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Taxes are violent: a framework


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37 replies to this topic

#1
Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity
  • 157 posts

I was asked how I concluded that taxes are violent. This is what I came up with, to limited success:

[color= #333333; font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; text-align: left; background-color: #edeff4]Taxes are a transfer of wealth. A transfer of wealth is either intention[/color]al or accidental. The existence of prospective tax law rules out accidental, making them intentional. All intentional transfers are voluntary or coercive. The existence of tax prisoners, like Wesley Snipes and Irwin Schiff, rule out voluntary, making them coercive. The coercive means of the state is violence as embodied in the police. 

Therefore: taxes are violent. 

See the thread here:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=185927854856174&id=791615229


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#2
ThinkPPE

ThinkPPE
  • 27 posts

I was asked how I concluded that taxes are violent. This is what I came up with, to limited success:

[font=" 'lucida grande',tahoma,verdana,arial,sans-serif; color: #333333"]Taxes are a transfer of wealth. A transfer of wealth is either intention[/font][font=" 'lucida grande',tahoma,verdana,arial,sans-serif; color: #333333"]al or accidental. The existence of prospective tax law rules out accidental, making them intentional. All intentional transfers are voluntary or coercive. The existence of tax prisoners, like Wesley Snipes and Irwin Schiff, rule out voluntary, making them coercive. The coercive means of the state is violence as embodied in the police. 

Therefore: taxes are violent. [/font]

See the thread here:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=185927854856174&id=791615229

Anyone who thinks that there are not natural property rights can reject this argument immediately.

To see this, consider: if a robber came onto your property to steal your stuff, and you forced him off (perhaps by pointing a gun at him), is what happened voluntary or coercive?


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#3
PatrickC

PatrickC

    London Meetup organiser

  • 3044 posts

To see this, consider: if a robber came onto your property to steal your stuff, and you forced him off (perhaps by pointing a gun at him), is what happened voluntary or coercive?

Oh the robber definately volunteered for a gun to be pointed at him, by robbing the owners stuff.


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#4
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Anyone who thinks that there are not natural property rights can reject this argument immediately.

You also have this thing where you state an opinion and then you think it's a valid objection. Anyone who thinks that English cannot be understood would reject everything you say.


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#5
Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity
  • 157 posts

Anyone who thinks that there are not natural property rights can reject this argument immediately.

You also have this thing where you state an opinion and then you think it's a valid objection. Anyone who thinks that English cannot be understood would reject everything you say.

Arguments get rejected for all kinds of reasons. Some valid, others not. Unless you are going to spend the time on somebody so that they do not reject an argument for invalid reasons, it may be prudent to be aware of the invalid reasons an argument might be rejected. 

I also suspected that this person respected property rights, but it would have been progress for him to admit otherwise. 

How would your respond if asked how you know taxes are violent? (by a lay person)


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#6
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
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How would your respond if asked how you know taxes are violent? (by a lay person)

I'd say:

It's somewhat irrelevant whether I'm right. The question is whether you would attack me or cage me or take my stuff or support others doing that to me if I don't pay. If you're against people forcing others to pay taxes, great. If you see that actually happen, don't support it or make excuses for it. If you're with me there, great, I can show you some instances you'll hate.


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#7
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Can any of you dispute my evidence that taxes are not the problem?  Here's my mountain of evidence...Unglamorous but Important Things


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#8
ribuck

ribuck
  • 1366 posts

Can any of you dispute my evidence that taxes are not the problem?

No-one in this topic has said that taxes are "the problem". In fact, the word "problem" did not even appear in this topic until your post. This topic is about the connection between taxes and violence. Violence, in my opinion, is a problem worthy of solving, but that's not what this topic is about either.

Can any of you dispute my evidence that taxes are not the problem?  Here's my mountain of evidence...Unglamorous but Important Things

I can't even find your evidence. Sure, the linked page has a subsection entitled "A mountain of evidence", but I don't see any evidence in that section, just some discussion about posts made elsewhere.

For example, it is not evidence to write "Choice is usually better, but what if everyone chooses to allocate their
tax dollars to, say, the National Endowment for the Arts and there is
nothing allocated to National Defense?". That's just an assertion followed by a question.

Furthermore, the question has an obvious answer: "In that case, lots of money will be spent by the National Endowment for the Arts and none will be spent on National Defense."


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#9
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

ribuck, my point was...if we want to effect positive change...then we shouldn't waste our limited resources barking up the wrong tree.

You didn't see the evidence?  But the quote you copied and pasted IS part of the evidence.  I didn't write that.  All those discussion snippets are people's objections to allowing taxpayers to directly allocate their taxes.  They all reveal that the problem has nothing to do with taxes...and everything to do with people not understanding how the invisible hand works.  


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#10
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

ribuck, my point was...if we want to effect positive change...then we shouldn't waste our limited resources barking up the wrong tree.

I'm not sure what you mean. How are we devoting much of our resources to the topic of taxes in particular?

They all reveal that the problem has nothing to do with taxes...and everything to do with people not understanding how the invisible hand works.

If that's correct, I'm not sure why Mises and the rest haven't made much progress. Some of them even put out very understandable books and so on.


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#11
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, the "taxes are theft" argument is the argument most frequently used by anarcho-capitalists.  Mises hasn't made any progress for exactly the reasons that I described in my post...Unglamorous but Important Things.  Mises needlessly talks about lowering or abolishing taxes.  Wrongly or rightly...people discount Mises institute for this reason.  If Mises became completely neutral on the tax rate...then people would start listening to what they have to say about the invisible hand.  Please carefully read through my post and let me know if you have any questions.


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#12
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
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 If Mises became completely neutral on the tax rate...then people would start listening to what they have to say about the invisible hand.  Please carefully read through my post and let me know if you have any questions.

Perhaps people will discount what I say because of this, but I'm not sure how I can become neutral on the existence of taxes. To me, it would be like becoming neutral on the existence of rape and working to educate people on how voluntary romance can work so they have that as an optional alternative.

Pragmatarianism seems like the idea that I have to have a certain amount of sex regardless of whether I want it or whether it will traumatize me, but I can choose which government agents I have it with. This is not going to work for me.


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#13
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, in way shape or form am I asking you to change your moral beliefs.  All I'm saying is that I hate it...and everybody I know hates it...when people try and push their moral views onto us.  I have absolutely no problem with mormons...but I'm not goiing to hang out with a mormon that constantly tries to convert me.  

If a mormon wants to explain to me how the invisible hand works....what good will it do for him to tell me about Joseph Smith?  Joseph has absolutely no bearing on the invisible hand.  It's the same thing with rape...or theft.  Those topics have absolutely no bearing on how the invisible hand works.  

People clearly have no problem understanding how theft or rape works...but as my post clearly demonstrates...people have no idea how the invisible hand works.  Does it matter that people have no idea how the invisible hand works?  How could it not matter?  


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#14
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Mr. C, in way shape or form am I asking you to change your moral beliefs.

OK, but you see a problem with how we present this. I've essentially told you the basis for why I don't do it the way you want me to, yet you aren't working with that. You don't have to, but I am noticing that you attempt to look for what people are thinking and so on so you can better approach them, but perhaps not with me.

This stuff actually traumatizes me to some degree. It's not just some moral beliefs I have.

People clearly have no problem understanding how theft or rape works

No, they do have a problem. They don't understand very clearly at all that taxes are theft. This is the way a LOT of theft works, after all.


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#15
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, I have no idea what you're trying to achieve.  Are you trying to explain to voters that theft is not a good idea?  Or are you trying to to explain to taxpayers that they are the victims of theft?  Voters are clealry the beneficiaries of theft so I have no idea why they would care what you thought.  But telling taxpayers that they are the victims of theft would be preaching to the choir.

I understand the theft concept...and I understand the invisible hand concept.  The problem isn't convincing taxpayers that they are victims...the problem is that they don't know that they have an alternative.  If they understand how the invisible hand works then they would understand that it's impossible for a committee to determine the optimal level of funding for an organization.  Therefore, they would see the problem with 538 congresspeople allocating 150 million people's taxes.  


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#16
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Again, what you say completely (I mean, there's not even a break in the facade here) ignores the reasons why I do what I do. You're attempting to reason with me about how effective my methods might be or not.

Trauma is a pretty horrible thing to inflict on people, especially systematically. This is what I'm against, not inefficiency or the horrors of not letting the invisible hand free to improve things.

If you claim to understand how these people think, but you don't appear to understand how I think when I'm being explicit about it, then I have to doubt your claim if I look at it directly. You'll also note that your method here to convince us to change tactics is ineffective here, so it's unlikely you see something about us that we're just not able to focus on or something, and you'll eventually convince us due to insights about us we don't have.

If you want us to believe that you have some insight into changing minds, that's going to be hard to do if you're not having much success changing our minds.


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#17
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, I don't see your evidence at all.  When I ask random people about the government they don't say a single thing about trauma or abuse or rape or theft.  They just say that allowing people to directly allocate their taxes would result in important government organizations being underfunded.  They care about what the government does.  I can't change that.  They think the government is important.  I can't change that either.  What I can try to change is their misunderstanding that 538 congresspeople can efficiently allocate 150 million people's taxes.  There's absolutely ZERO economic evidence to support the idea that a committee can determine funding.  It's an economic fact that demand is the only thing that can determine funding.  

You can choose to ignore economic facts and concern yourself with morality.  That's your choice.  Just like it's my choice to post here and try and shed some light on economic facts.  But Stefan Molyneux himself choose to interview the economist Bryan Caplan...so please don't try and pretend that you speak for everybody here.


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#18
ribuck

ribuck
  • 1366 posts

... random people ... just say that allowing people to directly allocate their taxes would result in important government organizations being underfunded

Those "random people" are addressing an entirely different question: "Assuming that it's moral for government employees to extract taxation under threat of violence, should the extractees decide which government department spends the money that was taxed from them?"

As Mr.C implies, that's directly analogous to: "Assuming that it's moral for government employees to have sex under threat of violence, should the victims decide which government agent has sex with them?"

Those are not interesting questions, because they are based on false premises.

As for your lamentation that people don't understand the "invisible hand", I think you're missing the point. It doesn't matter whether people understand the "invisible hand".

The "invisible hand" works just fine in any non-coercive environment, whether people understand it or not. If you want the majority of the population to understand the "invisible hand", you are picking a losing battle. Just as only a minority of the population will ever understand how to smelt bauxite into aluminium, or how to compose a hit record, or how to launch a space probe, only a minority of the population will ever understand the "invisible hand".

People are much more likely to be able to understand whether violence is right or wrong.


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#19
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Mr. C, I don't see your evidence at all.  When I ask random people about the government they don't say a single thing about trauma or abuse or rape or theft.

Dude, you really, really have a lot of trouble understanding what I'm saying.

I mean, I talk about why I personally oppose the state, and you think I'm talking about what random people think about the state. I'm not sure how you confused me as an individual who's talking to you here with all those people, but I can assure you it's a great indication you're not paying attention.

This doesn't mean you're an idiot or anything, of course, but I really don't know what I can do on my end to get what I'm trying to say across.


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#20
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

ribuck, you quoted a question that nobody asked.  I asked random people if taxpayers should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes.  Nothing was stopping them from objecting to my question on the basis that the government is evil.  I provided links to all the discussions...so feel free to read them all.  You'd figure that if they did believe that the government was evil then they probably wouldn't care that "important" government would be underfunded.

Of course people don't need to understand how the invisible hand works for it to work.  All they need to understand is that a committee cannot determine the optimal level of funding for an organization.  Demand is what should always determine funding.

People are much more likely to be able to understand whether violence is right or wrong?  What do you mean by much more likely?  As if people struggle to understand the concept of violence or theft?  Really?  Can you show me your mountain of evidence that supports your conclusion?  I want to see those dicsussions.  

People could care less if you want to call taxes theft.  You know why?  Because they believe in the greater good.  They make consequentialist arguments to defend taxes so I make consquentialist arguments to try and convince them that we all stand to benefit as a society if taxpayers can directly allocate their taxes.  


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#21
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Can you show me your mountain of evidence that supports your conclusion?  I want to see those dicsussions.

Your mountain of evidence is one conversation where your method isn't very clearly used, as far as I can tell, and your assertions of how things must work? Really? I mean, you appear to confuse evidence of reactions to pragmatarianism and frequently asked questions with evidence of the effectiveness of methods of convincing people, which aren't anywhere provided. To say the least, this ignores the possibility that people will react to things for reasons that don't reveal what might convince them.

Can we get back to you on taking your empiricism seriously?


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#22
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, I wonder how you think I arrived at the conclusion that people should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes.  Do you think I arrived at this conclusion by ignoring what other people had to say about the government?  Do you think perhaps I was born with my belief that people should be able to directly allocate their taxes?  Do you think I never had my own opinion on the proper scope of government?  Does my page on Unglamorous but Important Things give you the impression that I'm not interested in what people have to say about the government?  

Yeah, you just keep focusing on what your feelings are on the government and I'll keep focusing on what the large majority of people's thoughts are on the government.   


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#23
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Your mountain of evidence is one conversation where your method isn't very clearly used, as far as I can tell, and your assertions of how things must work? Really?

Can we get back to you on taking your empiricism seriously?

How is my mountain of evidence just one conversation?  Are you even looking at the right page?  Unglamorous but Important Things  Obviously you have to scroll down to see all the discussions snippets.


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#24
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Does my page on Unglamorous but Important Things give you the impression that I'm not interested in what people have to say about the government?

No, it gives the impression that you don't care why they actually support the government or what's effective in convincing them. You'll pay a lot of attention to what they say, but you have no evidence that it's relevant. I mean, they could be unaware of why they support government after all. The knowledge of what they say could be completely useless in convincing them.

If you showed that you were able to convince lots of people based on this knowledge, that would be useful to us, especially if you had statistics or whatever. We already know a lot of quick, immediate responses people have to this.


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#25
ribuck

ribuck
  • 1366 posts

Those "random people" are addressing an entirely different question: "Assuming
that it's moral for government employees to extract taxation under
threat of violence, should the extractees decide which government
department spends the money that was taxed from them?"

ribuck, you quoted a question that nobody asked.  I asked random people if taxpayers should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes.

The question you asked is equivalent, because it assumes the existence of "their taxes", i.e. money extracted from them by government employees under threat of violence.

people should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes

I guess what you really mean by this is: "People should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes, with the single exception that they may not allocate them to be paid back to themselves".


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#26
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

How is my mountain of evidence just one conversation?  Are you even looking at the right page?  Unglamorous but Important Things  Obviously you have to scroll down to see all the discussions snippets.

I must be missing something. I've looked at some of those discussions. No one seems to change their minds, at least in the discussions I've seen.

As far as I can tell, the point of what you're saying is that our methods are going to be ineffective and your methods are going to be effective in convincing. I can't find any evidence that your method is effective. The discussions I've seen don't seem to actually be evidence. You present statistics about what people say rather than how many accept what you say, so even your statistics aren't evidence.

Where is your mountain of evidence about effectiveness in convincing?


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#27
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, all the snippets that I posted indicate that people value government.  Clearly if somebody doesn't value government then they would not worry about some "important" government function being underfunded.  Given that people value government...my point is that advocating for the abolition of the government is not the best approach.      

Here's the deal...do exactly what I did...go around and engage random people, except...use your own argument.  Then we'll compare the discussions that you had with people and the discussions that I had with people.    


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#28
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Clearly if somebody doesn't value government then they would not worry about some "important" government function being underfunded.

How do you know they actually worry about that? They could be trying to keep up an image or believe that they should accept some ideas they don't fundamentally accept or just be repeating what they heard because they don't want to seem stupid or who knows. Maybe they're lazy and don't care, but this is a very easy way to look like it so they don't get criticized for not caring. There are lots of possibilities.

What is your evidence that what they say is what actually matters to them?


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#29
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

"What is your evidence that what they say is what actually matters to them?"

The whole point of pragmatarianism is that actions speak louder than words.  I'm sure how they would spend their taxes would indicate what does and doesn't matter to them.  


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#30
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

The whole point of pragmatarianism is that actions speak louder than words.  I'm sure how they would spend their taxes would indicate what does and doesn't matter to them.

Demonstrate that by showing your actions in talking to them and their actions in changing their minds. So far, all you have is assumptions that people say things and you can trust that what they say is very important to them and, thus, a bunch of statistics about what people say. Nothing about how convincing you are. Nothing about how you know what's important to them.

Just a bunch of talk...and dodges of the central issue. You'll talk people's ears off, but no one (or very few) apparently is ever convinced by it.


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#31
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C,  it's a simple fact that people who do understand how the invisible hand works would never make the arguments that those people made.  That was the entire point of that page.  The obstacle has nothing to do with taxes...or theft...or immorality...it only has to do with the fact that people do not understand how the invisible hand works.  You're welcome to pretend that the obstacle is people's lack of morality but there's no evidence to support your belief.  


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#32
FreedomWins

FreedomWins
  • 2098 posts

Mr. C,  it's a simple fact that people who do understand how the invisible hand works would never make the arguments that those people made.

This isn't the evidence I asked for. It's not even close. This isn't really the site for you, I think.


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#33
Xerographica

Xerographica
  • 78 posts

Mr. C, are you saying that all those people do truly understand how the invisible hand works?  Or are you saying that understanding how the invisible hand works is irrelvant?  


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#34
Sinapse

Sinapse
  • 3 posts

I was debating with a good friend the other day and used the word "theft" while talking about taxation. He then accused me of trying to frame the conversation around the idea that taxation is bad by using a word with a bad connotation to describe it. I explained to him that extracting people's ressources without their consent is what the word "theft" was invented for and that I would gladly admit that it was sometimes good if he provided evidence which I couldn't refute.

When people refuse to call taxation violent, they are trying to convince themselves that they aren't defending violence. It's good because it shows people don't want to be violent, they just don't understand exactly what it means yet.


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#35
ribuck

ribuck
  • 1366 posts

... accused me of trying to frame the conversation around the idea that taxation is bad by using a word with a bad connotation to describe it...

When people describe taxation as theft, they generally are using that word because the listener already has a meaningful connotation for it. But "taxation=theft" is such an unfamiliar and unexpected concept to most people, that they often rebel against it.

You could try responding like this "OK then, how shall we describe it? Would you say that it's fair to call taxation involuntary expropriation? No? How about "forced confiscation"? You don't like that one? Is it fair to call it "compulsory payments"? Yes? And how is that compulsion applied? By force? So what exactly is the distinction between forced payments and theft? Oh, the fundamental difference is that one is done by an individual and one is done by the 51%? OK, so what is the moral basis that allows the 51% to use violence against the 49%?" and so on.


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