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Tag Archives: taxation

When you start infringing on people’s rights, you start a vicious circle where you need to infringe on more and more rights as time goes by, to try to make your infringements possible. Take immigration for instance. 

Nowadays, immigration is limited. You need a country’s approval to go there. This is a very serious limitation on one of the most important freedoms there is: the one to move around as you damn well please. For millennia, there was no limiting that. But in recent decades, it has become near universal practice to limit immigration. Why is that?

You see, the post-war world has come up with one of the most massive non-sustainable rights infringements there is: social security. Ok, it’s all fine and dandy to have this nice idea to help out people in need, but the catch is that somebody has to pay for that. So to make it work, governments infringe on the property rights of their citizens. Indeed, to try to make it work, governments tax the hell out of their citizens.

The problem is, social security becomes attractive for people from less well-off countries. Before social security, they would immigrate when there were job opportunities, therefore contributing to society’s well-being – a win-win situation. But with social security, they also have an incentive to immigrate even when there aren’t any job opportunities, if social security can provide them with a better standard of living than their own country.

This puts an even higher burden on public finances, as financing the scam that is social security becomes harder.

So, to avoid making the unsustainability of social security too obvious too soon, governments limit immigration. And this is an unacceptable limitation of people’s liberty of movement.

As an aside

Another line of reasoning holds that immigration is a problem for cultural reasons, with integration/assimilation being the tough part. While that might have some truth, the fact is that when triggered by (real) economic opportunity, integration/assimilation quickly follows immigration – just look at the history of the US or 60’s immigration in Europe.

Cultural problems only ensue when immigration is spurred by social security incentives without real economic opportunity. In that case, the fatal mix of massive immigration without the integrating factor of working alongside locals creates cultural ghettos and associated problems.

Hence, without the social security incentives, immigration would mechanically lower, and integration/assimilation would be much easier.

In a nutshell

Infringing the people’s property rights to support the scam that is social security leads to infringing people’s freedom of movement. This is a universal trend – infringement of basic rights leads to ever more infringements. Hence why basic rights shouldn’t be messed with. Unfortunately, that message seems lost on politicians…

A great belief of modern day society is that the State does great things for people. Typically, provide public services and provide money to the needy. Everything the State does is seen as means to those ends; that justifies everything.

As stated elsewhere, this is consequentialism. Interestingly enough, a look at the consequences of public policy gives a good argument against public policy.

Whatever government does, it needs money. And since government is by definition unproductive, that means it will tax people.

The interesting aspect I’d like to highlight here is how it will tax people.

It’s very simple really. Government will decide what is good and what isn’t. What isn’t will be taxed. It’s really that simple.

Now in the case where you have a very minimal government concerned with only a limited scope of activities (say, Police, Justice, Defense), a very high level definition of what’s wrong and right will usually be enough. The proceeds from criminal law fines will provide for a bulk of revenue, and some sort of revenue taxation will complete it. While I oppose revenue taxation, I can still vaguely live with that.

The problem is, the more you ask of government, the more it will have to generate revenue. And the more it will have to determine what is right and wrong. Of course, the first thing it will do is to increase revenue taxation.

But that is quickly not enough. So the eternal expansion of taxation scope begins. Taxation starts to impact commerce (VAT), luxury (increased VAT), transportation (gas taxes) etc.

And you quickly arrive to the situation you are in today. Anything considered “wrong” by the government is taxed. Fatty foods, “unhealthy” products (cigarettes, alcohol), products deemed unfriendly to the environment, etc.

Ultimately, as demands for more and more governmental intervention increase, so does the need for the government to raise revenue. And thus the need for it to define things which are “wrong” that it can go and tax. And thus, as we proceed down that road, the government goes ever further in defining how you should live and what you should do. It controls your life ever more through taxation.

Yes, asking for governmental intervention is, very directly, renouncing your liberty to decide how to live your life. Keep that in mind next time you ask the government something.

Freely yours…

Taxation is so widespread nowadays people just think anybody should think it is a good idea, irrespective of one’s specific beliefs. I hold this to be false, and suggest that belief in taxation (and it’s corollaries such as redistribution and governmental programs) actually relies on a few underlying assumptions people are not aware of. Most interestingly, if asked directly about these underlying beliefs, most people would disagree with them. Propaganda and brainwashing are very efficient…

Assumption n°1: Consequentialism

Taxation is theft. There’s no rational denying it. In fact, revenue taxation is literal slavery. Indeed, revenue generated by work performed by one person is directly taken by somebody else. And, let’s not forget, this is done under the threat of force – the risk of prison looms for whomever chooses not to pay taxes.

As such, taxation is appropriation of one’s property irrespective of one’s own willingness to give it. That’s theft in my book.

Of course, some will object that they are happy to pay taxes. Strangely, none of the people I have met professing such happiness have taken me up on my offer that they pay mine. I would argue they are just used to it and buy into tax justifications rather than actually being happy about paying taxes.

In any case, even if they are genuinely happy to pay taxes, there’s no changing the fact that they incur legal penalties, including being deprived of their freedom, if they were to not pay taxes. Which still makes that theft.

But, our happy tax payers have a key argument up their sleeve to justify why I should pay taxes despite being unhappy about it and, even better justify the way the government taxes people under threat.

That argument is all the wonderful things government does with my money. “Look, maybe taking your money by force isn’t cool, but it goes to poor people via redistribution”, their argument goes. The only way one can seriously defend this argument is by ascribing to consequentialism. Now, the funny thing about this, is that many happy taxpayers would feel insulted if you told them one of their core beliefs is “the end justifies the means”. But ultimately, that’s what consequentialism is all about.

I personally consider consequentialism a very dangerous form of ethic. And so do those people too, usually, but still…

Assumption n° 2: Materialism

Now, let’s imagine somebody who is fine with being labeled a consequentialist – after all this is a respected philosophy. This person is basically holding that infringing one person’s property rights is ok to materially help out somebody else. After all, all you can ever do with money is spend it. Whether it’s the government who spends it directly “for the common good” (whatever that is), or whether the government give it to somebody they deem worthy of receiving the boon and who will then spend it, all this money can ever do is enhance material wellbeing.

Well, look at that, these happy taxpayers definitely have a thing for money and all things material now don’t they? A very materialistic outlook I’d say.

Yet I’m the greedy materialist in their eyes. Because I care about stuff like a person’s rights and freedom. Go figure.

Assumption n° 3: Magical misanthropy

Now of course, the crux of the belief in taxation is that governments will spend the money well, for the general good, whereas people will only do evil, or at least useless stuff with money. Simply put, people cannot be trusted to care for others. But the government can.

Let me spell it out. The government is made of people. If you can’t trust people, you can’t trust the government. Period. Wiggle as you will, there’s no way around it. A government makes laws, and can amend the constitution (whether it actually takes the Parliament, the government, a mix of both or special majorities is totally irrelevant). So there are no intangible rules that will preclude these people from doing wrong. Just look at the evolution of the USA. A country founded by enlightened minds, with a very decent Constitution that purposefully included checks and balances to avoid powers overstepping.

This is the country that gave us Hiroshima. Guantanamo Bay. McCarthyism. And the list goes on.

Of course, other countries are no better. As a side-note, I am far from being anti-american, if anyone was having doubts – the failure of the US just hurts me more than the failure of other countries precisely because it is the one country that had the most promise at it’s inception.

But all the evidence of governments being full of only human people prone to all the errors mistakes and vices of humanity doesn’t stop our happy taxpayers to somehow believe that a government will do better than your average population.

People are bad, but somehow, governments will be good, despite evidence to the contrary. Magic time!

Assumption n°4: History teaches us nothing, and is probably not true

This one is necessary for assumption 3 to “hold”. See, the problem with history is that it is full of annoying things called facts which derail any attempt to argue in favor of governments. Taxes are necessary, say our happy taxpayers, because the government needs to do it’s job. The annoying thing about history is that it teaches that nothing – absolutely nothing – the government does was the government’s job in the first place. In other words, everything the government does was started out by the private sector. There is no single exception (except, arguably – you guessed, didn’t you? – taxation).

Education? Invented by the Church. Roads? Invented by peasantry. Money? Invented by merchants. Transportation? Invented by, well, lots of people, but mostly merchants. Structurally helping the poor? Invented by the Church (helping the poor occasionally has always existed). Medical science? Invented by scientists. Insurance? Invented by banks, for merchants. Funding research? Invented by patrons of the arts. Justice? Well, that’s a debatable one, but there’s definitely a religious aspect to most early legal systems, and common law needs no government (elected judges anyone?), not to mention the instances of areas with no formal government which do have legal systems (tribal justice relying on elders who do not otherwise govern springs to mind). The list goes on.

Oops, yeah, you got me. There is one thing. Large scale war & conscription. That’s a pure government invention.

Funnily enough, some of the few things (not talking public services as I was in the paragraph above) the government happened to actually invent only started to take off and produce societal benefits once it started being out of the hands of governments. The interwebs obviously spring to mind .

Yet, for some reason, our happy taxpayers hold, as others would a sacred truth, that with no government, we would not know all these things, and that these services would not be produced. Hence, history teaches us nothing, and is probably not true.

In a nutshell

While I am routinely labeled immoral, an egoist, a dreamer, ignorant or a mix of any of those, I will from now on refer to happy taxpayers as consequentialist, misanthropic, ignorant materialists.

Or not. Quite a long label really. But still, you get my point.

Freely yours,