???

 

There will never be a fully rational society because man has volition and rationality isn't effortless nor instinctual.

Is irrationality instinctual?

This statement essentially means "Decision X could never be made- because man makes his own decisions."  The fact that you're phrasing it statistically may help to obscure the contradiction, but it doesn't validate it.

If there were a society of 150 people, how many would be incapable of rationality?  How about 15 people?  What would this look like?

 

To suggest a Utopian Objectivist Society where all men are rational even as a possibility is to suggest a fantasy world.

That's exactly the concept I'm talking about.  You do realize you just suggested some inherent and insurmountable evil, both in yourself and in me, right?

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Is irrationality instinctual?

This statement essentially means "Decision X could never be made- because man makes his own decisions."  The fact that you're phrasing it statistically may help to obscure the contradiction, but it doesn't validate it.

If there were a society of 150 people, how many would be incapable of rationality?  How about 15 people?  What would this look like?

To clarify, Thenelli01:  I know you didn't say that some people will always, necessarily be irrational, but I think it was strongly implied.

And I don't object to the observation that some people are irrational.  They are.  What's invalid and frankly offensive, is to propose that it's necessary and unavoidable.

A society is only many individuals.  If no society may ever be fully rational, then neither can any [or at least some] individuals.

 

And if you don't think full rationality can actually be practiced on Earth, in reality, then we're no longer discussing the same type of person.

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I never called any actual person "retarded". Not even by implication.

 

I did, however, accuse a wide swath of participants of this discussion of skimming through my posts, only gleaning a highlight or two, and then forming an opinion of my stance that doesn't resemble mine at all, and then proceeding to tear down a strawman of my alleged ideas according to their fabricated concoction.

 

The accusation stands...

Edited by CrowEpistemologist
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As far as this topic is concerned, I'll reiterate that to conflate voluntary tax with anarchy is at best a non sequitur. At worst it is a cowardly strawman used to evade confronting the glaringly sun-bright contradiction involved in trying to free people from force by using force against them. 
 

Edited by FeatherFall
Removed a response to abusive language
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As far as this topic is concerned, I'll reiterate that to conflate voluntary tax with anarchy is at best a non sequitur. At worst it is a cowardly strawman used to evade confronting the glaringly sun-bright contradiction involved in trying to free people from force by using force against them.

 

Cowardly. Uh huh. That's not a personal attack at all. No siree.

 

Anyhow, like I said, I'm not going to win an argument with the moderators, and I'm not even going to try...

Edited by CrowEpistemologist
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Cowardly. Uh huh. That's not a personal attack at all. No siree.

 

Anyhow, like I said, I'm not going to win an argument with the moderators, and I'm not even going to try...

Interesting how when given a choice between two descriptions you chose the one labeling yourself as evasive. Thank you for acknowledging the truth.

Besides, you admitted defeat before the moderators got involved. First with your childish tantrum and then with this:

If anybody actually wants the tldr on my position, see the OP. After this many posts I don't think anything new has been added to this subject...

Essentially saying: "I don't know what I'm talking about so read this other person's post, I agree with them even though I don't understand it."

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"Can you please settle the argument and tell us which you are: an anarchist or a communist?"
You've really poisoned the well, Marc... And dare I say made the thread into something worse than it is. "The depth of your thinking on the issue is on full display. " is an example of taking it further than necessary - not that Crow should do the same, but you did the same as Crow. There's really no point to just start with a hostile post except to throw away standards of communication. The worst Crow said is "some taxation might be required". It's not nearly as bad as your portrayal. By phrasing it as a dichotomy, Crow can only be EITHER an anarchist OR a communist. Since Crow is one of those, he is not worth listening to. This all would be okay if you said Crow's view implies communism or anarchy, but the sentence here is saying Crow IS one of those two. Usually I'd put this into a PM, but there is enough harshness here on top of rhetoric that I should say out loud that more rational discussion is required.

If Crow or Marc continue their spat, I'll delete their posts.

Now, I'll try to clean out the poisoned well. I won't do the whole post now, but Crow seems to be proposing that taxation may be required at least in limited capacity. The reason for this is concern about the free loader problem, preventing free loaders from expecting rights protection for no cost, and how to get people to pay enough. Free loaders will exist for sure. So, do we just not protect people who don't pay? Or do we force them to pay because funding is a prerequisite for having a government. If it's okay to not pay, social psychology indicates that it will lead to more people not paying if for no other reason than people see a signal that not paying is that much more acceptable. If it's not okay to not pay, what do you do to stop  free loaders?

Edited by Eiuol
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Naturally, free-loaders will always exist. The question is, with each individual, for how long, and to what degree? People can and do change, and may even become more rational (or less so) as they become more wealthy. Anyhow, I've never quite seen the problem of voluntary taxation. A nation of individual rights would be such a glaringly different dispensation, that it can be hard to imagine: However, I've full faith that when men a). learn to value what they see they have, and b.) realise that nothing is forced any longer - wallets will open accordingly, or even generously.

Edited by whYNOT
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Now, I'll try to clean out the poisoned well. I won't do the whole post now, but Crow seems to be proposing that taxation may be required at least in limited capacity. The reason for this is concern about the free loader problem, preventing free loaders from expecting rights protection for no cost, and how to get people to pay enough. Free loaders will exist for sure. So, do we just not protect people who don't pay? Or do we force them to pay because funding is a prerequisite for having a government. If it's okay to not pay, social psychology indicates that it will lead to more people not paying if for no other reason than people see a signal that not paying is that much more acceptable. If it's not okay to not pay, what do you do to stop  free loaders?

Thanks for that. You're presenting this differently than Crow. That difference is substantive. Crow says it is a rights violation to freeload. You're saying it represents an area of risk. While I agree with the second position, the first implies that rights must be violated to be protected. That's the kind of contradiction that invites us to check our premises.

Edited by FeatherFall
grammar, clarity
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Crow, I never once told you I was going to engage in moderator action to censor your argument. You've been censoring yourself, much to my chagrin. I was actually curious to see how you responded to some of the concerns I raised.

 

Cowardly. Uh huh. That's not a personal attack at all. No siree.

We were having a conversation in which I said your position implies a new moral concept which is itself distinct from rights. Never mind that I was the only person who raised this concern or that my position was unique. Never mind that you may have actually come up with a new concept and that I was inviting you to share. Instead of addressing my concern in your very next post you decided to assert that a bunch of "Objectivists" (my self included, presumably) were supporting anarchy. You talked completely past me with an assertion about anarchy, casually and simultaneously dismissing everything I said and everything everyone else said. You could have dispensed with assertions and shown why my critique is similar to others and why that position implies anarchy. But you didn't.

 

To assert an unsupported conclusion is to offer a non sequitur. Employing a non-sequitur to avoid talking about the implications in your own argument is an evasive tactic that shows more than a mere a lack of confidence in your own position. It's rude. So yes, speaking of cowardice evidenced by choices does speak to personal character. But it wasn't my intent to attack you. If you were hurt by what I said, then I'd like to offer a sincere apology. In turn, I'd like you to at least acknowledge that what I said was distinct from what others have said.

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We agree to disagree. I don't consider a government charging citizens for its services to be a "rights violation" anymore than Walmart charging its customers a "rights violation". I consider it, on the other hand, a rights violation for some people to enjoy the same service I enjoy but not pay for it and force the price of that service to cost more for those of us who do pay.

 

I also think it's unimaginable that such a system would scale to a very large pool of people, and I don't think Objectivism widely adopted will change the nature of Man enough to alter that assumption.

 

I also do not agree that Rights can exist outside the context of a government to protect them in any realistic, practical way in the modern world. Or to put it another way, having no government means your rights will be taken away from you rather instantly by evil people. I bring this up because this implies that since Rights are necessary to your survival--like food--you should pay to secure those rights, just like you pay to secure food. The argument in favor of allowing freeloaders free government is the same, therefore, as allowing freeloaders free food.

 

This is the heart of this disagreement. I've tried every way I know how to present it. Most people won't even read the paragraphs above, or just pull out a few "hot button" keywords and go off on some weird direction with them.

 

So all I seem to be able to do is make people very angry. I've learned what I need here, so I'll stop.

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Crow you might do yourself some benefit by studying up on the so-called free rider problem since you attach so much importance to it.

 

Are free riders a problem, and if so then why is the only solution government intervention?  Are there other solutions you don't even know about?

 

I suggest starting with the Wikipedia article on public goods as an introduction to the topic.

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Crow, I think you're calling the kettle black when you grumble about people not responding to your position; I've invited you twice to address the distinction between rights and the other moral principle to which you allude. This is a foundational issue that I think is important, but before I ask again for you to address it I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and double check that I've responded to your concerns.

I cannot address scalability; I simply don't have enough info. You could be right, but this issue might be moot in light of some things I've written further down this post. As far as rights existing without government, you know I've addressed that directly. To reiterate, other people don't take away rights, they violate them. To contend that other people are capable of taking away your rights is to imply a definition of rights that goes something like, "the state of freedom from the use of force." This definition creates the need for a new moral concept that can be used to identify differing degrees of normativity. I agree with you when you write that people should pay for the things they use; but the concept that justifies the use of force must be hashed out before we can go from should to should be forced. This concept draws that normative line. I call this concept a right.  You haven't named it but to say that it isn't called a right.

 

I've reviewed what you said about government charging for services (in this thread and others). Your position appears to be that fees for services are a more effective way to get people to contribute than donations, i.e. "voluntary taxation". The other thread is more clear on this. That's great; I have absolutely no argument against the government charging fees for some services like copyright protection, property registration, etc. Unfortunately, statements you made in post 58 confused the issue for me. This, specifically:

 

 

"The alternative is that we tax people based on the services we democratically agree that we want and pay for those services insofar as we use them (viz. property value tax since more property = more protection; contract tax based on the value of the contract being protected; etc. etc.)."

 

It appears that the "semantic" issue you mentioned earlier is the result of everyone on the thread, myself included, using sloppy definitions. As far as I can tell, both a fee for service structure and a donation structure are forms of voluntary taxation. Levying a tax on property would not be voluntary. We could approximate a tax on property by having people register land for protection and charging a fee. That fee could be decided either democratically or through an elected executive, but its payment and the protection that comes with it could be optional. If this is what you meant in post 58, or at least a compromise you could make, then I think we can agree. To recap, there are three separate tax schemes we are talking about.

1) Donations. This is voluntary. You think they're unscalabe (they could be).

2) Fee for service; Don't pay a fee, don't get protection. This is voluntary.
3) Taxation with levies affixed to value of services rendered. This is involuntary and not so different than what we have now.

 

Is the scheme you are advocating closer to position 2 or position 3?

Edited by FeatherFall
Several edits for Clarity
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1) Donations. This is voluntary. You think they're unscalabe (they could be).

2) Fee for service / no fee no protection. This is voluntary.

3) Taxation with levies affixed to value of services rendered. This is involuntary and not so different than what we have now.

 

Is the scheme you are advocating closer to position 2 or position 3?

 

 

I began the thread by stating that the only possibility is either 2 or 3. #1 is practically speaking impossible and also morally wrong as it forces people to pay for others whom they do not care. I did not get into which I thought was better.

 

The idea in #2 was vaguely floated by Ayn Rand in the her "stamp tax" idea. This approach certainly would work for a broad swatch of transactions. Basically any contract you wish to have enforced by the government you pay a tax on. You may engage in non-protected contracts to your heart's desire, but those will executed be outside the realm of Law entirely. If an unprotected contract goes south, the parties only recourse is to cease to do business with one another.

 

Obviously this approach would not work in the Criminal realm of law, nor would it work for regional or national defense.

 

One interesting synthesis here would be the following. What the government charged for transactions based on a certain schedule (based on the contract value, complexity of the contract, likelihood of problems, difficulty to protect [viz. international transactions cost a lot more since they imply a military]), etc.

 

Now imagine the government charged some percentage more than those transactions actually cost and used the left over money to pay for rest. Thus government financing would still be completely voluntary (insofar as you consider the above scheme to be so) and also fully financed.

 

However, there's a crucial point to be made here: my proposal here is not fully "voluntary" in the sense that you receive, and all cases, the full protection of your rights unless you pay the government. Many here have said that they do not consider that "voluntary". (I personally don't like to use that term at all).

 

As far as I'm concerned, you should pay your own way for government protection, and if you don't pay and the government does not protect your Rights--and then your Rights get effectively taken away violated by others--then that is fine since you must work to protect your Rights in the real world just as you work to secure food and shelter in the real world.

 

Hence while the above scheme "works" on some level, there are still a lot problems with it. In particular it would probably lead to the entire burden of government shifting to a small number of payers, and would likely give rise to shadow government services (viz. arbitration companies for corporate contracts [which do exist today]) who would have a huge margin to work with since they would not have to pay for the rest of government. This effect would compound on itself since the fewer payers to the system would mean even higher profit required for the remaining transactions, in turn increasing the incentive to skip the system, and so on.

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