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[P]
Death and Taxes

By skim123 in Op-Ed
Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 01:56:16 AM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

For the US readers here, it's drawing closer and closer to that terrible time of the year: April 15th, when our annual taxes are due to the state and federal government. Personally I view taxation and robbery as one in the same. I realize that money must be pooled from a society to pay for the benefits the society enjoys, but why can't the society whose taxes we pay for be much smaller? For example, why is it that we pay way more to the federal government than the state government?


As I mentioned in the intro, I view taxation and robbery as one in the same. Anytime you force someone to hand over their money, it's robbery in my book. If you don't have over your taxes to the government you can be jailed. How is that not robbery?

While I am largely an idealist, I am not blind to the realities of the world. Yes, taxes are needed to fuel any society, but I guess what I don't see is why I am helping to fuel such a large society, the entire United States. While I live in California, a portion of my tax dollars are going to build a military base in Florida; a portion of my tax dollars are paying federal workers in Maine. Even my state taxes are being distributed all over the state of California (which is a mighty big state).

What I propose is the return to something similar to the Greek city-states of millennia past. We could maintain a federal government, but it should become much smaller - to maintain such a government part of our income could go to pay for its operation, but much much less than the outrageous 20-40% we are paying right now. Instead, the large part of our taxes that go to the federal government could be better redirected to the local cities. Each city, then, could band as a whole and decide how much to tax its citizens and how to redistribute that money.

I like the idea of each city-state being able to collect and spends its own money as it sees fit because it gives me, the citizen of the US, the ability to choose the city that best fits my interests. Right now I can't live anywhere in this country and avoid having part of my tax dollars go to programs I find harmful. However, in the city-state example, there may be a number of cities whose population believes in similar views. If the people in my current city decided to spend, say, 25% of the total taxed proceeds on public schools, I may choose to leave and move to a city that allocates less funds for public education (seeing as I have no children presently and believe education should be privatized).

Each city would still be part of a large federation - the United City States of America - which would still get a portion of every citizen's tax dollars, but a much smaller proportion. This federal government would be responsible for many of the tasks outlined in the Constitution: the nation's defense, sorting out issues amongst the city states, etc. It would not have all of those bureaucratic agencies, like the FDA, FCC, EPA, etc. Such agencies would be up to each city-state's citizens to decide whether or not to implement. If a pristine environment was important to you and your city-state voted to not have such an agency, you could then move to another city-state that held the environment in higher regards.

Just like the cities of the United States today, these city-states could not refuse certain folks from settling there. That is, you couldn't have a city state made up of a bunch of, say, white folks who would refuse admittance to African Americans.

So do you think such a scenario could work? I think you see things similar to it in small towns all across America... not in the allocation of money, but in the general attitude. For example, I grew up in a small town, and if you were interested in vocalizing your beliefs about "controversial" topics (say anything but Christianity, homosexuality, biracial relationships, etc.) then you would be shunned by the community. I think this is a Good Thing - if you want to fit into that society, you can move there; if you have conflicting beliefs you can leave, there are plenty of places where you can find a plethora of others who share those "controversial" ideas.

The city-state idea takes this a bit further. If I am morally opposed to welfare then why should I pay for it? I'm sure I could find a place with people who believe the same way I do and move there. Rather than just shunning those that the group disagrees with, you can also save money by not having to pay for programs that encourage such behavior.

And to answer the inevitable, "If you don't like it here in the States then leave," I do like it. A lot. I just wish I had more of a direct say over how my tax dollars were being spent. I also wish much less were taken out of my paycheck. Why should I be forced to pay for the ignorance or misfortune of others? A good chunk of your taxes go to that end. If I want to help those in need, let me make that decision and let me be the one who directs my funds toward those ends. Don't rob me of my money and redistribute it how you please.

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Poll
The City-State Idea is...
o Neat, but it will never work 20%
o Neat, it will work! 4%
o Blah 17%
o It would fail miserable 46%
o LOVE THE US OR LEAVE IT! 10%

Votes: 92
Results | Other Polls

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Death and Taxes | 124 comments (114 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Let's play some definitional games (4.00 / 4) (#1)
by cp on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:29:53 PM EST

Anytime you force someone to hand over their money, it's robbery in my book. If you don't have over your taxes to the government you can be jailed. How is that not robbery?

Stealing is unauthorized appropriation of property. Taxation is, when enacted consistent with due process, authorized by definition.

Incidentally, your logic is the same logic that allows people to claim that war and abortion are both murder.

Okay.... (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by daystar on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:39:14 PM EST

But if I'm holding a gun, and I authorize myself to appropriate the contents of your wallet, it's still stealing.

If you and I agree that I have a right to your money, then it's not stealing.

Personally, I have never agreed to be taxed.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

I hope you don't drive on highways. (5.00 / 2) (#24)
by nurglich on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 01:46:24 AM EST

Or expect the military to defend you. Or buy food and drugs expecting they won't kill you. Or write and invent things expecting they won't be instantly ripped off. Or take advantage of anything goverment offers at all.

The government (federal and otherwise) provides services that people use every day, sometimes without realizing it. In short, unless you live in a cave in the (unprotected) wilderness, and hunt for food, you've agreed to be taxed. I don't agree with everything the government does, but its impossible to have a system that gives everyone exactly what they want. If you really don't want to pay taxes, its certainly possible to disappear and have the government believe you don't exist. It's awfully hard to live that way, though.

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]

But you forget, states build most roads... (none / 0) (#31)
by jester69 on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 10:45:41 AM EST

Yes,

Every highway project I have seen is a state one. They are always financed with a large percentage of federal funds, but they are state projects.

I think what he is proposing is that the federal government gets cut out of this loop. The state would collect taxes for this rather than the federal government. Cutting otu the middleman and a significant portion of the overhead.

Some services would be better kept at the federal level (patents is one example you give.) I think many federal services could indeed be moved back to the states successfully or reduced at the federal level if people were willing to do so.

the jester, 69
Its a lemming thing, Jeep owners would understand.
[ Parent ]
I totally agree (none / 0) (#36)
by nurglich on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 04:52:46 PM EST

There is quite a lot of federal stuff that could be better handled by the states. Education is a major example, as well as highways. Getting the federal government out of things would allow better response to more local issues, as well as preventing the federal government from forcing the states to do things in return for funding, as happens far too often these days. I can see government getting alot faster and cheaper if each state would take care of more of their own issues. And the Supreme Court is always there to overrule the states if they do something blatently unconstitutional. Central authority can be a great thing in some cases, but it's just too big for others.

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]
Education by the State? (none / 0) (#85)
by NightRain on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 08:42:09 PM EST

I'm not even American, but you are seriously suggesting that the states be allowed to govern education? In light of the recent banning of evolution etc, I don't see how this can be anything but a bad idea. A federally governed education system ensure that there is a level of uniformity between the states, ensuring that you end up with an education that will actually be of use to you wherever you happen to travel in the US.

Don't vote, it only encourages them!


[ Parent ]
I don't trust congress (none / 0) (#105)
by MrSpey on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 02:37:08 PM EST

The problem with federally mandated education is that they would be set by congress. There's no way congress would pass up a chance to decide something as far reaching as what everyone in school learns. I'm glad that local school districts and states still dictate what is learned in schools. I trust a state official to respond to my personal wishes a lot more than I trust congress to respond to my personal wishes. If you don't like the fact that your state doesn't teach evolution then either elect new school board members or leave the state.

Mr. Spey
Cover your butt. Bernard is watching.

[ Parent ]
You call 95 years "instantly"? (none / 0) (#120)
by pin0cchio on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 02:20:47 PM EST

Or write and invent things expecting they won't be instantly ripped off.

You're referring to GGMs (government-granted monopolies)[0] here. In the case of copyrights, do you really think 95 years and counting is the same as "instantly"? Copyright should be 28 years. Tops. 28 years is more than enough "to promote the progress of science and useful arts," and the first Congress knew this (which is why the Copyright Act of 1790 set terms at 14+14 years instead of 95 years like the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act).

[0] GGM is the term preferred to "IP" in the Barely Legal project.


lj65
[ Parent ]
yes you have, practically speaking (4.33 / 3) (#26)
by eLuddite on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 02:20:33 AM EST

Personally, I have never agreed to be taxed.

But you have agreed to live in your country. That country has expenses it must meet in order to fulfill its obligation to be such a fine country. All the other citizens agree with this premise so you will have to move to another country if you dont agree.

"But all countries have taxes."

Bastards!

"What if I declare my apartment to be the independent vichy of daystar?"

Then we will overthrow your country in a just war and plunder your stuff.

"That seems rather arbitrary."

Ok, you can buy your vichy for several million dollars.

"But it would be cheaper if I just paid taxes."

Dont forget to pay for your lunch on the way out.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Re: Okay.... (none / 0) (#55)
by UrLord on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:49:49 AM EST

<I>


But if I'm holding a gun, and I authorize myself to appropriate the contents of your wallet, it's still stealing.</I>

<P>

I cannot think of a good way to phrase this but here it goes.. You are not in the correct position to legally authorize yourself to do this. You can only authorize something under your jurisdiction... (Does that make sense?) :P Ok I give up its too early for this..

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

What about. (4.33 / 3) (#6)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:41:25 PM EST

Stealing is unauthorized appropriation of property. Taxation is, when enacted consistent with due process, authorized by definition

Ah, so if your neighbors got together and "voted" to take your car from you, you'd not label that stealing? Even if they included you on the discussion and gave you a vote in the decision on whether or not to take your car?

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


[ Parent ]
Call me when the vote is over (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by eLuddite on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 02:16:29 AM EST

Ah, but I have 300,000,000 neighbors voting according to a protocol agreed upon by mutual consent and protected by an army of tanks. Start counting.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

abortion (none / 0) (#18)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:40:09 PM EST

Incidentally, your logic is the same logic that allows people to claim that war and abortion are both murder.

Not exactly. With war perhaps, but with abortion, it is murder if you grant that fetuses are humans (or at least as much humans as newborn infants are, since killing newborn infants is clearly murder). If you disagree, it must be because you disagree on this point. Then, if they're not humans, it's not murder obviously.

Either way it doesn't seem very analogous.

[ Parent ]

Sovereignty (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by cp on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:59:43 PM EST

The analogy is one based on sovereignty. As sovereigns over their own bodies, women cannot "murder" anything that exists within their bodies. They can merely "kill" it (assuming it's "alive").

[ Parent ]
abortion and such (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 11:17:35 PM EST

Well yes, that's one of the common arguments used by abortion supporters. This breaks down of course when it comes to viable fetuses (i.e. the woman has the right to remove the fetus from her body by this argument, but it's not immediately clear that she has the right to remove it and kill it when killing is not a necessary part of removal).

And of course not everyone agrees with the sovereignty argument (or "woman's right to her own body" as it seems to be more commonly phrased). Many people believe that killing a fetus is equivalent to killing an infant, and the wrongness of this action outweighs any claims the woman might have.

*shrug*, I'm undecided at the moment, but I can see valid arguments on both sides. I was merely pointing out that it isn't a foregone conclusion (to me anyway, and to a lot of people) that calling abortion murder is incorrect, as this is a matter of a great deal of debate.

(And for the record, I'd actually be inclined to call most warfare murder, but that's a completely separate argument.)

[ Parent ]

You want the U.S. (3.77 / 9) (#2)
by theboz on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:30:09 PM EST

What I propose is the return to something similar to the Greek city-states of millennia past.

So what you are saying is that you want what the U.S. was originally intended to be? This whole bullshit federal government we have now gave themselves power over time, taking advantage of people in times of peril, and now these jerks are our overlords and have too much control. I seem to remember the original intent of the federal government was to mediate between states, and provide something of a military, but that the states were sovereign(sp?).

Stuff.

Amen! <eom> (none / 0) (#7)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:42:17 PM EST

Amen!

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


[ Parent ]
Well then. (none / 0) (#14)
by theboz on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 09:51:16 PM EST

Enlighten us, or at least me. From what I was taught, originally the purpose of the federal government was not to lord over us and run all these stupidass things like the FBI and welfare. I didn't go into details, as I am tired and drinking, but if I am wrong please tell me where rather than just a RTFM type post.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Interesting to see my post jumped down one (none / 0) (#22)
by theboz on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 11:40:09 PM EST

I admit that I have been drinking, but I could have swore I posted in reply to the post above this one.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Just a suggestion... (4.00 / 1) (#9)
by Vann on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:54:26 PM EST

This isn't meant as a flame, or anything, but, if you don't know what the original intent of the federal government was, as you implied, maybe you should study up on the constitution and court decisions. Then, perhaps, you could talk about the original intent of the constitution ( or the original intent of the federal government, as you put it ).

----
____________
Sex is tedious all year except on Arbor Day. -- Rusty
[ Parent ]
No, you want the Articles of Confederation (none / 0) (#17)
by Delirium on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:38:20 PM EST

What you're describing is the Articles of Confederation. The "bullshit federal government" did not "give themselves power over time," but rather was given power by the several states when they ratified the US Constitution. They had seen by this time that a loose confederation of states with a limited federal government simply did not work (which is why it only lasted 10 years).

[ Parent ]
Check this out. (none / 0) (#56)
by UrLord on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 06:04:07 AM EST

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

If you can read the US constitution and point out exactly where each and every power the US fed gov currently uses is I will give you more credit.

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

The problem is (none / 0) (#102)
by physicsgod on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 12:49:28 PM EST

The constitution is vague enough, with the elastic clause and "equal protection under the law" etc, that you could say that damn near anything you want is delegated to the Federal government, except the stuff specifiacally forbidden.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Re: The problem is (none / 0) (#111)
by UrLord on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 05:00:02 PM EST

No. The constitution very clearly states that anything not given to the federal government is none of its damn business. The federal government of the United States only has the powers that were given to it in the Constitution. Nothing else.

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

We are talking about the *US* Constitution, right? (none / 0) (#114)
by physicsgod on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 07:08:46 PM EST

'Cause right there in Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 18 it says:
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
With two of the "foregoing powers" being regulation of interstate trade and the establisment of post offices and post roads. That is why Amendment X doesn't apply to the FAA, FCC, EPA, DOT, FTC, and the interstate system.

The Constitution clearly states very little. In fact, it's wonderfully vauge, allowing each generation to reinterpret the exact same document in their own context. Those founding fathers were damn bright fellows.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
ok... (none / 0) (#121)
by UrLord on Sun Apr 15, 2001 at 01:26:52 PM EST

I agree. The federal government has taken that statement right there and turned it into the ability to do anything they want.

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

Right (none / 0) (#122)
by physicsgod on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 03:00:00 AM EST

And since "they" represent *us* the federal government has the power to do exactly what we want it to do.

The federal government isn't a person, it's not a ogre waiting for us to let our gaurd down so it can enslave us. It is the representation of the majority of the people in this country. If you don't like the way things are going, by all means say something, get involved, vote, etc. but don't get snitty if things don't go your way.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Re: Right (none / 0) (#123)
by UrLord on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 06:03:34 PM EST

Correct in theory, bad in implimentation. Most people do not care. They will bitch and bitch but do nothing about it. This last election I did not believe there were any good choices. Last local elections I was out of town for an extended period of time and could not keep up with the candidates so I did not vote. One of the problems with the candidates that I see are they are all "rich old men." They seem to be more interrested in the large corporations than the small businesses or the common man. Up until recently I was not interrested in politics at all so I did not pay any attention to it at all. But I agree, do something about it or shut the fuck up.

Hell if I get any more depressed/angry about this whole situtation there is always Canada :-P

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

Well.. (none / 0) (#57)
by UrLord on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 06:13:17 AM EST

Ok I was reading other posts but yours stayed inthe back of my head. The Articles of Confederation were drafted and put in an increadibly weak federal government. This did not work because the states did not play nice with each other. Large tarrifs were put in place, each state had thier own money, and the militias were horrible. That is why the constitution was made. They strengthened the central government but still gave most of the power to the states. The federal govenment did take a lot of powere through legal manipulation. They controlled inter-state commerce so they decided that any store in any state can be regulated. Why? Anyone can drive/walk/run/hitchhike/etc to another state, buy something, and carry it over state lines. Therefore that is considered inter-state commerce and gave the federal government much more control over the sale of goods.

I must say though, I am impressed you remembered the Articles of Confederation. I forgot all about them until your post resurrected memories ;)

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

What is government? (3.87 / 8) (#3)
by GusherJizmac on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:30:58 PM EST

The problem is that it's not clear what, exactly, is government supposed to do? Phrases like "run the country" are too broad. What are the minimal services a government needs to provide? What services are more cost-effective when provided by government? What services are "nice to have" or nonvital?

There is another issue here also, which is that the US is supposed to be decentralized and that the states are supposed to largely govern themselves, so why is there such a large federal government and why do we pay so much taxes to them?

I think that before getting in too deep in this, we need to know exactly how much of the XXX dollars that we pay each year go to what? I remember in a civics class we did something like this and for the costs of running the government (i.e. "vital" costs that you can't easily get around, NOT social welfare programs), it was quite high. In other words, if I don't want to contribute to social welfare programs, how much of my taxes go towards that?
<sig> G u s h e r J i z m a c </sig>

Well (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:46:50 PM EST

The problem is that it's not clear what, exactly, is government supposed to do

I think those duties are outlined in the Constitution. And, if we, the people, decide that those duties need to change, we should amend the Constitution.

There is another issue here also, which is that the US is supposed to be decentralized and that the states are supposed to largely govern themselves, so why is there such a large federal government and why do we pay so much taxes to them

I don't know why, but it wasn't what our Founding Fathers had in mind. It's working now, and will hopefully continue to work for quite a while, but it seems that we are slipping further and further into a country that puts socialism over capitalism, which is scary.

I think that before getting in too deep in this, we need to know exactly how much of the XXX dollars that we pay each year go to what? I remember in a civics class we did something like this and for the costs of running the government (i.e. "vital" costs that you can't easily get around, NOT social welfare programs), it was quite high

I'd be interested in what you defined as "vital" costs. I think our lists of what is vital and not would have some major differences. Is the FDA vital? I don't think so. Is the FBI vital? Not in my book. Is the military vital? Some semblence of a military is, granted, but the large, bloated military that we have today is going way overboard, in my opinion.

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


[ Parent ]
Ignoring the whole social contract issue for now.. (4.33 / 9) (#4)
by babylago on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 08:33:48 PM EST

As a Southern California resident, I realize that paying taxes to the Greater Los Angeles/San Diego Metropolitan Axis would really piss me off, as those greedy bastards in Dana Point don't need more sand imported to their beaches.

I am facetious in my presentation of my point, which is that the issue of taxation has little or no relation to scale. If you can find a reason not to contribute to a given society, then it doesn't matter if that society is large (US) or small (Tustin). You're switching issues in the middle of an argument and frankly it's not real persuasive.

---
[ Blog | Hunnh ]

Military problems (3.60 / 5) (#10)
by duxup on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 09:01:06 PM EST

For example, why is it that we pay way more to the federal government than the state government?

Your state isn't paying for a large powerful military.

One of my concerns with the city state model is that if we cut the amount of money put into the federal government, then either the military would be smaller and much weaker, or distributed and controlled by each city state. A military under multiple bureaucracies could be incredibly inefficient. It would seem that under the distributed model the military decisions would be dictated by multiple politicians from all the city states and that could lead to horrible decisions. In Vietnam we saw what happens when decisions are made by committee (among other problems).

I agree that a smaller federal government could be much more efficient, but I think that the city state model goes too far.

The federal would keep handling the miliary (none / 0) (#11)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 09:09:30 PM EST

In the city-state example, the federal gov't would handle one military for the entire nation. The city-states wouldn't have their own, although I guess they could have a reserves like states do now.

Your state isn't paying for a large powerful military

Do we need a large powerful military? Granted, I'm not for ZERO military, but do we need to have such a large standing army? Do we need to serve as the world's police?

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


[ Parent ]
Property is theft (2.00 / 11) (#12)
by wytcld on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 09:27:38 PM EST

Taxation is justice

Cool.... (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by daystar on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:04:21 PM EST

The People are going to need your kidneys....

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]
Been there, done that. (4.60 / 10) (#15)
by Mr. Piccolo on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:02:28 PM EST

It was called the Articles of Confederation, what the United States had between 1777 and 1787. Under them, the federal government had basically the following powers:

Consenting to embassies and treaties drafted by the States
Determining a limit to how many troops each state can keep in peacetime (not counting militia)
Declaring war
Collecting property taxes
Appointing a Supreme Court if the litigators cannot agree on one themselves
Regulating money, weights, and measures
Managing affairs with the Native Americans
Establishing a Post Office
Appointing military officers
Appointing "A Committee of the States" and a president
Drawing up a budget
Borrowing money
Providing an army and navy

All other powers are explicitly left up to the States. There's a reason this arrangement only lasted 10 years... too bad I can't think of it right now. I think the government went broke because they had to rely on the States to actually write the property tax laws, or something.

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


Society for the wealthy (4.44 / 9) (#19)
by bjrubble on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 10:51:08 PM EST

The problem I have with proposals like this is that they assume anybody can simply pack up and move if their locality passes laws they don't like. While this is certainly true for the young and wealthy, it's not so for most people.

It also seems like many agencies (OSHA, EPA, etc) operate in favor of individuals to the detriment of businesses. I think this proposal would result in a local version of an existing international problem, that of wealthy business owners living in clean and regulated places, operating businesses that take advantage of the dirty and unregulated places. The wealthy people make more money and the poor people do more dying.

OSHA, EPA shining examples (3.50 / 2) (#63)
by weirdling on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:28:54 PM EST

It is a fond belief that OSHA and EPA help the little man. Fact is that those two have shut down more small businesses than anything else, and, if you want to address the 'wealthy living elsewhere' problem, what better way than through having the locals *own* the business? That's pretty common in the US.
As a for-instance, OSHA moved to have the height of computer keyboards *regulated* at work. This would require around 4 billion dollars to retool the economy, and the cost could cause some small businesses to go under, not to mention what happens when OSHA fines 'Sid's Lawn Care' $2.5 million for the secretary's table. However, they pointed out that the measures would 'save' the US economy $2 billion in lost wages &c. Wait, calculator, doesn't that mean that (cost - savings) we *lose* 2 billion?
Big government is mostly like a parasite. Over time, it will almost certainly ensure that it is impossible to run a small business, as small businesses can't affor compliance departments for every single idiotic federal administration, so simply ignore them and hope nobody notices...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
The libertarian approach (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by jesterzog on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 01:45:39 AM EST

Out of interest, have you considered voting libertarian, if you don't already?

What you've said seems quite consistent with most of the libertarian ideologies. (Also see Harry Browne's roundtable discussion posted here in October last year.)

I'm on the edge of being a libertarian myself, but it's awkward being in a much smaller country. From what I gather, the standard US approach is that the federal government should be minimalised, and state governments get to do what they want. (Meaning that people live in the state that governs the way they like it.)

New Zealand (where I am) has a population of around 3.5 million in total. So city and regional councils aside, we only have one main government. I guess this is why the same concepts are a lot more difficult to implement here, because if the national government was reduced to a skeleton, there's not enough meat at a lower level to fall back on.


jesterzog Fight the light


Libertarianism (none / 0) (#38)
by skim123 on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 07:57:51 PM EST

I would say that I am more libertarian than any other party, and if people ask what party I affiliate myself with most, I say libertarian. However, I don't like the concept of belonging to a party, always voting along party lines, etc.

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


[ Parent ]
It would be a disaster (2.75 / 4) (#27)
by mami on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 02:23:59 AM EST

How can the military defend a Nation state like the whole United States of America, if each little City territory could decide upon its own human rights, foreign policies, social welfare system, health care system, trade policies, legal system, school policies etc. ? Aren't you already struggling with a too diverse political landscape based on geography and ethnicity ? You want more of that ? It would weaken the U.S. to a heap of Banana Republic City states, an unmanagable mess.

U.S.'s diversity is always praised and seen as an advantage. It could be, if the population were able to deal with it. It seems to me that your last sentence reveals quite nicely, that it is not that easy to handle the "controversial ideas and elements" and you therefore wished you could retreat to the idea of legalized segregation on the basis of the "Love it or leave it" philosophy, all that along political, religious, ethnic and cultural lines.

It may be the tendancy of our human nature to self-segregate, but I don't think that this tendency should be nurtured through a constitutional, legal and political system, which encourages it.

It's interesting that thoughts like yours seem to blossom in the age of the Internet and trade globalization. Does that mean that in the end all of that instant, global conversation on the WWW will lead us back to the Middle Ages, where local City States fought each other defending their respective sovereignty. I don't believe that those times were a "tax paradise", BTW.

Don't you just use the tax issue as a fig leaf to hide some other issues that bother you ?








Slight Problem (3.33 / 3) (#28)
by Jebediah on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 03:09:53 AM EST

I am modding this story up just because I like the idea of people seeing other political views (be they right or wrong) and the discussion could be interesting. However, I see a problem with your thinking. What is to stop all the Bill Gate$, Ted Turners, and other rich folk of the US moving to the same city? They would pretty much control it, decide to give no money to anybody else and probably wreck this whole idea very quickly. Never underestimate the power of greed.

No. Just no. (4.22 / 9) (#29)
by pasti on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 04:30:13 AM EST

Note that I'm not American, so I may not be in a position to talk about this. Frankly, I should rejoice if the States went down the tubes (that'd be splendid for our economy; we have little export but lots of import to/from the States). However, the social being in me would be very sad if I saw my American friends suffer from stupidity.

First off, I'd like to refute the author's argument that taxation would equal robbery. That is dead wrong. Let me explain why.

  • If somebody robs you (with a gun or something), you won't have a say in how the robbed money will be used. That is not the case with taxes. The last time I checked the States was a democratic society (as opposed to dictatorship / communism / monarchy / anarchy).
  • Again, if somebody robs you, you don't have a say in how much money the robber will take. Again, that isn't the case with taxes.
  • If someone robs you and you resist, you probably end up hurt or dead. That isn't the case with taxes. Granted, you may be forced to spend time behind the bars, but if you refused to pay the taxes for a reason, it might be viewed as civil disobedience and you might become a public hero of the people, a freedom fighter.

The reason one must pay taxes is that some people are stupid enough not to see that it's actually for their own benefit. Society is power. If it were not, we wouldn't have one.

Secondly, this notion that "if you don't like it, move somewhere else" is ridiculous. It's running away. It's not caring about the society and the people in it. That leads to a society with a rich region and a poor region. It's inevitable: the people who don't need the support of the society (the rich) move to a region with low taxing. The people who do need it, move to a region with good social security (and thus high taxes).

The taxes in the poor region have to increase to supply the increasing demand and thus more and more workers leave the area. On the other hand, the area of the rich can drop the taxes, because the people in there have high income so even a smaller portion of that will do. And they don't have to pay for social security.

The authors comment about banning racism is irrelevant. The area of the rich can select who can and who can't come to the region by setting high prices for land and property.

Now you have created a society with the poor and the rich in separate places. It'd be much more convenient to just put a border in between and enforce it with armed security. Let the poor tackle their problems, they are none of our business.</P

This dynamics is well known and can be observed (in small scale) even here in Finland. The area of Kauniainen (near Helsinki) is known of low taxes and high living standards. Many of the cities in northern and/or eastern Finland suffer from the fact that the rich and the educated move south.

Thirdly, I'd like to point out that the ancient Greece was a completely different kind of a society. There were slaves. I don't say that this model would automatically lead into slavery or that slavery would be a prerequisite, but that the historical, social and ethical environment in Greece was way different from the world of today.

One could argue that machines have taken over the role of slaves. While that may or may not be correct, slavery isn't the only thing that has changed over time.

The huge investments required in today's society are well beyond the capabilities or resources of any single city or commonwealth. Cooperation is a requirement. The author mentions defending the nation as one. Well, it's a start. Add legislation, foreign policy, domestic policy (eg. police) maybe a few others and well, you are right back where you started. Add education and health care and you're somewhere around the system I live in.

That'd be Finland. Granted, we pay a lot more in taxes than you do: I assume that 20-40% you mention is your income tax. My income tax is 40% and it's in the low end of the scale. 80% of the price of gasoline is taxes, 50% of new cars. We have a VAT of 22% for most goods. On the other hand, we get a much better society in return (both IMO and according to several key figures), so we don't bitch and moan (well, that much).



anarchism = democracy (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by ooch on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 01:11:40 PM EST

If somebody robs you (with a gun or something), you won't have a say in how the robbed money will be used. That is not the case with taxes. The last time I checked the States was a democratic society (as opposed to dictatorship / communism / monarchy / anarchy).

I would just like to point out that anarchy does not belong in that list, and neither does real communism(not that state-capitalism they called communism in the USSR).

Read the the anarchism FAQ for some info on anarchism. It is based on REAL democracy, that is direct democracy. It is based on the belief that everyone should have total control over their lives, so they should be have a say in decisions which effect them, that includes spending of taxes.

I agree with your expectation on what would happen in the society the author envisioned.

[ Parent ]

Yes. Just yes! (4.00 / 6) (#37)
by daystar on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 06:17:26 PM EST

If somebody robs you (with a gun or something), you won't have a say in how the robbed money will be used. That is not the case with taxes. The last time I checked the States was a democratic society (as opposed to dictatorship / communism / monarchy / anarchy). Again, if somebody robs you, you don't have a say in how much money the robber will take. Again, that isn't the case with taxes.
Okay, I choose the amount taken from me to be zero. I choose the option where the money I make is used to support me and my family.
If someone robs you and you resist, you probably end up hurt or dead. That isn't the case with taxes. Granted, you may be forced to spend time behind the bars, but if you refused to pay the taxes for a reason, it might be viewed as civil disobedience and you might become a public hero of the people, a freedom fighter.
I don't WANNA be a freedom fighter, I just want to keep what I earn. The idea that I should be grateful for being imprisoned because "a REAL robber would just kill you" still assumes that I OWE anyone my money.
The reason one must pay taxes is that some people are stupid enough not to see that it's actually for their own benefit. Society is power. If it were not, we wouldn't have one.
Gang membership is power. That doesn't mean it's a good thing.

I may or may not be smart enough to know how my money should be disposed of. But do you really think that someone else is going to have a better idea of what is going to benefit me? Should I ask someone else to tell me when I'm hungry? I contend that the further someone gets from my situation, the less they understand of it.

Secondly, this notion that "if you don't like it, move somewhere else" is ridiculous. It's running away. It's not caring about the society and the people in it. That leads to a society with a rich region and a poor region. It's inevitable: the people who don't need the support of the society (the rich) move to a region with low taxing. The people who do need it, move to a region with good social security (and thus high taxes).
So you argue that it is wrong to leave an area with policies that you find repugnant? Would you advise jews to stay in nazi germany because to leave would be "ridiculous"?

Enough with the quoting.

A number of people have brought up this point that "if different areas can set their own taxation levels, then the rich and poor will separate". I think your cause and effect may be confused here, but I can't prove that. The thing is, You are mostly arguing that "if rich people can avoid taxes, then they will. This freedom to avoid must be crushed." That seems a little mean to be, but I'm just an american.

I think that it's important to recognize that taxation is far more damaging to the poor than it is to the rich. Oh, sure, it irritates the rich, but it has a severe impact on the poor. It presents a barrier to advancement that they often cannot overcome. That, combined with the negative incentive to "stay poor" that is offered by social safety-net programs do nothing to help them in any long-term sense. If you really believe that poverty can be eliminated by putting more middle-men in between people and their money, well, that's just silly. Like reducing friction by adding more surfaces.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

not dealing with complexity doesnt make it go away (4.00 / 6) (#40)
by eLuddite on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 09:39:09 PM EST

You make a decent arguement for a more equitable distribution of wealth and debt, not for no taxation.

And, in fact, taxation is your debt for living in a society that leverages advantages your neighbors hold over yourself, redirecting them to your benefit. Removing taxation removes that debt. Removing that debt removes all privileges you enjoy. Removing those privileges makes you a simple savage.

It is no surprise that America's favorite foreigner is Rousseau, he of the Noble Savage fame, but the natural history of societies is to evolve away from a state of nature, not towards it.

Enough with the quoting.

Enough with naive, ill thought out assumptions about property and government. In particular, in

I choose the amount taken from me to be zero.

you wouldnt have anything to take from if you didnt enjoy the benefit of a society in which to earn it in the first place. The value of your money is defined within the context of our society. It has no value anywhere else.

I don't WANNA be a freedom fighter, I just want to keep what I earn.

You arent a freedom fighter and you are keeping what you earn. You just happen to calculate "earn" after your own self serving fashion in imagination of considerably less complex societies that havent existed for centuries.

(None of this is an arguement against tax reform, by the way.)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Okay, let's rein this in... (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by daystar on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 10:23:33 PM EST

we're diverging from the topic.

I certainly do not have a problem with paying for the services that I use. I have a problem with the injection of force into what should be a civilized transaction. If the services that our society provides are valued by the people, then people should voluntarily fund them. If people do NOT want to fund various programs, who are you to tell them that they HAVE to?

You make a decent arguement for a more equitable distribution of wealth and debt, not for no taxation. And, in fact, taxation is your debt for living in a society that leverages advantages your neighbors hold over yourself, redirecting them to your benefit. Removing taxation removes that debt. Removing that debt removes all privileges you enjoy. Removing those privileges makes you a simple savage.
That's an arbitrary judgement on your part. "savages don't pay taxes". I counter with the (equally valid) "Savages take other people's property by force."

I do not think I'm making an argument FOR redistribution of anything. I consider that a bad investment. It's important to remember that economics has very little to do with money, and a lot to do with wealth. We all want greater wealth, while more money is not nessesarily beneficial (see italy...). Rich people are clearly capable of generating Wealth. Poor people are not. I see no reason to believe that removing incentive to create wealth will benefit anyone on a long-term scale.

You arent a freedom fighter and you are keeping what you earn. You just happen to calculate "earn" after your own self serving fashion in imagination of considerably less complex societies that havent existed for centuries.
I love it when people call me "self-serving". Like self-reliance is some kind of negative trait. Who do you think I'm obligated to serve? You? I think it was very "self-serving" for black americans to want slavery ended. I think you're "self-serving" because you use oxygen. I think I'm self-serving because it's the highest moral good.

btw, I love your sig.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

Re: Okay, let's rein this in... (3.66 / 3) (#42)
by eLuddite on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 11:20:03 PM EST

That's an arbitrary judgement on your part. "savages don't pay taxes". I counter with the (equally valid) "Savages take other people's property by force."

I am referring to savage as in without civilization, not as in brutal. Taxes support the following example of civilization:

Say you are a games programmer and that you make money selling games. I will not buy your games without electricity which I have by virtue of that damn built on the banks of that river which was diverted from it's source in a state far away from my own and whose cost is further subsidized by all the many people using it because their combined wealth and free time creates enough demand to make its distribution economically feasible.

In between "game overs" I sneak to the electric fridge for food which I havent had to hunt for which is just as well because if I did I'd probably die from poisoning as would 1 in tens of people instead of 1 in millions thanks to a food and drug administration staffed by scientists educated in schools at least partially funded by taxation.

Savages enjoy no benefit from any of those privileges (education, electricity, hi tech culture, etc.) A savage is merely someone who has rights without privileges. I think it's important to understand just how much "debt" you owe for your wealth. Wealth is a privilege given to you by society, not a right.

It's important to remember that economics has very little to do with money, and a lot to do with wealth.

Yes, money is a measure of wealth.

I see no reason to believe that removing incentive to create wealth will benefit anyone on a long-term scale.

Nor do I. Meanwhile, societies are the mechanism by which people are given incentive to become wealthy and societies are financed through taxation which in turn is open to reform. If you're arguing for tax reform and/or social programs with more bang for the buck, I'm with you. I thought you were arguing for no taxation at all. I dont think the latter is supportable.

I love it when people call me "self-serving". Like self-reliance is some kind of negative trait. Who do you think I'm obligated to serve? You?

Self-serving is not the same as self reliance. I dislike having to pull the old dictionary stunt but, you know, I try to use words that communicate what I mean. Ultimately, there is an arguement for taxation which you did not make and which I volunteered for balance.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

forgot to add something (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by eLuddite on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 11:47:09 PM EST

If people do NOT want to fund various programs, who are you to tell them that they HAVE to?

Law without force to back it up is counter productive. You elect representatives to pass laws and those representatives represent you to the best of their abilities, not your abilities. Democracy and law are a means of protection from people who do or do not want to do one thing or another contrary to society's best interests.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

law != social services (none / 0) (#45)
by daystar on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 12:22:05 AM EST

Democracy and law are a means of protection from people who do or do not want to do one thing or another contrary to society's best interests.
While I agree with this statement, I interpret "contrary to society's best interests" as "people who would harm the people around them", not "people who don't want the FDA".

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]
It doesnt matter. (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 01:04:08 AM EST

People routinely disagree on a variety of matters which are settled by the mechanisms they have agreed upon: law, elections. If enough people elect representation to rescind tax laws, you win. But be careful what you wish for.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Civilization != taxation... (none / 0) (#44)
by daystar on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 11:48:43 PM EST

None of the benefits that you list are nessesarily funded by taxes. I certainly respect society and the benefits that it provides, but I do not think that a government extracting funding by force from it's populace is the only way to get commerce. I deny that the FDA is nessesary for people to be able to eat food without dying. Certainly, there are benefits to be gained from publically funded ventures, but I see greater benefits possible with greater freedom.
If you're arguing for tax reform and/or social programs with more bang for the buck, I'm with you. I thought you were arguing for no taxation at all. I dont think the latter is supportable.
I AM arguing for no taxation. I do not accept the notion that "people can't have what they want unless they are forced to pay for it." Fund everything by subscription. Free people will provide for themselves.

Of course I know the difference between "self-reliant" and "self-serving", but I'm clinging to a literal definition of the latter. As such, I see no way for some one to be self-reliant without "serving" their "self".

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

minor correction (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 12:52:10 AM EST

I never claimed civilization is taxation. Civilization is funded by taxation.

None of the benefits that you list are nessesarily funded by taxes.

You would be surprised at the level of state funding necessary to build and to continue to support the infrastructure upon which private industry thrives. Have you done a proper accounting of the privileges you take for granted, from day one till today?

The balance would be negative if it werent for such interesting sideline ventures as incursions into South America, assorted wars and favorable treaties. But let us not go there. The original point is that you severely underestimate the reach and return on your tax dollar.

Fund everything by subscription.

You benefit from all social programs which "subscribe" to your total tax bill in various amounts. You dont have the wherewithal to personally (a) calculate and (b) distribute your tax debt between them all. Try to imagine how complex your tax form would be given that opportunity. Furthermore, if you fund only what you want, you may end up with a greater tax bill than when you when you let the state do the funding for you.

Instead, you are given a compromise: elect people who will represent your interests.

There simply isnt enough foresight in the common man to successfully run a society based on what would amount to charitable donation. You have to set up a system which will circumvent people's tendency to act selfishly or in ignorance. If you did not, the wealthy would fund societies where the poor construct debtor prisons. We've been down that path before.

Taxation has evolved everywhere in the same way for the same reasons.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

How do you know? (none / 0) (#49)
by daystar on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 01:26:03 AM EST

I'm not trolling here. If you really KNOW that private industry CAN'T build the infrastructure that it needs to survive, then I would like to see the evidence.

I agree that having individual citizens allocate the distribution for their own tax dollars would be hidiously complex. That's not what I want. I want privatization. I see no need for force to be used to build a society's infrastructure.

Taxation has evolved everywhere in the same way for the same reasons.
So did monarchy, until someone thought of a better idea.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]
my knowledge appeals to its existence (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:16:22 AM EST

If you really KNOW that private industry CAN'T build the infrastructure that it needs to survive, then I would like to see the evidence.

I cant be expected to audit an industry - especially back into time - in order to make this point. I can only ask you to imagine how many connections are (were) required and to understand that each of those connections has a figure next to it on someone else's ledger.

I gave you an example of the computer games industry. The infrastructure for that industry is mostly beyond its control. Electricity. The infrastructure for the utilities industry (assuming 100% private financing of rivers, damns, pylons, roads, engineers, etc - a wildly incorrect assumption) is in turn dependent upon a requirement for a sufficient number of relatively wealthy individuals disguised as customers. Electricity is a relative luxury, after all.

In order to breed a sufficient number of wealthy customers, you require a wealthy society. If you look at United Nations rankings according to quality of life, you will find (plus or minus the luxury of native resources) highly taxed nations at the top and poorly taxed nations at the bottom. The former contain many more wealthy individuals than the latter.

Ultimately, I would hope you come to the conclusion that a citizen is wealthy because he's been granted that privilege by society. I do not mean granted as in given permission, I mean granted as in made possible.

Industry requires nations. Nations require revenue. You want that revenue to take a form other than taxation. Fine. At this point I'm only trying to explain "that private industry CAN'T build the infrastructure that it needs to survive."

I do believe that taxation is the morally correct form for that revenue, though, as well as the only efficient and logistic possibility. I made that point as well as I could elsewhere on this thread.

I want privatization. I see no need for force to be used to build a society's infrastructure.

Privatization is fine for a gentlemen's club or the Society of Tasmanian Stamp Collectors but it just wont scale to a society with a myriad of often conflicting interests. We cant even get simple deregulation to work well in a majority of cases. It's not working very well for Californians interested in electricity, is it?

As for force, force is required so that I wont have to pay your share. Until such time as you rescind taxation, it's strictly necessary.

So did monarchy, until someone thought of a better idea.

Yes, representational government and taxation instead of serfdom, spoils and banditry. We are all the better because of it.

Your idea has already been tried and it continues to be used to this day. Medical research wasnt always funded by the government through taxation. It is today because not enough people made private donations. Raising life expectancy raises the number of people who will buy computer games. Funny how that works out, no?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

infrastructure does not require government. (none / 0) (#60)
by daystar on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 12:46:13 PM EST

Now, since our utilities ARE privately owned, I don't see how you can say that they can't exist. I grant you that a lot of infrastructure work is done by government, but even the money for that work comes from private industry (through taxation), so they clearly are capable of funding it. Did government build the electrical infrastructure that covers the united states? No. Did they build the train system? No, but they did take over it and screw it up pretty badly. They did build the roads, but a private company doing the same thign would do a MUCH better job, with less corruption to boot.

Let me understand your position: Private industry is incapable of building the infrastructure that it needs, even though it has the money to do it, so government must extract the money by force, and pay private companies to build the industry that they cannot create. This is (somehow) more efficient than allowing them to build what they need, when they need it.

Right?

In order to breed a sufficient number of wealthy customers, you require a wealthy society. If you look at United Nations rankings according to quality of life, you will find (plus or minus the luxury of native resources) highly taxed nations at the top and poorly taxed nations at the bottom. The former contain many more wealthy individuals than the latter.
Well, I haven't found these studies. I'll keep looking. Still, the idea that a strong consumer society can be built through taxation is a little odd.
Privatization is fine for a gentlemen's club or the Society of Tasmanian Stamp Collectors but it just wont scale to a society with a myriad of often conflicting interests. We cant even get simple deregulation to work well in a majority of cases. It's not working very well for Californians interested in electricity, is it?
Well, not when you deregulate wholesale prices, freeze retail prices and refuse to build new power plants, no. I wouldn't call that deregulation, though. I would call that a deliberate attempt to bankrupt private power companies to increase the power of government. Seems to be working, too.
Your idea has already been tried and it continues to be used to this day. Medical research wasnt always funded by the government through taxation. It is today because not enough people made private donations. Raising life expectancy raises the number of people who will buy computer games. Funny how that works out, no?
Hmm. Okay, so you're asserting that publically funded research is more effective than private? Seems like a tough one to back up. Compare Celera Genomics to the Human Genome Project, for example. While I grant you that the water is muddy (since so much public and private money is mixed in education), the vast majority of medical research is done by private industry. You aren't operating under the delusion that the FDA is a collective of hard-working researchers, are you? No, they are mostly bureaucrats, with some divisions that do quality/safety testing of things that private industry creates.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]
you have the shallowest understand of taxation (4.00 / 3) (#66)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 07:29:47 PM EST

Right?

No, wrong. Everywhere wrong.

Look, I dont care who carries out your social policies, I'm telling you that private funds will only fund social policies that favor those with the funds. It's a historical fact, it's the proper function of capitalism, it's the end of story. That's why we have taxation.

Private industry, on its own, is not a benevolent force. It does not and can not fulfill the role of taxation. Left to its own devices, it has, does and will abrogate your elemental rights, never mind the privileges you take for granted and appear unwilling to pay for.

It's a historical fact, it's the proper function of capitalism, it's the end of story. That's why we have taxation.

If you're unfamiliar with that story, I suggest you learn something of the social economic history of the industrial revolution. It's a perfect example of where your ideas are heading. Been there. Done that. Found it was necessary to raise all sorts of taxes to right wrongs.

You aren't operating under the delusion that the FDA is a collective of hard-working researchers, are you?

Did I say that? No, I did not. You're attempting to score points by begging questions that weren't asked. What I am telling you is that the government funds research that private industry did not, do not, and will not fund. And I am telling you that it is in the nature of research, as it is in the nature of all social policy, that you and private industry become ultimate beneficiaries of that research.

If private industry finances social policy, then you will have a social policy without depth or justice. This will be to your eventual economic detriment.

I'd rather be taxed than trust corporate America to act in my best interest. You dont think the Gov't knows what is best for you, everyone else knows the same thing of industry.

infrastructure does not require government

Patently false and alarmingly ignorant. Show me economic infrastructure without government. Private industry is one aspect of economic infrastructure.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Here's a question for you. (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 08:41:41 PM EST

Why on earth would private industry even want the responsibility and the cost that you wish to pawn off on them? As long as they can peddle their influence by financing campaigns, you will find them the unwillingest of partners.

In other words, your agents of social change are unwilling to do the work you propose. Are you going to, heavens forfend, FORCE them to do it? Of course not; you've made your position on force perfectly clear, already.

So, again, what is going to replace taxation?

I need to know why XYZ Corp. will build, staff, and operate a school in a neighbourhood that cant afford adequate food, shelter and medical attention for its children. I dont mean a school for riverters, I mean a school for painters and philosophers. A school for autistic children. An institute of choreography. And I want this school some time before my children's children's children die of stupidity. Are they going to pay for their education in green stamps? What green stamps?

I am XYZ Corp. and I am telling you, the people, aka the governement, that you should print green stamps, that you should build schools in underprivileged neighborhoods, that you should finance work programs so that they find work and earn the money to pay for my Acme Firecrackers. I have a hard enough time making one red cent on the dollar.

You propose no taxes. You offer no alternatives, either.

Now we come full circle back to your original position. You shouldnt have to pay taxes and it is none of your concern who, what, when and how society is financed. You simply dont want to pay taxes. You have not agreed to pay taxes, damnit, and you cant see why you should have to pay them. You have no moral obligation to the society you live in.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Fascinating... (none / 0) (#70)
by daystar on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:15:20 AM EST

.. I love your belief that private schools that teach the arts can not exist. But your idea that public schools teach the arts to poor kids is even better.

I'm not going to argue about the relative kindness of corporations, because you and I will never agree. The undeniable fact remains that ALL of the money that corporation has, it gets from voluntary contributions by free citizens. While the funding for government is nowhere near so kind.

Whatever. Believe what you want. Private industry is not capable of doing things that they clearly do. Society functions more smoothly and kindly if money is extracted from people by force. People who can not make long term decisions should be free to rule themselves. Pick a delusion and go with it. My simple reason cannot stand before the onslaught of your wild assertions.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

common sense is fascinating, is it? (none / 0) (#71)
by eLuddite on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 01:45:39 AM EST

.. I love your belief that private schools that teach the arts can not exist.

Where did I say that? I made no arguement for can. I'm sure they can. They just happen not to. Private schools charge money. Poor people have NO money for painting lessons. Therefore poor people aren't taught to paint in private schools. Do you have evidence for ONE benevolent private school that teaches poor kids to paint at no cost other than a tax write off? No. And yet you expect me to consider this as social policy? As in the policy of a society with a requirement for MANY schools.

But your idea that public schools teach the arts to poor kids is even better.

Not only is it better, it's supported by fact. Fact as in existence. Today. In every country and city of the world.

Believe what you want. Private industry is not capable of doing things that they clearly do. Society functions more smoothly and kindly if money is extracted from people by force.

I believe my senses, I believe the senses of those who came before me and wrote of their experience. I do not believe in your touchy feely faith in the articles of industry; I actually know the difference between economic and social theory.

I'm private industry. Make me do something for poor people. Make me fund a mathematician. A playwright. Some idiot with a dream of going to the moon. I have zero intention of doing any of this. I flat out refuse to do so. When you figure out a way of making me do it, you'll begin to understand taxation.

Pick a delusion and go with it. My simple reason cannot stand before the onslaught of your wild assertions.

I am so sorry to have wasted your time.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Ask the company that is doing it... (none / 0) (#115)
by dragondm on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 07:26:30 PM EST

I need to know why XYZ Corp. will build, staff, and operate a school in a neighbourhood that cant afford adequate food, shelter and medical attention for its children...

Why don't you ask the Real XYZ Corp. that is actually running schools in poor neighborhoods? It's name is Edison Schools, Inc.

They've been doing quite a good job of it too, they've set up decent education in places where the public schools are basically juvenile prisons with textbooks.

Their only problem so far has been political. The Teachers unions and local public school boards view Edison as a threat to their political power and are doing everything they can to get Edison's licences revoked, despite the fact (or more likely, because of it) that parents VASTLY prefer the Edison schools to the public ones.

what you must realize is that high taxes hit the poor people the hardest. Poor folk may not have much economic influence, but they have absolutely no political influence at all. Thus the public schools in wealthy areas are servicable, and the ones in poor areas, abyssimal. Of course, the parents can still pull their kids out of public school, and homeschool, or try to scrape up enough cash for a private school, but, now, due to taxes they have to pay for their kids education twice, once for the public school they aren't using (as taxes) once for the alternative. This, of course, poor folk can ill afford. Thus taxes mean no alternatives. Private schools, on the other hand will compete for students. They will offer ways to help pay, like credit, and loans, and info on endowments, etc. It's in their interest to, so they get paid. Some schools may only go after wealthy families, but that will be a very competitive market, so smaller private schools would have an interest in finding creative ways for the less-served market (i.e. the not-rich crowd) become their customers.

[ Parent ]

Electricity in California (none / 0) (#90)
by ajf on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 10:36:53 AM EST

Well, not when you deregulate wholesale prices, freeze retail prices and refuse to build new power plants, no. I wouldn't call that deregulation, though. I would call that a deliberate attempt to bankrupt private power companies to increase the power of government. Seems to be working, too.

From what I've gathered (please correct me if I'm wrong), the same companies which are suffering today participated in the drafting of the laws which created the botched deregulation you're describing.

If they can't see that the market regime they're helping design will send them broke, surely this only reinforces the argument that private enterprise can't get infrastructure right!



"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 ]
Why "voluntary" gov't services don't wor (none / 0) (#51)
by apm on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:21:40 AM EST

I certainly do not have a problem with paying for the services that I use. I have a problem with the injection of force into what should be a civilized transaction. If the services that our society provides are valued by the people, then people should voluntarily fund them. If people do NOT want to fund various programs, who are you to tell them that they HAVE to?

This argument works fine as long as everyone has an effectively infinite supply of disposable income to spend on these services. But in reality, this scheme would lead to dirt roads to the low-income neighborhoods, clean water only for rich suburbia, and many other underfunded programs. There's nothing glamorous about voluntarily funding air traffic control if you can get it for free, for example. Why should I fund the police force if I can hire my own personal bodyguards instead?

There are some things that any civilized society should provide to all of its citizens in equal quantity, regardless of their wealth. These things include clean air and water, security from crime and fire, and a reasonable public infrastructure for transportation. Many of these things cost a significant amount of money. The most equitable way to provide these is through a tax that goes into a general fund to ensure their equal existence throughout the nation.

[ Parent ]

Forcing the poor to buy roads... (none / 0) (#59)
by daystar on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:59:08 AM EST

I contend that poor people would be better served by spending their own money on education, or anything else that will improve their lot. Paved roads are a luxury that people should not be forced to purchase.

I think that your point is that "people, if left to their own devices, are not smart enough to buy the things they need". So how do you justify any kind of democracy?

There are some things that any civilized society should provide to all of its citizens in equal quantity, regardless of their wealth. These things include clean air and water, security from crime and fire, and a reasonable public infrastructure for transportation. Many of these things cost a significant amount of money. The most equitable way to provide these is through a tax that goes into a general fund to ensure their equal existence throughout the nation.
I agree that people should be equally protected from crime. That is what government is for: Protecting people and their property from violence. I maintain that private enterprise does a better job of providing everything else.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]
Re: Forcing the poor to buy roads... (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by eLuddite on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 08:51:26 PM EST

I contend that poor people would be better served by spending their own money on education, or anything else that will improve their lot.

What money? They barely make enough to eke the barest of existences.

Paved roads are a luxury that people should not be forced to purchase.

How do you expect to maintain a position of economic superpower once paved roads become a luxury? Are you going to import more chinamen, hand them a shovel and indenture them into slavery? You'll never get your plane back if you pull that stunt again.

I think that your point is that "people, if left to their own devices, are not smart enough to buy the things they need".

They need food, shelter, clothing. They want roads, schools, medecine. They are lucky to get what they need. The only way they are going to get roads, schools, medecine is if there's a mechanism by which they can pool their wealth together and supplement it from elsewhere when it isnt enough. It isnt enough. Not now, not ever. Capitalism cannot overcome scarcity, by fscking definition. Covernment can. It does. It must.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

In the long run, we're all dead. (none / 0) (#89)
by ajf on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 10:24:25 AM EST

I see no reason to believe that removing incentive to create wealth will benefit anyone on a long-term scale.

People who have to worry about how they'll get their meals and pay the rent next week aren't worried about the long term.



"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 ]
Negative incentives (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by ajf on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 10:21:08 AM EST

I think that it's important to recognize that taxation is far more damaging to the poor than it is to the rich. Oh, sure, it irritates the rich, but it has a severe impact on the poor. It presents a barrier to advancement that they often cannot overcome. That, combined with the negative incentive to "stay poor" that is offered by social safety-net programs do nothing to help them in any long-term sense.

... whereas hunger and homelessness are actually positive influences which in the long run encourage the poor to better themselves.

I would argue that if a taxation system is regressive (its impact on the poor is more severe than on the rich), then it is a broken system and should be fixed, not abolished. I find disturbing the argument that welfare services should be abolished because they could be seen to encourage dependence on others, as though the lives of those who for some reason might temporarily rely on it to survive do not matter.

(I guess I'm an optimistic, sarcastic whingeing bastard.)



"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 ]
annoyance understood, logic not followed (4.91 / 12) (#32)
by iGrrrl on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 10:59:05 AM EST

Other people have addressed many arguments to this proposal quite cogently. There are only a few comments I'd like to add.

The article expresses sentiments I understand, though I disagree with the ultimate conclusion. I live in Massachusetts, and near as I can tell only Rhode Island compares for fraud and graft. We pay a state income tax here, and it galls me because I feel my money gets wasted. For one example: some state inspectors clock in at their jobs, then go clock in at another job (or nap, or drink) when they're supposed to be certifying elevators or whatever they're assigned to inspect. The Boston Globe did a big expose, and everyone shrugged. There are many other examples, but it's all like the scene in Casablance where the military governor is "shocked, shocked!" to find gambling going on, and then is handed his winnings. And we wonder why there is no money to repair aging bridges...

Federal taxes are a different issue for me. Compared with what I see in my state, the Feds seem a marvel of efficiency. Interstate highways. Common defense. Safety checks on pharmaceuticals. Government funded R&D.

Let me give you the following two examples of why I disagree with the proposals in the article:

A neighbor's behavior affects your state. Massachussetts is chock full of Liberals who have an interest in the pristine environment. New Hampshire's motto is "Live Free or Die", and has more Conservative leanings. If, in your scenario, NH enacted no environmental protection laws, it would affect Mass. regardless of its laws. Their air pollution would affect us, the way US air pollution caused acid rain in Canada. If you've ever lived next door to someone who dumped garbage in their yard, you know it doesn't matter how clean you keep your own. house; you'll have roaches.

Don't ignore economies of scale. Where I live, there is little county government. The towns are all cheek-by-jowl. My town is govered by town meeting, which is democracy at its finest, but the system also leads to parochialism. Services which could be better delivered over several towns must be duplicated within each town. Sharing seems to be almost out of the question because of the petty jealousies that arise over the need to control even the expense of a few hundred dollars. A county could provide waste management and animal control much more cheaply. Although this is a small and local example, the concept can apply more broadly.

Sure, the Federal government spends money on things I wish they didn't, but in general I think we have a pretty good deal -- not optimum, but not awful. In a few days I'll be writing a check for estate taxes equalling more money than I've made in my life. In all truth, it doesn't bother me at all. That amount of money will keep one entire laboratory of biomedical researchers working for another three years to understand and cure heart disease. My town, my state, would never be able to fund something like that.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

Poor city-states (4.33 / 3) (#39)
by eean on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 08:12:47 PM EST

You ignored one larger reasons why non-libertarians (labels can be misleading, but I think it would be accurate to say that your writing goes under libertarian) believe in having a government, which is to provide support for the poor. And considering the correspondance the geography has with poverity (inner cities, some whole states are on the whole poorer then others etc) breaking everyone up into city-states would led to some being very improvished and without the rest of the country to help they would be even more like a third world then it is already.

Also, people who don't like welfare and probably going to be the ones that need it. So I see this as simply further polarizing the wealth of the country.

Robery? Yes, perhaps. But I like to think that a good government will be more like Robin Hood then a common thief.

I think there are other good reasons to have smaller republics, as it makes it easier to influence your representative without much money. But after reading your artical, I have seen the flaw with that.

Robbing Hood (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by Pimp Ninja on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 08:10:05 AM EST

How, pray tell, is it any better to steal when it's from the rich?

Theft is theft no matter who it's from and how much they already have. Once you say "It's just fine to steal from this group," it's a small set of steps for that group to grow larger and larger, until it's a whole country worth of people.

Come to think of it...


-----

If we demand from them without offering in return, what are we but better-
dressed muggers holding up the creative at the point of a metaphorical gun?


[ Parent ]
This is a good idea (none / 0) (#62)
by weirdling on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:20:25 PM EST

Probelm is, it doesn't work. High taxes on rich simply means rich figure out how to hide income. Do you honestly think politicians of any stripe will end up taxing themselves more simply because they make more? The whole tax code is riddled with loopholes, several of which I plan to exploit FY 2001 in order to avoid paying as much in taxes.
So, as always, the largest tax burden is squarely on the middle class. This will never change. What can change, however, is how much we are willing to soak the middle class. The US government could be reduced to run on around $180-200 Billion, which would result in zero federal tax except excise and tarrif, which would allow the repeal of the income tax amendment and around $20,000 more in my wallet.
Anyway, here's the deal: Social Security is a waste. The best profile possible for retirement results in a 4.4% interest rate over the 40 years of average employment. The stock market has made 7.7% since inception. Medicare/Medicaid are unbelievable money-wasters. The care could be done much more efficiently in the civillian market, with the added bonus of getting what you want, not what the government gives you.
The idea of Robin Hood simply won't work. Getting something from nothing won't happen, no matter how much people want it. Right now, the system is sustained by fear in the minds of people who believe that without the government, they will not be able to get by, so are willing to put up with the fact that most of their money is wasted by that same government...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Um. Not True. (none / 0) (#64)
by eean on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:50:04 PM EST

If you look at who pays the most taxes it is the richer members. This is true whether you look at amount or percentage of wealth.

However, you do make a viable point and I didn't mean for people think that I was defending the US status quo. We need the public finacing of campaigns to insure that such loopholes are used.

Those social programs are important and we need a lot more of them. National Health Care and the like.

[ Parent ]
such loopholes are NOT used (none / 0) (#73)
by eean on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 08:18:44 AM EST

I meant to say "such loopholes are not used", of course.

[ Parent ]
I'd like to see some numbers (none / 0) (#79)
by weirdling on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 01:51:13 PM EST

Last I checked, the richest 1% in America account for only 5% of the taxes. Yes, richer people pay more taxes per capita, but there are a *lot* more middle class people, who pay the bulk of taxes, and, more specifically, almost all of medicaid, medicare, and Social Security, which fund your social programs.
Now, an easy away around this is to form an S-Corp, pay your self a negligable amount, but enough to keep the IRS happy, and then pay yourself the rest through dividends, which are subject to income tax but not FICA deductions, neatly cutting your actual tax load *in half*. Now, if your S-Corp can lose money for you without actually losing a lot of money (you do have to lose some acutal money), it turns out that by losing less money than you make by claiming that loss, you can use it as a tax shelter. On top of this, you can write off equipment purchases as long as they are defensible company use, and you can write of business trips, and a whole bunch of stuff.
The next thing is that the way the tax system is structured, people with high incomes are encouraged to spend a disproportionate amount on houses, cars, etc., because the tax system allows one to claim interest on a house mortgage, so the higher the interest payment, the better a tax shelter it is. Just owning a house that cost 50% more than my apartment rent would have saved me in the vicinity of $3000 last year, all told.
Now, as to closing these loopholes: won't happen. The American Liberal is eletist in the extreem and has no interest of letting you close loopholes they're *using*. They want to outlaw guns but they and their bodyguards own them. They want to enact sweeping healthcare, but they are specifically exempt. They increase taxes but they exempt themselves. They're going to leave those loopholes in because their money backing has to have them. That's how we got so convoluted a government.
Now, as for need of social programs, that sounds like a programmed response. I await an actual argument for such programs.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Agrument (none / 0) (#81)
by eean on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 05:19:15 PM EST

Yes, I believe these holes need to be plugged. Saying that plugging these holes will be so hard, so we need to get rid of income tax (that was the first point wasn't it?) does not make sense.

The agrument is for social programs is humanitarianism. It is an attempt to lessen poverity and human suffering in general. Thousands of people are without health care, and are sicker then those with insurance. Simply saying "Get a job" does not help when the people actually have jobs, but not money to get out of poverty.

I will search for some statistics. I heard that, on the debate of Forbe's 15% flat tax, that the rich pay about ~18% while the middle class pay 14%. I don't know how those numbers were made, so I will try to find some better numbers.

Also, I think you are misnaming (perhaps that is not the right word) "American Liberal." Don't worry, I do the same. I, on the far left, consider the Democratic National Commitee to be a bunch of coporate-whore conservatives. Perhaps calling them a bunch of corporate-whore moderates is more accurate, but with not quite the same punch.

So you, a libertarian, when you say "American Liberal" perhaps you mean Democrats and Republicans? I consider myself to be a Socialist (in the Finnish, Swedish school as opposed to the Soviet one) partly because the term Liberal has moved more to the center. Especially with the advent of the neo-liberal types like Cliton.

[ Parent ]
I understand now (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by weirdling on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 06:13:24 PM EST

Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland all have functional, effective socialist governments. They are marvels of efficiency and do very good things like keep the roads clean and keep the standard of living up. And they would never work in the US. The character of the people is different.
The American Liberal is not a socialist per se. The American Liberal by and large is convinced he knows better how people should live than they do. This is the same belief of the American Conservative, so you are right, I don't like either. Libertarians tend to be rather rabidly against the idea of government helping people, and to understand why, a demographic assessment of the US must be made.
Finland et al have very low actual unemployment/unemployable. The US has a high degree of these. For a corrolary, consider England and the 'cradle to the grave' welfare program that is currently bankrupting that country. The US has a large degree of social parasites that would rather not work and receive government money than work for it. If it were, indeed, a social contract whereby the working public contracts with the government for these services, which are as ably administrated as they are in Finland et al, I wouldn't have as much trouble with it, but here in the US, they are 'entitlements', which mean that unemployed receive them whether the unemployed wish to be employed or not.
It is possible my information on Finland et al is wrong; I only know a few Finns, Swedes, and Swiss, but they are all mystified by America's resistance to social welfare in the same way you are, and, after long arguments into the night, I discovered that, for their countries, the level of socialism they espouse works very well, despite the fact that it doesn't seem to work anywhere else, and the fact that it would never work in the US.
Note that in the US, government health-care and Social Security are significantly higher overhead than private care, while in many European countries, the reverse is true. Health insurance is relatively cheap here, if a deductible is put in place of $500, meaning that only catastrophic illness is covered. At that level, one could expect to pay between $20 and $50, depending on demographic, per month, which is quite a bit less than the financing for Medicaid/Medicare, and the care is a lot better. I know of older people using their Social Security money to purchase alternate health care because Medicaid/Medicare is so bad...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Here are the numbers (none / 0) (#82)
by eean on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 05:58:14 PM EST

Check out the PDF file from this archive (sorry if you don't use DOS; I sure that it would work in DOS emulation since all it does is expand some files). Granted, this is only income tax and does paint an incomplete picture, but you try to weed through all those IRS files (by the way, where did your numbers come from?).

Here is a notable quote:
For 1993, there were 993,326 individual income tax returns reporting AGI of $200,000 or more, and 1,043,213 with expanded income of $200,000 or more. These returns represented, respectively, 0.867 and 0.910 percent of all returns for 1993.
In other words, rich people do pay the great majority of taxes. Which is right because they, a small minority, benefit most from governmental services (considering the a lot of money ends of in the back pockets of governmental contractors, research that companies can mooch off of, loans etc.)

I'm not for raising taxes as in the percentage of income to tax, for example, but more closing the loopholes you cited (which would, of course, raise taxes).



[ Parent ]
Ok, don't know how reliable this is... (none / 0) (#84)
by weirdling on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 06:40:00 PM EST

It is, after all, from the Washington Post, but here is a link that shows that people above $200k pay 31.0% of taxes compared to 1.1% population. The problem, of course, is that this is all income, and a shrewd rich person would likely not have high income, which explains the dip: $100k - $200k, 3.4% of the population, pay just 16.5% of taxes. Note that the middle class pays 46.3% of taxes.
What this mostly does is disincentivize people. Essentially, I have no incentive to make more money because I will simply pay more taxes, so I will seek other forms of compensation that are less tax-heavy, which explains why my healthcare is vastly superior to medicaid/medicare. Essentially, my employer pays a significant amount of money (~$15-20k) in benefits that are available to me tax-free under the current system. Also explains my interest in an S-Corp and the concomittant depreciation/loss involved that can shelter taxes rather well. Real estate has benefits, too, as income from the real estate is partially offset by the benefits of getting a higher deduction due to interest payments resulting in lowered AGI, meaning that my overall tax bracket will be lower as well as a lower AGI means a lower tax bracket *and* lower taxable income, as well as allowing other tax dodges, for instance, if my AGI had been below $50k, I could have deducted education loan payments, and, in order to get that low, I have to buy a house that costs $20k/year to pay down, at which point the cumulative effect is to defray the cost such that I can actually save money.
But, I digress. This mess of a tax system will never be plugged because of the number of special interest groups that helped create it. Over history, America has used its tax code as a primary social engineering vehicle, with disastrous effects, as those who the tax code are targeted at for 'tax relief' often can't figure out how to navigate the labyrinth of paperwork involved, and those who are supposed to be paying more can afford to dodge taxes, and, indeed, are incentivized to do so, thus funding the tax-lawyer lobby that doesn't want to see the tax code change, as are the house construction groups, and the small-business associations, as well as anyone who is related to the stock market, making for powerful enemies of the common man, who are, likely as not, totally party-agnostice, voting and funding which ever politician will help them, which is why both Republicrats and Demmicans support the current tax system pretty much as it is with a few notable exceptions.
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Milking your S corp. (none / 0) (#109)
by Zukov on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 03:46:34 PM EST

If you do this for too long, I believe the IRS will say you are just engaging in a hobby, and will disallow you deductions.

I think you need to show a profit for 3 out of 5 years, but please do not take my word for it, get an accountant.

If you do your contracting thru an S corp, you can, as you point out, avoid self-employment tax. You can also protect yourself from some personal liability by doing your business thru a corporation.

Keep in mind that depending on what state you live in you will have to pay a (large) fee to the state to maintain your corporate status.

ȶ H (^

Yes, I have just bumbled upon Gnome Character Map. Please ! me.
[ Parent ]

Jailing for non-payment of taxes (4.00 / 2) (#52)
by vectro on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:43:54 AM EST

Actually, you are incorrect. If you don't file tax returns, or if you file them but don't pay, you won't go to jail.

Here in the US, non-payment of a debt, even a debt owed to the government, is not a criminal offense. Rather, the IRS will just come and take all your stuff. It's at that point that if you try to stop them men with guns will come and take you away.

Of course, even there, this is only likely to happen if you have a net worth large enough to worry about it. In theory, people who live on the edge of poverty and who don't expect to ever make it out, need not pay taxes - It's not worth it for the IRS to try and foreclose on what property they may have.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
Err (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 07:46:25 PM EST

Actually, you are incorrect. If you don't file tax returns, or if you file them but don't pay, you won't go to jail

Isn't this what Al Capone went to Alcatraz for? Or was it that he lied on his income tax forms? I dunno... I just read an article today titled: "10 San Diegans Indicted For Tax, Wire Fraud," which included sentences like: "Co-defendants Jay R. Bishop and Gene R. Cardenaz were each sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to surrender to authorities May 21." It didn't specify what, exactly, he did, so maybe he lied, embezzled, etc.

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


[ Parent ]
Tax Fraud != Nonpayment of Taxes (none / 0) (#110)
by vectro on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 04:24:56 PM EST

Tax fraud is when you lie on your tax return to make it look like you owe less tax that you really do. You can go to jail for that.

Nonpayment of taxes, on the other hand, is if you fail to file a tax return, or file but don't pay.

Of course, I suppose you could still consider it theft since when they come to take your stuff away if you try to stop them you could go to jail.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
So then... (none / 0) (#113)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 05:24:20 PM EST

Tax fraud is when you lie on your tax return to make it look like you owe less tax that you really do. You can go to jail for that. Nonpayment of taxes, on the other hand, is if you fail to file a tax return, or file but don't pay. Of course, I suppose you could still consider it theft since when they come to take your stuff away if you try to stop them you could go to jail

So why, then, did Al Capone even bother filing a tax return ever. It seems like if you know you are going to be making money illegally (and a lot of it), you're best off just not reporting anything, no?

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


[ Parent ]
Al Capone & Income Tax (none / 0) (#117)
by vectro on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 10:44:52 PM EST

Not filing a tax return really attracts the IRS' attention, probably moreso than filing a tax return without much income on it. If your return is boring enough they won't look at it too hard.

Of course, what attracts their attention more is if you put yourself as self-employed but run an operating loss for the year. That's likely to get you an audit.

I was talking about this with my dad (who is an attorney, although not a tax attorney), and he said that if you're a criminal with illegal income, the best thing to is have your lawyer file the taxes, and if the IRS asks where the money comes from, you can claim attorney-client privelage.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Interesting (none / 0) (#119)
by skim123 on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 12:26:14 PM EST

Learn something new every day, eh? Neat. I am self-employed and fearing an audit... I don't have anything to hide, I'm sure I'm more honest on the tax forms than 99% of the general population... but I made a lot more this year than last and I work for myself, so that may be audit-worthy... although I guess no point worrying about it until I get the letter.

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


[ Parent ]
A better question is... (4.00 / 3) (#53)
by Crashnbur on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:50:09 AM EST

Why the hell do I have to pay taxes to pay for things that I, as a part of society, will never enjoy? Why, if I am unable to enjoy some things, must I pay the same taxes as Joe Smith down the street or across the country? Just because I am a citizen? Is it part of my requirement for living in this country? Is it part of the unspoken, unsigned social contract that I am born into? Why am I subject to pay for that which I have nothing to do with or am often against?

Answer that in a manner that satisfied me and I'll be impressed.

crash.neotope.com


That's the idea behind tax brackets (5.00 / 2) (#54)
by blackwizard on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:37:16 AM EST

What you say is not entirely true. You don't have to pay the same taxes as everyone else, only the same taxes as those in the same income level as you. And that's not even entirely true -- you have to pay different taxes than people who live in other cities within your state, and other states. But I assume from your context that you mean federal taxes -- which are heavily bracketed. No form of discrimination like this is perfect, but it's better than nothing. At the very least, what you mention (equal taxes for all but not equal services for all) can be used as an argument for tax brackets. Perhaps a lame-brained case study would help illustrate the point...

The argument goes something like this: Joe Schmoe, who works at Taco Bell living paycheck to paycheck, should have to pay less taxes than the Bob Smith, CEO of MegaCorp International, because Joe doesn't use all the same services that Bob does.

Bob: Works 80 hours per week, often traveling by car and plane. Makes extensive use of the highway infrastructure, and the FAA, is involved in international trade, which another federal beuraucracy is set up to support, etc. Enjoys protections that the federal government has doled out to large corporations who have generously contributed to politicians' campaigns and organizations, such as the fact that the federal government will reimburse your corporation if some foreign government decides to take take over your corporation and turn it into a state-owned entity.

Joe: Let's say for the sake of argument that he can't afford a car and must bike to work. The roads that his taxes pay for are pretty much worthless to him, in fact the vast separation that the city/state imposes on him between residential and commercial zones is quite burdensome.

Clearly, Bob uses a lot more of the services his state and local governments provide for him, so (under the premise that the more services that the government sets up that you use or potentially use, the more taxes you should have to pay) it follows that Bob should have to pay more taxes.

There are certain things that (and this doesn't always happen fairly) people are taxed for that society believes that they owe everybody. (Philosophers sometimes refer to these as "positive rights") -- for example, school systems should in theory give everyone the same right to an education (this doesn't usually happen because funding for schools gets most often collected from properly taxes, which in turn stratifies school systems by leaving rich areas with huge houses with all the money for the schools, and poorer areas with nothing.) But I digress. We also, as a society, believe that we owe our citizens national defense, etc, which we distribute the cost for amongst everybody.

Anyway, I really am not sure just what in the hell the federal government is doing with my money. Perhaps you can point out some things that the government does with its money that you don't approve of. I'm too tired to do any real research right now.

That may not have answered your question, (there wasn't much substance to really answer there, only a basic ideal, which I pretty much agree with -- am I way off base here? are you talking about something completely different from income statification -- something that is not as easily measured -- i.e. not your potential to use a service, but your approval or disapproval of it? examples needed?) but it's something to think about, and something to take into consideration when arguments for a flat tax rate come up. Look up the writings of philosopher Thomas Hobbes if you're interested in "social contract" theory. There has been a lot of thinking done on that as well.

[ Parent ]
No, that's *not* the idea behind tax brackets. (4.00 / 4) (#65)
by Scott A. Wood on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 06:17:17 PM EST

Tax brackets are simply a way for those with deep pockets to be robbed of even more money than they would have been under a flat tax. Those with enough money to be in higher brackets can afford to pay for the services they use anyway; they gain nothing by having the government provide them, and often are worse off because the government is a monopoly on those services (unless you want to pay twice for the same thing, and even that isn't always an option). Joe, on the other hand, likely uses far more services than you describe. Does he collect welfare? Does he receive food stamps? Does he receive government-provided healthcare? And the roads are not useless, since he's likely riding his bike on them. You have a valid point about Joe being harmed by zoning restrictions, but that simply reinforces the point that the government is involved in things that it should not be.

As for things that society should provide to everyone, I agree that some such things exist. However, it is not for government to decide what these are; it should be decided by those who choose to give money to support these things. In the absence of taxes, I would gladly choose to pay a reasonable amount for things such as universal education, roads, etc, because it is in my best interest for such things to exist. However, the choice should be mine to make.

[ Parent ]

welfare, roads, and corporate interests (5.00 / 4) (#67)
by blackwizard on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 07:57:14 PM EST

Does he collect welfare?

Absolutely not. People on welfare typically cannot or choose not to have jobs, some because it is more beneficial for them to stay on welfare. (Which is in itself another problem, and illustrates just how low-paid some of our workers are.) Joe works at Taco Bell, remember?

Does he receive food stamps?

This is just welfare, no?

Does he receive government-provided healthcare?

You seem to be referring to welfare here as well. Aside from the fact that it's not easy to get this if you have any kind of a job at all, the U.S. government really does not provide much health care compared to other western countries -- which also may have something to do with the fact that in other places, unions are not as taboo as they are here in the U.S.

You just did something interesting, though. You have just condemned the welfare programs that we give to individual peope in need of the basics -- food, clothing, and shelter. You completely ignored the fact that we spend far more on corporate welfare than we do on individual welfare here in the U.S -- according to this page we spend 5 billon more on corporate welfare than we do on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), student aid, housing, food and nutrition, and all direct public assistance, excluding Social Security and medical care. And corporations are paying far fewer taxes than individuals are. (It seems that if you can make money in huge volumes, like Microsoft, who I'm sure you heard payed zero taxes last year, you can pretty much find ways to write everything off). Considering this, your argument that those who pay higher taxes gain nothing is not really valid. In fact, quite the opposite. (Of course, perhaps politicians would not be so inclined to do corporations huge favors like this if the corporations did not contribute so heavily to their campaigns.)

And the roads are not useless, since he's likely riding his bike on them.

The roads are not nearly as useful as they are for motor vehicles. I, for one, used to take my bike through many an unpaved shortcut as a kid. In fact, roads can be quite dangerous, even deadly to bicycles, because of the heavy car traffic on them.

Corporations, of course, are driven solely by the profit motive. They'll do anything they can to cut costs and get more money into the bank, along with the deep pockets of their executives. I, for one, would not like to see this kind of motive driving, say, the school system. I fear the day schools are trying to make the most money with the least work -- that's just not what schools are all about. I would trust the government, which is completely without a profit motive, much more than I would trust a monopoly or oligopoloy of corporations, whose sole reason for existance is to try to cheat me out of as much of my money as possible.

As you can see, this argument really goes a lot deeper than just taxes. I think we'd have a lot less of a problem if (large) corporations weren't though of in such a high regard as they are today. Corporations need to be put on a short leash -- when corporate charters were originally granted by the people, they were required to obey all laws, serve the common good, and cause no harm. (See this page for more detail).

Anyway, I think that if we had more of a government of the people, and not of the corporations and elites, then this would really not be an issue. You speak out about the big bad government that can't do anything right, but remember that the government is supposed to be a government of the people. We're supposed to have a say in it -- but we don't, and thus the problem. I would much rather have my fate in the hands of a good government -- of, by, and for the people, rather than some faceless corporation that answers to nothing but its shareholders and profits. You say that In the absence of taxes, I would gladly choose to pay a reasonable amount for things such as universal education, roads, etc, because it is in my best interest for such things to exist. However, the choice should be mine to make. Well, my friend, I bet a lot of corporate executives (and pro basketball players) don't see it the same way you do. Just ask Shaq what he thinks about national defense, welfare, or roads. I bet he's barely though about it. (I remember one interview where a pro basketball player was so out of touch that he thought that the average person made about a million per year. You'd trust people who are that far out of touch to voulentarily pay for roads, schools, and national defense?)

[ Parent ]

Debt, military and social security (none / 0) (#95)
by bored on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 07:39:25 PM EST

are the three things the federal government spends most of its money on (I cant find a link right now.) If I remember right the debt was the largest chunk consuming like 3/8 of the total. Being 25 this really pisses me off. I figure that 2/3 of the taxes i pay go to pay interest on money that should never have been spent, before I was born or before I could vote, and into a pool to pay for a hair brained scheme to provide retirement for a bunch of people who will kill the system. Ahhhhh!!!!! Its like some people thought this scheme up the day i was born to screw me. Lets spend so much money that it will take the next 50 generations of our children to pay it off! Oh, and what programs do they cut when congress decides to tighten the belt? They spend 95% of their time arguing over 1/5 of the budget that is remaining. Just think, we could triple the amount of money going to our schools, NASA, research programs, etc if we didn't have this damn debt (or we could cut the crap out of taxes!) Social security is a nice idea except it doesn't work when there a fluctuations in the population. Don't even get me started on that one though! The military well, I don't mind that spending nearly as much, the military is expensive. If we were just focused on 'national defense' like that section of the budget is called then it could probably be 1/10 as big as it is. On the other hand if we want to think of ourselves as the most powerful country in the world, and push our neighbors around, then a few thousand a year from my salary hardly seems unreasonable. Hmmmp.

[ Parent ]
life expectency and social security (none / 0) (#99)
by blackwizard on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 12:59:00 AM EST

Another thing about that is, when social security was first implemented, the age that you started to receive your social security benefits was the same as the average life expectancy! So the average person was actually dead before he or she even got the chance to receive benefits. If, instead of leaving this starting age constant, we instead raised it proportionally to the increase in life expectency, we wouldn't be facing the same problem, because these darned baby boomers would have to keep working, and not be draining the social secuirty pool so much. (Which, of course, might have other effects, i.e. less jobs for us young people) I'd venture to say that the only reason social security worked in the past was becaue most people did not recieve it; in fact instead of a social security deficit they had a surplus. (This is what I remember from U.S. history class, I don't have any links to back me up)

[ Parent ]
Welfare is a bribe .... (4.60 / 5) (#72)
by streetlawyer on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 06:37:50 AM EST

paid to those who would otherwise have no stake in the maintenance of civil society, to give them such a stake and to dissuade them from attempting to overthrow that society. It's the single most humane and effective technology for the suppression of revolts ever invented, and damn cost-effective too.

Your taxes are your contribution to the upkeep of a system of private property which has helped to create the single greatest improvement in living standards ever seen. If you have benefited more from this, then you pay more; you are an equity shareholder in the syndicate known as the USA. To ask "what do I get?" is like a fish denying the usefulness of water.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Some guy (can't remember his name) said... (4.66 / 6) (#76)
by error 404 on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 11:15:24 AM EST

something like

Got some cash?
OK, who's picture is on it?
Umm, no, the Ben Franklin one is a little complicated, let's try a different one.
Render unto, um, Alexander Hamilton...

I forget exactly where the argument went from there.

Anyway, money is an artefact of govornment. Without the Feds, all you've got is ugly greenish portraits of ugly dead guys.

Now, I'm aware that money is not neccessarily a govornment thing (there is a neat experiment involving a private currency called Madison Hours, last I heard it was doing well. Unfortunately, I don't live in Madison.) and there are some weird technicalities involving the Federal Reserve Bank not being directly part of the govornment. But let's face it, the reason why Beijing hasn't been a smoking crater for decades is that such a circumstance would reduce the value of a dollar.

Ever experienced hyperinflation? When a govornment fails to maintain a certain level of confidence (and I realize the confidence is fictional, but it still matters) your money becomes worthless.

A few years ago, Mexico (I'm a dual national - Mexico and US) experienced hyperinflation. For day to day stuff, it isn't that big a deal. Your income (in currency units) tends to go up at about the same rate as inflation. Your lunch still costs, say, an hour's pay. Last month that was 10 pesos and today that's 10,000. Big whoop. But you had 100,000 pesos in the bank last month, and it was a decent down payment on a house. Now it's lunch money for next week. (Why, no, I had all my money in US currency at the time.)

Maintaining a stabile economy is expensive. And it takes some counter-intuitive things, like welfare, to do it. Welfare isn't about giving money to the poor, it's about keeping the economy from tanking because the poor aren't spending any money because they don't have any. By the standards of modern industrial republics, U.S. taxes are low to moderate. Higher than I like, but considering the percentage of them currently going for debt service (that's "interest" to normal people) cutting them dramaticaly at this point would be expensive.

Now, if you keep your wealth in gold or something, you might say that you have something that the govornment is taking away. But US currency is wealth you hold, not wealth you own.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Re: Some guy... (none / 0) (#77)
by Wonko The Sane on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 01:42:41 PM EST

Maintaining a stabile economy is expensive. And it takes some counter-intuitive things, like welfare, to do it. Welfare isn't about giving money to the poor, it's about keeping the economy from tanking because the poor aren't spending any money because they don't have any.
Not true. Reduction of wellfare leads to reduction of taxes, which leads to the middle class having more money, which leads to the middle class spending more. The amount of spending does not directly depend on the distribution of wealth (Although some extreme distributions can indeed affect it)

This is an EX-PARROT!
[ Parent ]
Revenue sharing (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by un_eternal on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 02:40:32 PM EST

The point of there being a national tax system, besides the amount to keep the government itself funded is to provide services to the people. Suppose we followed your plan, a city would have for the most part only the money collected from it's local citizens to spend. The problem with this that areas with a lower/lower income population would have less money to spend on services they more than likely require more of than an area with a higher mean income. The tax system we have now works like Revenue sharing in sports. The areas that cannot support all the programs they need to fund on thier own are supported by the ones who can afford to support more than they need. I also believe that national groups such as the EPA less likely to be the victim of corruption. Than a small local agency. A larger agency also allows for the pooling of resources such as experts on the field, and case histories to base future plans on.







-Ahh...A nice legally binding electronic signature
And that's why I am against what we have now (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 07:40:59 PM EST

The tax system we have now works like Revenue sharing in sports

I am morally opposed to revenue sharing. I'll tell you what, I'm going to quit my job and you and me will share our revenues. Sound good?

... Live your life for no other man, and ask no other man to live his life for you.

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


[ Parent ]
"Forced to pay for the misfortune" (4.42 / 7) (#86)
by gbd on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 01:16:31 AM EST

Why should you be "forced" to pay for the misfortune of others? Because somebody has to.

Take, for example, a family man who works hard at a manual labor job to support his wife and two children. He makes barely enough to feed the family and provide a roof over their heads, so it goes without saying that he does not have a large amount of savings available. Let's say that the lumber mill he works at burns to the ground as a result of an accidental fire. What happens then?

In our current system, there are unemployment benefits available to at least ensure that the family is able to eat. In the ideal Libertarian solution, a sort of Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest is applied, and if a family has not saved any capital to provide for itself, then the only acceptable solution is that the family must die. This is objectionable for several obvious reasons, but it still amazes me that people propose exactly this scenario time and time again.

The fact of the matter is that in any decent, evolved, modern society, a safety net is required. Yes, I realize that this offends the sensibilites of the Libertarian crowd, but fact is fact. You might own a three-story house and a German SUV, but that is no reason no march poor families off to the slaughterhouse simply because it was economically unfeasible for them to put aside enought money to account for an unforseen tragedy. "Save up a bunch of money" is hardly a feasible suggestion for those who are struggling as it is.

Of course, any time you set up an entitlement program, you're going to have abuses. We're all familiar with the welfare families with big-screen TVs and the like. But the solution is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Libertarians like to claim that these abuses are excuses to do away with entitlements altogether. Yet it seems to me that it is ridiculous to send thousands of innocent children to the proverbial gas chamber simply because some lazy asshole is abusing the system to get a free TV paid for by Joe Taxpayer. Call me silly, but it makes more sense to me to go after the offenders than it does the system as a whole.

Look .. maybe in some distant future, we'll be living in an ideal Libertarian world where poor people do not exist. However, for the moment, we must face up for the fact that we do not live in such a world. And so we've got to make due with the resources that are available, and I claim that starving off the underclass is not a reasonable way to deal with them. Empowering them is what we need to do, and if it means that we need to deal with a few abusers of the system, then so be it. That, to me, is far more acceptable than genocide against the underprivileged.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

So what happened when... (2.00 / 1) (#94)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 07:31:44 PM EST

Take, for example, a family man who works hard at a manual labor job to support his wife and two children. He makes barely enough to feed the family and provide a roof over their heads, so it goes without saying that he does not have a large amount of savings available. Let's say that the lumber mill he works at burns to the ground as a result of an accidental fire. What happens then?

Welfare and such practices of paying for the misfortune of others is very new to mankind's history. What happened in the thousands of years of civilization before we had such a notion where those who work hard have to pay for the misfortunes of others? Well, we had community. I grew up in both a suburb of a large city (elementary/middle school) and a small town (highschool, population 2,500, rural America). In the small town if your neighbor had lost his job, people would help out voluntarily. For example, a man who attended my parent's church had his mobile home burn down, and my parents let him and his family stay in our house for two weeks while he found new accomodations.

Now, would that happen in the cities? Does it happen in the cities today? Nah, not really. So would I move to a large city where that welfare reform is needed? Probably not, I'd opt for a smaller city-state where people were good to one another and so they didn't need to levy taxes to pay for the misfortunes of others. Right now if I still lived in that small town I did highschool in, I would use my own resources to help my neighbors if they needed it, but I would also have to pay for those misfortunes of those hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Urg. What right does anyone (the gov't included) have to tell me how my money should be spent? It's my money, I'll make that decision. If I want to help my neighbor, so be it. If I want to swim in my money, that's my decision. It's the robbery of my money to pay for things I might object to that irks me so.

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


[ Parent ]
Before such a notion? (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by ttfkam on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 12:58:02 PM EST

How old are you? Welfare has been around for a LONG time in this country (New Deal?). Can you honestly tell me that you remember a time before welfare came into its own?

Moving on, for those "thousands of years of civilization" prior to welfare, mortality rates were much higher, poverty was much worse, starvation was *common* all over the US (and the rest of the world), (legal and encouraged) slavery helped pay the bills, monarchies dominated the landscape, communication with people around the world was extremely difficult (note: the early Internet was federally funded - your tax dollars at work), vacations in far away lands was reserved only for the ultra-rich, and on and on.

Fire departments in the past were funny about checking to see if you paid your fire insurance (a carved stone at that corner of your home's foundation) BEFORE putting out the fire. Taxes are the reason that the fire departments don't sit idly by and let your home burn to the ground.

Now you're complaining that the federal government is taxing you at 30% instead of 15%. Now you can't afford that new car this year to replace the (three) year old clunker. If you listen closely, you can hear my heart strings being plucked.


If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
They Died ... That's What Happened (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by katekat on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 03:38:40 PM EST

Dear skim123, when you ask what how community functioned outside of governmental control, and when you take the example referenced above and ask this question: Welfare and such practices of paying for the misfortune of others is very new to mankind's history. What happened in the thousands of years of civilization before we had such a notion where those who work hard have to pay for the misfortunes of others? My answer to you is that, in many cases, people died. Communities abandoned people because of different religious beliefs, difference in race and class standing. Most of those feudal communities that didn't have social programs cast out or persecuted those that lost their jobs and were unable to pay off their debts. At least when we have non-discriminatory programs in our government, everyone benefits from the programs without bias. I do not agree with everything that our government spends money on either. But, we do have the unique opportunity to change something that we don't like. We, as a voting citizens of this country, have the opportunity to actually participate in the decision making process. And if you don't think that your vote counts because it's lost in the multitude, you also have the right to create a grass roots campaign and actually gather votes. It is possible to transform our government. We all take on the responsibility of creating our government by being citizens here. Please do not respond saying that you were born here and have no choice but to bow to the governmental controls placed on you. If you are that unhappy with the construction of our nation and the way it pays for its construction, move to another country whose policies you agree with more. Although, most 1st world countries (sorry - I hate that phrase but it's succinct) will tax your pay far more than the United States does to maintain their governmental programs. Instead of talking about how much you hate to pay taxes every year that go to governmental programs you don't support, why not change the laws so that your money goes exactly where you want it to?
Life is a fatal complaint, and an eminently contagious one. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
[ Parent ]
This idea would never work. (4.00 / 2) (#91)
by Office Girl the Magnificent on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 07:44:22 PM EST

Why? Because you nobody would ever settle in one place. One could never find a community where all the policies were perfectly in line with one's morals. Thus people would move from city to city, never finding one where all their money really goes only to the things they believe in, and the whole system would fall apart. It would be so unstable that no city would be able to make contraversial policy for fear of alienating its denizens, and we'd be left with a nation of middle-of-the-road city-states with few, if any, outstanding principles. And that would be an awful like what we've got now.

In spite of the fact that this idea would never, ever work, it was well-conceived. I wish it worked. But it's got a lot of good thought behind it, and I give it a +1 FP. It's got a good beat, and I can dance to it. :P


"If you stay, Infinite might try to kill you. If you leave, the FBI definitely will. And if you keep yelling, I might do it myself."

I think it might "work" (5.00 / 1) (#104)
by drabk on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 01:25:59 PM EST

It would be so unstable that no city would be able to make contraversial policy for fear of alienating its denizens, and we'd be left with a nation of middle-of-the-road city-states with few, if any, outstanding principles.

Or people would get fed up with every city, and create their own. Then we'd end up with tiny city-states, established on major routes, terrorizing travelers for not paying the fare for passing through. And there would be KKK city-states that would terrorize black people. These kinds couldn't be stopped, because once the federal government gave power to the city-states, that would be it. They wouldn't be able to regulate what city does what, nor prevent, say, an anti-gay city from existing. It would be one step above from total anarchy, which I think is pretty terrible.

[ Parent ]
What is their to debate? (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by onyxruby on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 07:59:54 PM EST

It cant be robbery when 16th amendment of the constitution gives the Federal Government the right to do so.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Good information for those who want to learn about this subject can be found at Militia-watchdog.org. Those who don't feel like paying their share of taxes might want to check out this page for information before they land in prison.

Government requires taxes to run, like it or not, it's just a question of how the taxes are levied. A lack of taxes means a lack of Government and that means Anarchy. Anarchy means total freedom to those that can force such freedom by force. As for why do we pay more taxes to the Federal goverment than the State goverment? Simple, the Federal Government provides services that the State Governments cannot afford to.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

I hope you are being sarcastic (2.50 / 2) (#93)
by skim123 on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 07:25:11 PM EST

It cant be robbery when 16th amendment of the constitution gives the Federal Government the right to do so

Just like the Consitution said blacks count as 3/5ths of a person when doing the census. Does that mean that blacks are worth 60% of what white's are worth? After all, it is in the Constitution.

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


[ Parent ]
Your absolutely correct (2.00 / 1) (#98)
by onyxruby on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 08:26:45 PM EST

You are absolutely correct. I agree with you 100%. Luckily for us the government has corrected this for us. Wonderful thing about the constitution is that it allows us to correct those amendments that the public firmly believes are wrong at a later date. You don't have to convince me that your right, all you have to do is meet the following criteria.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof

Of note, I did title my comment poorly, certainly there is room for discussion, but unless you can change the 16th amendment, it's just blowing smoke.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

Scale (4.00 / 1) (#100)
by Scrymarch on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 03:39:18 AM EST

SIR,

You are uncomfortable with the geographic and economic scale of modern government. I am reminded of a recent conversation I had with a friend who is uncomfortable with the scale of modern trade.

He had recently visited New Zealand, and on a visit to the grocery store he was deeply shocked by their bananas. They were from South America, possibly Brazil, the memory is fading. With nationalistic pique he stated that Australia had excellent bananas in much closer proximity. I had trouble caring. If Brazilian banana farmers make better or cheaper bananas, best of luck to them, and may they grow rich from the trifling difference between the NZ dollar and the real.

Now, the situation is a little more complicated, because government transport subsidies for roads &c make it artificially easy to shift cargo around and burn hydrocarbons. Once that is taken into account it might merely be economic for New Zealand to buy its bananas from Malaysia.

My friend continued. He expected a major social backlash in the coming century against trade, or at any rate, agricultural trade. Bananas seem like an odd thing to be worked up about, but it's not uncommon. It's most exactly what those protesters in Seattle were complaining about - the World Trade Organisation. They dislike the scale of modern trade. It doesn't fit well into their head, and they would rather end it than let both sides reap its profits.

You, and I suspect more than a few other libertarians, are uncomfortable with the scale of modern government, despite the benefits it provides - state schools, hospitals, aircraft carriers, and the like. I would suggest that some of this comes from an unhealthy obsession with percentages - a better way to judge your economic freedom would be the amount of money in your pocket. Since you're from the US, when you count it, you should find it's been increasing.

WTO (3.66 / 3) (#101)
by ttfkam on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 12:41:33 PM EST

It's most exactly what those protesters in Seattle were complaining about - the World Trade Organisation. They dislike the scale of modern trade. It doesn't fit well into their head, and they would rather end it than let both sides reap its profits.

Yup. To quote a character on "The West Wing," "Free trade prevents wars." OK, I know I should be flogged for quoting a TV show to make a point. I thought it was a clear and succinct statement. When you take away people's ability to live comfortably whether they "deserve" to or not, you many times end up with angry people. Does this mean that we must cater to every person on the planet so that we may appease them into not being mean? Of course not. But remember that a good portion of the US lives below the poverty line and over two percent of Americans are in prison.

"Hmm... I suppose a large underclass of desperate, angry people who can't find work and have nowhere to turn... could be a cause for concern... Aw, screw 'em! I want a tax cut!"
- Tom Tomorrow


If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
What I find uncomfortable... (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by skim123 on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 05:15:09 PM EST

You, and I suspect more than a few other libertarians, are uncomfortable with the scale of modern government, despite the benefits it provides - state schools, hospitals, aircraft carriers, and the like. I would suggest that some of this comes from an unhealthy obsession with percentages - a better way to judge your economic freedom would be the amount of money in your pocket. Since you're from the US, when you count it, you should find it's been increasing

I have no qualms in paying for something that I receive and that I want. If I want a car, I do not bemoan the fact that I have to exchange money in order to get it. I have problems with paying for things that I do not want. Also, when paying for things I want, it irks me that I pay more than others and receive no more of the benefits. If I pay twice as many taxes as you do, shouldn't I be obliged to enjoy twice the number of benefits? That is, shouldn't I be able to attend public school twice as long? Shouldn't I be able to drive on the interstate freeways twice as often as you? Makes sense to me.

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


[ Parent ]
Income tax rate (none / 0) (#124)
by Scrymarch on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 04:50:59 AM EST

If I pay twice as many taxes as you do, shouldn't I be obliged to enjoy twice the number of benefits?

This is an attractive argument, but don't you think it overstates the importance of income tax. It's a big earner for the government, but that income is taxed rather than another part of the economy is surely a matter of efficiency and political convenience.

The income tax rate could be reduced to 1%, and the business tax rate bumped up to whatever level accounts for the difference. Your income would decrease semi-proportionally. Income tax is a tax on employment anyway, right? Government applies taxation - forces part of the production in the economy to be spent a particular way - regardless. Income taxes just look like rather a blunt instrument for measuring how much government impinges on individuals.

I would assert that the only real income you earn is what ends up in your pocket - the rest of it is only yours by virtue of being part of a larger society. I lack the time and the detail of the argument at this stage, however.

[ Parent ]

Is the 16th Amendment... (2.00 / 1) (#106)
by cr0sh on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 02:43:55 PM EST

...legal?

Try looking up on Google whether it is or not. Everything I have read and heard points to either it was illegally "passed", or was passed as a temporary measure that was to be immediately repealed (after WWI?)...

What is the truth?

You look into this, and on such topics as "Sovereign Citizenship", "Right to Travel" and a variety of other topics, and you begin to wonder whether ALL of these people are simply kooks - are have the rest of us been stripped of our honest rights?

Furthermore, view all of this as a background against the current struggles of Korporate Amerika against the internet, what with everything involving MP3s, DVDs, the RIAA, the MPAA, patents, 2600, licensing, copyright, the internet, and a bazillion other things, and you have to ask yourself:

"Might these people be right?"

I've never seen any evidence of that (none / 0) (#107)
by aphrael on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 03:30:50 PM EST

which is remotely convincing.

[ Parent ]
Articles of the Confederation (none / 0) (#116)
by poochers on Fri Apr 13, 2001 at 07:41:42 PM EST

The articles of the confederation were created and failed after being in effect for 10 years after american independence.br>
The reason they lasted 10 years only was BECAUSE of the fact that the federal government was not given the power to tax its states. It could only suggest that it needed money, and states could agree to or not agree to fund a project. In theory this works, but can be seen, the reality is that greed will supercede neccesity in some cases. The government could not support itself, and thus it was in a horrible situation.

Also, what would the power of the city-states and the federal government be limited? The author makes no attempt to explain how the minting of money could work if each state regulated its own economy for the most part. Also, with such a weak federal government, states would begin to override the power of that federal government to control such things as interstate commerce, and soon the UNITED states of america would be disunited and weaker.

Money speaks; every aspect of our government depends on money. A strong military is very dependant on government money. Until recently, 30% of the federal government spendings went to the armed forces. 30% of our taxes. State-controlled taxes would remove the power of a federal militia, which is one of the things that our founding fathers greatly feared when they took this power from the states.

The author creates the image of an almost cartoon fantasy world with separate biospheres of people with the same interests sharing the same turf. America was created in order to prevent this. While in reality the USA is anything but homogeneous, the suggested shift in government would stray from the defining characteristic of america. If you want evidence of such freedom of rule in history, just look at the scopes monkey trial. If you want to see how a conflict of interest between small groups can tear people apart, just look over to the balkans.

Actually... (none / 0) (#118)
by slakhead on Sat Apr 14, 2001 at 12:06:14 AM EST

I believe they are due on April 16th this year as April 15th is a Sunday. But that isn't too important. Just thought I would point it out so everyone feels happy to know they have one more day to fret.

Death and Taxes | 124 comments (114 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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