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CWilliams
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Now obviously everyone here agrees the only function of government should be to protect the rights of its citizens, which means a legal system, police force and a military force.

However in a state where all taxation is voluntary would it not be acceptable for the government to have other functions assuming it is not exercising force in funding and/or carrying out these functions?

 

For example if the voters in our hypothetical state decided they wanted government run elementary schools, the voters then voluntary funded these schools, would this not be an acceptable function of government?

 

Basically my question is if no force is exercised why should government be limited, if i decide that it is in my rational self-interest to fund a basic education for children who otherwise couldn't afford it (and enough others also decide this) would it become a justified function of government?

Edited by CWilliams
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In what sense would this school system be different from a group of citizens who created a cooperative school. In other words, what makes it "governmental" if every single person contributing to it, and agreeing to follow its rules in any way is doing so willingly under a private contract?

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Ok, thank you that makes sense.

So 'government enterprise' is perfectly acceptable assuming it follows the same laws as 'private enterprise', and to be defined 'governmental' it must include the use of force (such as detaining a criminal, etc.).

So, therefore, big government (as in the government providing a large number of services) is not a problem as long as no force is used.

Does this mean that from an Objectivist point of view the only problem with a 'welfare state' is that the money used to fund it is taken by force, and less directly implemented by force?

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Does this mean that from an Objectivist point of view the only problem with a 'welfare state' is that the money used to fund it is taken by force, and less directly implemented by force?

You mean a welfare state as opposed to (say) a soup kitchen? Between those two, yes the main distinction is the use of force. In law, Objectivism would not outlaw charity.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Because it is dangerous for the same people who have a monopoly on force to control anything else. By having both a school system and the police included in the same institution, controlled by the same people, the same processes and funded through a shared budget, it makes it very likely that force will become involved, even if it isn't to begin with. There's nothing wrong with a separate entity, funded through similar voluntary contributions and fees providing not-for-profit services, but it can't be tied to government. 

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Given the hypothetical state, one I assume that is based on the principle that the sole purpose of is the protection of individual rights, where does majority rule of acceptable services provided, come in ? And how would government provided services even somehow funded without coercion in any sense , by possible or more desirable then those that would arise from the actions of free individuals in the open market?

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Because it is dangerous for the same people who have a monopoly on force to control anything else. By having both a school system and the police included in the same institution, controlled by the same people, the same processes and funded through a shared budget, it makes it very likely that force will become involved, even if it isn't to begin with. There's nothing wrong with a separate entity, funded through similar voluntary contributions and fees providing not-for-profit services, but it can't be tied to government. 

I cannot fault your argument, however, and i'm getting slightly off topic, under a system of voluntary tax i think (and hope) that each individual would have control over which branch of government they are funding. I am implying that there wouldn't be a shared budget, i could give x amount of dollars to the police and y amount of dollars to the military and by purchasing good x (which the producer has voluntarily added a tax on to) i could be giving money to the legal system, etc. (i could go on indefinitely here)

 

I think a 'split' budget would be necessary because some individuals would value the police force higher than they value the military and vice versa. Now, working on the assumption that there is no shared budget and that there is no conflict of interest between different branches of government, would it not be acceptable for the government to provide other services, such as my earlier example of education, on the basis that this function is funded from a budget independent of other government budgets?

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And how would government provided services even somehow funded without coercion in any sense , by possible or more desirable then those that would arise from the actions of free individuals in the open market?

This is a valid point and i think you are correct in assuming that a service provided by private individuals would be more efficient and therefore more desirable. However this is not really my question, i just want to discuss whether government has the right/should be allowed to provide these services

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My larger point was that your stance necessitates "squaring majority rule" with a government based on the sole function of protecting individual rights.

I apologize, i don't seem to understand what you are saying could you please elaborate

 

When you say 'squaring majority rule' are you referring to vote buying? (that is my understanding of that term)

Why does a government have to be limited to only protecting individual rights? in other threads i have seen no objection to the government running a lottery or any other business venture in order to raise capital, how is running a lottery OK whilst providing an educational system not? Where do we draw the line?

Edited by CWilliams
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Here is a hypothetical situation to elaborate on this:

 

In an Objectivist state, a group of elementary school CEO's get together and form an alliance, they decide they want a standardized testing system, they also decide they want this to be administered by the government (Now i'm sure they could do it themselves or hire a private entity but in my hypothetical situation they don't). To fund this testing system they add a small tax to their tuition fees. No force has been used to fund this operation, no force has been used to implement it, no school is forced to use this system and no school (even the ones who use it) are forced to pay for it. 

 

Would the government be allowed to provide this service even though it is not 'protecting individual rights'?

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I apologize, i don't seem to understand what you are saying could you please elaborate

 

When you say 'squaring majority rule' are you referring to vote buying? (that is my understanding of that term)

Why does a government have to be limited to only protecting individual rights? in other threads i have seen no objection to the government running a lottery or any other business venture in order to raise capital, how is running a lottery OK whilst providing an educational system not? Where do we draw the line?

I was referring to the mechanism that permits voters to vote for certain services to be provided.
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Any time government provides other services, that is, services other than the protection of individuals' rights and the defense of its borders, those services must be paid for through taxation. (One other means is to borrow, leading to borrowing excessively, effectively mortgaging the future generations' incomes.) In general, the payment of taxes is rarely voluntary, and non-payment carries a penalty. In order for a system to qualify as voluntary, such as this proposed hypothetical elementary school, it would be funded entirely through payments by the users, that is, the parents or legal guardians of the students attending. Any other means of funding is placing the burden of cost on those who voted against the proposed school. It doesn't matter that that minority was out-voted; they become an oppressed minority, penalized by an oppressive majority. Such a system would be a violation of Objectivist ethics.

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Here is a hypothetical situation to elaborate on this:

 

In an Objectivist state, a group of elementary school CEO's get together and form an alliance, they decide they want a standardized testing system, they also decide they want this to be administered by the government (Now i'm sure they could do it themselves or hire a private entity but in my hypothetical situation they don't). To fund this testing system they add a small tax to their tuition fees. No force has been used to fund this operation, no force has been used to implement it, no school is forced to use this system and no school (even the ones who use it) are forced to pay for it. 

 

Would the government be allowed to provide this service even though it is not 'protecting individual rights'?

I find is hard to make this concrete. let's assume that the government consists of military, police and courts. Now, a group of schools want to set up and fund a standardized testing system. What does it mean to say they want "the government" to administer it, with funds that they will pay? Does it mean some existing cops, judges, or colonels will stop doing what they do and focus on administering school tests? I presume not. You probably mean that some people who know that field will be hired, using money the schools contribute. presumably, they will not be using any government facility. Also, presumably, this testing organization has absolutely no power outside of the contractual agreement signed by the schools. So, what makes it "government"? 

 

Here's a counter hypothetical: suppose a testing organization were set up by the same schools, with the same voluntary funding. Also suppose they do not term it "government". How is it different? It seems to me that in your hypothetical, you're asking something along these lines: suppose I set up my own private organization, can I call it "government"? 

 

Not trying to be thick here, but I really don't get how your hypothetical is different? In what way other than using the term "government"?

Edited by softwareNerd
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Ok i think we might be arguing in circles here, 

If you were writing the constitution for a new state would you restrict government to only being allowed to protect the individual rights of its citizens, therefore prohibiting any other government function regardless of whether it was the wish of the citizens and involved no use of force.?

 

I should have been clearer, basically i have seen a contradiction in other threads and wanted to establish which premise was correct. Premise 1 being 'that the only function of government is to protect the rights of individuals' and premise 2 being that the government could operate as a business in other industries.

If the only function of government is to protect the rights of individuals it cannot (as an example) operate a lottery or any other other business (which of course includes my hypothetical educational system).

Either the government is allowed any function that competes with/in the private sector (without the use of force) or it is only allowed the one function (of protecting rights).

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I should have been clearer, basically i have seen a contradiction in other threads and wanted to establish which premise was correct. Premise 1 being 'that the only function of government is to protect the rights of individuals' and premise 2 being that the government could operate as a business in other industries.

If the only function of government is to protect the rights of individuals it cannot (as an example) operate a lottery or any other other business (which of course includes my hypothetical educational system).

Either the government is allowed any function that competes with/in the private sector (without the use of force) or it is only allowed the one function (of protecting rights).

Actually, government-sponsored lotteries can be the basis of a voluntary form of taxation. I would be opposed to restricting government from engaging in any other form of enterprise, but the funding of said enterprises must not be collected through force.

The idea is to allow citizens to collect and use their wealth in the manner of their choosing.

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CWilliams:

 

The concept "government" is not a label for ANY organization that happens to fulfill the

proper role of government : protecting individual rights.

 

To the extent an organization fulfills the proper role of government, it can be called a

government and it is acting as a government... but in order for that organization to BE

THE GOVERNMENT it cannot do anything else.  The dangers posed by the monopoly over the initiation of force and its potential use in cases of conflict of interest are far too serious for an government to dabble in non-governmental activities.

 

The mere fact that an organization you CALL a government COULD say... invest in the energy industry, fund a film, build a soupkitchen, start taking care of homeless dogs and cats, or provide a "hitman" for hire service... AND that some individuals who... nominally at least.. are responsible for funding the organization to perform the proper role of government ASK it to perform those activities.... does not confer onto those activities the attribute of a "governmental role". It should be very clear that ALL THE ACTIVITIES the organization happens to do, if they fall outside of the activities forming the proper role of government, ARE NOT PART OF GOVERNING and by definition not performed by GOVERNMENT.

 

A rational society would not let the SAME organization perform as the government ... while laundering money or opening a soup kitchen. Any organization purporting to be government which engages in any role not proper to a government and claiming that it forms part of governance is corrupt... and allowing it to dabble in nongovernmental activities is incredibly imprudent.

 

That said, activity of any nongovernmental organization voluntarily funded by any group, whether they are the productive taxpayers of an Objectivist society or any other group, is simply a private enterprise.  It has no right to initiate force and is not required to protect anyone's rights.... and it has nothing to do with government.

 

NOTE: Massive EDITS.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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So the government can not do anything except protect the rights of individuals?

Therefore the threads on this site that advocate a 'government' (the organistaion that protects our rights) run lottery to raise money to fund 'government' activities are wrong.

 

Here is an earlier thread that discussed the merits of a government run lottery

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22606&hl=%22voluntary+taxation%22

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Premise A. The only proper purpose for person Y is to raise cattle.

Premise B. Raising one's arm is an action which can contribute to raising cattle or can contribute to other things.

 

Conclusion 1)  Person Y should not "raise his arm" because it is not the same thing as "raising cattle".

Conclusion 2)  Person Y should raise his arm because it is what makes raising cattle possible.

Conclusion 3) Person Y should raise his arm to the extent it helps raise cattle (his purpose) but raising his arm is not a requirement if he can do other things to raise cattle... it depends on what is most efficient, timely etc.

 

 

What is your conclusion?

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What about a theme park, called Government Land? Or a spa? Perhaps running a record label, called Washington's Headphones?

Sure, no problem, just as long as these enterprises are not operated at the taxpayers' expense.

 

EDIT: Anyone voluntarily paying an attendance fee, or purchasing a license, does not qualify as a taxpayer, in this instance.

Edited by Repairman
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CWilliams --

 

Suffice it to say that there are two distinct stances on taxation among Objectivists, as per the old thread you linked to above, and many others. I suggest you read through the whole thing if you have the time.

 

The tl;dr for me is that Ayn Rand said that there is freewill, which is self-evident, and that cannot be logically squared with people imagining that in a "future world", everybody will do the right thing and finance the government, or even a meaningful majority of them will. The argument against taxation, for me, is an argument against any realistically plausible government and thus an argument for anarchy, which we all agree is completely irrational. Others think volunteer financing would work just fine, and therefore taxation is immoral. Clearly we're both making educated guesses on future human behavior.

 

I spend a lot of time admonishing Objectivists to think about the real world rather than stories and castles in the sky. How exactly would some future you have in mind work? Don't evade the topic by thinking, "when education is no longer controlled by Socialists everybody will think better and everybody will do the right thing and it will all be okay somehow". No, think through how it would all really work, in the real world, right now. Do the math and figure out how much it would cost before you dismiss the entire problem as insignificant and not to be worried about.

 

It's hard, and takes some time (took me a couple of decades) but it's the only way to fully understand what you are talking about vs. just staying in line with a mindless narrative and spending all of your time tearing down negatives instead of building up a positives.

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Premise A. The only proper purpose for person Y is to raise cattle.

Premise B. Raising one's arm is an action which can contribute to raising cattle or can contribute to other things.

 

Conclusion 1)  Person Y should not "raise his arm" because it is not the same thing as "raising cattle".

Conclusion 2)  Person Y should raise his arm because it is what makes raising cattle possible.

Conclusion 3) Person Y should raise his arm to the extent it helps raise cattle (his purpose) but raising his arm is not a requirement if he can do other things to raise cattle... it depends on what is most efficient, timely etc.

 

 

What is your conclusion?

 

Conclusion 3, so in terms of my hypothetical situation 'The government should operate other 'functions' to the extent it helps serve its purpose of protecting the rights of it's citizens (Defense, Law & Order...) but if these other functions are not a requirement if it can do other things to protect its citizens.'

So i can draw the conclusion that just because a Government's purpose is to protect the rights of its citizens it is not limited to only this function, providing additional functions do not hinder its primary function they are acceptable,

 

 

CWilliams --

 

Suffice it to say that there are two distinct stances on taxation among Objectivists, as per the old thread you linked to above, and many others. I suggest you read through the whole thing if you have the time.

 

The tl;dr for me is that Ayn Rand said that there is freewill, which is self-evident, and that cannot be logically squared with people imagining that in a "future world", everybody will do the right thing and finance the government, or even a meaningful majority of them will. The argument against taxation, for me, is an argument against any realistically plausible government and thus an argument for anarchy, which we all agree is completely irrational. Others think volunteer financing would work just fine, and therefore taxation is immoral. Clearly we're both making educated guesses on future human behavior.

 

I spend a lot of time admonishing Objectivists to think about the real world rather than stories and castles in the sky. How exactly would some future you have in mind work? Don't evade the topic by thinking, "when education is no longer controlled by Socialists everybody will think better and everybody will do the right thing and it will all be okay somehow". No, think through how it would all really work, in the real world, right now. Do the math and figure out how much it would cost before you dismiss the entire problem as insignificant and not to be worried about.

 

It's hard, and takes some time (took me a couple of decades) but it's the only way to fully understand what you are talking about vs. just staying in line with a mindless narrative and spending all of your time tearing down negatives instead of building up a positives.

 

Thank you you have given me a lot to think about

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It's been a long time since I've read something that fits the term "floating abstraction" as well as what CWilliams is talking about.  Apparently, all voters have to do is "vote" for the government to "provide a service" and it magically happens.  I think he has been reading too much Rothbard.  A government does not provide a service.  It provides a system of laws to protect individual rights.  Using his scenario, the govt. would have to pass a law creating his system of schools (or whatever other "service" he deems some group wants), and such law would have to be applied to everyone, as any objective law would.  So his suggestion is outright contradictory: his voluntary service immediately becomes coercive.  

 

CWilliams asserts "a Government's purpose is to protect the rights of its citizens" without providing any evidence as to why this is so or how it achieves its purpose, as if providing services is all that a government does, as if providing other voluntary services could possibly be within the purview of government action.

 

 

 

Edited by A is A
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