no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Comments on Comments #5

February 10th, 2008

Tony and Kip, Esquire like my new puppy. So do I. I’ll be posting pictures and/or videos on a weekly basis. She hasn’t been crated at night, yet, so I don’t think she ever will be, although until she’s housebroken, she’ll be in the crate during the day. She is a quick learner, having already mastered “sit,” and she seems to understand that if she takes a piss, she gets a biscuit. Border collies and Shepherds are both smart dogs, so I imagine her breeding (or is it “mutting”) has something to do with that.

From Comments #4, Eric Sundwall responds to our off-topic discussion on worker/owners:

As a former employer and small business person, my experience is that most employees don’t want to own. They prefer consistent hours and pay. They don’t want the responsibility. That’s fine as long as a contract satisfies everybody’s needs. The reason why I stopped hiring and buying buildings and whatnot was the government. I did not want the hassle and frustration of maintaining operations to the state’s satisfaction.

Thanks Eric – I think many people can identify with this. Conceivably, of course, your problem was not with ownership, per se, but with the Government constraints upon your ownership, preventing you from effectively satisfying your needs, your employees’ needs, and your customers’ needs all at the same time.

“I did not want the hassle and frustration of maintaining operations to the state’s satisfaction.” Most people don’t. The State strangles man’s entrepreneurial spirit, and at the far end of the spectrum (socialism), entrepreneurship isn’t possible.

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Franc responds to my inquiry about the nature of self-management with his own blog post. I understand the basic premises, but I find his brief analysis to be lacking. He has recommended that I listen to a podcast, and I have actually downloaded it onto my MP3 player. I listened to it today in the car, but I need more time to digest it. I don’t disagree with many of his premises, for instance, that the state is evil, and that corporations as we know them receive massive benefits that enable them to concentrate power, and that this concentration of power is evil. I follow the argument this far. I think I just don’t understand the idea of “self-management,” what does it mean, for instance, to suggest that workers can set their own wages? Maybe I need to read more. References appreciated in the comments section.

For now, I will reiterate my position: I don’t find anything inherently wrong with a coordinative hierarchy. Some people will be better implementers, others will be better planners, forecasters, and organizers. I think that hierarchies based on merit or skill or knowledge are perfectly acceptable, and follow necessarily from the division of labor and comparative advantage in a freed economy.

In Catching Up Around the ‘Sphere, regarding anarchists who don’t “hate the troops,” Franc responds:

‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ is one of the stupidest things ever said. How can you hate an idea independently of a person? Ideas do not exist independently of people. It is because of the people who believe in them that ideas survive and flourish. The idea in itself is neither good nor bad, and there’s no point in hating an idea. Only people deserve hate.

We’ve all pretty much been lied to for our entire lives, through government schools, the mainstream media, and other propaganda machines. And we’ve all been instructed that those lies are the truth. I can’t fault them for believing that 2+2=5, when that’s all they’ve ever been told. I can hate the mistakes people have made, without hating the person who made those mistakes. I can hate the system, and the people who have perpetuated that system, but I have a hard time hating the general population, most of whom are merely the State’s collateral damage. A person is not evil if he supports the troops (NB: I do not) or if he is one of the troops, without understanding the moral evil of his actions. He is effectively a robot, doing what he’s been programmed to do. What he has been programmed to do, of course, is evil. But until he is consciously aware of that fact, no moral decision is really possible.

The bottom line is that without the State’s indoctrination, these decisions would likely never have been made: a million or so disparate and (mostly) underprivileged adolescents wouldn’t band together and form an army on their own. The troops, for the most part, are the product of the system. Can we change their minds, and the minds of others? Yes. And I believe it starts with an understanding of why people have made these decisions.

There are probably some people who would say, “Well, I still support the troops even though they’re doing something bad. If you don’t support the troops, you must want them to die, and I don’t want them to die.” I think there’s a term for that sort of argument, something along the lines of “denying the antecedent,” but I’m not positive. In any regard, I don’t want them to die, either. I want them to come home to their friends and families, and to get an honest job producing things of value, with the rest of us. I don’t want them to be pawns in the government’s game, any more. I pity them, and the position in which they’ve found themselves. But unless they’re aware of the moral implications of their acts, I can’t honestly hate them.

Libertarian Jason loved Taxation is Theft! I occasionally contribute to his blog, Yearning to Breathe Free, although it is generally more focused on local libertarian politicking. I don’t have a problem with that, but I am an infrequent contributor because I’m not local to LJ, and I’m not involved in politics in my own locale.

Responding to the same post, Franc (who has been active here, lately) criticizes my tax burden.

It’s kinda hypocrite to speak against something while financing it, now is it?

He also recently blogged, “Being against war and paying your taxes is … absurd.”

I disagree with the position that it’s hypocritical to pay taxes, while simultaneously calling them theft. It would not be hypocritical of me to call a car-jacker a thief and denounce his malicious acts, even though I would probably support his acts by giving him my SUV. To me, paying my taxes is an easy way to stay out of jail. It’s an easy way to avoid having your assets seized without contest. And it’s a good way to avoid a showdown that can only end in your death, if you try to defend your natural rights. As libertarians are fond of saying, there’s literally a gun to your head. And I don’t want the person on the other end of that gun to pull the trigger. Paying my taxes is currently a survival technique. I’m not the one taxing people, I’m merely paying them because in many instances it’s not negotiable, and in other instances, I’m only responding to the gun. Franc argues that I should more consciously avoid the gun in the first place – point taken.

The most effective way to do this is of course through tax avoidance or tax resistance. But that effectively means quitting my job, defaulting on my loans, and giving up nearly everything I enjoy in life. This burden is tremendous enough that in many cases, the opportunity cost of not paying taxes dwarfs the costs of compliance. There are, to be sure, myriad ways which I could nominally reduce my tax burden, but most of them, I think, only perceptibly diminish your own quality of life, and not the government’s ability to finance wars—since the government can (and will) monetize as much debt as it needs, restricting my own income is like trying to drain the ocean with an eye-dropper. Of course, if everyone rejected taxes, this would drive the system into failure almost immediately. But whether to pay taxes is a prisoners’ dilemma.

As Rothbard argues in Power & Market, paraphrasing Calhoun,

[T]here are two groups of individuals in society: the taxpayers and the tax consumers—those who are burdened by taxes and those who benefit. Who is burdened by taxation? The direct or immediate answer is: those who pay taxes.

I’m still burdened by taxes, so I count myself among the injured parties. I’m not going to go all primitivist, and move in to the woods, or go dumpster-diving for food. Short of those alternatives, it’s not possible to exist without paying taxes. You can rent an apartment, and nominally not pay taxes. But your landlord pays them, and you pay him. You can live with your parents, but they’re paying taxes one way or another, too. The difference between paying some taxes, and paying more taxes is merely one of degree.

Although not part of that discussion, I will also redirect my readers to this post at FSK’s Guide to Reality:

The corporate community can afford to pay me about $40/hour after taxes. In the anarchist/agorist community, so far, I have not found any viable alternatives. I’m not going to work for $5/hour or less, just to stop supporting the state. I should be able to simultaneously pursue my self-interest and work against the state. For now, I’m working for free in my blog, and working in a corporate job. When the anarchist/agorist community is advanced enough to hire me at a decent rate, that’s when I’ll work there.

Although I’m not earning anything near $40/hour after taxes, I agree with FSK’s sentiments. I’m not going to work for $5/hour or less, just to stop paying taxes. I could stop paying taxes entirely, and spend the money instead, but most of those transactions would probably be taxed. I don’t distinguish one form of taxation as better or worse than any other.

Some people argue that we need to effectively stop lecturing people, and start living our ideals. We should be making sacrifices since we so often demand sacrifices from others. This is a point that I cannot dismiss, and hope to address in forthcoming posts.

Comments

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  • Francois Tremblay says on: February 11, 2008 at 2:35 am

     

    Your argument seems to be that ignorance of morality is an excuse to be immoral. This does not seem very defendable to me. After all, the facts about the morality of the military are easily accessible to all. If they were not, you might have a case (as in for instance the fact that ignorance of the law should be an excuse, since every point of law is not easily accessible to the average person), but not here.

    If you surrender your moral compass, either by joining the military or by putting faith in the government, then you should be blamed for everything that follows. You have abdicated your mental independence, and that’s a cardinal sin.

no third solution

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