Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Taxes

Rate this topic


The Guru Kid
 Share

Recommended Posts

I know that the construction of the Great Wall of China was funded entirely off of government lottery, we should see if government can be funded the same way.
You can't know such a thing, because it's untrue.

Whether or not government, limited to its proper function, it funded by voluntary contribution or lottery, there is no reason to duobt that such a financing scheme would work. Of course it has not been tried, since no government has actually been limited to its proper functions, so there aren't any historical precedents. But I don't think that matters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 65
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Hello Miles, welcome to the forum!

Before you post a question, you should try the search feature, which is located in your upper-right hand corner. Click "More Search Options" and then "Advanced Usage Help" for better results. You will quickly find that many questions such as yours have already been discussed extensively on the forum, adding up to a wealth of knowledge. After reading through, if you have any further inquiries or topics of discussion, that's why everyone's here!

In fact, your tax question was just asked last month, where David also provided a good "intro" answer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, I'm new to this forum and yet have always been very found of Ayn Rands writtings. I wanted to ask a question however about taxes. Is it possible to fund a government (police, courts, military) off nothing but voluntary donations?

Welcome to the forum. Nice Dire Straits avatar.

I recommend reading Ayn Rand's essay Government Financing in a Free Society. It is contained in both of the books Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Miles White wrote:

I know that the construction of the Great Wall of China was funded entirely off of government lottery, we should see if government can be funded the same way.

We could also ask if government could be funded by government casinos and race tracks, which are other forms of gambling. And why limit it to games of chance? Why not funding through government gas stations, government supermarkets, government amusement parks or anything else people spend money on? After all, if government is going to compete with organizers of games of chance, why not with other entrepreneurs as well?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We could also ask if government could be funded by government casinos and race tracks, which are other forms of gambling. And why limit it to games of chance? Why not funding through government gas stations, government supermarkets, government amusement parks or anything else people spend money on? After all, if government is going to compete with organizers of games of chance, why not with other entrepreneurs as well?

Assuming he's being sarcastic, I agree with our prudent predator here. I've never understood why the government should be allowed to run a lottery. I mean, if an individual (even one associated with the government) wants to start a private lottery and give all or some of the proceeds to the government, fine, but why should the government run a lottery... And now that I'm writing about it outloud (yeah that didn't make sense), what's the difference between a government run industry and an industry run by a private individual if the government run industry doesn't use force to keep itself in power and doesn't fund itself through force (i.e. taxation)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And now that I'm writing about it outloud (yeah that didn't make sense), what's the difference between a government run industry and an industry run by a private individual if the government run industry doesn't use force to keep itself in power and doesn't fund itself through force (i.e. taxation)?

Got an example of one?

I think a practical argument is why does a business that does none of these things need to be owned by the govt. Answer: because one day it will do some of these things by virtue of its "special" relationship with the govt. The same reason we have separation of powers by design in govt. Because without it, you tend toward concentration of powers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[What is] the difference between a government run industry and an industry run by a private individual if the government run industry doesn't use force to keep itself in power and doesn't fund itself through force (i.e. taxation)?

How would the government pay for the initial setup costs of an enterprise without either taxing citizens immediately or borrowing money (and potentially risking taxing citizens in the future)? Financing such a venture without some form of taxation is infeasible.

Kendall is also correct in that there is no reason for the government to enter such a competitive market.

Edited by DarkWaters
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Without having checked, I would be surprised if the issue of taxation hasn't been extensively discussed in prior threads on this board. In any case, I will suggest a few points to consider.

First, eliminating compulsory taxation would be among the last reforms to be accomplished, not among the first. The reason is simple. Government must stop spending in all the illegitimate areas first. Government's only responsibility is to protect our rights to life and property. It does so by serving as the delegated body that uses force in protection of our rights. The only services it should perform are military defense, the police, courts and prisons. Nothing else.

What percentage of today's government spending goes for these purposes? I would venture a good guess that it is less than 20% (defense alone is just 4.4% of GDP). By far, the largest areas of government spending are also areas that forcibly involve violations of rights, and they would not exist in a free society. This includes public education, and all forms of welfare spending, including spending for public housing, medical care, old age "pensions" and many other programs.

Now imagine your own tax bill at 1/5th its current size. That is what would be funded by voluntary means.

As for those means, any voluntary method is acceptable. It can be a lottery. There is no reason to suspect the government would be unsuccessful with a lottery, especially when the population understood its purpose, that it would fund vital government programs. People could view it almost as a donation to government, but one that gives them the chance of winning a large amount of money. Lotteries are very successfully used by many state governments today across the country.

Although a lottery could be an important source of funds for the much-shrunken laissez faire government, I suspect the principal source would simply be fees paid for government services. Examples would include payment of fees for court proceedings, payment of a fee for governmental enforcement of contracts, even payment of fees under certain contexts for police services. (Today some police services are paid for, such as when off-duty police officers are hired at concerts, etc.)

The key is shrinking the size of government to its proper functions. If government were shrunk to its proper size, that means freeing a lot of productive energy, and the deployment of a lot of capital that used to go to government. The economy would grow much faster. All of us would have a higher standard of living and higher incomes, from which government is supported. Thus, in a laissez faire society, not only would government be smaller, but incomes would be much larger. The burden of supporting government is made that much lighter.

I would also not rule out charitable donations to support government. Today that occurs on a very limited scale, with organizations such as the Policemen's Benevolent Association and various groups that support the armed forces. Government would be so small and Americans would be so wealthy that I could envision wealthy patrons actually supporting specific government activities with donations. For example, how about writing a big check to government and naming an aircraft carrier or battleship after yourself? How about corporate sponsorships of missiles and even army divisions? How about naming a jail or courthouse after yourself?

It is in everyone's self-interest to have a well-functioning, well-funded government. Fees alone would be able to support it, but government could also be a cause supported by charity much like the public library or local art museum are supported by charity. Wealthy patrons appreciate the value of those institutions and support them; the same could apply to government.

In any case, because voluntary "taxation" is a last-stage issue, it is not overly important to nail down how it would work now. It is only necessary to make a good prima facie case that it could be done. I am convinced that more than a prima facie case has been made already. Let's get government off our backs first by shrinking it so that it only performs its proper policing functions. When that is accomplished, creative minds, perhaps ours, will figure out good, viable ways for government to collect the funds it needs to operate, without violating anyone's rights.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Galileo Blogs wrote:

As for those means, any voluntary method is acceptable. It can be a lottery. There is no reason to suspect the government would be unsuccessful with a lottery, especially when the population understood its purpose, that it would fund vital government programs. People could view it almost as a donation to government, but one that gives them the chance of winning a large amount of money. Lotteries are very successfully used by many state governments today across the country.

Do you know of any government lotteries that compete directly against legal, privately-run lotteries?

Although a lottery could be an important source of funds for the much-shrunken laissez faire government, I suspect the principal source would simply be fees paid for government services. Examples would include payment of fees for court proceedings, payment of a fee for governmental enforcement of contracts, even payment of fees under certain contexts for police services. (Today some police services are paid for, such as when off-duty police officers are hired at concerts, etc.)

I, too, am a proponent of the fee-for-services approach. And I understand from your phrase “under certain contexts” that fees would not be assessed in every case. For example, I assume that you would not charge a murder victim’s family to track down and try the killer. What would be the criterion for separating those who pay from those who don’t?

I would also not rule out charitable donations to support government. Today that occurs on a very limited scale, with organizations such as the Policemen\'s Benevolent Association and various groups that support the armed forces. Government would be so small and Americans would be so wealthy that I could envision wealthy patrons actually supporting specific government activities with donations. For example, how about writing a big check to government and naming an aircraft carrier or battleship after yourself? How about corporate sponsorships of missiles and even army divisions? How about naming a jail or courthouse after yourself?

I do not disagree with any of the above. However, how do you answer those who worry about the potential bias that might follow a large donation?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

I do not disagree with any of the above. However, how do you answer those who worry about the potential bias that might follow a large donation?

If the donation were targeted, as required by law (in our theoretical world, anyway), what "bias" could come about? :confused:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, donations could present corruption problems. Those issues would have to be dealt with.

Corruption would not go away in a laissez-faire world. It would, however, have far less serious consequences than it does in a society, like ours, where government is not constitutionally and legally limited to the protection of rights.

The reach of a corrupt wealthy donor in a laissez-faire world would be limited in so many ways. He could not use his corrupt influence of government to hamstring competitors through regulations, for example. That is an everyday occurrence today.

I suspect that corruption among some donors would be a small and manageable problem in a laissez-faire society. In any case, I do not think funding government would require donations since fees should be able to provide the bulk, if not all, of the money government needs to operate.

Some examples:

Fee for a court proceeding

Fee paid for government to enforce your contract

Link to comment
Share on other sites

However, how do you answer those who worry about the potential bias that might follow a large donation?
This objection is the political equivalent of the 6 year old bratty brother saying "I know you are but what am I?"A potential bias exists following a large donation, a small donation, or no donation; a potential bias exists because of hair color, height, dialect, what the judge or cop had for breakfast, or anything at all, even whether there was a meteor shower the night before. Therefore the objection "there is a potential bias" has no cash value. Since imaginary bias exists regardless of source of funding (of anything), it has no place in a rational discussion of the operation of government.

If you're familiar with the idea of objective law, you should recognise that this argument is a complete red herring. It's only under subjective law that we need to be concerned about bribery.

The one interesting question here is the one raised by Shea, on the propriety of government competing with private business, for example in lotteries or manufacturing.

Edited by DavidOdden
Link to comment
Share on other sites

DavidOdden wrote:

This objection is the political equivalent of the 6 year old bratty brother saying “I know you are but what am I?”A potential bias exists following a large donation, a small donation, or no donation; a potential bias exists because of hair color, height, dialect, what the judge or cop had for breakfast, or anything at all, even whether there was a meteor shower the night before. Therefore the objection “there is a potential bias” has no cash value. Since imaginary bias exists regardless of source of funding (of anything), it has no place in a rational discussion of the operation of government.

I realize that in an Objectivist society no corrupt official would ever be elected or appointed to power because citizens would never allow themselves to be ruled by people who permitted personal advantage to influence policy.

But is the question not reasonable in the context of a pre-Objectivist world? While an Objectivist bureaucrat would treat donors and non-donors indifferently, a weaker public servant may regard a donor whose gift just raised the salaries of all government employees by 30% with inappropriate affection. Is it beyond the pale to imagine that such a donor might receive more favorable treatment than a non-donor?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I realize that in an Objectivist society no corrupt official would ever be elected or appointed to power because citizens would never allow themselves to be ruled by people who permitted personal advantage to influence policy.
Whatever: you don't seem to understand the point. Your question is based on sensesless assumptions from any perspective. If you're claiming that some people may be corruptible, fine: so what? This is a completely non-distinguishing fact. Why are you raising an irrelevant point? Did you actually read the post to which you replied? Prove that a free society leads to increased chances of corruption and you have something to talk about, otherwise you have nothing to contribute here. I'd think that by now, you would realize that.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I realize that in an Objectivist society no corrupt official would ever be elected or appointed to power because citizens would never allow themselves to be ruled by people who permitted personal advantage to influence policy.

But is the question not reasonable in the context of a pre-Objectivist world? While an Objectivist bureaucrat would treat donors and non-donors indifferently, a weaker public servant may regard a donor whose gift just raised the salaries of all government employees by 30% with inappropriate affection. Is it beyond the pale to imagine that such a donor might receive more favorable treatment than a non-donor?

I can see that this thread has been Brenner-ized. The tactic is to switch to an impossible standard when evaluating the Objectivist position. So, Objectivism only "works" if all people are rational, no one cheats or steals, etc. This is a ridiculous concept, similar to the Marxist idea that human nature will change under the benign influence of Marxism so that the state can just wither away.

The state doesn't wither away in an Objectivist society. On the contrary, a strong and strictly delimited government is established to protect rights. Police are needed, because there will be criminals. Courts are needed to enforce laws. Corruption, fraud, theft and murder are all illegal in an Objectivist society. Would these things disappear if society were dominated by rational ideas? Of course, not. That is why a government is necessary, to protect us from people who choose to be irrational.

Another aspect of "Brenner-ization" is to focus on a less consequential aspect of an argument, and blow it up as if that is the whole argument. You have done that with the idea of donating to government.

Instead of try to defend the strawman that you have constructed, I will simply refer back to my original post. I think it was clear. Financing a small, laissez-faire government is entirely feasible.

Edited by Galileo Blogs
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just realized something, if governments were funded entirley off of voluntary donations wouldn't that mean that government would be part of the private sector and not the public? And if thats the case then whats preventing the government from being ran aristocratically like any buisness or why should government defend the rights of people who don't support it? Like a resturant for example wouldn't just give away sandwhiches all willy nilly, they expect a quid pro quo exchange. Why shouldn't government also ask for this exchange?

Edited by Miles White
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just realized something, if governments were funded entirley off of voluntary donations wouldn't that mean that government would be part of the private sector and not the public?
That's what it means for a thread to be Brennerized. Your question is a variant of Brenner's "question". Nothing stops governments, or anyone, from being irrational. Period. That's the way it is when you're dealing with volitional beings. I refer you to the notions of objective law and purpose of government.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

DavidOdden

Whatever: you don\\\'t seem to understand the point. Your question is based on sensesless assumptions from any perspective. If you’re claiming that some people may be corruptible, fine: so what?

The “so what” can be found in my response to Galileo Blogs’s proposal of “wealthy patrons . . . supporting specific government activities with donations.”

I wrote, “I do not disagree with any of the above. However, how do you answer those who worry about the potential bias that might follow a large donation?”

In other words, I have no objection to such a means of financing government. However, republics that agree to such a means should recognize the attendant cost: the temptation of enriched officials to repay the large donor with special treatment.

This is a completely non-distinguishing fact.

That is true only as long as donors do not receive advantageous treatment as a result of their generosity. However, as soon as the first advantage is conferred, a distinction can be made between rule by law and rule by donation.

Why are you raising an irrelevant point?

The object in the sentence above is an empty set. I don’t know why anyone would raise an irrelevant point. I can however, say why I am raising the point about the opportunities for misrule that large donations can tempt, which is very much a relevant point: if law can be purchased, then law can be corrupted.

Did you actually read the post to which you replied?

Yes, and replied to the post which I read.

Prove that a free society leads to increased chances of corruption

Why should I? That is not my thesis. I am merely raising the question of whether even in free societies large donors might gain special clout in high places.

In fact, the person I addressed the question to said corruption was a possible outcome: “Yes, donations could present corruption problems. Those issues would have to be dealt with.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am merely raising the question of whether even in free societies large donors might gain special clout in high places.
That doesn't not explain why you would raise the question. You are not seeking information, the way a person does when they ask "How much does that book cost" or "What is the capital of Albania". "Raising questions" is simply a way of arguing against a position, without having to take intellectual responsibility for the possibility that the objection is irrelevant. The imaginary outcome of corruption has no relevance at all to whether government should be funded through contribution as opposed to some other means.

Drawing attention to this imaginary possibility, while failing to do likewise for a host of other imaginary possibilities, implies that the corruption possibility is particularly deserving of attention. As with all arbitrary claims, your deserves to be ignored, until you shoulder the burden of providing some real proof that there is a problem with voluntary funding. In fact all you have done is point out what we all know, that volitional beings can violate the law. You have no evidence that in a free society, men would be more likely to violate the law, so you haven't contributed anything to this discussion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DavidOdden wrote:

That doesn’t not explain why you would raise the question.

I have just one reason: I’m interested in the answer.

You are not seeking information, the way a person does when they ask “How much does that book cost” or “What is the capital of Albania”. “Raising questions” is simply a way of arguing against a position, without having to take intellectual responsibility for the possibility that the objection is irrelevant.

To prove that this is not true, all you have to do is read my post to see that I twice expressed my agreement with GalileoB.

The imaginary outcome of corruption has no relevance at all to whether government should be funded through contribution as opposed to some other means.

If that is true, then we could also say that the imaginary outcome of the corruption of policemen has nothing to do with whether they should be allowed to accept cash gifts from the motorists they stop.

Drawing attention to this imaginary possibility, while failing to do likewise for a host of other imaginary possibilities, implies that the corruption possibility is particularly deserving of attention.

I can think of only three possibilities that have any relevance to the effect a large donation might have on the performance of government officials.

1. The government will function with no partiality at all.

2. The government will function with partiality toward the donor.

3. The government will function with bias toward the donor.

Perhaps there are others.

As with all arbitrary claims, your deserves to be ignored, until you shoulder the burden of providing some real proof that there is a problem with voluntary funding.

As soon as I change my thesis to “Voluntary Financing Is Bad for Government,” I will look for some proof. In the meantime, I’m sticking to what I said in Post #34: “I do not disagree with” charitable donations to government.

In fact all you have done is point out what we all know, that volitional beings can violate the law. You have no evidence that in a free society, men would be more likely to violate the law, so you haven\'t contributed anything to this discussion.

If I had actually said “in a free society, men would be more likely to violate the law,” I would have to admit I had no evidence for that at all. However, I should let you know that I did not ask a question about the respective corruptibility of officials in free and statist societies.

Rather my question dealt strictly with this issue: “the potential bias that might follow a large donation.”

That is all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have just one reason: I’m interested in the answer.

I think the reason why your question appears so disingenuous or suspect is because the question is of such a simplistic nature that there is no way you should not already know the answer. If you are legitimately asking if it is possible for people to be corrupt, which is essentially what you are asking, then you are a moron. I really don't think you are a moron but there is far more evidence to suggest that you have some motive to cast the philosophy of Objectivism in a bad light.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RationalBiker

I think the reason why your question appears so disingenuous or suspect is because the question is of such a simplistic nature that there is no way you should not already know the answer.

Yet I have been given two very different answers:

GalileoBlogs: “Yes, donations could present corruption problems. Those issues would have to be dealt with.”

DavidOdden: “Since imaginary bias exists regardless of source of funding (of anything), it has no place in a rational discussion of the operation of government.”

So one contributor says donations could lead to corruption. Another says donations have no more bias effect than any other source of funding.

Which of these two very different answers was I supposed to know already?

If you are legitimately asking if it is possible for people to be corrupt, which is essentially what you are asking, then you are a moron.

That was not my question.

I really don’t think you are a moron but there is far more evidence to suggest that you have some motive to cast the philosophy of Objectivism in a bad light.

The financing of government is a question of interest to anyone who favors a society without coercion. Since such a society is endorsed by quite a few who are not Objectivists (myself for one), the question can hardly cast a bad light on Objectivists in particular.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The “so what” can be found in my response to Galileo Blogs’s proposal of “wealthy patrons . . . supporting specific government activities with donations.”

I wrote, “I do not disagree with any of the above. However, how do you answer those who worry about the potential bias that might follow a large donation?”

You have been given the answer to this question already.

One can't avoid corruption in any system but one can limit its reach and consequences by limiting the governing body only to functions which are essential and nothing beyond that.

The consequences of this potential bias in a free society in which the role of a government is limited only to the protection of rights with a strict adherance to rational code of ethics and objective law (it is a bit of redundancy to say that as one implies the other) would be very small. It would be the lowest possible.

Edited by ~Sophia~
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...