Posted: 02 April 2007 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I wrote this as a continuation of the comments on The Boy With No Candy.  I look at is as a question of how much force should be used for good, or should any be used at all.  I think that I would and do use force on an individual basis.  I don’t think it’s justified unless the goal is to prevent someone from losing something commonly regarded as their own property - life, limb, earnings, and even stuff.  In fact, I think I even shy away from using force to protect earnings and stuff - they are generally replaceable and I’ve found that compelling the thief to replace them is better than fighting to prevent the theft in the first place.  I’d use force to protect from the involuntary loss of irreplaceable things like life and health.

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Posted: 04 April 2007 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Arghh.  Oh Dave, I bet you got A’s in your all your Poli-Sci courses. 

So much in this IS so Trooo.  Our PEI provincial government just spent some (I’m sure) not insignificant sum on promotional brochures for itself, explaining how great It is doing at Educating PEI citizens in each and every way.  I noticed the nice thick glossy paper when the brochure came in the mail, and I could see that it was propaganda, and I couldn’t even be bothered to read it.  I even tried, but I just couldn’t.  There was nothing but self-serving gunk in it.  It got tossed, essentially unread, snorted at (life is short).  I imagine most PEI citizens tossed the brochure, too, especially the ones who still can’t read at all, even voluntarily.  (In fact, there is a high illiteracy rate in this province, and the latest federal government has cut a lot of social programs in order [so they say] to cut taxes.  Yeah!)  There were a few boring PICTURES of people standing around smiling, but so what?  It meant NOTHING.  What a waste of paper.  What a lamentable waste of tax dollars.  What a waste of trees.  I imagine if the PEI government put some of our tax dollars into a poll to find out how valuable we found the information they’d just sent us, they’d find out that we all think they’re jerks for wasting all those trees and all that money.  But it would waste even more trees, and manpower, to conduct such a survey, and I can’t imagine that the PEI government puts a high priority on finding out what we think.  Alas, though, I wish they’d spent that money on actual Education.  Of course, they won’t, because they don’t WANT us to think.  Good grief, the elections are scary enough. 

The objections/qualms I always have to/about your beautiful vision of Life After Taxation:

Your beautiful vision always smells to me as though the people in the picture have money, smarts, and Good Values already, and as if, if they weren’t taxed, they’d be happily choosing to contribute money to Good and Reasonable Causes.  This is not a realistic picture, in my experience.  In my experience, (many, many of) the people who have money are the most likely to try to hang onto it.  They figure that other people, who don’t have money, have failed in some way.  Freeloaders.  Some of these people have SO much money that you can’t, you just can’t, attribute their attitude about this to TAXATION, for heaven’s sake.  Good grief.  They are complacent Calvinists.  They have accountants and advisors and tax shelters and all that.  I have RELATIVES like that.  They sneer and they go to Hawaii.  I guess they gave at the office. 

Then there are the people who don’t have ANY money, many of whom are relatively more generous, but they don’t have anything much to give.  If and when they DO get some money, many of THEM tend to get all weird, and THEY tend to hang onto it, too.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world.  These are Calvinists too, finally, just poor ones, until they get the money. 

I don’t see that this has a lot to do with taxation, per se.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with religion, either—just with The War of All Against All (Hobbes) and with people basically being short-sighted and self-interested. 

In the middle are the middle classes, just trying to hold their own.  Everybody has a Playstation; gotta get one for the kid.  The world gets small when you haven’t got much to work with.  Don’t have a car; not going to lug my newspapers down to the recycling plant on foot.  Into the landfill they go. 

Ayn Rand bedamned.  The actual situation is a lot more smelly than that.  Same with Marx’s Communism.  You can’t just Get There from here. 

Or, so, anyway, Dave:  let’s hear it.  How do we make this transition from the taxation-based system we have now, to the one where people Give Freely?  What’s it going to be like in our major city centers, when there’s no more Welfare Wednesday?  Will all the people who normally commute into town to work in their office buildings stay home on Wednesdays, to avoid the riots, or what?

OK, dammit, you’ve got me ranting and raving again.  Yrghhh.

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Posted: 05 April 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It finally got me - the old eating your 1/2-hour’s worth of written-down thought beast.  So here I go again…

I have been thinking about the question of how we transition for years.  I’ve been in the position of having someone I love who has gotten used to leaning on me, and it comes down to how to say “I want to be friends, but you’ve been leaning on me and it bothers me more and more.  Start supporting yourself or I will move out of the way and you will fall down.”  I think the best way to do that is to point out the things I’ve been pointing out.  It’s safe and legal.  The riskier methods involve tax evasion and other forms of civil disobedience… and falling down.

I wouldn’t cut the welfare off abruptly because, yeah, people will riot.  Drop each check by a nickel each week.  Allow employers to hire people for less than minimum wage.  Tell the retail shops that if they want the new “Safe Sidewalks” program to keep beggars and vagabonds out from in front of their store, they’ll have to pay (instead of paying the tax - so at least they have a choice now).

As far as the rich holding on to their money instead of spending it to educate the kids, I guess you think that the rate at which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer will increase as the government takes less from its citizens.  I think the rate will decrease.  For one, very rich people tend to earn a lot of money by placing themselves on the receiving end of tax dollars.  Government contracts - those bozos that printed up those brochures - government contracts are great because the individuals signing off on them are trying their best to maintain their funding by *spending it all*.

When you say Good and Reasonable, it sounds like you mean either Things That Won’t Profit Me or Things That Profit Me In A Way That’s Too Complicated For Me To Understand.  In the first case, it isn’t reasonable for a person to spend money on what won’t profit him.  In the second case, you have a valid point… but I don’t think they ought to get the profits if they aren’t willing to get educated enough to understand the Complicated Way in which it works.  Please don’t make the mistake of confusing “profit” with “monetary gain”.  Moving from a dangerous neighborhood to a safe one might cost you a lot of money, but you’ll be happier and that represents a huge profit, even with the monetary loss.  Part of the problem for me is that Good and Reasonable means different things to different people.  They ought to be able to demonstrate what it means to them through the choices they make about spending their money.

There will always be stupid people.  Trying to reduce their suffering by coercing taxes away from others is a mistake not only because it’s just like stealing, but because the suffering of stupid people so effectively motivates them to learn.

In any case, if it’s true that Bad Things Will Happen if the government stops taxing us, then maybe it’s better to keep taxation.  I just wanted to point out that this means we have to hire a group of people who will use brute force to get the money from those who are unwilling to pay.  It also gives everyone the sense that the government has to behave a certain way (because it’s forcing us to pay for its behavior).  But it sounds like you may already see that it would be better not to use taxation, and you’ve moved onto the phase of resisting because change is too hard.  Have you?

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Posted: 12 April 2007 01:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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“Tell the retail shops that if they want the new “Safe Sidewalks” program to keep beggars and vagabonds out from in front of their store, they’ll have to pay (instead of paying the tax - so at least they have a choice now).”

Well, telling the retail shops that they could pay to keep the beggars and vagabonds away… sounds kind of like what happens when people VOTE.  People VOTE for the government that SAYS it’s going to allocate the tax dollars in line with the way they VOTE.  Then, truly, the government often finds an excuse not to do quite what it said it was going to do with the tax dollars. Money gets wasted.  But, or, and, just as often, it does more or less what it says it will do for the voters, but does nothing for the “vagabonds” thus affected by the voting; and so just causes the beggars and vagabonds to simply have to move somewhere else. 

Does the shopkeeper really care what happens to those people (or to the other shopkeeper in the neighbourhood over)?  If he did (knowing as he does that voting is his only current option), he would have voted NDP, so that there might be some social program available for the beggars and vagabonds, to help get them off the street.  But he voted (this is Canada) Conservative or Liberal instead.  If all goes well, police arrive and send these low-lifes on their way.  To a different neighbourhood, with not as much political clout. 

Our voters SEE the platforms.  They vote in their own interests.  A lot of money gets wasted, yes.  But short of the politicians wasting the tax-payers money somewhat, I can’t see that people would be any nicer to each other in the absence of taxation.  People are going to allocate their money in their own interests, just as they vote, now.  Politicians get re-elected.  They don’t get re-elected for nothing. 

You generally need an address to vote.  So the beggars and vagabonds aren’t voting.  Should they, are we absolutely sure, that they should have no say?  If they should, at any rate, they aren’t getting/taking one.  They feel, quite rightly, disenfranchised, as if their vote doesn’t matter, so they DON’T vote, even when they can.

Where are the beggars and vagabonds (and prostitutes) going to GO?  I keep worrying about them (and the shopkeepers and schools and citizens in the new neighbourhoods they trundle off to).  Maybe I’m a bleeding heart liberal.  Maybe I’m just pragmatic.  I’ve lived in Vancouver, when politics kept moving the prostitutes around; and in Calgary just before the current oil boom (check it out)—and even then, a few years ago, there were broken people living on the streets.  You can’t even GET welfare in most places in Canada now, unless you have an address.  The government may cut you a cheque for bus fare to get back to your province of origin, if it was elsewhere, but otherwise you’re out of luck, until you’re hospitalized or otherwise generally not-quite-dead but still hanging on.  I keep trying to imagine what it would be like to have fallen so far, have no address, have it be 40 degrees below zero. 

There used to be some of them that would hide in the stairwells of the building where I worked, at night.  It was damned cold outside, and I’d walk by them on my way out for a smoke at coffee break.  This was before the oil boom.  They’d look at me, afraid I’d rat on them; but I’d just walk by. They didn’t ask me for anything.  Outside, beside the dumpster, another couple would be sleeping, with cardboard on top of them.

I paid income tax, but I doubt that I’d have given them any MONEY even if I weren’t being taxed.  I wasn’t making that much, myself, as it was.  I’d give one person per day a dollar… the first person who asked. I couldn’t afford to give money to everyone who asked.

But I never ratted on them, either. 

I don’t know that lowering minimum wage would help, would have helped.  It might have helped the company I was working for. 

“But it sounds like you may already see that it would be better not to use taxation, and you’ve moved onto the phase of resisting because change is too hard.  Have you?”

(Thinks)  I don’t see an alternative to taxation.  It pays for an ambulance to come and take the homeless person away when I find him barely breathing in the stairwell, on my way back up to my crappy phone job, from having my smoke.  I’m not doing so well myself, and not just because of taxation.  I’m not raking money in, even if I miss a few years of filing taxes, and I can’t afford to pay $400 for that guy’s ambulance right now. 

I think we should have taxation.  I think most of the money should be put towards education.  I think that if this happened, then eventually (ah, so I dream) we wouldn’t want taxation anymore.  In the meantime, people vote in their interests, only I always finding myself voting one more increment of interests lower than my social station (because I’m educated).  So, I vote NDP, instead of Liberal. 

Sigh. 

And P.S.:  I don’t know where you’re getting this “take your money by brute force” and “coercing taxes” stuff.  You are free to start a political party whose platform is that there will be no taxation.  If everybody votes for you, then you can always be honest and truthful and NOT tax anybody!  Also, even with the current governments in this our fair continent, I am not aware that taxation officials actually arrive at the door in black suits and take money by force!  It sounds exciting, but it has not happened to me… and I am behind on my Student Loan. 

(Hey, no government officials are monitoring this, are they?)(Yikes… it’s already too late…)

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Posted: 15 April 2007 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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But short of the politicians wasting the tax-payers money somewhat, I can’t see that people would be any nicer to each other in the absence of taxation.

If you want people to be nicer to each other, what can you change?  Whatever it is (if it is anything at all), I think it would be easier to change if *you* had the money instead of the politicians.  Others, upon understanding you, will likely spend some of their money on it - if it costs money.  My idea doesn’t cost any money - it just makes your idea feasible, and removes the obstacle of getting it through the legislature first.  Er- unless your idea is to take more from taxpayers who are paying their taxes…

I don’t know where you’re getting this “take your money by brute force” and “coercing taxes” stuff.

I may be perceiving an artificial difference between the free exchange of money for goods and services in the private sector and the collection of taxes by a government.  The government does not provide the taxpayer with a choice about paying taxes.  If we choose not to pay our taxes, they would come and demand that we reconsider, and ultimately seize our cars and other stuff if we refuse.  I suppose you can argue that this isn’t brute force, but they do threaten to take our stuff if we don’t pay.  Isn’t that coercive?  And if we attempt to maintain our ownership of that stuff when they come to seize it, don’t they use brute force then?

I don’t see an alternative to taxation.  It pays for an ambulance to come and take the homeless person away when I find him barely breathing in the stairwell, on my way back up to my crappy phone job, from having my smoke.  I’m not doing so well myself, and not just because of taxation.  I’m not raking money in, even if I miss a few years of filing taxes, and I can’t afford to pay $400 for that guy’s ambulance right now.

You’re obviously aware that the government will pay for the ambulance, and I suppose all the rest of the people at your crappy phone job are too.  I guess if they weren’t paying income tax, they’d still just be too stupid, shortsighted, and/or mean to get rid of the guy that way.  Instead, they’d just rough him up a bit so he wouldn’t come back, or, at best, they’d do something (or nothing), which would be worse than sending him off in the ambulance, right?  Anyway, it sounds like he doesn’t want you to call an ambulance - if that’s what you mean by ratting on him.  Perhaps you should explain more…

I will try to pay more attention to how mean and stupid and shortsighted people are so that perhaps I will eventually agree that taxing them to make things better is actually a good idea.  Is there more I should pay attention to?

Now, what will you pay more attention to so that you may eventually agree that taxation isn’t a good idea?

PS. I’m glad that you are willing to spend the money your government demands from you on things that are more important.  As for the loan, shame on you for not honoring your agreement, unless… do you think the taxes you have paid cover the loan?  Is it really the government that you owe?

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Posted: 15 April 2007 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dave!?  Heelllllp!  I accidentally clicked the wrong link in my e-mail and unsubscribed myself from this thread.  Agh!  Can you/I/anyone resubscribe me?

“I will try to pay more attention to how mean and stupid and shortsighted people are so that perhaps I will eventually agree that taxing them to make things better is actually a good idea.  Is there more I should pay attention to?”

Nope, that about covers it.  smile

“Now, what will you pay more attention to so that you may eventually agree that taxation isn’t a good idea?”

I can’t think of a thing. Mind you, I’m laughing pretty hard at the moment, so something might come to me later. 

“You’re obviously aware that the government will pay for the ambulance, and I suppose all the rest of the people at your crappy phone job are too.  I guess if they weren’t paying income tax, they’d still just be too stupid, shortsighted, and/or mean to get rid of the guy that way.  Instead, they’d just rough him up a bit so he wouldn’t come back, or, at best, they’d do something (or nothing), which would be worse than sending him off in the ambulance, right?” 

They’d do nothing. We were making so little that the income tax was negligible, anyways.  Four hundred dollars?  Ya gotta be kidding.  That was two weeks’ (gross) pay!  Some of these people had children to support.  (That’s why I’m not clear on why LOWERING minimum wage is supposed to be a good idea… even though we were making far above minimum wage.)

I suppose I shouldn’t say that they/we would have done nothing… if there were no income tax and no ambulance service, no one at my job could have afforded to get the guy an ambulance (it’s not that we were stupid or short-sighted or mean, just poor), and so I suppose it’s possible that one of us poor shmucks would have voluntarily taken the poorer shmuck home and tried to nurse him, or something.  The prospect sort of reminds me of something out of a novel about the Dark Ages. 

I’m not sure where the people with all the saved tax dollars come in here, but I don’t see anyone standing around on the staircase with us, helping us figure out what to do with this guy. 

“Anyway, it sounds like he doesn’t want you to call an ambulance - if that’s what you mean by ratting on him.  Perhaps you should explain more… “

He didn’t want us to call an ambulance before he had the heart attack, or whatever it is he’s having.  You can’t just call an ambulance for a homeless person on the grounds that they’re homeless.  People have tried.  You can get fined heavily for that.  I’m talking about calling an ambulance for someone on the stairwell who is having a seizure, or an aneurism, or something.

We should write a story about this.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 10:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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And yes, I do think the taxes I have paid cover the loan.  They must have spent more tax dollars than I borrowed, chasing me.  Shame on me.

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