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Attention Takers: Why, In Plain English, Are YOU Entitled To The Fruits Of MY Hard Work?

Regardless of protestations to the contrary, all of us make decisions. At least most of ‘em by way of what our core beliefs dictate. In fact, the use of that phrase — core beliefs — virtually never causes problems on either side of any political/ideological debate. Oh, but do what I just did, use the ‘I’ word — ideology — and those who don’t blink an eye at core beliefs, begin dissembling like a one-legged man in a butt kickin’ contest. They don’t wanna go down Ideology Blvd.

Know why?

Ideology requires a rationally thought out path — a system of beliefs. For instance, ask the guy just arrested for the armed robbery of the local convenience store to explain how his ideological beliefs allow him to rob others of their belongings while threatening their lives with lethal force. You’ll get one of two responses. Silence — Or — Convoluted nonsense — Or — unfiltered rage.

Ask a dad why he punishes his seven year old son when caught stealing from his sister. You’ll get plain English from him. It’ll relate directly to his ideological beliefs. His core beliefs the foundation of his belief ‘system’. Is this news to anyone? No? Then why do those from the take-my-fish side of the isle bristle so visibly when those with a clearly defined ideology not only speak up, but spell their beliefs out in — that scary phrase again — Plain English.

The 10% Crowd

To be in the top 10% of American income earners in 2011, I’m gonna borrow from the IRS’s 2010 stats. We’ll use the same numbers this year as last since this year’s numbers are partial in nature. If you make $380,354 or more, congrats! Your group, the top 1%, makes about 20% of the personal income produced in the United States. That’s the good news. The bad news?

You and your buddies pay 20% 38% of all personal income taxes. Did Mom ever split the candy bar that way between you and your brother or sister? No? Her idea of what’s fair must’ve been skewed, right?

If you earn $113,799 or more you’re in the 10% group. The good news is your group makes a tick under 46% of all personal income. The bad news is you also pay just under 46% 70% of all personal income taxes.

See a trend here?

Let’s take a look at the other end of the income spectrum, shall we?

Caveat: Get ready for great gnashing of teeth and self-righteous pontificating about fairness. Also, count on some creative use of the language. It won’t be Plain English, but it’ll be solid comic relief. And no, entitled fish-takers, when I used empirically historic numbers, I’m not pontificating. I’m reporting documented facts, not spewing wishful thinking or vitriolic rhetoric designed to disguise a vacuous position.

The bottom 50% of wage earners in America earn a bit under 13% of the income. They pay less than 3% of all personal income taxes. So while just over half (the now famous 53%) of us are paying literally over 97% of all income taxes, a large minority of the bottom half loudly proclaim the ‘fact’ that a sizable portion of the upper half aren’t payin’ their ‘fair’ share.

The universally accepted number of American wage earners who don’t pay income taxes is about 47%. Again, a sizable and vociferous portion of those non-taxpayers claim that much of the other 53% — you know, the ones actually payin’ the bills — aren’t payin’ enough. Never mind they’re paying ALL the taxes. They’re STILL not payin’ their fair share.

We call these folks the ‘entitled’ ones.

I, for one, would respectfully ask them a simple question, phrased in what many of them fear most, Plain English.

Why are YOU entitled to the fruits of MY hard work?

To make this a civil discussion, I suggest the following rules.

1. You cannot make your case for taking my money for your use by asking me or my fellow Pay-the-Bills group a question. You must answer the question as it has been asked — in Plain English.

2. No personal attacks. If you can’t make your case using your own core beliefs which obviously must form your own ideological system (and yes, you have one), please stay on the sidelines and observe those who can.

Frankly, I’m sick ‘n tired of being treated, even if only metaphorically, as the convenience store owner mentioned earlier. In fact, that brings up an excellent irony. The armed thief will go to jail if convicted. Yet, any taxpayer consistently failing to pay their taxes faces prison as a real option.

What the hell has happened to us? What the hell has happened to the Plain English with which we all grew up? When half of us are payin’ the freight for the other half, we’re on the edge of the abyss.

Related posts:
  • Why do Liberals and Progressives in America deny their beliefs?
  • New Media in Plain English: Who me?
  • Jubilance is Not Arrogance

  • 134 comments

    134 Comments so far

    1. Jim Klein October 28th, 2011 8:26 pm

      Thank you, Jeff. But you can forget about any civil discussion because it’s not a civil matter. Your only error that I can spot is your belief that you’re being treated like the convenience store owner “metaphorically.”

      It ain’t metaphorical. What happened to us? That’s the question of our times and the answer is, “We were conned like nobody’s ever been conned before.”

    2. Jeff Brown October 28th, 2011 8:30 pm

      The metaphor is a bit loose for sure. Nobody’s breaking into my office with a mask and a Glock, threatening my life if I don’t fork over the dough. But goin’ to prison isn’t metaphorical in the least.

      And yeah, conned is right. The other question is whether we’re tired of being conned as a people. I hope that’s not a close call next year.

    3. Jim Klein October 28th, 2011 10:30 pm

      Elections, that’s funny. FWIW I meant non-metaphorical because of equivalence.

      You’re a remarkable man, Jeff. I think you have a force field around you, impervious to evil. If I ever grow up, I wanna be just like you.

    4. Sean Purcell October 29th, 2011 8:39 am

      Love your analogy Jeff. My only question stems from the comments: “conned”? That implies a certain innocence on the part of the victim, doesn’t it? Many of the problems we face, we brought about ourselves (I am, of course, using the royal “we”), by choosing short term reward over long term logic and history.

      This is the basis for my (very unpopular) idea that Social Security should ABSOLUTELY be cut for existing Senior Citizens. I’m tired of the “contract” argument because it only looks at one aspect of the contract. The Seniors who now rail against any cuts, are the same who already took partial pay-outs on their Social Security account. They voted into office the very people who looted the “trust fund” in order to pay these self-same people for votes. Is this any different than the person who continually takes cash out of their home equity, then complains that they’re upside down? That’s not a con, that’s a myopic self-interest suicide pact.

    5. Jim Klein October 29th, 2011 2:11 pm

      “My only question stems from the comments: “conned”? That implies a certain innocence on the part of the victim, doesn’t it?”

      No…quite the opposite. Cons only work because of the “larceny in the heart” of the mark. The pigeon drop won’t work on someone who doesn’t want something for nothing. Indeed, among some con men, the marks are known as “mooches,” for good reason.

      Your example of Social Security is apt IMO. At the beginning, if everyone really thought they were only going to get out what they put in, it never would’ve had a chance. Call it what you will, everyone who went along all these years, were conned. And as with any con, they won’t get what they expect.

      I agree there’s a sort of innocence for them, though. Mostly, they thought they were being part of a decent society, not a kleptocracy.

    6. Jeff Brown October 29th, 2011 3:18 pm

      Hey Sean — Many of today’s SS payees were born into the FDR universe. Mom was 12 or 13 before she knew anyone but FDR in the White House. Since it was first created as merely a supplement to retirement income, insurance if you will, its origins are relatively innocent. Combine that with the cynical plan by FDR who set the age 1-2 years beyond life expectancy back then. :)

      It was turned into two things, imho. A Ponzi Scheme, and then much later a slush fund for the thieves in DC. Frankly, and I’m willing to be wrong about this, I’m convinced most folks, original recipients anyway, thought it was as advertised, a supplement only. Boy, has it ever ‘evolved’.

      And for the record, Mom agrees with us. :)

    7. Jim Klein October 29th, 2011 3:49 pm

      Sounds right, Jeff. The thing is, she didn’t devise the scam. I think when the income tax started, it was just a tiny cut(.5 or 1.5%) on incomes over $3,000, a pretty big income in 1913. What’s the harm? It always SOUNDS good in words…who doesn’t want a watchman over their food, or someone checking their airplanes?

      But when the words turn into action, things start to change. Before you know it, you’ve got a population convinced that they can’t even manage to feed themselves, let alone provide for their own shelter or other well-being. And when people become convinced of that, it’s not too long before it becomes true.

      This isn’t theory; just take a look. THAT’S why they believe they’re entitled to the fruits of your labor.

    8. Jeff Brown October 29th, 2011 3:51 pm

      Preachin’ to the choir, Jim. :)

    9. Thomas Johnson October 29th, 2011 11:41 pm

      Excellent, Jeff. What is the end game when the 53% soon become the 49%? Where is Galt’s Gulch? How much time before Kollapse? I have the feeling that this train is accelerating.

    10. Ron October 30th, 2011 6:57 am

      The problem is not taxes. It is not about paying for what needs to be done. You need to flip the problem around. The issue is about amassing wealth, destroying the economy in the process, causing enormous unemployment problems, and still making huge amounts after being bailed out of what should have been, and was previously, criminal behavior.

      The current political and financial environment does not support the middle class. Once the rules were changed the middle class was left out in the cold. A strong middle class benefits all of us since the problem is not a capital problem the current economic problem is a demand problem.

      Also much of the process of amassing wealth can be seen to directly affect the health and welfare of the middle class. I heard it explained as the the 3 pillars of retirement security. 1) Pensions that the middle class relied on are disappearing being replaced by the 401k. The financial industry is making a huge amount of money on the 401k by charging fees, billions of dollars taken every year. The investments are more risky which a huge number of people found out when they lost their retirement savings on wall street. 2) Savings. The financial environment and risky capital investments have caused the interest rates to be nearly zero on savings. Many people that once saved their income for retirement in order to get some return now invest in Wall Street. 3) Social Security which a number of people view as their last hope for retirement security is being taken over by the financial industry. The Republican plan, privatize social security, so that the money can be invested on WALL STREET.

      I hope you see the problem with this logic. Yes I understand the need for banks and huge insurance companies. Yes I get the idea that wall street is important for growth, liquid markets, and capital. Still I do NOT want the rules that keep the market fair repealed again.

      The activity that caused this downturn should have been and was illegal. The risky investments that should have killed the financial institutions didn’t. They got bailed out. The Republican plan is to repeal regulations and go back to the same rules that allowed this mess to happen.

      Something needs to change. Your taxes (and mine) are too high. I get that. Blame the wars, blame the huge deficit spending, blame the bailouts, blame the tax cuts that were given at the same time (which you may have but probably didn’t benefit from). It is hard for me to blame stimulus spending that put people to work. It is hard for me to blame unemployment spending that helped people thrown out of work. It is hard for me to blame health care (whole different topic I know).

      The idealogical position that supporting the middle class has over and over again proven itself to work. Every time we try to trickle down, every time we try to deregulate and hope that business will police themselves, we find that the position fails. Huge tax surpluses are gone, savings are gone, artificial value ballooned up by wall street speculation in housing is gone. They kept the money, the home owners lost the money.

      So why should you pay your taxes? Because we need to keep the country running someone needs to keep the lights on until the Democrats can get back in power and fix this mess.

    11. Dan Connolly October 30th, 2011 9:11 am

      I have a question about those on the bottom (the takers) who are supposedly getting a free ride. Have you ever thought about what it takes for a family stuck in the minimum wage-$10/hr jobs to survive? How does a family with preschool age children make it in America? One wage earner bringing in 1200 per month after taxes? How do they pay rent utilities food clothing and health care?

      It isn’t automatic that they both can work. You can’t get child care for what one of them earns. What is the average income of the 53%? Break down the numbers. Minimum rent to live in some shit hole is 650. Can you pay everything else on 550? Move back in with your parents? What if they are dead or worse off than you? How about the mom with kids whose husband thinks its cute to beat her face in when he’s drunk? Should we turn our backs on her? Throw her into the scorn pool with all the welfare moms?

      What pisses me off is that nobody made a peep when we wasted a trillion dollars in Iraq for no good reason. We waste so much money on the military and foreign aid to countries that have brutal dictators that its sick, and nobody seems to care about any of it.

      30,000 children die every single day of starvation in the world today. Don’t pretend that we care what Saddam did to his people in Iraq. We don’t care about the loss of human life. Don’t pretend we care what Ghadafi did to his people.

      We have strayed from the principles that made this country great and are pushing to get further and further away. Do I mind that I pay a higher percentage of the taxes than those on the bottom? No I don’t. Not at all. Do I care that our elected officials waste what I do pay? Yes I do. Do I care that global corporations make record profits and pay virtually no taxes? Yes I do!

      Whenever anyone brings this up the talking heads scream that US corporations have the highest tax rate on earth. While that may be true there are loopholes big enough to fly your private jet through. I think if we closed the loopholes (and reduced the corporate tax rate) we could eliminate the national debt without touching the W2 and 1099 wage earners tax rates at all, might even be able to lower them.

      Do I want to cut social security, education, art in the schools, unemployment, medicare, food stamps, or any kind of help to those at the bottom of the society in order to keep the military industrial complex flourishing? No I don’t, not at all…

    12. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 10:26 am

      Notice what’s going on here. A whole buncha questions, but no answers to my question. Is gov’t spending a part of the problem? You betcha. But it’s a stand alone problem in its own right.

      Notice how, between the lines, the producers must be taxed into oblivion due to bad spending, or worse, so they have the money to spend on things in which we have no business being. Nobody addresses fair, unless it’s either directly or indirectly related to the same argument Socialists have been putting forth for generations. They rarely say it in Plain English, or even out loud.

      Producers are luckier than takers. They can ‘afford’ to pay the lion’s share. They don’t ‘need’ all that money. Blah blah blah.

      Blaming spending is ok with me as PART of the problem. But it’s cynical to the max when the same thought doesn’t include the fact that those who’re letting half the country live tax free, are the same thieves who’re wasting those same tax dollars on massive entitlements, ObamaCare, and yes, some of the military actions we’ve taken in the last few generations.

      Answer the damn question, and in Plain English. Please? :)

    13. Jim Klein October 30th, 2011 12:00 pm

      “Answer the damn question, and in Plain English. Please?”

      Way to refocus on the question, Jeff; nice job. Of course, as I wrote in my first response, “But you can forget about any civil discussion because it’s not a civil matter.”

      The answer is obvious—”Because I want it that way,” as if we’re five-year-olds who believe that’s some kind of answer. The reason it’s not civil is because of the follow-up: “And exactly how do you propose to get what you want?” And the answer to that is the five-year-old’s too: “I’m gonna take it.”

      When you strip away the fluff, that’s all that’s going on. Guys like you (and most of us) are looking for that which doesn’t exist…a REASON that others are entitled to the fruits of your labor. There are no such reasons; there are only bullshit excuses.

    14. John Rowles October 30th, 2011 12:02 pm

      I am entitled to the fruits of your hard work (and vice versa) because we both live in a representative democracy that takes care of things that we both want to have government take care of, things like raising and maintaining an army, building roads and public education. During the Prohibition our representatives agreed that an income tax was a better way for the government to generate revenue than a consumption tax on alcohol.

      Is that english plain enough? (Oh, whoops, sorry. Forgot we aren’t allowed to ask questions.)

      Where it gets contentious is when we disagree on whether or not we want our government to help people who don’t have as much money as we do. This seems to be where you are having a hard time, as you have framed your argument as “Why should THOSE people get MY money?”

      (Personally, I’m more pissed about my tax money being given to banks that are too big to fail at 0% so they can turn around and lend it to me at 5% and have no problem if its used to buy heating oil for old people, but that’s just me.)

      One of the ways our government helps “those people” now is through a progressive income tax that asks less of those of who have less and need to retain a higher percentage of whatever income they have to cover things like shelter and nutrition.

      That is the primary reason almost half of the population pays no income tax (the mortgage interest deduction is also a big part of that), but to say “those people” pay no taxes is untrue. They pay state sales tax on everything they buy, for example, and they pay regressive taxes on some things they consume disproportionately, cigarettes for example.

      You are right, it boils down to fairness: Is it fair that Warren Buffet pays half the tax rate that his secretary does? He still paid almost $7mm in taxes, but he apparently thinks that the government needs more revenue to do all the things he would like to see government do in our society, and so he said he thinks he should have to pay more.

      Others in Mr Buffet’s tax bracket disagree, along with a lot of Joe the Plumbers who have been convinced that they share the same economic concerns as billionaires, and they are desperately trying to shift the attention away from huge and increasing disparity between the 1% and the 99% and onto how unfairly 10% are burdened because half of the 99% don’t pay income tax.

      Its an effective argument if you don’t scratch the surface and, literally in this case, shut your ears to questions that might poke holes in it.

    15. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 12:06 pm

      Which is the reason I wrote the post, Jim. Every now and then it’s fun to let them fall all over themselves redirecting conversations away from the elephant in the room.

      Your analogy to the five year old works well. ‘I want it cuz I want it.’

    16. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 12:15 pm

      Hey John — Thanks for steppin’ up.

      You’re right, you can’t ask questions till you answer the question. I wish to know why I work hard to make 20% of the income but must pay 40% of the income taxes. I’ll make it easy for ya. Here’s the only answer that makes sense.

      “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need”

    17. Greg Swann October 30th, 2011 1:06 pm

      > I am entitled to the fruits of your hard work (and vice versa) because we both live in a representative democracy

      Magical accident of location?

      We each allegedly have the moral right and ontological capacity to enslave each other because we are situated on an unlucky spot of the globe?

      That’s not a validation, that’s a rationale.

      You and I are alone on Gilligan’s Island. Do I have the moral right and ontological capacity to enslave you? You me?

      Why?

    18. Dan Connolly October 30th, 2011 1:12 pm

      I felt like I answered in plain English but here is another attempt. Why are some entitled to live tax free (to reap the benefits of your/our hard work)?

      Because we shouldn’t have children going to bed hungry in America just because minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. The bottom of the wage pool needs every penny they make to survive.

    19. Greg Swann October 30th, 2011 1:19 pm

      > Because we shouldn’t have children going to bed hungry in America just because minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living.

      “What you mean ‘we,’ Kemo Sabe?” –Tonto

      Charity is voluntary. The minimum wage is extortion. Do you dispute either of those statements?

    20. Dan Connolly October 30th, 2011 1:45 pm

      I am not talking about charity. I am talking about the responsibility of a nation to take care of its people.

      I also do not know what you mean by “the minimum wage is extortion”. If we didn’t have a minimum wage, corporate America would extort the desperately unemployed and fill the McDonalds of the world with $5.00 per hour employees, then 4.50 then 4.00 and so on.

      I like the question “What would Jesus do”? For me it’s about the morality of doing what’s right.

    21. Jim Klein October 30th, 2011 1:59 pm

      Jesus believed in using physical force on others to get what he wanted? That’s news to me.

      Meanwhile Jeff, you could’ve just written, “Hey, I’d like to hear every tired cliche you’ve got.”

      Anyone who thinks this is about ethics is mistaken. This is pure epistemology. All those Easterners should just wish away the snow.

    22. Jim Klein October 30th, 2011 2:15 pm

      It’s about fairness to a crackhead with a baby, but not to Jeff. Why is this?

      It’s extortion when McDonald’s pays 4.00, even though anyone can say “No,” but it’s not extortion from Jeff even though he’s not allowed to say “No.” Why is this?

      A nation has responsibility to take care of it’s people, but those same people don’t have a responsibility to take care of themselves. Why is this?

      Let’s save some bandwidth. Blank-out, blank-out, blank-out.

      The almost comical thing is that the disparity between the wealthy and the poor–not to mention the housing crisis–is all caused /because/ of the government. Codevilla took care of this handily. There are two classes, the ruling elite and the “country class.” The sick part is that the slaves are actually begging to be slaves. Now tell me that don’t take the cake.

    23. Ron October 30th, 2011 2:20 pm

      It is difficult to answer in plain English to a question as specific as yours since we do not know your specific situation. It is possible that you shouldn’t have to pay because you have not in any way benefited from the social contract that we enjoy in this country. It is also possible that you have dis-proportionally benefited from the current rules and regulations.

      It is also hard for me to specifically answer the question why you should pay for me since I pay more in taxes than most people make. I can tell you that an economic system that shrinks the middle class and amasses wealth in a very small group is not sustainable. Over and over you can see the failures of such a system.

      The best answer I can give you is that you should not have to pay more if the system were sustainable. Rules should not benefit one group over another. Changes need to be made to go back to more rational regulations and protections for average people. Including you.

    24. Jim Klein October 30th, 2011 2:58 pm

      I appreciate your efforts here, Ron. Believe me, I know it can’t be easy. But could I trouble you to either produce my signature or stop calling it a contract? TIA.

    25. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 3:07 pm

      I love it. Now it’s the ‘social contract’ that makes it ok to make me pay almost half of all taxes paid. Here’s the how it’s really spelled.

      Socialist Contract — “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need”

    26. Jim Klein October 30th, 2011 4:14 pm

      Yeah, you were right both times, Jeff. The inequity of the whole thing can be tough to stomach. On the one hand, I seek to be polite because that’s my nature. OTOH, the other side is offering nothing but brute force to impose their whacked-out imaginations.

      That’s why Greg is so important, and the fallacy of Tu Quoque. Were we to impose /their/ sense of “justice,” we’d just blow ‘em all away and be done with it. That’s “fair”…you wanna go for the guns, then we’ll go for the guns. But of course, that does nothing but make us the perpetrators of their sense of justice, which is doing nothing at all…at least nothing human.

      At some point, though, it reduces down to pure survival. For lots of people, that point is already here, which is why they’re challenging the guns of the State around the country. Of course most of them just want to replace one set of guns with another; not much of an improvement IMO.

      It’s a rotten mess alright, but I still figure that nothing’s going to beat the evil except the good. So you and I will just keep working our asses off, hoping that one day the light bulb will go off in the minds of the thugs, and they realize that being a slavemaster isn’t really any better than being a slave.

      Thanks for bringing it out into the open. All the craziness carries much less weight in the light of day.

      A “contract” devised and agreed to by one party…sheesh.

    27. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 4:16 pm

      Reminds me of how Dad summed up their sense of justice for me as a teenager:

      “I confess, he did it!!” :)

    28. Dan Connolly October 30th, 2011 4:23 pm

      Tired cliches? Really Jim?

      Ever wonder why so few people participate in these conversations?

    29. Rob Chipman October 30th, 2011 5:29 pm

      Jeff:

      Great question, and one that should always be asked. Further, it’s implications should be explored more fully, because let’s face it- we don’t live in isolation.

      So, why am I entitled to the fruits of your labour? (theoretical, because I’m a paycheque writer and I live in Canada to boot).

      Here’s why: you agree to share because you agree with me on what the big picture is (however we define it).

      Anything less than your un-coerced consent means I’m forcing or tricking you to pay. It’s that simple.

      We both know lots of reasons why you’d voluntarily pay, and pay more than me. You might find it cheaper and safer to share with me than to protect against me. You may realize that no matter how fair I want to be I don’t have the capacity to pay my fair share, so if you want what we both want you’ll voluntarily pay more than me. We might agree that you consume more than I do in terms of road use or environmental degradation. The main thing is that you agree.

      On the other hand, multiply you and me by some 3.5 billion and the chances that we’ll get a one size fits all agreement goes out the window.

      So, let’s say you form a community or nation with a common goal and a unifying narrative and you stake out a patch of turf. History shows that if you can defend it you can conduct your program in harmony however you like.

      History also shows that if you start to disagree with your compatriots you can either over-rule them, exile them or be over-ruled or exiled yourself. What do you like more? Being happy or being right? If I don’t want development or investment, and you do, but we share the same territory, do we compromise, or does one of us over-rule the other and declare what the Big Unifying Goal is?

      I know that’s a question, but it’s rhetorical. You can’t over rule me and I can’t over rule you unless we consent or unless we resort to force. And if we decide to opt for force let’s remember that, by definition, revolutions are situations where the underdog wins. Regardless of whether the new boss is better, worse or the same as the old boss (and history shows that he’s not often an improvement) revolutions mean the old regime is gone, baby, gone.

      So, I’m entitled to the fruits of your labour because we share enough common beliefs that we create a common ground that you are willing to pay disproportionately for.

      And that leads to the big question: are you willing to pay more than me in order to keep the current US machine up and running? Do you want more beggars? More places where govt authorities can’t go? A country in name, but with vastly different different regional, social and demographic values.

      Again, more questions, but they’re the ones that need to be asked, or that you’re going to have to consider. I know where I live I pay a little north of $500 per month in property tax. That pays for schools, transit, bike lanes, etc. I don’t use any of them. Believe me, like you, I’d love to hear a candid discussion of why I should be paying for that just because I’m good at generating cash.

    30. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 5:37 pm

      Hey Rob — Your thoughts are appreciated.

      You said — “So, let’s say you form a community or nation with a common goal and a unifying narrative and you stake out a patch of turf. History shows that if you can defend it you can conduct your program in harmony however you like.

      History also shows that if you start to disagree with your compatriots you can either over-rule them, exile them or be over-ruled or exiled yourself. What do you like more? Being happy or being right?”

      And you’re right. I pay far more than my fair share at this point for two very basic reasons. 1. If I don’t, at some point a big guy with a badge and a gun will put me in prison. 2. So the those who’re living on MY so-called ‘fair’ share won’t kill me.

      You nailed it.

    31. Greg Swann October 30th, 2011 6:00 pm

      > I am not talking about charity. I am talking about the responsibility of a nation to take care of its people.

      Again, there is no nation, there is no ‘we.’ These are artifacts of the imagination — as you will instantly agree as soon as some ideologue proposes to rope you into his ‘we.’

      Moreover, what you are talking about is imposing your views of charity or responsibility or whatever on non-volunteers. As I discussed yesterday, this is a bright-line moral evil — slavery.

      Moreover yet again, the things you think of as being charitable or some imaginary entity’s responsibility are in fact themselves bright-line moral evil acts imposed upon your beneficiaries: The welfare state has robbed millions of innocent people of the opportunity to live as fully-human beings — free, self-responsible moral agents. This is an ugly crime already, but many of those millions of people will perish — having never learned how to live — when Big Mother’s bountiful teats dry up, as they must.

      As a matter of obvious economics, when you penalize zeal and reward indolence in the marketplace, you destroy civilization. But as a matter of ethics, when you penalize zeal and reward indolence for an individual person, you are instrumental in that person’s self-destruction of his own character. Nobody’s fault but his, but you’re giving him the gun — paid for with money you’re stealing from Jeff.

      > For me it’s about the morality of doing what’s right.

      Everything you say you are for is wrong. This is not simply a matter of making an intellectual mistake. The views you claim to uphold are at war with virtue and in league with vice. This is the reality of your professed philosophy.

      I am not making an ad hominem argument, I am simply talking about your professed ideas. I have praised your probity at length, and I know you don’t actually live by these ideas. For example, no matter how stingy your neighbors might be in the USPS Thanksgiving Can Drive, I know you don’t break into their homes to steal and donate their canned goods against their will. But hewing to these very false notions about justice puts you at war with everything you might hope for in human civilization, even as you lend aid and comfort to people who will, if left unchecked, destroy every value you revere.

    32. Rob Chipman October 30th, 2011 6:03 pm

      That’s one reason I like the Occupy Wall Street event. Mostly white, mostly educated and mostly under earning. Not happy and wondering why. They don’t have realistic solutions but they are starting a conversation that shouldn’t get squashed. It could lead to the right place if we’re lucky.

      I remember when Reagan got elected and cutting budgets in many places came under pressure (Thatcher in the UK, Mulroney in Canada). It made for interesting tv to get a diverse group intent on budget cutting around a table to see what they could agree to cut. Surprise surprise. They couldnt cut diddley squat. That’s 30 years ago. The problem is the same now.

      You can’t live beyond your means. The stars may lie but the numbers never do. With the debt and deficits that govts are carrying nowadays I suspect you could tax the 1% one hundred percent, then take them out back and shoot them, and the problem would remain unsolved.

      Personally, I’d be interviewing OWS guys more and more. Right now I think they’re asking some questions that they might not really want answered, but the conversation needs to be had.

    33. Greg Swann October 30th, 2011 6:10 pm

      > The stars may lie but the numbers never do.

      But I feel lucky today!

    34. Rob Chipman October 30th, 2011 6:17 pm

      Greg:

      In the terrain in which we currently find ourselves deployed can we afford to recognize the imaginary notion of the nation? If you don’t have a “we” in Phoenix who stops ex-Mexican military from broad daylight impression and sale of drugs? What do you do to avoid the shrapnel?

      I think we sometimes need the agreed upon fictions if daily life. I don’t think everyone even has to ( or can) recognize them as such. But, if we don’t recognize that a nation is an agreed upon fiction then we’re deluding ourselves.

      So I’m really asking: is ther always no “we”? I’m sure that there are times when we’ll hang separately if we don’t hang together.

    35. Rob Chipman October 30th, 2011 6:19 pm

      Btw, excellent catch on the lyrics! :-)

    36. Greg Swann October 30th, 2011 6:47 pm

      > So I’m really asking: is there always no “we”?

      If a relationship is not voluntary, a crime is taking place. That a nation is a really, really big crime doesn’t make what you are talking about any less criminal.

      (And maligning Phoenix with calumnies about the failures of two equivalently criminal nations is dirty pool!)

      As a matter of ontological fact, you are never anything but alone in your own skin. You and other people can choose voluntarily to say “we,” but not only is that word false to actual fact, no two of you will have the same idea of what “we” is.

      “We” is never anything but an idea, an idea that can be useful among willing volunteers, but never a real thing. The only real things in the people making up a group — voluntarily or by coercion — are those people themselves.

      There is no supplementary thing that comes magically into existence when one person is joined in some context by another, and not by a third, nor a fourth, nor a millionth. There is no group, no we, no nation, no brotherhood, no flock, no community of faith, no reich, no race, no revolutionary masses, no us — except as we volunteer to join some particular “us.”

      How do I know I’m a volunteer: I can quit. Any group I can’t quit is a criminal organization.

      I’m delighted to hit a serious question, by the way. I can’t think of a better time for people to question their premises than when they are picking through the ruins those premises have wrought.

      I think it’s a wonderful idea, always, for people to think carefully about the ideas they claim to uphold. But I think this because I know that every philosophy in currency right now is completely, outrageously, self-annihilatingly wrong.

      Juctice begins where crime ends. If you want a just human cilvilation, you must foreswear crime — no involuntary social relationships.

      I would go one step farther and say that human civilization will commence when most of us have adopted rational egoism as the philosophy governing our behavior, each of us as individuals. Socialism is just the modern name for criminal predation — savagery. A society of consistently moral human behavior is still in our future — a wonderful goal to shoot for, I think.

    37. Greg Swann October 30th, 2011 6:55 pm

      > excellent catch on the lyrics!

      Dood! I’m a poet. I drive Cathleen crazy with lyrics, poems, literary references, neologisms and transmorgrifications therefrom. It’s a wordy world where I live.

    38. Ron October 30th, 2011 7:29 pm

      I wish that people could see the results of the decisions they make. Like in “It’s a wonderful life”. Most of these arguments are theoretical and it is really difficult to convince people of how valid your argument is when no matter what actually happens time has taken so long and people blame everything but the decisions that actually caused the problem.

      I was jumping up and down saying that Reagan was nuts to start spending more then we were taking in. I was jumping up and down when Baker started rolling back all the environmental laws. And I was steaming mad when Regan started talking about Welfare Cadillacs. Then started cutting spending left and right. We had mental patients dieing on the street. There was a guy that walked up and down the street yelling at the top of his lungs “Killer bees, Deadly bees” all day every day. There was a guy that lost half of his face and couldn’t get healthcare to fix it. He went to the emergency room when he couldn’t stop the bleeding but that was all they would do for him.

      It was a very odd time and I felt like the world had gong absolutely crazy. I was wrong about some things. Deficit spending helped get the country back on track after the runaway inflation and energy costs. Deficit spending should have stopped and should only be used for emergency measures but OK so I was wrong.

      Had we not done something then people would have lost their life savings due to inflation alone. I can look back and say there is something I called wrong. (I still think I’m correct about the crazy cuts and negative environment impacts of the Regan years).

      I’m going to try to answer your question, taking some literary liberties.

      You should pay more then me because there is no land left. I would have no problem feeding myself if I could build my own home and grow my own food but when I try to do that the police kick me off. The owners don’t even grow food.

      You should pay more then me because I make less 20K and can’t afford to pay. (98% of the group you complain about make less then 20k a year. 42% are working full time. http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/542.html)

      You should pay more then me because I’m a kid and I don’t even have a job. (30% of of the group you complain about are < 24 years old but are considered in your numbers).

      You should pay more then me because I own a home. I have no idea why but the Government decided that interest paid to a bank to buy a home is deductible. I guess they wanted to encourage me to buy a house, spend money to fix it up, build up property values in our neighborhood.

      You should pay more then me because I have children. Children are expensive and to encourage people to have children and you pay me to help keep my family together.

      You should pay more then me because I'm a farmer and can't make enough money farming so you subsidize me so that I don't loose my farm.

      You should pay more then me because I was laid off and don't have a job. I'm trying to find one but when I was working I paid my unemployment insurance. One day if you are out of work I will help pay for you.

      You should pay more then me because I'm retired. I worked hard every day of my life and I only make social security.

      You should pay more them me because I'm sick. I didn't mean to get sick but I did. I lost everything I have and if you don't pay more I will die or be homeless. I would be happy to trade my sickness to you so that I can pay more.

      You should pay more then me because I invest in the stock market. I take risks so you should reward me.

      You should pay more then me because I inherited money from my family. I don't work but they already paid taxes on their money why should I have to pay again for you?

      You should pay more then me because I opened a big company in your town. The town decided to give me a tax exemption to get me to move here.

      You should pay more then me because I'm an Oil Company. In order to encourage me to continue drilling for domestic oil the government gives me a huge tax break.

      You should pay more then me because because I have expensive tax lawyers and accountants that know how to legally pay less.

      Does that answer your question?

    39. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 7:50 pm

      Hey Ron — Thanks. It sure does answer my question.

      Essentially, I should pay more due either to your bad decisions or your bucket list being unfulfilled.

      It’s the most honest answer from your group today. Thanks again.

    40. Jim Klein October 30th, 2011 7:53 pm

      I like Rob’s answer. He hits the nail on the head with why Jeff chooses to share his earnings. The thing is, that’s not an entitlement and if Jeff decides otherwise, then it’s plain extortion, period. Judging from Jeff’s response, that’s where it stands now. So while it’s very insightful, it doesn’t really answer the question.

      Duh…nothing CAN answer the question because no person is ever entitled to another person’s earnings without his permission. This would seem to be elementary, which is why we teach children that they shouldn’t steal. And then when they grow up, we teach them to steal. No wonder people can’t think straight.

      Speaking of which…Dan, I assume there’s some joke in there, but it flew over my head. These threads tend to be the longest and have high participation. So you can either clarify the joke, or be comfortable being wrong about everything.

      And yes, they’re very tired cliches. If you’d like them enumerated from just this thread, simply ask.

    41. Ron October 30th, 2011 8:11 pm

      Wow that is very nicely simplified. So let me get this straight. You have no problem complaining about people that are retired not paying tax. You are OK with complaining that children don’t pay tax? You are OK with saying that people that are laid off should have to pay the same tax as you. And you seem to be OK with no tax for investors, inheritors, large companies, and people who cheat or creatively file their taxes.

      I have to agree with you. Your answer is the most honest reply from your group too. I think you are right there is no way to have a real discussion. You win.

    42. Jeff Brown October 30th, 2011 8:16 pm

      Please quote me from my post. Show me where I said anything you just said I did.

      Those are your words, not mine. Period. Nice try.

      Again, Ron, answer the question. Better yet, I’ll do it for you.

      “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    43. Teri L October 31st, 2011 10:40 am

      I am entitled to your property because I have the bigger gun. If you voted at all, seems to me, you are complicit in this arrangement. Thanks, Jeff!

    44. [...] RSS Feed Posted: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 11:16 am MST Category: Big Mother While reading Jeff’s post asking about how people can justify theft from others in the name of government, I was most [...]

    45. Dan Connolly October 31st, 2011 11:26 am

      So what is the alternative? In plain English please. The practical reality of how it should work in today’s world…or is this a purely philosophical discussion of utopian dreams?

      It sounds like the consensus is that any form of taxation is slavery. How does it work without taxes? Please explain. Survival of the fittest?

      I am still wondering what happens to the person who suffers a debilitating injury, uninsured and permanently disabled in your ideal world? Do we leave them to die in the bright white glory of a life freely lived?

    46. Jeff Brown October 31st, 2011 11:44 am

      Hey Dan — I’m not part of any consensus to which you must be referring. I’ll let those folks speak to your query.

      Utopia? My utopia is where those who, for whatever reason, the majority of which IS under their direct control, don’t make enough to live, can’t force me to ‘help’ them.

      I’m not one of those who says no taxes whatsoever. I do say that beyond commerce, borders, and declared war/standing military, is subject to review. What most folks on the taker side won’t discuss is that they can’t get my money without using force.

      I didn’t decide to quit school, have kids without financial wherewithal, commit crimes, and the rest of their bad decisions. For all the relatively big earners out there who bleed for those people, they’re free to spend their own money, and not mine.

      We’ll see what the bleeding hearts have to say when finally the takers are in complete majority control. That will be ugly.

    47. Greg Swann October 31st, 2011 12:10 pm

      > So what is the alternative?

      I’m for nothing.

      > The practical reality of how it should work in today’s world

      Already works all the time, except where some thug with a gun is insisting the universe must be what it obviously is not. Cooperation is never a problem. Compulsion always is.

      > I am still wondering what happens to the person who suffers a debilitating injury, uninsured and permanently disabled in your ideal world?

      Happens all day, every day, all over the world, and you do nothing. Keep it up. It’s working for you.

      Again: The seen and the unseen: You have destroyed the economy in pursuit of a double-bladed crime spree you have been gulled into regarding as mercy. What happens when you stop destroying the economy? Might your compulsory infants find a way to grow up, at last, where the full productive power of the human brain is not tied down by infinite taxes and regulations.

      Here’s what’s really sick: We are just that close to conquering natural mortality, and we might have done this already, but for the thugs and their guns. How many innocent people have died needlessly because thugs have insisted for the past 100 years that the universe must be what it obviously is not.

      Who’s the bad guy? The one with the gun. Want a better world? Put down the gun. You don’t get to dictate other people’s behavior, no matter how badly you want to.

      Again, I know you’re not a bad person. But you hold evil ideas, and the tragic consequences of those evil ideas are all around you. Today is the first day of your reawakening, if you want it to be.

    48. Rob Chipman October 31st, 2011 1:29 pm

      Don

      Speaking for myself, I don’t think I’m required to provide an alternative to the current approach or to your preferred approach in order to criticize or recognize what’s in front of us.

      I think an understanding of the philosophy is critical. Like the old saying goes: it doesn’t matter how fast we’re going if we’ re on the wrong road.

      When you ask me for a solution to a problem that you define (what do we do about a debilitating illness) you either assume I share your concern or you don’t care. Assumption is less malicious, but it is ignorance distilled and generally ends in tears. Not caring what I think while requiring that I solve what you define as a problem shows a complete lack of respect for me and my freedom.

      The alternative to that (and in essence, I think, what Jeff is asking for) is for you to tell me what you think the problem is, ask if I agree with you, and, based on that answer either ask me to participate in the solution or, equally important, respect my rights to disagree with you and to my property.

      There are always more problems than solutions. If your problem is so much more important than the others you should be able to enlist fellow men of good will. If you can’t do that then maybe you’re problem isn’t as bad as you make it out to be.

      That may sound callous, but you’re complaining about low wages and a debilitating disease in a country where the homeless arguably live better than the poor in many other places on the planet. Another old saying (just because I love them): I complained about having no shoes until I saw a man with no feet.

      Understanding the philosophy let’s you break the paradigm. You stated you didn’t support Iraq war expenditures. Who would you have voted for last time on that basis? Both candidates promised more war. You may not have wanted your taxes going there, but some people clearly did (unless all voters are idiots).

      Good solution? Open your eyes, do the books, don’t make claims on other people’s property. I think you’d find that Jeff would voluntarily pay more and the whole country would live within it’s means. Taxation isn’t slavery when it’s voluntary.

    49. Sean Purcell October 31st, 2011 1:57 pm

      >in response to Ron (as I think most on this thread are above responding to such inanity):

      First: Yes… I have no problem complaining about retired people, children, the unemployed and any other group you would like to hold up as possessing some kind of special rights that I do not. But complaining about them not paying taxes? Where did that happen?

      Jeff’s “complaint” wasn’t that those groups don’t pay enough taxes, it was that they feel entitled to steal his money (and call it taxes).

      Second: Yes… I am okay with no tax for investors, inheritors, large companies, and people who cheat or creatively file their taxes. I am also okay with no taxes for retired people, children, and the unemployed.

      In other words, I am okay with abolishing the systemic evil of theft know as personal income and business taxes. And yes, I am okay with complaining about any person or group who feels entitled to continue that evil. And yes, I am okay with asking them to at least own up to their cowardice if they cannot bring themselves to provide an honest answer to Jeff’s question.

      (Something more original than “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” would be preferred, as Jeff has already spotted you that one.)

    50. Dan Connolly October 31st, 2011 3:59 pm

      Rob, First of all I am not requiring that you do anything. I don’t assume that you share my concerns and if you aren’t interested in what I am talking about I certainly wouldn’t expect you to even answer. A complete lack of respect for you and your freedom? I don’t think so.

      I should have addressed my response to Greg. I didn’t because I thought it was also to Jim Klein, and possibly to Jeff. I was answering Greg’s piece by piece analysis of my earlier post and Jim’s dismissal of what I said as being all wrong.

      I generally remain quiet in these types of conversations, because I am what Jeff calls a bleeding heart liberal. I also pay more taxes than most people earn, and yet I also support helping the poor. I don’t think we should have 8000 veterans homeless in LA alone.

      I believe that if we didn’t waste money on wars that we don’t need to be in, if we didn’t give the Exxons of the world a free pass on taxes, if we didn’t allow China to steal all our jobs (by taxing all Chinese imports), if we didn’t allow Wall St to pillage our economy, there would be enough left in the budget to be a humane country that didn’t have it’s citizens abandoned on the street. I think we could even pull it off while reducing taxes for everyone.

      I am not complaining about low wages, it’s free enterprise. I support a minimum wage because I believe the poor souls need protection. I support the lowest wage earners getting by with paying less taxes for the same reason. I don’t apologize for my beliefs and don’t care if anyone agrees with me.

      That being said, I have a lot of respect for Greg I consider him a friend and I am genuinely interested in what type of world he imagines. I am surprised that he calls my concern for the poor “evil”. I don’t understand why he does and I ask frankly because I might be convinced.

      I also like the hell out of Jeff and was trying to answer his question in plain English from my opposite perspective.

      I would love to live in a world where I/we didn’t have to pay so much, and I don’t think either party has a solution.

    51. Greg Swann October 31st, 2011 4:45 pm

      > I am surprised that he calls my concern for the poor “evil”. I don’t understand why he does and I ask frankly because I might be convinced.

      I can name four particular evils in the putatively “merciful” response to poverty.

      1. In order to express this “mercy,” you must first steal wealth from people who earned it. That alone is enough to kill the project for me. No good will ensue from that which originates in crime.

      2. By expressing this “mercy,” you are infantilizing your alleged beneficiaries. You are holding them down to a level of dependence that would be degrading to animals. Still worse, because you have concealed from them the need to learn how to live independently (that is, without being dependent), you have sentenced them to death when your larcenous “mercy” fails — as it must.

      (To clarify just that one issue: Would you raise children this way, rewarding their every failure and penalizing their every success? How would children reared that way turn out?)

      3. Your intrusions upon the nominally “free” economy make everyone poorer — with the impact being felt most by the people who have the least. Moreover, as I mentioned, inhibiting technological progress with taxes and regulations may result in your own premature demise.

      4. Because you lack the capacity to act directly upon the problems you decry, you not only cause undiluted evil where you seek to do good, you absolve yourself of the responsibility to discover what is actually good and how to go about achieving it.

      Socialism is:

      1. Bad for the people you are stealing from.

      2. Bad for the people you are giving to.

      3. Bad for everyone.

      4. Bad for you.

      It would be hard for me to imagine anything more evil than this.

      You are very far from being alone in having been deluded by this false morality. But it is false. It is not good, it is naked evil camouflaged as virtue.

    52. Jim Klein October 31st, 2011 5:28 pm

      Dan, the problem isn’t with your beliefs. I’m a soft touch for poor kids too, and there are lots of ‘em in my neck of the woods. I don’t like big corporations squeezing the little guy either, especially when they outright cheat as many of them do.

      Most people are like us, you see. I’ll bet Jeff contributes time and money regularly, and I’ve seen Greg appeal for one cause or another. You’re not wrong about any of that stuff and even if you were, so what? Your beliefs are your beliefs, and you can give to your heart’s content. Almost everyone is compassionate, and charitable to boot.

      What you’re not seeing is that you are arguing for the very opposite. You are saying that compassion and charity ought to be taken out of the hands of individuals and placed in the hands of the State.

      The State has only one tool at its avail—brute force. Period. You can argue this, but that’s the fact of the matter. The State has no compassion; only people have compassion. The State is not a person. It’s a collection of people whose ONLY business is to force other people to do what it says. It doesn’t ask, beg, cajole, persuade, convince or any of that. It has one means of operation only, and that is to FORCE people to do something. And quite obviously, that’s not compassionate at all; it’s the opposite of compassion.

      Everything cognitive is hierarchical, and especially ethics. It’s not ethical for a poor man to steal your stuff to pay for drugs for his mother. You might agree that his mother should get the drugs, but I’m confident you understand why it’s wrong for him to steal from you. Well, collectivizing the theft can’t possibly make it right; it just makes it wrong a zillion times over. There is no way out of this fact—initiating force against another man is wrong, and it’s ALWAYS wrong, regardless of the supposed good that comes from it. That’s it; that’s the end of the story. All the words are just that…words of tired cliches that every looter and thief has used forever.

      This is a real estate blog, where the concept of “agency” is well understood. You can’t make right out of wrong by having an agent do it for you. In the end, that’s the only point of the tired cliches, pretending that if we all do it, or have someone else do it for us, then somehow it’ll all magically be proper.

      There is no magic and it’s wrong to live as a brute thug. You know this and you live it, so there’s really nothing to argue about. You just need to stop pretending that either agency or trite cliches can turn something into that which it is not.

    53. Ron October 31st, 2011 5:40 pm

      Hi Greg,

      I was going to stay out of this but I really have to ask you what country are you living in? It certainly isn’t this one. Can you tell me why someone that works hard, goes to school, earns a degree, and is unable to get a job because the unemployment rate is so incredibly high, does not deserve mercy.

      These are not kids that have to be taught a lesson. By all accounts they did everything right. Why is the employment rate so high? Because financial institutions risked our money (without asking me, by the way) and lost it. They then came to the middle class and we paid for it. We continue throwing money hand over fist at corporations with unbelievably cheap credit, quantitative easing, and incredible tax breaks but regular people are getting stuck with higher fees, no credit flowing, and people like you that say it’s their fault that a small group of people messed up the economy for everyone else.

      Giving money to people that are unemployed benefits you. It’s is the best way to stimulate the economy because the money we give to the unemployed gets spent. The unbelievable amounts of money that republicans want to give corporations just sits there. They make huge amounts of money and continue lay off more workers.

      I really can’t understand how people can make moral arguments about economic issues and really believe that they are solving any problem. Your solution of denying mercy doesn’t even address the issues.

      How about answering real questions.

      1) Do you believe that anything should be done about the high unemployment rate? What?

      2) Do you believe that anything caused the current financial crisis? Should people be held accountable? Who?

      3) If your bank went under (as many have) would you take the insurance money? Or should we just say that you made a mistake and trusted your money with the wrong people, bummer for you.

      4) Do you believe that consumers deserve any protection at all? If you purchased medical insurance and then got sick and found out that your illness wasn’t covered, or your company would only pay for a small lifetime max, should the rest of us say oh well, happens to the best of us.

      I understand that maybe a good spanking would help teach you a lesson so that you won’t pay excessive value for a house in the future but when did it become a crime to believe in the economy that we all live in.

      What really gets me is that there are good solutions, they are consumer protections, corporate regulations, progressive tax rates, environmental protections and laws to ensure equal protections and opportunities. All the things that Democrats stand for. Things that have been proved over and over again to work.

      Yes we also like spending money on people that need help, but even Clinton modified Welfare to address some of the issues you raised. Welfare is a tiny part of the problem. So small compared to the corporate explosion that arguing that we need to teach the poor a lesson completely misses the point.

    54. Greg Swann October 31st, 2011 6:33 pm

      > I really have to ask you what country are you living in?

      Fallacy ad hominem.

      > Can you tell me why someone that works hard, goes to school, earns a degree, and is unable to get a job because the unemployment rate is so incredibly high, does not deserve mercy.

      Emote away. Just don’t use your emotions as a rationale for theft.

      > Why is the employment rate so high?

      Crime-by-government. Where any market “fails,” you can be assured the fault is crime, almost always crime-by-government. This is something you can easily prove to yourself, if you are of a mind to learn anything.

      > I really can’t understand how people can make moral arguments about economic issues and really believe that they are solving any problem.

      I am the most consistently wise person you will ever meet. I know how to fix everything that is wrong in human political life. If you avail yourself of my thinking, instead of insulting me, you might learn what I know that you do not. This will be a wonderful thing for you.

      > 1) Do you believe that anything should be done about the high unemployment rate? What?

      Eliminate as much government as possible, ideally all of it in due course. This will result in full employment as one of many salutary consequences.

      > 2) Do you believe that anything caused the current financial crisis?

      Rent-seeking — people, rich and poor, scheming to get their mitts on wealth they did not earn. This is the cause of all financial crises — and many other political and economic disasters — throughout human history.

      > 3) If your bank went under (as many have) would you take the insurance money?

      I never take money I have not earned. No one should. That’s a vitally important moral precept.

      > 4) Do you believe that consumers deserve any protection at all?

      Everything they can think of by themselves, and anything else they are willing to pay for on the free market. This is all the protection anyone ever has, regardless of the lies you might tell yourself. Another vitally important moral — and epistemological — precept.

      > If you purchased medical insurance and then got sick and found out that your illness wasn’t covered, or your company would only pay for a small lifetime max, should the rest of us say oh well, happens to the best of us.

      I would rather die than live as a parasite, which is another vitally important moral precept.

      > when did it become a crime to believe in the economy that we all live in.

      It is not a crime to believe in any artifact of the imagination. It may be a crime to act upon insane beliefs. Certainly “the economy that we all live in” consists almost entirely of criminal insanity.

      > What really gets me is that there are good solutions, they are consumer protections, corporate regulations, progressive tax rates, environmental protections and laws to ensure equal protections and opportunities. All the things that Democrats stand for. Things that have been proved over and over again to work.

      They have worked perfectly. The U.S. economy is has been all but fully destroyed by rampant, pandemic, rent-seeking kleptocracy. Your philosophy has not failed. It has done precisely what it was intended to do. Nice going.

      You have no idea what you are talking about. You are just regurgitating swill you imbibed mindlessly in government indoctrination academies. If you want to learn what I know, I think this is a good idea — for you. Read what I have written, and get back to me when you have something to offer.

    55. Sean Purcell October 31st, 2011 6:55 pm

      3) If your bank went under (as many have) would you take the insurance money?

      I never take money I have not earned. No one should. That’s a vitally important moral precept.

      >Greg, just to clarify: you would accept the insurance payout from a private enterprise insurance company you had contracted with to protect some aspect of your life, liberty or property, yes? If the market weren’t skewed through false promises like the FDIC, it is more than conceivable that there would be free market insurance companies who offer to insure your deposits for a fee.

    56. Greg Swann October 31st, 2011 7:48 pm

      >Greg, just to clarify: you would accept the insurance payout from a private enterprise insurance company you had contracted with to protect some aspect of your life, liberty or property, yes? If the market weren’t skewed through false promises like the FDIC, it is more than conceivable that there would be free market insurance companies who offer to insure your deposits for a fee.

      That’s all correct, yes. The trouble with government “insurance” is that it’s simply a pool of stolen funds. I hate it that my money is in that pool, but I won’t touch it once it is. The Department of the Navy threatened me once, because I wouldn’t sell them software licenses. I’ve never sold anything to a government, and I never will. As a property manager I am a collector and bursar of rental sales taxes — a tax farmer, essentially. That’s disgusting to me, but at least I am not profiting by it.

      I am not claiming for myself more than my worth: I have no money of my own. To the contrary, for now and for years I am a serial deadbeat, correcting what I can when I can, and leaving a lot for a hoped-for better tomorrow. Deposit insurance benefits me nothing. I would like to imagine that someday I will have to think longer before being so dismissive. (Unpack the subjunctives. It’s fun.)

      Meanwhile: I am stupid, stupid, stupid. I don’t want to beat people up for being wrong, I want for them to be right. There is no limit to the piles of squalor someone can sweep away without living one second of splendor. Not-being-wrong is important, but being right is what will make the difference I am trying to make.

      That every old operating manual for human life is wrong means nothing. That we can do better — an ontologically-consonant teleology — that’s everything.

    57. Jim Klein October 31st, 2011 8:58 pm

      “What really gets me is that there are good solutions, they are consumer protections, corporate regulations, progressive tax rates, environmental protections and laws to ensure equal protections and opportunities.”

      Don’t ever think you’re not special. It’s no small feat to write one of the craziest single sentences on the entire Internet. This is a real classic; I’m sure I’ll be using it.

    58. Ron November 1st, 2011 10:04 am

      Hi Jim,

      Have it your way. Don’t protect consumers, let the corporations do whatever they want to make a profit, charge the poor more to make up for the money that was stolen or given away, allow business to destroy the environment because they need to make more money at our expense, and make sure that we support discrimination and promote a new aristocracy.

      That will certainly help to create a society that will benefit us all.

      The solutions from the Right are very simple. Reduce taxes and repeal regulations. Both solutions have failed over and over again. Republicans complaining about the deficit is like a arsonist complaining that he got burned. http://visualizingeconomics.com/2009/07/08/who-caused-the-deficit/

      By the way, contrary to popular belief I am not a communist. The whole “from each to each” comment was your line not mine. I believe in free markets ability to protect our economy. But without all of what was mentioned above a free market economy can not operate.

      If the rules of the game are equal then more eyes on corporations with more control over their functions will make better decisions. That’s free market. Free markets can only work when rules are clear, fraud is removed, transactions are transparent and incentives are tied to real goals.

      Large groups do tend to get things right. The problem is not the theory of Capitalism, the problem is that having so few people have so much power is not Capitalism. When rules benefit a few groups that is crony-ism or class-ism it is not a free market.

      Let’s play monopoly. You can only move when you throw a six and I can move when I throw any number. Let’s start the game where you get 200 for passing go but since I inherited my Money I get 10K. Not fair you say but I create jobs. I’ll hire someone for 200 that will move my piece around the board for me. That’s fair. It’s an easy job and they make as much as you do, so pay me my 10K.

      I’ve talked way more then I intended. Thank you for the conversation. It was very frustrating.

      Now back to being the well known author of the single craziest sentence on the entire Internet.

    59. Rob Chipman November 1st, 2011 10:17 am

      Dan:

      Let me apologize if I cam across too literally. That’s a failure of electronic communication. When I use “you” and “me” I’m simplifying things. Don’t take offense or take it personally.

      That said, when you ask “So what is the alternative?” I decode that as a request for a solution to a problem. (Not “the” problem, but “a” problem, upon whose existence we haven’t yet all agreed).

      Greg said this earlier (and again, don’t take offense – I don’t mean any – but I don’t think you understand what he or I means by this so don’t just dismiss it):

      “Today is the first day of your reawakening, if you want it to be.”

      When you ask for a solution to a problem, or an alternative to what we do now, you’re making some assumptions. The first, and most critical assumption is that you assume that I agree with you that the problem is a problem, and that it needs a solution.

      And here’s a chance to wake up: debilitating illness or low income is not something that we all agree a problem. In fact, you may not even think it’s a problem, despite wanting a solution.

      As Greg pointed out, you just ignore the vast majority of poverty and debilitating illness already, and that’s working for you. I don’t think you’re advocating that we all pony up to solve the obvious problem of debilitating illness and low incomes in…the Central African Empire. Am I right?

      So, if I don’t think your problem is enough of a problem to even warrant my attention, much less a solution that requires my time and energy, why should I willingly pay taxes for it?

      More later. Someone’s got to make a living around here :-)

    60. Rob Chipman November 1st, 2011 1:21 pm

      Sorry. Hit post by mistake.

      The bandage for a liberals bleeding heart is usually taking other people’s money.

      Solving the actual problem isn’t critical to the mission.

      As Greg points out, the solutions proposed are what got us here.

      They don’t work. They give you wars you don’t want and homeless vets.

      Is this new? No. You may not remember Vietnam (a war begun by a Democratic president) and it’s aftermath, but I do. The current system has been around a long while now.

      Erect tax barriers. Tax Chinese imports. Tax Canadian softwood. Make poor people pay higher prices in order to subsidize uncompetitive American workers. Do you think greg’s Rotarian capitalists will complain? They’d love the restriction in competition.

      We have 7 billion souls aboard this aircraft we call earth. We’re encountering turbulence. The passengers in first class are getting restless. They want a return to the old days.

      It ain’t gonna happen. We need new solutions. And before we get to them I think its important to understand the game. Forcing someone to pay is theft. Theft is wrong. Persuade and ask rather than force, or expect someone, somewhere, to at least point out the dif between sh*t and shinola.

      Fwiw, I think it’s a failure of society to have homeless people in a land of plenty. But I also see the fallacy of believing tax dollars are the solution.

    61. Greg Swann November 1st, 2011 1:31 pm

      > I think it’s a failure of society to have homeless people in a land of plenty.

      No, that’s a failure of real estate laws. A free market will clear: Supply will equal demand. If supply does not equal demand (e.g, homelessness, unemployment), it’s because some criminal (almost always government) is artificially impeding trade.

    62. Rob Chipman November 1st, 2011 1:57 pm

      Greg:

      I don’t buy that. A free market requires players who are ready, willing and able. It’s self evident that some members of our communities are unable to act in the marketplace.

      The market can do much, but it can’t do it all.

    63. Greg Swann November 1st, 2011 2:47 pm

      > It’s self evident that some members of our communities are unable to act in the marketplace.

      Why? Because they’re too poor, or because they’re mentally defective? In either case, the problem is that providing the needed care is illegal.

      Prior to the welfare state, there was no homelessness. There would be none now if landlords were at liberty to provide dormitory space in exchange for labor. Eight hours a day of piece-work gets you three hots and a cot and twenty bucks to piss away on Saturday.

      This satisfies the actual problem, but it leaves no room for self-righteous posturing by bloviating ideologues who are more than happy to let the homeless freeze to death, in preference to leaving people free to solve their own problems.

      I could talk about this in all sorts of different contexts. As an example, welfare prices domestic service out of the market. This has all kinds of negative results:

      * The children of the poor don’t learn the value of work by seeing their parents go off to work.

      * The children of the prosperous suffer because both of their parents have to work full-time in addition to taking care of all the household chores.

      * The would-have-been domestic servants themselves do not gain exposure to the style of living in prosperous homes, an incentive to upward mobility.

      * The members of the prosperous family habituate worse conduct toward each other because they are not moderating their behavior in front of strangers.

      There’s lots more, along with many other similar examples I could cite.

      The welfare state is at war with human ontology — at war with what we actually are, as entities, regardless of what anyone says about it. The consequences of that war are absurd distortions in every aspect of human life.

      A truly free market will serve anyone who can think in abstractions — any relatively normal genetic homo sapiens over the age of five or so. There can be genetic homo sapiens who are too defective or too injured to engage in trade, but even this will be much more rare than you are thinking.

      And, even then, that other people are unfortunate does not license you or anyone else to steal from people who did not cause that misfortune. The world is hard. Brigandry not only makes it much harder, but, as we are seeing, in the end brigands will destroy all human values.

      The solution to all human ills is obvious: Attend to your own affairs, and leave your neighbors free to attend to theirs.

    64. Rob Chipman November 1st, 2011 4:48 pm

      Greg:

      I am talking largely about the mentally ill. As for there being no homelessness prior to the welfare state, I’m not sure if that can be established.

      I’m an employer. Have been for well over 2 decades. There are mentally ill people who cannot generate enough value to account for their care no matter how hard I try to organize them.

      Recognizing that doesn’t mean I want government to solve the problem. It just means I recognize that the market won’t. There is a place for charity. Some people are genuine unfortunates, just like you and I are blessed.

      “There can be genetic homo sapiens who are too defective or too injured to engage in trade, but even this will be much more rare than you are thinking.”

      Let’s be fair: you don’t know how common I think those people are, nor do you know what my proposed solutions are. I’m not certain we disagree all that much.

      I take care of approximately 200 rental properties. One spin off is that I can make homeless people. For example, right now I have two ladies renting bottom of the market accommodation. They’re hoarders, and they’re in complete denial of reality. Why? Because they’re certifiably nuts. They’re a hazard to other tenants. Here in Canada, where we have universal health care that is taxpayer provided, mental health can’t solve the problem (I know, you’re as surprised as I am ;-) ).

      As i say, I can either make them homeless or take the challenge on myself. I know for a fact that government won’t fix it because I tried to get them to do it.

      Those two can’t compete in the market place. For the free market to solve their problem we need to introduce some charitable agent to contribute to the crazy person’s welfare.

      I don’t assume that government has to do that.

      I don’t assume that I have to steal money from you to do it.

      In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you, I, Jeff and Sean were all dog eat dogging each other in the marketplace we’d be able to sit down at coffee-break and say “Boys, we’ve got to pony up for these two unfortunates”. I’m also pretty sure we’d get some agreement.

      Now, if you say that a group of us getting together to solve that problem voluntarily is attending to our own affairs, then great, I’m with you. No man is an island, but that doesn’t mean that your stuff is mine. I think most people, when the picture is presented clearly, will recognize that they have to treat sociably with all members of society, but that doing so is voluntary. I don’t see the conflict.

      Your stand on welfare is provocative and somewhat radical (given current dominant beliefs), but I agree with it.

    65. Greg Swann November 1st, 2011 5:00 pm

      > There is a place for charity.

      I have no objection to any sort of mutually-voluntary charity. I subsidize the lives of a herd of felines because my Best Beloved is at war with the cycle of life. I love her, she loves those damn cats, it all works out.

      In the mid-nineties, there was a newspaper in Phoenix called The Grapevine. It was distributed free to the homeless, who then sold it on street corners. Overnight change in those folks’ lives: First they had the money for a bus locker, so they could store things. Then enough for a rented mailbox, so they could have a fixed address for job applications. Then enough for a fleabag hotel room, so they could bathe and do laundry. Some of them made it all the way back to normal life — before the city outlawed selling The Grapevine.

      You could say that was insane, but it was not. It was perfectly in keeping with the policy of using state power to keep poor people helpless.

      My take, since I was a teenager in New York living among the first populations of homeless people in America: If you want to do something about the homeless, take one home.

      My apologies to you if I have assumed too much.

    66. Rob Chipman November 1st, 2011 5:52 pm

      No apology needed, Greg. It’s the web. Things always read worse than they would sound in person.

      I agree with you on the homelessness thing. The government ain’t gonna fix it. They’ve had a Long time to fix it.

      Gimme a tax credit for creating shelter? Cut me in on the theft? Join ‘em instead of beating them?
      :-)

    67. Greg Swann November 1st, 2011 5:54 pm

      > Gimme a tax credit for creating shelter? Cut me in on the theft? Join ‘em instead of beating them?

      Virtue is its own reward. And becoming a rent-seeker will destroy your character.

    68. Jim Klein November 1st, 2011 7:45 pm

      I don’t think you’re well known yet, Ron, and it was only “one of the craziest sentences.” Keep going though, and that may change!

      One of your problems is that you’re using ridiculous data based on politics. I don’t need to disprove that silliness to make the point; I can just remind you that all of that pales in comparison, by orders of magnitude, compared to the unfunded (and never-to-be-funded) liabilities that have been run up by the whole lot of ‘em at every level.

      Happily though, you came up with the answer yourself…

      “When rules benefit a few groups that is crony-ism or class-ism it is not a free market.”

      That’s exactly right and yes, it’s the crux of the problem. Now you understand that whenever and wherever a relatively small number of people can make the rules for the entire population, that is exactly what must happen. There are no exceptions and there will never be an exception.

      If you deny, then offer one counter-example in all of human history. This is what “fantasy” means, something we can think of, but having no instances.

    69. Ron November 1st, 2011 10:52 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Then it appears we agree on something. We live in a representative democracy. I would love to have the government come to me and ask me if we should spend money to subsidize Oil Companies that are making record profits (not revenues but profits) or if we should spend our collective tax revenue on building alternative energy.

      There are plenty of things that happen with MY tax dollars that I don’t agree with. Our social contract goes like this: You have a say in your Government by voting, you vote for people that believe the way you do so that when time comes to make these decisions you have more of a chance to get your way. If you don’t get your way then you can work to try to get more people that believe what you do to elected to office.

      We all agree that in this country there are some rules that are non-negotiable, those our in our Constitution. They protect the little guy from Mob rule.

      The Government passes laws that govern the citizenry and if you violate the social contract they you go to Jail or worse if you are in Texas we string you up. Somebody get a rope. (I’m very much against the death penalty too, but not against a good joke).

      You either exercised your civic responsibility by voting for and helping your candidates get elected or you sat it out but in either case the US in this equation is everyone that votes, that agrees to live by the rules of this society, and that benefits from the collective resources of the country.

      The Federal Republic concept allows you to have more say in local affairs. You not only get people that work for the big USa but for your state, and local government. In all cases you have the opportunity to change policy by voting. If you really believe you have a better solution you can even run for office.

      Nobody steals from you. We pay taxes because we agree to pay taxes. In CA when property taxes were going through the roof and no matter who was elected it didn’t stop, the voters, not the politicians said enough and passed Prop 13, that said that taxes can only be raised x% a year. That was regardless if the state was in a financial crisis or not. Many schools shut down, people were laid off, it was a mess. The people voted and got their way.

      The beauty of our representative democracy is that real people have a say. Well we did until “Citizens United”.

      Feel free to argue that the poor in this country are running things, that they are the small group that have all the power. You might say that a small group of liberals control everything (don’t I wish) but to be honest there are a small group of extremely wealthy people that are pulling the strings on the right.

      For the life of me I can’t understand why people support this small group of rich and powerful and fight for causes that are so much against their own interests. Why support policies that do not benefit you or your neighbors but instead continue driving US down an unsustainable path towards economic collapse?

    70. Teri Lussier November 2nd, 2011 5:36 am

      >For the life of me I can’t understand why people support this small group of rich and powerful and fight for causes that are so much against their own interests. Why support policies that do not benefit you or your neighbors but instead continue driving US down an unsustainable path towards economic collapse?

      All government is against your own interest. By its very nature it has to be at odds against the individual. Don’t think otherwise- it’s a lie you tell yourself.

      Maybe it’s me, but it sounds as if you don’t trust people. I’m probably wrong about that, but that’s what it sounds like. 99 and 44/100% of the people I’ve ever met in my life are good, wonderful, amazing, astounding!- you too if you think about it. I don’t like ‘em all, but I don’t fear them and I certainly don’t believe that if the government were not busy telling them how to live, they’d sure as sh** molest or kill me every time I step foot out the door.

      Most people I know simply want to be treated with respect- it’s so simple. Neither party is going to give you the opportunity to be treated with respect, which includes freely making the decision to treat others that way. It’s impossible for the government to do what we as humans are born to do- live freely- fully free. I know this is what we are born to do because we can conceive it. It really is that simple, but until we stop believing it has to be imposed upon us- or imposed upon that other guy, the rat bastard- until it comes from within, from our own free will, we can’t be fully human- it’s impossible for us to know what it means to be a freely functioning human. Seems to me that’s all the majority of us want. From the richest to the poorest, it’s the same desire…

    71. Jim Klein November 2nd, 2011 6:22 am

      I’ve already requested that either my signature be produced, or please stop calling it a “contract.” The fantasies are all created with words, but words that don’t have their plain meaning. There is no contract, Ron, because you can’t produce my consent. That’s it; no series of words can create a contract where none exist.

      When somebody–anybody–takes something of mine without my consent, then they have stolen. That’s what “steal” MEANS, so once again you’re just trying to redefine words.

      The funny part, terribly sad really, is that all of this produces EXACTLY the opposite of what you pretend it produces. Greg’s already enumerated the specific examples, on just one tiny topic. It’s exactly the same across the board, and all of this is easily shown.

      None of that should matter to you anyway. All you have to consider is why exactly you would want to be a thief, or a thug who directs others in their actions. And even more importantly, what exactly that does to your own view of yourself. CALLING it something else, whether “compassion” or “charity” or “a republic” or “democracy” or whatever, cannot change the nature of what it is, not any more than agency can.

      This is why in my view, this is all about epistemology. How can a person possibly develop a rational ethics if he’s using concept that pretend to treat a thing as it is not?

    72. Jim Klein November 2nd, 2011 6:28 am

      Now on the affirmative side, what Teri said. That was a wonderful comment IMO, and captures the facts as they ARE. We’re not thugs and thieves for the most part; we just get convinced along the way that this is what the good is. The whole thing comes down to individuals being strong enough to say, “The Emperor has no clothes.”

    73. Sean Purcell November 2nd, 2011 6:29 am

      Ron, for years I made the same arguments you are making; I believed them to be logical, historically accurate and most importantly, eminently reasonable…

      There is a difference between conceptually understanding the freedom we are each of us born with, and the visceral change to our entire belief system – our psyche – that occurs when one accepts their freedom. I can think of no other way to describe it than an “epiphany.” Once you’ve had this “epiphany” you cannot go back, even if you could conceive of a reason to want to go back, you can not: the mind can not hold two opposites beliefs at the same time…

      You are an absolutely free and autonomouns person. No person, and no group of persons, can lay claim to your freedom… to your rights. They can, however, convince you (and I, and others) to believe they have that claim. Through continuous indoctrination against our own interest, we can arrive at a mature and reasonably wise age in our lives believing that if enough people “vote” to infringe upon our right to be, our inherent freedom, than it must be so. Heck, we even cheer for it! But it’s all a lie in the end – an illusion. And your own words, if you look at them (just as I had to do during the painful process of realizing everything I’d been taught, by people I trusted, was a lie), will make clear the very truth of what’s being said here.

      >”…you vote for people that believe the way you do so that when time comes to make these decisions you have more of a chance to get your way…”

      Read that sentence a couple dozen times until it hits you how inherently evil that sentiment is. Once you have, you are on the path to accepting your freedom.

    74. Ron November 2nd, 2011 7:35 am

      Jim this is your contract: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html, http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference_Shelf/Laws.shtml.

      The only way that you can break this contract is to move or hope that you do not get caught.

      As much as I would want to see a place where real freedom exists and everyone equally respected the rights of others, such a utopia doesn’t exist.

      I just spent time visiting medieval towns. It was very interesting. The tour guide said it all looks very romantic now but imagine what this place really looked like back when. Those places were a law upon themselves, with walls around the city, and men to fight their neighbors. You might say that was best for society but I can tell you that without the social contract (and I am using plain words here) without civilization which implies we all MUST live by the same rules or (ask Aristotle about a social contract, or read Plato’s Republic) we descend into anarchy. Anarchy is freedom but it is much less efficient and produces results that are far from desirable.

      I understand the arguments of Thoreau’s Walden but that only works when society values self sufficiency and rejects the rights of people to own property. You can keep what you can work period.

      That is a form of freedom that even I would support but that most people reject.

      Yes we could dissolve the government and form a new one that insists that people ask you if it is OK to take your money and spend it on things that you don’t agree with. We could then make exceptions for your money to ensure that those unemployed, retired, sick and poor don’t get a cent from your hard work, and it might even be possible considering today’s computing power.

      I would bet you that even if you insisted that all of your money go to defense, and give the rest to corporations (why I’m not sure) that all the other needs of the government as they are currently being spent would still be covered by most people like me that would say where they thought THEIR money would do the most good.

      I believe that you should benefit from my money to build your roads and fix your bridges even though I will probably never drive on them. I believe that the FDA should have more power to protect you and your family from poisons, harmful bacteria and drug shortages. (Read “The Jungle” about why the FDA was formed) I believe that people that can’t find work should get unemployment compensation even though I’ve been out of work many times and never took a dime. I believe that I should pay more for health insurance to help people that don’t have it, but I would rather pay the same amount and cover everyone. I believe that Social Security was the right thing to do for the country, but I believe in pensions more.

      I’ve tried to use plain words. I apologize if Social Contract is not plain, but neither is “epistemology”. There can be no epistemology without pedagogy.

    75. Greg Swann November 2nd, 2011 9:12 am

    76. Ron November 2nd, 2011 9:36 am

      I love Randy Newman. Saw his father Lionel in concert once with Paul Williams. Amazing time. The song “Sail Away” is supposed to be a pathetic sales pitch to black people to convince them to be slaves in America. I’m not that much of a Pollyanna that I have bought into everything I’m told but I get your point.

      I disagree that we are slaves in America. It may not be perfect but it is the system we have. I can’t support everything we do but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

      Ron

    77. Greg Swann November 2nd, 2011 9:40 am

      > The only way that you can break this contract is to move or hope that you do not get caught.

      Ahem.

    78. Ron November 2nd, 2011 10:17 am

      Hahaha. OK OK. You got me there. But; I agree with the contract. I support it. I think that the benefits that come from having a civil society is worth the price we pay, including the taxes. Besides I’m sure you don’t equate the slavery you are talking about with what happened to Africans, and neither should I.

      I will agree with you and Sean that a system that is perpetrated against you without your consent is not freedom. In a sense that does make you a slave, in that it doesn’t do you justice. In that sense if you truly are powerless to change the system then you are a slave to an unfair system.

      I don’t feel powerless, and neither should you, but I sure hope you don’t get your way because I really don’t believe that your changes (re: the Republican agenda) would benefit the country. I think the pain the middle class and lower class feels will only get worse.

      OK a very straight answer: You should pay because that is the price of a civil society (at least the one we have now) and until you can change it you are a slave to it.

      Touche’. That one hurt. Thank you for the laugh.

    79. Greg Swann November 2nd, 2011 10:47 am

      > your changes (re: the Republican agenda)

      Republicans take up your cause when they hear from me.

      > You should pay because that is the price of a civil society (at least the one we have now) and until you can change it you are a slave to it.

      I am Spartacus.

      > Touche’. That one hurt. Thank you for the laugh.

      I’ll give you credit: You’re a good sport.

      Here’s a fun read: No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner. (Sean and Brian, you’ll enjoy this book; you can buy it from Amazon if you want a tangible tome.)

    80. Greg Swann November 2nd, 2011 10:52 am
    81. Rob Chipman November 2nd, 2011 1:35 pm

      Greg:

      “Virtue is its own reward. And becoming a rent-seeker will destroy your character.”

      Agreed. Smiley face should be cynical/ironic.

    82. Brian Brady November 2nd, 2011 7:31 pm

      “Here’s a fun read: No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner. (Sean and Brian, you’ll enjoy this book; you can buy it from Amazon if you want a tangible tome.)”

      I’m still reeling that The Grapevine was shut down. I probably had a dozen copies each month sitting around the house. I thought that rag was a great idea–it allowed people to realize their self worth rather than give up on themselves.

      {Of course, think of the fact that those homeless people might get hit by a car, in their entrepreneurial zeal to improve their station in life. Better that they apply for a job at the Republic, wear a blue and orange smock, and sell for the State-sanctioned fish wrap}

      Yep—that’s sarcasm

      It’s funny that you recommended Spooner because I immediately thought of the American Letter Mail Company when I read that the Grapevine was shut down. I know the analogy is weak but I thought of it nonetheless.

      Thanks for the link. It looks like a tough sled but few recommendations you make are easy. My cross to bear is the compliment you pay me with the tough work you offer.

    83. Jim Klein November 2nd, 2011 9:30 pm

      Ron, I find it mildly interesting that you’re willing to concede to the wants, needs and demands of every sort of lout that exists, but you’re not willing to honor a simple request from an honest guy like me. I’ll leave it to you to figure out why you’ve chosen to make yourself that sort of man, if the question interests you at all.

      But thanks for the link anyway, because I did find something that makes my point. To me, this is interesting enough for a good ramble, so I’ll indulge myself just as you indulged yourself not to honor my easy request.

      On that link, at the government printing office, there’s a section called “Core Documents of U.S. Democracy.” Besides the title, three of the five sentences introducing it use the word “democracy” or “democratic.”

      Of course, the U.S. never was a democracy, nor was it ever intended to be one. You might recall that I believe this is all about epistemology—about fantasizing something to be a particular way, even when it isn’t. I could hardly ask for a better example, that the GPO itself is “pulling a fast one” for whatever reason.

      There’s more. Among the “cornerstone documents,” somehow they left out one that predates all the others. They mention the Continental Congress, and that its records are intact, but still no mention of this particular document, arguably the most critical document passed during its sessions. I’ll let you find it yourself, passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 6, 1775. Here’s one sentence from it: “The Legislature of Great Britain, however, stimulated by an inordinate passion for a power, not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very Constitution of that Kingdom, and desperate of success in any mode of contest where regard should be had to truth, law, or right, have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitick purpose of enslaving these Colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from reason to arms.”

      Do you notice any similarities with these times today?

      —————–

      Greg wrote this to you, many comments ago…”You have no idea what you are talking about. You are just regurgitating swill you imbibed mindlessly in government indoctrination academies.”

      And now here, in the very same thread, you are regurgitating swill you imbibed mindlessly, this time from a government indoctrination agency. FALSE swill, from sources that have an obvious vested interest that you do just what you’ve done—abandon your mind, which means abandon your soul.

      I guess that’s all I’ve got for you, for now. You should understand that this isn’t about politics. This is about whether a single life–yours–is worth saving. I’ve made it clear what my position on that point is, since a man’s life is basically his mind and you can see the time I’ve spent on this. The rest is up to you, and I’d suggest that before you completely abandon your mind to the mindless swill, you at least take a few moments to discover what Splendor is all about.

      My arguments won’t take you there, but some serious thought and introspection on your part, just might.

    84. Teri Lussier November 3rd, 2011 6:01 am

      Ron-

      Jim said this isn’t about politics, he’s so right. Listen to yourself:

      >You should pay because that is the price of a civil society (at least the one we have now) and until you can change it you are a slave to it.

      The utmost in civility is to voluntarily treat each other with respect. Impossible if you don’t respect yourself. You are telling us that slavery is okay. That’s not self-respect. You cannot have a civil society if slavery is okay… Think about this. You have abandoned your mind and soul, and it’s very sad because you obviously have a mind and a soul…

      Nice comment, Jim. Really important points.

    85. Greg Swann November 3rd, 2011 6:31 am

      I’m going to leap to Ron’s defense. We have no reason to think he’s a bad person, we just think he suffers from bad ideas. A benevolent hope would be that he has been unhorsed on the road to Damascus.

      Ron, it’s common in these kinds of discussions to try to pigeonhole one’s interlocutors according to one of the three main fault lines of American statism — the food dole, corporate welfare or the security state. Speaking only for myself, I’m against all those things. I’m opposed to every form of involuntary social contact. I know this is not something you’ve heard before, not even if you’ve spent time talking to libertarians. I wrote an essay called Meet the Third Thing that takes the security state away from the libertarians — which they did not appreciate. It’s useful in this discussion because it illustrates that every supposed justification for government is invalid.

    86. Jim Klein November 3rd, 2011 6:49 pm

      > I’m going to leap to Ron’s defense. We have no reason to think he’s a bad person…

      I just got back online and oh, was I worried that this was intended for me. I’m glad it was about the general principles.

      Without seeing literal actions, I wouldn’t know what a bad person is, so I hope I didn’t imply otherwise. I don’t think that way generally, and surely didn’t there.

      Those rarities who are actually bad, one doesn’t try to persuade.

    87. Jim Klein November 3rd, 2011 7:52 pm

      So we have the principles, which abstractly describe the facts. There are the instances too. We have the child abusing judge who determines who is and is not a child abuser, and has his determination enforced with nearly infinite arms.

      And we have this, from over 100 years ago…

      zerogov.com/?p=2406#

      Principles, instances.

    88. Michael Cook November 4th, 2011 8:11 am

      Jeff,

      Great post, sad I missed the discussion.

      The simple answer is we dont have any right to take your money. That was easy.

      Now that we have that out of the way, if you dont like what we are doing what are your alternatives?

      Change the government??? Not likely, the US government was designed to be slow moving and not prone to major swings in policies and voice. Additionally, our two party system of conservatives and slightly less conservative, reflect the views of 60%+ of your neighbors.

      Move??? Show me a country that is more capitalist than the US. If you find one, simply move and let me know so I can be on the first thing smoking right behind you.

      Exploit the system like everyone else??? Enjoy ever tax break you can find and fight the taxes you owe.

      I think these discussions are interesting. The thing that annoys me here is that the same people that advocate for capitalism, enjoy the benefits of socialism at every turn. I hate minimum wage like the next guy, but I kind of enjoy bridges and tunnels, vaccines and other social goods. Sure, I would love to shrink the size of our miltary and stop sending Billions of dollars to other countries when my brothers and sisters here could use that money (or at a minimum, they could give me a bigger refund for my taxes).

      So Jeff, my answer is, WE are entitled to it because you cant do anything about it to stop us. As Greg would suggest, if you cant defend your land then you are not entitled to it (I think he said that???). And as of right now, you cant defend your 35% you pay in taxes. I know I asked a lot of questions, but I think I gave a pretty simple answer to what I think is a silly question.

    89. Jeff Brown November 4th, 2011 9:05 am

      Hey Michael — So good to hear from you. The question becomes silly only absent the requisite understanding of what the constitution says about the duties of the federal government. Virtually all of us here on this site, in this discussion know what they are. We also know what they are not.

      And there’s the rub, Michael. The military is and always will be exempt from this discussion from where I stand. Yeah, we can agree/disagree on when the military ‘trigger’ is pulled, that’s for sure. But we can all agree the military should be big and bad enough to scare the crap out of anyone thinkin’ on messin’ with us, period.

      Our borders are the federal government’s obligation to maintain as inviolable and absolutely safe. Then there’s interstate commerce and the rest.

      Sorry, but there’s nothing about education, or any of the other things the government is, has has been messing with during and beginning a generation before my lifetime.

      Interstate highways? OK. But energy? Get us out of that business.

      MIchael, it’s the people who demand my money for their personal use that I’m railing against. It’s also the power hungry politicians, on your side and mine, who cater to them. And yeah, I don’t have a drop of mercy for any business that’s been acting the same as the people who want my money. Let ‘em declare bankruptcy.

      I don’t mind paying taxes at all, Michael. I don’t like it, but understand it. Just keep my neighbors and other businesses out of my pockets and we’ll be just fine.

      A silly question? If it is, then our country is already a lost cause.

    90. Jim Klein November 4th, 2011 9:11 am

      “So Jeff, my answer is, WE are entitled to it because you cant do anything about it to stop us.”

      Yep, as you say, it’s just that simple. I’m told you’re a highly educated man, Michael, so I wonder why you think this is a form of “entitlement.”

      Seems to me this says that criminal gangs are a drop better than the government. They all operate on this same simple principle, but I’ve never heard gang-bangers or mobsters claim that this is “entitlement,” so that gives them an edge on the point of honesty. Is that the point you were trying to make?

    91. Jim Klein November 4th, 2011 9:24 am

      Jeff, I think you know that I’ve had more than a few discussions on this topic. Among honest and rational men like Michael, it ALWAYS comes down to his simple answer. No exceptions.

      For good reason, too…there’s just nothing else there. Guys like you, with your force field against evil, WANT there to be something else there; you’ll damn near beg for it. But there isn’t; that’s the whole of it. If X has the power over Y, then X is “entitled” to what Y has. It LITERALLY translates to, “Might makes right.” Sorry.

    92. Jeff Brown November 4th, 2011 9:27 am

      Don’t say dat to me. I don’t wanna hear it. :)

    93. Greg Swann November 4th, 2011 10:08 am

      > If X has the power over Y, then X is “entitled” to what Y has.

      Here’s worse news: For the most part X is Y. We are devoutly and deliriously enslaved by and to ourselves. Not even Athens managed to screw things up this completely. A brand new idea, really, Democratic Kleptocracy, where each one of us can be unduly enriched by a nickel, at the low, low cost of being despoiled of a dime. That notion would have tragic portents, but, fortunately, Americans can’t do math.

    94. Brian November 4th, 2011 2:38 pm

      My answer is: They are entitled to it because we are all interconnected and even interdependent at some level. You alone did not achieve your success. You were educated by teachers who may now be on welfare; maybe your life was saved by a firefighter who is now unemployed; statistically speaking there are people who had a hand in your success that you will never be aware of and have never met.

      We do not grow up and succeed in a vacuum. We live in a community. Because you and I have succeeded and are now in the top 10% I believe it is fair that we pay a bit more of the tax burden. You see it as handouts to undeserving people; I see it as a moral obligation. My effective tax rate was 21% last year and I am happy to pay it, whether a guy who made $15k and has five kids paid anything or not.

      This is not a completely altruistic view either. I don’t want to step over sick and dying children in the street on my way to an expensive dinner, like the privileged do in India and Haiti. I would rather pay a little more and live in a better country than that.

      Also, history shows that when the majority becomes too desperate about their situation they tend to get out the guillotine. And that’s not good for any of us in the top 10%. ;)

    95. Michael Cook November 4th, 2011 3:13 pm

      “Seems to me this says that criminal gangs are a drop better than the government.”

      This strikes me as similar to the news reports. Depending on the side reporting, you might hear of liberators or you might hear rebels or you might hear terrorists. They do the same thing, kill people to get what they want. Whats in a name?

      The worry capitalists should always have is when the gap between the haves and the have nots gets to great. Then you typically get a massive taking (or “liberating”) by the poor from the rich. It doesnt matter if the rich got rich through hard work or theft or other means.

      Not only do people feel like they are entitled to a certain lifestyle, its often in your best interest to throw them a few pennies, lest they rise up and take a lot more.

      Some people work extremely hard to not work. These people go through a great deal of trouble and hardship to avoid work, so that they can get something for “free.” It boggles my mind how well tenants know the law when it comes to eviction.

      So Jeff, if you think these people would listen to reason, you are sadly mistaken.

      Lastly, I dont think we should throw the baby out with the bath water. I would galdly contribute something to the general cause of government. Is it 35% or 15% or 0%, that is the question? What I appreciate about democracy is that I can at least partially control how my money is spent through voting and activism. So while the miltary is far more important to you than it is to me and I am probably less offended by people getting handouts from the government than you, we both have an equal voice. I can plead my case and see my needs fulfilled, at least partially. The fact that I have a partial voice in that number means something. The fact that I elect people to champion my interest and that those interests are then carried out, makes the “gang of thugs” a bit more palitable, particularly when they are working in my interest, not so much when they arent.

      I could never form enough chartiable organizations to leverage my money with other like minded citizens in a timely or convenient fashion. The government inefficiently does this better than I could. And sadly, better than many charities do as well.

    96. Michael Cook November 4th, 2011 3:38 pm

      “I’m told you’re a highly educated man, Michael, so I wonder why you think this is a form of “entitlement.””

      Probably an overstatement on the education, but I think entitlement is used loosely here. Along the theme of might makes right and he who has the gold makes the rules, I think its mere symantics.

      Why am I “entitled” to get a free check from the government? Because I qualify for a certain program. And because there are strong men and women that will take your freedom if you dont pay taxes, so that I can have free money.

      Why was Columbus “entitled” to South / North America. Because the Natives could not stop him. Columbus “settling” America is about the most offensive thing I have ever heard. This was a military takeover of land and an enslavement of its intelligent, but ill-equipped population. But Americans are entitled to tell the story they way they want to because they silenced the voice of the Natives.

      History is filled with morally bankrupty stories that we tell our children without even thinking twice. We talk about merry ole England civilizing Africa. Again, they are entitled to tell their story because they were able to enslave a people with their superior might.

      I am entitled to anything you cant stop me from taking. It doesnt matter if its morally right or wrong. Power bring entitlement.

    97. Jim Klein November 4th, 2011 8:29 pm

      >>> The fact that I elect people to champion my interest and that those interests are then carried out, makes the “gang of thugs” a bit more palitable, particularly when they are working in my interest, not so much when they arent.

      We covered this earlier before you joined, Michael…the claim that agency can change something about the act. Of course it can’t. As you note, it just makes it more “palatable.” Personally I never did understand that; is it really more palatable to add cowardice to thuggery?

      I don’t ask to be rude; I ask because I don’t get it. That’s Greg’s world, I think; I never could understand why people would want to make themselves even worse than they are already. Once again, you seem to give the nod to criminal thuggery over governmental action, at least on an ethical basis and at least assuming that it’s better to be willing to do your own dirty work.

      >>> I am entitled to anything you cant stop me from taking. It doesnt matter if its morally right or wrong. Power bring entitlement.

      You didn’t explain how this is any sort of “entitlement” except by mere declaration. It still strikes me as pure fantasy, at least with regard to what “entitlement” means. Just out of curiosity, do you teach children that Might Makes Right as clearly and unabashedly as you do here? If not, why not?

    98. Michael Cook November 7th, 2011 7:51 am

      Jim,

      Lucky for me, no children are able to be subjected to my thinking just yet. But I do think it is important to at least explore that concept.

      If I can say you are wrong but do nothing about it, who cares about my moral high ground. If I cant stop you from doing something, then by definition you are entitled to do it.

      So while I wont always teach my chidren to kick their enemies when they are down, I will certainly teach them to understand the dynamics of power. Everyone has a different set of moral principals, but the only ones that matter are the ones that can be enforced.

    99. Michael Cook November 7th, 2011 8:01 am

      “Personally I never did understand that; is it really more palatable to add cowardice to thuggery?”

      I dont think this is cowardice. I think it is simply a consolidation of power. In order for me to resist you and your faction, I must have a bigger faction. If you had 5 people that wanted to be in a 100% capitalist society and I had one that wanted to be socialist, more than likely we would be in a 100% capitalist society.

      As my previous point notes, in a case of your morality vs. mine, the person with the most power always wins out. Do you really think we would be so appauled by the Nazi’s if Hilter won? Unfortunately not.

      The atrocities that go on in the Sudan amount to the same ethnic cleansing with millions dead, but where is the US military and the world war. To be honest, where were they in World War II for that matter. The news reporters are no where to be found because there is nothing to be gained from the Sudan. They have no resources to help us increase our power, so their tradegy is a bit more palitable?

      Jim, I understand your point and agree with some of your principals unfortunately, even if I concede that your way is more moral than the current way (which I do), who cares. Its pure rhetoric in the face of a much more powerful force with a different set of moral believes. In the end, if you dont teach your kids might makes right, how else will you explain the current system we live under?

    100. Jim Klein November 7th, 2011 8:38 am

      “If I cant stop you from doing something, then by definition you are entitled to do it.”

      I still don’t know where you get this, Michael. It explicitly declares, among many other things, that the 9/11 terrorists were entitled to bring down the World Trade Center.

      Are you sure you don’t want to examine this definition a bit more closely?

    101. Jim Klein November 7th, 2011 8:42 am

      “In the end, if you dont teach your kids might makes right, how else will you explain the current system we live under?”

      The same way I explain anything…with the truth. Might is different than right and yes, it sometimes happens that might overpowers right.

      How will you explain that you capitulated and just decided to go along by agreeing that the two words literally mean the same thing?

    102. Michael Cook November 8th, 2011 8:20 am

      “Are you sure you don’t want to examine this definition a bit more closely?”

      Not one bit. Those terrorist were certain that they were morally right in what they were doing. And there were 100% sure that they were right. I think they were 100% wrong, but what I think didnt matter one bit to them.

      As I said in another comment, its always relative. There is no absolute right. Because what is right to me, may be dead wrong to you.

      “How will you explain that you capitulated and just decided to go along by agreeing that the two words literally mean the same thing?”

      Um, this is an interestnig take on the matter. You take a glass half empty view of this. I think the statement is actually far more empowering. If might makes right, then you simply need to be stronger than your opposition to bend them to your will. “Your will” being, the moral instruction that I hopefully have instilled into my children from the day they are born. If they seem someone doing something they think is wrong and they have the power to stop them, then they are right to use that power. Is that not, the half full view of your statement above?

      This view would look at injustice (as relative to my beliefs) as a simple imbalance of power. Additionally, I would hope that my children are always aware of the power dynamics around them, because might makes right is the real world we live in everyday. And if their beliefs fall on the wrong side of the power dynamics, they need to find a way to gain more power. Be that rallying their friends, family and other like minded individuals, or using their resources and influence over others to shape the world to their benefits.

      This is what each one of us does every single day. Your 9/11 example is the reason my children must always be on guard. You never know what someone thinks is right or wrong.

    103. Michael Cook November 8th, 2011 9:00 am

      “The same way I explain anything…with the truth. Might is different than right and yes, it sometimes happens that might overpowers right.”

      That is your truth, not mine. As I stated above, in the real world, might makes right. While that may not be morally palatable to me when their “right” is not my “right”, it certainly is when I am on the right side of “right.”

      How do you explain your “right” to people that disagree with you. Furthermore, why is your “right” the truth? I am a Christian, but does that make me more “right” than an Atheist. Of course it does, to me, but not to them.

      There are people that truly believe it is right to take from your abundance and give to those who have less, regardless of how hard either individual worked or what talents they employed. You call it stealing, they call it social justice.

    104. Jim Klein November 8th, 2011 7:25 pm

      Wow, Michael, that sure was enlightening. I’ve heard many arguments in my time, but I don’t think I’ve heard such a bold argument for Might Makes Right, ever. That’s really something; I can respect your honesty anyway.

      You repeatedly asserted not only moral relativism, but even epistemic relativism. I’m relieved that if we ever find ourselves stranded on an island with a bowl of water and antifreeze between us, you won’t mind which bowl I take, there being no absolutes.

    105. Rob Chipman November 8th, 2011 8:23 pm

      Michael:

      There may be no absolute right, but it isn’t all relative. Saying that it is all relative is tantamount to saying nothing matters because there is neither good nor evil. And while there may not be an absolute right, there are universal truths that withstand philosophical attacks down through the ages, and in the end they amount to the same thing. Some people call these truths self-evident. They are truths that rational people possessed of free will tend to agree on, simply through the workings of logic and an understanding of enlightened self interest. These truths are right.

      I’ll take one of your statements as a jumping off point:

      “Do you really think we would be so appauled by the Nazi’s if Hilter won? Unfortunately not.”

      Let’s compare a Nazi approach with a universally true approach.

      A rational Nazi able to express his views freely might say that the Germans are a master race that require lebensraum, and that other races are sub-human.

      Another rational person, free to express his beliefs might say that all men are created equal and possessed of certain rights, for example, the right to life.

      Logically, only Nazis and people who think they’ll benefit from Nazi strength will agree with the Nazi. Targets of the Nazi will tend to disagree.

      The second party will have more adherents, and for a longer time, because the position is more logical, and more beneficial to more people. Every target of the Nazi will tend to embrace the second position because it’s in their interest and it will always remain in their interest.

      Here’s why: pretend the Nazis won the war. Assume the names Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin were extinguished and forgotten, along with millions more. A stratified society would emerge with a master race and a race of “sub-humans”. However, the “sub-humans”, as we know, would not accept that they were inferior beings, even if they did accept that they were in an inferior position. Human history is, indeed, a story of the “sub-human” or the inferior man simply refusing to accept his place. You cannot deny the enduring characteristic of man desiring better for himself and his progeny.

      Not convinced? As a sub-human in a Nazi dominated world would you accept your place? If you believe that you and everyone else would, then how do you explain the fall of mighty empires? As the man said, you can do just about anything with bayonets except sit on them. For that you need peace.

      In other words, the might makes right of the Nazis cannot last forever, but the enduring desire to achieve more for the underclass will always persist. It is transcendent.

      Peace is not a normal state of affairs, I’m sure we’d all agree. However, the universal truths tend to contribute to increasing it. Recognizing that all people are entitled to life, and to liberty, restricts the baser instincts of man because nobody can long hold two central but mutually exclusive values for long. We make fun of the founding fathers for saying, on the one hand, that all men are created equal, and on the other not only allowing slavery but actually figuring out the electoral value of a slave. I think we have to recognize, however, that that conflict led directly to the 13th Amendment. We aren’t perfect, and we learn slowly, but we do learn. And we learn because there is right, and there is wrong, and there is progress.

      As we pass the 7 billion mark and continue our journey toward becoming a true global village we face a challenge: identifying the underclass and defining what a better life for them consists of. We’re all in the same boat. We can adopt an Us vs. Them approach, but that will end badly for us. The Nazis, among others, demonstrated that lesson. We can adopt an Us approach. That’s worked fairly well for, among other places, the USA, which has traditionally welcomed anyone willing to join the nation (and remember, I’m an outsider looking in).

      You ask some basic questions and make some statements that beg response.

      How do you explain to someone who disagrees with you that social justice isn’t stealing? You talk to them. Perhaps, like Charles Dickens or James Fenimore Cooper or Mark Twain, you write a book. You point out to them, without attacking them, the inconsistencies in their positions. If you are indeed right it might take time, in fact, longer than your lifetime, but all will be revealed.

      The tyranny of the majority isn’t right. Having 5 people wanting a capitalist society and 1 person wanting a socialist society isn’t a matter of right or wrong. It only becomes an issue of right and wrong once force enters the arena. Who says the 1 can’t create a socialist commune somewhere in the US? Who says the 5 are going to force the 1 to make a sale? If they’re like Jeff they’ll say “do what you like, just don’t try to force me to be like you”.

      “The atrocities that go on in the Sudan amount to the same ethnic cleansing with millions dead, but where is the US military…?” Excellent question. That said, it doesn’t prove the point that might makes right. The US government has a long history of screwing things up and making the wrong choices (thankfully, they also tend to be more benign than malignant).

      “Depending on the side reporting, you might hear of liberators or you might hear rebels or you might hear terrorists.” That speaks to the low quality of reporting, which I think has been described as buying newsprint at 10 cents a pound and re-selling it at 20 cents a pound. It doesn’t mean a terrorist is a freedom fighter. It mean that the media makes inaccurate statements (like last night, when it described Michael Jackson as an immensely private person while showing a clip of him performing in front of thousands of people – irony, anyone?)

      “Why was Columbus “entitled” to South / North America.” He wasn’t. Who says he was?

      “We talk about merry ole England civilizing Africa. Again, they are entitled to tell their story because they were able to enslave a people with their superior might. ” Do we actually talk about England civilizing Africa? Or do we dismiss people who said that in the past as uninformed and…wrong? In fact, did not Joseph Conrad make that exact point over 100 years ago?

      Jeff’s question is awesome because taking the fruits of someone else’s labour can only be justified if some critical and subjective assumptions are made (cheifly, “I know what’s best for you”). The power of the question resides in the fact that many people want to evade it because they can’t explain any answer other than the obvious one – no human is entitled to enslave another. They may do it to differing degrees, but they are not entitled to do so.

      Don’t think that my position justifies greed. Rather it celebrates mutual respect and understanding.

    106. Jim Klein November 9th, 2011 8:17 am

      Nice clarification, Rob. I especially liked this…

      “The power of the question resides in the fact that many people want to evade it because they can’t explain any answer other than the obvious one – no human is entitled to enslave another.”

      That’s right, and it’s twice wrong. As a matter of ontological fact, it’s false that a person can be “entitled” to enslave another. Greg has explained this every which way, plus it’s obvious even at first glance.

      Ethically, it’s even worse because of what it does to the HOLDER of the belief. He “wants to evade it” and so creates extreme cognitive dissonance within himself, since it’s a fact irrespective of his self-persuasion to the contrary. Ultimately IMO, this is the source of nearly all illness, physical as well as mental. An individual is the existence of his entire being, and harmony with reality is a very important state.

      IOW as rotten as the belief that Might Makes Right is for those upon whom it’s imposed, it’s even worse for the one who believes it.

    107. Ron November 9th, 2011 8:38 am

      > “Here’s a fun read: No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner.”

      First let me say that I read half the book. I doubt I can get through the second half.

      Let me summarize for those of you tempted to read the book.

      1) There is no government. The people that formed this government are all dead now.

      2) Even if there was a government it’s not binding in a legal sense.

      3) Even if it was binding in a legal sense without having everyone sign the constitution it’s not enforceable.

      4) Even if it was enforceable it’s not fair since it is run by secret elections.

      5) Even if the elections were transparent they don’t cover everyone

      6) Even if they covered everyone your elected representatives do not bind you to the constitution by their oath to do so.

      It goes on and on and on.

      The problem with such an “even if” argument is exactly what Michael said earlier. Where is the therefore.

      Let’s grant the argument that slavery is wrong. Easy enough. Let’s even grant the argument that you do not benefit from paying your taxes. Not so easy but ok.

      Now that we have that out of the way could you answer the question THEREFORE WHAT?

      What do you suggest as the solution?

      Ron

    108. Greg Swann November 9th, 2011 9:18 am

      > What do you suggest as the solution?

      When there is nothing you can do, do nothing.

    109. Greg Swann November 9th, 2011 9:21 am

      > IOW as rotten as the belief that Might Makes Right is for those upon whom it’s imposed, it’s even worse for the one who believes it.

      More from the archives: Even if other people are criminal, I am not — but I will not cause them to become good by becoming a criminal myself.

    110. Ron November 9th, 2011 9:45 am

      Interesting article. Your solution is altruistic punishment [1]. I hope that you see that if you don’t pay your taxes that punishment would be rightly directed at you.

      [1] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6868/abs/415137a.html

    111. Greg Swann November 9th, 2011 10:38 am

      > I hope that you see that if you don’t pay your taxes that punishment would be rightly directed at you.

      I keep a Walther PPK concealed near to hand. Come and get everything you think you deserve.

    112. Rob Chipman November 9th, 2011 11:06 am

      Wow! Before we start busting caps at each other let’s get back to the issue :-)

      Ron, I’m going to assume that we both subscribe to the belief that you shouldn’t ask a question if you don;t want to hear the answer. You’ve asked:

      “What do you suggest as the solution?”

      To propose a solution I have to imagine the possibility of an alternative.

      To ask the question, however, doesn’t require imagining the possibility of an alternative. Are you open to the idea that there is an alternative, or do you ask the question rhetorically, in order to evade Jeff’s original question?

      Like I said, I’ll assume you’re not asking it rhetorically.

      Here’s the first solution: we educate ourselves on something that is probably 90% common to all of us: logic. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Jeff asks a logical question (albeit a trick one), and people actually try to justify theft rather than call a spade a spade. Still, let’s assume we can all channel Machiavelli and start looking at the world outside and draw logical conclusions.

      Second solution: we make a choice of either paying more respect to each other as equals or we continue doing what we do now. If we choose the former we ask for contributions to the common good on the basis of it being an agreed upon common good rather than an imposed common good.

      Third, we recognize that this will entail compromise, the critical ingredient to peace and equal prosperity. You will get my informed and voluntary consent to pay for one of your goals, and you’ll do the same for me. We’ll both realize, however, that due to logic and respect we will not be able to live beyond our means, no matter how much we want [another flat screen, a hyper-strong military, universal health care, corporate welfare, your cause of the week].

      I think that’s a start. Poke some holes in it if you don’t buy the premise and I’ll see if I can overcome your objections.

    113. Rob Chipman November 9th, 2011 11:12 am

      Btw, from the article:

      “Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle.”

      Really? Puzzling to who? Like dogs, we do what we want to do. To be puzzled by our motivations I think we have to consciously ignore the evidence placed in front of us everyday by the experience of life. We have to say “Other creatures, like dogs and cows and amoebas, don’t do this. Isn’t it puzzling that humans do?” The answer to that is: “You can’t drive to the store in your refrigerator. Puzzling, no?”

      That humans cooperate is data. It’s not a mystery to be explained.

    114. Greg Swann November 9th, 2011 11:23 am

      > That humans cooperate is data. It’s not a mystery to be explained.

      Mostly, the social sciences take one of two tacks, both invalid:

      1. Human reason is not omnipotent, therefore it is impotent. That one goes back to the Greeks.

      2. Animals exhibit behaviors that look to researchers like human reason, therefore human reason is nothing special. This we owe to the “science” of psychology.

      Both exist to shout down logical objections — “Why do you think you think?” The argument cited by Ron is a variation on the first tack: We will conveniently ignore Fathertongue — the uniquely-human survival strategy — then conclude that might-makes-right makes the world go ’round.

    115. Jeff Brown November 9th, 2011 12:48 pm

      What would our country be today if Abraham Lincoln had been a moral relativist?

    116. Jim Klein November 10th, 2011 6:53 am

      “Let’s grant the argument that slavery is wrong. Easy enough. Let’s even grant the argument that you do not benefit from paying your taxes. Not so easy but ok.

      “Now that we have that out of the way could you answer the question THEREFORE WHAT?”

      Therefore every single person who’s arguing that slavery is not wrong and/or that taxes are beneficial, is arguing a false premise.

      And every single person arguing such a false premise is arguing that thuggery is the proper means of humans, not rationality…a false AND deadly premise.

      What more are you looking for?

    117. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 7:48 am

      “Not convinced? As a sub-human in a Nazi dominated world would you accept your place? If you believe that you and everyone else would, then how do you explain the fall of mighty empires? As the man said, you can do just about anything with bayonets except sit on them. For that you need peace.”

      This works the other way as well. Again, the point of this argument is why do we live in a country where they freely take from us and give to others. By your logic, if we wait long enough taxes will go away??? Really, for every one “tax-free” civilization, I will name you 10 civilizations with taxes.

      Your claim of a world moving towards an absolute right is not supported by any historical evidence. Help me understand what timeframe you expect to be relieved of the burden of the “injust” taking some of us agree here to be taxation.

    118. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 8:08 am

      “IOW as rotten as the belief that Might Makes Right is for those upon whom it’s imposed, it’s even worse for the one who believes it.”

      Beyond the platitudes, we all still pay taxes. Despite all of the above, we live where we live and submit to the government as we know it because we do not have the power to do anything else.

      And whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, there are plenty of people that will not verbally say they would never steal from you, but will go about it just the same. These people are farmers, lawyers, doctors, executives, real estate agents, homeowners, etc. Help me understand how they fit into your absolute truth?

      I appreicate that you all believe your right is the absolute right, but you have all failed to convince me, a true blooded capitalist that if I have the power to make you conform to my set of beliefs I should not do so. If these absolute truths were so, then why dont we see them playing out everyday in society. Why do we see people willingly giving up freedoms and others willingly taking what is not theirs over and over again?

      If being oppressed is worse for the oppressor, someone should really tell them because they dont seem to get it. I understand philosphy and I am more than happy to address that in its place, but it is not the world I live in everyday. And until I can convince the millions receiving my free money that they are wronging me and moreso wronging themselves, I am in the same place.

    119. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 8:17 am

      “What would our country be today if Abraham Lincoln had been a moral relativist?”

      This is humorous. Check your history Jeff. He was not opposed to slavery as many believe. He was oppose to the expansion of slavery into the north. Even Wikipedia knows that and they dont know much.

      He believed slavery was important to the southern economy and in no way believed slaves should be equal to white people.

      He was perhaps less of a monster than our founding fathers, who could father children with slaves, but somehow bring themselves to declare those same “people” not humans but rather chattel.

      Excuse me if I dont hold those individuals up as the defenders of your absolute truth.

    120. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 8:23 am

      “What more are you looking for?”

      Um, the obvious, a utopian society where I can keep my own work product. Where I can live as I please under your golden absolute truths. Surely, in all of the years of humanities existences we have seen such a world.

      If man is logical and must believe in these truths, even if they might believe, then surely someone will have tried this somewhere???

      There have been many forms of government over the years, anarchy among them and yet, here we stand. Relative truth seems to constantly trump absolute truth.

    121. Jeff Brown November 10th, 2011 9:42 am

      Michael — Where did I proclaim Lincoln to be a stalwart anti-slavery president?

      I’ll assume your ‘humorous’ comment wasn’t intended to be insulting or condescending. There are others, apparently surprisingly to some, who understand history. But thanks for the tutorial. :) The question was simple. Behind it was the opinion that slavery’s evil in our nation wouldn’t have been eradicated when it was without Lincoln’s efforts. And yes, that would still be factual regardless of his lack of anti-slavery zeal.

    122. Rob Chipman November 10th, 2011 12:20 pm

      Michael:

      It’s nice to see you wrestling with this. Keep at it and you’ll see the light. Don’t let love for an irrational principle keep you from a logical position for too long.

      “Your claim of a world moving towards an absolute right is not supported by any historical evidence.”

      I didn’t claim that there is an absolute right. I explicitly said that there may not be an absolute right.

      I said there are universal truths for which there is historical evidence, and that this amounts to the same thing. Let me explain: something that continues to occur, time after time, as an observable, repeatable event, can’t be denied. It is, by any meaningful definition, true.

      Is something that is “true” also “right”? I don’t know and I don’t really care. When “right” equals “true” then they are the same thing, but “true is always objective, while “right” is often subjective. I apologize if I seemed to conflate universal truth and absolute right.

      All tyrants fall. All police states fall. All empires fall. The power of the people always re-asserts itself. Even when one tyrant gets replaced by another tyrant, or by a police state, it’s a case of one person or a small group of people controlling the collective will, but it doesn’t last. History shows this time and time again. Man consistently refuses, over the long term, to be enslaved, and equally important, to enslave. I’m pretty sure you’d agree with this, but I’d be interested to hear if you don’t.

      “Help me understand what timeframe you expect to be relieved of the burden of the “injust” taking some of us agree here to be taxation.”

      First, I don’t agree that all taxes are unjust. I think voluntary taxes based on informed consent are fine. But, to timeframe – outsourcing of work occurs now, and a major reason for it is to avoid taxes, both payroll and income. That happens whether I outsource clerical work to India through a virtual assistant or whether I outsource a textile mill from North Carolina to Nicaragua or China. That means that there are people, right now, relieving themselves of the burden of paying taxes that they don;t consent to pay.

      And while technology is making this tactic available to more people we should face facts: anyone who could relieve themselves of the burden of taxes they didn’t freely consent to has always done so. Ship owners register freighters in Liberia in order to save money. Banking havens exist to avoid taxes. These were options open to the rich, and have existed for years and years and years, leading to the ironic spectacle of a left leaning Prime Minister in my country arguing for higher taxes while sheltering his corporate and personal income offshore.

      “Again, the point of this argument is why do we live in a country where they freely take from us and give to others.”

      It’s worth recognizing that I don’t live in your country, and indeed, most of the civilized world doesn’t. Not all countries make use of income tax, even if they do make use of forced redistribution. Further, as I’ve indicated, some people who don’t agree to pay forced taxes avoid doing so.

      That said, I think you’re using the straw man approach yet again. People live here they do for all sorts for reasons. Choosing to live in a polity because your were born there, or have family ties there, or because you love the look of the place doesn’t translate into condoning the actions of your government. You’ve heard the phrase “I love my country but I fear my government”. I could just as easily say “I love my country, but I recognize that some people are crooks and try to steal from me and confuse me. I’ll stay in the country I love while recognizing that not all people are good”. In other words, your home may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean that you either accept it completely or reject it completely. You can recognize it’s faults and you can try to improve it.

      When I put it those terms, i.e., “Michael, this place isn’t perfect, but I want to try to improve it in consultation with the rest of it’s inhabitants, and do so in a fair and mutually respectful way”, can you really oppose me by saying “Sorry, it’s just what it is and can’t be changed”?

      “Really, for every one “tax-free” civilization, I will name you 10 civilizations with taxes.”

      Agreed. First, I’m not saying all taxes are bad, or even that all forced taxes are worse than anything else. I’m saying that forced taxes are theft, and that theft is bad. Again, I think you probably agree with that, but if you don’t I’d be interested to here why theft isn’t bad r why forced taxes aren’t theft.

      “Beyond the platitudes, we all still pay taxes. Despite all of the above, we live where we live and submit to the government as we know it because we do not have the power to do anything else. ”

      No true. One reason that globalism has legs is because it allows people (right now in the form of corporations) to over-power their political masters. Power and it’s exercise are not either/or propositions. They never have been. You might argue that we all pay the taxes we’re forced to pay, but many people avoid taxes, and most tax avoidance is legal. I’ll lump avoidance and evasion together, because let’s face it, the difference between the two is defined by the thief, not the victim.

      “And whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, there are plenty of people that will not verbally say they would never steal from you, but will go about it just the same.”

      Greg already said this. It’s recognized by most of us. It’s one of the things we’re criticizing. Again, I think we agree on this point.

      “I appreicate that you all believe your right is the absolute right, but you have all failed to convince me, a true blooded capitalist that if I have the power to make you conform to my set of beliefs I should not do so. ”

      As I read your words I think (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you’re recognizing that we think theft is wrong, but you think theft is right if you can successfully pull it off. Is this, indeed, your position? If it is then you hold a belief that, as I’ve said, doesn’t survive long on top, as history shows. Man, on balance and over the long run, refuses to be enslaved and refuses to enslave.

      BTW, in my opinion a “a true blooded capitalist” is someone who believes in the value of capital and thinks there should be a return on it. This is an idea that stands up to lots of scrutiny and criticism. When there is no mutually acceptable return on capital it tends to stagnate or migrate. Capitalism isn’t about force.

      “If these absolute truths were so, then why dont we see them playing out everyday in society. Why do we see people willingly giving up freedoms and others willingly taking what is not theirs over and over again?”

      Again, a universal truth is not the same as an absolute truth. But, the fact remains that we do see, day after day, the disorganized majority fighting the power of the organized few. Margaret Meade wrote (I believe, and I paraphrase), that “…you shouldn’t doubt the ability of a small group of committed people to effect change; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”. The point is that evil exists, and it organizes itself as well, or better, than good.

      Anyway, time for work. I enjoy your input.

    123. Jim Klein November 10th, 2011 12:51 pm

      “And whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, there are plenty of people that will not verbally say they would never steal from you, but will go about it just the same. These people are farmers, lawyers, doctors, executives, real estate agents, homeowners, etc. Help me understand how they fit into your absolute truth?”

      Basically, that’s false. By far most people–and especially most people who earn their own way–are not interested in stealing from others. That’s why given endless opportunities, they don’t.

      Sure, some people are out to steal, rape and plunder. But almost no farmers at all, and not too many of the others. Now as we’ve been discussing, many of those who wouldn’t steal, do things (like vote!) to steal anyway, by agency. But very, very few of them regard it as stealing and plundering, or any sort of thuggery at all. Of course that’s wrong, but a person doesn’t know what a person doesn’t know.

      As to the rest, Michael, I would hardly argue about the nature of the society in which we live, or the nature of most “civilized” societies over the past 5,000 years, maybe more. I think you’ve got all that right, but I still don’t understand how you translate that to “entitlement.” There’s nothing to argue about there either, since that’s just an idiosyncratic usage and you’re declaring the claim clearly—Might makes Right.

      Very few people believe that, you know. I shudder to think what those 5,000 years might have been like, if everyone were as convinced as you!

    124. Jim Klein November 10th, 2011 1:27 pm

      “I appreicate that you all believe your right is the absolute right, but you have all failed to convince me, a true blooded capitalist that if I have the power to make you conform to my set of beliefs I should not do so.”

      Michael, your position doesn’t suffer for lack of clarity and you’ve already redefined “entitlement” in a ridiculous way to support the moral claim. Of course it doesn’t—it redefines entitlement; it doesn’t change it.

      But really, “true blooded capitalist” is almost too much to stomach. Capitalism is about the opposite of everything you argue…it MEANS the volitional–i.e., non-forceful–interaction between individuals. You can call antifreeze water too, and you’ve already called slavery freedom…but surely an educated man like you doesn’t believe the referents of the concepts change because of declarative definitions. You don’t believe that, do you?

      “If being oppressed is worse for the oppressor, someone should really tell them because they dont seem to get it.”

      Oh, do you have that right. Michael, meet Greg.

    125. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 4:02 pm

      Guys, I have probably taken this as far as I can go here. I certainly understand and agree with most of what you say. There are still a few points we are apart on, the most egregious being:

      “But almost no farmers at all, and not too many of the others.”

      This seems much to naive to me. Like any other union or lobby, they know exactly what they are doing. They get paid not to work their farms. Can that really seem right to them? I would love for someone to pay me not to come into the office for 3 months. They lobby hard to inflate the prices of the food we eat. They are a mighty army and farm more intelligent than you give them credit for.

      That goes double for the oil companies reaping billions of profit and subsidies. These are all college educated people. You cannot tell me those people dont know exactly what they are doing. They know they are stealing from their peers to line their pockets with money they dont even need.

      Perhaps you all give humanity too much credit, perhaps I give them too little, but I think at least 50% or more people that receive subsidies in some form or another know they come from the government who gets them from you and me. They dont call it stealing, but that doesnt make it any different.

    126. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 4:07 pm

      “I’ll assume your ‘humorous’ comment wasn’t intended to be insulting or condescending.”

      Jeff, that was directed more internally than externally and never meant to deride you in anyway. I enjoy these lively debates and never take anything personally. Nor do I intend to personally attack someone.

      I do think you missed the mark on Abe though. Slavery would certainly have been eliminated without Lincoln’s half hearted efforts. Ask Rob, Greg or Jim, they will tell you that.

      I do get annoyed at the lies we get taught in school. Saying Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, completely miss the mark when it comes to that entire issue. I personally would not call him a hero or a person to be admired in any way.

    127. Michael Cook November 10th, 2011 4:08 pm

      Also, thanks to all for bearing with my hundreds of typos, my time is always very short.

    128. Jim Klein November 10th, 2011 4:09 pm

      “Like any other union or lobby, they know exactly what they are doing. They get paid not to work their farms. Can that really seem right to them?”

      Fair enough. That’s why I have the idiosyncratic usage of calling “farmers” those who farm!

      You’re a nice guy, Michael. Trying to convince yourself that you believe Might makes Right will make you sick, sure as shit.

    129. Jim Klein November 10th, 2011 4:16 pm

      “Saying Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, completely miss the mark when it comes to that entire issue. I personally would not call him a hero or a person to be admired in any way.”

      Yes, I agree. I now hear Washington was no Saint either, and possibly a very poor general. None of this is hard to swallow any more, though I’d prefer to judge by seeing their posts directly.

    130. Jeff Brown November 10th, 2011 4:30 pm

      Hey Jim — I asked the Lincoln question knowing what would happen next. I know history. I know he’s credited with much he never had on his agenda.

      Also, the fact remains, slavery was ended sooner than it would’ve been but for his actions, whether it was his agenda or not. Frankly, it’s always been my belief that Lincoln was also on the wrong side of states’ rights.

      But the main reason I asked that question, tongue firmly implanted in cheek, was that Abe proved that might was right. :)

    131. Jim Klein November 10th, 2011 10:00 pm

      To the victor, the spoils…might became right. Or so they say.

    132. Michael Cook November 11th, 2011 12:48 pm

      “You’re a nice guy, Michael. Trying to convince yourself that you believe Might makes Right will make you sick, sure as shit.”

      I am a surprisingly competitive individual who lives might makes right everyday. I spend most of my day trying to shift the balance of power.

      I always agreed with you guys in concept, but I still dont see why I can never see logic play out in the real world. For every one reasonable individual, there seems to be a host of other vying to impose their will. Be it the NAR, UAW, etc.

    133. Jim Klein November 11th, 2011 2:24 pm

      “I always agreed with you guys in concept, but I still dont see why I can never see logic play out in the real world. For every one reasonable individual, there seems to be a host of other vying to impose their will.”

      Ha…I’ve been saying for a while that the guiding principle of our time is, “Maybe logic doesn’t hold.”

      You DO see logic play out, all the time, Michael. If you want to be technical, you’ve never seen logic not play out. Reality is ALWAYS consistent with logic; the only issue is the grasp we have on the facts.

      There are no contradictions, only contradictory imaginations. That’s why it’s so important to understand the FACT that Might makes Wrong. Agreeing with us “in concept” is agreeing with us in actuality, which is how you really live, I’m sure.

      Humans are ethical creatures, meaning they are driven by their cognition. When one internalizes a false-to-fact imagination like “Might makes Right,” one creates cognitive dissonance, which ultimately yields illness of some type.

      Logic doesn’t say those thugs you mention don’t exist; it says they are as they are and choose as they choose. It also says they’re WRONG and are hurting themselves as much as the innocent people they enslave. Telling the truth may not stop them, but affirming their madness won’t help anyone, especially yourself.

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