Carlos

Taxation, Regulation and Government Programs in a Free Nation

388 posts in this topic

Let's remember the Scientific Method. An experiment has to be based within reality. This imaginary nation is not based upon reality. So, if you would like to conduct an experiment, would you mind using history or the current day in order to find, within reality, data for your experiment?

Tell you what JRoberts, you show me where in reality, in history or present day, that I can find a government that gives me the choice to

1. Serve in the military.

2. Pay my taxes.

3. Take public office.

4. Choose not to choose 1, 2, or 3 but stay in the country but not receive the services provided to 1, 2, or 3.

Such a government has not existed in the past or the present and there is no evidence that such a government is possible in the future. The burden of proof is on Jordan and you to provide the evidence not me. I have argued that a free nation that protects individuals by involuntary taxation does not exist and can not exist because it is a contradiction in terms.

I'm done with this insanity.

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Jason and Jordan, what the two of you have showed me with your statements is that you have no understanding of where a proper government stems from.

What principle gives you the right to tell people to leave? What principles are you making your decissions off of?

History has proven, especially the very early history of man, that people came together and formed societies in order to gain benefits from other people (I pick berries, you make shirts, he kills deer) and to protect one another from outside threats. As this process evolved, the abstract notion of government came into being. And as government evolved, especially thanks to the Romans and the Enlightenment, a government became a "living" embodiment of the contract between the citizens and their government. When entering into this agreement, the citizens gave up certain rights (or abilities) to their government in exchange for justice (the court systems) and protection (police and military).[...]

Jason, you still have not explained what principle you are using that gives you the right to force me from my land, land that I was productive in gaining. I would also like to remind you that in all of those examples that you keep using not one of them understood nor applied individual rights. Might I also remind you of some of the most amazing words ever written, "you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

""Rights" are a moral concept--the concept that provides a logical transition from the prinicples guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others--the concept that preserves and protects indiviudal morality in a social context--the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law." [Ayn Rand, Mans Rights, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal, pg. 320]

Please demnostrate in your ideas and statements your understanding and application of the concept "rights."

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So let's focus on questions and ideas like:

Is a voluntarily funded nation possible? What would be the requirements? Do we currently meet the requirements, and do any nations in the foreseeable future have any chance of meeting these requirements? If a voluntarily funded nation is not possible at the moment for whatever reason, does it make the use of involuntary funds a moral alternative? etc.

Now I really don't know what you want to discuss. If you want to focus the discussion, pick one of these (or something else) and run with it. The above is open-ended. More importantly, the one thing that is very clear is you don't have an interest in discussing the morality of taxation. But telling us what you don't want to discuss doesn't provide a positive.

This thread began with an argument that taxation was necessary. I shot down that argument (see page 1 of the thread) and haven't seen a solid argument yet. If you want to convince me that taxation is practical, here's what you need to do:

Start your case from a specific and applicable (i.e., non-emergency) example. Then show that taxation was necessary, and that voluntary alternatives would not have provided the funds. Then one could conclude that there are at least some cases in which taxation, in a normal life-promoting context, is practical. I haven't seen any of this. I'm still waiting for step one. Show me an example where taxation is necessary and practical that doesn't involve a lifeboat-type of emergency.

Yet this still wouldn't be enough. Notice an inherent flaw in this: it doesn't address the purpose of the spending. Does the use of the money need to be judged as well? In what sense is it "practical" to spend money on something? This is where morality enters the picture. Morality allows us to judge what is practical. For instance, is it practical to fund (regardless of means) an American army to fight for independence from England? "Practical" for whom? If a man wants to live, then since life requires freedom, fighting for freedom is practical.

So let's assume this is the case. A group of revolutionaries in 1776 Boston decide to fight for freedom. In that context, should taxes be considered as a means of funding? Now we hit a snag that I wrote about previously. This is not a government yet, so the concept of "taxation" doesn't apply. They may raise funds through voluntary contributions or through naked theft, extortion, and blackmail, but none of that is literally taxation. (Taxes are a form of theft, but not all thefts are taxes.) So this example doesn't apply.

A more general point: I'm bothered by the attempt to judge the practicality of something while setting aside concern for morality. I don't see how that can be done. The purpose of ethics is to provide an abstract guide to our lives. It is ethics that determines what is practical, if one uses one's life as the standard of value. This is a unique property of Objectivist ethics. Any other moral code uses a different standard, so that what is "practical" (if one takes that to mean enhancing one's life) is divorced from morality.

Now it is posible to argue against taxes using ethics in a rationalistic, deductive manner: Man's life, the standard of value, depends on the freedom to think, which implies individual rights in a social context; taxation is a form of force; therefore, taxation is immoral. It's true, but not persuasive. The premises are not self-evident, and maybe there are some exceptions somewhere in some context. I don't believe there are, but I'm willing to be shown them should someone find such. I've yet to see them. The examples I've seen so far do not make the case.

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My wife is watching a documentary about World War II at the moment. I decided to watch and I just learned that during World War II and World War I war bonds were used as a means to pay for the war not involuntary taxation. I have to ask, Why are War Bonds no longer used as a means to finance a war? I found the following site interesting.

Brief History of World War Two Advertising Campaigns

War Loans and Bonds

On May 1, 1941, the first Series E U.S. Savings Bond was sold to President Franklin D. Roosevelt by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau. On January 3, 1946, the last proceeds from the Victory Bond campaign were deposited to the Treasury. The War Finance Committees, in charge of the loan drives, sold a total of $185.7 billion of securities. This incredible mass selling achievement (for helping to finance the war) has not been matched, before or since. By the end of World War II, over 85 million Americans had invested in War Bonds, a number unmatched by any other country.

The War Finance Committee oversaw the sale of bonds. The Committee's first duty was to determine whether the government would pay for advertising or seek space contributions from magazines and newspapers. When an estimation of the cost of a nationwide, multi-media campaign for a year reached $4 million, the Committee elected to solicit space donations for bond advertisements. This decision proved highly successful. Over a quarter of a billion dollars of advertising was donated in the first three years of the Defense Savings Program. After one month alone, over 90% of Americans polled were aware of the Payroll Savings Plan part of the campaign, leading one advertising executive to note that "no promotional campaign, commercial, governmental, or Goebbel's has ever spread its basic message so broadly, so quickly." (Samuel, p.26.)

I think this is enough evidence to show that involuntary taxation is not needed to fund a war.

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A more general point: I'm bothered by the attempt to judge the practicality of something while setting aside concern for morality. I don't see how that can be done.
Ed, this is a valid concern. However I don't think anyone is putting a wedge in between the moral and the practical. What Jordan seems to have meant was simply re-arrange the order in which we ask the question. If what is moral is practical, then what is practical should be also moral. So he wants to start from the other side, to consider all of the practical solutions, and then ask the morality question about each of them, rather than a lot of people's approach which starts with the moral question first. His approach has merit in that it begins with the concrete examples in reality and then tries to connect them to abstractions, rather than beginning with abstractions first as a given. But ultimately both should meet in the same place, if all goes well.

I don't see why the 1776 example does not apply. The 1776 Continental Congress is not a government in the sense that it does not have yet a formalized institution for collecting taxes, but they want that institution, they're fighting in part to establish such an institution, and as soon as they can they have it. And furthermore, you can approach the Revolution more broadly, which is what I have tried to do -- take that whole series of events but assume the government is already in place, and they only reason they don't have taxes is because they want to put voluntary taxation in its place.

The only way the country could have won in such a case would be by arbitrary flukes of fortune which I have described -- the French, the Germans, Washington, etc. That's the big conundrum to a lot of the people arguing here - if their ideas were put in place there would be no America. This did not constitute a conundrum for Ayn Rand, who did not advocate abolition of taxes right away taking into consideration people as they are now.

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This thread began with an argument that taxation was necessary. I shot down that argument (see page 1 of the thread) and haven't seen a solid argument yet.

I wasn't aware that my arguments had been shot down. To give you the benefit of the doubt I re-read your opening post several times over and I honestly do not see how what is written "shoots me down". I or other members addressed most of the points you brought up, and most of them I don't see as significant to the extent of arguing over.

From my point of view the plane is still flying high (it's probably an A-10 Thunderbolt).

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A more general point: I'm bothered by the attempt to judge the practicality of something while setting aside concern for morality. I don't see how that can be done. The purpose of ethics is to provide an abstract guide to our lives. It is ethics that determines what is practical, if one uses one's life as the standard of value. This is a unique property of Objectivist ethics. Any other moral code uses a different standard, so that what is "practical" (if one takes that to mean enhancing one's life) is divorced from morality.

I think FreeCap explained this well, but I'd like to add a bit more:

Yes, I agree that ethics can determine what is practical for us--but how did we arrive at ethics to begin with? By looking at what is practical/necessary for a man to live his life properly.

I want to focus on the practicality because frankly I just simply don't care about the arguments presented from morality for the case of voluntary taxation, or against the case of involuntary taxation. This is because for now I see involuntary taxation as overwhelmingly more practical of an alternative for preserving civilization and freedom than voluntary taxation. So if for now I see voluntary taxation as hopelessly impractical, then it is rather premature to try to jump the gun to an argument from morality.

So all I really want is for someone to make a case for voluntary taxation working better than involuntary taxation, which hasn't been done (to the best of my knowledge).

On the contrary, I think History has already made the case for involuntary taxation quite well, and I don't see anyone refuting that anytime soon.

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On the contrary, I think History has already made the case for involuntary taxation quite well, and I don't see anyone refuting that anytime soon.
Well look, the question is not whether taxation has worked in the past, but rather is it something to hope to see go away in the future. I as much as any man would like to see it go away, provided that the conditions were met.

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Well look, the question is not whether taxation has worked in the past, but rather is it something to hope to see go away in the future. I as much as any man would like to see it go away, provided that the conditions were met.

Realistically though, how good of a chance is there that the conditions could ever be met? And, if the conditions aren't met yet, does that make involuntary taxation a moral alternative, or a necessary evil?

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My wife is watching a documentary about World War II at the moment. I decided to watch and I just learned that during World War II and World War I war bonds were used as a means to pay for the war not involuntary taxation. I have to ask, Why are War Bonds no longer used as a means to finance a war? ...

During WWII there was unusual patriotism and participation by individuals in government savings bond programs, along with enthusiastic work in defense industries from manufacturing to scientists and engineers volunteering to develop necessary technology such as radar and the atomic bomb. But taxes and other forms of coercion were also very high throughout the period.

Government borrowing is used when it can't get away with raising the taxes even more. All of the borrowing must be paid back, with interest, in one way or another, taking it out of the productive economy. "War bonds" and other government borrowing are not donations. The borrowing and war budgets are still very high today, even though it is not promoted as "war bonds".

Other forms of domestic coercion during WWI and II were the draft (with very low "wages" for the soldiers), controls over industry, rationing, and wage and price controls (which Truman wanted to keep after WWII), to say nothing of non "economic" forms of coercion such as control over freedom of speech. In WWI the government even nationalized the railroads.

None of that implies that a free society without the unnecessary burdens of statism would not raise the funds to fight a necessary, defensive war. But who would donate money or even invest in government bonds without regard to the rate of return for something like Iraq or Vietnam?

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Realistically though, how good of a chance is there that the conditions could ever be met?

In principle, even if the chances were small, wouldn't you want it to happen?

And, if the conditions aren't met yet, does that make involuntary taxation a moral alternative, or a necessary evil?
That's the difficult question.

But difficulty of the question does not make an alternative 'easy' answer any more right or true. Fact of the matter is that this question is difficult, and should be approached with nuance.

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Yes, I agree that ethics can determine what is practical for us--but how did we arrive at ethics to begin with? By looking at what is practical/necessary for a man to live his life properly.

I want to focus on the practicality because frankly I just simply don't care about the arguments presented from morality for the case of voluntary taxation, or against the case of involuntary taxation. This is because for now I see involuntary taxation as overwhelmingly more practical of an alternative for preserving civilization and freedom than voluntary taxation. So if for now I see voluntary taxation as hopelessly impractical, then it is rather premature to try to jump the gun to an argument from morality.

So all I really want is for someone to make a case for voluntary taxation working better than involuntary taxation, which hasn't been done (to the best of my knowledge).

On the contrary, I think History has already made the case for involuntary taxation quite well, and I don't see anyone refuting that anytime soon.

A person (Objectivist) arrives at a proper ethics by looking at what the nature of man is, not by looking at what is primarily practical, so your wrong. I also advise you to look at history a little closer and find one country that has not or is not crumbling according to your ideas. Is ancient Rome still around with all it's power? No. Is ancient Greece around with all it's power? No. As a matter of fact there is not one democracy in history that has not catabolized itself.

It is a good thing though that the Founding Fathers did not think the same as you, or we would not be here. The Founding Fathers put forth an idea that had never been thought of before in all the history of man, it seems some lack the courage to do the same. A society that loses self responsibility will soon deminish and crumble. When the people that you want to forcibly tax have lost all their self responsibility which is what you are indirectly saying when you give reasons for forcing taxes on them, you will already be heading toward a crumbling state.

Some further questions for you to think over. When you and Jason say that a person will have a choice, pay or leave. What are you going to do when they choose another option, staying and fighting? Will it not require force then to remove a once peaceful person and for what? You are right about one thing, history does show this type of thing over and over again.

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FC wrote:

Well now we're getting philosophical, but I disagree that all principles apply always. For instance -- you should be honest. That principle does not apply to all situations. You should not steal. That principle does not apply to all situations. Etc.

When is it proper to be dishonest and to steal? Lying to someone -- such as the way Galt lied to the looters about his feelings toward Dagny -- is not an example of dishonesty. Nor was Danneskold stealing when he raided government relief ships. Excluding "life-boat" type emergencies, I'd like you to provide examples of situations in which the Objectivist virtues should not be practiced.

The fact that voluntary financing of government will not work to finance a regulatory/welfare state, and that such state must first be dismantled, does not make involuntary financing moral or proper.

But Revolutionary America was not a regulatory/welfare state. That's why I find it so important to find a real situation that concretizes the principles involved. Revolutionary America has none of the evils we may attribute to the modern US, and yet it was just as un-ready for volitional taxation, as facts show; the war would be completely lost and America perish, were it not for arbitrary flukes.

There are three things wrong with this argument.

1) In the first place, it is not a certainty that imposing a tax would have increased the Revolution's chances of success. Had the Revolutionaries passed and then began collecting some sort of tax, that might have been the very thing that doomed the Revolution. The imposition of a tax may have pushed the Royalist majority off the sidelines and into a much more active role in supporting the British and opposing the Revolutionaries. Or, the imposition of a tax may have made us look hypocritical and weak to the French, which may have led them to stay out of the war. I don't know one way or the other and I don't see how you can either. So I don't accept it as a certainty that a tax would have increased the chances of success. That is only an assumption on your part.

2) Even if it could be established that a compulsory tax would have insured the Revolution's success, the existence of such a tax and the income it would provide the government may have resulted in a different type of nation emerging after the revolution. The drain on the economy might have slowed economic growth considerably. Tax funds in the hands of the Congress formed by the Articles of Confederation may have led them into getting involved in all sorts of statist exercises that much sooner. Just as you cannot assume that the effects of the tax during the war would all be positive, so you cannot assume that all of the post-war effects would be positive.

3) In any event, we cannot use a hypothetical good “end” to justify a means. It amounts to saying that if we cannot get men to see what is good for them and contribute to its achievement voluntarily, we have the right to initiate the use of force against them.

Then how can we sanction taxation now, as Ayn Rand did? Definitely she didn't sanction it on moral grounds, but nevertheless, her character might have advocated abolishing income taxes as first thing, but she surely didn't.

So what? You seem to be arguing that Ayn Rand’s condemnation of taxation as immoral doesn’t count because she didn’t advocate its immediate termination – you seem to be arguing that her statement that it would be the last reform to advocate, not the first, lends some sort of credence to the claim that perhaps involuntary taxation is not immoral and may, in fact, be proper. That argument, to say the least, is a non sequitur.

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A person (Objectivist) arrives at a proper ethics by looking at what the nature of man is, not by looking at what is primarily practical, so your wrong.

Simply analyzing the nature of man as it floats in the vacuum of space will never tell you a single moral principle: you have to look at man living his life in reality and see what is practical as a means toward the end of living a proper life. I guess part of this process would involve looking at the nature of man, but it is part and not all.

I also advise you to look at history a little closer and find one country that has not or is not crumbling according to your ideas. Is ancient Rome still around with all it's power? No. Is ancient Greece around with all it's power? No. As a matter of fact there is not one democracy in history that has not catabolized itself.
This is based on the assumption that taxation destroyed Ancient Greece and Rome, which for the case of Rome (I don't know enough about Greece) I think has to be flat-out wrong. Nations don't collapse simply because someone institutes taxes.
It is a good thing though that the Founding Fathers did not think the same as you, or we would not be here. The Founding Fathers put forth an idea that had never been thought of before in all the history of man, it seems some lack the courage to do the same.
These Founding Fathers that you cite, some of them wanted taxes all along (Washington), and others later implemented taxes when they were in power. Washington even seized by force the supplies of farmers when the Continental Army was starving during the Revolution. Apparently some of our Founding Fathers shared my views.
Some further questions for you to think over. When you and Jason say that a person will have a choice, pay or leave. What are you going to do when they choose another option, staying and fighting? Will it not require force then to remove a once peaceful person and for what? You are right about one thing, history does show this type of thing over and over again.
I offered another choice which was suspension of citizenship, which wouldn't be a violation of rights. If they don't pay their dues, they don't get to be citizens. And if they decide to fight, then they should go to jail. In fact, even if I was against involuntary taxation, I would still strongly disapprove of someone going "vigilante" against tax collectors and trying to stage a minor revolution in present day America. I think that person would be a fool who would only disrupt the natural peaceful order of a free nation, and deserves to be in jail, if not put to death. Their actions would serve only to promote anarchy and threaten freedom.

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I have few more things left to say to you, Jordan. First, I still think you have a lot of reading and integrating to do. Second, I hope you get exactly what you deserve and wish for, rule over cowards.

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1) In the first place, it is not a certainty that imposing a tax would have increased the Revolution's chances of success. Had the Revolutionaries passed and then began collecting some sort of tax, that might have been the very thing that doomed the Revolution. The imposition of a tax may have pushed the Royalist majority off the sidelines and into a much more active role in supporting the British and opposing the Revolutionaries. Or, the imposition of a tax may have made us look hypocritical and weak to the French, which may have led them to stay out of the war. I don't know one way or the other and I don't see how you can either. So I don't accept it as a certainty that a tax would have increased the chances of success. That is only an assumption on your part.
When your army is so poorly financed that there is blood all over the snow because they can't afford shoes in the dead of Winter, and on top of that part of the army is starving, a tax wouldn't help?
3) In any event, we cannot use a hypothetical good “end” to justify a means. It amounts to saying that if we cannot get men to see what is good for them and contribute to its achievement voluntarily, we have the right to initiate the use of force against them.
Let's put it this way: if the end your means achieves is the end of free civilization, and the end of my means is the continuation of free civilization, which do you think is the moral route to choose?

If what is moral should be practical, then how can principles that lead to the end of civilization be possibly moral? This is the major inconsistency I see that lead me to create this thread.

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So if for now I see voluntary taxation as hopelessly impractical, then it is rather premature to try to jump the gun to an argument from morality.

So all I really want is for someone to make a case for voluntary taxation working better than involuntary taxation, which hasn't been done (to the best of my knowledge).

On the contrary, I think History has already made the case for involuntary taxation quite well, and I don't see anyone refuting that anytime soon.

Your claim is analogous to the claim that history has "made the case" for government regulation of business being much more practical than laissez-faire capitalism -- and that under these conditions, moral arguments about the relative merits of regulations and controls versus freedom are irrelevant.

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So if for now I see voluntary taxation as hopelessly impractical, then it is rather premature to try to jump the gun to an argument from morality.

So all I really want is for someone to make a case for voluntary taxation working better than involuntary taxation, which hasn't been done (to the best of my knowledge).

On the contrary, I think History has already made the case for involuntary taxation quite well, and I don't see anyone refuting that anytime soon.

Your claim is analogous to the claim that history has "made the case" for government regulation of business being much more practical than laissez-faire capitalism -- and that under these conditions, moral arguments about the relative merits of regulations and controls versus freedom are irrelevant.

Actually no, because if you study History and Economics you will learn that History makes the case for the free-market working over government regulations, and that government regulations create the problems that people blame Capitalism for. So History made the case for laissez-faire capitalism being more practical.

But that you actually even said this honestly startles me: were you willing just then to stick to your guns of Capitalism being more moral even if History and Economics had overwhelmingly proved the case that Capitalism isn't practical??

If the only way in which you know that Capitalism is moral and practical is through a philosophy book, then I don't think you fully "know" it. If you want to have real knowledge it must be integrated with reality. You need to know the abstract philosophy behind why Capitalism is moral and practical, and you need to know the proof demonstrated in action in reality of Capitalism being more practical and moral. To have purely abstract knowledge is to not really have knowledge at all.

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1) In the first place, it is not a certainty that imposing a tax would have increased the Revolution's chances of success. Had the Revolutionaries passed and then began collecting some sort of tax, that might have been the very thing that doomed the Revolution. The imposition of a tax may have pushed the Royalist majority off the sidelines and into a much more active role in supporting the British and opposing the Revolutionaries. Or, the imposition of a tax may have made us look hypocritical and weak to the French, which may have led them to stay out of the war. I don't know one way or the other and I don't see how you can either. So I don't accept it as a certainty that a tax would have increased the chances of success. That is only an assumption on your part.
When your army is so poorly financed that there is blood all over the snow because they can't afford shoes in the dead of Winter, and on top of that part of the army is starving, a tax wouldn't help?

It might have helped that winter then served to doom the revolution come the spring, when the Royalist majority of the country decided to help the British stamp out this little revolution that has now resulted in an extra tax on them all. My point is simply that the notion that a tax would help win the war is an assumption, not a fact or certainty.

In any event, we cannot use a hypothetical good “end” to justify a means. It amounts to saying that if we cannot get men to see what is good for them and contribute to its achievement voluntarily, we have the right to initiate the use of force against them.

Let's put it this way: if the end your means achieves is the end of free civilization, and the end of my means is the continuation of free civilization, which do you think is the moral route to choose?

If what is moral should be practical, then how can principles that lead to the end of civilization be possibly moral? This is the major inconsistency I see that lead me to create this thread.

What is the inconsistency that you think you see? You don't think people will pay for necessary government services like police, a criminal justice and civil justice system and a national defense? I do. Businesses will certainly pay for all three -- and so will a large percentage of the population.

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Actually no, because if you study History and Economics you will learn that History makes the case for the free-market working over government regulations, and that government regulations create the problems that people blame Capitalism for. So History made the case for laissez-faire capitalism being more practical.

Laissez-faire capitalism has never been tried. It has no historical record.

But that you actually even said this honestly startles me: were you willing just then to stick to your guns of Capitalism being more moral even if History and Economics had overwhelmingly proved the case that Capitalism isn't practical??

No, but history hasn't "overwhelmingly proved the case" that voluntary financing of government is impractical either. It, like laissez-fair capitalism, has never been fully and properly implemented. Yet you are prepared to endorse one while trashing the other.

If the only way in which you know that Capitalism is moral and practical is through a philosophy book, then I don't think you fully "know" it. If you want to have real knowledge it must be integrated with reality. You need to know the abstract philosophy behind why Capitalism is moral and practical, and you need to know the proof demonstrated in action in reality of Capitalism being more practical and moral. To have purely abstract knowledge is to not really have knowledge at all.

So your position then is that we cannot judge the morality and practicality of an idea without trying it out in reality? If that is the case, how can you be so sure that voluntary government financing is impractical?

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I'm done with this insanity.

The insanity, Rick, is that you view the world in such absolutes without context! As bad as America is today, we still are nowhere near Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Things in the world exist in gradients between good and bad. So what we, as a group of people following a philosophy based upon Aristotle and based upon living life within this reality, must do is to look at the world, learn from the world, and form our beliefs based upon the world. They key, then, is that abstractions do not exist detached from reality. And if you can not prove your abstractions with facts of reality, but must rely upon hypothetical (ie. other abstractions) situations and hypothetical facts, then you are one and the same with the String Theory physicist who take what works on paper and tries to apply it to reality...without the actual physical proof for any of these "strings".

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Jason, you still have not explained what principle you are using that gives you the right to force me from my land, land that I was productive in gaining. I would also like to remind you that in all of those examples that you keep using not one of them understood nor applied individual rights. Might I also remind you of some of the most amazing words ever written, "you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I have a question that may help clarify some things. Are you saying, Ray, that if a person hops the border from Mexico and buys some land over here in the U.S.A., he thus has a right to this land...being an illegal immigrant?

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A person (Objectivist) arrives at a proper ethics by looking at what the nature of man is, not by looking at what is primarily practical, so your wrong. I also advise you to look at history a little closer and find one country that has not or is not crumbling according to your ideas. Is ancient Rome still around with all it's power? No. Is ancient Greece around with all it's power? No. As a matter of fact there is not one democracy in history that has not catabolized itself.

Actually, the greatest destroyer of the West, for every single great Western nation, was the erosion of a secular, world-based morality, and the rise of a mystical, rationalistic, or detached morality (including the rebellion from rationalism in the opposite extreme...hedonism). Greece fell not because of taxation, war, or even dictators. It fell because the once virtuous farmer/philosopher/soldier became the sloven, wealthy, opulent hedonist worshiping whatever mystery cult decided to hop along. The strong, worldly, independent Roman yeoman, through the decline in morality, became the whining, gore-seeking, pleasure-"slut" of whatever politician...or emperor...came along. The same happened in Venice and Florence during the Renaissance...in Spain, after she made her empire in the new world...in France and England during the 1800's, and now in America, slowly, in the 21st century.

Some further questions for you to think over. When you and Jason say that a person will have a choice, pay or leave. What are you going to do when they choose another option, staying and fighting? Will it not require force then to remove a once peaceful person and for what? You are right about one thing, history does show this type of thing over and over again.

The peaceful person is the one who abides by the law. The difference between a Martin Luther King and a Henry David Thoreau is that King peacefully staged a protest, within the bounds of the law. Thoreau broke the law for the same principle, and was thrown in jail. Thoreau brought about no change in our treatment of blacks as human beings. King did.

The only difference between the US and Mexico is law, Ray. The only difference between the Romans and the Gauls was law-between Greece and the Thracians was law-between the British and the Africans, the Spaniards and the Aztecs...and on and on throughout history. It is the West's peculiar worship of this holy thing known as law which has kept our civilization alive for 3000 years. The person, then, who breaks the law is not only a threat to our country, but a threat to Western civilization.

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Laissez-faire capitalism has never been tried. It has no historical record.

Ah but it does! Has laissez-faire ever been tried, truly and absolutely? No. But history is chock full of examples pointing towards the validity of this absolute. The more free an economy is, the more powerful, prosperous, and innovative that society is. There is a difference between South Korea and North Korea-even though neither is an absolute laissez-faire economy. However, the one which leans way closer to laissez-faire is the one from whom we gain some of the worlds greatest accomplishments to date (such as stem cell research, cloning, genetics, information technologies, etc.).

A person, then, can look at the world and see through empirical evidence what works, and what doesn't.

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The insanity, Rick, is that you view the world in such absolutes without context!

Maybe it would help the discussion if these absolutes were named, with a reason why you believe they have been used out of context?

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