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morality of accepting subsidies/using Amtrak if you DON't pay taxe

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Mnrchst
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Rand said it's OK to accept subsidies because you've already paid taxes. Since she also opposed people being parasites, I assume she also wanted people to only take in subsidies in some proportion to what they're paying the government.

However, what about those who don't pay any taxes? Should they accept subsidies/use amtrak. For example, suppose I'm unemployed and pay no taxes and I set up some solar panels on my roof and get a subsidy for it. Is this moral?

I'm leaning towards yes if I'm still paying the "embedded taxes" on goods--the prices go up because the businesspersons are getting taxed.

However, suppose I'm not buying anything from anyone else--I'm "living off the land" somewhere, and I get the solar subsidy. Is this moral?

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Where did she say this? Do you have a reference?

He might be paraphrasing her thoughts on student loans. I think that was essentially what her argument came down to in that case (that you had either already paid taxes or would pay taxes in the future, so student loans aren't immoral to accept)... But possibly that is not analogous to this situation.

Or am I confusing this with fellowships?

Edited by Maarten
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yes, that's what i'm referencing.
Have you read that essay recently? ("Question of Scholarships" - from "The Voice of Reason"). If not, and if you have access to it, I suggest you re-read it, because Rand does not suggest that anyone can actually figure out how much "the system" has cost them or how much they have paid in as taxes.

As Rand says in that essay: "The issue is primarily ideological, not financial. Minimizing the financial injury inflicted on you by the welfare-state laws, does not constitute support of welfare statism (since the purpose of such laws is to injure you) and is not morally reprehensible. Initiating, advocating, or expanding such laws is."

In your example, if the question is one of morality, I'd say the question I would start with is: why are you unemployed? For example, if the answer is "I'm a bum" or "I did all the wrong things and am now unqualified for a job", then the person in the example has much bigger moral problem to worry about than whether the window he buys has a government energy-efficiency subsidy somewhere in its supply chain. On the other hand, if the answer is: "I'm in college right now, studying for this job where I'm going to end up producing great stuff" then it is obvious that the person is going to end up "paying back" anything he takes now. For such a person, the financial question is no longer a factor. Instead, the key moral question is: do you support this type of system or oppose it? and, what do you do to change it?

A mixed economy is necessarily such a mess of regulation, cross-subsidization and redistribution that it is actually impossible to come up with a good number and say "this is what was taken from me". Also, as many Objectivists will argue, taking from the system -- even if you have paid in -- is not getting back your own money, but simply stealing it from others. One can go crazy trying to unravel the mess. As Rand continues in that essay, "It is a hard problem, and there are many situations so ambiguous and so complex that no one can determine what is the right course of action. That is one of the evils of welfare statism: its fundamental irrationality and immorality force men into contradictions where no course of action is right."

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Rand does not suggest that anyone can actually figure out how much "the system" has cost them or how much they have paid in as taxes.

I didn't say she did.

A mixed economy is necessarily such a mess of regulation, cross-subsidization and redistribution that it is actually impossible to come up with a good number and say "this is what was taken from me".

Right, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to. If you pay the government one billion dollars in taxes and it wants to give you two billion back in subsidies for building solar panels, I think you should refuse half of what they're giving you.

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Isn't it that case that your comment assumes that the extra one billion dollars would be better off in the hands of the government? If the government that exceeds its proper bounds in Objectivist ethics is illegitimate and committing crimes against property rights, why not take every opportunity to (lawfully) liberate as much money from the criminal government as much as possible on those grounds?

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Isn't it that case that your comment assumes that the extra one billion dollars would be better off in the hands of the government? If the government that exceeds its proper bounds in Objectivist ethics is illegitimate and committing crimes against property rights, why not take every opportunity to (lawfully) liberate as much money from the criminal government as much as possible on those grounds?

But you're not liberating it unless you've gotten the law changed to reduce taxes. If you take that money, then, ultimately, it's not going to "the government" (an abstraction), but to other people. This means you're effectively saying "I deserve money I didn't earn more than the people who actually did earn it" (because they are being taxed more than subsidized) or "I know how better to spend money than you do, so I'll let the government take it from you by force."

I think it's moral to not take more money from the government than what it gives you, because you're otherwise ensuring that more people will send more money to the government than they get back/increase the discrepancy for many people.

Of course, it's possible that the government will take the extra billion and give it to some guy who gets 5 billion from the government despite paying only 100 million in taxes. However, that would be up to the people in government--you're not sanctioning this by refusing it. But by taking more than you send to the government, I'd say you are sanctioning the notion that you deserve to profit from the initiation of force.

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However, what about those who don't pay any taxes? Should they accept subsidies/use amtrak. For example, suppose I'm unemployed and pay no taxes and I set up some solar panels on my roof and get a subsidy for it. Is this moral?

The question assumes an alternative exists.

It does not, at present.

Roads, Rails and Runways are all subsidized with money collected by threat of force. One cannot travel freely without benefiting from these ill gotten gains. No moral choice is available, so no definitive "should" can really be stated.

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This is definitely true with respect to transportation. However, it's not for direct subsidies--it's far easier to avoid those than the transportation subsidies.

True, but then again, NOBODY pays "no" taxes. Some people pay no federal income tax, true, but there is no avoiding taxes overall.

I wouldn't hesitate to take a tax break for anything I qualify for - solar panels, whatever. (Of course I *DO* pay federal income taxes as it is...)

On the other hand, I *wont* rent any of my rental properties out to section 8 - because the section 8 people will pay me more than the free market will - giving me a profit my fellow landlords don't get, at taxpayer expense.

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