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Author Topic: Are you paying your fair share?
KidTokyo
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quote:
I heard on the radio today that a report came out showing that the top 20% now pays 92% of taxes. Why is it they need to pay more? The lowest %s pay negative tax.
The top 20% have most of the wealth.

That is not a product of the "free-market" or the invisible hand. It's a product the legal privileges held by the largest corporations. As the government has basically treated such corporations as their primary clients for the last 30 years or so, wealth inequality has grown drastically.

In fact, our government will never tax such entities or their executives and other facilitators to a degree that would actually be fair, nor will they end corporate welfare without serious populist pressure over a very long period of time. In the meantime, this hand-wringing about the rich paying taxes is perversely misplaced.

quote:
The more you disincentivise economic activity by punitively taxing it and telling people that no matter how hard they work, you are going to come and take from them to give to others who did not earn it, the less likely they are to have the desire to work hard, and the whole system will eventually collapse.
But economic activity is subsidized as well as taxed.

[ December 10, 2013, 01:27 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
So we move to what is practical and what will make conditions the most desirable. What made this country great is freedom, and in that environment of freedom people felt empowered to take risks and build great economic wealth.
And the core of encouraging people to take risks is to mitigate the costs of doing so. If you want to encourage more entrepreneurship, you have to mitigate the cost of the inevitable failures that will occur along the way so that more people can afford it- assure people that they'll get as many shots as it takes to get something to work and that they won't end up on the streets as a result of coming up short, as will happen in 90% of all attempts. Otherwise, only people who can afford the high natural failure rate- those that already command a significant share of resources, will make such ventures and absorb the costs.
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AI Wessex
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"So we move to what is practical and what will make conditions the most desirable. What made this country great is freedom, and in that environment of freedom people felt empowered to take risks and build great economic wealth."

What made this country great was and is industry. That trend has been developing since the early 20th Century. Since individual taxes are so much lower than they were several decades ago, I think you have to look elsewhere for what is stifling the economy. IMO, it is due to a change in focus from innovating to develop markets to capitalizing on sales to take advantage of what was for several decades after WWII rising income levels and the concomitant improvement in the standard of living. Those trends have reversed themselves over the past few decades even as personal income taxes have fallen precipitously.

It isn't taxes, it's that the US no longer is the 800lb gorilla in the domestic or world economies. Here's a hint: there's no going back to the 'good old days', which also weren't so good now that I think about it.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Wrong. It's not fair because it's the government taking something that isn't theirs period, it has nothing to do with "how it is spent."
You may want to take a moment and check whose signature is on the dollar bank note before you make such an absurd claim. The government only charges taxes in terms of the portable tax credit it issues. The dollar is explicitly its tool to inject and withdraw as needed; it's a public utility, not a privately owned resource. The real property that we use them to buy are private, and no taxes are assessed in terms of private property, which are the actual measure of private wealth.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Wrong. It's not fair because it's the government taking something that isn't theirs period, it has nothing to do with "how it is spent."
You may want to take a moment and check whose signature is on the dollar bank note before you make such an absurd claim. The government only charges taxes in terms of the portable tax credit it issues. The dollar is explicitly its tool to inject and withdraw as needed; it's a public utility, not a privately owned resource. The real property that we use them to buy are private, and no taxes are assessed in terms of private property, which are the actual measure of private wealth.
I think you have a misunderstanding of what the government is. The government derives its power from us. We consent to letting the government do things, not the other way around. Those notes and that signature are OURS, not the government's. So when the government taxes us, it is most definitely taking something that does NOT belong to it.
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Pyrtolin
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Additionally, taxes are built into the transaction system that underlies out economy. What you make is, by definition, the amount that's left after those transaction fees. The fact that the number looked bigger before accounting for those fees does not imply that that gross number was actually what you made. The net post tax amount is the actual amount from the transaction that should be counted as credit in your accounts.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the government is. The government derives its power from us. We consent to letting the government do things, not the other way around. Those notes and that signature are OURS, not the government's.
Formally true. Functionally false. The government is doing and has done countless things without our consent. Pyr is correct that the dollar is a public utility.

[ December 10, 2013, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
I think you have a misunderstanding of what the government is. The government derives its power from us. We consent to letting the government do things, not the other way around. Those notes and that signature are OURS, not the government's. So when the government taxes us, it is most definitely taking something that does NOT belong to it.

Yes, the government is us, that does not change the fact that our money is a public tool- specifically transferable credit against future tax obligations- that we authorize our government to issue and circulate to provide us with a transaction system to signal relative prices. Our government is us, we create and regulate money as a public utility so that we can better transact real wealth. The money itself never becomes private property, just public measures of accounting balances.

[ December 10, 2013, 01:44 PM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

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KidTokyo
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quote:
The money itself never becomes private property, just public measures of accounting balances.
Exactly. It's actually illegal to destroy currency, which wouldn't be true if dollars were private property of the holder.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
I think you have a misunderstanding of what the government is. The government derives its power from us. We consent to letting the government do things, not the other way around. Those notes and that signature are OURS, not the government's. So when the government taxes us, it is most definitely taking something that does NOT belong to it.

Yes, the government is us, that does not change the fact that our money is a public tool- specifically transferable credit against future tax obligations- that we authorize our government to issue and circulate to provide us with a transaction system to signal relative prices. Our government is us, we create and regulate money as a public utility so that we can better transact real wealth. The money itself never becomes private property, just public measures of accounting balances.
The money most definitely IS private property. The government does not generate independent economic activity that is isolated from the private sector and that predates it. Just because we choose to express our private property in terms of bank notes that we allow the government to symbolize it with, does not mean it is no longer private property.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
quote:
The money itself never becomes private property, just public measures of accounting balances.
Exactly. It's actually illegal to destroy currency, which wouldn't be true if dollars were private property of the holder.
A common misunderstanding. Just because the note itself is illegal to destroy does not change that it symbolizes and represents private property. Or why else are their laws about how the authorities have to handle money as well as personal effects when putting someone into custody? They are the same under the law in terms of them both being recognized as private property.
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Pyrtolin
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If you don't want to be obligated to pay obligations to the public market for taking advantage of its services, then you have to start by not accepting the public market's credit markers to do business. Once you take payment in the public coin, you've got to follow the same rules for transacting in it that everyone else does.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
The government does not generate independent economic activity that is isolated from the private sector and that predates it.
No private sector predates the government, unless you are referring to barter and trade on some very primitive level.

Capitalism requires a government and a state.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
Or why else are their laws about how the authorities have to handle money as well as personal effects when putting someone into custody? They are the same under the law in terms of them both being recognized as private property.
I'm sorry, you're just wrong about that. Legally speaking, money is distinct from property and while there is some overlap in how the two are treated, they are definitely not the same thing.

[ December 10, 2013, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
A common misunderstanding. Just because the note itself is illegal to destroy does not change that it symbolizes and represents private property. Or why else are their laws about how the authorities have to handle money as well as personal effects when putting someone into custody? They are the same under the law in terms of them both being recognized as private property.

Because the police should not have direct taxing authority. They can process fine payments as prescribed by legislative measures and affirmed by judicial rulings, but they generally cannot take it upon themselves to assess such fines on the spot. It does nothing to change the fact that cash is really just a standardized draft against a public currency account for the amount denominated on it.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
quote:
Or why else are their laws about how the authorities have to handle money as well as personal effects when putting someone into custody? They are the same under the law in terms of them both being recognized as private property.
I'm sorry, you're just wrong about that. Legally speaking, money is distinct from property and while there is some overlap in how the two are treaty, they are definitely not the same thing.
I'm not wrong. I personally arrested people and we had to treat cash found on them the same as a picture of their family from their wallet.

If what you said was true, police could seize cash from people whenever they wanted and no one could sue.

I disagree with your statements about money, private property and capitalism. If you really think capitalism never existed without a government, then you are ignoring huge swaths of human history, though it seems you are prepared to belittle them by referring to them as "barter and trade" on a "primitive level." Archaeological proof of non-governmental gold and silver coinage proves you wrong though.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
A common misunderstanding. Just because the note itself is illegal to destroy does not change that it symbolizes and represents private property. Or why else are their laws about how the authorities have to handle money as well as personal effects when putting someone into custody? They are the same under the law in terms of them both being recognized as private property.

Because the police should not have direct taxing authority. They can process fine payments as prescribed by legislative measures and affirmed by judicial rulings, but they generally cannot take it upon themselves to assess such fines on the spot. It does nothing to change the fact that cash is really just a standardized draft against a public currency account for the amount denominated on it.
No court is allowed to do it either. For that matter, no agency of government or any person in society is allowed to seize cash where they are disallowed from seizing property, they are treated the same under the law.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
What made this country great is freedom...
I'd actually be interested in exploring this thought. I suspect that there were quite a few things that made -- and make -- this country great, and certain sorts of liberty were among those things.

quote:
think that the threshold for what is considered unreasonable taxation is close to 100%
Do you know what the current tax rate is? How close to 100% is anyone currently being asked to pay, do you think?

Bear in mind that I have suggested creating a 45% tax bracket that would kick in at around $500,000K of annual income, reinstating the estate tax, and increasing the capital gains tax. Do you think this would come close to taking 100% of a given millionaire's income?

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KidTokyo
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quote:
I'm not wrong. I personally arrested people and we had to treat cash found on them the same as a picture of their family from their wallet.

If what you said was true, police could seize cash from people whenever they wanted and no one could sue.

I don't disagree that money "represents" something personal, to which rights attach.

I'm just saying that the law deals with it as a distinct thing, and that currency is a public utility.

It's somewhat academic, since your example implicitly concedes my point that money is a legal construct.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
If you really think capitalism never existed without a government, then you are ignoring huge swaths of human history, though it seems you are prepared to belittle them by referring to them as "barter and trade" on a "primitive level." Archaeological proof of non-governmental gold and silver coinage proves you wrong though.
I'm amazed at how many people seem to think that "capitalism" exists as soon as people begin using precious metals as coinage.

That is what ignores huge swaths of human history.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
quote:
If you really think capitalism never existed without a government, then you are ignoring huge swaths of human history, though it seems you are prepared to belittle them by referring to them as "barter and trade" on a "primitive level." Archaeological proof of non-governmental gold and silver coinage proves you wrong though.
I'm amazed at how many people seem to think that "capitalism" exists as soon as people begin using precious metals as coinage.

That is what ignores huge swaths of human history.

It is not the coins alone that prove this, but they show that people used money prior to governments to symbolize private property and thus making it private property. There were truly non-governmental capitalist systems that involved these as well.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
The money most definitely IS private property. The government does not generate independent economic activity that is isolated from the private sector and that predates it. Just because we choose to express our private property in terms of bank notes that we allow the government to symbolize it with, does not mean it is no longer private property.
Money is not economic activity. Money is a credit accounting system that facilitates economic activity. We use it to account for and transfer private property among ourselves, but the accounting measures themselves are publicly issued and regulated- they're a utility that we create to avoid the difficulties of verifying individual creditworthiness by instead establishing a commonly accepted credit marker against future public obligations.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
t is not the coins alone that prove this, but they show that people used money prior to governments to symbolize private property and thus making it private property.
I get that.

The point is that "using money to buy things" is not synonymous with capitalism. It's just an example of a market.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
I disagree with your statements about money, private property and capitalism. If you really think capitalism never existed without a government, then you are ignoring huge swaths of human history, though it seems you are prepared to belittle them by referring to them as "barter and trade" on a "primitive level." Archaeological proof of non-governmental gold and silver coinage proves you wrong though.

You are conflating a number of different things.

Private money, as markers of the credit of whoever issued them certainly existed, and those were likewise directly regulated by whoever issued that credit, be it personal coins or impressions on a clay tablet (which are, bay far, the earliest from of money that we have evidence of)

When commonly used by large numbers of people as money (and not as barterable commodities) the issuers of those markers were the de facto regulators of the markets they supported. By issuing commonly transacted coinage, they effectively became the government over that local economy, since it was only though honoring a certain degree of obligation to said issuers that a direct demand by others for their currency existed.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
No court is allowed to do it either. For that matter, no agency of government or any person in society is allowed to seize cash where they are disallowed from seizing property, they are treated the same under the law.
And it's still just as irrelevant, because the cash is just a title to an account balance. No matter who holds the cash, the money that it was drawn against is still actually an account balance at the Fed or the Treasury.
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KidTokyo
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"Negotiable instruments" are treated like property for purposes of certain crimes, as a matter of necessity, because the holder who is a victim of theft loses the rights attached to the instrument, and the loss of those rights results in damages.

But the rights attached to such instruments are not the same as or coextensive with property rights -- there are all kinds of things you can do with property as a result of ownership which you cannot do with currency or money in general. And in fact the whole point of creating money would be lost if it was treated as equivalent to property.

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LetterRip
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Seneca,

first off 'the poor' is ill defined. Many of the sites that complain about the 'poor' are lumping together the retired wealthy who are collecting social security and medicade with the actual poor.

Secondly, people tend to ignore most of the benefit from taxes is proportional to wealth. Thus the average person has almost no benefit from the military and the national debt that has been accumulated to fund it; whereas the extremely wealthy derive enormous benefit due to investment in corporations.

Thirdly when talking about transfers etc. people tend to only focus on federal income taxes, as opposed to total tax burden (the poor pay a significant porportions of their income as local sales taxes as well as social security taxes; unemployment insurace; FICA, etc); and ignore most of the transfers to the wealthy including things like deducations that tend to grossly exceed any transfers to the poor.

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edgmatt
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There seems to be a disconnect between our conversations.

We all seem to be saying that "fairness" shouldn't come into play with taxes. Agreed. So next time a politician talks about "paying their fair share" and how it's "unfair for the poor/rich" we all agree that this is nonsense. Yes?

Tom-

quote:
For the purpose of this conversation -- namely, using income tax as a form of income redistribution -- *1: the answer is nearly all of it. *2: The portion of income tax that gets spent by government on things like defense obviously doesn't get handed back to the poor (except via the usual money-pump route, since defense spending injects money into the workforce in the typical way), *3: but the complaints here about "negative tax" are specifically talking about money being taken from you and given to someone else.

Statement 2 seems to contradict statement 1. As for 3, I haven't made that complaint, and I'm not talking specifically about that, that's Seneca's gripe. My point, on that subject, is that most of the money taken is not redistributed in a way that allows people to spend it on what they want/need. It's spent by one group of people on what they think another group of people want/need. This skews the market in a bad way. So when people claim taxes are justified because the money goes form those who have it to those who need it, I think they are kidding themselves.

quote:
How would you possibly build that into the tax code? Do you intend to somehow measure how hard someone had to work? What if someone marries into a family of hard workers and has children that, as a consequence, will never have to work hard? Do those children not deserve the tax breaks that their cousins should get by virtue of being the children of actual hard workers?
I couldn't possibly build that into the tax code, I don't think anyone could and that's my point. Every time we hear about taxes, the argument on the "raise them" side claims that they are able to measure how much someone has had to work, they are able to measure what someone is worth, and how much they deserve. Just look at Kid's statements. I'm claiming that it's impossible for a person to do. Furthermore, we don't have to the market does it for us. I offer to pay you X for X work, if you accept, that's how much your worth. Happens millions of times all over the nation.*

Kid-

quote:
How is deciding that the homeless guy doesn't "deserve" more than he has different from deciding that the lottery winner (and being born rich is pretty much a lottery winner) "deserves" what he has? Or that a family scraping by doesn't need anymore than they have but hedge fund manager does "need" every penny that he has.
Who decided the homeless guy doesn't deserve more? Is there a law somewhere?

quote:
Don't pretend that any of it is "fair". Fair has nothing to do with it.
I said that, a few times now. You are the one who, when asked if a %50 tax rate was fair, said "yes". Emphatically too, if I read your tone right.

quote:
The top 20% have most of the wealth.
Do you recognize this is a circular statement? Of course the top 20% of the wealthiest people have the most wealth. Why is this surprising? Why is this either bad or good? I'm suggesting that it is neither.

Are you aware that most of the people in each tax bracket move up and down throughout their lives? That is, when your talking about the top %20, your talking about different people every time you talk about it?

quote:
That is not a product of the "free-market" or the invisible hand. It's a product the legal privileges held by the largest corporations. As the government has basically treated such corporations as their primary clients for the last 30 years or so, wealth inequality has grown drastically.
How did these people start with money? Your statements imply that those with the wealth have always had it. How did they get it initially?

---------------------------
* I'm ignoring the relatively small incidents of illegal activities like extortion, corruption, theft, etc.

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KidTokyo
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Edge, the first two statements attributed to me are not mine.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
Of course the top 20% of the wealthiest people have the most wealth. Why is this surprising?
I was explaining why they pay the most taxes. Why should *that* be surprising, when they have the most wealth?

Someone thought it was outrageous that the top 20% pays 92% percent of the taxes, and I was pointing out that it is normal, given they have roughly that amount of the wealth.

quote:
Are you aware that most of the people in each tax bracket move up and down throughout their lives?
I'm aware that some do. "Most," I can't say, and in fact I doubt it.

Very few move in and out of the top 1% which still holds the majority of the wealth.

Mobility really doesn't change the calculus though, since my point is that the degree of concentration at the top is a result of planned social policy, not free-market triumph. The government amplifies and distorts the economy, creating imbalances insupportable without subsidy.

quote:
Your statements imply that those with the wealth have always had it.
They don't. In fact, they imply the opposite, though as a practical matter is makes no sense to speak of "wealth" as an absolute -- I'm using it comparatively. As a relative matter, the wealthy are much wealthier in recent decades than they ever have been.
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kmbboots
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Some of those were mine.

My point is that there is nothing "fair" about the world as it is. Some level of wealth redistribution makes things if not fair at least somewhat more equitable at any rate. It adds to the fairness rather than detracts.

You wrote that:

quote:
I think it's the wrong mindset when people start making presumptions like:
- one person is able to determine how much (money) another person deserves.
- one person is able to determine how much another person needs.
- it's morally right to take from someone and give to another.

My point is that we do the first two no matter what. Right now, Seneca is arguing both that the poor don't deserve more than they have, nor do they really need more than they have. It is certainly as much a judgement as me deciding that they both "deserve" and need more.

When it comes to government taxes and assistance, it isn't "one person" making the determination; it is a society making the determination.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Some of those were mine.

My point is that there is nothing "fair" about the world as it is. Some level of wealth redistribution makes things if not fair at least somewhat more equitable at any rate. It adds to the fairness rather than detracts.

You wrote that:

quote:
I think it's the wrong mindset when people start making presumptions like:
- one person is able to determine how much (money) another person deserves.
- one person is able to determine how much another person needs.
- it's morally right to take from someone and give to another.

My point is that we do the first two no matter what. Right now, Seneca is arguing both that the poor don't deserve more than they have, nor do they really need more than they have. It is certainly as much a judgement as me deciding that they both "deserve" and need more.

When it comes to government taxes and assistance, it isn't "one person" making the determination; it is a society making the determination.

I never made either of those judgments absolutely, I am only contending that it is fundamentally wrong for the government to confiscate property from one person to give it to another even in the name of correcting those "problems."
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KidTokyo
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quote:
I never made either of those judgments absolutely, I am only contending that it is fundamentally wrong for the government to confiscate property from one person to give it to another even in the name of correcting those "problems."
What if they created the problems?

You presume that taxation is the only way the government confiscates or deprives people.

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kmbboots
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So what is all this about being lazy and slacking and flat screen TVs and so forth?
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NobleHunter
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I find certain species of libertarians take solace in casting the poor as moochers and frauds in order to avoid contemplating the misery that would arise from their unbending commitment to their moral principles.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
I find certain species of libertarians take solace in casting the poor as moochers and frauds in order to avoid contemplating the misery that would arise from their unbending commitment to their moral principles.

[Roll Eyes]

Do moochers and frauds who are abusing government benefits exist or not?

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NobleHunter
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Would forbidding the government "to confiscate property from one person to give it to another" result in misery or not?
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KidTokyo
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quote:
Do moochers and frauds who are abusing government benefits exist or not?
Yes. We often refer to them as "lenders," or, simply, "banks."
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
I find certain species of libertarians take solace in casting the poor as moochers and frauds in order to avoid contemplating the misery that would arise from their unbending commitment to their moral principles.

[Roll Eyes]

Do moochers and frauds who are abusing government benefits exist or not?

So what!
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
Would forbidding the government "to confiscate property from one person to give it to another" result in misery or not?

Who knows? To my knowledge we haven't tried doing that in quite a long time, and some people would argue the US has never tried it. Might as well right?
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