Klear wrote:One of the problems of this is that it is relatively easy to come up with a system which is more fair and overall better on paper, but the subject we are dealing with here is so large and there are so many factors, it's pretty much guaranteed that you're overlooking something critical which would make the whole thing come crashing down hard. And it's not just a matter of thinking about it harder. I believe that with any sufficiently different governance system there would be some unprecedented and almost unforseeable consequences, which makes empirical testing the only reliable way to test a system's viability. Obviously, empirical testing of such a system is probably a very bad idea.
So everything should forever stay exactly the way it is because it might get worse if it changes?
I'm not suggesting radical change. That is, I'm not saying "scrap everything we're doing now and put this in place instead". I would want any changes made to be as gradual and reversible as possible so that if we find problems we can either work around them or pull back from that approach in time to avoid catastrophe. But it's just as ludicrous to suggest that what we have now is the best we could ever possibly have, as it is to suggest we should scrap everything we've got now and try something completely different at once. We need to make progress, but it needs to be conservative progress, i.e. it needs to protect what's good about what we've already got while trying to fix what's bad.
The Great Hippo wrote:I think my point was fairly clear, and I don't see how you got to "Ayn Rand thinks property laws are inviolable" rather than "Ayn Rand thinks our right to property is inviolable", but yes -- that thing you said is not what I said.
Rights have implications on what laws should be. Saying that we have such-and-such rights suggests that we should have such-and-such laws. But since I apparently misunderstood you and you were just saying "there are no natural rights to property", never mind this thread.
You said you haven't met many people who have given thought to how to eliminate taxes while maintaining a functional society. Anarcho-capitalists have put some thought into this.
I guess I wasn't very clear with the scare-quotes indicating "what the other guys call" the quoted thing. There is a camp of people who equate "civilization" to a certain level of government services, e.g. people who call the U.S. "uncivilized" because it doesn't have universal health care. Those tend to be the same sort of people who argue that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taxation. Conversely the sort of people who argue that there is a problem with taxation, including many anarcho-capitalists, tend to be the kind to argue that we can do very well without those kinds of government services.
To rephrase the "two camps" without the scare quotes shorthand, they are:
- Those who say that if we can't have what-they-call-civilization without what-others-call-theft, then what-others-call-theft must be ok.
- Those who say that if we can't have what-others-call-civilization without what-they-call-theft, then what-others-call-civilization must be unnecessary.
The anarcho-capitalists I'm familiar with largely fall into the second camp. I'm pushing for a third position:
- We must somehow achieve what-the-first-camp-calls-civilization without what-the-second-camp-calls-theft, because what-the-second-camp-calls-theft is not ok, but what-the-first-camp-calls-civilization is necessary.
Or maybe we say it's impossible because we have considered the problem.
Then I would expect there to be at least some literature examining the problem and dismissing it. I would expect there to be some argument on record somewhere between people who say it's possible and those who say it's not, even if the latter group won. I'm generally more familiar with political philosophy than your average man on the street and I'm not familiar with any such debate having happened, so if it has happened it's been only in rarefied circles well-hidden from public view. I am trying to stir up a broader public debate about it. If you have any pointers to those less-well-known debates you think have happened I'd welcome them, but the only debates I'm familiar with are between the "we can get by without taxes, just kill all those social programs" camp and the "we can't kill social programs, so we have to have taxes" camp, who are both in the "it's not possible" camp of the argument I'm pushing to have.
(It's like there's an argument between metaphysical-libertarians and hard-determinists over free will, and somehow nobody has ever suggested compatibilism, and I'm sitting here wondering how in the hell I seem to be the only one who has even thought of compatibilism, that nobody's even bothered to shoot it down much less defend it).
Kit. wrote:I'm not sure what is scarier: a government as a market player (as opposed to a market regulator - or, worse, just combining both functions), or top managers of huge companies largely owned by a government but not controlled by it, - but it's definitely not "taxation".
The reason government as a market player is scary is that the government has all kinds of special powers that we would not want a market player to have, for very good reasons. But the problem being posed is how to fund a government that doesn't have those kinds of special powers, so in that context what is there to be afraid of?
I hope you do realize that people can only sell their labor if there are jobs for them.
What impact do you think my suggestion would have on the availability of jobs?
And what people rarely rent what they can buy unless there are some economic perks that pay for the inconvenience of renting.
Of course, but the point is that the availability of rent as an option distorts the market to create a situation where people can't buy. Without the rental option, owners would have no profitable option but to sell on some kind of terms former-renters could afford. It's like when you remove the option of slavery, plantation owners still need people to work their fields, and the former slaves still need to work for a living, but plantation owners suddenly have to start hiring
people to work the fields, and paying them more than they can get from other plantation owners to attract the best workers, and things generally get better for the former-slaves now that enslaving them is not an option for the owners.
Kit. wrote:The only way to convince someone else in the validity of your "oughts" is by using "ises" you both share.
There are lots of ways to convince
someone of anything, but the only valid justification
for an "ought" is an "ought", and the only valid justification
for an "is" is an "is". In either case at some point you will need to share some common premises of the relevant type in order for an argument to get off the ground.
Are you claiming that you have no way to make me knowingly and willingly
join your "taxation is wrong" society, and can only get me there by trickery and/or coercion?
I have no idea how you read that into anything I wrote.
I am claiming that to get you to "knowingly and willingly" agree with me about any normative issues, I need to appeal to some normative opinion we already have in common. I could try to stir up normative opinions I suspect we have in common with intuition pumps, or by explicating the implications of your professed opinions to show them problematic (either contradictory or implying something else you would more strongly reject) and get you to abandon them for other ones until you land on ones I agree with. But there's no way I can say "things are like such, therefore they ought to be like so" without either letting (or helping) you breeze over a gap in the logic, or appealing to at least some tacit assumption about how things ought to be. Even something as simple as "you shouldn't touch that open flame, because it will hurt you" relies on the tacit assumption that you shouldn't generally do things that hurt you.
(In a similar way that an "is" argument like "this thing exists, you can go here and see it" relies on the tacit assumption that you should generally believe your eyes).
Then both the plausibility of your method and the selection of your ises can be questioned by your opponents.
And how is the selection of "ises" any less problematic than the selection of "oughts"?
At least some of the "ises" are empirical evidence. There is no (known) empirical evidence among "oughts".
And (though some people we both disagree with would argue otherwise) there can't be strictly-speaking empirical
evidence for "oughts" because empirical evidence only gives you "is"-type information.
But I'd argue there can be something analogous to empirical evidence for "oughts", if we examine what exactly empirical evidence is. A piece of empirical evidence is a feature common to everyone's sensory experience. It's an observation that I can make with certain sensors of a certain system in a certain state, and then you can go and observe that same system in the same state with the same sensors and you will observe the same thing. An empirical observation is notably not
just a perception or a belief; those are already laden with interpretations on what that observation implies. But, at the bottom, empirical observations are still in a sense "subjective", in that they are made by subjective observers; it is just their commonality to all observers (looking at the right system in the right state with the right sensors) which makes their use unbiased.
I don't want to go into too much detail because this post is long enough as it is and I have to leave soonish, but I think there is a useful place to ground "ought" claims in something analogous to that. Something which is notably not a preference or intention or a want or a desire, which are already interpretation-laded and so make a horrible basis to ground "ought" claims. Something which is still subjective, but only as subjective as empirical observations are. Things which are common to the experience of all people with certain features in certain circumstances. There doesn't seem to be a common name for this, though I've got one I use, so I can't just say "what it is" here beyond giving this description of it, and naming a few notable examples of it: pain, hunger, thirst, etc. You might call them "hedonic observations" by analogy to "empirical observations".
Of course, relying on those requires the earlier step of agreeing that others' "hedonic observations" matter just as much as your own, even if you're not currently sharing them; just so long as you would, if you were a person like them in their circumstances. But we have to make a similar leap for using empirical observations, assuming a world with three-dimensional permanent objects which literally looks different to different kinds of people with different literal perspectives, rather than there being just a flat world of those ephemeral things we personally are observing right now. We could argue further about making that leap, but my point here is just that it's the same leap for either "is" or "ought" claims.
capefeather wrote:One thing that bothers me is when people try to define words as broadly as possible... [... theft...]
That's not quite what's happening. The idea of "broad definition" is a red herring. The word is deliberately
being abused in order to
attach the pre-existing emotional appeal of a perfectly good word for an evil act, to
an act that is not (anywhere near as) evil. It's like the way the word "piracy" has been abused to refer to illegally copying a song, or like any number of other examples you can easily come up with when people draw emotions into a discussion.
The misuse of the word "piracy" is a horrible analogy here. Piracy is literally an act of robbery committed at sea. Copyright infringement does not in any way meet that definition, and there's no way to extend the definition of piracy to include just copyright infringement without also including a whole host of other activities, or else sticking two different ad-hoc definitions together and saying "piracy is this thing, or this other completely unrelated thing".
On the other hand theft is literally taking someone else's property against their will. You have to specifically make exceptions
to that general definition in order to get taxation to not meet that definition, e.g. adding "unlawfully" before "taking". (But then the government can take anything it passes a law saying it can take, and what is left of the concept of property then?) That general definition is not being made overly broad to include taxation within it; it's just a straightforward definition which, it so happens, taxation falls under. You could argue that "theft" needs to be defined more narrowly in order to make sure that taxation does not fall under the definition, but then you need to make an argument for why that needs to happen, and the burden of proof is then on you to make that argument.