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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/18522/why-should-the-government-be-limited/

Why should the government be limited?

September 28, 2011 by

In Sheldon Richman’s excellent Freeman column Elizabeth Warren’s Non Sequitur, he rightly criticizes the abysmal logic expressed by Elizabeth Warren, the demonrat who’s running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. In her remarks in this video (see below) she says:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Now this is statist and abysmal, of course. By claiming the right to tax, the state claims to own us. After all, as Supreme Court Justice John Marshall admitted in 1819, “the power to tax involves the power to destroy.” (Someone on Facebook posted some funny parodies of Warren’s comments, which are appended below.)

Now notice in Warren’s argument is the assumption that because the state provides benefits to people, then is justified letting you keep only an uspecified “hunk” of your profits. Because she is a statist, and views the state as legitimate, it is no different in kind than private entities, like a shopping mall. If I set up a shopping mall, to permit a store to set up a storefront there I can require him to agree to give me a percentage of his sales or profits–I let him keep a hunk, I take a hunk. I am providing him with infrastructure and access to customers, after all. We can negotiate the relative size of the respective hunks we are entitled to. But in principle I could demand most or all of his profit–he can take it or leave it.

If you view the state as legitimate, then there is really no reason the state has to let you keep even a majority of your property. In the eyes of statists, the state is analogous to the shopping mall, which provides infrastructure and other benefits for its tenants; likewise, the state provides all these infrastructural “benefits” Warren mentions–safety, defense, protection, roads, an educated workforce. Given these assumptions, what possible principled argument can the opponent of confiscatory taxation make? What argument is there, indeed, for limited government at all? If the state really provides useful services, why shouldn’t it, rationally, simply take whatever payment it wants from us, as the shopping mall owner does? Once you make Warren’s assumptions, then the successful businessman has no natural right whatsoever to any of the profit he’s earned–the state’s infrastructure was necessary for this. The state’s choice as to much of “his” profit he ought to be allowed to keep–a “big hunk”–is totally arbitrary and up to the state. Sure, the state does not want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. If the mall owner charges too much to the tenants, they won’t be able to make a afford to open up the storefront. So it’s a practical matter. The mall owner’s goal is to maximize his own profit; to do so, he has to permit the tenant to keep some profit, but only enough to keep him as a successful tenant. The mall owner’s goal is not to have a “limited government”, or to “minimize” the “taxes” it collects. It’s rather to maximize them. How it does so it just a pragmatic question. Likewise, why should the state try to be a “minimal” state? Why should it try to cut its spending as much as possible and reduce taxes as much as possible? No: it is offering a huge set of benefits and infrastructure to a large population over a large region that it has jurisdiction over–it is the benefactor of all these people. They get to make profit in the market because the state makes this possible; so why shouldn’t the state try to make a tidy profit from the wonderful services it provides to these ingrates? Why, if the state allows them to keep even 10% of their profits, they should be grateful–it’s still a good deal for them, for without the state these poor serfs would be living in poverty.

Now notice also that this argument applies not only to statists like Warren, but even to minarchists. Minarchists also think we need a state, that a state is both necessary and good, and provides essential services like law and order and justice. Given this view of the state, as argued above, it’s hard to see exactly why those in charge of the state ought to try to “limit” its spending, activities, regulations, and taxing. Rather it ought to use its position as the benefactor of society to enrich itself. If I come up with a wonderful and necessary service that others need, why shouldn’t I charge as much as the market will bear? But even minarchists claim that this is what the state does: it provides an invaluable service. Okay–so why shouldn’t the agency that provides this amazing service charge what the market will bear? That is, it ought to increase its income–both psychic income that state agents get from dominating and controlling people via regulations and laws and wars and prisons, and monetary income from taxes? The only limit is a practical one: you don’t want to raise taxes so high that overall tax revenues go down. So maybe 70% marginal rate is fine, but 99% would kill the goose that lays the golden egg. But there is no reason for the state to scrimp and restrict its actions just so it can charge a minimal tax like 5%.

This, ultimately, is a serious problem with any minarchist thinking. Minarchist libertarians say they are in favor of limited government, of minimal government. But they are in favor of an agency that purportedly is providing an essential service to all its citizens; like any other market actor, the state of course ought to use its position as a provider of a desired service to sell it for as high a price as it can get away with.

Of course, this is exactly why there are no limited states, why they always expand. (See Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan; Hoppe’s work on democracy.) This is why limited government is a pipedream. Those advocating limited states are really just advocating the (unlimited) state, since limited states are not possible–just as those misguided libertarians who advocate “replacing” the income tax with a sales or consumption tax are, in effect, really advocating adding a sales tax on top of the income tax, because it’s utterly unrealistic to expect the state to abolish the income tax (see my Say No To Tax Reform).

I made a similar argument before, in my post An Objectivist IP Argument for Taxation, where I noted:

Objectivists say they are against taxation; they say that you can fund a state by some kind of contract fee or lottery system. Obviously, you can’t, not without the state compelling membership or outlawing competitors, which permits them to charge monopoly prices which amounts to a tax.

But Objectivists are strongly pro-intellectual property (see Why Objectivists Hate Anarchy; IP: The Objectivists Strike Back!). They believe you deserve to be rewarded for creative, innovative, inventive action. But note that they also are extremely fond of the American Constitution and Founders; they believe the Constitution is a great achievement of the intellect–this corresponds with their belief that a proper state, such as the original American state, is a great value to man. Well, put two and two together: the Founders gave us a great creation: the Constitution, and our system of government. We all benefit from it. It’s only fair that the Founders charge us a royalty for our use of their creation–and naturally, the state itself is the agency as the natural successor to its parent-creators, the Framers and Founders, to inherit and manage this royalty-collecting right. Don’t call it a tax–call it a royalty.

And as above: the royalty need not be a “minimal” one of, say, 5%. It could be whatever the market will bear.

So:  states, if they exist, will not be and can never be limited, and those who say a minimal state is legitimate really have no good arguments that it ought to be limited. For them, the state is analogous to a mall. For anarchists, it’s not: the mall is private and peaceful, while the state is a criminal gang. Libertarians should not support even a minimal state, because it’s unrealistic and even contradictory to say it should be “limited”.

{ 72 comments }

Dean Wilson September 28, 2011 at 8:02 am

Calling her a “demonrat” in the first paragraph is either the most amazing Freudian slip of all time or the new party epithet.

scineram September 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Stephan does not slip.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Respek.

J. Murray September 28, 2011 at 8:25 am

The State isn’t anything like the mall. The mall doesn’t take away 60% of your inventory if you let your rent lapse and go elsewhere nor does it continue to ask for a rental payment even though you set up in the building across the street.

Rob Mandel September 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

There’s a big difference here. First, a tenant signs a contract which gives them exclusive access to that particular space. This means no other business can occupy it, thus the owner of the mall is incurring risk and opportunity cost. What if the business fails? He is now out not only the rent, but the loss of a more successful firm renting. He is, in effect, loaning capital to the firm and expects a return greater than the marginal utility of liquidity.

If the business folds the owner is entitled to be compensated for his loss. Likewise, if the firm moves, the owner is also entitled to loss compensation. This is based on the necessity of contracts and contractual enforcement. Let’s just say that there is a law of some sort that prohibits such “confiscation” by a mall owner. The risk would be much greater and the rent much higher. The mall owner would know that at any time a firm could leave and he’d be out not only the rent but would incur the loss of future rent until he found a new tenant. And he’d have to incur the costs of locating a new tenant as well.

Bottom line is that the mall is peaceful and voluntary. Both parties entered into the contract of their own volition. Implicit in the contract (if not specifically stated) is that it will be open certain hours, have available and reliable utilities, facilities for customers such as restrooms and parking, et al. Let’s take the other side of the coin. You dislike the mall’s “confiscation” but what if the mall falls into disrepair, the utilities don’t work consistently, etc. Does not the firm who has incurred loss from that a right to compensation? Both sides must uphold their end of the contract. It is fundamental to a free market. And no, it’s not theft if the mall confiscates, as the firm caused the mall some loss.

The state is entirely a different issue altogether. It is one purely of force, where one party arbitrarily decides what you will pay, that you do benefit, and how much. And if you choose not to submit to the “contract”, they will imprison you. In addition, what Ms. Warren completely doesn’t get is that the government takes no risk in building roads, schools, et al. If a road fails (i.e. doesn’t provide benefits greater than costs), oh well. If a bridge collapses and kills people, bummer. If roads fall into disrepair, as the freeways in my home California have, then again, oh well. If the police break into your house and shoot and kill you because they got the address wrong, the again, oh well. If they fail to educate kids, then again, oh well. If the mall fails, it closes down. The owner loses his investment. If the owner chooses poorly in tenants, it fails and closes.

The worst error of her thinking is that she has no understanding that the wealth created by the evil thugs she despises is what allowed the government in the first place to build all that. The wealth came first. It’s why poor countries have no roads, not the other way around.

Gil September 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

There is no difference – you can’t continue to reside in the mall as a squatter without repurcussions. In theory the government taking risks – primarily people could leave the country and renounce their citizenship or refuse to be particularly productive bringing the country’s economy down. It’s would be little different from a shortage of mall owners and the owners are bleeding the tenants for everything they’re worth.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

@Rob Mandel September 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

…where one party arbitrarily decides what you will pay…

In the U.S., do you believe this is literally true? Does “government” or “the state” arbitrarily decide, use force to coerce compliance, and can only be opposed with violence?

Nate September 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Let me turn that around and ask you if you get to choose how much your government takes from you in taxes.

Wildberry September 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

Nate,

For me it is a two-fold problem: spending and taxation. Both are much too high.

In case you have not been following the news, that very issue is at the center of the national politcal debate taking place at the moment. Of the two positons; 1) big government, big spending, big taxes; v. 2)smaller government, spending and taxes, which do you favor?

Or do you honestly not care how it comes out because the state is so evil, it really doesn’t matter, so you are holding out for option 3), whatever that is?

Gil September 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

Why can’t it? If you can’t service payments on a debt then the lender can seize your assets. Alternatively, the U.S. Government doesn’t tax the non-U.S. citizens around the world.

Dick Fox September 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

Normally I agree with Stephan Kinsella but in this instance I believe he has allowed Elizabeth Warren’s definition to rule his logic. Warren assumes that becuase the state supplies services it essentially has ownership of those who use those services. Kinsella takes essentially the same position but where Warren believes any government service is essential and so entitles the government to ownership, Kinsella believes no government services is justified so the government is not entitled to anything. Warren and Kinsella live in the same neighborhood but on opposite sides of the street.

But the Warren/ Kinsella basic premise is foolish. Simply because you OFFER a service to me does not give you ownership to anything I have. And using your services does not give you unlimited ownership.

Exchange is a negotiation not a right. You bargin for your interest and I bargin for my interest. If we determine that we are both better off then there is exchange, but if we do not there is no exchange. The government has a right to be a party to the negotiations just as individuals have a right. If in the negotiation I determine that a government service benefits me and the government leaders believe that providing the service benefits the ones who established the government there is no reason that services cannot be provided.

The problem with a Warren/Kinsella world is that negotiation is not an option. Warren takes it all and Kinsella takes nothing.

The brilliance of the US system of government is that it was essentially designed with enumerated powers and all other powers were reserved to the states and the people, but the enumerated powers were not chiseled in stone. Provision was made to expand the enumerated powers if the states and the people found it necessary.

Sadly the world of Warren/Kinsella has become the world we live in and the debate is about all or nothing. Negotiation where everyone wins is not longer part of the debate. Because of this everyone loses; you are either robbed of what is rightfully yours or you are robbed of using the services that best serve you. This is the wisdom and miracle of the free market.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

@Dick Fox September 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

I normally disagree with Kinsella about just about everything, but I won’t let that detract from your excellent point. I think it is true that Kinsella here has merely framed the debate as his “nothing” against the straw man “all” which he himself creates.

First, your point is correct; there is no correlation between taxation imposed ostensibly to pay for those roads, etc. and some future claim of ownership of means of production. At best, one could say that Warren’s reasoning is something like, “Since you benefited from government’s use of past tax payments, you are obligated to keep paying them.”

The direct relation between the public roads and the taxes collected to build and maintain them is where a legitimate connection exists. In this view, taxation is a means by which the desired ends can be achieved on a non-profit basis, i.e. a bureaucratic means. Mises has covered this thoroughly in his little book Bureaucracy. Whether government bureaucracy is the best means to achieve what all agree are desirable ends, free and efficient freedom of movement, is a legitimate topic of debate.

But more importantly, as is Kinsella’s style, he pretends that these taxes are being imposed by a dictator or monarch, and that the only way to view a taxpayer is as a “victim” of the state. In a government in which voters have some say, they also take some responsibility for the government they choose. There is no getting around that simple fact.

It is not necessary to agree or oppose the twisted logic of Warren to hold that there is something wrong with our level of taxation, how effectively it is being used, or even the purposes for which taxes are being used. But it is a fact that the imposition of those taxes is not by decree, and do not exist solely on the basis of violence or threat of it by a tyrant who can only be removed by violence.

It is equivocation on the concept of taxes and tyranny to assert or even imply that in all cases taxes only arise by the will of a tyrant. This is ridiculous. But it does conveniently serve as a straw man for Kinsella to attack with the same rhetoric he would use to attack the Henry the 8th, Hitler or the Mob for that matter, as he later demonstrates. It is much more convenient to his conclusion to maintain the fallacy that only a tyrant demands “protection” in the form of taxation, and naturally tyrants should be eliminated.

Tyranny is wrong, but is not the fundamental condition of our form of government in the U.S. This is a shameful rhetorical trick of an ideologue, which lacks even a modicum of scholarship.

nate-m September 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

Nothing in the government is my own choosing. I have no control over who was elected in the past and I have more control over the flow of the Mississippi river then I do over who gets elected to congress. Nobody alive had any choice over the type of government we had. They had no voice, yet they are inflicted with the full burden of paying for it and are required to obey all laws.

Democracy is used as a veneer to create the illusion of legitimacy. They system is rigged and it is getting more and more rigged with every passing month. True democracy means that the individual has the right to choose their government… nobody in this country has that right. Not for over 200 years.

If you want to argue that the state is necessary then by all means do so. There is valid arguments to be made, but stop regurgitating the propaganda the system has force-fed you your entire life. It’s not healthy.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm

@ nate-m September 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

Yes, I’m familiar with this view. You are saying you are a victim without any recourse. Fortunately this is seldom the actual fact, and certainly not the facts here.

Even the flow of the mighty Mississippi can be altered, given sufficient cooperation.

What you are really saying here is that although everything COULD be changed, it just isn’t fair that they don’t change the way YOU think they should, just because YOU say so, and you really, really mean it.

You don’t get things you really, really want, especially when they are complicated and hard to achieve, unless you really, really work at it.

I don’t have to disagree with you that the system is getting more and more “rigged” every month to disagree with your diagnosis of the problem, and your prescribed remedy. And I don’t have to be a victim of brain-washing to hold this view.

I do argue that a state, in some form, is necessary and inevitable. Therefore it matters quite a bit to distinguish between one form and another.

Finally, if you are opposed to propaganda, check out your own. Notice the use of words of absolute certainty and finality. You seem very confident of your wisdom to know precisely the difference between right and wrong in all things.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

es, I’m familiar with this view. You are saying you are a victim without any recourse.

haha, you are such a dishonest discussant. Our libertarian view that people who have money stolen from them by the state, does not rest on the assumption that these victims “have no recourse.” They are victims whether they “have a recourse” or not.

Fortunately this is seldom the actual fact, and certainly not the facts here.

Fortunately! Hey, what is the definition of democracy? Two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. I’m sure the sheep is comforted that it “had a vote”.

What you are really saying here is that although everything COULD be changed, it just isn’t fair that they don’t change the way YOU think they should, just because YOU say so, and you really, really mean it.

Nah, we’re just saying you have no right to use violence against innocent people.

I do argue that a state, in some form, is necessary and inevitable.

Necessity and inevitability are independent. Crime is inevitable. Is it “necessary”? I dunno. I would say liberty is “necessary” for us to have society–but is it inevitable? People like yourself, and other more direct criminals, show that it is not inevitable. In any case, even necessity does not prove legitimacy. “For me to have enough money to buy a house, it is necessary that Bill Gates give me some money.” Well, even if that were true, it does not automatically mean it’s legitimate to take that money from Bill Gates by force.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

And I thought you were going to play nice, right up until only 6 words in call me dishonest…

Our libertarian view that people who have money stolen from them by the state, does not rest on the assumption that these victims “have no recourse.” They are victims whether they “have a recourse” or not.

Of course, speaking of dishonesty, the validity of this turns on how you defend the use of the word “stolen”. If one authorizes money to be withdrawn from his bank account, it is not legitimate to then say it was “stolen”, right? You could hardly say that such a person was a “victim” of wrongdoing. The recourse I speak of, naturally is the right to rescind consent, to refuse to so authorize.

You, Stephan Kinsella private citizen, do not have the right to unilaterally refuse to pay a tax that has been legally imposed. You Stephan Kinsella citizen/activist, DO have a right to organize your supporters and repeal that same tax, if you can. That is your recourse, fortunately, since your many of you ideas run contrary to common sense, and so general support is a problem for you.

Fortunately! Hey, what is the definition of democracy? Two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. I’m sure the sheep is comforted that it “had a vote”.

No, that is not the definition, but you are always entertaining. Ever heard of limitations on tyranny of the majority? Let me help you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranny_of_the_majority

Nah, we’re just saying you have no right to use violence against innocent people.

Good. We agree. We may disagree about what you mean by “violence” and “innocence”.

Necessity and inevitability are independent.

Yes. That is why I used the word “and”; it is meant to conjoin independent things.

People like yourself, and other more direct criminals,

I am an “indirect criminal”?

show that it is not inevitable. In any case, even necessity does not prove legitimacy. “For me to have enough money to buy a house, it is necessary that Bill Gates give me some money.” Well, even if that were true, it does not automatically mean it’s legitimate to take that money from Bill Gates by force.

Congratulations! You have proven the obvious against an argument that has not been made. There must be a fancy libertarian word for that…

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Wildb:

And I thought you were going to play nice, right up until only 6 words in call me dishonest…

I gave you the “stupid” out. Okay, you twisted my arm: you can choose: “horribly confused and ignorant” if you prefer.

Our libertarian view that people who have money stolen from them by the state, does not rest on the assumption that these victims “have no recourse.” They are victims whether they “have a recourse” or not.

Of course, speaking of dishonesty, the validity of this turns on how you defend the use of the word “stolen”.

NOt really–it depends on what you think are property rights. And we libertarians think if I homestead an unowned thing first, then I own it. You criminals, on the other hand, think your mafia owns it.

If one authorizes money to be withdrawn from his bank account, it is not legitimate to then say it was “stolen”, right?

Yes, but I assure you, I do not authorize your criminal mafia gang to take a “hunk” of my paycheck every 2 weeks.

You, Stephan Kinsella private citizen, do not have the right to unilaterally refuse to pay a tax that has been legally imposed.

Oh, but I do. As “legality” does not mean legitimate.

You Stephan Kinsella citizen/activist, DO have a right to organize your supporters and repeal that same tax, if you can. That is your recourse, fortunately, since your many of you ideas run contrary to common sense, and so general support is a problem for you.

You are evil, and a criminal, Wildberry, and in a just world you would be run out of polite society. Go to hell.

I am an “indirect criminal”?

You condone theft, loathsome parasite.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I gave you the “stupid” out.

Well yes, it MUST be one or the other; stupid or dishonest.

Okay, you twisted my arm: you can choose: “horribly confused and ignorant” if you prefer.

Yes, that is better.

NOt really–it depends on what you think are property rights. And we libertarians think if I homestead an unowned thing first, then I own it. You criminals, on the other hand, think your mafia owns it.

Hmm. You own your money before you spend it. I don’t think you homestead it though, right? When you spend it, you don’t own it anymore. Do you complain to the person you gave it to that they have the money you own?

Yes, but I assure you, I do not authorize your criminal mafia gang to take a “hunk” of my paycheck every 2 weeks.

Funny. I did not authorize the speed limits on the freeway either, so I should not pay the fine for speeding?

Oh, but I do. As “legality” does not mean legitimate

True. But “legal” is a matter fact, “legitimate” is a matter of opinion. If you hold that a given law is not legitimate, you may legally act on that opinion by using legal processes to change the law, or repeal it entirely. What’s stopping you? It’s not like you need a tank or a fighter jet or something. You have all the legal rights you need to turn the whole thing out. Why not do it? Isn’t that an interesting question?

You are evil, and a criminal, Wildberry, and in a just world you would be run out of polite society. Go to hell. You condone theft, loathsome parasite.

How ironic for you to be speaking of polite society.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Wild:

NOt really–it depends on what you think are property rights. And we libertarians think if I homestead an unowned thing first, then I own it. You criminals, on the other hand, think your mafia owns it.

Hmm. You own your money before you spend it. I don’t think you homestead it though, right? When you spend it, you don’t own it anymore. Do you complain to the person you gave it to that they have the money you own?

The implication of my comment is that the property is owned by the homesteader–unless he has contractually trasnferred it to another, in which case the latter is now the owner. It’s all rooted in homesteading and property ownership and contract. You know this, dissembler.

But “legal” is a matter fact, “legitimate” is a matter of opinion.

My opinion is that you are an uncivilized ape.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Wildberry,

I humbly apologize to you if it offends you that I refuse to condone aggression used against you. But sorry, I won’t change my mind.

You and Dick are confused with this “all or nothing” comment. It is simply not an argument. As a principled libertarian, I am opposed to aggression–on principle, and consistently. If you identify an evil, or a poison, you oppose it–completely. It’s not as if someone opposed to evil ought to be “reasonable” and “moderate” and instead advocate a moderate amount of evil.

Aggression–to the libertarian–is evil. And it is impossible to deny that the state necessarily engages in widescale, institutionalized aggression. The libertarian to the extent he is a libertarian necessarily opposes the state. That is why it’s “all or nothing”. Your whining about my “all or nothing” stance is just a way of disguising, covering up, your own implicit endorsement of aggression. Again, I apologize for refusing to condone aggression being used against our neighbors, or even you, as you yourself want to do. Go and join in the pillaging on your own, and don’t expect me to join in. If while you are taking someone’s property with violence, muttering “hey, at least i don’t believe in all or nothing” assuages your conscience–good for you. Clap. Clap. Clap.

But more importantly, as is Kinsella’s style, he pretends that these taxes are being imposed by a dictator or monarch, and that the only way to view a taxpayer is as a “victim” of the state. In a government in which voters have some say, they also take some responsibility for the government they choose. There is no getting around that simple fact.

So those of us who vote against it or refuse to endorse it–we ought to be let out of our taxes? Hey, I’ll take that deal. Or–do you really say, well no, everyone has to pay taxes even if it’s not their fault, even if they didn’t vote for it–? I take it you would take the latter position. Meaning you are just engaging in sophistry above. Since you are not anchoring the legitimacy of taxation on people being “responsible” for it–rather, you are really saying ALL “people”–as a whole–are responsible, since after all, they can vote. In other words, you are squirming around and sneakily using a disguised version of the Elizabeth Warren collectivist argument. You are saying the same thing.

It is not necessary to agree or oppose the twisted logic of Warren to hold that there is something wrong with our level of taxation,

Too big of a hunk?

how effectively it is being used, or even the purposes for which taxes are being used.

The state is misusing its stolen plunder? Gasp!

But it is a fact that the imposition of those taxes is not by decree, and do not exist solely on the basis of violence or threat of it by a tyrant who can only be removed by violence.

Just partly on the basis of violence? Can I object to that part? Or are you gonna pitch a hissy fit about that too, now?

It is equivocation on the concept of taxes and tyranny to assert or even imply that in all cases taxes only arise by the will of a tyrant.

Hunh? Who said that? I said taxes are theft, and unjust. The state is criminal. Eye on the ball.

Tyranny is wrong, but is not the fundamental condition of our form of government in the U.S.

It just happens to be tyrannical, it doesn’t *have to* be. that’s comforting.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I humbly apologize to you if it offends you that I refuse to condone aggression used against you. But sorry, I won’t change my mind.

Thank you, I am not offended. However, we may differ on what you call “aggression”, but as a general matter, we agree that aggression is bad.

As a principled libertarian, I am opposed to aggression–on principle, and consistently.

Well, I suppose even “unprincipled libertarians” and “principled non-libertarians” might oppose aggression, assuming they agree what they mean to oppose. I personally am opposed to aggression. Is that OK, or do I have to be for aggression because you say I’m an “unprincipled non-libertarian”?

If you identify an evil, or a poison, you oppose it–completely. It’s not as if someone opposed to evil ought to be “reasonable” and “moderate” and instead advocate a moderate amount of evil.

Again, we agree. One cannot be a “little bit” pregnant, or be opposed to “too much” evil.

We may differ, however, on a given diagnosis and preferred remedy.

Aggression–to the libertarian–is evil.

Apparently libertarians have something in common with other people.

And it is impossible to deny that the state necessarily engages in widescale, institutionalized aggression.

Impossible? Deny? THE state? Ah, it seems there might be some room here for a little more specificity.

The libertarian to the extent he is a libertarian necessarily opposes the state.

Let’s see if I catch your meaning; “I hate THE STATE!” Is that about it?

That is why it’s “all or nothing”. Your whining about my “all or nothing” stance is just a way of disguising, covering up, your own implicit endorsement of aggression.

I agree equivocation is fun. It allows you to make ridiculous conclusions appear to follow from logic. But if you want to actually construct sound arguments, well pardon me, but some of us can be a little picky about using words with some precision.

Again, I apologize for refusing to condone aggression being used against our neighbors, or even you,…

Don’t apologize. I agree with everything you say here, except this:

…as you yourself want to do.

Sorry, Stephan, but I don’t want to condone aggression, especially against my neighbors. How can this be? One of us must be wrong…

Go and join in the pillaging on your own, and don’t expect me to join in.

With your inability to distinguish one thing from another, you would make a pretty poor pirate. And in a more general sense, I certainly don’t expect you to join in. To paraphrase Woody Allen, I doubt you would join any club that would have you for a member.

If while you are taking someone’s property with violence, muttering “hey, at least i don’t believe in all or nothing” assuages your conscience–good for you. Clap. Clap. Clap.

It is hard to come up with something intelligent in response to this. Let’s see, you compared me to a mugger who leaves a couple of bucks with the victim because it makes me feel better for robbing him. And you’re clapping. Am I right to guess you are being sarcastic in your clapping gesture, maybe rolling your eyes, and you don’t really think this is good for me?

So those of us who vote against it or refuse to endorse it–we ought to be let out of our taxes? Hey, I’ll take that deal. Or–do you really say, well no, everyone has to pay taxes even if it’s not their fault, even if they didn’t vote for it–? I take it you would take the latter position. Meaning you are just engaging in sophistry above.

Huh? What do you consider cleverly devious about what you’ve said I said? In any case, I didn’t say any of this so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Since you are not anchoring the legitimacy of taxation on people being “responsible” for it–rather, you are really saying ALL “people”–as a whole–are responsible, since after all, they can vote.

Ultimately, I think I am saying that I am anchoring the legitimacy of taxation on people being, ultimately, responsible for it. For example, slightly over half of all voters wanted Obama to be their president. They are responsible for getting what they wanted and the rest are responsible for not getting what they wanted, and we are all responsible for the fact that nobody got what they really wanted. Does that help?

In other words, you are squirming around and sneakily using a disguised version of the Elizabeth Warren collectivist argument. You are saying the same thing.

Well, you are certainly accusing me of meaning and saying things I don’t mean and didn’t say. What I did say was:

It is not necessary to agree or oppose the twisted logic of Warren to hold that there is something wrong with our level of taxation,

This doesn’t sound like a very strong endorsement.

Too big of a hunk?

Yes.

The state is misusing its stolen plunder? Gasp!

By the way, when did you stop beating your wife? “Stolen plunder”??

But it is a fact that the imposition of those taxes is not by decree, and do not exist solely on the basis of violence or threat of it by a tyrant who can only be removed by violence.

Just partly on the basis of violence? Can I object to that part? Or are you gonna pitch a hissy fit about that too, now?

No “hissy fit”, pitched or otherwise. Taxes are not imposed here in the USA by violence. They are enforced by the threat and/or use of violence, like all laws. If you are opposed to this in principle, being a principled libertarian and all, then you cannot endorse the use of PDAs either. Now what? Rights without enforcement are what? Laws without enforcement are what?

Hunh? Who said that? I said taxes are theft, and unjust. The state is criminal. Eye on the ball.

You did not say this. It is the implication of what you did say. Theft is an act of force. You said taxes are theft. The question is, are taxes theft? If they are imposed by a tyrant (i.e. government without restrictions and by power of force), a case for theft can be made. If they are imposed through a process of consent, even if indirect, you cannot make a case for theft. If the state actually steals from its citizens under threat of force, that is criminal. If on the other hand they are the result of legitimate and legal functions of self-government, it is no more theft than an authorized automatic withdrawal from your bank. To call such an arrangement criminal is without foundation.

You equivocate on taxes and tyranny by assuming away this distinction. Eye on the ball.

It just happens to be tyrannical, it doesn’t *have to* be. that’s comforting.

As if to punctuate my point: It just IS tyrannical? I see.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

as a general matter, we agree that aggression is bad.

Not true, as you think the state is good, yet the state necessarily uses aggression. So, you are choosing state aggression. Unless you seriously want to maintain that the state, ha hah aha, does not use aggression? hahhaha

even “unprincipled libertarians” and “principled non-libertarians” might oppose aggression, assuming they agree what they mean to oppose.

they might, but they don’t. If they did, they would be principled.

I personally am opposed to aggression. Is that OK, or do I have to be for aggression because you say I’m an “unprincipled non-libertarian”?

You are not opposed to it, since you endorse the state, whcih necessarily employs aggression. You are just a liar, or confused.

Aggression–to the libertarian–is evil.

Apparently libertarians have something in common with other people.

No, we do not; if you oppose aggression consistently, you are libertarian. If you are not libertarian, that is just b/c you commit or endorse it to some degree or another. Congratulations on not being as bad a criminal-statist as FDR.

The libertarian to the extent he is a libertarian necessarily opposes the state.

Let’s see if I catch your meaning; “I hate THE STATE!” Is that about it?

No. Libertarians oppose all aggression: private, and public. But that implies they also hate the state–the agency of public (institutionalized) aggression.

Sorry, Stephan, but I don’t want to condone aggression, especially against my neighbors. How can this be? One of us must be wrong…

You are. You believe in taxation–hey, your neighbors are taxed.

Let’s see, you compared me to a mugger who leaves a couple of bucks with the victim because it makes me feel better for robbing him.

Actually the mugger is more honest. He does not deny he is a mugger. He leaves me alone after he absconds w/ the loot.

I think I am saying that I am anchoring the legitimacy of taxation on people being, ultimately, responsible for it.

That’s so profound! Tell it to Irwin Schiff, you criminal.

Taxes are not imposed here in the USA by violence. They are enforced by the threat and/or use of violence, like all laws.

What you are saying is disgusting. Laughing off the very evil you condone. Shame.

Theft is an act of force. You said taxes are theft. The question is, are taxes theft? If they are imposed by a tyrant (i.e. government without restrictions and by power of force), a case for theft can be made.

I didn’ characterize it as a “tyrant”. only as a thief. you dishonest distracter.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Having been down this road with you before, I sense you are about to go off the rails. One sign is the increased reliance on ad hominem.

Not true, as you think the state is good, yet the state necessarily uses aggression. So, you are choosing state aggression. Unless you seriously want to maintain that the state, ha hah aha, does not use aggression? Hahhaha

We don’t even agree on what you actually mean by “state” so I hardly think you are prepared to tell me what I think. You can’t seem to construct a single sentence without trying to put words in my mouth that not only are not a accurate reflection of anything I’ve said, they are crammed full or your ideological assumptions that you no longer even pretend to smuggle in; you fly them like a flag…

The “state” (whatever you mean by this. I think it means to you the opposite of the absence of something you like, whatever that is) does not “necessarily” use “aggression”. I can imagine an ideal government that only uses defensive force. Now what? So no, I am not choosing aggression. I do seriously want to maintain that aggression is bad, used by the state or anyone else. Of course we might have disagreements about what aggression is in a given set of facts, and whether it is being used, by the state or anyone else.

they might, but they don’t. If they did, they would be principled.

It seems that you are saying that you have a lock on the “right” principles, and everyone else is just a “technical problem”. One shudders at the thought that you would be the one to direct the “technology” to the “problem”. Speaking of tyranny!

You are not opposed to it, since you endorse the state, which necessarily employs aggression.

There you go, telling me what I think again. Doesn’t liberty have anything to do with being able to think my own thoughts without you telling me what they are? Are you doing a poor imitation of Carnac here?

You are just a liar, or confused.

At least you are mixing up the false dichotomies.

Aggression–to the libertarian–is evil.

I agree with libertarians on this point, then.

“Apparently libertarians have something in common with other people.”

No, we do not; if you oppose aggression consistently, you are libertarian. If you are not libertarian, that is just b/c you commit or endorse it to some degree or another. Congratulations on not being as bad a criminal-statist as FDR.

If libertarians don’t have something in common with other people, that might explain why it is such a politically impotent force. I don’t know how FDR got in here, but I think I oppose aggression pretty consistently. I get that you disagree. I have been wondering how that can be true, I mean we can’t both be right. Could it be that you call some things aggression when I don’t? Could that be it?

No. Libertarians oppose all aggression: private, and public. But that implies they also hate the state–the agency of public (institutionalized) aggression.

See, again with a new definition of “state”. I oppose all aggression, both private and public. But then when you say state means an agency of public aggression, well I’m against that too! What’s happening here? Could it be ambiguity of terms?

You are. You believe in taxation–hey, your neighbors are taxed.

I really never said I believed in taxation. I just said that the fact that taxes exist does not make them necessarily theft. But even if they were, they may not be in all cases. We might have some differences of opinion.

For example, you think policing of rights can be done by a private enterprise, a PDA. I don’t think you can sell coercion for profit, and both victim and accused should be subject to a neutral third party, not a hired gun of one or the other. If such an enterprise was to be non-profit, then the services they provide cannot be the subject to the price mechanisms of a free market. You would need a bureaucratic model. Taxes are one way to fund such a bureaucracy, but perhaps not the only way. Let’s assume free people on Van Dun’s Quasi-Earth agreed to set up such a bureaucracy, would those taxes be theft? I don’t think so.

Actually the mugger is more honest. He does not deny he is a mugger. He leaves me alone after he absconds w/ the loot.

I see, a mugger but less honest. That puts me pretty low on the scale of “principled libertarians” and pretty high on the list of “technical problems”. I think I get it.

Taxes are not imposed here in the USA by violence. They are enforced by the threat and/or use of violence, like all laws.

What you are saying is disgusting. Laughing off the very evil you condone. Shame.

What have I “laughed off”? Just because you think all laws are “dripping with evil” doesn’t mean I have to. But I agree some are. CTEA is bad law, for example.

I didn’ characterize it as a “tyrant”. only as a thief. you dishonest distracter.

If I’m going to go to all the trouble of explaining myself, I wish you would pay attention.

I know you didn’t characterize taxes as a tyrant. I am the one who drew the connection, saying there is a distinction between taxes imposed by a tyrant, and those which are not. They wouldn’t both be theft. Your failure to make that distinction is the basis of my objection. In the case of my quasi-earth example above, taxes would not be theft.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Having been down this road with you before, I sense you are about to go off the rails. One sign is the increased reliance on ad hominem.

It is not ad hominem. I have a quite rational antipathy for those who endorse criminality. You do realize you are commenting on a libertarian blog, talking to a libertarian, right?

There you go, telling me what I think again. Doesn’t liberty have anything to do with being able to think my own thoughts without you telling me what they are? Are you doing a poor imitation of Carnac here?

You are “able” to “think” your “own thoughts”. I cannot “tell you” “waht” they “are.” I am “free” to have my “own opinion” of them, and to “state it” “outloud”. Get it?

If libertarians don’t have something in common with other people, that might explain why it is such a politically impotent force.

This snide comment does not justify the state violence you support. It is pathetic that you and your statist kind get your way, then seek to mock your victims for complaining about it.

I don’t know how FDR got in here, but I think I oppose aggression pretty consistently.

Exactly. I am complimenting you on being less of a statist than FDR. But a statist, you remain.

Could it be that you call some things aggression when I don’t? Could that be it?

Yes, you don’t “call” actual aggression by the word “aggression” sometimes–instead you “call” it “legitimate state action” to masque the aggression that you favour.

I really never said I believed in taxation. I just said that the fact that taxes exist does not make them necessarily theft. But even if they were, they may not be in all cases.

Libertarianism, unlike the confused views of the outside, does not permit having it both ways. So, you are out of luck here. Try a Rick Perry board.

For example, you think policing of rights can be done by a private enterprise, a PDA.

No I don’t. My case against anarchy is that aggression, including state violence, violates rights and is illegitimate. This observation does not imply or rest on any viw about what I think private enterprise “can do”. But you are an unprincipled, fickle, pragmatic consequentialist, so I don’t expect you to even understand what I mean here.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm

@Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

It is not ad hominem. I have a quite rational antipathy for those who endorse criminality. You do realize you are commenting on a libertarian blog, talking to a libertarian, right?

Me too. Point? I am aware that I am talking to the Kinsella brand of libertarian. I am not making you responsible for an entire philosophy that you personalize as “we”. I am just reflecting my interpretation of what you actually say. That seems sufficient.

This snide comment does not justify the state violence you support. It is pathetic that you and your statist kind get your way, then seek to mock your victims for complaining about it.

I think the impotence as a political force is a rather obvious statement of fact. You keep saying what I think and what I support, but you seem to use only your own words to support this. So your accusations of my support for violence, and that I get my way, and that I’m mocking my victims for being weak and ineffective for complaining is, well disingenuous. If you wish to take issue with something I say, please do. If you are going to provide both sides of the dialogue to sharpen your libertarian knives against an opponent of your own creation, well you realize you are doing it, right? The alternative is a little scary.

Exactly. I am complimenting you on being less of a statist than FDR. But a statist, you remain.

Thank you? If statist means that I hold a position that falls short of your ancap litmus test, you are correct. Categorizing anyone who merely rejects your brand or anarchism as statist is, well to be kind, stupid. From such a point of view, there is no difference between me, FDR and Stalin except by degree of evil. Is it any wonder that such a view does not seem to be catching the world by storm?

Yes, you don’t “call” actual aggression by the word “aggression” sometimes–instead you “call” it “legitimate state action” to masque the aggression that you favour.

I would offer that action is “legitimate” when it is consistent with one’s ethical codes of conduct, whether done by a state or individual. I just allow for the possibility that a perfectly reasonable and legitimate ethical code might permit a society to voluntarily choose to fund some services that do not accommodate the profit motive without creating undesirable consequences, with taxes. That does not automatically make them evil.

Libertarianism, unlike the confused views of the outside, does not permit having it both ways. So, you are out of luck here. Try a Rick Perry board.

Outside? You should try getting off the island once in a while. It is not taxes you oppose, it is the state, as you visualize it. But because the state has taxes, you hate taxes too. You remind me of the Queen of Hearts; “Off with their heads!”

I think I have said before, one way to define wisdom is the ability to distinguish one thing from another.

No I don’t.

I’ve misunderstood you on PDA’s?

My case against anarchy

Typo?

is that aggression, including state violence, violates rights and is illegitimate.

As I’ve said, we agree that aggression is bad, but not all state violence, if I assume I understand what you’re talking about, is aggression. That is a question of rights, which determines what acts are aggressive and which are defensive. There is an important distinction there.

This observation does not imply or rest on any viw about what I think private enterprise “can do”. But you are an unprincipled, fickle, pragmatic consequentialist, so I don’t expect you to even understand what I mean here.

Wouldn’t it be a mind-blower if somehow you figured out I know exactly what you mean, and still think what I think? It is not necessary that I misunderstand to disagree. There are other possibilities.

Your observation seems to be that the state in all its forms and manifestations is dripping with evil. You believe this because you opine that the state seizes power by aggressive force, and uses this aggression to remain dominant over its subjugated victims. Once it has this power, it uses it to achieve its own ends, and as the means to grant privilege to those it favors and to oppress those it does not.

You hold that all states, regardless of how they originate or what designs they adopt, move inevitably to totalitarianism. Your prescription for what we should do about it is: Let is collapse and try not to get hurt by the falling pieces. Once it is gone, cooperate with all of the gratefully liberated to keep it gone. Because you believe humans are logical and rational when not oppressed by the violent and illegitimate powers of the state, the free market will be the cornucopia of all that is needed for this paradise to prosper. Humankind will realize that the concept of a benevolent state was all an illusion propagated by the state propaganda machine, financed by the selfish crony capitalists.
Out of the natural state of stateless chaos, comprised of billions of unorganized and unrestrained humans now free from the aggression of the state, will emerge peace and order powered by the internet and entrepreneurs in a totally free market.

New codes of law will naturally emerge from a system of private courts and private security agencies just to make sure there are not technical problems that can’t be handled by forceful and decisive defense. You believe in Quasi-Earth.

Is that about it?

Mr Whipple September 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Taxation is theft regardless of who imposes it.

“But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: ‘Your money, or your life.’ And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a ‘protector,’ and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to ‘protect’ those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful ‘sovereign,’ on account of the ‘protection’ he affords you. He does not keep ‘protecting’ you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.”

- Lysander Spooner

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Yes, an interesting opinion from someone who wrote in wrote in the mid 1800′s, an anarchist, and whose post-office was put out of busines by the USPS monopoly.

I hope you don’t mind that I migh take some minor issue to his thesis? For example, I would not palce the highway robber above a legitimate governement, but that’s just me.

Mr Whipple September 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Ahhh, but the government is not “legitimate”. Did you sign the Constitution? Did you agree to its terms? Did you send someone to represent you?

A one-sided, open ended contract is not a valid contract. It takes at least two, mutually agreeing parties.

I do not agree to the terms and conditions of the US Constitution. How can you justify imposing it on me?

Kid Salami October 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm

“Did you sign the Constitution? Did you agree to its terms? Did you send someone to represent you? ”

I’m curious – what system exactly do you propose, one to which new born babies are able to sign up? Or when “should” children sign up and why?

If your point is that there should be nothing at all to actually sign up to, it would seem that only systems which follow logically from some assumptions can be “imposed” on new borns – there must be some argument that babies later in life once they learn to speak couldn’t possibly disagree with.

Do you agree? WOuld you care to point out what these assumptions/arguments are?

nate-m October 1, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I’m curious – what system exactly do you propose, one to which new born babies are able to sign up? Or when “should” children sign up and why?

I decided on my terms when I started working, and bought a car, and rented a house. Actually I have a pretty significant number of social contracts and obligations that I must adhere to that I agreed to. :) Didn’t need a state government for any of it.

So one way they would be An-Cap style government.

Then the answer to ‘when should children sign up’ would be when are emancipated from their parents and decide to join the adult world. They then can choose to take on responsibility and adjust to society or they can deny it all together and go off and live in exile in the wilderness or whatever. (of which there is plenty of room for people that want to be hermits)

A less perfect, but probably more practical, approach would be to try to get to as close to ‘pure democracy’ as humanly possible. Which means to restrict government to the size of city-states were people have a wide variety of ‘official’ governments to choose from based on geographical location. In the case of the USA this would mean to relocate the bulk of State (as in like Nevada) and Federal power down to the county level through constitutional amendments.

The only reason the Federal government can be as terrible as it is is because it’s very difficult to escape it’s grasp. If we reduce the size of Washington DC’s influence to just Washington DC then that would solve a huge number of problems for a huge number of people.

Kid Salami October 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

“Then the answer to ‘when should children sign up’ would be when are emancipated from their parents and decide to join the adult world. ”

So you agree then that parents are free to initiate at least some force against their children, without worry of any punishment, until such time as the child reaches some age (an age on which we would all no doubt disagree but lets leave that for now). Whether I agree or disagree with this is irrelevant – the question is, how does what you say follow from the NAP? Can you explain this to me please?

Stephan Kinsella October 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Kid S: “So you agree then that parents are free to initiate at least some force against their children, without worry of any punishment, until such time as the child reaches some age”

No. The parent is just an agent for the child. He makes decisions for the child until the child is compos mentis. He is presumed to be the one to speak for the child, unless duties of parenthood are breached–eg., abuse of the child. So the parent can consent on the child’s behalf to certain manipulations and bodily touchings, so that they are not aggression, since they are consented to by the child (by his parental agent-guardian).

Kid Salami October 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

“since they are consented to by the child (by his parental agent-guardian)”

Well that makes no sense at all. What other scenarios are there where a “guardian” can make decisions about whether you “consent” or not for you and how does this follow from the NAP? I think you’ll find that it doesn’t.

Matthew Swaringen October 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm

“wrote in wrote in the mid 1800′s”
Oh, yeah.. forgot all those people who wrote in the past should be shrugged off..

“an anarchist”
Which no one chooses based on any merit in your opinion.

“put out of busines by the USPS monopoly.”
This is at best incomplete, if not downright inaccurate.

Congress intervened so that the USPS could compete..
http://books.google.com/books?id=wPmIGtrxXb0C&pg=PA27&dq=%22lysander+spooner%22+%22post+office%22+monopoly&hl=en&ei=fw9QTaryCcbngQfFqPnmDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22lysander%20spooner%22%20%22post%20office%22%20monopoly&f=false

“above a legitimate government”
He made the argument shortly after a civil war, a war that should fairly clearly have settled the issue of whether the government really rested on consent of the governed. Clearly for a very large part of the country, it did not.

Wildberry October 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

@Matthew Swaringen October 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Your points have some merit, but you assume too much about what I’m saying. I agree one could find the inferences you draw if you wanted to.

If you are asking…

No, we should not shrug off historical writers, but it can be helpful to keep in mind the historical context from which they are speaking.

I am sure anarchists see merit in their position, and reasonable people can disagree. But I think you can also agree that it is difficult sometimes to separate the ideology from one’s analysis, and that foregone conclusions have a tendency to smuggle in their favored assumptions. I think that is probably the case here.

The story about the USPS is admittedly incomplete. Thank you for the links. I was only pointing out that he was personally harmed by the system he criticizes, not that his criticisms are solely the result of his experience as a victim of state action in his business, but the again perhaps they are. There have been a number of milestones in the history of the USPS, and apparently it is not over, as they find today it is difficult to compete with private firms. I don’t claim to know the merits of the case here.

And yes, the motives for the Civil War were complex and there is much to criticize about the heavy-handed and in my view unfair actions of the north relative to trade tariffs imposed on the southern cotton exporters to the benefit of northern textile manufacturers. Not every historical event can be viewed as fair or legitimate with the benefit of hindsight. As to whether the outcome would have been for the better or worse had the south successfully seceded, we will never now. But it came with a terrible price, as all war does. Perhaps the rights of states to secede will be tested again soon. That seems like a remote possibility, but more likely today than 100 years ago.

Nonetheless, you seem to have gotten distracted by all of this, and missed my essential point, which is that anarchists have a tendency to equivocate the actions of a highway robber and governments in a very general way, and the views expressed here illustrate that observation, in my opinion.

I take your point regarding the North’s aggression on the South, but even that cannot be generalized to every single action that government has ever taken before or since.

That is too broad a brush, and reduces a complex subject to sloganeering. It is an effective metaphor, I agree, to prefer the highway robber to the conduct of government, but I object on the basis that the existence of the highway robber is one justification for the existence of the government you oppose.

It is not necessary for me to choose sides between the two. Robbery is a crime, no matter who perpetrates it. We apparently differ on whether the concept of crime applies to government in all cases and circumstances, but probably agree that it always applies to the highwayman. So I can be sure to consistently oppose the highwayman, but can oppose government only on a case by case basis. You and other anarchists seem to consider them equivalent, I do not. But that’s just me.

Wildberry October 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

@Stephan Kinsella October 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

No. The parent is just an agent for the child. He makes decisions for the child until the child is compos mentis.

If what Rothbard says is true, that all rights are negative rights, then how does a parent attain this right to act as the child’s agent? The theory of agency means that the agent acts with authority only within the scope of the principal’s consent to act. If the child is the principal, why would the child consent to acts of aggression in enforcing decisions contrary to the wishes of the child?

If you claim that the child is incapable of consent due to infancy, the how does the child consent to agency? If the child does not consent, what is the justification for aggression by the parent to enforce obedience?

In other words, by what principle does the child consent to parental agency, and then consent to forego the right to withdraw that consent? How does that wash with NAP?

Also, I also have to wonder how this washes with your criticism of the State for “inflicting violence on the innocent”? It is OK for “libertarians” to inflict violence in this case?

He is presumed to be the one to speak for the child, unless duties of parenthood are breached

By whom is he “presumed” to speak for the child? Who imposes the “duties of parenthood”?

If the parent uses force against the child to coerce obedience to the will of the parent, is that a breach of parental duties or is the parent’s failure to do so a breach? How do you distinguish between one kind of obedience and others? Can the parent require the child to play on the freeway?

So the parent can consent on the child’s behalf to certain manipulations and bodily touchings, so that they are not aggression, since they are consented to by the child (by his parental agent-guardian).

If a parent beats the child, then it is presumed by your rule that the child consents to this beating?

If the parent kills the child, and neither the parent or child has any living relatives, who enforces the rights of the child to his own life, or is that something he only obtains upon majority? Wouldn’t your theory ultimately imply that the child consented to his own murder?

Apparently Rothbard says that this period of agency last until the time that the child makes the voluntary choice to leave home and become independent. If a child remains in the house until 30 years old, does the parent have the right to murder the “child” with his consent? What if he is mentally disabled?

Are you saying that the parental right of agency, once established at birth, is unlimited until the child leaves home?

Stephan Kinsella October 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm
No. The parent is just an agent for the child. He makes decisions for the child until the child is compos mentis.

If what Rothbard says is true, that all rights are negative rights, then how does a parent attain this right to act as the child’s agent?

“True”? Rothbard is talking about norms, not facts. In any case, he “attains” it because when in society you have rights-bearing agents who are temporarily incapacitated, or due to their nature as developing children, people will want to know what is consented to by the child, or on the child’s behalf. So the institution of guardianship (agency) will naturally arise, and people will ask: who is this kid’s guardian? Of course, the default assumption will be the parents, do to their natural connection to the child. THis is really not hard. And no, Wildberry, before you take your next leap: this kind of reasoning does not justify the state or social contract theory.

If the child is the principal, why would the child consent to acts of aggression in enforcing decisions contrary to the wishes of the child?

Same reason I as a husband, if I have an epileptic seizure, might be deemed to hvae consented to my wife’s authorizing medical personnel to secure me physically until my seizure has passed.

If you claim that the child is incapable of consent due to infancy, the how does the child consent to agency? If the child does not consent, what is the justification for aggression by the parent to enforce obedience?

WEll if you want to claim he has no rights, and that infanticide is justified–hey, that’s on you. But unless you want to argue this, the infant has rights, but it obviously unable to fully exercise them, so his guardian does in his stead. Really. Wildberry, this is not very difficult. And no, it does not justify the mass violent aggression of your cherished state.

Also, I also have to wonder how this washes with your criticism of the State for “inflicting violence on the innocent”? It is OK for “libertarians” to inflict violence in this case?

The state may not aggress against innocent victims, no offense you. The parent may decide for the child for things in his interest. There is no conflict.

He is presumed to be the one to speak for the child, unless duties of parenthood are breached

By whom is he “presumed” to speak for the child?

By those in the community.

Who imposes the “duties of parenthood”?

The parent does by becoming a parent.

If the parent kills the child, and neither the parent or child has any living relatives, who enforces the rights of the child to his own life, or is that something he only obtains upon majority?

Whatever agency would defend the rights of unrepresented people. Of course there could be other penalties imposed on the parents here–ostracism etc. BUt in most cases there are other people standing in line to take the child from the abusive parent: uncles and aunts, grandparents, older siblings, cousins, even close family freinds, or rescue charities. They would assert the right on behalf of the child to be emancipated from teh first family. It should be easy to demonstrate to a neutral forum that the child would not consent any more to guardianship by the abusive parents, and would consent to the next one in line instead. Again: this is not difficult; and, again: no, Wildberry, none of this justifies the state.

Wouldn’t your theory ultimately imply that the child consented to his own murder?

No. The parent’s guardian authority is limited by the duty to care for the child. If I loan you my car does this mean I consent to you running me over with it? No, of course not. tHe authority is circumscribed by purpose and context–again, no offense, you.

Wildberry October 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm

@Stephan Kinsella October 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm

In any case, he “attains” it because when in society you have rights-bearing agents who are temporarily incapacitated, or due to their nature as developing children, people will want to know what is consented to by the child, or on the child’s behalf. So the institution of guardianship (agency) will naturally arise, and people will ask: who is this kid’s guardian?

Naturally I already understand the elementary points you are making. The question is whether positive rights exist on planet Kinsella.

Such a theory of assumed agency by right of parenthood implies that parents have the positive right to impose discipline on a child, and the child has no negative rights against aggression by parents. That is the normative rule of which you speak, correct?

Of course, the default assumption will be the parents, do to their natural connection to the child. THis is really not hard.

Nothing is hard if you assume enough. We may agree to assume that the natural candidate for guardian of an infant is the parent, and further simplify by assuming there is only one, or the two agree perfectly on everything. What I’m asking you not to assume but to state explicitly is how this guardian fulfills their role without violating NAP?

And no, Wildberry, before you take your next leap: this kind of reasoning does not justify the state or social contract theory.

This question has nothing to do, or at least I am not asserting it does have anything to do with either.

Same reason I as a husband, if I have an epileptic seizure, might be deemed to have consented to my wife’s authorizing medical personnel to secure me physically until my seizure has passed.

Yes, I agree that under these facts we may assume that if you were not incapacitated by your seizure, you would reasonably consent to restraint.

But what if a parent decides it is not in the best interest of the child to learn to read or to take medicine? Is that still OK and squares with NAP?

But unless you want to argue this [infanticide] , the infant has rights, but it obviously unable to fully exercise them, so his guardian does in his stead.

You are assuming that everyone in the “community” agrees that what the parent decides is in the “best interest” of the child. That does not present much difficulty in a discussion of the relationship of rights between the parent and child, and the operation of NAP. I am asking you to assume a negative case, where there is disagreement about what “best interest” means, and tell me how the application of NAP sorts that out. As Van Dun points out, it is a strict liability rule. If it is really not hard, walk me though it.

Really. Wildberry, this is not very difficult. And no, it does not justify the mass violent aggression of your cherished state.

meh

The state may not aggress against innocent victims, no offense you. The parent may decide for the child for things in his interest. There is no conflict.

This seems like a good rule. I am wondering how it works in this case, where we assume there IS a conflict. That is what illuminates how the NAP is applied consistently.

By those in the community.

Well, that is a rather large leap, isn’t it? In this community, I presume there is uniform adherence to NAP. I am assuming there is some conflict between what some see as being in the interests of the child, and therefore within the scope of this agency concept, and what others see as being against the child’s interests. How does NAP apply such that strict liability can be assigned to the correct party?

Are you saying that the agency powers are unlimited, or they are limited only by the most obvious standards, like murder? I am asking who seeks justice for the child who has no advocates, since obviously the child cannot hire a PDA.

Does the “community” assume the enforcement responsibilities for anyone that lives within a territory? Does the parent decide which community, and therefore what rules the child lives under based on what decisions the parent makes under its agency authority?

If the child is beaten the day before he wanted to leave home, because the parent believed it was in the best interest of the child to stay home, is that OK and within the limitations of NAP?

The parent does by becoming a parent.

OK, let’s agree; the parent assumes the duty of guardian/agent by the act of becoming impregnated and delivering a child. Let’s assume that child turns out to be mentally deficient, and will never reach an age of competence. The parent decides that it is in the best interest of the child to stay locked up in the basement. Can the “community” trespass on the land of the parent and take the child against the will of the parent? Whose rights prevail, the agency rights of the parent, or the individual rights of the child?

Whatever agency would defend the rights of unrepresented people.

OK, what agency in the Ancap world protects the rights of underrepresented people? I have given an example; a murdered child who has no relatives other than the murdering parent. Who protects that “underrepresented person”? I think Kathleen Touchstone has argued pretty persuasively that under Ancap, there is no such agency.

But perhaps she is wrong? You have an explanation? If you have an answer, I would be interested in the reason such an agency would endeavor to seek justice for a victim who cannot pay, and how the expense of such an agency is funded through market forces.

Of course there could be other penalties imposed on the parents here–ostracism etc.

Of course, but I am not raising the question of methods or effectiveness of various forms of coercion.

BUt in most cases there are other people standing in line to take the child from the abusive parent: uncles and aunts, grandparents, older siblings, cousins, even close family freinds, or rescue charities.

Again, yes we can assume that, but it is not the case I am presenting. I’m asking what happens with the child who has no advocates that depend on these types of motivations. It is reasonable to assume that relatives or even childless couples would seek to intervene on the child’s behalf. That is the easy case. I am asking you for some explanation of the more difficult case, where the child has no relative save the wrongdoer. Does the child have a right and a cause of action only if some advocate steps forward? What is the strict liability case, where wrongdoing as defined by the legal rule holds the actor strictly liable for their acts.

If the parent is the agent of the child, and the child cannot consent, and the parent exercises her right to act is a way that raises the question of prevailing rights between the parent and child, how does NAP work to provide for justice under a strict liability rule?

To put it another way, if positive rights do not exist, the parent has a free hand? Or can the rights of the child can be expressed in terms that result in retribution even if there is no advocate to pay for it, and even if the victim cannot be compensated for their loss.

If positive rights do exist, then a violation of those rights is aggression and violates NAP. But Rothbard says there are only negative rights; i.e. freedom from aggression. How are the marginal cases of parental discretion interpreted such that I can understand how to apply the strict liability rule?

It should be easy to demonstrate to a neutral forum that the child would not consent any more to guardianship by the abusive parents, and would consent to the next one in line instead. Again: this is not difficult;

Yes, I agree that a neutral forum (how does the child with no relatives or assets pay for that, especially if dead or disabled?) would find it easy to recognize murder and similar cases of abuse. But what about the marginal case that I’ve raised, like the right to read, or to take drugs, or the rights of someone mentally incompetent? I’m not saying there is not an answer; I’m just asking what it is?

and, again: no, Wildberry, none of this justifies the state.

I agree, but that is not my question. In fact if I can understand how the NAP works in this case, I think it is a strong argument that the state, at least in this instance, is not necessary to the administration of justice.

No. The parent’s guardian authority is limited by the duty to care for the child.

OK, so the parent has a duty to satisfy the positive rights of the child to receive “proper care”? That conflicts with Rothbard, I think. Also, any need to define “proper” so that strict liability applies? If not, then how do you deal with the ambiguities of facts in the application of NAP?

If I loan you my car does this mean I consent to you running me over with it? No, of course not. He authority is circumscribed by purpose and context–again, no offense, you.

Yes I agree. You are an adult and competent (for the sake of argument) and if you survived, you would be able to argue that your consent for me to use your car did not include consent to run you down with it. If you didn’t survive, are you assuming that one of your relatives or friends would put up the cash to come after me with a PDA?

It is exactly the “purpose and context” that I’m asking about. It is trivial to understand this when the facts present an obvious case. If we assume vehicular manslaughter, it is not difficult to apply strict liability. If however we assume some marginal case, where the distinction between aggression and non-aggression is beyond the third-grade level, like say a parent’s use of corporal punishment for a child’s choice of clothes, reading material, or music, then it becomes a little harder to say what is aggression and what is not. I’m asking you to help me see the light.

No worries, I am well conditioned to not be offended by you.

Andras October 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm

And what happens when the child initiates violence? I know it is very very rare but it might happen.
Wildberry, there is a wonderful interview with Tibor Machan here:
http://www.thedailybell.com/3020/Anthony-Wile-Tibor-Machan-on-Private-Morality-Versus-Government-Perfectionism-and-Who-Wins-

nate-m September 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

The problem is that the state does not just ‘offer’ services. Some services are ‘offers’ others are completely involuntary. And what is more the payment for these services are completely involuntary… you are forced to pay for the services whether you use them or not. That’s the fundamental problem with Warren’s logic here. The government does not ‘own’ services it ‘offers’… It uses violence to get what it wants. It’s not a voluntary exchange. There is no market going on here and the rules of peers in a society do not apply because of the use of violence.

The relationship that the government has with society is much more akin to mafia extorting shop owners then a business or individual offering garbage collection or lawn care.

If you do not pay the state for their ‘protection’ and their ‘services’ they ‘offer’ they will send gangs of armed men to your house to seize your property. They will ruin your livelihood, destroy all your relationships, and if you resist they will throw you in a cage like a animal. If you resist strongly enough they will simply gun you down in the street.

Having the desire and ability to use violence to get what you want is fundamentally corrupting. It doesn’t really matter who is in government, or what a piece of paper from 200 years ago says, or if it’s a democracy or not… the state is going to do evil things because it’s made up of enough selfish people who sole purpose in life is to attempt to gain much with little work. They use violence because they can and because it’s profitable. It’s fundamentally corrupt. Not just corrupting… the corruption is necessary for it to even exist.

Maybe it’s true we need to use evil to counteract evil. But lets never pretend that the state is our friend or that it chooses to exists for our benefit. It’s a rabid dog on a lose leash at the best of times.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

@nate-m September 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

Which “offers are “completely involuntary”? Is the standard you use that say, if you don’t use a road, you should be excused from the tax bill to the extent that taxes are used for roads?

Also, what is it that the “government wants” and is willing to use violence to get it?

Also, your analogy to the Mafia is also misplaced. One distinction between the Mafia and government (at leas a democratic form) is that the only way to get rid of the Mafia is by superior force. To the extent that is also true for the form of government you oppose, I might agree. This is the problem being faced by those participaing in the Arabian Spring.

But how does your view change if you distinguish a form of government subject to fair elections? Any difference?

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

God, you are such a mainstream tool. Talking about “fair elections” and paying for roads with taxes. I used to think you were marginally a libertarian. I see now you are just a howdy doody civics class stooge.

Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I’m curious to know about a form of government subject to “fair” elections. Every state in the U.S. has restrictions on independent and third party candidates, some more restrictive than others. Is this fair? And even if it is, is it fair that a majority of voters get to force their will upon the minority?
Exactly how are “fair” elections supposed to protect freedom, and not just the will of the majority or a powerful minority?

And if you want to actually vote on an issue, and not just on a candidate, ballot initiative petitions are as difficult to put up as third parties, or worse. What does it matter if you can vote if someone else controls who or what you are voting on?

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

@ Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

First, you are holding up a system that is twisted and contorted and corrupted beyond recognition of the fundamental principles I reference, and then challenge me to defend it. That is not what I’m about. What we have sucks, despite all the whining Kensella does about me being a “tool”.

I can agree with you about all of these things you say, and still not hold that the US design for government is equivalent to the mafia or Libya.

Exactly how are “fair” elections supposed to protect freedom, and not just the will of the majority or a powerful minority?

In theory or in practice? Even with a flawless theory, determined special interests can hijack the means for their own selfish ends. That is the basis for mercantilism, etc.

As to the will of the majority, do you acknowledge that we have limits of individual liberty that cannot be infringed by a majority? If so, then you have to temper your rhetoric to accommodate to that fact. This is the classic “tyranny of the majority” problem that Kinsella thinks is the concept of a “howdy doody civics class stooge”. I happen to disagree.

And if you want to actually vote on an issue, and not just on a candidate, ballot initiative petitions are as difficult to put up as third parties, or worse. What does it matter if you can vote if someone else controls who or what you are voting on?

I agree with you. The question I am asking about is not whether you support everything you see around us, I am asking about the ideal, and the principles of that ideal. I do not think we need a blank piece of paper to fix things, to evolve beyond the mess we find ourselves in. Thank God for that!

I do think we need to be clear about what our ideals are and why we hold them. I have ideals concerning the concepts of self-government. My ideals are not tied to an unshakable commitment to “hate the state”, especially when, at least among the small population that occasions Mises.org, there is such diversity of meanings applied to the word “state”.

Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

The “ideal” of democracy is majority rule–simple as that. To provide protections for the minority means to diminish or dilute democratic ideals. Admittedly, the U.S. was not strictly intended to be a democracy, but a constitutional republic. But alas, the ideals of a constitutional republic are a bit more hazy, as there seems to be no particular principle that it adheres to.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I can agree with you about all of these things you say, and still not hold that the US design for government is equivalent to the mafia or Libya.

Well no one says it’s completely “equivalent”, whatever that means. It’s equivalent in some respects: they are all agencies or organizations, say. And different in others: the mafya is widely regarded as illegitimate by its victims, while the US state is not; Libya is poorer and more chaotic and more muslim than the US. Etc. But for our purposes they are all similar in a relevant respect: initiating violence against innocents. Sad to see you squirming out of condemning the aggression your beloved US state engages in.

Wildberry October 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Michael and Stephan,

I think you illustrate perfectly my point to Matthew.

Certainly, the ideal of self-government based on principles of equal representation does not rest on the purpose of “initiating violence against innocents”.

Likewise the ideals of a constitutional republic do not exist as means to that end.

A constitutional republic rests on the ideal “of the people, by the people, for the people” which in a very general sense, is a fully a libertarian ideal. You are simply objecting on the basis that it fails to achieve that end. I say that to the extent it serves that purpose, to empower the governed to govern themselves, it is legitimate means to a legitimate end. To the extent is does not, it should be opposed.

One way to view wisdom is the ability to distinguish one thing from another. Wisdom is much harder to attain and act upon than mere sloganeering.

The blanket statement that “government initiates violence against innocents” is better suited to a bumper sticker than anything else.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

The US system of government is not “brilliant”–it has failed. It was a centralizing coup, the Constitution is not libertarian and we should stop deluding ourselves that it is.

Normally I agree with Stephan Kinsella but in this instance I believe he has allowed Elizabeth Warren’s definition to rule his logic. Warren assumes that becuase the state supplies services it essentially has ownership of those who use those services. Kinsella takes essentially the same position but where Warren believes any government service is essential and so entitles the government to ownership, Kinsella believes no government services is justified so the government is not entitled to anything. Warren and Kinsella live in the same neighborhood but on opposite sides of the street.

But the Warren/ Kinsella basic premise is foolish. Simply because you OFFER a service to me does not give you ownership to anything I have. And using your services does not give you unlimited ownership.

I don’t think the state owns you. I think this is the position any proponent of the state–even a minarchist–essentially has to take. It is minarchists who are confused, not me.

Julien Couvreur September 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

Yup, it is an all-too-common argument to morally justify taxation is that public services (schools, roads, libraries, etc.) enable people to make a living. For instance, Bill Gates benefited from many of those government services.
The problem with this argument is that it has no logical limit, it proves too much. It would justify that government owns all your labor and even your life.
Fundamentally, because those tax-funded services are “free” (no price tag), it is impossible to determine what you owe, therefore you can never be done and clear.
Instead you have a “pact with the devil”, for which you cannot opt-out.

Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

You, Stephan Kinsella private citizen, do not have the right to unilaterally refuse to pay a tax that has been legally imposed. You Stephan Kinsella citizen/activist, DO have a right to organize your supporters and repeal that same tax, if you can.
Seriously? It’s morally okay as long as it’s legal? That’s your argument?

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Of cousre; he’s a moron legal positivist; an apologist for the state. In a just world he would merely be a technical problem.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Thank goodness you are not the Sultan of Justice.

This sounds suspiciously like a “final solution”.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

You mean like the “final solution” to the Indian problem that your beloved legitimate democratic US government focused on, while exterminating the Plains Indians? I guess they were not victims. After all, they “had options”.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Now I’m personally responsible for the Indian Wars? Next I’ll be the creator of measles.

No, I mean like Hitler’s final solution, as you know. It makes me feel grateful you are mostly powerless when you refer to me as a “technical problem” in want of a “just world” as you define it.

Anthony September 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Wildberry,

In a libertarian society your endorsement of institutionalized violence against innocent people would be a “technical problem” because you would lack the power to get away with it.

Whereas today you present a much more meaningful problem because the government you endorse is actually committing aggression and getting away with it, in part because of the approval of people like you. You might say you don’t approve of the violence, but you approve of the system that enables it, so that is a moot point.

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Anthony,

It seems to me that the endorsement of institutionalize violence against innocent people would be more than a “technical problem” in any society that is not organized around conquest.

Is it permissible that I question whether your use of “violence” and “innocence” might be debatable?

If the mere levy of taxes is aggression, by our definition, then I understand one of our differences, since I can imagine a situaiton where they exist by mutual consent, quite apart from the issue of whether what you have in mind is or is not such a case.

If I say I categorically oppose violence that is aggressive, meaning non-defensive, why is that contradictory to the position explained above?

If you read through what I’ve posted, I have not actually said what I support. I have objected to the premise that taxes, by definition, is either theft or aggression. That may not be the case in every circumstance.

Let me ask you what I posed to Kinsella; in Dun’s Quai-Earth, where libertarian principles are followed faithfully and voluntarily by every inhabitant, is the very concept of taxes beyond possibility?

J. Giles September 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Perhaps what needs to be done is to ask what definition of the word ‘tax’ everyone here is using.

When Kinsella and most others around here say the word ‘tax’, I believe they are referring to an involuntary charge, levied for the government, which is theoretically taken to pay for services provided. The problem is that those services are also involuntary. When the word ‘state’ is thrown around, a government which engages in that kind of behavior (involuntary services, involuntary taxes) is also being referred to.

I’m sure you can see why that’s considered aggression, or theft. Quite simply, I don’t consent to a lot of the things the government does. I object to the War on Drugs; I object to the War on Terror; I object to the vast majority of laws and regulations. But I get to pay taxes anyway, taxes which go to support all those things.

Is there a way to change those things? Yes. Theoretically. But. . . why should I have to change them? Why can’t I just not participate? I never signed any contract, or made any agreement. I certainly never agreed to any penalty clause for leaving the system. Government is supposed to be providing services, right? Making life better for people? Well, I don’t think my life is better than it would be. So how about I simply don’t pay taxes, and then don’t demand government services? I’m not receiving service, so I don’t pay for it. Fine. Let the people who benefit from the government pay for it, and the people who don’t won’t, and everyone will be happy.

Except, uh, no. That’s not allowed. If you try, the government does, in fact, send armed men who throw you in jail and steal your possessions. THAT is aggression. It’s unjustified use of force. You weren’t hurting anybody, or infringing on anyone’s rights. You just wanted to live your life without either demanding help from the government or giving them any of your money. The aggression comes in once the government declares that isn’t an option.

Could there be a libertarian government? Sure. It would be voluntarily funded by donations from members (can’t call them ‘taxes’, really, because they have very little in common with the involuntary tax system), who would all have contracts stating the fees charged and the services provided. If one of them stopped paying, he would stop receiving service. Now, since the government would likely want people to join, they would have a very strong pressure to develop efficient and just laws which would reflect the desires of their members. If they didn’t, dissatisfied members would leave, and might form their OWN government, which reflected their desires better. In time, one government might lose all its members to other, competing governments, and end up going. . . bankrupt. . .

Say, wait. This sounds suspiciously like a free market in government. Isn’t that one of those crazy anarchist ideas?

J. Giles September 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Quick correction; I made an error my post above. Strike out “donations” in the sixth paragraph and replace with “fees”.

Gil September 29, 2011 at 1:01 am

Your? Beloved? What do Libertarians think when a someone shoots dead a cop? Why should anyone who thinks government should have a place in society be obliged to defend any and every government action?

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

@Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Seriously? It’s morally okay as long as it’s legal? That’s your argument?

No. That is not my argument. Morality is matter of opinion. A law may both be legal and immoral.

In my opinion, in the face of an immoral law, like slavery, the citizenry is morally bound to abolish it. If there are legal means for doing so, bloodshed may be avoided or at least minimized. If there is no legal means, the only way to change is through violence.

Therefore, a system of government which provides for legal means to change its own laws is more consistent with principles of peace and liberty than one that does not.

If you live in such a government system, and to not avail yourself of the legal means to achieve your objectives, based on your personal moral convictions, you have no one to blame but yourself.

That is my argument.

Stephan Kinsella September 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Morality is matter of opinion.

Is THAT a matter of opinion?

A law may both be legal and immoral.

Hmm, can a law be both illegal and moral? Or do you not have any clue as to what you are talking about?

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Yes, it is. I think that is not a matter of fact is obvious.

Yes, that is another possibility, legal and moral.

Yes I do.

Any more questions?

Mr Whipple September 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

It is too late to work within the system, and too soon to shoot the bastards

- Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to do Until the Revolution

Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm

So if a law is legal and immoral, why do you consider it wrong to disobey it? Can’t disobedience be a part of the process of abolishing it? And if not, how many people must suffer the injustice of obeying an immoral law or be prosecuted for disobeying it while one goes through the tedious and expensive process of abolishing it (worse if the special interests who had it created are more powerful than those who wish to abolish it)?

Wildberry September 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

@Michael A. Clem September 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Sure, why not? Civil disobedience is a long and honorable tradition.

If those with a moral conviction find that they face more powerful forces, they have to figure out a way to prevail. That is the history of liberty.

Doing that while holding to higher principles, like non-violence, (unlike the quote here offered by Mr. Whipple), makes it a tricky problem.

Gil September 29, 2011 at 1:03 am

Are you going to complain when you get caught or are you going to take it on the chin?

Michael A. Clem September 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

If one were to get caught disobeying an immoral law, I would think that that would be an excellent time to take advantage of the media attention to make one’s case against the law. That is, IF one is disobeying as part of a strategy to abolish the law, and one is not complaining merely because they didn’t get away with it.

Timm September 28, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I’m surprised it has not been stated here yet. The obvious and most ridiculous error made by Warren is that she has the proverbial cart before the horse. She argues that private individuals and businesses generated their wealth because of the facilities and contrivances “provided” by the government. It is precisely the opposite. It was the wealth generated by private individuals and businesses which enabled the government(through taxation[read: theft]) to “develop” those “public services” that she lauds.
(I must tip my hat to Peter Schiff as he is the one I first heard make this point on his radio show last week.)

Ned Netterville September 28, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Wildberry: “In my opinion, in the face of an immoral law, like slavery, the citizenry is morally bound to abolish it. If there are legal means for doing so, bloodshed may be avoided or at least minimized. If there is no legal means, the only way to change is through violence.”

Wild, IMHO, you are wrong in your assumption that the alternatives are legal means or violence and bloodshed. Unquestionably the most effective tool against the repressive State–all States are repressive–is nonviolent, adamant resistance (peaceful persistent lawbreaking), such as was advocated and successfully practiced by MLK, Gandhi, Welesa, Mandela, those resisting E. Germans and resisting Russians, to name only a few. As you say, people are morally bound to abolish immoral laws like slavery and taxation, and with the abolition of forcible taxation the State, as we know it. is doomed. Of course, as we witnessed during the “Arab spring,” civil disobedience can and often does result in violent repression by the State, which is to be expected from such an evil institution, but if those resisting remain peaceful their prospects of success are greatly enhanced.

BTW, what difference do you see between State-sanctioned slavery and State-sanctioned taxation?

The State itself is an immoral (viz., evil) construct because its immunizes its agents from the just consequence of their actions, which, in many instances, are blatantly criminal, including such heinous crimes as murder and extortion. Without their State-granted immunity, every IRS agent would be doing time, and the congresscreeps, bureaucritters, presidents, and judges who conspire in the illicit act would be convicted as accessories before the act, and citizens who shared in the loot would be found guilty as accessories after.

Wildberry September 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

@Ned Netterville September 28, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Wild, IMHO, you are wrong in your assumption that the alternatives are legal means or violence and bloodshed.

Yes, you are right. I meant to convey that in my earlier comment regarding civil disobedience. True, those are not “legal means” in all cases, but such non-violent protest is a legitimate means, and often within legal bounds.

However, I want to remind you that in the cases you cite there were not state-established and sanctioned means to bring about peaceful revolution, including the abolishment of immoral or even unpopular laws, or to replace even the system of governance. That is an important distinction, don’t you think?

As you say, people are morally bound to abolish immoral laws like slavery and taxation, and with the abolition of forcible taxation the State, as we know it. is doomed. Of course, as we witnessed during the “Arab spring,” civil disobedience can and often does result in violent repression by the State, which is to be expected from such an evil institution, but if those resisting remain peaceful their prospects of success are greatly enhanced.

Of course, but how does your argument accommodate a state that provides for a peaceful means for its own demise?

BTW, what difference do you see between State-sanctioned slavery and State-sanctioned taxation?

Slaves do not have the means, at least legal means, to vote for their own freedom. That is a crucial distinction.

The State itself is an immoral (viz., evil) construct because its immunizes its agents from the just consequence of their actions, which, in many instances, are blatantly criminal, including such heinous crimes as murder and extortion. Without their State-granted immunity, every IRS agent would be doing time, and the congresscreeps, bureaucritters, presidents, and judges who conspire in the illicit act would be convicted as accessories before the act, and citizens who shared in the loot would be found guilty as accessories after.

You seem to be lumping all states in a big pile, and make no distinction between Stalin and FDR. Look, you did not personally vote for speed limits, right? Are you saying that anyone who drives should be immune from them unless they personally vote to support them? At some point that position becomes ridiculous.

I understand you think all forms of government are just well organized conspiracies to oppress the citizens. But I don’t think you are stupid or dishonest because you hold this view. I think you are wrong, but reasonable people can disagree.

It seems to me that a government based on a principle that reasonable people who have disagreements can peacefully coexist is not all bad, in every circumstance, absolutely.

Julien Couvreur September 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Don Boudreaux also picks apart Warren’s broken logic: http://cafehayek.com/2011/09/still-unwarrented.html

Stephan Kinsella September 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Let me guess: a “letter to the editor”. 1987 called, they want their tactics back.

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