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Unread postby football11f » Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:58 pm

Sun Hua wrote:We do have that right - once we have fulfilled our obligations to society by paying tax. We retain a large proportion of our incomes after tax you know.


Gee, I wonder where worthwhile projects 33% of my paycheck goes...

$200,000 for recreation improvements in North Pole
$100,000 to renovate a Coca-Cola building in Macon, Georgia
$1,300,000 for berry research
$1,099,000 for alternative salmon products
$30,000 for Great Lakes aquaculture
$500,000 for apple fire blight research in Michigan and New York
$234,000 for the National Wild Turkey Federation
$860,000 for Appalachian small farmer outreach
$70,000 for the Paper Industry Hall of Fame
$2 million for the buyback of the USS Sequoia Presidential Yacht
$50 million for an indoor rainforest in Coralville, Iowa
$225,000 to rehabilitate the Deer Park Pool in Sparks, which Rep. Gibbons clogged with tadpoles in the 1950s.
$90,000 for the National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame
$800,000 for the GRAMMY Foundation (Those actresses have so little cash that they can't afford enough clothing to cover their breasts)
$250,000 to implement the National Preschool Anger Management Project :lol:
$50,000 tattoo removal program in San Luis Obispo, California
$648,000 for ornamental fish research
$375 million amphibious assault ship the Navy doesn’t want
$232 million for the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska
$2 million for a waterless urinal :oops:
$797,000 for an outhouse in Pennsylvania :roll:
$640 toilet seats

Wow, talk about lifting the poor out of poverty...

Sun Hua wrote:A hyperbolic statement if ever there was one. If you cannot accept that you have an obligation to pay taxes, just as much as you have an obligation to obey the law, then you are an anarchist and a revolutionary.


I'll pay my taxes because I have to, and I do get some protection out of it. Taxes are necessary to raise money for police, firefighters, etc. However, when the government goes beyond protecting my property rights, it is overstepping its bounds and outright stealing from me.

I'm not an anarchist.

Sun Hua wrote:I ask again, which government services do you want to eliminate to reduce the tax burden? What are the consequences of doing so?


Everything except the army the police and the courts. Which account for less than a fifth of the government's current budget. The consequences of doing so would be economical prosperity beyond anything deemed possible these days.

[quote=”Sun Hua”]So what is the motivation of those people you know who do give to charity, and what proportion of their income do they give? It would be nice if you could present some evidence to counter Jimayo’s initial assertion that a majority do not give to charity out of pure kindness.[/quote]

How would I know what their motivation was unless I was psychic? I'm hardly privy as to how much they give either nor is it any of my business. The fact is you don't know either. I have based my judgment on my own observations that people do things to raise money for the poor/other charities all the time. I did provide an explanation as to why people who were strictly motivated by a tax break would have better options than giving to charity, which you failed to respond to.

[quote=”Sun Hua”]Interesting surmise, and allowable - just the same reason, in fact, why people give voluntary support to social welfare programmes that are otherwise paid for by taxation.[/quote]

First of all taxation is not voluntary, if it were I could refuse to pay it.

Second, you are trying to have it both ways. You are saying that government cannot cut taxes and welfare spending because people would not voluntarily support the poor if they did, but the reason we have taxation for welfare programs is because people are voluntarily paying for them. This is a contradiction.

Giving to charity is voluntary. Taxation is not.

Third, what proportion of income do you think people give to charity?
Whatever amount they feel is right, including 100% and 0%. That is called freedom.

Sun Hua wrote:The tax that we all pay is a demonstration of our participation in society and our obligations to our fellow citizens. If you don't like the way it is being spent, you can always vote for a different government. This is the way democracy works.


And would you feel that way if the winds of change caused the majority to vote for tax cuts and cuts to welfare spending or would you scream bloody murder? How would you feel if a Margret Thatcher clone was in power? How about if the British Fascist Party was elected into office? Quit hiding behind democracy and give me a logical answer as to why it is just to rob Peter to pay Paul.

If you decide you have no obligation to pay a small proportion of your income to help your fellow citizens, you are abrogating your responsibility to society. You are doing so in much the same way that a thief, a murderer, or a rapist is abrogating their responsibilities to society and to their fellow citizens. This is why we must pay tax, and why that tax must be used to help our fellow citizens and to meet our collective responsibilities in the world.


What obligation, what collective responsibilities? What is the principle that says we must give to the poor by force and not choice? Where do the needy’s entitlements come from?

You compare me to a thief if I don't support every program the government dreams up but the government is not a thief when they take my money against my will to pay for these programs? If I want to make my own choices as to who I want to help too bad, that is reserved for the government even if they give to causes I don't want to or I think are wrong, even if they squander my money, too bad.

What you are saying is the recipients that receive a portion of my income are somehow entitled to it even though they had no hand in creating it. In otherwords, I am a slave to the needy. What is their obligation to me? If obligation to others and not choice is at the foundation of all human interactions then the poor obviously have obligations to me as well. Or is it only the better off that have obligations to the poor? Your argument is just wrong. My obligation to society is to respect everyone else’s rights. No one has a right to my money just because the government says they do. I believe in charity, which is an act of benevolence towards our fellow human beings. I do not support taxation because it turns benevolence into compulsion. All the morality is removed from the act and duty takes its place. To be moral one has to first make a choice.

[quote=”Sun Hua”]Private charities do not have to answer to anyone as to whom they chose to help - they can be as discriminatory as they like.[/quote]

They answer to the people who give to them. You can always refuse a donation if you feel your money will be wasted. That’s why I will not donate a cent to Bono’s wild Africa fund that tends to end up in the pockets of wealthy, corrupt and cruel dictators.

[quote=”Sun Hua”]In fact without the legal system (paid for by taxation) they would have no protection from fraudsters.[/quote]

I agree, government should protect our property and civil rights. That means a strong legal system and a strong security force. It does not mean welfare, public education, public healthcare, redistribution, regulation etc. I’d be content paying 10% of my paycheck to big brother if it provided those things.

[quote=”Sun Hua”]We do have that right - once we have fulfilled our obligations to society by paying tax. [/quote]

For the last time, I would like an answer as to why we are obligated to feed our neighbors by force and not choice besides the fact that you think we are. Where does my neighbor derive his right to a portion of my income against my will? How does a third party, government, have the right to force me to do this? Give me the principle behind this obligation instead of sentimental guiltraps.

Having a social conscience is good, but when you think that it supersedes another’s right to make choices for themselves then that is not freedom- it is tyranny. Devote your life to helping the poor if you wish (I have the utmost respect for people who do) but let others decide what is best for them. Helping others is not an obligation to be forced- it is a choice to be encouraged, accept that fact. In the end, if they make the wrong choices, it is they who will go to Hell- not you.
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Unread postby SYL » Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:32 am

On debating style...

"accept that fact"


It is not a fact, it is your opinion. Too often I am seeing opinions and theories advanced as turths when they are nothing of the sort. Unless you have some evidence to support the claim that something is a "truth" (not merely something you "believe to be true") then you cannot claim it as such. I know I've been guilty of this in the past, it just means I'm not a good debater. That doesn't mean other people can be sloppy. ;)

If you go into things remembering that it's all an opinion, then I find things go that much smoother.

Give me the principle behind this obligation instead of sentimental guiltraps.


If you will excuse a humble attempt without resorting to such tried-and-true argument-winners as "your argument is just wrong" (sic): The principle behind the obligation is concern for the wellbeing of our fellow humans, and a desire to help balance out what is a grossly unfair world. It runs further to note that the world is unfair (unimaginably so), and is kept that way by those who are wealthy and want to keep it, at the expense of the majority who have little wealth and, crucially, few avenues with which to improve their lot. People give to charity, certainly, but too few do, and by its very nature charity (while worthy) tends to be a salve for symptoms rather than a remedy for the roots of a problem. Crucially, though, taxation (through an elected body) pays for things that private enterprise cannot be relied upon to provide. You probably don't think there are many of these, but I do. ;)

That's the principle laid out as I see it. Taxation is merely an imperfect system of trying to achieve these aims. In categorising taxation as "theft", I think you're undermining your own argument without knowing it. Taxation, at its heart, is just another payment to a provider of services. Admittedly, it is enforced directly by law, but plenty of other payments are enforced, too - we all have to buy food and drink, and other essentials, and what choice we have within these terms is often curtailed more than you might think. You can choose where your taxes go, within reason, too - not just by electing parties, but individuals and different factions in the broader political spectrum can gain and lose influence through popular action. If you like, you can even get involved yourself.

Now, admittedly, I doubt you'd be complaining (but maybe I'm wrong) if the system of taxation were perfect, with no money spent on frivolities or wasteful projects. Unfortunately, this certainly isn't the case. But does that mean we should overthrow the whole system? Maybe in the long run, if a better idea comes along, but until then it strikes me as the best course of action to try to ensure that the systems we have run as well as they possibly can before we toss them out in favour of an untried, untested theoretical option.

That's my take on things. I hope you can at least understand where I'm coming from, even if you don't agree.

Some fun nitpicks from the bucket of stuff that is this thread now follow.

Have people survived without social welfare nets? Sure, most of history was like that.


Bzzzt! It's entirely erroneous to say that "most of history was like that". I think the error you're making here is that of believing that a "social welfare net" necessarily constitutes an arm of a state or some other such body. In reality the majority of what we might call a "social welfare net" is provided by the community itself. A majority of studies of societies, early, late, near, far and otherwise, will reveal some sort of "social welfare net". Humans have never lived in isolation, and neither have they ever been entirely self-reliant. The average peasants of pre-democratic Greece, for example, as embodied in Hesiod and his poetry, relied upon a fairly complicated community relationship to survive and progress. Hesiod himself lauds the virtues of hard work and self-sufficiency, but he gives the game away when discussing, as he does at great length, the system of loans, co-operative labour, "gifts", and so on which kept the whole thing going and, indeed, prospering. It's hypothesised, also, that Witch hunting in Europe in the 15th century onwards arose as a result of changes in societal structures - as the state took more active roles in society, then the community-based nets broke down, causing the destitute and "wasters" who otherwise would have been dealt with otherwise had to be removed by the elaborate process of witch-hunting.

Social welfare nets are an ever-present feature throughout history, and demonstrably so. Sorry. ;)

Selfish is how humans have progressed over countless centuries.


Again, I'm not entirely sure that this is true. I would ammend it to say that "people are naturally selfish - unless a greater benefit can be found in co-operation". Most often, my assessment would be that the latter has been the case. We can accept that, at the most basic level, everybody wants something - a certain standard of living, certain rights, etc. and that they will do a lot of things to achieve that end. Again, however, people don't live in isolation, neither do communities, and so on as you go further up the chain. Pure "selfishness" is not how we got where we are, nor could it ever have been so - the example you cite in your second paragraph is much more realistic. That is to say, that people have their own goals and desires, but that to move forward they appreciate the goals and desires of others, working together to attain them. This has sometimes meant pressing some desires above others (the desire for personal liberty over the desire of others to rule, or the desire of workers not to be exploited over the desire of bosses to exploit them), or sublimating ours to those of others for a mutual benefit. History might seem like a cast of individuals, but it's rarely ever so.

I can assure you that I am not benefitting.


Again, I'm not sure if this is true. Some examples, sure, I can see your point, but we do stand to gain (perhaps indirectly), from a lot of the uses of our tax revenue. For instance, foreign aid, if used properly (and here, I think, is the crux - so often in the past, such aid has been misused) can play a vital role in helping an area to develop. Schools educate people, providing skilled individuals vital to the development of a more advanced workforce as well as other social benefits like medical systems and more schools, investment in infrastructure helps in the development of economies that can stand on their own two feet and participate in the global marketplace. This all helps to make everybody better off. Is the immediate inconvenience of tax a fair price to pay? I think so. Of course, this all relies on a sensible use of taxpayers money, which is crucial. Quite far from the criticisms levelled at my position, I'm not in it for the sake of taxing the hell out of people - it's, at best, a necessary evil in principle, and a generally broken one in reality. If we're going to work in this manner - and I see it as a better option to whatever alternatives we've postulated - then we have to ensure that it works as well as possible. Let's not start throwing babies out with bathwater, though.

---

On the subject of liberty, which has come up a lot and is, let's face it, crucial to the whole argument, I'll put my neck out and perhaps be a little controversial - liberty simply for its own sake is not necessarily a good thing. We'll agree here that people don't have the liberty to impinge on other people's rights, robbing them, hurting them, etc. Why, then, do we allow such things to continue in indirect ways, decrying any who oppose that as being an "enemy of liberty"? Are we at liberty to ensure that a large proportion of the world's population is without clean drinking water? In the same way that the citizens in their apartment were "free" to sit in their beds while a young woman was stabbed outside their front door, the western world seems to take pride in its "right" to apathy. I don't think this is a right worth having, in the same way that I don't think the right to smoke oneself to death is a right worth having. It perplexes me that "being forced to do the right thing" has been so demonised (of course, this relies on a standard definition of what the "right thing" is, which is probably impossible to attain!). Being "coerced" into serving a common good need not be such a bad thing - the tax breaks people put forward as a method of ensuring ethical business practices are as surely a method of "coercion" as taxation itself. If you want to counter that businesses still have a choice, then reflect on your own economic theory - if they want to turn as large a profit as possible, then they don't.

If this is tyranny, then I'm not sure that I mind. It seems far worthier than "freedom for freedom's sake".

Anyway, have fun, there's been some interesting ideas here. :)
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Unread postby Duncan » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:43 pm

I'm busy today (earning money to pay my taxes and have a lot of disposable income to give to charity AND buy a new computer game) - and I'll come back to this later. Well done SYL for covering several points very well indeed.

A few little little points from me:
1.
football11f wrote:Gee, I wonder where worthwhile projects 33% of my paycheck goes...

<SNIP>

Wow, talk about lifting the poor out of poverty...

What is the federal budget again? Your examples are a drop in the ocean. I could add $3 billion per annum in foreign aid to subsidise Israel's existence (half of the US foreign aid budget). Cut that subsidy and you cut your taxes three times more than all of these little occurrences put together (assuming they were all in the same year). Every Year. If you cut foreign aid altogether, that is at least six times more than all your examples. Who cares about foreigners anyway? Why should Israel be as deserving as the whole of the rest of the world put together?

Incidentally, how much of this money you think of as wasted ended up lining the pockets of entrepreneurs I wonder? Market economics is a wonderful thing and private corporations are experts at using the market to rip people off (including governments).


2. If you would like to pick and choose where your taxation goes, so would I. I would like mine to go to social welfare programmes, to hospitals, schools and the like, and not to the armed forces. If we balance your preferences against my preferences (and the preferences of large numbers of our fellow citizens) and look at the actual balance of government expenditure, I think you'll find it all comes out roughly where the balance of public opinion would like it to.


3. If you don't know why people give to charity, you could always ask them... Or even research the subject. There are several whole books on this subject.


4. I think you misunderstood this point of mine:
just the same reason, in fact, why people give voluntary support to social welfare programmes that are otherwise paid for by taxation.

I was saying that people give voluntary support to SUPPLEMENT welfare programmes paid for by taxation. This includes a winter shelter and soup kitchen in my last home town (all staff but one are voluntary, organisation, food and equipment are paid for by taxation) - I used to volunteer when I was younger, but now I top up their funds with a little of my charitable giving so they can match funding on the project with government (75% of the match-funding is provided by volunteers' time).

I'm not having it both ways, I'm suggesting that much government work underpins and enables voluntary support and charitable giving. This is social welfare in action and you would have it stop.


5. I wasn't terribly fond of living under the first version of Margaret Thatcher because she encouraged the principle of greed too much. While I have a great deal of respect for her achievement, I would not wish to live under a Thatcher clone. Incidentally, while she encouraged private top-ups of health insurance, pensions and the like, she did not dismantle the social welfare infrastructure of Britain - she just down-sized it and made it more affordable.


6. Obligation stems from your own humanity, from your social conscience. Maybe this is a guilt trip, but what is wrong with that? Do you not accept that conscience has a part to play in society? Conscience surely tells us we should not break the law because it embodies our moral code, not because failure will mean someone will shoot us. Is it only the threat of violence that prevents people from breaking the law and is this all that keeps your society together? If conscience has no part in obligating a citizen to pay taxes and obey the law, then I despair for the future.
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Unread postby Toro » Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:21 am

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Unread postby Toro » Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:26 am

football11f wrote:I would also recommend reading Hazlitts Economics in One Lesson, or anything by Bastiat, perhaps they will change your perspective.


Good books.

Bastiat's The Law is recommended.
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Unread postby football11f » Fri Apr 28, 2006 8:54 pm

Toro wrote:Bastiat's The Law is recommended.


Indeed, a fine read. Hayek's Road to Serfdom and Mises's Human Action are also pretty awesome.

SYL wrote:On the subject of liberty, which has come up a lot and is, let's face it, crucial to the whole argument, I'll put my neck out and perhaps be a little controversial - liberty simply for its own sake is not necessarily a good thing. We'll agree here that people don't have the liberty to impinge on other people's rights, robbing them, hurting them, etc. Why, then, do we allow such things to continue in indirect ways, decrying any who oppose that as being an "enemy of liberty"? Are we at liberty to ensure that a large proportion of the world's population is without clean drinking water? In the same way that the citizens in their apartment were "free" to sit in their beds while a young woman was stabbed outside their front door, the western world seems to take pride in its "right" to apathy. I don't think this is a right worth having, in the same way that I don't think the right to smoke oneself to death is a right worth having. It perplexes me that "being forced to do the right thing" has been so demonised (of course, this relies on a standard definition of what the "right thing" is, which is probably impossible to attain!). Being "coerced" into serving a common good need not be such a bad thing - the tax breaks people put forward as a method of ensuring ethical business practices are as surely a method of "coercion" as taxation itself. If you want to counter that businesses still have a choice, then reflect on your own economic theory - if they want to turn as large a profit as possible, then they don't.


*takes out axe and hacks SYL's head off*

The freedom to choose one's path in life is a God-given right. Society's that have denied this have been brutal and repressive. Nazi Germany murded 10 million human beings who made the choice to be Jewish, homosexual, a gypsie or Catholic. The Medieval church torched thousands for disagreeing with their policies while the Roman Empire fed thousands of Christians to the lions. When the right to choice is taken away, tyranny follows.

Obviously this has some reasonable limits. One's choices cannot directly take away from another's. When you murder someone, you are taking away their right to life. It's government's job to punish you for that. This philosophy can be taken a little to far, as is the case with drug restrictions and laws determining how old you must be to have sex. Indeed, any voluntary contract between two individuals should be legal so long as no coersion was involved.

You bring up an interesting scenario, which I will repost here

In the same way that the citizens in their apartment were "free" to sit in their beds while a young woman was stabbed outside their front door, the western world seems to take pride in its "right" to apathy.

Now, I assume you are suggesting that an individual who is able to prevent someone from dying should be held accountable for that person's death. Consider this, however. What if that man sitting on his bed had a wife and children? If those thugs had knives, isn't there a large possibility that this man could be killed along with that young woman? What if he successfully drives these thugs off. Isn't he now putting his wife and child at risk for retribution? What if he gets there after the young woman is dead? That man should be given the freedom to weigh these risks with his ethical, religious and proffessional beliefs.

Your other scenario was

Are we at liberty to ensure that a large proportion of the world's population is without clean drinking water?

I would hardly call it the West's fault that Sub-Saharan Africa (To use an example) is so desperately poor and undeveloped. Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong were also colonized and had no natural resources yet they are booming today. Why is that? I don't know, maybe it's the fact that they have embraced capitalism while Africa has leaned on socialism?

But don't we have a moral obligation to help our fellow human being? Yes. But the best way to fulfill that is to trade and encourage reform in Africa instead of pumping in capital that will end up in the pockets of cruel dictators.

SYL wrote:If you will excuse a humble attempt without resorting to such tried-and-true argument-winners as "your argument is just wrong" (sic): The principle behind the obligation is concern for the wellbeing of our fellow humans, and a desire to help balance out what is a grossly unfair world. It runs further to note that the world is unfair (unimaginably so), and is kept that way by those who are wealthy and want to keep it, at the expense of the majority who have little wealth and, crucially, few avenues with which to improve their lot. People give to charity, certainly, but too few do, and by its very nature charity (while worthy) tends to be a salve for symptoms rather than a remedy for the roots of a problem. Crucially, though, taxation (through an elected body) pays for things that private enterprise cannot be relied upon to provide. You probably don't think there are many of these, but I do.


I have yet to find a government program that has fixed the "root" of a social program. Welfare has failed to lower the poverty rate and has created a dependent class of people while government domestic campaigns including "just say no" have failed miserably. However private organizations and churches have helped millions rise out of their problems and set them on the path to success.

After New Orleans went under, the federal government's bloated FEMA and aid agencies blocked out private charities from entering New Orleans. In other hit areas, however, private companies like *evil music*Walmart*screems* were able to respond with vigor and effectiveness. The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other State-less organizations have done far more to assist developing countries than the combined foreign aid of the first world.

Society will help itself if left alone.

Sun Hua wrote:What is the federal budget again? Your examples are a drop in the ocean. I could add $3 billion per annum in foreign aid to subsidise Israel's existence (half of the US foreign aid budget). Cut that subsidy and you cut your taxes three times more than all of these little occurrences put together (assuming they were all in the same year). Every Year. If you cut foreign aid altogether, that is at least six times more than all your examples. Who cares about foreigners anyway? Why should Israel be as deserving as the whole of the rest of the world put together?


http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pag ... igbook2005

The Congressional Pig Book is CAGW's annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget. The 2005 Pig Book identified a record 13,997 projects in the 13 appropriations bills that constitute the discretionary portion of the federal budget for fiscal 2005, costing taxpayers $27.3 billion. A "pork" project is a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures. To qualify as pork, a project must meet one of seven criteria that were developed in 1991 by CAGW and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition.

Got to go, will post more later.
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Unread postby SYL » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:26 am

I'm sorry if I tend to take little snippets and comment, I know it's bad form, but there are some little things which merit little responses. ;) Apologies in advance.

Hayek's Road to Serfdom and Mises's Human Action are also pretty awesome.


My weapon of choice in these matters tends to be Eric Hobsbawm. A man who specialises in "what actually happened and why" as opposed to "what should or might have happened but didn't". Historians tend to beat economists most days of the week, I'm afraid to say.

The freedom to choose one's path in life is a God-given right.


It is, if anything, an intensely human-given right, any basic grounding in world history would assure you of this. Human-given, and human-rescinded. "God" has, and has had, no say in the matter.

Society's that have denied this have been brutal and repressive.


Definitely. I would then add that our current society also tends towards the "brutal and repressive" end of the scale, although perhaps indirectly in many cases, and through apathy and "enlightened self-interest" rather than a deliberate action, as with the Soviet Union and European Fascists.

One's choices cannot directly take away from another's.


It's easily demonstrated, as I have attempted already, that capitalist society as it currently stands embraces the view that our choices, as the wealthy, take precedent over the choices of the many labouring poor of the world. Sure, we don't see it happening (or we close our eyes), but that doesn't mean it isn't the case. Does your worldview apply to all, or merely to the wealthy, priveliged few that make up the western world? Because if, as I believe it is, your answer is the former, then why this patently counterintuitive statement?

Now, I assume you are suggesting that an individual who is able to prevent someone from dying should be held accountable for that person's death.


No. I am assuming that those individuals should be held accountable for not helping to prevent that person's death, assuming the ability to do so was theirs. "Holding them accountable for the death" is bizarre. Furthermore, I hope that you'll forgive me if I say I do not feel sorry for the poor man who has to weigh up the pros and cons of helping another human being or sitting there and watching them die.

As an aside...

That man should be given the freedom to weigh these risks with his ethical, religious and proffessional beliefs.


Name me one rational set of "ethical, religious and professional beliefs" that say, "ahh, hell, let 'er die. Probably deserved it, ingrate."

Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong were also colonized and had no natural resources yet they are booming today. Why is that? I don't know, maybe it's the fact that they have embraced capitalism while Africa has leaned on socialism?


Let's forget you made that silly argument and instead consider when these places were "de-colonised" (hint - one of them was in the last decade), and the relative economic development of each, coupled with their immediate situation. Because, after all, you're the one who urges us to "see what is unseen" in the economy, as opposed to making fallacious assumptions off-hat.

But don't we have a moral obligation to help our fellow human being? Yes. But the best way to fulfill that is to trade and encourage reform in Africa instead of pumping in capital that will end up in the pockets of cruel dictators.


Agreed wholeheartedly.

I have yet to find a government program that has fixed the "root" of a social program. Welfare has failed to lower the poverty rate and has created a dependent class of people while government domestic campaigns including "just say no" have failed miserably. However private organizations and churches have helped millions rise out of their problems and set them on the path to success.


"Gee, boah, that there's a nice dichotomy you've done gone created, shamed as all hell that it's fictitious! Yee-haw!"

It's cute, for the record, that you included "churches" (sic).

The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other State-less organizations have done far more to assist developing countries than the combined foreign aid of the first world.


I wouldn't make claims that you likely can't prove, if I was you.
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Unread postby libertarianx » Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:19 pm

First post :P

SYL wrote:The principle behind the obligation is concern for the wellbeing of our fellow humans, ......


Actually that is not a principle and it is certainly not universal. You show no concern for the people who you would expropriate money from, only the recipients of that money. Having my tax dollars redistributed to Africa is not beneficial to me as it makes it difficult for me to achieve the goals that I have set for myself in life. The system that you support is detrimental to my well being and foreign aid is detrimental to the whole economy because that money is not likely to return home. You could care less about my happiness. Your concern then, is only for some human beings, the poor, and you posit that the ends of mankind should be to improve the condition of the poor .But, since not enough people will accept this then it is necessary to force them to do so. The principle here is the ends justify the means or more correctly, your ends are morally superior to everyone elses and this justifies government to take action against the people who are unjust. That is your argument as I see it.

We would both agree that at the very least men have negative obligations towards each other. That is, we are obligated not to , murder, steal, rape, asault or commit fraud etc. , against our neighbours. The law would be just in taking action against anyone who engaged in these acts, no one should be above this law, and it would apply equally to all. However, your argument rests on the assumption that we have positive obligations towards our neighbours as well, and this is where we part ways. In your opinion the law should not only prevent me from causing harm to my neighbour but it holds me responsible should harm come to him as well, even if I were not the cause. Governments are being just when they tax me and redistribute some of my wealth to help my neighbour. We are all responsible for one another, or more correctly, the better off have responsibilities to the poor, the poor have no reciprocal responsibilities.
Why is this so?

First of all if you accept the ideal of positive obligations how do you decide what is the appropriate amount of taxation and aid. The principle here is that one persons need supercedes the others right to their income. There will never be a consenses on what is the appropriate amount is ,nor is there anyway to logically determine this, it will always come down to someone, the government, making an arbitrary decision.

Furthermore, once you open pandoras box and allow a redistribution of wealth , there will be no shortage of people who think they are entitled to handouts at the publics expense. Since we live in a democracy, governments must cater to these peoplenot just to the people who pay for them. When you say that people accept a redistribution of wealth voluntarily through the democratic system it is partially true. A lot of people are in favour of it because they are either the recipients or because they are the government officials delivering the programs. When enough people are receiving handouts it is near imposible to take them back. Any future government that tried to reverse the previous governments handouts would face a great deal of opposition from the recipients of these benefits. Clearly self interest is what motivates these people, which you consider wrong. I don't consider self interest wrong, only when it comes at anothers expense.

SYL wrote:Are we at liberty to ensure that a large proportion of the world's population is without clean drinking water?


This implies that because some people/countries have advanced ahead of others that they are somehow responsible for the fact that others are lagging behind. Your argument makes absolutely no sense. If you feel guilty because you/we are better off than most Africans, fine, but I don't. I am not the cause of poverty in Africa nor is capitalism.

SYL wrote:Being "coerced" into serving a common good need not be such a bad thing...............


What is the common good but your subjective opinion. Ask a million people what this means and you would get a million different responses. The concept is meaningless without qualification. Thus far you have not provided this. Concern for others does not justify stealing from others. If people have positive obligations to each other, then the government must necessarily be above the law because the only way to ensure that people fulfill there positive obligations to others, is to violate the negative obligations we have to each other. The government must become a thief in order to ensure that the poor are looked after. This enivitably reduces our everyones life to one of servitude, hardly an ideal society.

How do you justify positive obligations without violating negative obligations?

I think you are genuinely concerned for the poor, just misguided in your beliefs. I would recommend you spend some time and read some non socialist literature. You may find that the libertarian view is not detrimental to the poor.

I recommend this essay by Bastiatas a start and this oneas well.
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Unread postby SYL » Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:28 pm

Welcome to the board, and the discussion. ;)

There's not much noted above, however, that I haven't already responded to elsewhere in this thread (in some cases at length), so for me to simply restate my views yet again would be futile. You know what I think, I know what you and others think, I think you're probably wrong, you think I am, and I think, aside from certain head-hacking fantasies, we can all get along from that point.

For more original points you've raised...

What is the common good but your subjective opinion. Ask a million people what this means and you would get a million different responses. The concept is meaningless without qualification. Thus far you have not provided this.


A very pertinent point, and the reason that I have provided none is for the very same reason that you state. Gut feelings, beliefs do not translate well into political reality - we could both cite several examples of the unfortunate effects of attempts to put similar views to mine into practice, and I can assure you that the libertarian model will be much the same, if it ever makes the leap into reality.

I am not the cause of poverty in Africa nor is capitalism.


Perhaps not (it's debatable on the second mark, but admittedly a result of a combination of factors), but the status quo (or a more extreme version of this) is not the solution, either.

I would recommend you spend some time and read some non socialist literature.


I have done so, extensively. I even agree with a good amount of it (I'm fond of Popper, for example). I think it's an unfortunate mistake to assume that, because people think a certain way, they must not have seen both sides of a picture. It's patronising, it's often erroneous, and it does not a good argument make.
Last edited by SYL on Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby libertarianx » Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:33 pm

I have read through the thread, however I have been unable to find you responses to the points I made. Could you humor me by copying and pasting for me please?
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