Free markets and libertarian politics

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Free markets and libertarian politics

Unread postby Duncan » Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:04 am

I’m really sorry to say this football, but your argument is really badly constructed. You may have a case if only you’d answer the points put to you properly.

This is the only bit of your last post in globalisation and poverty that I found cogent (in part), although perhaps not for the reasons you‘d think.
football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:Governments spend money on the basis of need, leaving the value judgement to the electorate – ie you and me.

But rather than letting them do it directly, they construct a wall of bureaucratic garbage in the way, which justifies their job. That's just fantastic.

Up to a point I agree that there is often too much bureaucracy in government. Unfortunately, government employees have learned that the “consumers” of their services (taxpayers and voters) don’t like it when they spend public money too rashly. They protect themselves by over-bureaucratising, leading to the wall of bureaucratic garbage which maybe justifies a number of government jobs.

Here’s some areas that need some more thought:

On political prejudice:
football11f wrote:You've divided the world between those who are "greedy" and those who are actively engaged in waste, loss, and destruction.

I'm afraid this is your distinction, and arguably could be read both ways depending on your point of view. Another often used distinction would be between those who honestly seek to better themselves (and the society around them), and those who seek to leech off this group. You can read this both as a libertarian or as a socialist and the two groups of people defined would be different for each.

football11f wrote: Politics is all about getting loot for your group from the public pot while preventing other groups from getting any,

Isn’t this the profit motive so central to market economics? So politics is basically trying to apply free market principles to the public purse. I assume you agree this is not a good thing. If so, are you not thereby condemning the principle? If not, then why should principles advocated in business not also be allowable in politics?

On economics:
football11f wrote:If a man builds a house to live in, is he being greedy? He has taken materials that aren't worth as much to him as a house, then works them into a form that is more valuable to him. That is profit.

This man is not making a profit, he is building a house. If he chooses to sell his house for more than the cost of the materials and his labour combined, then he has made a profit. There is a distinction here.

football11f wrote:Do you honestly believe that car companies would rather sell inefficient cars rather than efficient ones? They just want to make money, and the only way they can do that is by efficiently providing what people want. If people prefer eco-friendly cars, they'll buy them instead of inefficient cars. Those "direst of circumstances" amount to one thing, and one thing only: consumer preference. If people want clean cars, they'll make more money by selling clean cars. If people want motorcycles, they'll make money selling motorcycles. The market rewards those who produce the things that people want.

The market follows consumer preference… right. OK then, how does the market deal with the preferences of consumers who have been made homeless - say in Louisiana recently. What are their preferences? How does the market fulfill them? Trouble is consumer demand comes a little late in the day when crises arise - the market can follow, but governments can lead.

The other thing about the market (as my brother would be happy to explain to you because that’s his job) is that it is manipulable - you can create demand where there was none. The market actually rewards those who can sell things which have no appreciable value - certainly no greater tangible value than cheaper products that do the job just as well.

football11f wrote: If a company just tries to pay its workers less, they lose workers to their competitors. That just leaves efficient use of resources as the means of making money.

Do you really read the business pages? Sounds to me like the competitor will be going out of business if they are paying over the odds for workers and employing too many of them. As for the efficient use of resources, Marx covers this - you should read him. Capitalism and the free market is not about the efficient use of resources (that can be achieved by a variety of other means), it is the efficient maximisation of profit.

On the free market:
football11f wrote:A free market is a system where free and voluntary exchange is not interfered with, nothing more.

I need a time and a place to convince me that a free market (by your definition) has ever existed. If no example arises, we have another ideological chimera, or an imaginery state, like anarchism perhaps?

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:I’ve previously drawn a parallel that neither free markets nor pure Marxist socialism have ever existed, neither can they ever exist. Both ultimately ignore individuality and subjugate humanity beneath the weight of their ideological ideals.

You have no support for that. A free market exists wherever there is no government intervention. There is no "ideological ideal" of a free market other than not initiating force against others. That's not exactly a humanity-subjugating, individuality-crushing sort of ideal.

The basis of my statement is that no free market economy (by your own definition) has ever existed. To argue that the free market is an social, economic and political panacea, and that taxation is theft sounds like ideology to me, and pretty anarchic and revolutionary to boot. As for humanity-subjugating, and individuality-crushing, you have used Sparta is a model for the freedom of the individual… Need I say more?

football11f wrote: The free market does not rely on the good nature of people to make it work. It works because the only way to help yourself is to help others. People can be as selfish or altruistic as they like and the system still works.

I’m sorry football, but this is arrant nonsense. Read your own economics books and some economic history, and then come back to this with fresh eyes. There is more of value to study about the free market than you imply, and this is diminished by your argument.

On government:
football11f wrote:You'd have the government point a gun at someone because of how they're running their business,

Actually the role of the government is mainly to protect people from those who chose to use guns, any other threat, or any means of underhand manipulation to the detriment of their citizens. The reason governments threaten some businesses is because they are run very badly - they are exploitative and actually impinge on the very freedoms that any libertarian would seek to uphold.

football11f wrote:Government "economies of scale" usually involve the ability to waste, stuff in a pork project, or lose more money than any private individual could possibly imagine without wanting to throw up.

Interestingly, the most prominent instances of government misspending and waste in this country is where products are bought from businesses who seek to maximise profits for minimal added value - the £300 ashtray, the £10,000 desk, the £5 million helicopters that cannot fly for safety reasons. The market has realised that governments are exploitable to maximise profit by selling items of negligible additional value. By cheating my government they are stealing from me. However, somehow these companies are “innocent” of misrepresentation and theft, yet the government is “guilty” of waste. Strange double standard, but perhaps it is because we expect companies to lie and cheat (within the law of course) to turn a profit.

On the private sector and individualism:
football11f wrote:All of those things have been provided by private individuals at some point in history (Public schooling was founded in Sparta- a true symbol of Greek achievement...).That you think them incapable of doing the same today is just really absurd. Furthermore, just because something is provided by the private sector does not mean that every individual will have to provide it for themselves. I wouldn't need to pave my own road any more than I need to build my own car to drive on it.

Incidentally, at the time Sparta was a totalitarian state. No free market whatsoever, production was managed through the exploitation of a subclass of helots, and the Spartans themselves were hardly free to do as they please. I hope you are not proposing a similar slave state.

I’m also still not convinced that my Aunt Margaret who is dying of cancer in hospital 300 miles away will receive the treatment I would wish for her through the free market. Her health insurance cover (she had the best there is in the UK) ran out two years ago, and since then she has been dependent on the good old NHS.

The crux of the issue is what happens when provision you have made for yourself as an individual and any direct charitable donations run out?

On taxation as theft:
football11f wrote:Are you really so blind that you can't see the difference between giving your own money away and taking someone else's money and giving it away?

Football, you talk as if your own government is an individual intent on stealing all your money. It is not an empire ruled by some evil despot (or maybe it is…), it is an elected body that represents your interests in the world. Actually by participating in westerrn democratic society you are voluntarily giving the money to governments to redistribute. If you dislike this precondition of being a citizen of a western democratic civilisation I denounce you as an anarchist and revolutionary! :lol:

football11f wrote: The point is, the money is taken against my will. I don't care if somebody who picks my pocket buys me an ice cream cone with the money they stole, it's still stealing.

Then you deny the basis of modern western democratic society, you presumably abrogate your citizenship (I hope you won’t be voting for those nasty people who want to keep taxing you), and presumably you’ll be heading for the hills with your bag of gravel, or taking your gun and trying to overthrow the government by force. What is your alternative? Who is the arbiter when big decisions have to be made? Governments can’t because without taxation they are toothless to act, and therefore their arbitration is worthless. I seem to be arguing against anarchism here!

You seek to overthrow our government, our way of life and replace it with an untested, unreliable and incredibly subjective free market, where profits take precedence over people. If you think they are stealing from you, either you are paranoid, or you should start your revolution. You certainly like putting words in other people’s mouths, assuming their responses to situations on the basis of your own prejudices against them and denouncing them accordingly. You sound like a dangerous revolutionary, and as such should be charged under the Patriot Act, specifically for disloyalty to your government, to your fellow citizens and to western democratic civilisation. ;-)

On bad debating:
football11f wrote:You're attacking the idea of money and goods appearing from nowhere in poor economies, but isn't that exactly what you want our domestic economic policy to be?

No. To represent my arguments this way is either naïve or wilful misrepresentation.

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:Fortunately in our balanced society (not a free market, but not socialism either), where taxes leave us far from destitute, that still leaves plenty of room for people to give charitable aid in large quantities on top of what government takes from us in direct or indirect taxation.

Better squeeze harder as long as there's still blood coming out, eh Sun Hua? After all, if you're not starving yet then there's always room for another tax hike.

Actually no. Again I suspect you are trying to misrepresent me - perhaps you fear that the argument is lost unless my argument is sublimated into something that it isn‘t. There needs to be a careful balance between taxation and disposable income. Actually I think the UK government does rather well at this, and has done so since Margaret Thatcher (much as it galls me to say so). I suspect France errs on the side of taxation, and the US on the side of disposable income, but I am no expert having never lived in either country..

football11f wrote:
Sun Hua wrote:The latter is a banal point because no-one advocates theft.

You do it in almost every post.

Again you misrepresent me. Unless of course you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that in a modern western democratic society like ours, taxation is theft rather than the voluntary redistribution of wealth as an act of citizenship. Actually you can’t prove it to my satisfaction, so you do misrepresent me.

football11f wrote: I have the utmost respect for the rules of debate and opposing opinions

Lets hope you stop misrepresenting arguments then.


football11f wrote:If all you're looking at is getting through the next few years, government intervention will work fine. Much the same way that holding your head under water will get you through the next few minutes.

What a cheery soul you are ;-)
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Unread postby football11f » Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:02 pm

I'd like to sxpand some of my initial arguments before tackling your response Sun Hua. Great idea creating a new thread, but please don't call me an anarcho capitalist since I am certainly not an anarchist. Also, I used Sparta in a sarcastic way (Though I did not make it obvious). Sparta, an isolated city that can be labeled as socialist did not advance like Athens, a free, democratic, capitalist city built off free trade. Sparta was, after all, the city that created public education. I'll go more in depth later.

SYL wrote:I think this is unfortunate, because Sun Hua made a valid point, and your reply was nothing but empty sarcasm. I would like to see a proper response to what my point was- if we are to mould our society to "harness market forces", to focus so much on economic activity, then do we not run a terrible risk of isolating swathes of the population who are not productive? If society revolves around the economy, as dictated by the economy, then what of those who take no part in it?


Yes it was sarcastic but I get very annoyed everytime I here socialists make comments to the effect that without government intervention there would be no aid for the poor which is nonsense. People already help their family, friends and neighbours and donate to charity volunteer their time etc. without being coerced and on top of all the money that the government takes from them and directs towards this cause. There is no reason to believe that they would not contribute as much or more if they were given a huge tax break, it would simply defy all logic and reason if someone who was contributing to charity suddenly quit giving because their taxes were lowered. In all probability they would give more, although it is likely they would use better judgement than the government does when doling out the handouts. Furthermore lower taxes would create a more productive community meaning more wealth and decreasing the number of individuals in need over the long run. Would there still be people in need, probably, but there is no reason to think they would not receive it, unless they were the lazy type poor people that the government likes to take care of. I can only assume what bothers you SYL is that you believe that people may not give to all the causes you think are just.

To your point that I highlighted, I will refer to this quote:

"It also seemed to me that this analysis of the Social Contract was useful in showing what characterizes artificial social orders. Start with the idea that society is contrary to Nature; devise contrivances to which humanity can be subjected; lose sight of the fact that humanity has its motive force within itself; consider men as base raw materials; propose to impart to them movement and will, feeling and life; set oneself up apart, immeasurably above the human race—these are the common practices of the social planners. The plans differ; the planners are all alike"
. Frederic Bastiat, Economic Harmonies

Human beings are not putty to be moulded by socialists , and we not as Bastiat stated, the "base raw materials" in which the socialist uses to construct his idea society. People are capable of acting rationally and morally without the planners guidance. Left to themselves, people will try to better their condition, this is not wrong or immoral, it is a natural trait of all living things, and quite frankly if we were not naturally self interested we would have died out a long time ago. In the free market people do this by producing something that is of value and trade it for something that another has produced that is of value. There is no coercion, coercion is not allowed. Associations are voluntary. Socialists on the otherhand think this is unnatural and that people should want what they tell them they should want. The natural order is flawed and it is up to them to fix these problems. They think that people should put others ahead of themselves. They try to reform people to act, not according to their own wills but the will of the planner. Some people subscribe to this, but then no one, including socialists ever really acts against their own interests . We have seen how bad it was in the former USSR. In democracies all that happens is that as time goes on, more and more people look to the state as the means to satisfy their ends or their interests, all the while claiming that it is their neighbour they are concerned for.

SYL wrote:I think this is one of the major failings of the free trade argument - it places far too much emphasis on the economy, on economic activity, going so far as to claim this as some sort of ideal foundation for human existence. Call me a madman, but I like to think that there are several things that are more important than "the economy", which is, at the end of the day, nothing but a fantasy, an unfortunately necessary imaginary construct we use to order and make sense of our world. I think enslaving ourselves to this fantasy is probably a very bad idea, but that's me.


OK, this passage seriously angers me. The "economy" is not a fantasy. It is real and individuals benefit from it everyday. The market is a profoundly human institution because it arises as the result of many human actions. I am not saying that "economic efficiency" is some great thing just because I think it is. I am saying that a free market allows people to achieve their individual needs. It allows me to go to college and get an education. It allows my neighbor to have a job he wants that gives his life more meaning. It allows people of all social classes, from coal miners to factory owners, to take care of their families and feed their children. This market I talk about is not an abstraction, SYL, and though I sometimes talk about it abstractly, the motivation for its defense is a love of humanity.

What of the man who takes no part in the economy? First of all, though it is possible, I doubt there would be any such men, who literally bought nothing and sold nothing from others. But as to the degree that people participate in a market economy, it is their choice. I cannot be, I should not be held responsible for a man who chooses not to trade. Obviously, that is his choice, for some reason others do not have enough of value to him for him to trade. He's responsible for that decision. Why should my trading activities be held back just because of his decision. Secondly, you ask, what of the unproductive people? There are no truly unproductive people, except those who will themselves to be. Human labor is such that it always has some value. The "more productive," the entrepreneurs and capitalists who come up with the ideas, will need labor to implement these ideas. And as more and more is produced in society, the living quality of all classes improves, unlike your beloved Marx thought. The market is not an abstraction, it is intensely human, the end result of millions of humans acting by their very nature. Socialism is the result of a few crackheads coming up with a system that is fundamentally against human nature, it is anti-human.

Planned societies allow people to act on the baser side of self interest by plundering their neighbours wealth, in the name of social justice. Democracies are the best form of government, however they naturally become a means to plunder your neighbor's wealth once they take on too much responsability as we have seen in the United States since the catastrophic New Deal.

SYL wrote:Now, if you'd spent as much time actually reading what had been said as you did writing a vitriolic rant, then you might have got somewhere. What was actually said is this - the "profit motive" on which economic action is based, is predicated on the greed of the individual. People do things because they want money - they do things better, quicker, cheaper, etc. because they want more money, and so on. I think the trendy term for it is "maximisation", but it's greed in a wig. This isn't being used in a pejorative sense, understand, it's a simple statement of fact. It's not something to get so aggressive about.


Define greed please? How much of our income must be given to charity

Everyone tries to maximize value including you. You can't tell me that when you go shopping that you buy the goods that are more expensive and/or of poorer quality over the goods that are less expensive/higher quality. The same apllies when looking for a job. People will try to get to maximize value and accept the job that offers the highest pay or a combination of good pay and working conditions etc. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor everyone tries to maximize on their time and money. The rich are just much better at this than others. But, if we all took the feeling sorry for the little guy approach we would all be in the poor house

SYL wrote:Socialism, in my experience at least, is based on a sense of obligation to our fellow human beings - to help those that the ways of the world have arbitrarily (or not so arbitrarily) dictated cannot help themselves. Note - "cannot", not "will not", for the former, I am sure, is far more common, and certainly infinitely more common than the right likes to kid itself into believing.


As I said above, people already give to charities and help one another over and above the amount that the state takes from them, and over and above how we improve one anothers lives just by doing a good days work and creating new technologies that advance our welfare. You are free to give as much of your wealth to charity as you like. I have every right, as a free human being to decide what is appropriate for myself. I don't mind helping others but I will do it on my terms. When you turn helping others into an obligation then it isn't benevolence , that is slavery and I don't care how much you suger coat it. When the government robs me of my income it does not help me- it makes me poorer. It makes it harder to achieve the goals I have in my life. No one has the right to elevate themselves above me and put obligations on me. The fact that there are people worse off than me does not mean they have a claim on my life, nor do you, nor does the government. I did not make the poor, poor. You don't have to convince me that we ought to help one another, what you need to do is convince me as to why this must be coerced. Where do entitlements come from. Where do these obligations you talk about come from. I don't owe my right to my life to the government.

The state doles out a lot of money to people who do not want to help themselves, whether you want to admit this or not. Furthermore, it gives out money to all kinds of interest groups that many people left to their own would not contribute to. Lets not forget corporate welfare either. People rightfully object to this. Granted not everyone who receives assistance is unworthy but I have no fear that people in genuine need would get assistance in a free society, I'm not so pessimistic as you.

SYL wrote:I don't want to "bring down the rich", I want to create a world with genuinely equal opportunities. That's what equality means. I am, in fact, quite content to let the rich be rich, if, indeed, they have earned it. What are we counting by "earning", though? Why are so many whose years of back-breaking labour in the most abject poverty while some who've never done what we might call a "hard day's work" earning so much? Is this right? Let's not delude ourselves that the very successful are all there because they're much harder workers, smarter, more efficient or whatever, either. While sure, that counts part of the way, in the grand scheme of things it matters little.


If getting rich was so easy and it required very little effort everyone would be rich. The people who are paid a lower wage are doing jobs that essesntially anyone could do. You don't elevate the poor by pillaging the middle class and rich's income. You only push more of them down into the ranks of the poor. When you say equality you mean "from each according to his ability to each according to his need". Equality means, equal rights and freedoms, not conditional equality.

SYL wrote:I don't even really want to work in a 9-5 office environment, and I'm working towards teaching at University level. I know that I sure as hell don't want to do any of the jobs most of the world's population do, but - and this is the crux - I had that choice. I had the fortune of being born to a stable, middle-class family in a prosperous country with an excellent education system. In the present world, the chief determiner of future success is where and when you happen to be born. So, please, forgive me if I say that I really do think very little of your little rant here. There's only so many misrepresentations a man can take, y'know.


Suck it up old chap :P . And let me say that the thought of you in your ivory tower poisoning the minds of the next generation of our youth with your misconceived notions of how the world ought to be is a scary thought :D . J/K. That was a joke, please don't rip my head off.

SYL wrote:This little passage is missing the point as well. Sun Hua talked about the posited actions of a socially conscious company (introducing cheap environmentally friendly cars because it'd be good for us all), and then you counter with examples of how the oil and motor industry is forced into changing only in the very direst of circumstances, and then only grudgingly, and certainly not for anyone's benefit but their own. This is not a good counter, suffice it to say.


My point was that the auto industry responded to consumer demand for fuel efficient cars. Prior to that if they had tried to produce a fuel efficient compact car they would have sold very few because people liked driving their big massive v8 autos. The auto industry responds to their customers demands, they can't build cars that no one wants and force them on people. They would be out of business in no time. And don't suggest nationalizing the industry as solution either. The bottom line is, it is the little people exercising their free will in the market who are really deciding what gets made.

Sun Hua wrote:I follow your logic – if everyone were more charitable to those less well off than themselves, then yes there would be no need for government to redistribute wealth to those in need.


Sun Hua wrote:Charity does a lot of very good things, and a lot of successful corporate high-fliers and other very wealthy people not only employ lots of people to do things that don’t make a profit, they also give to charities who do even more things that are good. But there is an enormous gulf between charitable donations, charitable employment and the needs of the most vulnerable.


You think one persons need trumps another persons rights. Even though you admit that people are already giving generously to the poor its not enough, you demand an end to poverty now. I didn't realize I had to purchase the right to my life by handing half my income over to the state so that they could decide who needs it the most. If you are really concerned about the poor you need to realize that you don't create wealth by making the economy less productive. Handouts create dependancy, and governments are wasteful (But a necessary evil).

Sun Hua wrote:How do you know who is worthy?


How do you know? And who are you to tell me?

Sun Hua wrote:You have a choice, you can only make it once, and you have to decide who is worthy and who will go without. Or you can go and buy a new PC instead.


Yes I will make those choices not you. You can make your own choices. If you want to devote your life to fighting poverty that is your right but don't tell me that that is what I must do because I will tell you to go mind your own business.

Sun Hua wrote:Who pays for hospitals? Who pays for schools? Who pays for roads? Who pays for the armed forces? If you keep the money you pay in tax, what do you do with it – stock up the medicine cupboard, buy a few books, put a bit of gravel down around your house, and buy a gun – will that take care of it? I’m taking the argument to an illogical extreme here, but I hope you take the point.


I do with my taxes. You don't think the private sector can provide any of these things and do it better.

The latter is a banal point because no-one advocates theft. As for diverting money for socially beneficial allocations (by corporations or government), this describes charity pretty well, and I don't think you are trying to say that charity is theft. How then is government expenditure theft? Does none of it benefit you directly today? What about through the course of the rest of your life? Who the heck do you think IS worthy?


Government forcing me to pay taxes for services that I neither need nor want is theft. If they give that money to someone else it is not charity it is theft. Using coercion to keep the private sector from delivering healthcare is violating the peoples freedom. I have no choice but to use the public roads, hospitals, schools, that is all that is allowed. What I think IS worthy is anything the people choose without you and your tribe putting a gun to their head. I believe in freedom. You don't believe in freedom, you believe men have to be molded by "enlightened" individuals like yourself.

Sun Hua wrote:I’ve previously drawn a parallel that neither free markets nor pure Marxist socialism have ever existed, neither can they ever exist. Both ultimately ignore individuality and subjugate humanity beneath the weight of their ideological ideals. However by striking a balance somewhere between these two ideologies, it is possible to reach a compromise position that might get us through the next few years. Where between the opposites is what politics is about. I have no problem with people who choose anywhere in the middle, because it seems to me that they have thought through the issues and found a compromise solution.


A free market system is what comes out of a society based on individual rights, it doesn't ignore individuality.

As long as people believe that government is god society will continue to decline. Government is raising taxes and manufacturing laws at a phenomenal rate yet we never seem to have less poverty, less crime, better education or healthcare, or any of the other things that government promises. Our roads are getting worse, healthcare is consuming more tax dollars but quality is declining. The only thing we have less of is money and freedom. Your "compromise" solution is gradual suicide instead of a quick one.

I'll respond to the new post later today.
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Unread postby Jimayo » Sat Apr 22, 2006 4:29 pm

football11f wrote:Yes it was sarcastic but I get very annoyed everytime I here socialists make comments to the effect that without government intervention there would be no aid for the poor which is nonsense. People already help their family, friends and neighbours and donate to charity volunteer their time etc. without being coerced and on top of all the money that the government takes from them and directs towards this cause. There is no reason to believe that they would not contribute as much or more if they were given a huge tax break, it would simply defy all logic and reason if someone who was contributing to charity suddenly quit giving because their taxes were lowered. In all probability they would give more, although it is likely they would use better judgement than the government does when doling out the handouts. Furthermore lower taxes would create a more productive community meaning more wealth and decreasing the number of individuals in need over the long run. Would there still be people in need, probably, but there is no reason to think they would not receive it, unless they were the lazy type poor people that the government likes to take care of. I can only assume what bothers you SYL is that you believe that people may not give to all the causes you think are just.


This is not obvious neither is it common sense. I know quite a few people who give to charities merely because they can get a tax deduction for it. They don't care about helping people, they care about reducing their tax bracket.

football11f wrote:Human beings are not putty to be moulded by socialists , and we not as Bastiat stated, the "base raw materials" in which the socialist uses to construct his idea society. People are capable of acting rationally and morally without the planners guidance. Left to themselves, people will try to better their condition, this is not wrong or immoral, it is a natural trait of all living things, and quite frankly if we were not naturally self interested we would have died out a long time ago.


Self interest good, social awareness bad. Got it.

football11f wrote:In the free market people do this by producing something that is of value and trade it for something that another has produced that is of value. There is no coercion, coercion is not allowed. Associations are voluntary.


You should take off your rose coloured glasses. The only reason I don't kill large segments of annoying people is because of the fear of government intervention. It's also the reason I don't take whatever I want(which I still do, when I think I can get away with it).

football11f wrote:Socialists on the otherhand think this is unnatural and that people should want what they tell them they should want.


Wow, way to twist things to your viewpoint. Socialists know that the great unwashed masses are idiots. That's why advertising gets people to buy useless crap. If not for intervention then the poor, the disabled, the young, will be ignored or exploited, as they have been in the past, it took government intervention to force companies to improve working conditions. Companies didn't decide, maybe we shouldn't hire a kid at 2 cents per hour, instead of his parents at 15 cents per hour. The past has shown that corporations look to maximize profits without worrying about the consequences of their actions.
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Unread postby football11f » Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:27 pm

I have time to respond to a few points.

I wrote:Politics is all about getting loot for your group from the public pot while preventing other groups from getting any,


Sun Hua wrote:Isn’t this the profit motive so central to market economics? So politics is basically trying to apply free market principles to the public purse. I assume you agree this is not a good thing. If so, are you not thereby condemning the principle? If not, then why should principles advocated in business not also be allowable in politics?


Are you saying that a businessman that tries to make a profit is the same thing as the politician who tries to raise taxes as much as possible for social spending? They both may seek the same thing, maximizing value, but their means are quite different. The businessman profits by selling a product that the public values. The consumer decides independently on whether to buy it or not. If they don't like the product they spend there money elsewhere. The government forces us to buy their products whether we want to or not and charges us disproportionately for their services. The difference is the government uses coercion to maximize value, the businessman relies on the choices of the public. In the market each individual seeks to improve their condition by voluntary exchange. Through government individuals seek to better their condition by force; having laws rewritten in their favour and by government handouts. Both cater to human wants and desires, only one, the market, is just because it allows people to remain free to make their own choices. The other puts obligations on us that we may not want. By voluntary exchange each individual comes out of the deal better off whereas taxation leaves one man richer and one poorer than before. Profit maximization in the market comes from greater productivity which has benefits for everyone in the long run. Profit maximization has benefits for some in the short run and hurts everyone in the long run because it lowers productivity.

Please tell me where obligations come from, how others have the right to put them on us against our will and why we should not be able to decide for ourselves what our obligations to others should be.

You seem to imply that obligation to others is a natural thing. I disagree. I believe that freedom or independence is natural and thus obligation to others must be by choice.

In short I would like to get at the heart of your philisophical beliefs as to why men must be coerced to support other men. Given the fact that man already do this without being coerced, why must they be forced to give up more towards this end. How does one mans need become my responsibility and not a choice?

Sun Hua wrote:The other thing about the market (as my brother would be happy to explain to you because that’s his job) is that it is manipulable - you can create demand where there was none. The market actually rewards those who can sell things which have no appreciable value - certainly no greater tangible value than cheaper products that do the job just as well.


Elaborate on this please. What things ? No appreciable value to whom? Perhaps not for you, others may disagree. Does your opinion trump theirs? With all do respect there is a common theme in many of your posts that you know better than the average citizen what is best.

Sun Hua wrote:Football, you talk as if your own government is an individual intent on stealing all your money. It is not an empire ruled by some evil despot (or maybe it is…), it is an elected body that represents your interests in the world. Actually by participating in westerrn democratic society you are voluntarily giving the money to governments to redistribute. If you dislike this precondition of being a citizen of a western democratic civilisation I denounce you as an anarchist and revolutionary!


I love democracy, and am very thankful I don't live in a society run by an authoritarian person or party. You'll find that the most brutal of dictatorships (Hitler's Germany, Stalin's USSR, Pol Pot's Cambodia) all had economies run by the state. In Hitler's case, corporations were given monopoly power by the state while everyone else was thrown into the military. In Stalin and Pol Pot's case, the state controlled every facet of the economy in the name of "equality."

For the most part I'm content with the United State's economy. It is quite regulatory and I don't like paying 40% of my paycheck to Big Brother, but it's not nearly as bad as those elsewhere around the world. Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan etc have all democratized after adopting free market reforms. Despite having few natural resources, these "East Asian Tigers" have gone from destitute poverty marked by totalitarianism to prosperous democracies. That sir is the direction I would like to see the United States turn towards: freedom.

I'll pay my taxes because I do get shoddy roads and schools out of it, but I will dedicate my life to breaking the two party system into 4 truly representative parties that will bring back the high ideal of democracy. I hope that this will contribute to the federal government shrinking in size and allowing the states to experiment with different policies in handling the vast number of problems that face this nation. Enough of that, back to this discussion.

Sun Hua wrote:Do you really read the business pages? Sounds to me like the competitor will be going out of business if they are paying over the odds for workers and employing too many of them. As for the efficient use of resources, Marx covers this - you should read him. Capitalism and the free market is not about the efficient use of resources (that can be achieved by a variety of other means), it is the efficient maximisation of profit.


Capitalism uses resources more efficiently than planned societies and this has been explained on many other posts so I won't repeat it. Perhaps you should read Marx's critics. There are many, and not just libertarians.

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

I've got to go, will post more later.
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Unread postby football11f » Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:19 pm

Responding to Jimayo's points

Jimayo wrote:This is not obvious neither is it common sense. I know quite a few people who give to charities merely because they can get a tax deduction for it. They don't care about helping people, they care about reducing their tax bracket.


Some may do this, many do not. Sun Hua has already admitted that many including the rich give generously to charity. Are you about to call him a liar?

Explain to me why we are we obligated to give though. Why does one mans need become another mans responsibility? Because someone has worked hard and made a decent living why must they give up a portion of their income? Give me a logical explanation for this.

Jimayo wrote:Self interest good, social awareness bad. Got it.


We are all motivated by self interest, everyone has values and will naturally pursue them. Giving to charity because you are concerned for the poor is an act of self interest. One does it because they place value on the lives of others and it makes them feel good. Being compelled to give up something has nothing to do with social awareness. Social awareness is when one makes a choice to help another. If you think that men ought to give up some of their income for the sake of others, which is a noble cause, then try pursuasion not force. Your problem is that even though many people already pay high taxes which go to subsidize the poor, give money to charity on top of this, work hard at their jobs and invent new cheaper products that benefit the poor, it is not enough for you. You still want more. There is nothing wrong with spending money on oneself. Stop laying guilt trips on everyone.

Jimayo wrote:You should take off your rose coloured glasses. The only reason I don't kill large segments of annoying people is because of the fear of government intervention. It's also the reason I don't take whatever I want(which I still do, when I think I can get away with it).


And you would be dealt with very quickly in a libertarian society with a strong legal system and property rights. Good to see your true colors. Its not the poor you seek to help it is everyone else you wish to bring down. Anyone who disagrees with you, anyone who has something that you don't, you would kill and take what they have. You said earlier that you don't advocate theft and now you openly admit to it. No wonder you have no problem with state theft. BTW I hope you get caught.

Perhaps you need the threat of the law from keeping you from killing another but I can say with all honesty that I don't. I wouldn't kill you for your point of view even though I find it dispicable.

Jimayo wrote:Wow, way to twist things to your viewpoint. Socialists know that the great unwashed masses are idiots. That's why advertising gets people to buy useless crap. If not for intervention then the poor, the disabled, the young, will be ignored or exploited, as they have been in the past, it took government intervention to force companies to improve working conditions. Companies didn't decide, maybe we shouldn't hire a kid at 2 cents per hour, instead of his parents at 15 cents per hour. The past has shown that corporations look to maximize profits without worrying about the consequences of their actions.


Yes we all need a hero like you to save us from our own stupidity. Where do you derive your superiority from Jerry. Are you the philosopher king that Plato talked about, the one who sees what the rest of us can't? Come down off your high horse.

You have no love or respect for people you want to rule over them. It is the same with all tyrants, you think society should conform to your ideas and that everyone else is an idiot.

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Unread postby Duncan » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:41 am

I can't spend long on this today, but I'll come back to it.
football11f wrote:
Jimayo wrote:This is not obvious neither is it common sense. I know quite a few people who give to charities merely because they can get a tax deduction for it. They don't care about helping people, they care about reducing their tax bracket.


Some may do this, many do not. Sun Hua has already admitted that many including the rich give generously to charity. Are you about to call him a liar?

Explain to me why we are we obligated to give though. Why does one mans need become another mans responsibility? Because someone has worked hard and made a decent living why must they give up a portion of their income? Give me a logical explanation for this.

Now here is the obvious difficulty I have with your argument style football -you are trying to argue both ends.

Firstly you say "lots of people give for charity" - which I accept, although you fail to give an alternate justification for them doing so than Jimayo's argument that tax-deductions are an important reason - ie self-interest.

Then you ask "why we are obligated to give". The answer is we are not obligated to do anything for charity. We may choose to do so, we may do so for self-interested reasons (like tax-deduction, or to research a disease that might help to cure a friend or relative), but most people are too selfish to bother to give at all, let alone to give a significant part of their income.

We've talked previously about Bill Gates charitable donations being more than you'll earn in your lifetime. Trouble is, he probably earns this amount in a week (or maybe a month - I don't know what you earn).

Do you see where I'm coming from? There is a huge gap between charity and need because where people have large disposable incomes, they are too lazy, too greedy, or just too plain stupid to spend their money on worthwhile causes rather than the latest consumer fads they've seen on TV, or, dare I say it, on computer games.

You say that social awareness is when one makes a choice to help another. I'll buy into this definition for a bit (although I think it is an underestimate of what social awareness actually is). In principle I like this thought, yet I'm sure you'd agree that there are very few people who are really aware of all the charitable trusts and what they do, just as I'm sure there are very few people who are fully aware of where all their taxation goes to.

People who give to charity give to those they know and can relate to for personal reasons (including self-interest). Donations to charities for other reasons tend to follow the fluffy friendly route - fluffy animal shelters that you can visit rather than gritty, gloomy third world terminal care homes for people with vicious and deadly diseases. The point about Live Aid and its fund-raising ilk is that they can raise money for a whole raft of charities - the fluffy visible ones, and the gritty invisible ones alike - otherwise some charities would not receive what they need to do their jobs.

So much of the bad stuff in society is hidden away, so how is it possible for an individual (who in your world would need to make these decisions) to be completely socially aware?

football11f wrote:And you would be dealt with very quickly in a libertarian society with a strong legal system and property rights.

So this strong legal system - where does it come from without government intervention? Who pays for the police, lawyers, judges and courts if it is not the government (using taxes raised from its citizens)? How can we ensure that it is immune from corruption and bribery by unscrupulous individuals or businesses?

Essentially I'm asking how does society protect itself from everybody acting in their own self-interest?

football11f wrote:You have no love or respect for people you want to rule over them. It is the same with all tyrants, you think society should conform to your ideas and that everyone else is an idiot.

Again you betray yourself. You are presumptuous enough to assume you know the intentions of those who challenge you, and you read what you chose to in their criticisms rather than what is actually there. You fail to see a significant argument presented with wit and not a little self-deprecation. I'm sure Jimayo does not need my help, but I think you need to be clear exactly what you are up against - a good case against your preference for the tyrrany of the self-interested. You seem to be unable to answer the case, and choose to launch a personal attack rather than presenting any kind of counter-argument.
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Unread postby Jimayo » Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:22 pm

football11f wrote:Some may do this, many do not. Sun Hua has already admitted that many including the rich give generously to charity. Are you about to call him a liar?


Generously is relative. Bill Gates gives more money to charity than probably my entire town does, but is it generous, when you look at what percentage of his networth it is?

football11f wrote:Explain to me why we are we obligated to give though. Why does one mans need become another mans responsibility? Because someone has worked hard and made a decent living why must they give up a portion of their income? Give me a logical explanation for this.


It's called compassion. "The truest measure of a society is how they treat their elderly and their pets." Why shouldn't we look out for those who need our help the most? Plus their is a proven connection between poverty and criminal activity. For the sake of society, it is better to help the poor, as it will reduce criminal activity.

football11f wrote:We are all motivated by self interest, everyone has values and will naturally pursue them. Giving to charity because you are concerned for the poor is an act of self interest. One does it because they place value on the lives of others and it makes them feel good. Being compelled to give up something has nothing to do with social awareness. Social awareness is when one makes a choice to help another.


Crap. Most would not even consider giving if not compelled to do so. I would keep my $22,000/yr, as would everyone I know who works here. I don't have enough of the toys I want now. So the poor not eating is lower on my priority list than a LCD tv.

football11f wrote:If you think that men ought to give up some of their income for the sake of others, which is a noble cause, then try pursuasion not force. Your problem is that even though many people already pay high taxes which go to subsidize the poor, give money to charity on top of this, work hard at their jobs and invent new cheaper products that benefit the poor, it is not enough for you. You still want more. There is nothing wrong with spending money on oneself. Stop laying guilt trips on everyone.


Most need to be compelled to give. That is just the way it has been shown to be. Social programs don't pay for themselves, and somehow you think these programs will pay for themselves. While many give to charities, many of those charities are research organizations(much of that research benefits large corporations more than that poor fella on the street).

football11f wrote:And you would be dealt with very quickly in a libertarian society with a strong legal system and property rights. Good to see your true colors. Its not the poor you seek to help it is everyone else you wish to bring down.


That's not true at all. I do feel bad for many people. I do have some compassion. I also despise bigots and racists and would rather see them and their "ideas" removed from society.

football11f wrote:Anyone who disagrees with you, anyone who has something that you don't, you would kill and take what they have.


That's an exaggeration as well. Not anyone I disagree with. There are people I disagree with who I would quite happily let live. Just because our viewpoints differ doesn't mean they are polluting my gene pool. I also wouldn't neccessarily take what they have either. I would happily kill a wife beater and leave his stuff to his wife and children.

football11f wrote:You said earlier that you don't advocate theft and now you openly admit to it. No wonder you have no problem with state theft. BTW I hope you get caught.


Just because I'm a clepto doesn't mean I advocate theft. It means I have a problem. A problem I can't help cause I can't afford therapy.

football11f wrote:Perhaps you need the threat of the law from keeping you from killing another but I can say with all honesty that I don't. I wouldn't kill you for your point of view even though I find it dispicable.


That's nice. I find many of your viewpoints despicable too. I can't recall anything worth killing you over though. Granted I don't remember anything you said in gay rights arguments.

football11f wrote:Yes we all need a hero like you to save us from our own stupidity. Where do you derive your superiority from Jerry. Are you the philosopher king that Plato talked about, the one who sees what the rest of us can't? Come down off your high horse.

You have no love or respect for people you want to rule over them. It is the same with all tyrants, you think society should conform to your ideas and that everyone else is an idiot.

Lovely, just lovely.


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Unread postby football11f » Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:02 am

Sun Hua wrote:Firstly you say "lots of people give for charity" - which I accept, although you fail to give an alternate justification for them doing so than Jimayo's argument that tax-deductions are an important reason - ie self-interest.


It would be difficult for me to give an alternate justification to your argument without knowing what the motivations of everyone who donates to charity are. Your assertion that many people only give to charity to get a tax break cannot be substantiated and is highly skeptical. There is no way of knowing what's in the hearts of those individuals. Jimayo claims to know people that do this and I will accepthim on his word, but I on the otherhand know very few who do this. Furthurmore, there are many other places that a person can place their money to escape the taxman, if thats all they are interested in, that would be more beneficial to them personally. If I were to put $500 ina registered retirement saving plan, 40 percent of that amount would be taken off my tax bill and I still would have my orignal $500 plus interest. If I were to give the same $500 to charity I would only see a return of me perhaps 10 to 20 percent of the donation. Clearly it would be better for me to put my money in the retirement tax shelter. So why would I or anyone like me give that money to charity in order to get a tax break when I could get a much better tax break and keep my orignal investment by putting it in the retirement plan? The reason is because we see the utility in helping others. The rich have access to far better tax shelters than I do, that would be far more lucrative than charity. I can only assume then, that the majority of those that give to charity do it out of concern for others and therefore if government were to reduce taxes substantially, they would continue to donate.

After all, my $60 that went to a charity for tsunami victoms and the $70 that went to Hurricane Katrina victims were all made when I didn't pay taxes and at a time when I had very little money to spend. Like most people who donate to charity, I felt that those causes were worthier than buying a new video game.

Sun Hua wrote:Do you see where I'm coming from? There is a huge gap between charity and need because where people have large disposable incomes, they are too lazy, too greedy, or just too plain stupid to spend their money on worthwhile causes rather than the latest consumer fads they've seen on TV, or, dare I say it, on computer games.


It is admirable that you have a social conscience. I do not fault you for this. However, I would say that people have earned the right to enjoy their lives and spend their money on the things you mentioned above. It is a bit pretentious to say that people should only enjoy the things that you think are ok and that anything above and beyond this is, greedy, stupid etc. If your values are such that you think giving to foreign aid is better than buying a computer game then by all means go ahead and do that. What I want to know is how you think you have the right to stop another person from spending the money they have earned on something that is of value to them. Correct me if I am wrong but it appears what you're saying is that people shouldn't have any luxuries or be able to buy any items you deem frivolous, and that they either should give up the rest of their money to charity or that governments should expropriate it.

Why does one persons need become anothers obligation? You can make a good argument for why we ought to help another person and frankly I don't need convincing, but what I don't think you can do is justify why we must give to others. There are and always have been alot of generous people. Just look at the volunteers at soup kitchens, the kids who donate their birthday presents to a children's hospital, the millions of private donations pumped into 9/11, tsunami and Katrina relief. Private charities have always assisted those individuals who are truly deserving of society's help (Those who have been displaced by crappy luck) rather than those who are poor due to lazyness or personal issues. After all, the government simply does not have the legal capability to make such a distinction.

Again you betray yourself. You are presumptuous enough to assume you know the intentions of those who challenge you, and you read what you chose to in their criticisms rather than what is actually there. You fail to see a significant argument presented with wit and not a little self-deprecation. I think you need to be clear exactly what you are up against - a good case against your preference for the tyrrany of the self-interested. You seem to be unable to answer the case, and choose to launch a personal attack rather than presenting any kind of counter-argument.


It sounded serious but nevertheless Jimayo came off like a tyrant. You simply cannot accept that people have a right to spend the money they have earned honestly however they please . If they don't wish to spend their money on charity that is their right. Be critical if you want, tell them they are wrong, try and convince them to give to charity but accept the fact if they don't. Helping the poor is a noble cause but when we are compelled to do it the nobility is taken from the act. Being forced to give against your will is slavery, I don't care how just you think the cause is and how many rationalizations you use to justify it. In the end your argument will be reduced to: people are supposed to serve others not themselves. Life is about subservience to others. This is wrong and it goes against our nature.

And last, governments intervention in the economy and redistribution of wealth is a violation of our freedoms, and it will only do harm the the poor in the long run.

1. It lowers productivity and wealth

2. It creates dependency

Note the current state of Japan's economy. Japan pursued your vaunted "third way" by severely restricting trade and pumping in billions in public works projects. This gave Japan short run prosperity- however that all came tumbling down once the government realized what a mess it had created. Now Japan's economy has been in a decade long slump. To explain why, let me introduce the handy dandy Austrian Business cycle.

...well, I'll introduce it tommorrow or Wedensday once I finish my Blue's Clues commercial.
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Unread postby Duncan » Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:30 pm

football11f wrote:It would be difficult for me to give an alternate justification to your argument without knowing what the motivations of everyone who donates to charity are. Your assertion that many people only give to charity to get a tax break cannot be substantiated and is highly skeptical. There is no way of knowing what's in the hearts of those individuals. Jimayo claims to know people that do this and I will accepthim on his word, but I on the otherhand know very few who do this.

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 assertion.

football11f wrote:I can only assume then, that the majority of those that give to charity do it out of concern for others and therefore if government were to reduce taxes substantially, they would continue to donate.

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.

Firstly, what do you mean by substantial tax reduction? Which government services would you like to see cut - the armed forces, national parks services, federal security agencies, the courts, or is it just social welfare spending and foreign aid? Have you calculated the actual reduction in direct taxation that would occur if you cut the government spending you don't like? Have you calculated how many low-paid public employees you would be putting out of work?

Secondly, what proportion of income do you think people give to charity? Here's a study of the subject. Reading this is interesting - especially page 85. People with high incomes and/or very high wealth do give more to charity than poor people (shock!), and give more than 50% of all charitable donations. Those rich people amount to less than 6% (by income) or 7% (by wealth) of all households who give to charity. Most people who give to charity give around 1% of their income, which (unless they are very poor) amounts to less than 1% of their wealth.

If you reduce the tax burden on these people (and from all the people who don't give to charity), what proportion of their tax-reduction windfall do you think they will give to charity, and will this balance the loss to valid causes of the reduction in taxes? Reduce taxes by 5% and you might (if you are lucky) increase overall charitable donations by 0.5%. The real-terms difference is much greater. Try using an abacus if it will help. The figures just don't add up.

football11f wrote:What I want to know is how you think you have the right to stop another person from spending the money they have earned on something that is of value to them. Correct me if I am wrong but it appears what you're saying is that people shouldn't have any luxuries or be able to buy any items you deem frivolous, and that they either should give up the rest of their money to charity or that governments should expropriate it.

I commend your social conscience in your donations to tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief. You did this when you had very little income. Even after paying tax. Presumably, lots of other people manage to spend their hard-earned money on a whole range of consumer durables, computer games or whatever frivolous luxuries they prefer - after tax - otherwise there would be no market in these products. :wink:

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.

football11f wrote:Why does one persons need become anothers obligation? You can make a good argument for why we ought to help another person and frankly I don't need convincing, but what I don't think you can do is justify why we must give to others.

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.

We can argue about the detail of what taxation pays for, and this (in a democracy) is called politics. I'd agree with you that lining the pockets of one's friends in need is part of politics, but there are value judgements to make as to whether those friends in need are corporate magnates, or people on minimum wage or welfare. Who has the greater need?

football11f wrote:Private charities have always assisted those individuals who are truly deserving of society's help (Those who have been displaced by crappy luck) rather than those who are poor due to lazyness or personal issues. After all, the government simply does not have the legal capability to make such a distinction.

Private charities do not have to answer to anyone as to whom they chose to help - they can be as discriminatory as they like. They have no legal capability to assure themselves that it really was crappy luck, and not mismanagement, laziness, or whatever else you consider makes poor people unworthy of help. In fact without the legal system (paid for by taxation) they would have no protection from fraudsters. I'd also like to know which personal issues you consider disbar someone from receiving charitable assistance.

football11f wrote:You simply cannot accept that people have a right to spend the money they have earned honestly however they please.

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.

football11f wrote:Being forced to give against your will is slavery,

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.

football11f wrote:I don't care how just you think the cause is and how many rationalizations you use to justify it. In the end your argument will be reduced to: people are supposed to serve others not themselves. Life is about subservience to others. This is wrong and it goes against our nature.

Ah, I think I see where you are coming from - your view is that the nature of humankind is essentially selfish and society should reflect this. Odd juxtaposition to your faith in charitable donation as a source of assistance to the needy. My view is that the nature of humankind is essential social - because there is a society (and not just a collection of solitary individuals) we have an obligation to each other - a kind of tribal bond that is about protecting the whole group, even the weakest and least capable amongst us. Not doing so is uncivilised and dehumanises all of us. Charitable giving (over and above our tax obligations) reinforces this view - many people feel a strong obligation to society, and think they should be paying more.

football11f wrote:And last, governments intervention in the economy and redistribution of wealth is a violation of our freedoms, and it will only do harm the the poor in the long run.

1. It lowers productivity and wealth

2. It creates dependency

Government intervention is an indication that those who are supposed to be responsible for how our society operates are expressing the will of the majority through the economy. The way governments redistribute wealth is an expression of how far our civilization has progressed, and who our leaders consider their constituency is - either vastly rich corporate magnates, or the poorest in society, or (as is the truth of the case) the vast majority between those two who pay the most in tax.

Governments work to increase the wealth of society as a whole, because this enables them to take more money in taxation without increasing the proportion of income they take from citizens. Everyone wins, both the citizens whose income increases, and those citizens who benefit from worthwhile government initiatives.

Government interventions do not simply lower productivity and wealth - this strikes me as ideologically inspired half-truth, misrepresentation and gross oversimplification.The money government takes out of the economy in taxation they put back in in other ways, through salaries of government employees and a variety of programmes. Where exactly is wealth lost to the economy as a whole? (I know your answer - to the richest people who could make the largest return on their investment - ah, diddums - I do feel sorry for them. :lol: ) Governments do moderate the economy with the aim of providing an infrastructure to increase both productivity and wealth.

If you want to do away with dependency, either you need to increase charitable donations to the appropriate charities at least ten-fold to cover the costs of looking after those people who are totally dependent on others for their existences (the physically and mentally handicapped for example), or you have to eliminate them from society by some means or another. I'd like to know how you'd propose to do this :wink: If you are talking about other sorts of dependency, there are different ways to spend government money, and many of these ways are intended to assist people back into appropriate work rather than leaving them destitute, or reliant on criminal activity to make a living. How exactly do you want to reduce dependency if the alternatives are so stark?

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

It is all very nice proposing macro-economic theory as an alternative to socio-economic and political realities - asking for "freedom" from taxation (utopian anarchism by another name) is as much an ideological dogma as anything from Marx. It is at least as idealistic, but it ignores the consequences for our society and our civilisation and is therefore much more unrealistic than Marxism.
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Unread postby Shield of Rohan » Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:56 pm

I'll jump in for a bit here :)

Sun Hua wrote: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.

Firstly, what do you mean by substantial tax reduction? Which government services would you like to see cut - the armed forces, national parks services, federal security agencies, the courts, or is it just social welfare spending and foreign aid? Have you calculated the actual reduction in direct taxation that would occur if you cut the government spending you don't like? Have you calculated how many low-paid public employees you would be putting out of work?

Secondly, what proportion of income do you think people give to charity? Here's a study of the subject. Reading this is interesting - especially page 85. People with high incomes and/or very high wealth do give more to charity than poor people (shock!), and give more than 50% of all charitable donations. Those rich people amount to less than 6% (by income) or 7% (by wealth) of all households who give to charity. Most people who give to charity give around 1% of their income, which (unless they are very poor) amounts to less than 1% of their wealth.

If you reduce the tax burden on these people (and from all the people who don't give to charity), what proportion of their tax-reduction windfall do you think they will give to charity, and will this balance the loss to valid causes of the reduction in taxes? Reduce taxes by 5% and you might (if you are lucky) increase overall charitable donations by 0.5%. The real-terms difference is much greater. Try using an abacus if it will help. The figures just don't add up.


Classical liberal principles make no connection between liberty and personal morality. Unlike "compassionate conservatism", theocracy, socialism, and every what have you system of government, liberalism as a system of government makes only one central point. That man has a right to "life, liberty, and property". It does not say that charity is moral or immoral, rather that decision is left to the individual to make. That being said, I would argue on the basis of individual morality that charitable love is indeed one of the greatest virtues in society. One that people should strive for, and a potential source for great happiness both in the giver and the reciever. Yet, a liberal government states that just as it is wrong for it to impose such moral standards as majority religious beliefs on people (an aspect I doubt you would dispute), so is it wrong to impose moral standards as might be held by the majority of the populace such as charity. In effect, liberal theory states that you have a right to be unchristian, uncharitable, etc. Most other theories seems to be a pick and choose of what morality is right to impose, and what morality should not impose on the people.

Second, I dispute both the effectiveness and the morality of government-mandated charity in the form of social programs. Have people survived without social welfare nets? Sure, most of history was like that. Has society ever prospered and advanced to higher standards of living without them? Yes, just look at the centuries before 20th century progressivism. Is bourgeois white American upbringing necessary to succeed in a liberal capitalist America? No, re: the fact that Asians, who generally do not arrive well-off in America, have far greater per-capita incomes then white Americans. One in ten high-tech companies in Silicon Valley is founded by an Indian entrepreneur. Liberal capitalism will naturally break down irrational discrimination with the power of the market.

There is also the case of the Native Americans. Problems such as alcoholism are rampant on many of the reservations, and few attain proper education to succeed in a competitive world. Call me crazy, but I think there is evidence enough to support causation, when Native Americans are subsidized so heavily by modern taxpayers on behalf of crimes committed a century ago by completely different individuals that it is easier to live off of the government then to make a living on one's own. By herding them on to reservations and giving them free handouts for life, our government is destroying the Native American cultures far more effectively then it could ever have in the 1800's. And what's more, it will get more praise than criticism for its programs. All in the name of "social justice". If putting the individual and his descendents into perpetual slavery to the "nanny state" (as voters who will support those they are dependent on, generally the Democratic Party) by completely destroying all natural incentive to work and enterprise is helping them, then it's time someone called this great scheme out for what it is.

The real gain and power of charity is furthermore completely eliminated by government-enforced charity, as it requires compulsion of the giver, and by complete disconnect from the giver it becomes the moral equivalent of finding money on the ground to the reciever. Government destroys the morality of charity in its attempts to enforce it through "social justice".

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.


We could also vote for fascist or theocratic governments and just use them to oppress minority parties into giving us their money. Democracy is not magically correct. It simply offers the citizens the opportunity to sell their various liberties for a little security, or to establish a social contract that will uphold all their liberties. Reminds me of Franklin's famous quote ;)

Taxes, rather, are what we pay as citizens of a nation who have entered into a social contract to secure our natural liberties. We have given that government some of our property so that it can, through it being an institution of all the citizens, protect each of our liberties. National defense, law enforcement, and a justice system adhering to the rule of law and upholding the terms of this contract are all major components in this. I would argue that effective public education (I think our government forgets about that adjective - you know, where rigorous courses offer all students the chance to gain knowledge of mathematics, science, history, philosophy, etc.) is also a role, to ensure equality of opportunity in this social contract (as opposed to a purely natural state where it would be obviously be unnecessary).


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.

Lawbreakers are wrong because they impose various forms of force upon other people against their will. By ignoring the liberty of their fellow citizens, they break the law and social contract that they are bound to uphold as a citizen and member of that social organization, that the liberty of all other members must be protected.

"Social obligations" as you described are all well and good sounding to the ears of people in western, predominantly Christian democracies, but what about elsewhere? Perhaps we should ask the government and many of the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran what "social obligations" we have as members of this world. They would paint a very different picture, and I see no evidence for why our governments should uphold some "social obligations", but not others. Such obligations are obviously no sure standard.

We can argue about the detail of what taxation pays for, and this (in a democracy) is called politics. I'd agree with you that lining the pockets of one's friends in need is part of politics, but there are value judgements to make as to whether those friends in need are corporate magnates, or people on minimum wage or welfare. Who has the greater need?

Neither. Both are, or derive from, the individual, who is endowed with all the powers he needs to attain happiness provided a proper social contract is there that will not hold him down. Politics is a different story in how to approach that, seeing as we live in a social contract and government far from protecting citizen freedom. You can't just wipe out the old one and expect to form a new, proper one in a day.

Private charities do not have to answer to anyone as to whom they chose to help - they can be as discriminatory as they like. They have no legal capability to assure themselves that it really was crappy luck, and not mismanagement, laziness, or whatever else you consider makes poor people unworthy of help. In fact without the legal system (paid for by taxation) they would have no protection from fraudsters. I'd also like to know which personal issues you consider disbar someone from receiving charitable assistance.


Up to the individual really to be as immoral, discriminatory, etc. as he/she wants. "Immoral" takes on so many meanings to so many people that you can't establish a legal standard of what is immoral and what is not, unless it be that enforcing any standard of morality is immoral. On a personal moral standpoint, I believe it good to help anyone in need where I see a need. That's my view. Some undoubtedly have different ones. Those are theirs.

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.


He's not an anarchist, just disputes the misuse of force by the government. Your money is your property. If you are forced to give it up, it isn't slavery, it's robbery. I choose to pay taxes to the government because it protects my liberties. If you don't want to pay taxes to the government, you are free to leave and no longer be a member of that social contract. But if your house out on unowned land on some island catches fire, or wild animals attack, you can no longer expect the protection of your liberties that the government provides.

Ah, I think I see where you are coming from - your view is that the nature of humankind is essentially selfish and society should reflect this. Odd juxtaposition to your faith in charitable donation as a source of assistance to the needy. My view is that the nature of humankind is essential social - because there is a society (and not just a collection of solitary individuals) we have an obligation to each other - a kind of tribal bond that is about protecting the whole group, even the weakest and least capable amongst us. Not doing so is uncivilised and dehumanises all of us. Charitable giving (over and above our tax obligations) reinforces this view - many people feel a strong obligation to society, and think they should be paying more.


There is nothing wrong with selfish in itself. Selfish is how humans have progressed over countless centuries. Selfish is why we live. The goal of the selfish man is happiness. My personal moral beliefs are that acts like charity are wonderful and can bring happiness to many people as well as yourself. Happiness is no zero-sum game, after all.

I'd prefer to think of successful society not as a tribal group, but as a "covenant community" as the neighborhood I once lived in. We come together and agree to respect one another's liberties, and set down understood statements of what those liberties are, so that violators of those liberties may be punished as accorded. Some places that feel the need will "provide for the common defense" by deciding to establish neighborhood watch programs. Thus, a liberal social contract establishes a living environment far more conducive to people than nature, simply because it represents an agreement of people to respect one another's natural rights, and nothing more.

Government intervention is an indication that those who are supposed to be responsible for how our society operates are expressing the will of the majority through the economy. The way governments redistribute wealth is an expression of how far our civilization has progressed, and who our leaders consider their constituency is - either vastly rich corporate magnates, or the poorest in society, or (as is the truth of the case) the vast majority between those two who pay the most in tax.


Government intervention in the economy, on any end of the wealth spectrum, is simply an indication that some people see the power of the social contract and the governing body it creates as an opportunity to enlarge their own interests by trampling the liberties of others, and manage to succeed in doing so through such parties as lobbyists.

Governments work to increase the wealth of society as a whole, because this enables them to take more money in taxation without increasing the proportion of income they take from citizens. Everyone wins, both the citizens whose income increases, and those citizens who benefit from worthwhile government initiatives.


Wealth is created solely by voluntary exchange - the idea that if two people will trade their property, that each one will be better off in the end. If the government was to raise an extra five percent tax on me to pay for pork-barrel projects in Alaska, or for billions of dollars in aid to the unfortunate citizens of some foreign antiliberal government, or for increased Social Security funding (which I may very well not see a penny of), I can assure you that I am not benefitting. Government uses force, thus the exchange is not voluntary and wealth cannot be created. If I thought I was benefitting (they paid for additional funding to firefighters or police forces), then it would be a voluntary exchange. For an exchange to be wholly voluntary, all parties in the exchange (the entire taxpayer base) must benefit. Thus, the only government policies that can be considered voluntary exchanges are precisely the roles of a liberal government, to ensure the protection of freedoms that every single citizen in the society benefits from.

Governments do moderate the economy with the aim of providing an infrastructure to increase both productivity and wealth.


This I agree with. Again going back to securing personal liberties. Courts, legal protections, law enforcement, currency, and whatnot.

reliant on criminal activity to make a living


Usually what children in poorer nations worldwide would be doing were it not for the economic opportunities provided by evil American corporations like Wal-Mart ;)

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


First, pork-barrel spending, lobbyists, and corporate welfare, then reform the tax system to clean up all the silly deductions that get wealthy folks like Teresa Heinz Kerry minute tax burdens, then deregulate any industries that haven't been deregulated yet, then slowly phase out socialized retirement and medicine, then the social welfare program, then... :)

In the meantime, we can start hacking taxes across the board. Not just income tax, which is progressive. It is important to be fair to both ends of the taxpayer spectrum, and start slashing sales taxes and the like too. Of course, a problem in this in that the federal arrangment that splits the levy of taxes between different government bodies, so it may be hard to convince both levels to chop their revenue. But if they can be convinced to take out spending, I'm sure it shouldn't be too difficult.

It is all very nice proposing macro-economic theory as an alternative to socio-economic and political realities - asking for "freedom" from taxation (utopian anarchism by another name) is as much an ideological dogma as anything from Marx. It is at least as idealistic, but it ignores the consequences for our society and our civilisation and is therefore much more unrealistic than Marxism.


True. Transportation networks, public education, and the like are a necessity by the realities of the society which we live in and will continue to be so into the forseeable future.
"I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded, what others do only from fear of the law." -Aristotle
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