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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14747/raising-taxes-is-not-reducing-government-spending/

Raising Taxes Is Not Reducing Government Spending

November 24, 2010 by

The fundamental question is, who is the owner of the funds paid in taxes? Is it the citizens, who have earned the funds and who turn them over under threat of being fined or imprisoned — or even killed — or is it the government? FULL ARTICLE by George Reisman

{ 133 comments }

Ray Rock November 24, 2010 at 10:41 am

This is similar to the government requesting a 5% increase in spending but only getting a 4% increase and calling it a spending cut, or when they increase spending this year less than they increased it last year and likewise referring to that as a reduction in spending.

iya November 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

Or I could rob a bank, but before leaving hand $1000 to the cashier and tell him how much profit they made, thanks to me.

Country Thinker November 24, 2010 at 11:16 am

Steven Moore and Richard Vedder has an excellent editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal titled “Higher Taxes Won’t Reduce the Deficit” in which they correctly portray the reduction of the so-called tax expenditures as tax increases. They also argue (as I did on my blog as well) that the elimination of “tax expenditures” should be “spent” on lower marginal tax rates and not on deficit reduction, which needs to be done exclusively with real spending cuts.

Martin OB November 24, 2010 at 11:53 am

This kind of confused reasoning is found so often in the left:

http://www.leftycartoons.com/the-24-types-of-libertarian/

Selectively Frugal: “The deficit is too high to afford anything for the poor, or the environment… but don’t let that stand in the way of my tax cut!”

El Tonno November 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm

You are just badly informed….

http://www.alternet.org/economy/148915/why_the_deficit_is_simply_not_an_economic_problem_now%2C_or_in_future_decades/

“We would also have an economic problem if we couldn’t afford to raise taxes to pay for what we, as citizens of a democracy, want the government to do — if the Right’s narrative that we’re “being taxed to death” had some basis in reality. But, again, it doesn’t. In 2008, we ranked 26th out of the 30 OECD countries in our overall tax burden — the share of our economy we fork over to the government — coming in almost 9 percentage points below the average of the group of wealthy nations, and, again, some 20 percentage points below highly taxed countries like Denmark.

One can’t call something that’s readily fixable a “serious” problem, and economically our “budget gaps” are readily fixable — we could raise revenues with the addition of, say, a Value Added Tax (probably the easiest way, politically), and we could do that as soon as the economy recovers or in 20 years from now.

Of course, raising taxes so they cover our government’s relatively modest spending is deeply unpopular with the electorate, which is, again, a political problem. And because that political reality is driven by the widespread but false belief that we have out-of-control government spending and are taxed to death, it is, again, a problem of an electorate with bad information.”

BioTube November 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

There’s nothing modest about a trillion-dollar-a-year budget.

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Any increased revenue to the government will simply be spent on vote-buying programs – happens time and time again…..why trust someone who got a bunch of idiots to vote for them with your money?

Mike S November 24, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I deeply detest the thought of the government forcefully taking a portion of my wealth, and then spending it on politically palpable things.

Oh wait.. I’m just misinformed.

Wildberry November 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I found this hilarious! If the shoe fits…!

It’s like watching Jon Stewart; I may not agree with much of his politics, but he is damn funny! That is why humor is such a powerful weapon. Maybe we should try that sometimes?

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Colbert is funny, but Jon Stewart comes off as a prick most of the time.

Jake_nonphixion November 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

+1.5

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm

What do the numbers mean? Do you like Colbert over Stewart, too? There are these great things called words…..:)

Jake_nonphixion November 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm

lol +2

Jake_nonphixion November 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

+1

RTB November 24, 2010 at 10:40 pm

-infinity

Tim Kern November 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm

My personal crusade is to call the news departments of television and radio, and to write the editors of newspapers every time I hear something that asks “How will we pay for tax cuts?”

Quite simply, tax cuts are not COSTS, unless, as George Reisman notes, the assumption is that the government already owns all wealth; that, in fact, we are already slaves.

pietro November 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm

The assumption apparently is that the governement, like a bandit, could take EVERYTHING away from his subjects ( not citizens!) and if/when it decides to leave “something” in the hands of the same subjects it is actually ” spending” something that was his.

I’m sorry but I have to admit that the future is a world dictatorship by a united front of politicians.

John November 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I can’t believe Mr. Reisman even had to write this article. What is this nation becoming? Are there really people that view my money and property as the government’s, and that I only have it to the extent the government allows it? It’s like we’re in the 12th century, still part of England and Obama is our king. Really? Where do these people come from? Is it so unreasonable to ask our government to manage its finances like we manage our family’s finances? How about this – put away the damn checkbook, cut actual spending, cut the size of government and cut people’s taxes. If it were up to me I’d cut actual spending 25% across the board, and cut taxes 10% across the board. I’d restrict federal spending to a certain % of GDP (not sure what %, but that can be worked out). I’d remove impediments to growth (allow drilling/refining, etc.) and watch the economy take off. What’s so hard? Idiots.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

John,

Our predicament is a result of democracy, the very thing we are exporting to the Middle East at gunpoint. And once people realize they can vote themselves goodies paid for by others, you’ll have an endless stream of slimy politicians promising to give them goodies. Taking away all the “free” stuff is like taking a rattle away from a baby. They’ll have a conniption fit. The solution: kick the can down the road by borrowing and inflating. Rinse and repeat.

Well now there is no one foolish enough or wealthy enough to lend to the borrowers and beggars. The gig is up, and all the financial games being played by the bankers cannot escape that reality.

Americans can either grow up, be honest, and default on our debt, or we can continue to pretend that everything will turn out okay. Either way, we’re in for a very painful correction. What’s happened in the last two years is just the prelude.

Got gold?

Franklin November 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm

“Are there really people that view my money and property as the government’s, and that I only have it to the extent the government allows it?”
Of course. And sadly, they outnumber the libertarian by about 100 to 1. I don’t look forward to the dinner table, Thanksgiving Day arguments, which perennially explode like a musket when my family convenes.
I’ve said this often before, as I’m sure others have in more sophisticated fashions. Taxation is justified by two fundamental precepts:
(1) Utilitarianism in service delivery;
(2) A guard against the free-rider problem.
No matter how we argue this, or how the leftist will rationalize this, they are justifications for enforced appropriation.
Item 1 is problematic because whether or not a service can be delivered more efficiently is beside the point, relative to the non-aggression principle; so arguing efficiency is a trap — it is an admission that the service, like it or not, is required in a “society.”
Item 2 requires a mechanism for opting-out, which is not often transparent.

For those who celebrate it, enjoy tomorrow’s holiday dinners, families and football.
For everyone else, enjoy tomorrow, nonetheless!

Jordan Viray November 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

It’s insane. I can understand the person who, failing to understand the important difference between private and public enterprise, hears about “underfunded” or “budget shortfalls” in some government program (especially in the areas of education or infrastructure) and thinks that taxes need to be raised.

Even though the idea that cutting taxes will make the deficit/debt worse is just a variation on that theme, that kind of thinking is particularly irritating. You hear that argument whenever there is some initiative to eliminate some source of tax as if it were the inalienable right of the government to constantly overspend.

Unfortunately there are so many individuals who believe this that any sensible fiscal plan like the one you have suggested is dismissed immediately. Just read some of the comments at Barry Ritzholtz’s popular economics blog here: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/11/the-scam-of-the-deficit-crisis/

Just as a sidenote, I do like his blog and particularly John Mauldin’s contributions. Here’s an excellent recent article detailing how China’s easy money policies are setting itself up for a large bust.

http://www.investorsinsight.com/blogs/john_mauldins_outside_the_box/archive/2010/11/23/shadow-over-asia.aspx

guard November 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I have looked into the tax code and principles behind it somewhat. We are in reality slaves. Briefly, the labor you put into a product is not tax deductible in the final sale of the product because the IRS has decided you have no basis in your labor. That is, not only do you not own your body, but the production factors used in producing something with it, e.g. food, is also not deductible.
The further you look into the tax situation, as currently practiced, the more clear it will become that the government must own you in order to collect most income tax. An honest discussion about taxation must start with the question of ownership. For example, if we have to rent our property from the government (through taxation, call it what you will) we obviously do not own it. Likewise, if we rent our freedom from the government, obviously we are not free.
Look at a denarius, whose image and inscription do you see? Now look in a mirror. Whose image and inscription do you see? Render accordingly.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Which 25% would you cut from the defense budget? Which 25% from Social Security and Medicare? Speaking of idiots . . .

Determining who owns the dollars, the citizen or the government, is very easy. Take a dollar out of your wallet. Examine it. Does it have your name on it? No. It bears the name of the person who made it, the Secretary of the Treasury. That’s the owner. You didn’t make the dollar, rather you acquired it according to and economic game, the terms of which are set by the government and include taxes.

Leave the United States and embark on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle without the use of currency — then you can claim the fruits of that labor as yours. Until then, it’s the government’s money, and you have it on the voters’ sufferance.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Robert,

Using your logic, if we had private money minted by private individuals, and both parties agreed to transact using this money, the property used in the exchange wouldn’t be theirs. It would be the minter’s! See something wrong with this picture?

Of course, we live in a country with legal tender laws, meaning the government has the power to fine, imprison, or kill anyone that doesn’t use its worthless paper “money.” Separate money from the state and all the problems with legalized counterfeiting vanish. But the government would have to balance its budget, and we can’t have that, can we?

Robert November 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Feel free to cite examples of people killed by the government for refusing to use paper currency . . . or you could just admit you’re full of crap.

You’re right, though, we do live in a country of laws — including tax laws. Taxation is no more theft than a one-way street is assault.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Remember the guy who paid his employees in gold coin? The employees loved that fact that they were getting something that didn’t depreciate over time. It also meant that they fell below the income threshold for income taxation. That didn’t sit too well with the federales, so they shut his business down…because he wasn’t using FRNs as the medium of exchange.

And, had he resisted the thugs with badges, is there any doubt they would have riddled him with bullets? Is there any doubt they’d do the same to you and me?

By the way, you’re supposed to be civil to others on this blog. You might try it sometime.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm

One of many articles on the “criminal”:

http://www.lvrj.com/news/46074037.html

Inquisitor November 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

“Meanwhile libertarians want to exult private property, but their assumptions and principles radically discredit the whole concept. That is their (your?) epistemological problem, not mine.”

Make an argument for it. You’ve not so far.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

So somebody that uses violence against the authorities might get hurt . . . surprise.

By your logic, if I use three-foot letters, on a sign in an area where one-foot letters are the maximum allowed, and then the sign cops show up, and I shoot at them, they could kill me — hence the government is murdering people for lettering on signs. OMG!

BTW, when you stop referring to people in law enforcement as “thugs,” then you might be in a position to lecture others on civil discourse.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Who initiated the violence, Robert? I guess because these thugs have badges, they can ruin a man’s livelihood, impoverish him for contracting with others in mutually agreeable terms, and threaten to throw him in jail for the rest of his life. No, I can’t think of a reason why he might want to defend himself! Silly me.

Regarding civil discourse, the thugs I was referring to are not engaged in a debate on this blog. You and I are. Big difference.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Steve, in the example, you initiated the violence. As for your defense that the law enforcements officers your calling “thugs” can’t hear you, I’m afraid that doesn’t make your name-calling civil . . . it just implies that you’re two-faced.

Mashuri November 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

No, Robert, the authorites initiated aggression in the above example. It’s fundamentally no different than mobsters coming to collect “protection money” from neighborhood businesses. Just because there are some documents stating they are allowed to take your property doesn’t change the action.

If my neighbor comes to loot my house, then he is a robber and I have a right to defend myself. If my entire neighborhood comes to loot my house, then they are a mob and I have a right to defend myself. If, however, my neighbors first go through the simple formality of taking a vote, then loot my house, their actions are heralded as democracy and I have no right to defend myself. Your premises are flawed Robert. Unless you believe that people can be owned by other people (also known as slavery) then you can only logically conclude that taxation is indeed robbery.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:36 pm

It’s not “your” property, though, is it, Mashuri? Why would you think it was? You didn’t create it, nor were you the first to occupy it. By rights, it likely belongs to an Indian tribe somewhere. But, the government grants you a piece of paper that lets you use it and call it “yours.” If the government chooses to withdraw property from the custody of lawbreakers, and those lawbreakers attack the police, they are initiating violence.

Mashuri November 24, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Again, your premises are flawed. If I purchased the property then it is mine. If it can be proven that said property was wrongfully taken from its orginal homesteader, or a legitimate purchaser along its ownership chain, then that property rightfully belongs to whomever was wronged or their kin — including any Native Americans. BTW, Native Americans homesteaded less than 95% of the U.S., so my property likely didn’t belong to an Indian tribe. I can tell you that very near 100% of all property owned by government was taken by force and not acquired through mutual consent. Also, don’t I have property rights for my own body? According to you, I do not own the fruits of my labor, which means I am the property of the political class who take it from me without my consent. Again, we’re back to slavery being a premise of your argument.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm

“If I purchased the property then it is mine.”

Purchased it with what? The government’s dollars? That would suggest it belongs to the government, not you.

Besides, who’s to say you purchased it. I say I purchased it. It’s mine, and I will defend it to the death. On what basis do you claim it’s yours? Surely not because the government gave you a piece of paper?

“If it can be proven that said property was wrongfully taken from its orginal homesteader, or a legitimate purchaser along its ownership chain, then that property rightfully belongs to whomever was wronged or their kin — including any Native Americans.”

Proven by whom? Not the government’s courts I hope, which are just like the mob.

In reality all land, not just government land, was taken by force at some point; meaning the moral case for calling it yours is null and void. Your claim of ownership is based on nothing but the receipt of stolen goods. Since we don’t know who they belong to, the only moral solution is collective ownership, and the only moral way to exercise that is via our elected representatives.

Mashuri November 24, 2010 at 7:13 pm

“Purchased it with what? The government’s dollars? That would suggest it belongs to the government, not you.”

Why do you believe a currency forced on me by the state against my will justifies the state in taking ownership of my property? You’re making a circular argument.

“Besides, who’s to say you purchased it. I say I purchased it. It’s mine, and I will defend it to the death. On what basis do you claim it’s yours? Surely not because the government gave you a piece of paper?”

A piece of paper is certainly not enough evidence, but we both know that.

“Proven by whom? Not the government’s courts I hope, which are just like the mob.”

You’re making progress! How much do you know about common law and how it came about? Hint: governments had nothing to do with its inception, only monopolising and distorting it to suit them later.

“In reality all land, not just government land, was taken by force at some point; meaning the moral case for calling it yours is null and void. Your claim of ownership is based on nothing but the receipt of stolen goods. Since we don’t know who they belong to, the only moral solution is collective ownership, and the only moral way to exercise that is via our elected representatives.”

So, because slavery already exists, then it justifies slavery continuing to exist. I’m glad you recognize the violence and injustice the state stands for, but to justify its existence simply because we cannot account for all its past injustices is absurd. The best we can do is correct the injustices we know to exist now. There is nothing moral about slavery no matter how you present it, even if you’re allowed to choose your slave masters (“elected representatives”) every few years.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm

“According to you, I do not own the fruits of my labor, . . .”

Your labor causes land to magically come into existence? You should take that act to Vegas.

“Why do you believe a currency forced on me by the state against my will justifies the state in taking ownership of my property?”

Why do you believe that the state’s property belongs to you, because you gave some of the state’s dollars to someone else? Yours is the true circular argument: you haven’t shown any reason the land belongs to you, yet you keep repeating that it is “yours.” How is it yours? It’s just as much mine.

“So, because slavery already exists, then it justifies slavery continuing to exist.”

Because you are frustrated in your attempt to steal what belongs to the government, that makes you a slave? If you’re not free to commit crimes against others, you’re a slave? That’s serial killer language. Come back to reality.

Mashuri November 24, 2010 at 7:38 pm

“[blah blah blah] state’s property [blah blah blah]”

Your entire argument centers on this premise yet you have failed to demonstrate that any government is justified in owning the property it has taken by force. The only argument you have even attempted is essentially “might makes right”.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

““[blah blah blah] state’s property [blah blah blah]””

I’m sorry basic legal and ethical reasoning is a foreign language to you, and hence you hear it only as “blah blah blah.” Maybe this is a sign for you that it’s time to stop regurgitating the half-baked ideas of others, buckle down, take those SATs, and get some college under your belt — then conversations with grow-ups will go better for you.

I’ve shown with clear and easy-to-follow logic why, using your very own assumptions, the government is the real owner of the land you are calling “yours.” You have completely failed to articulate any basis for your oft-repeated claim that the government’s land is somehow “yours” and how their resisting your attempts to steal it supposedly makes you a slave.

Tyrone Dell November 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Robert,

1. You don’t own your land. (Or your possessions?)
2. The Government really owns your land. (And possessions?)
3. Who is The Government?

This would be easy if you lived in a monarchy, but you don’t. Every 4 years a new set of people owns the land you live on? Or do we all own a little of your land, equally divided? Or perhaps unequally divided?

Who gives you these rights to use (but not own) your land and property? The same people that gave you those rights 10 years ago? 20 years ago? And how do you know?

Seems like you have some epistemological problems you need to iron out…

Robert November 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

“Seems like you have some epistemological problems you need to iron out…”

Quite the opposite, I should think. In my view, if you follow the libertarian idea of ownership by right of unforced possession, you end up with no one owning anything, because no one has a claim that is free of force or threat. Hence the government, as the only available objective expression of our collective will, becomes the owner of last resort.

In fact, the doctrine of maximal personal freedom also conflicts with the concept of “ownership.” By what right can you possibly claim to restrain me from walking through a wood, or signing a song, or taking shelter because you claim you “own” one of them? That is a violation of my personal freedom.

I have my own concept of property that is self-consistent, rational, and though I say it, just. I’d be happy to explain it if you’re interested.

Meanwhile libertarians want to exult private property, but their assumptions and principles radically discredit the whole concept. That is their (your?) epistemological problem, not mine.

Tyrone Dell November 24, 2010 at 10:28 pm

“…if you follow the libertarian idea of ownership by right of unforced possession, you end up with no one owning anything, because no one has a claim that is free of force or threat.”

This is simply wrong. The logical conclusion of libertarianism is Anarcho-Capitalism.

“Hence the government, as the only available objective expression of our collective will, becomes the owner of last resort.”

Too bad the government is just a collection of human beings with opinions, biases, differences of opinion, different in their methodology to approaching problems, etc…. A far cry from anything objective. Besides, you run into philosophical and logical problems when it comes to trying to define what “objective” and “collective will” really mean…

“In fact, the doctrine of maximal personal freedom also conflicts with the concept of ‘ownership.’ By what right can you possibly claim to restrain me from walking through a wood, or signing a song, or taking shelter because you claim you ‘own’ one of them? That is a violation of my personal freedom.”

This is an extremely naive argument to be making. You would being doing yourself (and all of us) a favor by doing a little research into the philosophical foundations that Austrians/Anarcho-Capitalists/Libertarians have developed concerning scarcity, property rights, and intellectual property.

Perhaps, if you have some free time, you might want to consider reading some of the following:
1. Carl Menger: Principle of Economics
2. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Economics and Ethics of Private Property
3. Stephan Kinsella: Against Intellectual Property
4. Carl Jung: The Collected Works of C. G. Jung
5. Carl Jung: Man and His Symbols
6. Eric Hoffer: The True Believer

Carl Jung and Eric Hoffer might seem like strange suggestions for you. But both Jung and Hoffer, while perhaps not explicitly “Libertarian” (infact, probably very far from Anarcho-Capitalism) still have alot of interesting ideas that fit nicely (although not perfectly) within the Anarcho-Capitalist sphere.

Also, there is a helpful blog post on the position Austrians take regarding Intellectual Property at Mises.org: http://blog.mises.org/1771/intellectual-property-at-mises-org/

P.S. – I believe both Menger’s and Hoppe’s work can be found, for free, on Mises.org.

Inquisitor November 25, 2010 at 7:56 am

“Hence the government, as the only available objective expression of our collective will, becomes the owner of last resort.”

Whose will, darling? “Collective” will? Do you live in a borg?

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm

You don’t think we would survive without government warfare and welfare programs? Read some articles on here if the answer is “yes”….I can’t tell if you are joking or naïve….

Robert November 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Be specific as to what you would cut. Which 25% from medicare? If you want to leave tens of millions of people without healthcare and have them showing up in the emergency room, man up and say so.

Ray Rock November 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm

HEALTH CARE IS A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, NOT A GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION.

Those that benefit from a government program should be the ones who pay the entire costs of that program. We do not need to cut Medicare, we need to increase the premiums enough to make Medicare a self sustaining program that’s funded in whole by the people who use it.

If cuts are needed they can repeal the Medicare Drug program. We did fine without it for a long time and it’s been a disaster the short time it’s been in existence, so by all means eliminate that wasteful welfare program.

For emergency rooms the people that receive the service should pay their bills. If they do not then they should be charged for defrauding the medical care provider. We also need to change the law so that people cannot run to bankruptcy court and erase medical debts. This way people are forced to take responsibility for themselves.

We also need to immediately and permanently eliminate Medicaid. This is a wasteful welfare program that’s grown far beyond its original charter and has become a behemoth that can’t be tamed, so kill it.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Ray Rock: Factually, the provision of healthcare is indeed a government function. I understand that you wish the government would not do such a thing. However, you are far from persuading the the majority of your fellow citizens to your way of thinking. Given that libertarians poll about 2-3% in national elections, I am pessimistic as to your chances of persuading your fellow citizens to deny tens of millions of people access to healthcare over any kind of a reasonable time frame that would avoid a default on our debt.

People have not embraced your “solution” not because they are “idiots” as John as asserted above, but because they find it profoundly morally offensive.

Hence, the sensible thing to do is to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, and bring our revenues into closer alignment with our spending.

Inquisitor November 25, 2010 at 7:57 am

“Ray Rock: Factually, the provision of healthcare is indeed a government function

Factually, it shouldn’t be.

“. I understand that you wish the government would not do such a thing. However, you are far from persuading the the majority of your fellow citizens to your way of thinking. Given that libertarians poll about 2-3% in national elections, I am pessimistic as to your chances of persuading your fellow citizens to deny tens of millions of people access to healthcare over any kind of a reasonable time frame that would avoid a default on our debt.”

Yeah, better to let them witness the effects of their own stupidity themselves.

“People have not embraced your “solution” not because they are “idiots” as John as asserted above, but because they find it profoundly morally offensive.”

No, it is because they’re idiots, and because they endorse theft.

“Hence, the sensible thing to do is to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, and bring our revenues into closer alignment with our spending.”"

Nope, considering the current economic climate it is to cut spending.

Try again.

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 5:23 pm

We can either go through a gradual phase out now, or wait until these programs collapse with the unsound financial practices of the USA – which sounds better to you? Free market solutions to these and other problems would be sustainable because firms in the marketplace have to perform or will be fired – the USA takes our money whether they perform or not.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm

“We can either go through a gradual phase out now, or wait until these programs collapse . . .”

Or your can raise taxes and pay for those programs. Ignoring that simple solution will not make it go away.

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm

You can raise taxes until corporations and rich people (who pay most of them) quit paying them by leaving, paying off legislators to create tax “loopholes”, etc. Just raise taxes and everything will be OK, really????

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

“Everything will be OK,” no. Things will be better, yes.

“You can raise taxes until corporations and rich people (who pay most of them) quit paying them by leaving . . .”

We are something like 26th of 30 OCED countries in our tax rates. Other highly successful economies, in other words, continue to be successful despite much higher tax rates than ours. The disasters you and others like you love to predict should we tax at OCED rates do not seem to have befallen Sweden, Denmark, or Finland, where rates are significantly higher.

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

There is no simple solution like raise taxes, pay off the debts, fund programs, and everything will be better. Any new revenue that comes into the government is spent – federal spending grows every year, no matter what. We can’t trust these people with our money, period. Ireland and Greece collapsed and needed bailouts. In terms of Scandanavia, there was an excellent Mises Daily article that outlined how they were reducing (not increasing) government spending and dependency, so not a good example for you.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm

“In terms of Scandanavia, there was an excellent Mises Daily article that outlined how they were reducing (not increasing) government spending and dependency, so not a good example for you.”

Actually, it’s a fantastic example for me, not least because it shows that you have no understanding of the various bits of cant that you are pitching. For just a sentence of two above you claimed:

“Any new revenue that comes into the government is spent – federal spending grows every year, no matter what.”

Yet if that were true, it would not be possible for Scandanavia to be reducing government spending . . .which you just claimed they were. Government spending always increases . . . governments in Scandanavia are reducing spending . . . logic FAIL.

The most ambitious plans for reducing government spending in Scandanavia leave them with universal healthcare and a generous welfare state, paid for by taxes far higher than ours. The difference is, for them that represents a cut in the size of government, while for us it would be a big increase. I have no problem with meeting them in the middle.

The success of countries with far greater levels of taxation and regulation may be an inconvenient truth . . . but a philosophy that values rationality should be able to cope with those sorts of uncomfortable facts.

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Spending in the US always increases – nice attempt at editing to show what you want. I’m afraid you and I define success differently. High taxes (theft), few choices forced on us (whether they meet our needs and wants or not), and reduced liberty is apparently success for you, Robert. I see success as something different.

Enjoy Every Sandwich November 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm

If the government can create wealth simply by printing its name on pieces of paper, why then does it need to raise taxes?

So what taxes would you raise? Keep in mind that the yearly deficit is north of a trillion dollars, so your tax increase must cover that just for starters. Then you’re going to have to address the coming problems of Social Security and Medicare; that’s more taxes.

Simply saying “soak the rich” ain’t gonna cut it. Which specific taxes would you raise, and how much?

How will you prevent the government from simply spending any new revenues that your taxes raise? You and I both know that there is an endless supply of “vital programs” that we just gotta have and just can’t wait.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm

“Which specific taxes would you raise, and how much?”

Tax capital gains as income. 50% marginal rate on incomes over $200,000, other tax rates revert to pre-Bush levels. $40/ton carbon tax ramping up to $200/ton with a means-tested household dividend. Inheritance tax reverts to pre-Bush levels.

“How will you prevent the government from simply spending any new revenues that your taxes raise?”

There’s this new thing called democracy. That ahistorical nonsense about “governments always spend taxes” is cant of the most puerile kind.

Sione November 25, 2010 at 3:20 am

Robert

If the US govt tried to impliment such a robbery (which it may eventually), then watch the productive and their wealth flee that country.

One trouble with most Western democracies is that you have a shrinking minority being expected to support an expanding majority. Eventually the minority of the productive becomes too small and too disillusioned to continue to produce. Things start to get very tough then. Corruption and criminality and immorality become the norm. That isn’t a nice way to survive. Stay tuned, your country is headed that way at an accelerated pace. Ask those who lived under the auspices of the old Soviet system about it.

Some years ago one of my colleagues owned a factory which was in the textile business. It was doing OK but the market was very competitive. The business strategy the owner used was rapidity of delivery. He relied on the ability of his local factory being able to get new product to market faster than competitors could import the latest designs. Then the union stepped in and kept demanding more perks, freebies, privileges, “conditions” and “rights” for the union members who happened to be employed there. The owner kept arguing that margins were too tight to allow this sort of thing. At first he conceded to the demands and tried to find new efficiencies and innovations in the business to reduce costs to compensate for the added union burdens and overheads. One day he did the maths and this time he included his own personal time (which had been mostly unpaid). He closed the business the very next day. It was simply too hard for him to bother to continue to invest his time, his capital, his profit, his life. He went to the union and suggested that they might like to purchase the factory and all the equipment. That way they could keep all the workers (union members) employed. They declined. So in went Lucas Lucas the machinery broker and ripped everything out. He sold it all off to China for cents on the dollar.

Now the business owner is on what you would call social security and welfare. He sees his children every day and has not a stress in his life. I gather most of the staff remain jobless. Some have lost their homes. A few are in jail now. All are suffering. The point is that if you keep robbing a productive man and robbing him and robbing him, well, eventually he’ll quit producing and you’ll not be able to steal from him any more.

Sione

Sione November 25, 2010 at 3:53 am

One last point. When the prodictive surrender, everyone suffers. In the case of my colleague, he gave up and now his ex-staff are stuffed. They relied on his productivity to lead them and to provide dorection. Now they have nothing.

Sione

Robert November 25, 2010 at 10:38 am

“If the US govt tried to impliment such a robbery”

Taxation isn’t robbery. That doesn’t work even as polemic. Remember, the Treasury made your dollars, and if it wants them back, that’s its right.

Also on taxes: apply Social Security taxes to income over $106,000 – but not incomes under $30,000. Eliminate the mortgage income tax credit.

In terms of spending; our absolute level of spending is nothing exceptional. In fact, it’s low compared to most other wealthy countries. The chief long-term concern, besides the interest on the debt itself, is healthcare costs. Besides being an ever-increasing burden on federal and state budgets, it is also an albatross around employers’ necks and the largest single cause of personal bankruptcies. Reform healthcare, and the spending side of the ledger is fine.

Sione November 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Robert

Taxation IS theft. Just because you say it isn’t, that doesn’t alter the nature of what is going on. You are only deceiving yourelf by pretending otherwise.

The argument that the institution that issued an item then controls it is fatuous nonsense. Applying it consistently readily demonstrates why. Right now I am in possession of a Lamborghini Diabolo VT. The VID plate even says so. Applying your ideology, the car is not really mine at all. It belongs to VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group, the issuer of Lamborghini cars). After all, according to your formulation, VAG can call me up and demand the entire car, or any portion of it at any time.

“In terms of spending; our absolute level of spending is nothing exceptional.”

What is this “our” nonsense? You speak only for yourself little white boy.

The absolute level of govt spending by the US govt is utterly ruinous, as is how the money is spent and upon what it is spent. Unfortunately the painful and deleterious consequences are not going to be restricted to merely the members of the regime, its acolytes, employees and cronies.

“Also on taxes: apply Social Security taxes to income over $106,000 – but not incomes under $30,000. Eliminate the mortgage income tax credit.”

In other words increase theft. Emburden the productive even more. In all history this approach of stealing ever more property from individuals has never worked out. As previously indicated, it will chase wealth out of the country and it will cause many of the productive to reduce, restrict or even eliminate their productive activities.

The chief concerns are inflation, soverign debt default and prolonged un-necessary impoverishment. Long term the chief concern has to be the destruction of the culture and the society. Enjoy the ride your ideology is taking you on.

Sione

Enjoy Every Sandwich November 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm

There’s this new thing called democracy. That ahistorical nonsense about “governments always spend taxes” is cant of the most puerile kind.

So, you contend that governments seldom spend the tax revenues they collect? Really? I would be interested in seeing the history you back that up with.

In any case, democracy is not “new” here (unless you believe that it started with Obama). How do you think we got into this situation in the first place? Did the ruinous and futile foreign wars just start themselves? Did the 700+ military bases overseas just build themselves? And what of the overall deficit? Whether you think it a problem of insufficient taxation (as you do) or excessive spending (as I do) democracy is what brought it about.

John November 28, 2010 at 10:51 pm

So Robert, when you said “speaking of idiots…” did you mean me? Why, because I didn’t specify which 25% of the federal budget I would cut? I need to “man up” and state which 25%? Do you really think we couldn’t trim 25% out of the federal budget without too much trouble? How does it lessen my point any, and how does it make yours, to have to know which 25% gets cut? It doesn’t matter what I would cut – it only matters that it should get cut and if our political leaders did what they ought to do, they would make the cuts. If you must know, if I was in charge of the Executive branch of government I would call in every budget head and tell them their next budget would need to be 25% less – do it however you want, but don’t hand me a budget that isn’t 25% less than last year’s – they’re in the best positions to know where they can make cuts with the smallest impacts. For non-executive branch expenditures, they all need to be examined. Medicare is a phase out with new options such as self-directed investment for retirement for those not yet paying into medicare, instead of forced government confiscations with a promise to pay later. As we see – eventually they will not make good on that promise to someone, whether it be me, my kids or their kids. There are other solutions to our financial problems that don’t involve more taxes. Most of those solutions involve personal responsibility and government responsibility – where have those concepts gone? Lastly, you say you aren’t a communist – fine. I don’t know what you are, but one thing is clear: you do not believe in the principals upon which this nation was founded such as limited government and private sector success unburdened (or at least minimally burdened) by the heavy hand of government taxation. No, you and your ilk seek to change this country into something different. Excuse me if I don’t fall willingly in line behind you and your utter nonsense. Where does more taxation end Robert? When is enough, enough? Who will say when it’s enough, you? Will that be when we work 60% for the government, 70%, 80%. At what point is that simply socialism or communism? By the way, how did Russia do with that? Free market capitalism is the only way Robert. I doubt you’ll ever see that in your own delusional mind, and I am done wasting my time on you.

CJ November 24, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Finally salvation has arrived:

(1) If the government is “spending” when it decides to forgo tax revenue that it otherwise could have collected,
and
(2) If the solution to any economic crises – no to any problem, even non-existing ones – is “more government spending”,
then surely
(3) every Keynsian – classical, modern, post, or any other flavour – must come to the conclusion that to forgo more tax revenues is the correct policy to persue.

Hallelujah!

Julien Couvreur November 25, 2010 at 2:12 am

Excellent!
I wonder how Mankiw would feel about that one.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 4:01 pm

It’s not really complicated. The government needs to bring tax revenues in line with spending. The tax laws in place during the Clinton boom close most of that gap. The hyperventilating nonsense about reversing the unworkable, destructive Bush tax cuts are mere propaganda in service of the silly “starve the beast” strategy. Raise taxes to the OCED average, and the deficit disappears.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Wow, you’re a magician, Robert! Just raise taxes to the OCED average and…voila! Have you taken a look at the typical OCED country and its economic condition? Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Iceland. Yep, I want to follow in their footsteps. Maybe perpetual economic contraction in infation-adjusted terms combined with double digit unemployment is your idea of good policy, but it isn’t mine.

As for the the Clinton “boom,” you conveniently forget that he rode the wave of absurd NASDAQ profits. Once the bubble popped (and they all do), we were back in recession and the gigantic federal deficits came roaring back. Or am I just full of crap again, Robert?

Don’t know about anyone else, but raising taxes during a depression is a really foolish idea.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

“Or am I just full of crap again, Robert?”

Yes, that.

The government under Clinton undertook both spending cuts and tax increases, which fueled an economic boom. Massive tax cuts and two unnecessary wars later, that surplus turned into a deficit. Sound policy with a positive result; short-sighted policy with a negative result. A libertarian ought to be able to process those facts, but I fear in your irrational hatred of taxes you have abandoned sensible small-government ideas and embraced a faith-based pseudolibertarianism that is imperious to falsifying evidence.

Steve Hogan November 24, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Someone is playing fast and loose with the facts. Hint: his name is Robert.

First, only Congress appropriates money, not the executive. Presidents can approve or veto. That’s it. And, if memory serves, Bubba was whining like a stuck pig about drastic cuts and grandmothers being thrown into the snowbank. Was Clinton frugal or callous? You can’t have it both ways.

Second, stealing hundreds of billions from the Social Security “Trust Fund” (where’s Al Gore’s lock box?), transferring the loot into the general fund, and spending it on feel-good programs while claiming to balance the budget takes chutpah. If there’s one thing we have in surplus in our nation’s capital, it’s chutzpah. Anyone in the private sector doing this would find his arse in jail – for good reason. Do it as politician and they call it “fiscal policy.” Convenient.

Think I’m full of it again? Go to the government’s own site for the Clinton era:

http://treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Notice a reduction in the debt for any given year? Me neither. Then again, I do my homework rather than making wild assertions.

I’d go on, but you’re becoming tiresome. I’d even write that you’re too full of yourself to admit being wrong, but that would be uncivil.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:08 pm

“Bubba was whining like a stuck pig . . .”

Another victory for civility. Your rhetoric is as childish as your shrill fundamentalist cant.

“First, only Congress appropriates money, not the executive. Presidents can approve or veto.”

Don’t know who submits the budget to Congress? I’m sorry for you. The Constitution’s a pretty good read; pick one up some time.

“Think I’m full of it again?”

I think you know you are; that’s why you keep bringing it up, like a nervous tic.

Clinton, with an assist from the House and Senate, turned the largest budget deficit in history up to that point into a surplus, and we would still be in surplus had his successor not slashed revenue whilst drastically escalating spending, resulting in a new record deficit.

Face facts.

Sione November 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

Robert

“The Constitution’s a pretty good read; pick one up some time.”

Since when has the US govt followed the rules of that old piece of parchment?

“Clinton, with an assist from the House and Senate, turned the largest budget deficit in history up to that point into a surplus, and we would still be in surplus had his successor not slashed revenue whilst drastically escalating spending, resulting in a new record deficit.”

Robert, that’s not correct. You really need to do some basic research on this. The Clinton Whitehouse manipulated the accounts to show a surplus. In reality there was none. The growth in debt continued during his time. For example, unfunded social security liabilities continued to grow and they more than eliminate the (admittedly fictious) surplus.

There is plenty of data on this very site which will demonstrate the errors of what you have written. You might care to look it up and face the facts.


The situation right now is that the US govt has created such a tower of debt that there is no way to satisfy it and pay it off. Even your great great grandchildren are supposedly going to be responsible to keep paying for the present generation of government. Reckon the kiddies will be up for it? No. Neither do I. They’ll either be too poor or they’ll refuse. In the meantime you can expect to see massive inflation (read Von Mises or Reisman to discover the source and nature of what inflation actually is). Then you can expect to see the soverign debt defaults, including US ones. Stay tuned and enjoy what belief in government delivers.

Sione

Robert November 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

“The situation right now is that the US govt has created such a tower of debt that there is no way to satisfy it and pay it off.”

That’s nonsense. Raise taxes, balance the budget, and economic growth will slowly reduce the debt’s share of the GDP. Run a 1% surplus and that debt will disappear even faster.

Just because you have an ideological objection to this simple, practical solution does not mean the rest of us are going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

“Robert, that’s not correct.”

Sione, it is. You need to face reality on this.

Ray Rock November 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Why don’t we get things back in line by cutting spending to the levels during the Clinton years instead? No Medicare drug program, no welfare healthcare and none of the other wasteful welfare nonsense that’s been enacted in the past year or so.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

You think Medicare and Medicaid post-date Clinton? What are you smoking?

Ray Rock November 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I said Medicare DRUG program which was enacted during the George W Bush administration. You can check any history book and find that the George W. Bush administration was the one after Clinton. The welfare healthcare program is the one recently passed during Barack’s administration, both of these are after the Clinton administration.

Perhaps you should try to spend more time reading and less time trying to revise history.

You may also want to familiarize yourself with the concepts of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency as you obviously have no understanding of those basic concepts.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

“I said Medicare DRUG program which was enacted during the George W Bush administration. You can check any history book and find that the George W. Bush administration was the one after Clinton. The welfare healthcare program is the one recently passed during Barack’s administration, both of these are after the Clinton administration.”

What you actually said was this:

“No Medicare drug program, no welfare healthcare and none of the other wasteful welfare nonsense that’s been enacted in the past year or so.”

Note the “and.” You appear to be listing three things, the Medicare drug program, Obama’s plan which cuts Medicare spending by $500 billion and healthcare spending overall, and “welfare healthcare.” Since you propose that “We also need to immediately and permanently eliminate Medicaid” and destroy Medicare with massive rate hikes, I thought that was what you were referring to.

Eliminating the plan D would save only a smaller fraction of what we need (much less than just letting the Bush cuts expire) and repealing Obamacare would actually cost money.

“You may also want to familiarize yourself with the concepts of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency as you obviously have no understanding of those basic concepts.”

Me and the other 97% of voters that regularly humiliate libertarian candidates for office. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not that people don’t understand your crackpot ideas. Its merely that we find them to be poorly thought out and destructive.

Sione November 25, 2010 at 3:47 am

Robert

“Me and the other 97% of voters” are slaves of state.

As a non-USA person who studied extensively the history of the founding of the USA and the philosophies and ideas that were expressed in its creation, I remain surprised that a citizen of the USA would embrace the socialist/collectivist sentiments you worship and appear to love. They remain “un-American”. Indeed the source of such ideologies are un-American. Nevertheless those ideas are in ascendancy throughout the USA these days.

We residents of foreign climes watch in awe as your sort partake in the destruction of your own country, of your own wealth, of your own culture, of your own lives and you iwn neighbours with the applied savagery of such demonstrably failed ideas.

Sione

Michael A. Clem November 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

Gee, what’s wrong with cutting spending to match revenues, instead of increasing revenues to match spending?

Robert November 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

Nothing, if that’s what the voters want. Either course is possible, or any mix of the two.

If there is anything that argues for tax increases as opposed to spending cuts, it is that, as the Economist notes in their current editorial on America’s deficit, “Economically, there is sensible room for manoeuvre without damaging growth. American taxes are relatively low after the reductions of recent years.” Whereas our spending in already scraping the bottom of the OCED average.

I’m not opposed to spending cuts being part of the overall strategy.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Incidentally, anybody know why the blogger didn’t just link to the article?

Julien Couvreur November 25, 2010 at 2:14 am
Tim November 24, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I think we should tax all foreigners living abroad.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

. . . and bury the survivors.

Anthony November 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm

To everyone except Robert,

I had a similar argument with someone just a week or two ago. As long as Robert believes that everything is owned by the government and everything the government does is inherently right there is no point is arguing with him. The best approach I found was to point out the logical end of their beliefs. Once they realize that the inevitable end of their argument is absolute slavery then either they reconsider their assumptions or they don’t… if they don’t they are not worth talking to anyway.

To Robert:

If the government owns all land and all property and people merely use it on the sufferance of their masters (the bureaucrats), then you must have no objection to the following scenarios;

Let’s say the government decides that to reduce health care costs by declaring that every resident must attend a 2 hour workout program every day, and if they miss one or slack then the government will take away their food for the week.

This should be ok with you because the food is the government’s to give anyway.

What if the government decides that “troublesome elements” should be sent to Alaska to work camps? All the government would have to do would be to deny the troublemakers food and water and shelter until they agreed to move…

If you can own nothing you are a slave. Some of people would prefer freedom to slavery, but I guess that is the difference between you and me.

Robert November 25, 2010 at 11:20 am

“If you can own nothing you are a slave.”

Again I’m impressed by your willingness to embrace Marxist ideas. Let’s follow your ideas to their logical conclusion:

“What if the government decides that “troublesome elements” should be sent to Alaska to work camps? All the government would have to do would be to deny the troublemakers food and water and shelter until they agreed to move”

The owner is forcing people into work camps because they have no other way of obtaining food, water, or shelter. Anthony says this makes those people slaves. Slavery is bad. Logically, though, it doesn’t matter whether the “owner” is the government or a corporation or a private individual; they haven’t used the coercive authority of the state, merely the coercive authority of property ownership. Anyone who owns food, water, or shelter therefore has the power to “enslave” those that do not have these things.

Anthony’s argument, therefore, leads inexorably to the conclusion that people can only be free if the are guaranteed provision of food, water, and shelter, and are not dependent on any capitalist — an employer, a landlord, or even a customer — to provide those things.

Anthony has thus asserted that raw capitalism is slavery, and a welfare state is a prerequisite for true freedom. We should imagine any future posts from Anthony as orations delivered from atop an armored car at the Finland Station.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 9:05 pm

“The best approach I found was to point out the logical end of their beliefs.”

Caution: only attempt this if you have a grasp on the basic principles of logic. When you don’t, you end up with a mess like the rest of Anthony’s post.

Robert November 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm

“If the government owns all land and all property and people merely use it on the sufferance of their masters (the bureaucrats), then you must have no objection to the following scenarios”

And that follows logically how? What you asserting here, nonsensically, is that if I accept your right to own a gun, I must have no objection to you shooting up a preschool with it.

Follow libertarian logic to its conclusion, and you cannot escape the fact that the government owns everything. It’s one of the things libertarianism shares with communism, along with shrill, dogmatic believers and near-universal rejection by the American public.

Do I hold that belief myself? That would be telling. Sufficit to say, I am neither a libertarian nor a communist. Alas, I am disqualified from both crusades by an excess of common sense.

Tyrone Dell November 24, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Actually, if you follow libertarian logic to its conclusion you reach Anarcho-Capitalism. This is absolutely nothing even remotely similar to a situation where the government owns everything.

After reading your comments, I feel the urge to say “yes, but, taxation is still theft, right? And so morally unjust.” But something in me tells me that you don’t consider taxation theft; thus, we will never reach any sort of mutual conclusion since we disagree on the basic premises and assumptions that fuel our philosophies and viewpoints.

Perhaps, if you have some spare time, you might consider reading the following:
1. Ayn Rand: The Virtue of Selfishness
2. Ayn Rand: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
3. Ludwig von Mises: Epistemological Problems of Economics
4. Ludwig von Mises: The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science
5. Murray Rothbard: Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market.

Don’t be scared of the Ayn Rand texts. Most of us are not Objectivists nor claim any affiliation with Ayn Rand whatsoever. That said, I feel like reading Ayn Rand first is similar to a sort of shock therapy when it comes to what might seem at first radical ideas. The Mises and Rothbard texts are focused on explaining and justifying the philosophical assumptions that we Austrians use to reach these conclusions that you seem to be taking much issue with.
Also, both the Mises and Rothbard texts can be found in their entirety, for free, on Mises.org.

P.S. – It never hurts to read the Austrian Economics and Anarcho-Capitalism wikipedia pages.
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_Economics
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho_capitalism

Robert November 25, 2010 at 10:59 am

“After reading your comments, I feel the urge to say “yes, but, taxation is still theft, right? And so morally unjust.””

No, taxation is not theft. Property rights, like other rights (especially positive rights), are limited, and one of the limitations of property rights are that property is subject to taxes. Taxes transfer ownership, legally, to the state, therefore they are not illegal theft.

“Don’t be scared of the Ayn Rand texts.”

I’m not scared of awful writing, naive, shallow philosophizing, or flaming hypocrites — no, not even when they are all joined together in a single body of work. I have better uses of my time, however.

My understanding of this political philosophy is significantly greater than you might think — to the point where I am able to illustrate the contradictions implicit within it. Perhaps you might deal with the problems I’ve raised and actually try to grapple with the philosophy rationally, rather than simply directing me to your sacred texts.

Tyrone Dell November 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

lol.

Jack Roberts November 25, 2010 at 11:08 am

Taxation is misappropriation which is loosely defined as theft. The state can legalize murder but it is still murder.

Robert November 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

Taxation is neither theft nor murder. Property rights, like other rights, especially positive rights, are limited, and one of the limits of property rights is that they are subject to taxation.

Jack Roberts November 25, 2010 at 11:40 am

The state steals a percentage of my income that does not have anything to do with limits on property rights.

Taxation is not a limit of property rights, it is a condition imposed by an authoritarian state.

Taxation is not theft or murder? The state will come to your house and take everything you own, even the clothes off your back if you do not meet the condition imposed on you, if you resist you will be killed or imprisoned.

Stephen Grossman November 26, 2010 at 9:19 pm

>Property rights, like other rights, especially positive rights, are limited

this socialist sleaze evades saying that he thinks that property rights are subject to taxation, ie, there are no property rights in his bloody socialist bubble. For Ayn Rand, property rights are limited by the objective requirements of man’s life in society. Ie, property rights exist for those who respect, in action, that man’s life requires independent judgment. Socialism is immoral, ie, selfless, and impractical, a society of death-worshippers waiting til all are drained of productivity.

Stephen Grossman November 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm

>property is subject to taxes

taxes are subject to property

Stephen Grossman November 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm

>I’m not scared of [Rand's] awful writing, naive, shallow philosophizing

And yet, curiously enough, you provide no evidence. 2+2=5. I have affirmed it. I have expressed my holy and politically correct emotions. Evidence? For the unwashed masses who have no sensitivity. Youre a shallow buffoon, a transparent fraud. Liberalism is vanishing. Good riddance.

Anthony November 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Robert,

It follows logically that if you believe that the government owns everything then you believe that the government should have full discretion over the use of everything… that is the meaning of the word ownership. Thus, given that you appear to approve of the government’s ownership of everything, you ought to agree that the government has the right to do those things I mentioned. If you think that the government should/does not own everything, only then do you have any grounds on which to oppose injustice commuted by the government.

Regarding your gun example, Libertarians would see the distinction between owning a gun and shooting people with it as being the fact that the latter involves the use(initiation) of force. If you similarly reject the right of the government to initiate force against people then we have a lot in common. If, however, you believe that a government does have the right to initiate force on people then I did not misjudge you at all.

Inquisitor November 25, 2010 at 7:59 am

When did the government homestead it? With whose resources? How does it own all the land it merely claimed but did not improve/alter?

“Do I hold that belief myself? That would be telling. Sufficit to say, I am not a centrist/statist. Alas, I am disqualified from that religion by an excess of common sense.”

Same.

Robert November 25, 2010 at 11:03 am

“Homesteading” does not give you a right to anything. What a ridiculous concept. If you own a forest, and show up one day to find I’ve chopped down the tree and planted corn, does it follow the land is now mine? That’s silly.

Tyrone Dell November 25, 2010 at 11:25 am

What gives you rights, then?

If you, an individual, have no claim on the forest, how is it legitimate that the government (read: a collection of individuals) has claim on it and can distribute or use it how they see fit?

P.S. – If you mention democracy you now have the burden of explaining minority rights and how to explicitly define them. But even if you do this, you now have the further problem of where to draw an arbitrary line and not just take this to the limit and imagine a situation where each individual is subject to their own personal individual, minority rights — perhaps this would be something similar to a Libertarian society.

Again, it seems like your problem is that you throw around many terms without having a sense of any explicit definitions of the terms you are using. You keep mentioning this superior common sense and ability to illustrate your rationality, but I fail to see anything but naive replies that miss the point completely.

Perhaps, if you have time, you might want to consider reading the following:
1. Peter J. Eccles: An Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning
2. Daniel J. Velleman: How to Prove It — A Structured Approach
3. George Polya: How To Solve It — A New Aspect of Mathematical Method

These texts are very gentle introductions to axiomatic logical deduction. They all are a bit math-heavy, but you seem like the kind of person who shouldn’t have any significant problem. Then you can come back later to flex your intellectual muscles and actually be taken seriously around here.

Inquisitor November 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

““Homesteading” does not give you a right to anything.”

Asserted, not proven.

” What a ridiculous concept.”

Asserted, not proven.

” If you own a forest, and show up one day to find I’ve chopped down the tree and planted corn, does it follow the land is now mine? That’s silly.”

Please tell me how one determines ownership over something then.

Inquisitor November 25, 2010 at 8:10 am

“Caution: only attempt this if you have a grasp on the basic principles of logic. When you don’t, you end up with a mess like the rest of Anthony’s post.”

Caution: Only attempt to make arguments on libertarian theory/economics if you have a basic comprehension of reality, else you’ll end up with baseless crap/strawmen like Robert’s posts.

“And that follows logically how? What you asserting here, nonsensically, is that if I accept your right to own a gun, I must have no objection to you shooting up a preschool with it.”

Could you explain what you base this (retarded) assumption on?

“Follow libertarian logic to its conclusion, and you cannot escape the fact that the government owns everything. It’s one of the things libertarianism shares with communism, along with shrill, dogmatic believers and near-universal rejection by the American public.”

What is “libertarian logic”?

Ned Netterville November 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Robert said: “You’re right, though, we do live in a country of laws — including tax laws.”

Wrong! Not me, Robert, I live on a mountain in Tennessee, but I don’t recognize either the state of Tennessee nor the United States as anything more than curiosities. I was/am not party to the constitutions by which those country and state gubbermints claim some sort of sovereign authority over some folks, but not me. My only sovereign authority is God. I do my level best to ignore their laws and conduct myself according to the Decalogue and the Golden Rule. I also ignore or resist their tax collectors, whose practice of using force and coercion to take the property of others would have them jailed for extortion but for the fact that the revenues they collect are used to line the pockets of the lawmakers, judges and other bureaucritters, so the lawmakers grant the revenuers immunity from the laws of extortion so they can safely pursue their criminal racket. I rather suspect you are one of those folks of the types I mentioned because you talk like someone who practices Stateolatry, worshiping at the alter of the Almighty State.

As for your silly theory that the government that prints the money owns it, I must respectfully demur. It is an irrefutable, indisputable, apodictic, praxeological certainty that anything that is used as money is presumed to belong to party in whose hands, pocket or purse it resides. If that was not the case, if money belonged to a third party, no one with a working brain would give title to a good or render a service in exchange for something that would remain the property of a third party. Such phony money would not circulate, and if you will merely examine the ferns in your pocket you will notice that some of them have already been used and passed on to you by others, demonstrating conclusively that they have been circulating, and similarly demonstrating that you are wrong. Most of your other statements here are also wrong, but these two errors of thought are all I have time to deal with right now.

Julien Couvreur November 25, 2010 at 2:00 am
Julien Couvreur November 25, 2010 at 2:06 am

What a nice spin: See how generous the mafia is? It let’s you keep some of the fruits of your labor (for now). But don’t you lose sight that the mafia is really bearing a huge cost by foregoing this wealth.

Julien Couvreur November 25, 2010 at 2:21 am

This Jedi mind trick blew my mind: I’m really giving you what I’m not taking.

NotMe November 25, 2010 at 7:58 am

Robert, if you believe that government has the right to tax as much as they want, are you saying that you would not object to how much they tax you ? If they tax you 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% 99% none of those figures would bother you because in principle it is theirs to tax.

You clearly believe that government is the only thing that can own land, but then the question is which government. If your government is replaced by another say foreign invasion or perhaps the country is merged with another, then that new government is the only authority that can decide what is right. So if one day a government decides to scrap welfare (and this is done with a 51% majority to pass your morality check) then you would you accept that decision ?

Robert November 25, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’m saying that if I felt I was being taxed excessively, I’d express my disapproval at the ballot box, and seek to enlist the support of my fellow citizens. Taxes may certainly be excessive, but they are not theft, and collecting them is not an act of violence.

Anthony November 25, 2010 at 11:20 am

So, Robert,

If people come to your house, take you and your children out of it at gun point then throw you in a cage that is not an act of violence? Even if they would kill you if you tried to avoid being put in their cage?

Your beliefs are a result of your assumption that anything condoned by a majority is inherently right. Let me ask you, then…

If a majority voted to reinstate slavery, and your disapproval at the ballot box did not change the outcome, would you then consent to being made a slave? Would you then agree that it was both legitimate and right for others to own slaves?

This is not some obscure life-boat scenario… in the southern United States the legitimate state governments approved of slavery, and following your logic you would have absolutely no right to take any action to free slaves (or to free yourself if you were a slave) since the law that imposed slavery was supported my a majority.

So, do you condone majority rule and abide by the consequences, whatever they may be, or do you believe that right and wrong exist independent of government decrees?

Robert November 25, 2010 at 11:25 am

“If people come to your house, take you and your children out of it at gun point then throw you in a cage that is not an act of violence?”

The last time I check, my taxes were deducted from my paycheck. Not a gun in sight.

Do you consider littering laws an act of violence?

Anthony November 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm

And if at the end of the year you have an amount owing that you can’t pay? I am sure that you have heard of people losing their houses over back taxes… or perhaps you would prefer to ignore them?

Peter Surda November 26, 2010 at 5:29 am

The last time I check, my taxes were deducted from my paycheck. Not a gun in sight.

By that logic, racketeering is also not violence, since if a shop owner pays the guy with the suit, the employees do not need to meet the guy with the baseball bat.

You are a very odd person, Robert. You fabricate a fictional supernatural construct, then proceed to assert that it owns everything, then somehow conclude that it is in a morally superiour position, and call this whole procession logical. I find nothing logical in it. It’s a fairy tale.

Robert November 25, 2010 at 11:31 am

“So, do you condone majority rule and abide by the consequences, whatever they may be, or do you believe that right and wrong exist independent of government decrees?”

I certainly believe that right and wrong exist independent of government decrees. An absolute right to this bit of land or a song, however, do not. I believe in a natural right to personal freedom, and I think governments should maximize citizens’ personal freedom to the greatest extent possible. The property you hold within the economic system, however, is not the equivalent of your person, and your rights to it are of a different and far more carefully qualified sort than your rights to speak, travel, worship as you will, etc

Mike S November 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The “property you hold within the economic system” IS equivalent to your person. It is the result of your labor and your voluntary exchanges with others. If I have control over all that you have ever produced, in what way are you free?

Libertarians label taxation as theft because it is enforced at gunpoint. Even if your attempts to resist taxation are non-violent, the state will still initiate violence against you (Look up the story of Irwin Schiff for an example).

Yes, the state has indeed institutionalized this system of theft through its issuance of a fiat currency and legal tender laws. I think you have a fair grasp on that point. However, that does not in any way make the theft any more legitimate or any less of a crime. You said it yourself, “right and wrong exist independent of government decrees.”

Anthony November 25, 2010 at 1:57 pm

And we believe that in addition to the right to speak, travel, worship, etc. people have a right to own property. In fact, we believe that the rights you mention exist because of a person’s right to their body and to own property.

Even ignoring that, what if the government, backed by popular support, decides to remove the right to travel, for example (say, by requiring that people forgo flying or submit to being groped, for a start). Which of your beliefs would take precedence, your belief in rights or your belief in government?

There can be no true freedom without the right to person and property, because if you are incapable of owning anything for yourself you are always necessarily beholden to the government. All the rights you claim to value will emerge as a necessary consequence of allowing the freedom to own property…

There are hundred of articles on this site alone that explain why the freedom to own property is a necessary part of any real freedom, you should look around and see for yourself.

nate-m November 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

In my eyes the only legitimate form of government is one that serves to protect the property and rights of it’s individuals.

It should also be completely voluntary so that if a person does not want to be governed as part of the government and is willing to give up the protections of that government they should be allowed to. Needless to say there is certainly some practical limitations to that arrangement, but certainly if a township or county wishes to abstain from participation in a particular form of government they should be absolutely allowed to.

Probably the best we are going to get is interdependent city-states in a loose union. That way individuals can pick and choose what sort of environment is best for them by moving from one area to another, the governments are kept down to a manageable size due to the simple geographical limitations to their authority, and you will still be able to organize for common defense against aggressors and makes engaging in foreign military excessive on a large scale almost impossible unless there is a massive overwhelming need for it.

If people like the idea of philosopher-kings that’s fine. If people want corporate governance then they can have it, majority rules democracy, complete anarchy, privatized courts and law enforcement, etc etc. Whatever people want they can get.

Certainly what works and what is acceptable for people in California is going to be massively different then people living in North Dakota, which is going to be different from people living along the boarder for Mexico in Texas. They can pick what works best for them. There is no reason why decisions made that work for the needs of San Fransisco needs to be forcefully applied to people living in Fargo. If people in Fargo like the ideas of people living in San Fransisco then they can adopt them whenever they feel like it.

This centralized government is increasingly obvious to be a failure at it’s core and should be a concept that is done away with.

Tyrone Dell November 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Dave Albin November 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

Very good, and really, centralized power of any sort is always destined to fail. Call it government or monarchy or head of church-state – any time a small number of individuals can tell everyone else what to do, it always fails….

Stephen Grossman November 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm

>governments should maximize citizens’ personal freedom to the greatest extent possible.

Govts should avoid mass murder to the greatest extent possible. Youre an unprincipled, Pragmatist sleazeball.

Anthony November 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Sorry Stephen, but I don’t think anyone even understands your moronic diatribes… why not make a point once in a while?

Michael A. Clem November 25, 2010 at 9:48 am

This Robert guy is fascinating–untying his Gordian Knot is a real challenge. Ultimately, though, what gets me is the people who think government is under the control of the citizenry. Sure, if government did certain things, such as cutting spending and paying down the deficit, things would be better. But who is going to make government do the “right” thing? People expect government to force everyone else to do the right thing. In reality, government is like the kid with his hand in the cookie jar–he’s not reaching for the carrots–and there’s nobody with the POWER to tell him no.

Stephen MacLean November 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Dan Mitchell narratives a wonderful short video in which he skewers a member of the Obama Administration for just such faulty thinking—that tax cuts will cost the government too much money, as if the money already belonged to the State.

Sione November 25, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Michael

Robert is not hard to work out. There is no difficulty in untying his intellectual “knots”. He is merely an example of the common collectivist.

Whether he is conscious of it or not, Robert’s belief starts with a view of government as sovereign and supreme (the opposite approach to that used by Libertarians, Objectivists, Anarcho-Capitalists). All individuals fall under the command and control of government. Of course that means that there can be no individual rights or private property in the sense that such principles are to consistently recognised. That’s because, as Robert unwittingly admits, his ideal of government limits them. It’s powers & authority trump them. Hence govt may modify or withdraw them. Remember, govt is sovereign and supreme for him. In his system there are not rights and property, merely permissions awarded by government fiat.

Once his premise is grasped, the rest of his thinking falls into line. What is interesting is his failure to apply the ideas he promotes with consistency, right through to the consequences. There he will not venture. His faith & premise forbid it. Thus for him the consequence of what he worships is not intellectually accessible, although obvious enough to everyone else.

What you will indeed find within him is the excuse that if individuals don’t like what government is doing they can go to the ballot box. The implication is that somehow a miracle occurs and a few scratchings on a piece of paper (every few years or so) means “the people” exercise a mysterious (and completely illusory) control over the government. It is an odd nonsense to believe in, but there it is, a rather strange delusion.

Sione

Sione November 26, 2010 at 12:24 am

Robert

Regarding your scheme to pay off the US govt debt you write, “Raise taxes, balance the budget, and economic growth will slowly reduce the debt’s share of the GDP. Run a 1% surplus and that debt will disappear even faster.”

Let’s examine that a little and pretend you are serious and sane for the moment.

“Raise taxes”

Been into that already. It won’t work out as you expect since wealth will either depart the country or be destroyed by govt confiscation, dissipation and consumption. Take a look around you. It’s occurring right now. Your scam would accelerate the rate of impoverishment.

“balance the budget”

A miracle occurs. “Oh Allah the merciful,” cries Robert, “Forgive us our ruination of wealth and save the US from the depths of its govt deficit.”

Dream on believer! Balanced budget- that has not happened and isn’t going to.

At this point in the economic cycle balancing the budget is an impossibility unless government is drastically cut in size, scope and spending. That means elimination of wars of aggression overseas. It means bringing the military etc back home. It means elimination of Social Security (do you really believe that Ponzi can be afforded?). It means the same for Medicare. It means the same for a myriad of alphabet soup agencies. It means acceptiong that the War on Every Whatever Thing has been lost (and was lost on the first day it was declared). It means elimination of Fanny, Freddie, the Fed, the Dept of Housing (or whatever name it goes under these days), the DOA, of subsidisation to crony mercantilists and corporations and lobbiests, of monopolistic enablers (such as the FDA for instance). It means the end of log rolling, make work and pork for the mates of politicians and senior civil servants. It means admitting to sovereign bond holders that their money is gone and they can’t be repaid- tough love chums. It means alowing the big insolvent banks to be liquidated. It means admitting to the baby boomers that most of them are not going to receive more than a tiny fraction of what they have been promised for their retirement, if anything at all. It means telling welfare recipients that the cupboard is bare. They are on their own for the most part. Of course, that aint going to occur any time soon. Govt don’t operate like that. Too hard. Too unpopular. Too honest.

As with rust, govt never sleeps. As we debate, the spending continues, gathering pace, regardless and heedless of what you believe. Here is what to expect.

INFLATION (again, look up Mises and Reisman in order to see what inflation actually is).

DEFAULT (on sovereign debt, on benefits, on welfare etc)

More and more impoverishment.

“Run a 1% surplus and that debt will disappear even faster.”

A 1% surplus? Are you on drugs? That isn’t about to occur any time soon (except perhaps in your wild imagination). The off the books unfunded liabilities of the US govt are so vast (and still growing) that they’ll not be able to be satisfied. Do you really, really believe your great, great grandchildren will be able to fess up the wealth to pay for this generation’s government debt consumption (let alone the next one and the one after that and the one after that…)? Do you understand what a Ponzi scheme it all is? Believing is all very twee and nice and that, but face reality little white boy.

“Just because you have an ideological objection to this simple, practical solution does not mean the rest of us are going to pretend it doesn’t exist.”

What you propose is not a solution to the present economic disaster. It is more of the same savage, destructive litany of failure that created the problems in the first instance. That’s the reason for my objection. What you are claiming as a solution, is anything but.

Stealing is not a solution to extravagant spending and waste. Stealing yet more isn’t a solution either. It is neither moral nor practical to steal. As attractive as theft schemes may appear to the simple minded collectivist, the proposal of increasing govt burdens on private individuals is not a solution to anything.

Another point you’d do well to consider is this. As tax burdens are raised, less revenue is captured over time. People who produce wealth move out or reduce or even cease their productive activity. There is less and less wealth to capture.

Re Clinton era budget “supluses”

Robert, there were none. What you are referring to are the manipulated figures of a propagandist. They are not true and correct. They are a manufactured fiction. If a private businessman were to have run his books of account in similar manner he’d be in jail (still would be in 20 years). It’s known as committing an accounting fraud.

It is you who needs to cast aside the blindness of self-delusion, pig ignorance and willful stupidity. You need to face reality. And the nice part is that you can, right here on this site. Time for you to start.

Sione

Stephen Grossman November 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm

>If, however, my neighbors first go through the simple formality of taking a vote, then loot my house, their actions are heralded as democracy and I have no right to defend myself.

Ive heard that Mafia leaders vote on contract murders. Maybe they should submit an OpEd to the NYT.

Stephen Grossman November 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm

>Anthony November 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

>Sorry Stephen, but I don’t think anyone even understands your moronic diatribes… why not make a point once in a while?

“to the greatest extent possible” is an evasion of principles. It says nothing. It connects to no definite fact of reality. Its weaseling. It provides an appearance of a strong stand without actually taking a stand. Its like pre-Tea Party Republicans who are for “less govt.” Less than what? All this nonsense is an evasion of individual rights.

Have you considered educating yourself to think in principles?

Anthony November 29, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Stephen Grossman,

Now that you actually made a point I can actually respond to you, thanks.

As a matter of fact, I do think in terms of principals… my foremost principal being “don’t initiate force against others (non-aggression). Every response I have made has been the outcome of my attempt to apply the specific, simple principle of non-aggression to a set of complex situations.

Now that you know my principles, how about you share some of yours?

Ned Netterville November 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Robert: “I’m saying that if I felt I was being taxed excessively, I’d express my disapproval at the ballot box, and seek to enlist the support of my fellow citizens.”

And if you lost the election you would go on being taxes excessively. You’re a slave to democracy and a practitioner of Stateolatry. If you had any guts you wouldn’t depend on your neighbors for everything you do or get or don’t get. Have some integrity of character. Do something on your own. As Sarah Palin recently said of Obama (I think), “Man up!” (Dear God, please forgive me for quoting her.)

Sione November 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Ned

Quoting S Palin? Naughty, naughty, naughty!

There is a well known resident of Vistoria, Australia known as Chopper Reid. He was a professional assassin and led a group of hardened criminals. For his crimes he served years in prison. When he was released he quit with that and started writing books and doing stage shows and the like. I understand he also started working in a retail shop in which he now has a part share.

A comedian, Ronnie Johns, has an act where he pretends to be Chopper Reid. Here is YouTube clip of Ronnie Johns in his Chopper Reid persona. No need to quote Palin any more, this contains a phrase you can substitute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unkIVvjZc9Y
Use it when dealing with state worshippers. It’s appropriate, as they are such mental weaklings.

Enjoy!

Sione

Ned Netterville November 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Thanks, mate, I’ll do that, and throw Sarah’s and her quote into the next billabong.

Sione November 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Ned

Fair dinkum, cobber. Ya welcome!

Sione

Mike S November 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

This guy Robert has repeatedly missed the point entirely.

He has a serious, fundamental misunderstanding of the argument at hand. I claim that I have unlimited rights to property. He claims that I do not. He claims that the government carefully limits these property rights for the benefit of society, and as directed by the voters in our democratic system.

We may never reach an agreement through argument, but the point is that his claims necessitate the use of force against those who feel as I do. My position requires no initiation of force to maintain.

Anthony November 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Well said, Mike S…

That is the essence of my defense of libertarianism as well.

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