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[P]
Taxes in the United States = Armed Robbery

By Alarmist in Op-Ed
Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 10:41:50 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Yeah, I know that people in other countries pay more in taxes than I do. I know that some Europeans fork over as much as 60% of their income in taxes. But you know what? They actually GET SOMETHING for their money. Here in the 'States, on the other hand, we aren't getting our pockets picked. We're getting robbed by a pack of hooligans and bandits. We might as well be burning most of our tax money for what we get out of it.


It's really amazing, isn't it? The United States made it until about 1913 without an income tax. For about 120 years, this country defended itself (against some people who were really determined, like the redcoats that burned the capital), killed the indigenous settlers, fed its people at least some of the time, and stretched across a continent with nothing more than bribes and excise taxes. That's it.

These days, though, The Government In Its Wisdom (note sarcasm) has decided that it absolutely must have at least 15% of my already meager income in order to survive. In addition, it reserves the right to summon me to be badly-trained in the arts of war and sent off to get shot at any time some yahoo in the Oval Office wants to kill some foreigners with darker skin or funnier names than ours. A quick look at the facts:

Every year I've filed income tax, I've gotten a refund, usually equal to more than a month's net pay for me. Know why? Because even though the feds are only supposed to rob me of 15% of my income, they routinely take at least 25% every fortnight. What that means is that instead of the $770 or so I should be making every two weeks, I'm lucky to pull in $580. And that hurts. I'm losing close to $400 a month before I even get to see it. The freaking bean counters can't even do their jobs right.

And what if I decide not to pay? What if I could tell Uncle Sam to pike it and keep his filthy hands off my hard-earned cash? Then agents of the Infernal Revenue Service will arrive at my door and reason with me. In the '70s, these people would be armed with .38 caliber revolvers shooting HOLLOW-POINT BULLETS. Why the bloody hell does the tax man need to have such armament? I would be crippled for life if I were shot with one of these, thus making me an expense to the state since I'd have a really hard time supporting myself.

Screw 'em. If you're going to hold me up at gunpoint, then at least have the courtesy to do something other than fund "fact-finding trips" to Hawaii and take bribes from companies that put poison in the air and ground. I'd pay for public education--if it was any good. I'd pay for an army--if we'd use it for defense and not to act as some buttinsky "world's policeman." I'd pay for a space program--if the bureaucrats would get their heads out of their asses and actually do something right instead of throwing broken probes with bad programming at other planets. I'd even pay for roads, if I could be sure that construction crews wouldn't be constantly ripping up perfectly good asphalt to repave the road. Hell, I'll even pay for cops, if they won't take bribes from druggies and point loaded guns at teenagers without probable cause, or shoot people for no obvious reason.

We have the misfortune in this nation to be misruled by thieves and scoundrels. It's our own fault for not electing better, I suppose. We get the government that we deserve, people. Make a difference. Get that bloated pig of a government off our backs, so that we can get on with our lives and do something more productive than working four months out of every year for the brigands in Washington.

Fight the Power.

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Poll
Do you mind paying taxes?
o Yes 23%
o No 18%
o I wouldn't if I could choose where it went 17%
o I wouldn't if they spent it wisely 39%
o Taxes? What are those? 1%

Votes: 123
Results | Other Polls

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Display: Sort:
Taxes in the United States = Armed Robbery | 170 comments (164 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
25%? (2.85 / 7) (#1)
by porovaara on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:20:51 PM EST

SHEESH.

I wish... I pay 41.8% taxes. Im single, a honkey and making too much money... but the kicker is my taxes are so high I really don't bring home much more than people that make *much* less than me. Got to love modern America's drive to do better for yourself.



Re: 25%? (3.25 / 4) (#9)
by rusty on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:48:26 PM EST

Heh. Yeah I'm right about there with you. Damn Uncle Sam.

"I got a letter from the government the other day
I opened and read it, it said they were suckers."
--Public Enemy

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: 25%? (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by claudius on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:19:38 PM EST

Wait until you get married. My wife and I have incomes that place us in the top tax bracket, yet we live no better than we did as grad students. The U.S. tax code encourages three things, all of which are intentional social engineering: (1) Procreate like rabbits. The more you procreate, the more community resources you consume, and the less you pay in tax. If anything is a metaphor of the American way of looking at things, i.e. "I got mine, screw you and the horse you rode in on," this is. (2) Don't bother getting married. This is how the pro-lifers got back at the rest of the U.S. for Roe v. Wade. "So you guys actually got married without a shotgun/preemie affair? We'll show you--you get to pay 2x the taxes the rest of us pay. Bwahaha (cough) ha... (cough) (well, you get the picture)." (3) You ain't nothing until you buy property. This is simple generation-gap stuff: The old farts who own property (and who are disproportionally represented in government since they actually bother to vote) don't want young-uns to be able to save for anything so silly as retirement or property. Your problem is that, like us, you were born too late.

[ Parent ]
Re: 25%? (4.33 / 3) (#25)
by claudius on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 07:06:38 PM EST

Wait until you get married. My wife and I have incomes that place us in the top tax bracket, yet we live no better than we did as grad students. The U.S. tax code encourages three things, all of which are intentional social engineering: (1) Procreate like rabbits. The more you procreate, the more community resources you consume, and the less you pay in tax. If anything is a metaphor of the American way of looking at things, i.e. "I got mine, screw you and the horse you rode in on," this is. (2) Don't bother getting married. This is how the pro-lifers got back at the rest of the U.S. for Roe v. Wade. "So you guys actually got married without a shotgun/preemie affair? We'll show you--you get to pay 2x the taxes the rest of us pay. Bwahaha (cough) ha... (cough) (well, you get the picture)." (3) You ain't nothing until you buy property. This is simple generation-gap stuff: The old farts who own property (and who are disproportionally represented in government since they actually bother to vote) don't want young-uns to be able to save for anything so silly as retirement or property. Your problem is that, like us, you were born too late.

[ Parent ]
Re: 25%? (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by Robert Gormley on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:19:47 AM EST

You're not kidding... My employer breaks bonuses into smaller, more regular amounts, pays "$100 less, because then you'll be in a lower tax bracket and actually take home more" due to stupidites such as this.

[ Parent ]
Re: 25%? (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by dabadab on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:32:00 AM EST

Lucky guy.
Counting all the money that goverment takes away from me (income tax, VAT, etc) I'm paying 70% (or more if I count the huge tax on gas) yet I get nothing.
Now, THIS is robbery.
--
Real life is overrated.
[ Parent ]
Re: 25%? (none / 0) (#67)
by CodeWright on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:32:08 AM EST

Same here. And that doesn't even take into account the various tax burdens imposed by sales tax, excise taxes (gas, etc), communications tax (look at your phone bill -- half of mine is state & federal tax), electricity access tax (look at your power bill), property tax, use tax (if you lease a vehicle, you pay TAX on that -- figure that one out; you aren't even buying anything, but you pay taxes on the rent you are paying -- sheesh).

All in all, my tax rate comes out somewhere a bit over 60%, from what I can see.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: 25%? (none / 0) (#81)
by analog on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:34:41 AM EST

All in all, my tax rate comes out somewhere a bit over 60%, from what I can see.

Actually, believe it or not, that would make you just about average in the U.S.; depressing, ain't it?

[ Parent ]

Re: 25%? (none / 0) (#116)
by CodeWright on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:08:42 PM EST

ugh. hence, my utter agreement with this article's premise -- namely, that taxation == robbery

have you noted that most people who rabidly support taxation also seem to advocate violent (lethal?) means of enforcing taxation? and that most people who oppose oppressive taxation just want to be peacefully let alone?



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Taxes (3.23 / 13) (#2)
by tayknight on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:28:10 PM EST

Next time you complain that your taxes are too high, remember what some of your taxes actually go for. Next time your house catches fire, your tax dollars pay the fireman. Next time you have a wreck, your tax dollars pay the cops to come and investigate. Next time you drive down the road, your driving on you tax dollars. Next time you hear about some poor country getting invaded and forget that we aren't being invaded because we have a military, thank you taxes. Next time your kids go to public school, thank your taxes. Next time your taxes keep you neighboor without insurance from dying from an accident, thank your taxes. Next time the government mandates a recall of dangerous tires, thank your taxes. Rant on, but in a society without taxes, we would be shit out of luch.
-1 for the story. Rant about something you know something about, or ask a question because you want to know more. Not because your pissed that your paycheck isn't as high as you want.
Pair up in threes - Yogi Berra
Re: Taxes (3.60 / 5) (#18)
by nicksand on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:35:15 PM EST

Also look on TV and release that the controlling government parties (Dems/Reps) throw 12 million dollar parties using your tax dollars--thats what nomination conventions have basically become; the candidate is already nominated for all pratical purposes. Also look at the truly stunning amount of pork stacked onto various bills passed by congress.

Government funded social insurance is also ill conceived, mainly because it requires solid, long term planning. This is the fatal flaw in the American representative pseudo-democracy . . . politicians are forced to make the decisions which give immediate short-term results as oppossed to making sound long-term decisions (the immediate tax cut based on a wild estimate of future incoming being one example).

Basically, the solution is to dump the individual income tax, and use excise and similar taxes to support a radically reduced federal buerocracy. It should still be possible to supply the essential governmental services (fire, police, national defense) on a super-reduced budget once governmental "charity" is slashed out of existence.

[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes (3.33 / 6) (#31)
by inpHilltr8r on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 11:03:17 PM EST

So your solution is to shift the one progressive form of taxation left in the US, entirely into regressive taxes that hit the low paid harder?

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by sourcery on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:31:56 AM EST

Don't know about his solution. Mine is no taxes at all. That hits everyone equally.

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by Paul Dunne on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:36:05 AM EST

> Next time you hear about some poor country getting invaded

... remember, it's *your* tax dollars paying for that invasion!
[insert your own favourite quote from Gore Vidal about Imperium Americanum here]
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes (none / 0) (#137)
by CodeWright on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 07:40:42 AM EST

if the feds had their hands tied by taking away the cookie jar, then political adventurism like that couldn't occur. states would still be free to create entitlement programs if they desired (and it would provide the originally designed mechanism of regulatory arbitrage WITHIN the US, instead of having to shop for an offshore destination)

OT: btw, paul, something that i've noted with amusement lately whenever i have voted on a story is that you seem to vote consistently the same as i do (or i vote consistently the same as you do).

pretty funny, given our differences in opinion.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes (none / 0) (#79)
by bugeyedbill on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:27:51 AM EST

Next time you complain that your taxes are too high, remember what some of your taxes actually go for. Next time your house catches fire, your tax dollars pay the fireman

Yeah, but when you account for the total of taxes we pay, and the percent that goes to pay for the essential services - the fireman and all the other good guys that really help society - your return on tax investment is miniscule. Most of our tax money goes to wax the pockets of corporate America.

[ Parent ]

Get a grip ... (3.48 / 29) (#4)
by aphrael on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:32:02 PM EST

Get a grip and stop whining.

What do you get for your taxes? The best defense system in the world. One of the best systems of inspection of meat and agricultural products in the world. Efficient oversight of trading exchanges which makes it safer to invest than it is anywhere else in the world. A social security sytem. (OK, yeah, you might not get that, but those taxes are seperate). An incredible interstate highway system which is truly one of the world's great technical wonders. The world's only viable space exploration program. Technical research leading to projects like the nascent internet, the human genome project, and nanotechnology. Enforcement of environemental rules which have caused the air and water quality to increase substantively over the course of a generation. About the only thing that citizens of other industrialized countries get that we don't is national health care --- and we pay roughly half what they do in taxes.

I am aware that many people are of the opinion that society could work without these things, and that the market would simply provide for them. I don't believe it; they are extremely optimistic, and a look at countries which don't have functioning tax systems indicates that usually those countries also have serious problems. (Sure, that's correlative, not causative --- but i'm damn glad I don't live in Russia all the same). Taxes are needed for the state to function; the state is needed for the economy to function; the economy is needed for any of us to have jobs except the people who know how to make a living farming.

We have the misfortune in this nation to be misruled by thieves and scoundrels. It's our own fault for not electing better, I suppose. We get the government that we deserve, people. Make a difference.

It sounds like your real gripe is with the policies that are being adopted, not with taxation per se. Do something about it: get out and vote, get your friends to vote, maybe even run for office. The biggest reason that government isn't responsible to what people want is that almost half of the people in the country don't vote.

Because even though the feds are only supposed to rob me of 15% of my income, they routinely take at least 25% every fortnight

Have you considered filing the paperwork needed to adjust this? You can control this, you know.



Re: Get a grip ... (3.71 / 7) (#7)
by MKalus on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:43:05 PM EST

>>About the only thing that citizens of other industrialized countries get that we don't is national health care --- and we pay roughly half what they do in taxes.<<

Pardon me, but after living in the states for a while (now not anymore) I must say I like the public health system in the other countires pretty well, thank you.

And I also wouldn't say that you have the best food inspection system etc. Looking at what companies can throw into food in the states <shudder>.

Quality of life is IMO lower in the US then in most other western countries. Yes, initial life is more expensive in europe, but to reach the same level in the US (food alone) you have to pay more.

Europe in General is more aware when it comes to nature and is willing to spend more on it (and enforce it).

So, take the Flags down a bit that could your view and have a hard look at other countries and you'll realize that even though you have all the chances in the US, life in General is better elsewhere.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (2.25 / 4) (#11)
by aphrael on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:00:14 PM EST

Please re-read my post; in general, you are responding to things that aren't there --- there is no criticism of health care systems in other countries (merely a note that we don't have it), I don't claim we have the best inspection system in the world (merely one of the best --- maybe not as good as in Switzerland, but a hell of a lot better than that found in Mexico), and i'm not bashing life in other countries *at all* --- i'm merely noting that we get good value for our tax money, in stronger terms than I usually would because the whining about high taxes that I hear from people in the tech industry really pisses me off after a while ....

[ Parent ]
Unfair comparison (1.00 / 2) (#44)
by Commienst on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:35:15 AM EST

I think comparing a developing nation like Mexico with the United States is a very unfair comparison.

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (2.81 / 11) (#13)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:12:33 PM EST

You're an idiot. Our highways are so far inferior to those in Europe that it is painful to contemplate. Our "social security" is a pisshole into which we pour money; none of us will ever see it again. Our "defense system" as you put it, is in fact the largest offensive military machine in history, and only the naivete of the mainstream could make you believe otherwise. Our "efficient oversight" of trading is in fact a multibillion dollar industry that consumes wealth and creates NOTHING except a vague fear among anyone in the industry that he may be sued at any time for breaking a rule he didn't even know about. The world's "only viable space exploration program" only exists because the government made it illegal to compete with it until last year. Research used to be privately funded, before the government took all our damned money away, so that's a bs argument. On the other hand, our non-national healthcare program is the BEST IN THE FUCKING WORLD, you nimrod. Other countries' rich come HERE for treatment, because what they can get at home SUCKS.

Taxes are not needed. Most of our govt expenses are bullshit and should be canned, and the remainder could easily survive on use fees and so on. We are taxed because we let ourselves be fooled into thinking it is necessary, or rather because people like YOU do so. The reason places like Russia have poor economies is corruption and past mistakes; it has nothing to do with any lack of a tax system, which they most certainly DO have.

If people like you would quit apologizing for evil, it would have a much harder time propagating. Barring that, how about you at least try to get your facts straight while you whitewash the doings of thugs in suits?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (3.87 / 8) (#17)
by aphrael on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:34:08 PM EST

Our highways are so far inferior to those in Europe that it is painful to contemplate

Urban highways, I'd agree with you. But there is *nothing* in Europe, anywhere, to compare with the well-maintained freeways that we have stretching across vast empty wastelands (Montana, for example) which could not support the existence of those freeways on their own without federal subsidies.

Our "social security" is a pisshole into which we pour money; none of us will ever see it again.

Granted.

Our "defense system" as you put it, is in fact the largest offensive military machine in history, and only the naivete of the mainstream could make you believe otherwise.

Sorry, I disagree -- and i'm not speaking from naive opinions formed from watching television news; foreign policy is what I studied academically before I got into computers. Yeah, it's the largest military machine in history. Sure, it's been engaged in questionable activities. But the US is not out there using the military left and right to enforce its will; we've been almost pathologically reluctant to use it in recent years --- we fucked up in Somalia by not applying *enough* force, we ignored Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sierra Leone.

There's a debate which should be happening, but isn't really, on what the appropriate uses of the military are; the problem seems to be that the cold war consensus collapsed and nobody is trying to forge a new one. Which is a sad thing, really.

Our "efficient oversight" of trading is in fact a multibillion dollar industry that consumes wealth and creates NOTHING except a vague fear among anyone in the industry that he may be sued at any time for breaking a rule he didn't even know about

I was speaking in particular of the SEC, which enforces rules regarding availability of information and adherence to accounting rules, without which investing would be a crapshoot. The need for tort reform I do not argue against.

. On the other hand, our non-national healthcare program is the BEST IN THE FUCKING WORLD, you nimrod. Other countries' rich come HERE for treatment, because what they can get at home SUCKS.

I find it amusing that reading the same post some guy from Europe can castigate me for being critical of nationalized health care systems, and here you are criticizing me for praising them. I guess this just shows that people *on both sides of the argument* aren't responding to what people are actually saying, but to what they themselves are reading into what's being said.

Taxes are not needed. Most of our govt expenses are bullshit and should be canned, and the remainder could easily survive on use fees and so on.

There has never in the history of the world been a government and society which functioned this way. That doesn't mean that it can't be done --- but the burden of proof is on the people who want to try it; and simply asserting that it's possible doesn't prove anything except the vigor of your belief.

The reason places like Russia have poor economies is corruption and past mistakes; it has nothing to do with any lack of a tax system, which they most certainly DO have.

Russia has a horrible history which bears the primary resonsibility for it's current situation. Yet, at the same time, the lack of an effective tax policy --- read numerous articles in either Foreign Affairs or Current History, or notes in the daily Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports if you want documentation of this -- doesn't help; the laws are on the books, but they are regularly ignored, which means the state can't pay its bills, which means even the legitimate state functions can't be performed.

Barring that, how about you at least try to get your facts straight while you whitewash the doings of thugs in suits?

I'm open to any factual correction you can present --- but they need to be documented, not simply assertions of blind faith.

You're an idiot.

Because I don't blindly believe in the free-market fantasy land? Look, I don't think things are perfect here; I'm not opposed to market solutions to most problems. But to assert without evidence that taxes are unneccessary is to fly in the face of history, and to attack people for not accepting that dogmatic belief without the evidence is to show yourself for a religious zealot.



[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (4.00 / 4) (#27)
by analog on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 07:47:11 PM EST

Overall a good post, but some things I'd like to follow up on:

Urban highways, I'd agree with you. But there is *nothing* in Europe, anywhere, to compare with the well-maintained freeways that we have stretching across vast empty wastelands (Montana, for example) which could not support the existence of those freeways on their own without federal subsidies.

Hmm, well, I've actually travelled around Europe by car, and I can't say as I missed the interstates all that much. While it's true that Europe doesn't have well maintained roads stretching through vast expanses of empty countryside, it's because for the most part Europe doesn't have vast expanses of empty countryside.

I've been through lightly populated areas by car on national freeways in France, Italy, and Germany, and except for the toll booths that felt like they came every half mile in Italy, they all compare favorably to here. I've travelled on "back roads" in Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland, and as you note, they compare very favorably to the same type of roads here.

Also, you should realize that the majority of federal interstate highway funds are actually spent inside city limits. Are you aware of how the interstate system came into being? A consortium of companies, led by GM, and including tire, oil, and chemical companies, went around the country buying public transportation systems (which, unlike now, were both prolific and efficient) from various cities with the promise of streamlining their operation (hey, privatization's got to be good, right?). They then shut these down and lobbied congress to create the interstate highway system to make up for the lack; as I say, despite the name, most interstate freeway mileage is inside city limits. It's quite instructive to go look at some of the congressional hearings that went on during this period. If you think you're being told some obvious lies these days, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

I was speaking in particular of the SEC, which enforces rules regarding availability of information and adherence to accounting rules, without which investing would be a crapshoot.

Hmmm, the other day, Apple said that while they were going to make money, they weren't going to make as much as some guy (who makes guesses based on what other guys like him guess) said they were, and they lost half of their value (over 10 billion dollars) literally overnight. I respectfully submit that SEC or no, investing in this country can still very much be a crapshoot.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by Cariset on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:50:45 AM EST

Are you aware of how the interstate system came into being? A consortium of companies, led by GM, and including tire, oil, and chemical companies, went around the country buying public transportation systems (which, unlike now, were both prolific and efficient) from various cities with the promise of streamlining their operation (hey, privatization's got to be good, right?). They then shut these down and lobbied congress to create the interstate highway system to make up for the lack; as I say, despite the name, most interstate freeway mileage is inside city limits.

Hm. I had heard that the interstate project was the brainchild of the military. Before WWII, France had built a radial system of highways, converging on Paris. So when the Germans roared in at top speed and took Paris, suddenly it was almost impossible for the French military to go anywhere. And that's why the US has a grid pattern of highways - so that the military can easily sidestep any sections of the US being held by invaders. (Yeah, invaders. This was the 1950s... :)

And I'm pretty damn sure that this is accurate. But it certainly might not be the whole story. Maybe the companies got wind of the project, and took advantage of it? At the least, killing off public transportation and supporting "two cars in every garage" makes a lot of sense for them, even without the interstates being involved...

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (none / 0) (#74)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:12:14 AM EST

While it's true that Europe doesn't have well maintained roads stretching through vast expanses of empty countryside, it's because for the most part Europe doesn't have vast expanses of empty countryside.

Sure: they don't need these highways; we do. So we have them. :)

A consortium of companies, led by GM, and including tire, oil, and chemical companies, went around the country buying public transportation systems (which, unlike now, were both prolific and efficient) from various cities with the promise of streamlining their operation (hey, privatization's got to be good, right?).

I think you're conflating two different issues. That's certainly how the early-century streetcar systems were dismantled, which encouraged suburban sprawl. It is *not*, however, an accurate description of the history of the interstate freeway system; people had been lobbying for that since the *20s*, but it wasn't until the *50s* that it happened, and then one of the major justifications for it was the army's desire to replicate the autobahn, just in case we ever needed one. Then, too, the *interstate* and rural portions were built first, with the city portions being built last, in order to reduce the political opposition which would arise once houses started to be torn down to build freeways.

For a mediocre but interesting history, see Divided Highways.

I respectfully submit that SEC or no, investing in this country can still very much be a crapshoot.

Absolutely --- but do you think it would be better with no regulation?



[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (none / 0) (#90)
by analog on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:53:22 AM EST

people had been lobbying for that since the *20s*, but it wasn't until the *50s* that it happened, and then one of the major justifications for it was the army's desire to replicate the autobahn

True; as well, Congress first authorized the system in 1944, yet pretty much nothing happened (except arguing) for another decade. However, when it came time to actually build them, and especially pay for them, it was the aforementioned consortium that was the strongest voice in Congress (or I suppose, what I've read/seen about it says so; I shouldn't discount the possibility that I've been seeing biased info ;). I also should note that I was thinking more in terms of why the Interstate system looks as it does today than how the idea was born. I have no doubt that the military and transportation industry were taking advantage of each other; that sort of thing happens every day, and is unfortunately how things seem to get done in this country. Even Eisenhower later said that he didn't care how it got done, as long as it got done.

I can't claim to be an expert on this stuff; I just like to read about history, and every so often I come across things like this. That said, I have seen films of some of the Congressional testimony from this time period, and it doesn't look nearly as beneficial to the American people as the standard take on the Interstates would have you believe. Several thousand miles of interstate freeway was reallocated to urban use due to lobbying by the aforementioned consortium, and they also had a large hand in killing the original plan to pay for it (the federal government ended up footing a much larger part of the bill than originally planned).

If you want to see an excercise in sheer frustration, try to find some stuff on Joseph Alioto's fight to be able to use public transportation funds allocated to San Francisco for public transportation (it was all supposed to go to building interstates within city limits). He won, which is why we have our beloved (*cough*) BART instead of an interstate on the waterfront, but it was the sort of thing that makes you wonder why he had to fight in the first place.

For a mediocre but interesting history, see Divided Highways.

I'll check it out.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (2.50 / 4) (#29)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 09:03:02 PM EST

Urban highways, I'd agree with you. But there is *nothing* in Europe, anywhere, to compare with the well-maintained freeways that we have stretching across vast empty wastelands (Montana, for example) which could not support the existence of those freeways on their own without federal subsidies.
One might cleverly ask why such freeways are necessary. They're basically a subsidy for people who want to live in unpopulated areas while not having to actually suffer any of the difficulties thereof; why should the majority of us subsidize a tiny minority's preference for living? This is like the funding we give to idiots in Florida every year after their homes wash away in hurricanes - there's no excuse for them, and they should move their asses instead of begging for more of MY money.
But the US is not out there using the military left and right to enforce its will; we've been almost pathologically reluctant to use it in recent years --- we fucked up in Somalia by not applying *enough* force, we ignored Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sierra Leone.
First off, merely HAVING our military makes us an intimidating force, but aside from that, there are two real points here. The first is that you don't read about most of the iffy stuff the US military does on cnn.com. The second is that we shouldn't have even BEEN in Somalia. We have no business intervening in the affairs of other countries unless there is something in it for US citizens, and then only if the government of the other country delegitimizes itself by oppressing its' own people.
I was speaking in particular of the SEC, which enforces rules regarding availability of information and adherence to accounting rules, without which investing would be a crapshoot.
"Investing" the way most people do IS a crapshoot, and the SEC rules regarding it merely make it -appear- legitimate. That said, I have family working in that industry, and aside from being ineffective, the SEC does consume an absolutely insane amount of private money, directly and in the form of "compliance departments" at every brokerage in the country, not to mention fines and other penalties levied against people who didn't even know they were breaking any rules. The SEC's philosophical mandate is the idea, dating back to Adam Smith, that in order for free markets to work, information must be free. Problem being, Adam Smith has been pretty much completely discredited among everyone except Marxists looking for a straw man "capitalism."

By the way, for the majority of its existence, the US never had ANY tax rate over 2-3%, and that only on imported goods and such. There was no income tax, no social security tax, and so on. We had the greatest growth of any country in history. Given the GNP of the era and the amount of importing that went on, it is pretty obvious that if we just had a use fee for contract enforcemenet using an insurance business model, we could have eliminated ALL taxes. There's no reason except statist tendencies that we can't do that now, either. Sure, the expenses are considerably higher, but the GNP is many orders of magnitude higher too.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (2.25 / 4) (#35)
by robl on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:09:19 AM EST

One might cleverly ask why such freeways are necessary

Interstate commerce. Duh.

We have no business intervening in the affairs of other countries unless there is something in it for US citizens, and then only if the government of the other country delegitimizes itself by oppressing its' own people.

Yes we do. Peace and prosperity in the world and for americans abroad. Our "Foreign Policy" can be convincing to other governments especially when we sprinkle a little "Foreign Aid" on top. Without foreign aid, the world beyond our borders is a much more dangerous place.

By the way, for the majority of its existence, the US never had ANY tax rate over 2-3%

Yes, and back they didn't have toilet paper either. Life expectancy was around 40. Basically, it sucked.

--R

[ Parent ]

Do not be naive.... (3.50 / 4) (#47)
by Commienst on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:02:54 AM EST

"Yes we do. Peace and prosperity in the world and for americans abroad. Our "Foreign Policy" can be convincing to other governments especially when we sprinkle a little "Foreign Aid" on top. Without foreign aid, the world beyond our borders is a much more dangerous place."

First of all our foreign policy is despicable. What buisness do we have sending CIA agents in a country like Canada or any other country for that matter? Canada has a very close relationship with the US, so why do we still spy on them? Not to mention the whole Echelon deal.

Our foreign policy has no intention of making the world a better place, they want to make it a better place for America. The worst crimes committed by Saddam Hussein was when he was on the good side of the US, yet our media never told us of what was going on back then. To you it may seem with the US's assistance in Kosovo and Somalia that we are out doing humanitarian deeds, but we are not. The US is picking and chooses the conflicts that will further its agenda. Why did we send troops to Kosovo and not to Turkey where the Kurds are now being slaughtered as we speak with the use of chemical weapons?

Go read some of Noam Chomsky's works on American foreign policy. If you do I am sure you will see things in a different light. What our foreign policy does is take away the right of self determination away from other countries.

A great example of our "benevolent" foreign policy is here (taken from www.justice4cyprus.com):

USA/NATO

In the documentary Attila '74, Michael Cacoyannis posed a question to Archbishop Makarios: "As you must surely know, most people in Greece and elsewhere are convinced the US has played a sinister role in the Cyprus affair. Can we reject that?" Makarios barely concealed a smile as he turned away to consider the question. When he turned again to face his interviewer, his eyes had a mischievous sparkle: "The US must reject it, not I!"

Despite U.S. assertions that she has acted as "honest broker" in the region, the truth is however otherwise. Laurence Stern, the distinguished foreign affairs correspondent and foreign news editor for the Washington Post, punctured that myth in his book The Wrong Horse (1977, page 7) when he wrote that:

"One of the most important keys to an understanding of the Cyprus muddle is the realization that the United States, far from being a disinterested broker to the disputes of the past, was a deeply involved participant."

The words "cunning," "conniving," and "devious" could all equally be used to accurately describe the sinister role that the US has played in creating and maintaining the Cyprus Tragedy. It was the United States that installed and backed the military junta in Greece, which destroyed democracy for seven years in the land of its birth and attempted to do the same in Cyprus. It was the CIA (as US State Department sources have subsequently admitted) that handled all contacts with Brig. Gen. Ioannides, the de facto leader of Greece during the period which the coup against President Makarios was planned and put into effect.

Even if we ignore the CIA role and the above mentioned facts, is it possible that the US was not aware that Turkey was amassing 35,000 troops on its southern borders weeks before the coup? The fact that the US had an airfield, a naval base and numerous intelligence operations in Turkey would leave no reasonable person to believe that the US, with these massive intelligence operations in Turkey, did not know of Ankara's intentions with regard to Cyprus. This is not to mention the intelligence operations that the US operated and still operates illegally in the occupied areas of north Cyprus.

When the the US Ambassador to Greece during this time, Henry Tasca, discovered that the Secretary of State at that time, Henry Kissinger was not going to take decisive action in Cyprus to prevent the invasion following the CIA planned coup, he sent a message directly to the Pentagon urging that the Sixth Fleet be deployed to discourage the Turks. For this effort, he was recalled as ambassador and his career was ruined. It was clear that not only did the US give the the green light to Turkey for the invasion but also that collusion had taken place from the CIA in organising the coup with its agents in Greece and Cyprus.

Moreover what role did the US play following the invasion? Even though both houses of Congress favoured immediate sanctions against Turkey following the invasion, Kissinger pursued a course of "impartiality" toward Cyprus and Turkey. The result of treating aggressor and victim impartially is to so obviously favour the aggressor. Despite that one of the US`s NATO allies (Turkey) was flagrantly flouting the very rules of military engagement which are supposedly a prerequisite for NATO membership. At a later stage when Kissinger (affectionately known to Cypriots as "Killinger" for his role in creating the Cyprus Tragedy) participated in diplomatic discussions, his contribution was to replace the proposal of "withdrawal" of troops with a "timely and phased reduction" of Turkish armed forces in Cyprus, the result of which is that the Turkish military presence in Cyprus is at virtually the same level in the year 2000 as it was in 1974.

Today the United States maintains the same policy of acquiescence to Turkey’s expansionist foreign policy, the same course initially charted by Kissinger. The pursuit of this policy has led the U.S. government to abandon the rule of law regarding Turkey. There are numerous examples of this abandonment with regards to Cyprus and include: the failure to apply U.S. and international law to Turkey' continuing occupation of 37.4% of Cyprus with her 35,000 troops; the failure to apply the Geneva Convention of 1949 to Turkey's 114,000 illegal settlers; and the failure to apply the terms of the NATO Treaty to Turkey for its invasion of Cyprus; The only de-railment from this policy towards Turkey occurred between 1975-78 when congress imposed an embargo against military sales to Ankara, much to Kissinger`s dismay, because Turkey had violated U.S. laws because it illegally used U.S. supplied arms and equipment in its invasion of Cyprus.

The question that needs to be addressed, is `why has the US followed this policy towards Cyprus?` The pursuit of this policy by the US stems from self-interest in the region. The implications of this, is that the U.S. has looked upon Cyprus as subordinate to the larger cold-war aims at the time and of preventing conflict between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, both of which were seen as critical to NATO strategy and at the same time maintaining the presence of US military bases in Cyprus as part if CENTO and UKUSA.

Christopher Hitchens in his book "Cyprus-Hostage to History" confirms the above view. He states that the blame for the Cyprus Tragedy rests upon U.S. foreign policy, and in particular the partionist stance of Henry Kissinger, whilst adding that Kissinger was especially keen to ensure that NATO maintained a foothold on Cyprus in the event of Britain's withdrawal.

In his book, Hitchens provides a chilling reminder that the United States, will stop at nothing to safeguard her own political and military interests, regardless of human life and suffering. The U.S. achieved it's aim of ensuring a major NATO presence on the island by allowing Turkey to invade and its undisciplined soldiery to commit the appalling atrocities against the mostly innocent Greek-Cypriot population. These factors were considered more valuable to the US than the lives of Greek Cypriots. This policy from a Turkish view means that she can literally get away with murder.

This same policy has resulted in not only continuing to deny the fundamental human rights of the Greek Cypriots but also in creating a blatant double standards in international diplomacy and an environment of dangerous instability in one of the world’s most militarized regions. The parallel between Turkey's invasion and occupation of Cyprus and Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait is clear. The U.S. not only have not been forceful in ridding Cyprus of its aggressor, as it was in Kuwait but have also supported their ally. At a minimum, NATO should have suspended Turkey from the alliance until she complied with the North Atlantic Treaty and the UN Charter. Saddam Hussein justified his invasion of Kuwait by explicitly citing to the West’s abject failure to enforce international law in Cyprus. The Serbs in turn readily invoked the US government’s complicity in Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots as a defense, and even the United States and Turkey were allies in the military action in Serbia, despite Turkeys continued human rights abuses against the Cypriots and the Kurds. Even if one adopts the attitude of "Who cares about this small island?" there are lessons to be learned.



[ Parent ]

Re: Do not be naive.... (4.00 / 1) (#157)
by bugeyedbill on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 09:15:29 PM EST

Henry Kissinger is easily one of the biggest mass murderers of the 20th century. The man should not even be allowed to walk the streets. He helped orchestrate the bloodbath in East Timor, one that killed *1/4* of that country's standing population, something that is going on to this day. That surpasses even Pol Pot's Cambodia. And speaking of Cambodia, let's not forget Kissinger and Nixon's secret carpet bombing of that country, the affects of which helped to bring about Pol Pot (whose Khmer the US later tried to give a seat on the UN). This doesn't even touch Kissinger's role in Pinochet's Chile and elsewhere, like Cyprus.

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (1.50 / 2) (#102)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:42:23 PM EST

Yes we do. Peace and prosperity in the world and for americans abroad. Our "Foreign Policy" can be convincing to other governments especially when we sprinkle a little "Foreign Aid" on top. Without foreign aid, the world beyond our borders is a much more dangerous place.
Peace and prosperity in the US are our concern. The rest of the world is not. Our "foriegn policy" created most of the worst dictatorships of the last half century, and has raised the hatred of the world against us. Terrorists blow up our buildings and aircraft, and entire countries scheme to harbor them, because of our "foriegn policy." Our "foriegn aid" consists in giving stolen money to thugs who then proceed to use that money to oppress the people who live in "their" countries. If you want to carry the weight of the world on YOUR shoulders, feel free, but do not pretend that there is an obligation on MY part to join you in your hopeless blunder, and please build your home somewhere such that when some fundamentalist asshole decides to blow it up, my friends and family don't end up dead along with you.

As for toilet paper and life expectancy, you need to read more history. Most of our modern amenities are the work of private industry, and life expectancy in the US has never been as low as 40, even accounting for skews such as the WWII slaughter of teenagers. Taxation funded the slaughter, but it did nothing for either life expectancy(the work of our still-relatively-free health care industry,) or toilet paper.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (5.00 / 2) (#48)
by Robert Gormley on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:03:55 AM EST

The second is that we shouldn't have even BEEN in Somalia. We have no business intervening in the affairs of other countries unless there is something in it for US citizens, and then only if the government of the other country delegitimizes itself by oppressing its' own people.

I'm glad you qualified that. *Thinks of Kuwait*. I'd argue the US shouldn't be in ANY sovereign country, regardless, unless they are directly at war with the US. US under the banner of the UN, a different matter, as long as the US isn't using the banner of the UN to push its own wheelbarrow - which it seems to do, by its selective sending of forces, based on US needs, wants and desires.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:07:24 AM EST

One might cleverly ask why such freeways are necessary.

So that goods can be efficiently moved from one city to another, and, if we're ever invaded, the military can be, too. *Yes*, there was a fair amount of pork involved in the construction of the interstate freeway system, but those two remain its major purpose. For a mediocre, but interesting, book on the history of the interstate freeway system, see Divided Highways.

Problem being, Adam Smith has been pretty much completely discredited among everyone except Marxists looking for a straw man "capitalism."

Really? I hadn't noticed that. Citation, please?

For what it's worth, it's *really* hard for me to willingly invest in something if I have no way of determining if the people i'm giving my money to are lying to me or not.



[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by bugeyedbill on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:34:10 AM EST

>>Problem being, Adam Smith has been pretty much >>completely discredited among everyone except Marxists >>looking for a straw man "capitalism."

>Really? I hadn't noticed that. Citation, please?

For many years Adam Smith was touted as the 'founder' of capitalism by the the so-called free market libertarians. It was the socialists that took pains to point out that Adam Smith believed (correctly) that labor was inalienable from the wealth it produced, and that he was also in fact opposed to the kind of capitalism espoused by these same free-market libertarians. So the harping larks of capitalism, having been forced to face the undeniable evidence that their hero was not what they believed him to be, have now unceremoniously dumped Adam Smith in favor Ayn Rand.

Here is one of the quotes on the division of labor by AS in his book 'The Wealth of Nations' that made him a pariah among his former advocates who apparently never bothered to read his work:

"In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become."

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:02:57 PM EST

So the harping larks of capitalism, having been forced to face the undeniable evidence that their hero was not what they believed him to be, have now unceremoniously dumped Adam Smith in favor Ayn Rand.

Ah, ok, I get it --- in the libertarian world, that's true. Among professional economists, which is what I assumed the guy was talking about, Smith hasn't been abandoned.

It's amazing how the same people come to mean different things to different groups, over time; one man's hero is another man's demon, I suppose.



[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (1.00 / 1) (#100)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:33:54 PM EST

See von Mises. Ayn Rand wasn't an economist.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (1.00 / 1) (#96)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:30:13 PM EST

Trucks are an almost uniquely inefficient and polluting method of transporting large quantities of material. The military hasn't needed the highways in many years; they have faster ways of moving everything from helmetes to main battle tanks, and in any case, we are in no danger of ever being invaded by anyone. If the whole world turned on us, we could easily win, although I grant that it would be a somewhat costly victory. The whole world knows this, even though they don't like to admit it or even think about it.

As for Adam Smith, read something more like, say, von Mises. Granted, he doesn't entirely disagree with everything Adam Smith says, but his capitalism is a different beast, to be sure. He outright demolishes the parts of Adam Smith that make him so attractive as a target, such as the idea that in order for markets to work, information must be free. His successors have clarified and improved upon what he said. Why have you never heard of this? Because in the day of von Mises, socialism was popular. What people today call "capitalism" in the US is in fact more socialist than capitalist in nature. Also because Smith makes, as I said, an excellent straw man, whereas von Mises does not.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:19:18 PM EST

"This is like the funding we give to idiots in Florida every year after their homes wash away in hurricanes - there's no excuse for them, and they should move their asses instead of begging for more of MY money. " Not a flame - but where do you draw this line? The entire Southern Gulf Coast has this problem, as well as the Southern half of the eastern seaboard. While we're at it, get those Californians out of that earthquake haven. I think like >50% of the population lives somewhere like this.
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (1.00 / 1) (#97)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:32:18 PM EST

I don't dispute their right to live there. I DO dispute their right to take my money from me in order to do it. And yes, I'm dead serious; you cannot take risks and then expect others to pay for them. That is not reasonable.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (none / 0) (#49)
by Robert Gormley on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:15:05 AM EST

Other countries' rich come HERE for treatment, because what they can get at home SUCKS.

Funny, I could have sworn we've had several American kids come to Australia for treatment that was "unavailable" in the US.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (none / 0) (#85)
by bugeyedbill on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:12:28 AM EST

I got better treatment when I was in China when I scraped the hell out of my foot on a board. I was treated right away, by competent doctors, and at a reasonable cost. I know a guy who went to China to get treated for Carpal Tunnel and he was treated the same.

[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (3.25 / 4) (#14)
by Alarmist on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:12:49 PM EST

It sounds like your real gripe is with the policies that are being adopted, not with taxation per se. Do something about it: get out and vote, get your friends to vote, maybe even run for office. The biggest reason that government isn't responsible to what people want is that almost half of the people in the country don't vote.

I've voted in every election that I've been eligible for. I do plan to run for office--look for me trying to get on the ballot around 2012 or so. I encourage other people to vote when I can, and most of my friends do actually vote. Just lucky I guess--I don't seem to hang out with many people who don't vote.

I take this stuff seriously. I might not have asked to be a citizen of the United States, but as a citizen I have certain responsibilities. Voting is one of them. Serving jury duty is another. Paying taxes is, in my opinion, of questionable value. I have no qualms about paying for fire service, police, public education, science funding and so forth. What I do have a problem with is invasive foreign policies, idiotic attempts at social reform (re: the War on Drugs), abuse of public funds (Congress gets another pay raise, while some congressmen write bad checks against public funding accounts?), and abuse of power (why so many Executive Orders? Isn't this de facto legislation without going through Congress?).

It's like I wrote earlier: if you're going to rob me, at least use the money sensibly. Don't treat it as free cash for you and your buddies.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (2.00 / 2) (#16)
by aphrael on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 05:20:04 PM EST

I've voted in every election that I've been eligible for.

Me too, including some that were difficult to vote in as I was out of the country at the time.

I don't seem to hang out with many people who don't vote.

You are lucky, indeed. Many of my friends don't vote, largely out of laziness.

I might not have asked to be a citizen of the United States, but as a citizen I have certain responsibilities. Voting is one of them. Serving jury duty is another. Paying taxes is, in my opinion, of questionable value.

I've never understood why people object to jury duty. As for paying taxes --- I still think your problem isn't with taxes in the abstract but rather the particular things the taxes are being used to pay for.

why so many Executive Orders? Isn't this de facto legislation without going through Congress?).

Congress delegated those powers to the President in a series of laws passed beginning in the late 19th century; the Supreme Court has consistently upheld their constitutionality.



[ Parent ]
Re: Get a grip ... (none / 0) (#78)
by Alarmist on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:21:09 AM EST

I've never understood why people object to jury duty. As for paying taxes --- I still think your problem isn't with taxes in the abstract but rather the particular things the taxes are being used to pay for.

People object to jury duty because they think it's boring, mostly. I've known exactly one person who (IMO) had a good reason for getting out of jury duty: he's an hourly worker, and time he misses from work is money that he doesn't have to pay bills.

As far as taxes go, you're probably right. The idea of taxes isn't nearly as offensive to me as what gets done with my taxes. But I still think of the way the tax system exists today as little more than armed robbery. They'll get their money regardless of what I do, and I have no say in what they do with it.

Aside: I've heard it said that it's possible to avoid paying income taxes altogether. Something about the wording of a W-2 is allegedly deceptive, and if you don't mark that you're a U.S. citizen, then you get no taxes assessed against you. The gist of the argument is that people are citizens of their individual states, not of the nation as a whole. The guy who told me this claims that he's not paid income tax in over ten years; I'm curious to see how this would work.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by Robert Gormley on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:17:57 AM EST

the human genome project

Without shattering your ego, other countries contribution to the HGP was far from insignificant, or non-existant.

Efficient oversight of trading exchanges which makes it safer to invest than it is anywhere else in the world.

I think Australia has a better track record, and many other countries too. Pump-n-dump, anyone? It's almost never heard of, here.

[ Parent ]

Re: Get a grip ... (4.00 / 3) (#76)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:15:50 AM EST

Without shattering your ego

You know, I really hadn't intended to sound like an American chauvinist. I was arguing with an American who believes that we don't get anything useful for our tax dollars, so I was responding with "this is what your taxes pay for", and I get jumped on for it. Maybe the tone of my rhetoric was overly-patriotic, but in my experience it's largely impossible to get people like the original poster to *listen* without doing so.



[ Parent ]
Well, do something. (1.50 / 6) (#5)
by eann on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:34:39 PM EST

I'm posting this comment with very little content for one reason (which won't make sense when I change my sig again)...

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


Vote Libertarian for lower taxes and more freedom (3.08 / 12) (#6)
by WonderClown on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:35:17 PM EST

I'm not a member of the party, but I agree with their principles. The Libertarians want to reduce governments influence over the lives of individuals. This means more individual freedom and lower taxes. (In fact, it's quite possible that the Libertarian party would be able to transition the US back to its prior state of having no federal income tax at all.) It's rather cool. More info is at Libertarian.org, the official Libertarian party website, and Harry Browne's website. (Harry Browne is the 2000 Libertarian presidential candidate.)

Re: Vote Libertarian for lower taxes and more free (2.20 / 5) (#28)
by ajf on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 08:59:03 PM EST

Libertarian types for some reason always seem naive to me. To say "it's quite possible that the Libertarian party would be able to transition the US back to [...] having no federal income tax at all" is, I would have thought, laughable. (Even if you ignore the fact that the Libertarian party has no chance of being elected into a position where they had the power to do so.)

Sure, there's a huge amount of money wasted by governments. But you can't cut out the waste without cutting vital services too. It's similar to the "I'd rather see one guilty man go free than ten innocent men convicted" argument - government waste is the lesser of two evils.



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
Re: Vote Libertarian for lower taxes and more free (3.37 / 8) (#30)
by WonderClown on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 10:13:41 PM EST

As far Libertarians being naive, well, yes, many are. Libertarianism, like all philosophies, represents an ideal. The real world is not ideal. The nice thing about libertarianism (note the lower-case "l"; the capital refers to the party, the lower-case to the philosophy) is that it comes the closest to actually being able to deal effectively with the real world. It is, in other words, a rather practical idealism. This is as opposed to, say, communism, which represents a beautiful ideal that has very little chance of being successfully applied to the real world. But idealism in any form is usually associated with naiveness.

Personally, I subscribe to what I call "practical libertarianism", and I am not a member of the Libertarian party, because most Libertarians (members of the party) are idealists, unwilling to consider practical matters. (I also don't believe in the idea of political parties, but that's a rant for a different time.) I believe that the ideals of libertarianism should be applied where they make sense (which is most of the time), and not applied where the ideal clashes with the real.

As for the idea of eliminating the federal income tax being, as you say, laughable, I would certainly contend that it is quite reasonable. This country got along rather well only one hundred years ago with no federal income tax. (Note how I keep referring to the federal income tax. State taxes are another matter entirely.) And not long ago, the income tax percentage was in the single digits. You contend that "vital services" would suffer if taxes were reduced or eliminated. What services are vital? Is it vital for the federal government to spend $1mil annually promoting the consumption of popcorn in other countries? I don't think so. The Constitution lists the vital services which should be provided by the federal government, and in fact explicitly limits the federal government to providing only those services. For those who are like our Congressmen in their lack of knowledge of the Constitution, let me refresh your memories; there are really only two major duties of the federal government: the national defense, and the federal judiciary. Note that social welfare, education, health care, retirement plans, and so on are not mentioned. And in not being mentioned, they are explicitly forbidden as functions of the federal government, being reserved for the states and individual citizens. If the government were only concerned with national defense (and not the defense of other nations) and the federal judiciary, it could get by on tariffs and other minimal sources of income, just as it did a hundred years ago.

Now the thing that actually does make the idea of eliminating the federal income tax laughable is that it probably won't happen in our lifetimes because the established political system would resist it too strongly. The amazing thing about people is that when they perceive a problem, whether real or imagined, they think it is the job of government to fix the problem! They want a father figure to make it all right. Well, surprise people, government is very bad at fixing problems. Whenever politicians try to fix a problem, they usually have no impact, make the problem worse, or introduce new problems. Government doesn't work.

And lest you all think that I'm only in it for the economic issues, so I don't have to pay taxes, libertarianism protects all of your rights, not just your right to spend your money as you see fit. It protects your right to privacy, free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of thought; all those things in the Bill of Rights that so many geeks spend so much time whining about. If you really believe in those things, vote for government representatives that believe in them too. (Ahem, that would be the Libertarians.)

[ Parent ]

I hate to burst your bubble, here. (2.71 / 7) (#32)
by robl on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 11:44:13 PM EST

This country got along rather well only one hundred years ago with no federal income tax.

Yes, and we had no computers, no internet, no electricity in many parts of the country, no refridgerators, no nuclear weapons, no handgun violence, no national interstate system.... Think for a moment, and ask yourself what would happen if we throw it all back to the states. That's right, more beauracracy. Do you really think it would be very easy to get 50 states to agree to an "Internet" in the first place? NO! How about getting those same 50 governmental bodies setting up an interstate system so you can drive from NYC to LA? Again, NO! Imagine having one set of 120 V AC outlets in one state only to get 200 V DC outlets in the next. The Federal government grew because it cut exactly what you were complaining about -- red tape between the states.

The proof of concept is said whenever anyone mentions a "patchwork of state laws."

Government doesn't work.

Actually it does work. We have interstates, we have 120 V outlets nationwide, we have internet, we have companies that can compete nationally with only one set of standards rather than 50. The FBI handles intra-state crimes, simplifying the job, and the matters of jurisdiction between the states. Commerce over state boundaries are easy. The list goes on and on.

Finally, you neglect inflation. Our economy has grown used to the citizens paying 28% to 35% in taxes. Guess what happens if you drop it back down to single digits. Inflation. That's right, inflation would have an almost instant negating effect on any large tax break, and it would be almost immediate. Why? Everyone has more money to spend. And that would increase demand, and therefore raise prices on the goods and services you would normally buy with your money.

You can have your utopia. Just don't expect me to want to live in it.



[ Parent ]

Re: I hate to burst your bubble, here. (2.50 / 2) (#71)
by WonderClown on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:49:22 AM EST

Yes, things are different now than they were 100 years ago. The national defense is more complicated now. But then, note that I'm not advocating a substantial decrease in defense spending; we can still build nuclear weapons and billion-dollar airplanes. What we should not be doing is letting our armed forces mess around in other nations. Bring the troops back home; they're here to protect this nation, not to be another tool in a politician's bag of tricks, used only for political and personal goals. And the defense is currently a small part of the federal budget. With a little tweaking and improvements in efficiency, as well as bringing all our troops back home, we'd easily be able to maintain a very substantial defensive force on little or no federal income tax.

As for infrastructural things like the interstate system and the telecommunications network (which includes the Internet), I believe that these things could be created and maintained rather easily by private investment. Now, I'm undecided on whether or not smaller, local roads should be privitized, but I'm pretty sure that major highways and interstates should be. If private industry were allowed to do it, roads could be made perfectly profitable.

As for setting standards such as 120V outlets, again, private industry consortiums are capable of that, too. When the government sets a standard, it usually ends up sucking. But anyway, I don't particularly care if the government spends a little time on such things -- they don't cost much money! And as long as it isn't illegal for me to choose to wire my house with 153V DC instead of 120V AC with a different plug type, well then I don't care. (I'd be stupid to do such a thing, but that's another matter.)

I also wouldn't mind the FBI, if it were organized a little differently. They are essentially a service to the states, and as such should be funded and operated directly by the state governments. (And if this insane, unethical, illegal, and unwinnable drug war were ended, law enforcement agencies across the board would be stretched less thin, and that would be a good thing.) And commerce across state boundaries is explicitly one of the things that the federal government is allowed to regulate, though they have taken a rather liberal interpretation of that power in recent years to do stuff that they're really not supposed to do.

IANAE (I am not an economist), but I'm pretty sure that federal taxes could be reduced slowly without causing substantial inflation. Remember that as the federal government shrinks, other organizations will grow to provide any services that actually are necessary. These organizations will be both private industry (for-profit and non-profit) and state and local governments. And I don't mind state and local governments taking a little more of my money, because they're more accountable to me. Congress is so damned far away (metaphorically, not physically) that they don't have to listen to me. As long as the transition occurs slowly and is well-planned, the economy would not suffer. (To the contrary, it would thrive.)

I'm not sure if your last sentence about my "utopia" is your standard .sig or if it's directed at me, but I'll assume it's directed at me. I don't think that the Libertarian party would bring utopia. There would still be problems; many problems. The world is an imperfect place. (See my previous post in this thread about idealism.) In a utopia, no government is necessary, because people have everything they need, and they're all shiny, happy, self-governing people. Wonderful. Too bad it will never happen as long as humans are in charge. But if we were to take the best, most practical ideas from libertarianism and apply them to our imperfect world, I think we'd be much better off.

[ Parent ]

Re: I hate to burst your bubble, here. (4.00 / 1) (#134)
by robl on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 02:01:02 AM EST

Not only have you missed the point, you still haven't mentioned about how one exactly gets 50 governmental bodies to agree on anything important. Have you ever tried to herd kittens?

As for infrastructural things like the interstate system and the telecommunications network (which includes the Internet), I believe that these things could be created and maintained rather easily by private investment. Now, I'm undecided on whether or not smaller, local roads should be privitized, but I'm pretty sure that major highways and interstates should be. If private industry were allowed to do it, roads could be made perfectly profitable.

Monopolies suck. People hate them. And roads would be local monopolies. And of course, whereever there is a monopoly, there is profit, as the company will charge whatever to make a profit. Duh. We're not paying taxes anymore, we're paying for a company to make a profit.

IANAE (I am not an economist),but I'm pretty sure that federal taxes could be reduced slowly without causing substantial inflation.

Whew, neither am I. But I did take a college course on it. Wealth is a combination of two things, real money that has real buying power. Throwing more money at the general people only serves to increase inflation. However, what you really want to do is to increase the value of the dollar, and then cut taxes.

Remember that as the federal government shrinks, other organizations will grow to provide any services that actually are necessary.

Again, we will still pay just as much money as before, as services are moved over from public to private. Again, we may pay more since we would actually be paying the company to make a profit as well. And then you end up in ethical quandries when a publicly traded companies inflates the price of a specific needed community service so their stockholders will be happy. Again, it just causes more quandries than it takes to solve.

Lastly, you remove all sense of accountability. If you don't like the way your national services are handled, at least you can vote to make a difference. With a private-organization, things are tad bit tougher. You can't really vote them out of office, now can you?

[ Parent ]

Sadly, I think they got around this one (none / 0) (#106)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:01:34 PM EST

"there are really only two major duties of the federal government: the national defense, and the federal judiciary" I could have swore there was an ammednment that added a vague term like "and shall be responsible for the well being of the state" that basically justified anything in the eyes of a polititcian...(I can't find it right now, I'm looking...)
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
The big PROBLEM with Libertarians... (4.33 / 3) (#93)
by marlowe on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:13:07 PM EST

is they have this strange ideological notion that big business is somehow immune to Santayana's dictum (power corrupts, etc.). Those jackasses are even defending Microsoft's "Freedom to Innovate(TM)."

But then with Nader, you get the opposite problem, I suppose.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Re: The big PROBLEM with Libertarians... (3.00 / 1) (#111)
by WonderClown on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:39:18 PM EST

Private corporations are not immune to corruption. I don't think any libertarian really believes that. But the important part is that corporations have no sovereignty; they cannot force me to do anything. The government is a monopoly which can use the force of law to achieve its goals. That is much more dangerous than any corrupt corporation, even Microsoft. I can choose to boycott a corporation's products. I can create a competing company, or but products from an existing competitor. These things are not possible with government.

No, it's not perfect. Corporate monopolies arise. I'm undecided on whether or not it's a good idea for the government to break up monopolies; it might be. I tend to think it probably isn't. (Microsoft would eventually go away without government involvement, I think.) This is why I'm not a Libertarian (with the big "L"): I think that there are certain cases where the ideal of libertarianism might fail, and in those cases compromises may be necessary.

The basic trade-off is between order and freedom. Having a nice, clean ordered society is nice in theory, but in practice it typically leads to decreases in freedom, both personal liberties and economic freedom. Having too much freedom reduces order, because criminals and suspected criminals have rights, too, and you are innocent until proven guilty. Obviously, a happy medium is required. I think the right equilibrium point leans substantially further toward freedom than the current state of the US (and all other major nations, for that matter), and that's why I support the Libertarians. But it can be taken too far, which is why I recognize the need to compromise in certain circumstances.

I just want to be Free, is that so wrong? ;-)

[ Parent ]

Vote Nader (or Browne) (3.64 / 17) (#8)
by SbooX on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:46:24 PM EST

Well said.

It's our own fault for not electing better, I suppose.

Ya better belive it! This is the first time I'm able to vote and I'll be voting Ralph Nader. I'm not afraid of paying somewhat high taxes, so long as I'm getting something for it. Education and health care are priorities for me and Ralph whereas Bush/Gore want to up military spending.

I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there who don't want to pay any taxes at all. Well, then vote Libertarian. Please people, don't vote for the major party canidates. They have the same views on almost all issues. Vote your heart. Not what the media tells you to.

---

god is silly. MGL 272:36

Re: Vote Nader (or Browne) (2.33 / 3) (#34)
by flieghund on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 11:57:38 PM EST

Vote your heart.

Okay, then, I vote for my mother. She would decline, being the humble person she is, but she would totally kick the sh*t out of all the "thieves and scoundrels" currently running this country.

But I'm not going to vote for my mother, despite the fact that she is the one and only person I am absolutely confident would make a positive difference as President. Why? There are three main reasons:

  1. Less than half of the so-called elligible voters actually bother to vote.
  2. 90-95% of those who do vote, vote for one of the two major parties.
  3. People distrust the political process so much that no one will believe me when I say that my mother is: a) not a politician; and b) the best person for the job... so I am probably the only person who will vote for her.

So, with the field of candidates with a realistic chance of being elected President reduced to two (and don't get me wrong, I think I would pick just about anyone other than those two), how do you vote? You could:

  1. Vote Republican (Bush)
  2. Vote Democrate (Gore)
  3. Vote Protest (Nader/Browne/Buchannan)
  4. Don't Vote

(Note: I think D is a chicken-sh*t option. You are free to disagree, skip voting, and play into the Greater Plans of the Big Two.)

While I find it admirable to chose Option C, I personally see it as a futile gesture. Yes, it registers with the Big Two as a protest against their policies. But people are constantly protesting against them and their policies (refer to the political "conventions" held earlier this year), and very little seems to have changed. Oh, sure, they respond that they will "consider what is being said/protested," which anyone with a pulse can tell you is politician-speak for "suckers."

While I agree in part that the candidates for the Big Two are very much alike, and (as mentioned above) neither choice is a good choice, I have to ask you this: Would you vote for Dan Quayle? I mean for POTUS. (God I love The West Wing.) I know he isn't running for the Oval Office any more (or maybe he is and no one has noticed? =), but I hope you understand where I'm heading with this. On one hand, you have the Man Who Invented the Internet. On the other hand, you have the guy who has difficulty identifying foreign leaders and then gets pissed off when you call him on it. Nice choice, neh?

Well, I've been ranting here so long I forgot exactly what the hell I was ranting about. So go forth and remember to vote for my mom this Election Day.


Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Re: Vote Nader (or Browne) (5.00 / 5) (#42)
by winthrop on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:59:31 AM EST

I'd just like to point out that a vote for a non-Democrat, non-Republican candidate isn't only a protest vote. It also helps the party of your candidate grow. Here in Massachusetts, for instance, the Libertarian Party is already a major party (in legal terms) and the Massachusetts Green Party will be if our candidate Ralph Nader gets 3% of the vote statewide in the presidential race.

This can really make a gigantic difference, especially here where a clean elections law just passed by referendum guaranteeing public funding of major party statewide candidates.

But even if you're in a state where there's no party status to worry about, a vote in the presidential race could still make all the difference in the world in smaller, future elections. Right now, the Libertarian Party candidate for Senate in Massachusetts is running second to the Democrat, ahead of the Republican. This never could have happened if it weren't for people voting for their gubernatorial candidate, even though they knew he couldn't win. If Ralph Nader gets 2% of the vote statewide, but 15% in a particular district, people are going to have take a Green Party candidate for the state house in that district seriously two years from now.

Building an alternative to any system so firmly entrenched is a huge task, but the only way to get there is to take small steps in the right direction.

[ Parent ]

Reforms are ncessary (3.25 / 8) (#10)
by Eloquence on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 04:54:08 PM EST

It's true that we need a public debate on more choice about how taxes are used (not only in the US). In the US, Europe and parts of Asia, we have terminals in schools, libraries, and at home, if we had a secure electronic registration system, we could easily choose how our taxes are supposed to be used. In detail.

You're right about NASA, for example, although underfunding is large part of the cause (and Goldin is responsible for this, he seems to be very happy with the "fast, better, cheaper" approach -- he should be removed ASAP).

Of course this will result in a lot of propaganda: Vote for the new highway, the nuclear arms program etc., all by the respective corporations. But with the Net it will be harder to spread such propaganda in a centralized fashion.

I am not a Libertarian and I do not believe in the mysterious powers of the "free market". However, the taxes system seriously needs to be reformed. The big question, however, is what we can really do at this point. Join the large political parties? Sign petitions? Vote for fringe parties? I don't think that any of this is likely to work right now. I guess we have to wait until the Internet becomes more influential than TV so that online debates gain public relevancy.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Re: Reforms are ncessary (none / 0) (#59)
by thomasd on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:23:27 AM EST

Why stop at deciding what gets done with the taxes you've already paid? Wouldn't the logical next step be to decide how and when to pay, as well. So, each April, I could write a cheque for UKP2000 to the department of education, UKP500 to the department of transport, and maybe send my loose change and a metric @&t;--> imperial conversion chart to NASA (why should you only pay to institutions in your own country?). Surely this would be democracy in action.

Of course, it means that as well as army recruitment adverts, we'd get bombarded with campaigns trying to convince us that the manly thing to do (or whatever) is to sign 20% of your income over to the ministry of defence. Heigh ho.



[ Parent ]
What you get for your money......... (1.58 / 12) (#21)
by edderly on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 06:15:29 PM EST

What you get for your money is the freedom to rant. But in no country no matter how much or how little tax they pay do they have to listen.

Let's face it - if you're so f**king poor what the hell are you doing whining here for? Get a better job. How many times do you see that there is a shortage of technical skills *everywhere* not just in the US. These jobs pay well. If you can't get one then perhaps you should reflect on why you are in situation you are in. Get the message?

People like you make me sick - although ironically you earn less than most of the moaners I occasionally listen to. How many homeless people live on the streets - whilst you whine? How can you argue against your tax burden whilst so many live below the poverty line? Oh, but you might argue that the homeless have opted out of society _or_ aren't really trying, so they get what they deserve. If you believe this, shouldn't you reflect on your argument - are you trying hard enough - do you contribute enough as a productive member of society? Are you just mediocre and hope to live the lifestyle of those who have actually earned it (and who still pay the same percentage of tax as you do).

How many suggestions did you actually come up with in this rant- to both improve the quality of life of society and yet reduce the tax burden? - Err, none.

If you want more sympathy, maybe you could also explain what you feel is missing from your life.

But in the meantime - if you can't explain - stick your rant up your ass.

Re: What you get for your money......... (3.00 / 6) (#38)
by warpeightbot on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:29:47 AM EST

(whine)Oh, there are people on the streets and you complain about paying too much in taxes (/whine)

Ahhhhhhh, sheddap. Very small but visible minority who are victims of social darwinism. What we need is MORE social darwinism. What I object to are these welfare brood mares who sit on their butts in the projects and breed on MY NICKEL. And what do they breed? Gangstas and more brood mares. NO! I object!

People, it says PROVIDE for the common defense and PROMOTE the general welfare. NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. There are a whole heap of things Congress has no business doing. (Oh, yeah, what DOES it have business doing?) Glad you asked:

  • Lay and collect tax. (duh)

  • Sell bonds (borrow money).

  • Regulate commerce with foreign nations, including Indian tribes.

  • To (basically) run the INS, and the bankruptcy courts.

  • To coin/print money.

  • To punish counterfitters (yeah, this is a separate clause!)

  • To run the Post Office, and (what amounts to) the Interstate Highway System

  • To provide for patents and copyrights (trademarks are NOT mentioned)

  • To establish the Federal court system (and then leave it be)

  • To establish an Admiralty Court, for trying crimes on the high seas

  • To declare war

  • To provide for an army and navy, and rules for Guard units

  • To run D.C.

And that's about it. If we apply this strictly, we can dismantle USDA, the Departments of Education, Energy, Interior, Labor, and HUD; and Health and Human Services becomes at best a standards agency. Commerce, Defense, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury are left, and Veterans Affairs... when did that become a cabinet level post?!? goes back under Defense where it belongs.

Seriously, people, you eliminate all that, plus the IRS (by repealing the 16th amendment), give me about a 15% federal sales tax on first sale of non-food items, and I'll show you a lean, mean fighting machine of a FedGov that works without no steenking income tax. And a shitload of second-rate paper pushers out of work. Don't know what to do about that.

You may ask, "What about all that federal funding for (my pet project)?" States' problem. They want welfare, or a retirement program? Vote on it, hash it out, find a revenue source, fund it, do it. NOT AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. FedGov was never DESIGNED to do that. Besides, federal matching funds were usually at best 20%.... you do the math.

Ah, well, it's not like it matters, about next go around we'll be over the 50% mark in voters who don't pay any taxes at all, and after that point you're doomed.... (/biting_sarcasm)

[ Parent ]

Re: What you get for your money......... (none / 0) (#144)
by edderly on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 10:53:40 AM EST

Darwinism is fine for animals - but personally I'd like a decent society not something based on the laws of the jungle. The homeless are a fairly extreme example, but how many people also live below the poverty line? Personally I am not happy that anyone lives in impoverished conditions and I find it sad that you are.

OK fine - government could be run better - but then again it could be a lot worse.

How does your model of government deal with people who are born into under-priveliged families? It seems you'd rather forget them. Unfortunately the kid you neglect today is the guy who shoots you in the back for the fifty bucks in your wallet tomorrow.

Or maybe we should put these people in camps and make them work?

Hopefully the disabled will be alright - fingers crossed the familiy can pay the medical bills or have forked out the insurance to cover it.

Who runs the education/USDA/Energy/Health system? - well of course we can rely on commercial companies to do all that can't we? After all they've never screwed anyone over and put profit before the general welfare have they?

[ Parent ]

Re: What you get for your money......... (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by bugeyedbill on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:14:50 AM EST

although ironically you earn less than most of the moaners I occasionally listen to. How many homeless people live on the streets - whilst you whine? How can you argue against your tax burden whilst so many live below the poverty line?

I think you are missing the point. If the huge chunk taken out of pay month to month were used correctly, there would be no homeless problem. I know a lady who is senior citizen, a friend of my mom's who is unable to take care of herself, and has no family. My mom has to go over to her house to make sure she is OK, and to get essentials done for her. There are plenty of people who need good jobs, and Americans pay more than enough in taxes to meet the needs of this lady AND the homeless. Why the fuck isn't our taxes being used for that instead lining the pockets of fat cat corporate America?

[ Parent ]

Re: What you get for your money......... (none / 0) (#141)
by edderly on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:46:43 AM EST

I can see your point but I really don't believe it it the case. I feel it is too easy an argument to say if the money was being spent "correctly" that the problems would be eliminated.

The logistical problems of large organizations are immense. No large corporate organization has really solved these problems and yet we expect government organizations (which are often even larger) to solve these issues while paying the personnel a fraction of what they could get in commercial companies.

In general people who work for state based organizations in general get paid less in the private sector. We complain about the quality of the staff and the service that they provide - yet at the same time we want to pay less tax.

I have worked in a variety of companies of different sizes (and a government agency) and I could point out how business is conducted a lot more efficiently in the smaller organizations. Even the most successful businesses have difficulty dealing with this problem.

[ Parent ]

Re: What you get for your money......... (none / 0) (#158)
by bugeyedbill on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 09:32:12 PM EST

I feel it is too easy an argument to say if the money was being spent "correctly" that the problems would be eliminated.

If the money were spent correctly, there would be no problem. People need jobs, good jobs, and I want to see my taxes spent on hiring people to help take care of seniors who need help and the homeless. I do not want to see my tax money spent to subsidize companies like Raytheon who needs govt handout so they have market for all their cruise missles.

In general people who work for state based organizations in general get paid less in the private sector.

I really doubt that, for the simple reason that since profit is derived directly from labor, companies have every incentive pay labor as little as possible while increasing production as much as possible. For this reason, the for-profits have their own nanny, the fed, to make sure they have a wake to ride on. However, govt jobs are primarily non-profit, there is no such incentive, but as govt functions become increasingly privatized (for profit) that is starting to change.

[ Parent ]

Re: What you get for your money......... (2.00 / 2) (#80)
by Alarmist on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:31:20 AM EST

Let's face it - if you're so f**king poor what the hell are you doing whining here for? Get a better job. How many times do you see that there is a shortage of technical skills *everywhere* not just in the US. These jobs pay well. If you can't get one then perhaps you should reflect on why you are in situation you are in. Get the message?

Oh, I've got the message. The message is that nobody in this godforsaken shitheel town I live in wants to hire a 24 year old with multiple college degrees who eats up technical training and actually knows his stuff. They'd rather hire someone on the cheap who doesn't know the job, or go into a spending freeze.

I'm not an idiot, though I often play one on TV. I know that there's a shortage of technical people. But I also know that one of the reasons there's a shortage is because management can't get its head out of its ass long enough to hire the right people for the job the first time. Meantime, I'm working my ass off while getting a graduate degree, and I have yet to get a response on any of the resumes I've sent out. Nobody wants a good tech support/sysadmin, I guess. Or someone with a degree in MIS, if they're looking for managers.

[ Parent ]

Re: What you get for your money......... (none / 0) (#142)
by edderly on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:54:19 AM EST

I'm sorry about your situation - but if you feel you have got the skills to get a good job then it really sounds like you should move.

[ Parent ]
Re: What you get for your money......... (none / 0) (#143)
by Alarmist on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 10:38:20 AM EST

I'm sorry about your situation - but if you feel you have got the skills to get a good job then it really sounds like you should move.

I appreciate the sentiment, but not everybody in IT is free to up and move whenever they feel like it.

[ Parent ]

US Government = Cancer (2.85 / 14) (#23)
by Commienst on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 06:31:02 PM EST

Our Government just keeps growing and growing and taking more taxes as it grows. It seems than rather than trying to solve problems our politicians are trying to entrench themselves as much as possible through government growth. The more government there is, the more power each politician has.

Sadly alot of citizens encourage this behavior by being irresponsible and looking for the government to bail them out of trouble instead of excercising their self reliance. People who continue to have kids when they cannot afford them, look toward government's welfare and food stamps to compensate for their poor lack of self control. I am not against welfare but I am against people using welfare as a crutch, a way of life, instead of a stepping stone to get out of trouble.

Part of the solution to this problem is self reliance the other part is to stop voting for entrenched career politicans who want to dig themselves and government deeper and deeper into our lives.

Research (2.72 / 11) (#24)
by Miniluv on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 06:31:04 PM EST

Who gets what for their higher taxes? Don't you dare cite Canadian health care without doing the research, cuz I'd much rather NOT have my government involved if that's the pattern we're gonna follow.

US taxes are relatively low, and you didn't really look all that closely at where the money goes.

Education, in most areas, is primarily funded through property taxes and lottery money. Federal spending for education supplements state funding, but the states are supposed to bear the brunt of those costs. So don't go blaming the US gov't for not improving education. Also remember, in a lot of places referendum are constantly being proposed to increase funding for schools to try and reduce class sizes and provide better tools to teachers, yet they get voted down. Education is NOT a priority to the average person, thus it's not given a chance.

Military spending is one of the most incredibly complex issues facing anyone involved in the federal budget here in the US. We spend an awful lot of money on something we hope we'll never have to use, but if the time comes we damn well better have spent that money effectively. Buying weapons systems, and researching new ones, is not so much about killing more effectively, as about using force more effectively and saving the lives of our fellow citizens. The military needs to be run like a business, rather than a jobs program, and then maybe the budget can come down because what we do spend is that much more effective.

Your tax withholding is not calculated by the federal government, or did you not READ the W4 you yourself filled out? If you'd like don't have ANY taxes withheld, then calculate what you owe and pay in one lump sum in April...it's entirely legal. The only deductions you MUST pay are FICA (social securty) and Medicare/Medicaid.

The bottom line? You might have had a point, but really poorly researched arguments ruined it.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Paying in April (was: Re: Research) (3.00 / 3) (#33)
by warpeightbot on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 11:46:36 PM EST

Err, no, if you slam dunk in April you get to pay a smack-ass PENALTY for not paying "estimated taxes" on time. Read the fine print at the end of the instructions. Legal, perhaps, inadviseable if you don't want them taking MORE of your money.

Repeal the steenking 16th amendment... better yet, try and prove to me it was ever passed by the letter of the law. I'm going to want my money back.

[ Parent ]

Re: Paying in April (was: Re: Research) (none / 0) (#131)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:08:02 PM EST

From my copy at http://www.straightpoop.org/references/amendments.html it says - "was declared, in a proclamation of the Secretary of State, dated the 25th of February, 1913, to have been ratified by 36 of the 48 States" is that bs??? I certainly don't like it, but it sure seems to be legit (why a majority of the states would hand over this power to the feds is beyond me)
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Re: Research (4.20 / 5) (#37)
by Knitebane on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:26:15 AM EST

Where does your money go? Here's a breakdown: Entitlements are the number one consumers of your federal tax dollar. Social Security (22%), Medicare (11%) Medicade (6%) food stamps and other entitlement programs (6%) and Federal retirement and insurance (6%) combine to use up 51% of each tax dollar. Total defense spending comes out to 33% broken down into two categories: Defense discretionary spending is 15% of each dollar. Defense non-discretionary spending (this includes foreign aid, though I don't know why) is 18% Interest payments on the national debt are 11% The rest is surplus. (6%) It comes out to 101% because of rounding. Source: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/fed_prog/fed-budget/citizen.txt Don't like it? Don't vote for anyone that doesn't pledge to give you back your money. Knitebane --

[ Parent ]
One word (2.46 / 15) (#26)
by eric.t.f.bat on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 07:36:32 PM EST

I have one word for you poor dear kiddies with your 25% tax:

Diddums.

My hearts bleed for you, you poor thing. How DO you cope? If I'd known you had it so hard, I'd spend some of the 55% of my income that I actually receive and send you a care package.

: Fruitbat, laughing derisively :

Re: One word (1.00 / 1) (#127)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:34:43 PM EST

I live in the US and including health care (which I think is fair since some of the governements we are comparing against have a free health care system) I'm taxed about 42%. Excluding health care it's about 38%, so we're not as far off as you think.

25% would be nice though. :) If it were 15% I think I'd go into a coma. :)

-Zane


[ Parent ]
what about people working two jobs (1.40 / 5) (#36)
by Anon6731 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:21:33 AM EST

What is incredibly unfair is that somebody who has to work two jobs to make the same amount of money as a person working a single job, is going to pay the same amount in taxes.



Uh. How is that unfair? (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by Alanzilla on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:45:34 AM EST

He who earns $X gets to pay 15% of $X in taxes.

Suppose you work at a job and earn $A and pay 15% of $A in taxes.

Suppose also that you work a second job earning $B, and pay 15% of $B in taxes.

If A+B=X, then 15% of A + 15% of B = 15% of X.

Since you're not paying any more or any less in taxes, how is that unfair?


[ Parent ]
Re: what about people working two jobs (1.00 / 1) (#126)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:31:35 PM EST

So are you suggesting our tax rate be based on our hourly rate and not the total amount of money we make? That seems kinda fiar to me except that I like working less than 40 hours a week so I'd be screwed. :)

-Zane


[ Parent ]
I understand your frustration (2.25 / 8) (#39)
by thePositron on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:43:18 AM EST

I understand your frustration and this is a problem that must be dealt with. Most people say that voting is the answer but I feel that this pushes important issues under the rug. One of them being the fact that our political process has been hijacked by treasonous politicians bribed by large corporations. This alineates voters because many of us now feel that our votes do not count becaus our politicians are bought. What we now have in this country is what the founding fathers called "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION". Anyway I think one remedy to this situation would be to go back to our roots when dealing with transnational corporations. It troubles me greatly that these corporations have taken on the rights of natural persons while not being liable for their actions as all natural persons are. To get an idea how those in the first century handled corporations I have the text below is copied from this site. http://www.monitor.net/democracyunlimited/ BTW I am not afiliated with this group but i believe they are on the right track and I am definitely voting for Nader. This country's founders created corporations to provide specific public services, but, concerned about the risks of concentration and abuse of power, they carefully limited corporate powers. Incorporation was a privilege not a right, and corporations were each granted unique charters by a state legislature in the state where they did their business. These are some of the controls placed on corporations by state legislatures (different in each state): Corporations had to have a specific purpose written into their charter (license to do business); if they didn't fulfill it, or exceeded their authority, their charter could be revoked. Corporation charters were granted for a specific period of time, usually 10 to 30 years, and ceased to exist after that time unless their charters were renewed. Corporations could not own stock in other corporations or own real estate beyond what they needed to conduct their business. State legislatures set the rates that corporations could charge for their products or services. All corporation records and documents were open to the public (or the legislature or the state attorney general, depending on the state). A corporation's officers, directors and stockholders could be held personally liable (sometimes triply) for all harms and debts caused by the corporation. Shareholders had the right to remove directors at will. Major corporate decisions had to be affirmed by unanimous shareholder vote, and the power of large shareholders was limited by scaled voting, so that large and small investors had more equal voting rights. Corporations were prohibited from making any donations to political candidates, direct or indirect. (In Wisconsin, this law was still in effect until 1972!) To ensure local control and input, all of a corporation's stockholders were required to be from the state where it did its business. and much much more...

What have the Romans ever done for us!? (3.36 / 11) (#41)
by Alanzilla on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:46:37 AM EST

Well, there's the aquaduct....


last year (2.28 / 7) (#43)
by pope nihil on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:01:51 AM EST

Last year I made a little less than $10,000, yet I had to send a check to the US Treasury for over $2000. Why? Because I was a "self-employed" worker with 0 exemptions (I live at home). Since I was working contract labor, the money was not deducted during the year and I had to pay some penalties on it (less than $50), but it was still more than 20% of my F***ING income for the entire G*DDAMNED YEAR!

Now I'm furious again. Why did you have to bring up taxes? I am SO moving to Canada when I finish my CS degree.

I voted.

Re: last year (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by matman on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:01:45 AM EST

I live here in Canada, but taxes are not fun here either. On every purchase (here in Ontario) we get nailed (most of the time) for 15% sales tax. As well, we get at least 15% taken off of our income. We do get a basic exemption of ~$6000 (CDN)... So, if I make $10000, I get taxed on $4000, that's ~600 dollars off. So then we get to lose another 15% off of 9400... so, ~1400 off of that. So we're down to 8000. Same boat as you. :)

[ Parent ]
Re: last year (none / 0) (#107)
by aziegler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:18:00 PM EST

The taxes in Canada are slightly more reasonable than those in the U.S. (despite what the National Tubby says). The biggest reason for this, I've found, is that Canada has progressive incremental taxation. From $0 to $30,000 (I think that's the bracket) you pay x% of tax. From $30,000 to $60,000 you pay y% of tax, and $60,000 plus you pay z% of tax. If you're making $65,000, you're paying: ($30,000 * x%) + ($30,000 * y%) + ($ 5,000 * z%). In the US, you'd be paying $65,000 * z%. Compared to what I get for my taxes in Canada, I'm VERY happy to be living here instead of my home country at this point. -f

[ Parent ]
Re: last year (none / 0) (#117)
by Aztech on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:12:52 PM EST

I thought all tax systems followed this model? They always have over here, i.e. you <i>only</i> pay 40% tax only on the money you earn <b>over</b> £100k. How does the US system work?

Az.

[ Parent ]
Re: last year (2.00 / 1) (#125)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:29:51 PM EST

The US system works just as he stated. Say the brackets are:

0-30 - 10%
30-60 - 20%
60-90 - 30%
90+ - 40%

(Just making crap up :)

If you made 89k you'd be taxed 30% on ALL of it. So if you got a 1k a year raise to 90k you'd actually be making a good deal less than you were making at 89k.

Making 89k your take home would be 62.3k, making 90k your take home would be 54k.

That's just one of the major flaws with our system.

-Zane


[ Parent ]
Re: last year (none / 0) (#128)
by Aztech on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:19:57 PM EST

Hmm, that model has some serious flaws, if I was earning £29k and got a raise to £30,500 then I'd be loosing out :/

Az.

[ Parent ]
Re: last year (2.66 / 3) (#57)
by commandant on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:34:08 AM EST

Holy shit, I can't believe you're voting for Browne. That's got to be the most foolish thing a Libertarian can do in an election.

Harry Browne is, and always will be, a minority candidate. That means that, no matter what, he'll never win.

By encouraging people to vote for Browne, you pull votes away from George Bush, who is the closest major candidate to your (our) beliefs. Then Al Gore winds up in office, which is what happened when Perot came on the scene in '92.

You can't get a Libertarian state overnight. It must be gradual. Until we get there, you mustn't vote your direct desires in the ballot, you must think about things on a grand scale. If you don't want to push our government further off to the left, you must vote for George Bush this November.

If every rightward-voter went against his instincts and voted for the guy closest to their beliefs that might actually win, we would begin to drift to the right.

Let me repeat: If you want to make your way toward a Libertarian state, don't vote for Browne; vote for Bush. He's the only one remotely close to Libertarianism who has a good chance of winning.

Don't fuck this up for me, man.

[ Parent ]

Re: last year (4.66 / 3) (#63)
by erotus on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:09:53 AM EST

First of all, Bush is not Closer to Libertarian than Gore. If you are speaking in terms of economic freedom, then yes Bush is closer. In terms of Personal freedom, Gore is a bit closer. Libertarian is not a right vs. left philosophy. While it has some left and right elements it really can't fall into the right or the left or centrist paradigm. I can tell you that anyone who is pro-technology and values their job will not vote for bush.(more on this later) All I can say is, too bad McCain withdrew.

In terms of Personal freedoms Bush is not quite there. He speaks of getting government off our backs but he only means this in the economical sense. He would love to shove his anti-drug, moralistic, judgemental, Jesus Christ pro-life agenda right down your throat. Since when do I need all this religious shit - separation of church and state anyone? The parent to this parent poster is speaking of getting a CS degree. If he is serious about this then voting for Bush is a one way ticket to hell. How computer training for teachers is approached over the next four to eight years likely will depend on the outcome of November's presidential election. Below is an excerpt from computer user magazine:

"Republicans generally favor REDUCING the national government's role in education and letting the states and local districts decide how to spend federal grants. The Clinton-Gore Administration has long championed an activist government approach, with high-profile, hands-on efforts to get computers and the Internet into schools.

In June, President Clinton announced $128 million in federal grants to be distributed to 122 teachers, colleges, and other organizations to be used, he said, to help teachers learn how to use computers and other technology. He also called for hiring and training two million new teachers over the next 10 years." This means more jobs for IT and CS people

Now, my views lean very heavily towards the libertarian philosohpy however, if you are in the CS or IT field you can surely see that republican is not the way to go. I live in Texas and I'm a Texan however, I will not vote for Bush. No way.. no how... Bush is riding the coat tails of his father for his popularity. I might have considered John McCain. He was a republican purely for economic freedom and was closer to libertarian than Bush. McCain had a great grassroots following whereas Bush has money to push his agenda and also aligned himself with the Christian right. McCain did not align with the religious right and lost some votes. Sorry, my personal freedom is worth more to me than some rich assholes economic freedom. I make enough money to survive and I'm happy. This is not to say I wouldnt mind a tax break - just not at the expense of my personal freedom.

I only hope that another republican like McCain or General Colin Powell would run again for office - Republicans who can stay out of people's pocketbooks as well as their personal lives. These are the republicans who are closer to libertarian philosophy. Unfortunatly, Bush is not one of them.



[ Parent ]
FUD Above (was : Re: last year) (4.00 / 2) (#68)
by kraant on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:59:14 AM EST

Looks like the major party shills are coming out in force....

Now voting for tweedledum or tweedledee will do nothing for you so you may as well just vote for whoever you want since you're throwing your votes away anyway....

Because except for a few key issues those major parties are basicaly identical and on those key issues the dominance that the other head of the hydra has in other areas of government will prevent those from making any impact.

Bah
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

You're complaining?!??!? (2.20 / 5) (#52)
by Dacta on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:47:08 AM EST

I paid 48.5% last year, and I still owe the .au government about $25,000 I need to write a check for sometime.

I'm not complaining about the amount - only what they spend it on. I'm happy when they spend it on Education and Health, okay with Defense, not too pleased with them using my money for political advertising (ie, the GST).

Still, I prefer our high taxes, and having a public health system, compared with the US way.

I'm not too please this is on K5, though... surely there are better places this could be, and more interesting discussions we could have here? I get the impression that rusty's rant on rants has brought a few people with points to prove out today.



Re: You're complaining?!??!? (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by Enthrad on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:02:57 AM EST

Yeah, there is something just not right about hearing people from the US complain about high taxes or high petrol prices.

And, hey, I'm not complaining yet about Australia's taxes until the end of this year when I graduate... I get Austudy, have deferred HECS and I don't drive anywhere much!


[ Parent ]
Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#135)
by Scott A. Wood on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 02:23:20 AM EST

Yeah, there is something just not right about hearing people from the US complain about high taxes or high petrol prices.

Why? That our taxes are low compared to much of the world does not mean that we should not complain when ours are higher than they need to be, or when ours are not being used in anything resembling an efficient manner.

Our complaints don't stop you from complaining even more loudly, you know. :-)

[ Parent ]

Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#140)
by Enthrad on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:26:13 AM EST

Yeah, I know. :)

[ Parent ]
Re: You're complaining?!??!? (1.80 / 5) (#61)
by erotus on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:36:02 AM EST

First off, I'm American and I bitch about taxes. I know that it is worse for you guys in Australia. I am well-traveled and I've seen the good, bad, and the ugly. I know that right now gas prices are at an all time high here in the States and we bitch even though the rest of the world still pays twice as much.

I would like to see a public health system. I would not mind if my tax money went to support something like this. I will eventually get sick and need this type of service. What I do bitch about is my money going to support the drug war which is a total and complete failure. I don't want my tax money to support the red tape and bureacracy in the federal govt. I don't want my money to be wasted by the pentagon for $500 hammers and $200 toilet seats.

The only thing I fear happening to public healthcare would be the "pentagon" effect. In otherwords, $200 toilet seats and $50 syringes. Maybe only in America could someone overlook this type of spending. In essence, I know that we live in a wasteful society and I can't believe the American public, the govt. and other powerful people sit back and let this happen.

[ Parent ]
Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#69)
by 1111111 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:54:02 AM EST

I would like to see a public health system. I would not mind if my tax money went to support something like this. I will eventually get sick and need this type of service. What I do bitch about is my money going to support the drug war which is a total and complete failure. I don't want my tax money to support the red tape and bureacracy in the federal govt. I don't want my money to be wasted by the pentagon for $500 hammers and $200 toilet seats.
This is the reasoning I can't follow. The same government that brings you $500 hammers, $200 toilet seats, an IRS which can't manage its own books but fines you if you don't manage yours, is not going to magically become competent to manage your health. Many people (not you necessarily) seem to believe a public health care system would basically give "good" health care for "free". I submit it would be the same "good" as the good service you get from the DMV, the "good" retirement planning you get from SSA, the same "good" public education, etc. Obviously it isn't free, it's paid for by tax money which is naively overlooked by too many, generally because they can assume it's *someone else's* tax money.
I know that we live in a wasteful society and I can't believe the American public, the govt. and other powerful people sit back and let this happen.
We have a wasteful public sector. The private sector is less so because we, as individual consumers, set prices as much as the vendors do. SSA, by comparison, can get by having an abysmal rate of return because you have no alternate choice. Offering that choice is politically dangerous because there would be a significant exodus of people who know they can do better elsewhere. In any case, believe it. It's true. Given that we seem unable to responsibly manage large programs, we shouldn't pour more money into an already broken system.

And yes, I bitch about taxes. I pay, for example, 40 or so cents per gallon of gasoline. That's far too much. The more than $3.00 US some of you pay is all the more ludicrous, but it doesn't make my tax rate more acceptable. If every US citizen had their income confiscated every other year, and other countries confiscated two out of three years, you wouldn't really expect me to say "Wow, am I lucky that my income is only confiscated half the time!". Uhh, no.

[ Parent ]

Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#77)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:20:42 AM EST

I pay, for example, 40 or so cents per gallon of gasoline. That's far too much.

Why? For every gallon of gas you consume, you are going to emit [x] amount of hydrocarbon into the air, which will effect *everyone* around you, including people like me who don't directly consume gasoline. (Indirectly, through electricity, yes). Since you are imposing costs on me by reducing the quality of the air I breathe, and there's no way for me to sue you for redress of that grievance, isn't it reasonable for the state to attempt to impose on you some of the cost that you are passing on to other people?



[ Parent ]
Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#86)
by Aztech on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:27:10 AM EST

40cents? sheesh, I'd kill to pay that little, sure beats $5 a gallon. I must be nice to be complacent enough to think 40cents is a rip off :)

Since you're on the lines environmentally friendliness, does the US still use oil power stations? These things pump out *lots* of nasty stuff, even more so than many cars. I thought everything was mainly Gas these days, with the odd nuclear plant.

Az.

[ Parent ]
Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#92)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:04:26 PM EST

does the US still use oil power stations?

Yes. I live on the north coast of the Monterey Bay --- a marine sanctuary --- and there's an electric power station on the east side of the bay, about halfway down, which is at least in part oil powered; the tankers come twice a year, and need to have a special permit to enter the sanctuary.



[ Parent ]
Tax Fairly, Spend Wisely (1.00 / 1) (#82)
by Aztech on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:41:38 AM EST

I know that right now gas prices are at an all time high here in the States and we bitch even though the rest of the world still pays twice as much.

Hmm, try four or five times as much, when was the last time you paid over $5 a gallon? You don't know how good you've got it, but the grass is always greener I guess.

However, there's a reason why stuff like fuel is taxed at 80% (then 17.5% VAT ontop of that :), apart from the excuse about making us more environmental friendly (I don't think the US understands that phrase ;) it obviously net's huge amounts of cash for HM Treasury.

People bitch about their taxes, yet they want their free National Health Service, free education (including uni/college), pensions, social security, housing in some cases, then your usual lot like defence, international development (due to guilt), 3rd world debt relief (the US wont even pay its UN fees, let alone debt relief), etc. THEN on top of that, they want a magic pot of money to pay for it all! Moral of the story, you don't get anything for nothing. Having to pay tax is just an inevitability, however we can make sure it's spent wisely.

It's the same situation in the US I guess, you pay less taxes yet you have to pay for other provisions privately, so you probably don't end up that much in pocket.

Az.

[ Parent ]
Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#84)
by /dev/niall on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:51:29 AM EST

I would like to see a public health system. I would not mind if my tax money went to support something like this. I will eventually get sick and need this type of service.

That's great. I'm never going to be sick, or I already have a health plan/insurance that takes care of me. Why should I pay for you?

Well and good when you take my money to improve society (roads, schools, police etc), but when you take it to improve the life of individuals... I don't see how that's fair. Health care is an individual service... you can't lump 40 people in a doctor's office and treat them all at once (or at least, expect to treat them properly).

I don't like it when my money is taken from me for this. I would have no problem giving it. Therein lies the problem.
--
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]

Re: You're complaining?!??!? (1.00 / 1) (#124)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:22:49 PM EST

I'm happy when they spend it on Education and Health, okay with Defense, not too pleased with them using my money for political advertising (ie, the GST).

What exactly are you all defending against down there? :)

-Zane

[ Parent ]

Re: You're complaining?!??!? (none / 0) (#132)
by Enthrad on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:15:08 PM EST

Those New Zealanders...

[ Parent ]
Taxes and the like. (4.30 / 13) (#53)
by commandant on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:51:15 AM EST

We don't have taxation without representation. We elect congressmen, senators and presidents, who intern appoint judges to complete the triage of governmental power. We represent ourselves just fine.

The only problem is, the majority is a bunch of idiots. You might as well as an eight year-old to represent himself. It used to be that people knew what was going on. Furthermore, they weren't so obsessed with Monday night football, Thursday night ER, and a whole slew of 30-second commercials in between that tell us how to think, what to do, where to go, who we are. The idiots that go out and vote, are those same people who can't sit still for more than a minute when you start using three-syllable words at regular intervals.

People today are swayed by slick politicians with pretty smiles, a stupid grin, and a home-town accent. Some guy gets up there and says, "We need to help the homeless, because it's the right thing to do." Then he says, "You shouldn't have to pay for medical care. It's your right as an American to be cared for." And so on... The 30-seconders, as we'll call them, thing this sounds good, easy, humane. In a perfect world, I don't argue that everyone should get free health care and a house.

But this isn't a perfect world. Free healthcare and housing isn't free, it's coming out of hard-working Americans' pockets. Furthermore, most of the people who mooch of the government like this don't give anything back to society. We just dump our money into social black holes.

Another problem is bureaucracy. What the government does try to do, is bogged down by a bunch of no-nothings who work too slow in a government building. When I need something from the DMV, I've got to stand in line while some clerk tries to eat lunch, talk to her neighbor, do her nails, and process forms. If these forms were of the fill-in Scantron sort, a machine could do this clerk's job for a fraction of the cost, with a fraction of the wait. Need your driver's license? Stand in front of a machine, press a button on the remote, and watch as a machine (not a human) prints your license in real-time.

The real problem is how many times the government rapes us for money. Let's look at the investors cycle, simplified for example. First, I get my paycheck. Right there, Uncle Sam's got me fucked from the start. 15, 20, 28 percent of my income is lost. Now I invest this money in some corporation. They use my money to buy things, where they pay sales tax. These things they buy help them make more money, which is taxed as corporate income. Then my dividend arrives, and it's taxed against me as income. Finally, I buy something with that money, and pay sales tax again. From the same chunk of cash, the government has taxed me five times. Not to mention all the other taxes they charge. Sales. Income. Property. Luxury. Licensing. Liquor. Gas. Cigarettes (I don't smoke). The list goes on and on...

Over 200 years ago, our forefathers tossed a bunch of tea over the side of some boat to protest taxes. They weren't being taxed nearly as much as we are now. What makes it acceptable to rape us now when back then, less taxation was unbearable? The citizenry of the United States is just too stupid to realize they're being raped, because they're too stupid to cut through the politicians' bullshit about how we need this program, and that program, and your mother needs a program, ad nauseum.

You look at all the shenanigans they pull, and it's no wonder the government doesn't want us keeping guns. If the public ever realized what is going on, there would be a mass revolt. Thomas Jefferson once said, "About every twenty years, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants." (It was either "About every twenty years," or "Every twenty years or so,") From the looks of it, we're overdue by more than two centuries. Jesus Christ, the video rental place gets bitchy when you're only a few DAYS overdue on your rental returns!

The government uses that slick smile and 30-second sound bites to make it sound dangerous to have a gun. The truth is, wherever concealed carry laws are in effect, crime goes down. If you compare us (with somewhat limited gun-carrying ability) with Britain (with no gun-carrying ability), you'll see crime is substantially lower here, particularly home robberies that take place in occupied homes. Here, criminals are afraid to invade occupied homes, because they might be shot. In Britain, they don't care, because they can't be shot.

Now look at some place like Switzerland, were very many people carry weapons. They have under 20 gun-related deaths each year. The simple fact is, you don't shoot at another person if he might shoot you back.

People argue that having guns at home can be dangerous to children. That may be true, if the parents are idiots. Keep your damn gun in a safe, where only you know the combination. Then your kid can't get at the gun without substantial demolition work. If that's still a problem, implement concealed carry laws--children can't be hurt by guns if parents carry the guns everywhere they go.

I say we take to the streets with some heavy firearms. A couple million people storming into Washington could sure make some heads roll. One clean sweep, and we could be back in the glory days, where no income tax is necessary, and we aren't told what to do by a body who doesn't know what's going on anyway. Who ever thought that the government is better at running my life than I am? Give me a break.

Doing this peacefully is impossible. Congress can levy taxes, so we need a president that will walk into the White House with a symbolic axe. He needs to kill the IRS instantly, so that Congress has no means of collecting taxes. He needs to eliminate all forms of bureaucracy, because that gets nothing done anyway.

The federal government isn't here to tell us how to live. It's not here to make good things happen. The federal government was founded to do four things: collect tariffs on imported goods, settle interstate disputes, defend us against would-be attackers, and protect us from overpowering states. All other jobs are left to the individual state and local governments. We need to put the government back in its place.

Thank you. And by the way, that talk about taxation is only what I see, not what I suffer. As a non-working student, I have the liberty of telling the government "Fuck You" without having to worry about a few IRS agents showing up at my doorstep.


Re: Taxes and the like. (3.00 / 4) (#55)
by tokage on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:59:58 AM EST

An interesting article, with somewhat similar content to mine in a few places, posted right before me. I'm glad to see more people who can see through this veneer of society we live in, with its hypocrisy. Someday enough people like us will band together, and..well..get crushed by the sheer number of non-thinking people in the world. That's the way it goes, in the anti-universe, where the opposite of what needs to happen does:)

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes and the like. (3.00 / 3) (#83)
by Kintanon on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:49:09 AM EST

The United States is too large physically.
No one seems to see that, but we've surpassed the geographic area that can be effectively goverened from a central location. Instead the US needs to be seperated into 5 regions, Alaska, NE US, SE US, NW US and SW US. Each region should have a president and those 5 presidents would form a council to make decisions that affected all 5 regions. Free immigration and trade would remain but each region would be able to better govern itself. And each would have an insentive to offer a better standard of living than its neighbors or people would pick up and leave (It's a lot easier to travel across a couple of states than it is to travel over an ocean). At the moment our government is horribly inefficient because it has no idea what's going on at anything other than the upper level of society. When governing a smaller area the officials would have a much closer look at how everything is working.

Kintanon

I'm opting for Armed Rebellion.

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes and the like. (3.50 / 2) (#99)
by FFFish on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:33:20 PM EST

Hell with that. Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, a little bit of Idaho, Washington and Montana will all cede their unions and form "Paradise."

We'll have oil, wheat, beef, potatoes, water, fruit, wine, high-tech and the world's best marijuana. And some terrific hiking, scuba, surfing and suntanning.

There'll be no need to tax anyone. What with the pot, oil , water and technology companies, we'll be able to all retire on our export sales alone.

[ Parent ]
Switzerland, Britain and Guns (3.60 / 5) (#89)
by Burb on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:46:11 AM EST

The comparison with Switzerland is interesting, and not one that I have heard before. However, my impression of the Swiss mind-set is one of "love of order" and (perhaps) social conformity, and it's a fairly rich country by most standards. These two factors alone may be responsible for the crime rates and I can't see it proven that high gun-ownership is the cause.

Secondly, as a Brit, the relative lack of gun ownership does not bother me. I value life above property, and while I don't want to be robbed, I'd rather be robbed than killed - and fewer guns in circulation means lower chance of dying from one.

I know, not a comprehensive argument, but it's how I feel.

[ Parent ]

Re: Switzerland, Britain and Guns (1.00 / 2) (#130)
by commandant on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:18:07 PM EST

Oh, give me a break. It's attitudes like this that was behind the fact that you GOT YOUR ASSES BEATEN BACK TWICE BY US IN FORTY YEARS. Oh, what's up now punk?

Seriously, though. I too value my life above my property, but I value a thief's life at zero, so my property takes precedence. Anyone who breaks into my house and attempts to harm me deserves to die. I will not be robbed, and anyone who attempts to rob me will kill me or die trying.

Criminals, by definition, don't obey the law, so they carry guns with impunity. People that would kill you are already criminals; they aren't going to put down their guns just because it's illegal! Law-abiding citizens who have guns won't shoot you. People often use this naive argument that making guns illegal will take them out of the hands of criminals. But guess what--it's already illegal for criminals to carry guns. Further restricting the good guys does nothing to the criminals. Do people who use this argument not see that, or do they just have their heads so far up their asses that they don't care. Or, excuse me, arse.

Furthermore, a gun-weilding thief breaking into your home has less of a chance to kill you if you have a gun:

First, you have the advantage of surprise--you know your house, you can hide and ambush a criminal. The criminal has no clue where you might be.

Second, you are already inside, and every passage in your house is open to you. You can move freely without taking time to smash your way through. A criminal has to break windows or kick doors down. You can hear that from inside, which means that you can get your gun to a robber's head while he has his ass (arse) hanging out your window. It's hard for him to draw a gun and shoot you when he's half-in a window, and has a gun pointed to his head.

Finally, criminals, like most predatory animals, are cowards when confronted. Criminals are robbing you for money, instead of earning an honest living, because robbery is generally easier than working. If you've got no gun, he knows it will be an easy go to take your money and leave. But if he's staring down the barrel of your gun, suddenly it's not so easy. When it looks as if he may be hurt or killed, he'd generally rather run and leave you alone, so that he can live to rob somebody else. Bleeding to death on a stranger's floor, when all he wanted was a few quick bucks, isn't very appealing.

This last point has been proven when you compare the US to the UK. As I said above, the vast majority of home robberies in the UK take place when the home owner is at home, simply because people spend more time at home, and criminals know the home owner can't defend himself. In the US, the vast majority of home robberies take place when people are not at home. Although most of a person's time is spent in his house, criminals wait until you leave before robbing you. Criminals even admit that the sole reason this is the case, is because they don't want to risk being shot for some lousy goods.

Now extend this. If anyone on the street may be carrying a gun, rapists, pickpockets, and muggers are going to attack far fewer people--they don't want to risk being shot.

You've got it totally backwards. Stop listening to the queen and your dainty members of Parliament, listen to the Americans who know what it's like to live free.

[ Parent ]

Re: Switzerland, Britain and Guns (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by Burb on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 08:06:21 AM EST

"but I value a thief's life at zero"

I think this is where we fundamentally differ. No law-abiding person supports what a thief does, but all human life has a value. Call me a liberal if you wish, I suppose it's a fairly accurate label even it has different overtones on different sides of the Atlantic.

Look at the question of defending your home, and let's look at it from two radically opposing ends of the argument. If, literally, everyone had a gun, then the scales would be in some measure even. You could shoot a thief, and likewise he could shoot you while you slept. On the other hand, if absolutely no one had a gun, the situation would also be equal. You could defend yourself from intruders on a roughly equal footing. So far I think we all agree. The practical problem arises when the thief has a gun and you don't. There's an imbalance. So, speaking as an engineer, there are two ways to restore the balance. Why can't we work towards removing guns from the community (my argument) instead of arming everyone (your argument, roughly speaking)?

True, no law will make criminals give up guns. Yes, they are cowards, and yes they will try to obtain guns regardless. But if there were fewer guns in (legal) circulation, then there would be fewer guns for criminals to obtain illegally. If it were harder to obtain guns legally, it would be harder (but not impossible, I agree) for a thief to get one. It's just math. Meanwhile by having fewer guns in circulation, we are all safer.

Incidentally, by your own argument, having a gun in the house just makes a thief break in while you aren't there. Which might be fine and dandy if you live 24/7 in the house, but is of no help at all if the thief turns up when you are at work, on vacation or at the mall.

Surely, even in the UK, most break-ins occur when the house is empty? If I were a thief, I'd prefer an empty house to one that was full of people!

Look, don't misunderstand me. I love the USA, and it has a lot of things going for it. But the attitude to guns freaks me out, which I why *I* exercise *my* freedom to live elsewhere.

Incidentally, I don't understand the comment "attitudes like this that was behind the fact that you GOT YOUR ASSES BEATEN BACK TWICE BY US IN FORTY YEARS." I seem to remember the US and the UK being allies in WW1 and WW2, and I don't recall either war being caused by the failure of the British population to carry handguns.

[ Parent ]
Re: Switzerland, Britain and Guns (none / 0) (#156)
by commandant on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 04:32:07 PM EST

My first paragraph was a joke about how you lost our Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, not about the two World Wars of this century. It was only a joke.

I disagree when you say that fewer guns in legal circulation means fewer guns in the hands of criminals. Criminals rarely obtain legally-circulated guns. Guns are often stolen or bought from the black market. Therefore, reducing the number of legal guns just means that law-abiding citizens have more going against them than they do now.

Of course a criminal can shoot you in your sleep when you have a gun in the house. But can't he do the same if you don't? You don't pass up a gun because it doesn't help in EVERY possible situation; you take a gun to help alleviate whatever troublesome situation it can. This way, while not changing the probability of getting shot in your sleep for better or worse, you are minimizing the chance of getting shot every other time.

Actually, if my figures are correct (and if they're not, they're not far off), 60% of home breakins in the UK occur when the home owner is present. Something like 10% of home breakins in the US occur when the home owner is present.

Of course thieves will break in while you're not there. But, for the most part, people are home--which means the chance of getting robbed AT ALL goes toward zero (asymptotically). Also, refer to my paragraph above which states that you want to minimize whatever risks you can without maximizing others. Most criminals aren't going to stop breaking in when you're home, then come back later--they'll just grab their stuff and run when you're not home. They will then go rob somebody else, most likely never coming back again. Therefore, whether you have guns or not, being robbed when you are not at home is a matter of chance--owning guns doesn't shift the robbery balance from at-home to not-home. It just takes away some of the at-home cases.

There are more reasons to carry a gun, though, besides self-defense from criminals. The actual reason our forefathers stipulated that people should be allowed to carry guns, was so that every citizen could be called on to serve in times of national crisis--be it to ward off government tyrants (which we're not fulfilling at all these days), or foreign attackers. The "foreign attackers" part is really not applicable anymore--our military is so powerful we don't need Joe Schmoe with his little hand gun--but the government tyranny part will always be a valid concern. We didn't want kings bossing us around, and we would have shot some of your Parliament members by now if they were in the US.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps a few reasons (2.20 / 5) (#54)
by tokage on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:53:22 AM EST

The US is like a big berry bush(mm, lame analogies). All these animals see the pretty shining bush, and flock to it, creating this influx of creatures pulling the mighty bush to and fro, until the bush is so confused and spread out it has no idea where to allocate the resources needed to grow berries in places which most need them. All the immigrants(of which we all were at some point), the vast gross inefficiency of bureaucracy, the sheer amount of work which needs to be done by mostly uncaring people who punch their timeclock and sit on their asses(*coff*dmv*coff), scraping by with as little work as possible. We are overtaxed, but our money is so poorly allocated areas which it is desperately needed do not recieve it. Problems like homelessness, crime, lack of proper educational facilities for a lot of our children etc on a national scale do not get addressed because of the inefficiency of our government, which leads to continued high tax levels. Serious problems which -are- solvable perhaps become 'issues' used by politicians to garner votes, while they have no intention of carrying out their policies once in office(or perhaps do in the beginning).

Perhaps part of it is the rot and hypocrisy which permates our, and most societies. We're told violence, drug use and gratutious sex is Wrong, yet it's constantly being glorified in the mindless drivel which goes by the name of television. There are worthwhile programs on, yeah, but in the main they are like anti-knowledge, just clutter for your mind, a stream of noise. In our desire to press onward, become 'successful' by acquiring more conveniences and material possessions while ignoring the fact that the society we have created is crumbling from the inside out despite it's appearance of health and vitality. It's not just America though, it's the entire world from what I understand..just in some countries the nature of people's desires is more base and obvious, as petty dictators seize power for their own short sighted and piggish reasons.

My submission is becoming a model of digression, so I'll try to get back on track:) I think it's a combination of complex, dynamic problems which require our tax dollars which due to inefficiency and apathy on the part of the policy makers which create the environment that keeps our high taxes rolling in, while making little difference to the state of our nation. Cue in the Orwellian institution of the IRS, which is a -very- scary organization. Add a little stupidity and corruption, and you have the Land of Free. I could ramble for pages about this, but I'll save it for another discussion, in another planet far, far away.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

Taxes are theft (3.00 / 8) (#56)
by sourcery on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:15:05 AM EST

What is the moral justification for taxation? What gives the government the right to collect taxes by force (whether force of law or force of arms--which in the end amount to the same thing)?

There are three attempted justifications (I would prefer to call them "excuses," but I'll be nice) that I have seen for coerced collection of taxes:

1. The premise: Government provides benefits and services. The recipients of said benefits and services owe the government something of value in exchange.

The refutation: The premise is flawed in two ways. Firstly, it assumes that every taxpayer was a willing participant in a commercial transaction, where he agreed to pay a negotiated price for some service or benefit. Secondly, it assumes that the amount of tax he is forced to pay is reasonably proportionate to the market value of the services or benefits he recieved--if any. Of course, one important reason that the second assumption is almost always false is a direct consequence of the falsity of the first--and is, in turn, a major reason why the falsity of the first assumption matters.

This dog not only don't hunt, he don't even breathe. Imagine getting a knock on your door one morning, and upon opening, a nice smiling young man presents you with a bill for having just washed your car. The amount is $11,572.42. "But...but..but..", you stutter, "I didn't ask you to wash my car! I never agreed to pay you any money for that!" "Doesn't matter", says the youth, "I provided the service, so you have to pay for it." "But why so much?", you ask incredulously. "Because," says the youth, "I washed all the cars in the neighborhood, and the neighbors all decided you should pay because you have the most money." "But I never agreed to that! I never authorized them to bind me to any such contract!" "Doesn't matter," says the youth, "there's more of them than there are of you, and that's how the majority voted."

How is it that everyone almost universally recognizes the moral injustice in this little drama, but cannot see the fallacy of the same "excuses" with respect to government taxation? Next!

2. The premise: The needs of society for government outweigh the property rights of individuals, at least as long as those taxed have the periodic right to vote those who impose the taxes in (or out) of office. This is the "taxation is allright as long as there is representation" argument.

The refutation: This, uh.., justi-, uh.., oh hell, "excuse" is based on two false premises.

Firstly, it assumes that what just one of your neighbors would not have the right to do (appropriate your property using unjustified coercive force), that society as a whole (who are just the aggregation of all your neighbors) somehow magically is morally justified in doing. Were this so, what principle would limit it just to taxes?

What gives the group any power to act that any individual member of the group would not have? If your neighbor does not have the just power to force you to be his slave, could it be that two of your neighbors have this power? If not two, then what about 1000 of your neighbors? 10,000 neighbors? 100,000 neighbors? 250,000,000 neighbors? Everyone living on the same continent?

Groups do not have any rights that any individual member of the group does not have. Rights are not additive. Just because the wolfish majority votes to have the sheepish minority for dinner does not make it morally right.

By the same reasoning, just because a majority votes to put those who don't "voluntarily" pay taxes in jail does not make it morally right. The group has no just right or power to do that, unless any member of the group is morally entitled to take the same action unilaterally.

The second fallacy is that the needs of your neighbor (for government service, for example) constitute a mortgage or lien on the life or property of others. But what gives your neighbor, a private individual, the right to dictate to you what taxes you must pay? If your neighbor justly has such power over you, do you not also justly have the same power over him? And if you each have such power with respect to taxes, do you not both also have it with respect to sex? And religion? And education? And weapons? And every conceivable aspect of life?

This way lies tyranny. If your life and property are not inviolable against all unwanted/non-consensual encroachments, then you are a slave.

3. The premise: Taxes are justfied as long as they satisfy certain constraints: 1) they must be taken equally from everyone, and 2) they must be used only to pay for those services and benefits that are received equally (to some specified level of tolerance) by all those taxed, and 3) they must be used solely for the purpose which forms the fundamental justification for the existence of government: the defense of individual rights. Most libertarians who don't oppose taxes totally hold this position, or somethng like it.

The refutation: This suffers from the same fallacies as the first two excuses. What's more, it's probably not implementable in the real world.

Re: Taxes are theft (2.66 / 6) (#65)
by bob_the_moose on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:26:24 AM EST

The refutation: The premise is flawed in two ways. Firstly, it assumes that every taxpayer was a willing participant in a commercial transaction

This is false, by living in the society you are agreeing to live under it's conditions (See Socrates reasoning in the Crito), and part of the conditions of living in USA is that you pay tax. If you don't want to be taxed, move elsewhere, or change society so that it no longer needs taxation, until this change you implicitly to agree to taxation.

The refutation to point 2 is the same as above, if you don't want to be taxed, and those taxes to be administered by a few people, move elsewhere. Invoking revolutionary chants to strengthen your posistion doesn't make a better argument, unless you intend to revolt against your current political elite.

I don't know what you were smoking when you came up with the sub points in point three, but it sure looks potent :).

Why do taxes have to be taken from everyone? Surely it's fairer to tax (monetary) richer people (at least on income), after all they've got more money, and the proportion of the money that is spent doesn't tend to increase with increases in earnings.

Why should the taxes only be used to help everyone fairly? Isn't the goal of goverenment to increase the standard of living for everyone in the country. If the taxes aren't used to support the poor over the rich then what's the point in having them in the first point?

I would contend that defence of individual rights is not the overiding concern of the government, but that increased standard of living is. It may be in attaining a higher standard of live requires the maintaining the individual rights of that society.



[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (4.00 / 2) (#70)
by CodeWright on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:25:52 AM EST

I would contend that defence of individual rights is not the overiding concern of the government, but that increased standard of living is. It may be in attaining a higher standard of live requires the maintaining the individual rights of that society.

I seem to recall that the bulk of the documents that define the governance of this country (USA) all seem to be about protecting individual rights, and have nothing to do with increased standard of living.

What are YOU smoking?



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (1.00 / 1) (#136)
by bob_the_moose on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 07:38:07 AM EST

Not everyone lives in the US. There are many more styles and types of government out there than the US one.

Too make a point based upon a single society seems a precarious posistion to place an argument in.

What's the point of defending individual rights if everyone is unhappy and dies at thirty? Surely the point of having a government is to improve things for the people it governs. If it doesn't, it's either obsolete and/or redundant. The point of having revolutions is to force a change in the government, what's the point of doing this if it doesn't increase quality of life?

My understanding of the US constitution (I've never studied it so I'm willing to be corrected) is that it is a document that essentially places the limits upon what the government can lawfully do to a citizen. It doesn't state what the intentions of the government have to be.

But a government that year on year degraded the country without giving benifit to the populous would soon (at least in democratic countries) no longer be the government. So therefore the result of government is to increase the woolly concept that is standard of living.



[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by CodeWright on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:55:18 AM EST

Not everyone lives in the US. There are many more styles and types of government out there than the US one.

That's absolutely true. I've lived a quarter of my life outside the US. However, the title of this discussion was something like "Taxes in the United States = Armed Robbery". Based on that, my comment was intended to be specifically relevant in that instance (which is why I specified that it pertained to the USA).

What's the point of defending individual rights if everyone is unhappy and dies at thirty?

Not to be particularly callous or anything, but, first and foremost, I care about me. Not some nebulous "everyone". After caring about me, I care about my immediate family. After my immediate family, I care about my closest friends. Somewhere outside that, I care about my larger circle of extended family and friends. Somewhere beyond that, I identify vaguely with people of similar culture (ie, Western Civilization). Only then do I begin to care about the nebulous "everyone" and it's pretty watered down by then.

However, in that context, I -know- that if the Rule of Law is designed to protect individual rights, then EVERY SINGLE PERSON encompassed by "everyone" will enjoy the same protections that I do.

So therefore the result of government is to increase the woolly concept that is standard of living.

I reject that conclusion as unfounded and unproven. If you believe it, the burden of proof rests with you.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (2.75 / 4) (#94)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:18:16 PM EST

This is false, by living in the society you are agreeing to live under it's conditions (See Socrates reasoning in the Crito), and part of the conditions of living in USA is that you pay tax.
Socrates is a philosopher from thousands of years ago. He predates Aristotle, who was the first to clearly state the principles of logic. He was wrong about just about everything. If you can't find a better source than that or else find your own argument, your claim is hopeless.

However, since our equally hopeless public "education" system probably hasn't taught you about any philosophers more recent than Socrates and maybe Plato, and gave you a warped view of them to boot, I'm willing to make your case FOR you. Hobbes, Locke, etc: social contract. The claim is, you're here, society is here, you benefit, so you pay up. This is the best defense that government enforced slavery(aka taxation) has ever had.

As another poster so clearly noted, the theory of social contract is hogwash, because a "contract" is voluntarily entered into, and if any of the conditions are not made clear IN ADVANCE, the contract is completely unenforcable against the party so defrauded. I claim that you cannot find another argument outside of socialism or fascism, and that those two have been disproven both theoretically and by way of causing misery and death for hundreds of millions of people needlessly in actual practice.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (3.00 / 2) (#119)
by speek on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:34:13 PM EST

Hey, I didn't voluntarily enter into this life with all these damn people around who want to eat food just like me, who want to live in nice houses, just like me, who want to breathe air, just like me, who want to ride around in cars, burning oil, rusting metal, just like me, and some damn idiot only put limited quantities of this stuff on this earth! Jesus Christ that was stupid!

Well, since I didn't agree to this crap, I'm going to invent A.rights and B.ethics and assert that B guarantees me A and therefore I have the right to own property (anything I can get my hands on before you do) and do anything I want with it.

Socrates was wrong about almost everything? I guess you can't expect much from a rabid libertarian....

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (3.00 / 2) (#133)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:22:43 PM EST

Socrates WAS wrong about almost everything, regardless of who or what I am or how often I'm right or wrong. If you can name a single matter in which his thought was coherent, consistent, and failed to beg the question or utilize unstated assumptions which happen to be ridiculous, I'll be very surprised.

As for rights and ethics, they don't have to be invented. Fortunately, they're both pretty much implied by our nature, and we can discover them. You won't, as long as you spend more time calling people who consistently disagree with you "rabid" than you do thinking, but that's your problem.

For the social contract, economic scarcity is not a justification. If anything, it is a counterargument; the social contract would probably be workable if all things were bountiful, because people would not have incentive to use politics and emotional persuasion to get the government to enslave their neighbors. However, in an environment of scarcity, those who wish to consume without earning WILL do these things unless an ironclad set of rights is observed and enforced consistently.

You're right, though: you didn't voluntarily come into existence. Your choices, however, are either to exist in your own right and by your own efforts(and any voluntary contributions from others,) or to cease. You do not have a legitimate option entitled "enslave my neighbors." Not only do YOU not have this option, but you do not gain it by banding together with a lot of other people, either.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (2.00 / 1) (#145)
by speek on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:43:33 PM EST

As for rights and ethics, they don't have to be invented. Fortunately, they're both pretty much implied by our nature, and we can discover them

That's a good example of an assertion that "begs the question" and assumes ridiculous things. The concepts of rights and ethics don't exist outside of human thought - they are invented by us to serve our purposes. You, for example, would like them to justify your delusion that you are entirely self-sufficient and don't need anyone else, and should therefore be free of any "social contract" responsibilities.

For the social contract, economic scarcity is not a justification. If anything, it is a counterargument;

You are all backwards. If there was abundance of everything we need to survive and be happy, then I could be reasonably free to do as I like - I could pollute as much as I felt I needed because others could simply move on to unpolluted land, I could consume anything I liked without affecting others, etc. But, because what I do with *my* land often affects *your* land, then this concept of private ownership becomes a stickier issue than you would like.
And, because someday you will die and leave your possessions to someone else, what you do with *your* stuff will affect others. There is nothing that is fully private except possibly your thoughts, and because of that, others do in fact have a say in what you do.

You do not have a legitimate option entitled "enslave my neighbors." Not only do YOU not have this option, but you do not gain it by banding together with a lot of other people, either

Well, in fact I do. Given power, I can in fact enslave others. You may not consider that "legitimate", but then I would have to consider your definition of "legitimate" to be inconsequential. People and groups do in fact take power over others - it happens. Your attempts to call it "illegitimate" is simply your attempt to take power by creating a social contract that supports your particular interests, and you expect me to abide by your social contract even though I did not agree to it.

I suggest that you take an objective look at your world and recognize just how dependent you are on others - and recognize the illusions conveniently built for you that try to make it seem otherwise. Start to notice how shitty your life would be if many others did not accept the "social contracts" that underlie our society (sorry, I am assuming the US here).

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (4.00 / 1) (#146)
by trhurler on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:06:29 PM EST

That's a good example of an assertion that "begs the question" and assumes ridiculous things. The concepts of rights and ethics don't exist outside of human thought
The concepts themselves do not exist outside of human thought. However, the nature of human beings does create a situation in which a particular concept of rights corresponds to actual human needs and others do not. Similarly, the concept "tree" is a human "convention," but that does not mean that including foam bunnies in the concept "tree" is a valid thing to do. There is nothing ridiculous or assumed about this.
like them to justify your delusion that you are entirely self-sufficient and don't need anyone else, and should therefore be free of any "social contract" responsibilities.
Actually, I make no bones about not being entirely self-sufficient. However, everyone who deals with me chooses to do so; I do not give or take what is not earned. No "social contract" is required or implied by this, and in fact, such a "contract" requires that people DO give and/or receive without earning.

If we're going to speak of delusions, then let's talk about the delusion you have that, although it is wrong for you to steal from me, it is ok for you to get together with a whole lot of people and THEN steal from me, as long as you all agree to it. Now THAT is a delusion.
But, because what I do with *my* land often affects *your* land, then this concept of private ownership becomes a stickier issue than you would like.
The law regarding private property is quite clear; if I damage yours, whether inadvertently or otherwise, I owe you. The only time property becomes a "sticky issue" is when it is NOT privately owned, but rather is owned by "the public," which means by a government. You don't seem to understand the difference between freedom and lack of accountability.
Given power, I can in fact enslave others. You may not consider that "legitimate", but then I would have to consider your definition of "legitimate" to be inconsequential.
What you have just said is that you regard all of ethics to be a completely subjective crapshoot. If you in fact believe this, then we've reached a point beyond which we're not going to progress, because subjectivism is a religion every bit as stubborn as any other; reality is quite irrelevant to people who presume that they can call a foam bunny a tree without ill effect.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (2.00 / 2) (#147)
by speek on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:09:55 PM EST

I was imprecise, so let me clarify:

Rights and ethics do not exist outside human thought (previously I said the concept of rights and ethics do not exist, which could be viewed as a tautology and so was a useless statement). Trees, however, do exist outside human though, as opposed to the concept of trees.

What you have just said is that you regard all of ethics to be a completely subjective crapshoot

Yes.

reality is quite irrelevant to people who presume that they can call a foam bunny a tree without ill effect

You're right that reality is indifferent (not irrelevant, but I assume I get your real meaning) to what we think. That is why what you or anyone else views as "right" and "wrong" have no reality beyond our human thoughts and culture. Given power, I can enslave you - that is a fact. Legitimate, right, wrong, stupid, whatever. That is real. To make it not real, we humans develop conventions, we invent ethics and our concepts of right and wrong, and a social contract develops. Private property is a social contract (perhaps social construct would be a better term) that you happen to believe in. Great, so do most people. Some don't. Most people believe in a whole bunch of other social contracts that you oppose. What to do?

The real problem here is you deny the concept of "property is theft". I don't know whether you've heard that or not (I suspect you have), but I imagine you deny that thought entirely. If you actually want to progess in this discussion, you have to be willing to consider that idea honestly.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by trhurler on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 02:22:06 PM EST

Unless you can provide some actual argument as to why the kind of beings we are can not possibly create a situation in which only one theory of rights and ethics is appropriate for us, your claim of subjectivity is at best an unfounded assumption. Seeing as I can provide a compelling claim that we need ethics AND rights of a very specific nature in order to survive and prosper(we have no other guide to action but that which we discover ourselves, and the first such guides are ethics and rights; choosing poorly has very negative consequences for us,) this is not a good position for you.

Now, this notion that "property is theft." Pretend for a moment that it is true. In this case there is no legitimate way to live; we cannot live without physical control of resources, and societies which appear to do so have two traits: one, they're small and sparse, which creates an artificial abundance, eliminating economic pressure, and two, they eventually collapse under their own weight as their growing numbers eliminate that abundance. So, if you're right, we should all shoot ourselves in the head today, because our necessary mode of existence is inherently wrong.

Personally, I'm an optimist(even though I deal with social contract believers all the time:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (4.00 / 1) (#151)
by speek on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:21:57 PM EST

...even though I deal with social contract believers all the time

But you are a believer in social contract. I don't understand why you're implicitly denying that? You even admitted that there are societies that appear to have nothing but public property - which shows that rights and ethics and beliefs about private property are in fact subjective. See, I'm not a relativist, but that doesn't mean there aren't subjective things in this world. The physical world is real. We are real. Our thoughts are real. Whether or not they accurately correspond to reality is unprovable and hence subjective.

Unless you can provide some actual argument as to why the kind of beings we are can not possibly create a situation in which only one theory of rights and ethics is appropriate for us

You've already provided the arguments. You point out an excellent example of a situation where it makes sense for human beings to use a different system of rights and ethics - population sparseness and resource abundance.

Seeing as I can provide a compelling claim that we need ethics AND rights of a very specific nature in order to survive and prosper ...

This might be true, it might not. Maybe a diversity of ethical systems and cultural values is best to ensure survival - evolution does indicate that diversity works best. But even so, that has nothing to do with whether rights and ethics exist independently of human thought as something that is "discoverable".

we have no other guide to action but that which we discover ourselves, and the first such guides are ethics and rights

The first guides are survival and prosperity. That which helps us survive is good, that which helps us prosper is good. Rights and ethics are tools we create to help us in that endeavor.

So, if you're right, we should all shoot ourselves in the head today

I'm not asking you to agree entirely that property is theft. I would ask that people understand the concept and try to take a different perspective on things, because different perspectives teach us valuable lessons. And, in any case, property may be theft, but it may also be necessary, and there's no cause to go committing suicide just because of that. Capitalism happens to have been the best system of social contracts we've ever invented as a species (assuming average economic prosperity, health, lifespan, etc are our goals), but we should keep in mind that it is only the best we've come up with so far. It is a system of social contracts. It is a tool by which we deal with the limited nature of resources. But, capitalism itself is not the end goal, and it doesn't deserve the worship so many give it. Just a tool.

So here's the kicker - this all started with bitching about taxes and how they were "wrong" because we didn't agree to it. There's a whole lot of social contract stuff we didn't agree to. That doesn't make it "wrong", ethically. Taxes are a tool, just like capitalism, just like private property. We might disagree about how well they achieve our goals (prosperity for all, etc), but they are just a tool. So, if you're looking to end the social contract of taxes, then you need to argue why they hinder us from achieving our goals, you need to demonstrate alternative tools that solve the same problems that taxes solve (if any). Because, if you argue that taxes are morally wrong, but they end up having a good effect on society, then no one is going to care about your moral argument.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by trhurler on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:42:42 PM EST

But you are a believer in social contract.
Maybe we disagree on the meaning of "social contract." As far as I'm concerned(I get my definition from the people who invented the term,) it means involuntarily giving up rights as payment for living amongst other people.
I don't understand why you're implicitly denying that? You even admitted that there are societies that appear to have nothing but public property - which shows that rights and ethics and beliefs about private property are in fact subjective.
The fact that some societies (temporarily) fail to develop the intellectual and governmental structures necessary to civilized life does not mean that there is anything subjective about that process; more generally, the fact of differences and/or disagreements does not in any way imply that none of them is correct. Why do subjectivists fail to grasp that fact? Stalin and I would disagree on a great many things; this does not mean that he is as right as I am, and that his slaughtering millions of innocent people was an ok thing to do.

On an epistemological note, not all discoveries "exist" prior to being discovered. You would not say that Green's Theorem(from calculus) existed prior to man, but it exists, and it was discovered, rather than made up. Had it been done differently, it would be wrong. The same can be said of proper theories of rights and ethics; they are discovered, rather than invented, because they reflect our nature, just as Green's theorem reflects certain properties of objects in three dimensions - but one would tend to object to the idea that either of these exists independent of human thought. It is entirely feasible that they would be different were we different, or were our environment radically different. However, that does not change the fact that in a given set of circumstances, there is an objectively correct set(as opposed to a subjectively chosen set.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (2.00 / 2) (#153)
by speek on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 04:35:48 PM EST

Maybe we disagree on the meaning of "social contract." ... it means involuntarily giving up rights as payment for living amongst other people.

Sure. I didn't "voluntarily" give up my "right" to walk through the woods and pick an apple from the tree and eat it. Yet, if it is "private" property, that option has been taken from me - by social contract. If that doesn't fall under your meaning of the term, then maybe you have a conveniently narrow definition of the term that suits your purposes.

Indians survived and prospered quite well. I'm not sure in what sense they were "wrong". I'm sure you could clarify and I'm sure it would be full of all kinds of hidden assumptions that I could never hope to make visible to you.

What intellectual and governmental structures are "necessary" to "civilized" life?

And on your epistemological note, math is built on unprovable assumptions (axioms) using rigid rules of logic. You could also build a system of ethics on a set of axioms using logic. But I'm not sure what that has to do with the cost of beach-front property :-)

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (5.00 / 1) (#154)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 04:56:00 PM EST

Sure. I didn't "voluntarily" give up my "right" to walk through the woods and pick an apple from the tree and eat it. Yet, if it is "private" property, that option has been taken from me - by social contract.
There is no such right in the first place. The version of social contract theory that holds that you have a "right" to do anything and everything, but for the social contract is absurd, because it explains nothing. It is merely a name given to whatever solution you provide for conflict management in this case, rather than an actual theory supporting government of any form, which is what it was originally intended as.
If that doesn't fall under your meaning of the term, then maybe you have a conveniently narrow definition of the term that suits your purposes.
Or maybe I have a definition that comes from having actually looked at the literature of those who developed the term. Hard to say, really; they might be the same thing.
Indians survived and prospered quite well. I'm not sure in what sense they were "wrong". I'm sure you could clarify and I'm sure it would be full of all kinds of hidden assumptions that I could never hope to make visible to you.
You conveniently snipped the part of my previous post about artificial abundance created by lack of population density. Sure, if you live on a huge continent and there are only a few tens of thousands of you total, you can "prosper" with no rules at all, much less any notion of property - that doesn't work as population density rises. See the ancient history of Europe for a case study in why. Also, read reasonable histories of the native american tribes; by most accounts, they lived relatively short, remarkably violent lives punctuated by very occasional opportunities to relax. The modern whitewashing of primitive life is nothing but handwaving by ivory tower losers who wouldn't know manual labor if it came up and kicked them in the nuts.
What intellectual and governmental structures are "necessary" to "civilized" life?
Specifically, a negative rights formulation of governmental power and personal liberty, and a government built within the confines thereof.
And on your epistemological note, math is built on unprovable assumptions (axioms) using rigid rules of logic. You could also build a system of ethics on a set of axioms using logic.
The "unprovable" assumptions of math are in fact unprovable - because they are the basis of all proof. This does not in any way make them incorrect or even uncertain. This -is- the way to build a system of ethics, provided you can come up with a decent set of axioms.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#155)
by speek on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 08:51:06 AM EST

Your suggestion that the "right" to private property comes prior to the "right" to eat an apple from a tree is absurd. You're not getting the point. The world exists. Period. Your description of rights is your description of rights. Period. You may convince others of it, you may have read it from others, but if you want to convince me that your idea of rights actually maps to the real world, then you're going to have to get a whole lot more down to earth.

Regarding the Indians, given that they lived in abundance, then they seemed to be doing the reasonable thing. No, they didn't fantasize about what would happen if the world were different and maybe they should live according to rules that didn't match up to their situation. Gee, they were stupid. And maybe you and I wouldn't want to live the way they lived, but neither would I want to live the way people in Europe did either (and I know which I would prefer!). for that matter, I wouldn't want to live the way most people live today.

The version of social contract theory that holds that you have a "right" to do anything and everything...

So, there's a version that agrees with me?

... but for the social contract is absurd, because it explains nothing. It is merely a name given to whatever solution you provide for conflict management in this case, rather than an actual theory supporting government of any form, which is what it was originally intended as

So let me get this straight - using my version of social contract, we get conflict management. Using yours, we get government. Care to revise your statement about which "explains nothing"? "Government" is not the goal - conflict resolution is absolutely the goal! My god, if we could resolve our conflicts without government, don't you think that would be better?

This -is- the way to build a system of ethics, provided you can come up with a decent set of axioms.

Yes, and your axioms are things like: apple trees exist, they have apples, people can pick apples if they get close to the tree, people eat apples, eating is necessary for living, there aren't enough apples for everyone to eat, etc. Private property becomes a right later on to prevent fighting over those apples. The ability to pick and eat apples is the reality.

If there were enough apples for everyone, would you not agree that private property WOULD NOT MAKE SENSE as a right? Before you answer that too quickly, think about intellectual property, Napster, Freenet, copyright, the printing press, and computers/internet.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#159)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 01:54:28 PM EST

Regarding the Indians, given that they lived in abundance, then they seemed to be doing the reasonable thing.
Yeah, I personally would want to live a short, miserable, violent life punctuated by brief moments of rest, which themselves were consumed by mindless repetition of ceremonies to ward off imagined ghosts and gremlins.

Or not. Sorry, but glorifying the lives of primitive tribal societies is not my cup of tea. Tribalism in and of itself is merely a crude form of racism, and it brings with it all the violence and nastiness that we know and love. Native American life pre-colonization was not the garden-of-eden-paradise you're daydreaming about.
So let me get this straight - using my version of social contract, we get conflict management.
Your ability to misunderstand is truly inspiring. Your "version" of social contract theory, as I so poorly put it(I'll admit that much,) is nothing BUT a name for conflict management. It does NOTHING to justify the means employed, but rather is just a new word for the same thing. It is like saying "Sofas are good because couches are good." What I am saying is, your "version" is ridiculous and meaningless because it does not achieve the singular aim of social contract theory: to JUSTIFY the abrogation of rights we should otherwise have. All you do is state that some abrogation is necessary; there is no justification whatsoever.

As for me, mine is no social contract theory, because it claims that NO rights should ever be abrogated for any reason. This flies directly in the face of the meaning of "social contract."
Yes, and your axioms are things like: apple trees exist, they have apples, people can pick apples if they get close to the tree, people eat apples, eating is necessary for living, there aren't enough apples for everyone to eat, etc.
No. Those are yours, and there are far too many of them, and they are not, in any sense of the term, logically irreducible. They're about as well qualified to be axioms as I am to be an astronaut.
Private property becomes a right later on to prevent fighting over those apples. The ability to pick and eat apples is the reality.
Wrong. Private property is a right inherent in our nature as human beings; we have the right to keep and dispose of as we see fit anything we obtain by non-coercive means, because this is a part of our basic function as human beings. We have to think. We have to act. And we have to benefit from this, which means, we have to be able to keep the results.

At the end of your reply, we see what you're really after, which is intellectual property. It is true; intellectual property is a different beast. It is both over AND under protected depending on where you are and what kind of IP you're talking about. It is widely misunderstood. However, this has NO bearing on physical property of the traditional sort whatsoever.
First, we have trade secrets. These deserve no legal protection whatsoever. Second, patents. They flat out should not exist, for any purpose, ever. Third, trademarks. Relatively harmless, but improper nevertheless, and they're rapidly becoming pointless. Then, the troublesome one. Copyright. The problem here is that copyright should be non-transferable and should only belong to the person who wrote the work in question - not to his employer, or his friend, or his children, or whatever. When he dies, copyright should also. If multiple people collaborated, they should have co-ownership, but still nontransferable and still tied to them as individuals rather than to any corporate entity. These steps and about 10 years of adjustment time would completely fix the IP mess.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#160)
by speek on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 04:29:17 PM EST

1. You say "Private property is a right inherent in our nature as human beings ... we have to benefit from this, which means, we have to be able to keep the results"
2. Indians did in fact live without your concepts of private property.

I'm curious about what "have to" means in this case. Were the Indians not human beings? Is there some "in order to" clause I'm not aware of (as in "have to [do x] in order to [get y]")?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#161)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 04:54:18 PM EST

First of all, the native Americans had a very different concept of "free" than you're assuming. They didn't recognize ownership of land, but they had a sort of property in the form of clothing, tools, and so on, and you couldn't just go and take someone's things. They didn't "own" wild animals either, but there is a distinction you're not making here: you could NOT just go slaughter animals at will; there were rules governing hunting and every other aspect of life.

Second, you're obviously being a bit literal about things; the USSR did without private property as we think of it, so it is possible. However, in ANY world, it requires draconian measures to implement, and in a world of scarcity, those measures are only MORE draconian than they otherwise might be. Similarly, you do not need a right to your own life in order to survive in the literal sense, but to the extent that it is violated, you cannot live as a human being.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#162)
by speek on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 05:28:44 PM EST

they had a sort of property in the form of clothing, tools, and so on, and you couldn't just go and take someone's things

Absolutely - a distinction can be made between personal belongings and land property, or hunting rights, etc.

They didn't "own" wild animals either, but there is a distinction you're not making here: you could NOT just go slaughter animals at will; there were rules governing hunting and every other aspect of life

Yes, there were rules - tribal rules - whatever. They solved the problem without resorting to private ownership of land or animals. But, you say we "have to" have these concepts, and I'm just asking what do you mean by "have to"? I'm just asking what your underlying assumptions are.

Yes, I am being literal because I'm trying to have a discussion based on what's real, not made up theories. You have previously in this discussion put down "ivory tower" types as being disconnected. I am trying to stay connected with reality, is all.

in ANY world, it requires draconian measures to implement, and in a world of scarcity, those measures are only MORE draconian than they otherwise might be

Here's what I think is happening: I am objecting to your language when it seems too absolute for my taste (like when you say property rights are inherent in human nature, and we have to benefit from the results, etc). I object because I can point to examples where people did not use these concepts. However, in the above quote from you, you are implying not that rights are absolutes, but that your current conception of them represents our best strategy to deal with current reality. In other words, if we chose to accept your definition of our rights, we would all be much better off (as opposed to we have to accept it, cause there's no other choice). Am I correct in this?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#163)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 06:24:18 PM EST

I am quite serious when I say "inherent in human nature." You can point out societies with poor or no enforcement of property rights all day; I can guarantee you right now that you live in one. This isn't an either-or, but rather a continuum, and what you find is that the further away from "pure" property right enforcement you get, the worse off people are. This is true, always will be true, and always HAS been true. All too often we're told that if we'd only give up a few more freedoms, we could solve our problems. Of course, the problems are usually created or exacerbated by having given up yet more freedoms in the past. You don't cure a poison victim by giving him more of the same.

American natives, USSR citizens, the Chinese today, Cubans today, and similar societies have one thing in common: abject misery for almost everyone involved. On the other hand, the closer the US has been to pure negative rights theory, the better off we've been. As we add more regulations, we see greater and greater extremes of wealth and poverty, and yet the solution, we're told, is add more regulations, violate more freedoms, take away more liberties, screw the man, and somehow it is never the man who ends up getting screwed - instead, it is me and you. But I'm sure it'll be better next time, because that guy you voted for in the last election seems like such a NICE thug, doesn't he? With a suit that expensive, you can almost ignore the army of gun-wielding goons he'll use to make sure we all do whatever it is he thinks is in "our" best interest. Yeah. Sure. Whatever. Freedom is not just a buzzword, and no man is free who cannot keep what he earns.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#164)
by speek on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 09:35:30 PM EST

If I were so inclined, I could match flowery rhetoric in kind, but it's just so empty, and worse, manipulative. You say no man is free who cannot keep what he earns, I might say no man is truly a man who cannot comprehend what he owes. Yada yada. Whatever.

When your logical arguments fall flat, it is tempting to avoid the question, to set up your straw men, to hammer on simplistic ideas that sound good. But when it comes right down to it, what you've said is that the right to own property is one of your axioms - a basic assumption. Not only does it have no logical underpinings (else it would be an axiom), it hardly even has supporting evidence from physical reality.

Do people have a right to eat? No? Take away that right, and you'll see plenty of abject misery, don't you think? Maybe, and that's a big maybe, you could argue that freedom is an inherent right, but I still think you're starting way too high up. Given a choice between eating and freedom, most people are going to take eating. And then again, given a choice between freedom and having human relationships, most people are going to take the relationships. Freedom is darn far down the line. But it's still way before private property. But you want to start the discussion at the private property point, and you won't consider the possibility that other considerations might come prior, or that there might be better strategies to maximize human happiness. That is what I call living in an ivory tower - you are so far removed from any real human condition, that your thinking starts with private property ownership.

And before you complain that eating is not a right that the government should be ensuring, but property ownership is, and there's an important distinction between these two things in social theory, let me just ask - if people all around you are starving, do you really have a moral right to freedom (much less private property)?

Oh well, I guess I probably already know your answer :-(

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#165)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 01:40:09 PM EST

You say no man is free who cannot keep what he earns, I might say no man is truly a man who cannot comprehend what he owes.
You might say it, but this will not make it so. I am at least -trying- to convey a logical argument; the impression I get(I could be wrong) is that you are merely repeating yourself and hoping I'll go away.
But when it comes right down to it, what you've said is that the right to own property is one of your axioms - a basic assumption.
Axioms are irreducible logical starting points. I stated that rights are derived from(inherent in, but in this case, this is the same thing,) human nature. This is NOT a statement that rights are axiomatic; do you even read what I post before replying?!
Do people have a right to eat? No? Take away that right, and you'll see plenty of abject misery, don't you think?
You are confusing opportunity with outcome. I can eat - if I earn what I'm eating. I have the freedom to devise and carry out whatever plan I may need in order to eat, provided that it does not infringe upon the rights of others(that is, the legitimate rights, as opposed to your seeming definition of "right" as anything you can get away with.) This freedom is assured by my rights, but the outcome of actually eating is not, and cannot be, since life is uncertain, and since we have to actually work to obtain food; a guarantee that you will eat is a guarantee that if you don't work, we'll enslave someone else to work for you.
if people all around you are starving, do you really have a moral right to freedom (much less private property)?
Yes. Apparently that whole Rennaisance and Enlightenment thing was omitted from your history books, but some of us simply do not believe that we are our brothers' keepers. If I actively violate your rights, then I am responsible for that. If I enter into a voluntary obligation to you, then I am responsible for that. Otherwise, you can starve in my sight, and if I choose not to help you, that is my right. As it happens, I'm a pretty nice guy, and I tend to help people out(sometimes a lot more than is in my own interest.) However, that's my choice, and I will readily admit that there are people I would not help; freedom works both ways. You cannot have all the warm touchy-feely-fuzzy human interest story freedom and none of the "this guy tried to kill me, so I don't really care if he starves in the streets" freedom.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#166)
by speek on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 02:45:38 PM EST

If you were really trying to convey a logical argument, I would think you'd have attempted to answer my question at least ONE of the times I asked it. To repeat yet again (yes I repeat myself because I am stubborn - refuse to answer again, and I WILL continue repeating myself):

What is the basis for your assertion that the right to private property is inherent in human nature?

Being that for the first two times I asked this your answer simply re-asserted this conviction of yours, I was led to think that it was axiomatic in your mind. You have now explicitly stated that it is not, so I ask again.

I can eat - if I earn what I'm eating

"Earning" meaning something fairly specific here, I imagine. If I take a club and whack you upside the head, I have just "earned" the right to eat the food you were carrying. No? That's not fair you say? Cheating! 10 yard penalty! That's not what I meant by "earning"!

Anyway, life isn't a game, and you certainly don't get to set up the rules. People will do what they can and need to in order to survive. If it requires killing, they will do so. That is human nature.

I get the impression you are not religious, and yet, your attitudes are of a religious nature. You assert yours is the absolute truth, you leave no room for alternatives, and you seem to have a (perhaps) subconscious desire to avoid digging deeper into things. I think this is also part of human nature - a need for finalized beliefs that are absolutely true. Have you ever observed an evolutionist argue with a creationist? The way you argue is very similar to the way a creationist would argue.

Anyway, as a result of this, you have failed to get my very simple point - that your system of rights is a tool for achieving human happiness. You have acknowledged as much implicitly when you say things like (paraphrasing) "yeah, others way have been tried, but they all result in abject misery for those involved, whereas if you follow the one true way (negative rights), all is perfect". I'm just trying to point out that negative rights may be the best working theory we've developed so far, but that does not rule out better theories being developed down the road. And frankly, we could do without the religious fervor that you bring to the debate, because that's rarely helpful.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#167)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 04:30:08 PM EST

What is the basis for your assertion that the right to private property is inherent in human nature?
The only advantage people as a species have is the mind. Were it not for that, we would be extinct. This is what it is to be man. The human mind is an engine for making choices based on accumulated knowledge, as incomplete and imperfect as it may be. It requires freedom in order to serve its purpose. Specifically, if we are to live in the mode appropriate to human beings, we have to ban force from human relationships. That is precisely what negative rights theory does. (If any portion of this seems a bit vague, ask and I'll gladly clarify; I'd rather not unnecessarily type out a textbook on the subject if you already understand what I"m saying.)
"Earning" meaning something fairly specific here, I imagine.
Yes. "Earning" is the act of producing value, as opposed to appropriating it. I can earn by directly producing or I can earn by trading direct production for something someone else has directly produced, but I cannot earn by taking what is not owed to me except when nobody owns what I intend to take(the case in exploration of new territory, for instance, which is obviously not common.)
I get the impression you are not religious, and yet, your attitudes are of a religious nature.
People who employ arguments I haven't seen before often have a different viewpoint, but I can see where you would think this; you are correct insofar as I do not accept the notions of involuntary obligation, original sin, and the general subjectivity of human experience. If you had some compelling new argument that upset my belief structure in some way, I'd agree that holding to it would be foolish, but so far, the arguments you've levelled at my positions are ones that I've refuted dozens of times before; this is hardly unique to you, and the end result is that I have to actually remind myself that most -other- people aren't necessarily dogmatic:)
Anyway, as a result of this, you have failed to get my very simple point - that your system of rights is a tool for achieving human happiness.
That's not my primary justification for it. My primary justification is set out above; it allows for the best possible to emerge, because it protects and encourages our natural strength, rather than cutting it down, suppressing it, and slowly killing off reliance on it. I believe that this results, over time, in greater happiness, but that is a side effect.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by speek on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 05:43:55 PM EST

I'd rather not unnecessarily type out a textbook...

Understood and not a problem

What you've said is highly loaded stuff. Most parts of it can be argued individually, it can certainly be argued as a whole, and it can also be seen as a particular view on the subject, that ignores other, equally valid, views. For one thing, banning force in human relationships requires force itself, so you have a problem there. It is exactly the type of problem humans face all the time in reality - ie problems without logically perfect solutions, but which must be solved anyway.

Likewise - how to maximize human potential for rational thought and use of the mind? You say freedom is a requirement, and I would agree. But there are other requirements - education, adequate exposure to ideas and information, emotional support, physical support (ie a child that doesn't eat well won't learn well either). So, how best to maximize the potential of the human mind is an engineering problem. There are balances to it - maximize one of these areas, and you end up endangering one of the other areas (for instance, if you maximize exposure to ideas, information and education, you would also severely limit freedom, and vice versa - maximize freedom, and you jeapardize adequate exposure to ideas, adequate food for thought - sorry for the pun:-).

So there are all these conditions we want to maximize to get the best results - highly skilled human minds to ensure our survival as a species. Negative Rights theory, and its implementation, is an engineering project - because it is trying to solve problems that have no perfect solution, and in which choices must be made between two good options that are somewhat opposed.

Like any engineering solution, there is no one answer. Some are obviously better than others (I'm really not a relativist - just not an absolutist either). Some give results that people would disagree on about their value (ie some people would much prefer to live like Native Americans than they would like Boston yuppies).

I'll tell you what I would like to see. I would like to see many many smaller "states" that develop their own solutions to this (and other) problems. I would like to see competition amongst those states for citizens. People would be free to pick the solutions they like best. In the US, we have an opportunity for this type of strategy (as opposed to solution) - if power were back in the states hands for domestic affairs. I'd like to see communist states, socialist states, anarchic states, democratic states, etc. I'd like to see everything tried, and either discarded as a failure, or continually improved upon as necessary. The one freedom I require is that people have absolute freedom to move from one place to another. And, there would still be the federal gov. to ensure that.

That's not my primary justification for it

Ok, but maximizing the power of the human mind is no more fundamental a goal than maximizing human happiness. Their both engineering problems that require a more practical approach - try, try again. Try until you find what works. It's a scientific process, not a logical one. And we'll increase the speed that we learn by trying different things at the same time.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#169)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 06:09:26 PM EST

For one thing, banning force in human relationships requires force itself, so you have a problem there.
This is the one and only legitimate function of government, as far as I'm concerned - to harness the retaliatory(and ONLY retaliatory) use of force against those who would initiate it. This does not prohibit self defense, but it does provide for a means of ridding society of those who would prey on it, if the citizens' rights are rigorously enforced - otherwise, government becomes nothing more than legitimized thuggery, victimizing innocents and punishing the guilty seemingly at random - and if you read the headlines, you'll see that this is what we have today.

Your suggestion of various different kinds of states is quite interesting, because the only two that haven't been tried are anarchy and minarchy - all the rest have existed for some time, and all have failed in one degree or another.

One thing that I am adamantly opposed to is the idea of engineering a society. That way lies totalitarianism. Also, I do in fact regard maximizing the power of the individual human mind(or at least the potential for using it) is the most fundamental human goal, because that mind is the necessary component of any and all human success, except of course for blind luck.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (none / 0) (#170)
by speek on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 08:47:59 PM EST

One thing that I am adamantly opposed to is the idea of engineering a society. That way lies totalitarianism

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Your system of a government that does nothing but ban force is an engineering effort too. It's minimalist, but engineering nonetheless. It's a case of less is more - a common aspect of good design, IMO.

I think you're thinking of things like planned communities and committees that determine appropriate behavior and the like, etc. Federally mandated school curriculums/standardized tests and equally repugnant "engineering" efforts. I couldn't agree more. But, designing a system that explicitly denies these things from existing, that explicitly encourages diversity and experimentation - that is an engineering effort worth pursuing.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (1.00 / 1) (#139)
by bob_the_moose on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 08:24:01 AM EST

Just because a philosopher is old doesn't mean he's wrong. And just because some of his ideas are not fashonable doesn't mean that they can't be right. The two schools of western philosphy that have existed for the past 2000 years (before the 19th century) are mainly divided into the Platonic and Aristotlian (sp?) camps. Most of Socrates 'works' are actually probably Plato's and were certainly comitted to the local equivilant of paper by Plato. While this could just mean that people were stuck in a rut, it does mean that the two points have been well argued. I offered the link to the Crito to show that if you live in a place where there are rules, and you fail to maintain them, you shouldn't complain when there are consequences. The individual being taxed has a choice, he can move, change the laws, or pay the price. To whinge at high volume is pointless (unless as part of a campaign of change).

Thankfully I wasn't educated in the US (I presume you mean the US by 'our').

As for the fact that the contract is not "voluntarily entered into". Children are not taxed, at least not in the UK. So the children are not forced into the social contract (especially as it's against UK law for children to be bound by contracts :) until they become 'adults', at which point they can either be taxed, as is the rest of society, leave that society (which generally entails leaving the country), or change the society (living by the rules of that society until they change).

I claim that you cannot find another argument outside of socialism or fascism, and that those two have been disproven both theoretically and by way of causing misery and death for hundreds of millions of people needlessly in actual practice.

To be pedantic, fascism is the specific name for the right wing Italian political movement that culminated with the leadership of Musilini. But I presume that you actually mean the Nazi Germany regime instead, and by sociallist I presume you're refering to the Soviet inspired communist governments such as the USSR, 'Red' China, and Cambodia (I don't think that the current sociallist governments in europe would like to be compared to these). Whilst these are not good ways to go about government and are not very nice periods in history, they don't disprove that what the governments were supposed to be based upon can't work. Is it impossible to imagine a country based upon the foundations of the USA from turning into an all powerfull totalateran regime? I'd be interested if you could show me the refutation to the socialist theory though, and not just on economic grounds (this is a request for information, not an argument point).

Oh, and to play devils advocate, the use of the word 'needlessly' is very subjective and should probably be avoided, 'selfserving' is probably a better alternative (after all, how many native [insert previously local population] have been 'needlessly' killed to allow the expansion of western power?).



[ Parent ]
Re: Taxes are theft (2.66 / 3) (#123)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:12:44 PM EST

Why do taxes have to be taken from everyone? Surely it's fairer to tax (monetary) richer people (at least on income), after all they've got more money, and the proportion of the money that is spent doesn't tend to increase with increases in earnings.

Personally I'm very split on this issue. Yes, to society (ours anyway) it is fairer to tax the rich more (more being a larger percentage since obviously even if the percentage was the same as those with less they'd still be paying more), but it's very unfair to the person paying it. So in essence, society benefits and the individual is forced to pay for this benefit. To me that is a very socialist concept. Forcing others to help others is wrong.

My opinion is that rich people do hold more responsibility for the poor than say middle-classed simply because they have the ability to make a bigger (monetary) contribution. Does that mean that they should be forced to? I don't think so.

Why stop at money? I mean lots of rich people are rich because they work hard, they have much less free time than the average 40 hour a week person. So shouldn't these average workers be required to donate some of their free time to help society? My point is, where does it stop? I think a lot of people would agree that a person's time (especially when helping to solve problems) can usually go at least as far as money. Many believe giving a poor person money isn't going to stop them from being poor but teaching them might. Teaching takes time and effort (and not necessarily money).

My point is, forcing people to do good is bad. (Except for your kids. :) If you force people to do something they're just going to hate it and do everything they can NOT to do that thing. Whereas, if you gave them the choice they might choose the right thing themselves.

Our country is supposed to be about freedom.

-Zane

[ Parent ]

Re: Taxes are theft (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by beergut on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:33:17 PM EST

God help us if we ever get the government we pay for.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

I not only agree, I did something about it. (3.50 / 6) (#64)
by operandi on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:13:41 AM EST

I complained about the fact that in the US you don't see the benefit of your tax dollars, among numerous other things, constantly and was constantly told "If you don't like the US get out." and so I left. :) I now live in Sweden, the land of hot chicks, kind and intelligent people, and an overt demonstration on what *decent* use of tax dollars can provide. :)

Regards

No way to avoid death and taxes. (2.33 / 3) (#73)
by Aztech on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:11:09 AM EST

I like the way you're so quick to criticise the original settlers, you have to remember if it wasn't for the colonists you wouldn't even be there now, let alone paying taxes, It's also worth noting the majority of the indigenous population were persecuted after independence. However I guess you're fed this propaganda at school and are forced to repeat it at any given opportunity, like good sheep ;) I hope that doesn't offend you too much, but I've spoken to American kids who were completely brainwashed, one kid seemed amazed there were computers, tv and running water etc outside of the US (it's true!).

Anyway, as for your 15%, to be honest it's meagre, I pay more tax (17.5%) when I just buy something at the store, income taxes range from 25% upto ~ %40. I can remember my father telling me he had to pay taxes in the region of 40% on a proportion of his income when the socialists were in power a few years ago, he also bought a building off a businessman who was paying 'super tax' that was in the region of 80-90%. Out of the £20K he got from selling the building he'd only net around £3k after taxes.

What can we do about it? Not much, everybody has to pay taxes, so you have to grin a bear it, everybody is in the same boat. Everybody has their own little sob story about taxes if you ask them. You have to remember there's two certainties in life, death and taxes, also don't be fooled by the old 'the grass is always greener...' sentiment.

Another thing, don't take this the wrong way, but has anybody questioned the huge amounts spent on military expenditure in the US? Maybe getting rid of some of the paranoid people in the Pentagon would ease your tax burden considerably?


not to keep rehashing this (2.33 / 3) (#88)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:40:01 AM EST

but this was written for exactly those reasons listed here. Go check out http://www.harrybrowne.org, it might strike a cord - he's getting my vote even if I have to write it in...
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
15%!!!?!?!?!?!?!? (2.33 / 3) (#101)
by skim123 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:41:54 PM EST

You are indeed lucky if you are only paying 15% of your income. Try working for yourself and watch them suck ~40 cents of EVERY dollar you make right out from under you.

Damn.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


People vastly underestimate their amount of taxes (2.50 / 2) (#103)
by Chris Goodwin on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:47:43 PM EST

Whilst digging around on the Net, I discovered the following bits of info:

Estimated Federal Budget in 1999: 1.733 trillion.

Source: http://www.dailyrepublican.com/1999-clinton-budget.html

Estimated U.S. population in 1999: 273,828,000 (approx.)

Source: http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/nation/intfile1-1.txt

The one divided by the other: $6328.79 and change

In 1999, the U.S. government budget was $6328.79 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. I don't know about you, but my wife and I between us didn't pay $12,657.58 in federal income tax this past April.

Think about it.

Re: People vastly underestimate their amount of ta (5.00 / 2) (#114)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:01:00 PM EST

well, you've missed one significant point - the income tax is only 46% of that ~1.7 trillion, the rest is corporate income and other such stuff....
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Re: People vastly underestimate their amount of ta (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by ThrillKiller on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:02:28 PM EST

Actually my wife and I did...so stop being ignorant and scrounging off of me and either fork it up or accept the fact that some of us do pay our fair share and more and if we want to gripe about it we can because even by your logic I'm getting shafted!

---

nuclear, it's pronounced new-clear - Homer


[ Parent ]

Read Ayn Rand (2.00 / 3) (#104)
by skim123 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:49:56 PM EST

She's written some interesting stuff of government's ideal roles in taxes/commerce. I'm paraphrasing, but she argues that forcing people to pay taxes is criminal. I agree. Of course, Ayn's philosophy would only work in a utopia... if we could somehow move the 10% of the population that still yearns to think rationally to some independent island, then we could, perhaps, have a true, profitable, untaxable, powerful nation. Until then expect to be taxes more and more, as the sheer number of moochers and leaches on society increases.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Re: Read Ayn Rand (3.66 / 3) (#105)
by aziegler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:00:35 PM EST

Ayn Rand has no real value in a civilised society. Objectivism is all about blind selfishness -- which means that you don't give a damn about your fellows in society. She believes that altruism is fundamentally harmful to the human being. She has value ONLY in that her ideas are to be avoided as fundamentally evil. -f

[ Parent ]
Re: Read Ayn Rand (1.00 / 2) (#108)
by skim123 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:18:02 PM EST

Objectivism is all about blind selfishness -- which means that you don't give a damn about your fellows in society

Hardly! Perhaps you should read her work yourself instead of relying on what others have told you to believe.

She believes that altruism is fundamentally harmful to the human being

Forced altuism is indeed harmful. If I came to your house with a gun and said, "You will donate 5 hours a week at the homeless shelter or I will shoot you," that is indeed harmful to society. If you choose to donate time, money, aid, whatever, that is fine. Being forced to do so is not.

I'd really suggest you read some of her works and think about it rationally, as opposed to listening to others and reacting emotionally. Rational thought is what separates you from lower-order animals. Don't discard away your one evolutionary advantage.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Read Ayn Rand (2.33 / 3) (#118)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:27:07 PM EST

Hey! We have two evolutionary advantages. We can eat with forks.


[ Parent ]
Re: Read Ayn Rand (2.00 / 1) (#148)
by skim123 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:59:00 AM EST

Hey! We have two evolutionary advantages. We can eat with forks

This is not a sole evolutionary advantage. Monkeys can eat food with forks too. Hell, they can even use their toes and eat food with a fork! Take that, Darwin! :-)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
No Taxes? What are you thinking? (4.00 / 2) (#109)
by mikech on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:27:26 PM EST

My feelings were pretty much summed up by tayknight above. Due to my income bracket, I pay close to 40% in taxes. But my kids are getting a great education, live is a safe neighborhood. and have an overall wonderfull lifestyle. Much of this is due to my hard work and the goverment. Local, state and federal. Sure there are things that I dont like to see my taxes spent on and things that I would like to see more spent on. But I think that most people beleive that all spending is pork unless its their pork. Dont know what your taxes go for. Look arround. Its everywhere.

Difference from Europe? (3.33 / 3) (#110)
by aralin on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:31:54 PM EST

You pay your 15% taxes and we can only envy you in Europe. I pay at least 25% in my taxes to state, next 9% to social security which I shall never get (according to experts) and next 9% for health care thats almost non-existant. Don't even talk about fact that these 25% could easily become 45% when my sallary would be paid all in cash :)

And while you complain, economics of your country is 100 times better than in mine, don't even mention the little fact that the difference raised 2 times only during the last ONE YEAR!

And if you think that the problem you mentioned are not present in Europe or even worse, than you are most likely one of the blind idiots living in trust to local media. :)

Re: Difference from Europe? (3.00 / 1) (#113)
by el_guapo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:55:07 PM EST

what country do you live in????
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
It's higher than you think (3.50 / 2) (#122)
by cwong on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:10:33 PM EST

It's a lot higher for those of us with reasonable pay. 15% is for the lowest tax backet, such as for students working part time. Tax rates go as high as 39.6%, and that is for the federal income tax alone. There is the social security tax (15%), state taxes, property taxes, sales taxes etc. The typical family now pays about 40% in assorted taxes overall.

[ Parent ]
Preach on, my brotha! (2.50 / 2) (#115)
by Mr. T on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:06:36 PM EST

OK, so perhaps it wasn't worded as eloquently as possible, but you have to admit that he has a point. No one is saying that we pay as much as in other countries, but what are we getting for it? Hmm, let me think...

How about health care, something that's fundamentally important to a person's well-being? No, I have to rely on my job for that, and even then, I don't have vision or dental coverage. Oh well. OK, what about some sort of retirement benefits, after I've worked hard most of my life? No, looks like Social Security will be virtually worthless by the time I retire, yet here I am paying into it with every check. OK, fine, there's always education, right? Well, there are public schools... but it's getting to the point where no one would be willing to put their kids there. 40+ students to a classroom, underpaid teachers, violence, lack of quality studies... Hmm.

So what am I getting for my money? OK, some of the roads around me have been repaired. Yes, there is police service, but you'll be lucky if they're able to respond to your call quickly. OK, there's fire service.

Anyway, I think this raises excellent points. These are the sort of questions we ought to be asking our elected leaders. Also, I'm not sure where 15% comes into play - I know I pay far more than that, so don't pay too much attention to that. The purpose of this thread is not, "Well, I pay way more than you", but, "what are we getting for what we pay?" Just some thoughts from an angry US taxpayer.

There is a lot more to this (1.50 / 2) (#120)
by cwong on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:01:31 PM EST

There is a lot more to the picture than what you have mentioned. For one thing, 15% is the lowest tax bracket. As you make more money, you will fall into higher tax brackets. For another, that is only the income tax. The social security tax adds another 15% or so to your burden. Then there are the state taxes (unless you live in Texas, New Hampshire or other no-income-tax states). In fact, tax rates are at their historical peacetime highs. There is no politically feasible way to eliminate or even drastically reduce taxes, but there are differences between the two main candidates. The rest of this article will leave no ambiguity about which I favor.

One way to effectively get some of your tax money back is to fix up social security. I am not referring to its upcoming insolvency here, nor the accounting fiction that is its "trust fund". Rather, its very nature is broken in its function of delivering retirement benefits. It is not a defined contribution plan: there is no guarantee that you will get back what you put in. Nor is it a defined benefits plan: your benefits can be reduced or eliminated by an act of Congress, especially if you do not belong to the politically powerful baby boomer generation. Real returns from your SS contributions are now at a pathetic 2% and plunging. It is plain broken, and a big drain on your paycheck.

Both Bush and Gore are proposing individual accounts. This is a real difference: money that you put into your own account is yours. You will get that money back. It belongs to you. Gore is suggesting accounts outside of the SS system, managed by the govt, and subsidized with a copayment by govt subsidies. The problems include the fact that the copayment comes from general revenue, i.e. your taxes. More taxes: just what we need. Another is that this copayment will disappear as your income increases, and that you do not manage your investment choices. It looks like another wealth redistribution scheme. Bush's proposal is accounts where you can divert your SS taxes. You pay the same SS taxes, but it now belongs to you. Also, you make your own investment choices: stocks, bonds etc. It's like a 401K plan where you can park your SS taxes.

Both candidates are also proposing tax cuts. Bush's is an across the board range of cuts at all brackets, among other things. Not spectacular, but better than nothing. Gore's is some 29 tax credits or exemptions. This is ridiculous: it is not like our tax code lacks complexity, not to mention the enforcement issue. People making the same amount of money will have vastly different tax rates depending on whether they qualify for one or more Gore-approved tax credits. It's not like they are bad causes, but if you don't qualify for any, you get no tax breaks. Tough luck. Gore's scheme looks like a wealth redistribution plan.

but what about... (4.00 / 2) (#121)
by evro on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:09:40 PM EST

The Army, navy, coast guard, police, Fire dept, FBI, CIA, NSA, (ok the last 3 were jokes) parks dept, etc. Also if the government didn't fiddle with interest rates to throttle back growth we'd be boom-or-bust every other day. It's really narrow-minded to claim we don't get <i>anything</i> for tax dollars. While how much we should be taxed is a reasonable -- and common -- subject for debate, "No more taxes" is probably the stupidest idea I've ever heard. Without tax dollars, we would have no government at all -- and don't try the "People who really cared would work for free" thing, because the people who would work for free are those with money to spare: millionaires. So unless you want to see President Gates anytime soon, I think taxes should stay.

Also you're paying for federal AND state tax. Coming and going, etc. However, perhaps we should get rid of the <b>income</b> tax and just have <b>sales</b> tax. I think that's really what people want. Bread could have a tax of 1 cent, but a Mercedez-Benz SL600 could have a tax of 25%. Then the people who have money to burn are the ones who pay the most and people who live normally don't. Then again, that may simply have the effect of halting purchases of luxury items and nobody will pay anything. So I guess the current way is probably the best. Although, yeah, it sucks when you see how much they take.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
Taxes in the United States = Armed Robbery | 170 comments (164 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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