Saturday, February 26, 2011

Preferences vs principles

Most of my personal preferences, when I have a preference, could be described as "conservative".

I want to be able to carry guns everywhere I go without any "authority" having any say in it whatsoever.

I have no desire to use drugs without a real medical need.

I have no desire to marry a man, nor to have sex with one.

I know taxation is theft, and welfare is destructive.

I recognize that "affirmative action" is just racial or sexual discrimination codified by "law".

However, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that making "laws" against non-aggressive consensual behavior by others is wrong. Actually "wrong" isn't a strong enough word. Not just "not nice" or "controlling", but absolutely, horribly evil. There is no excuse for it.


  1. Do you run into many asserting that taxation is not theft?

  2. Yes, all the time. It doesn't change the facts, though, does it? It's just like all the people calling ferrets "rodents" doesn't make them rodents.

    Break down all the things that make theft "theft", and compare it to "taxation" one step at a time. You'll find the only difference in the two is the State sanction. When I break it all down like that it silences the deniers.

  3. Do their pre-breakdown objections follow a pattern, or is it kind of random?

  4. It does follow a sort of pattern, or at least brings up the same objections even if the specific order varies.

    It always includes most of the following:

    Taxation isn't theft because it's "legal"...
    Taxation "is the price we pay for civilization"...
    You get "services" in return for being taxed...
    Without taxation there would be "free riders"...
    You won't really be killed for not paying taxes...
    Taxation is "necessary" because some people are "too rich" and greedy...

    There may be others I'm forgetting at the moment.

  5. Do those seem like the actual reasons they are okay with taxation, or are they throwing up a smokescreen either to you or to themselves?

  6. I'm not sure how I'd know the answer to that without being them.

  7. I ran through it with my housemate.

    I got: a democratic country cannot vote to murder someone because murder is always unethical, but they can vote to implement a tax (analogy to rent) as long as they don't prevent exit.

    That boils down to: he thinks taxation isn't theft because you can vote for it because it isn't theft. Uh, oops.


    So I'm extremely doubtful as to the efficacy of the argument on people who aren't already primed to be anti-authoritarian, like me. (I converted directly from a liberal to a libertarian instantly when I heard that line. Now straight up anarchist of some flavour.)

    Though let me clarify that point about exit:
    "So taxing adults is not unethical because they can move to Antarctica (unclaimed land) when they turn 18?"


    Due to it being pointless, I didn't call him on this.

    I don't think I can in any way make him understand that leveraging ties to family, history, friends, colleagues, geography, and moving expenses, by taxing until it's just barely not worth leaving, is in fact coercion. The government is not responsible for any of those things. If they weren't present, everyone would instantly move at 0.01% tax: witness actual nomads respond to government. Therefore, the government is effectively stealing the value of these things.

    Also that whole pro-democracy insanity. Democracy: good because it's democracy. Barf. As if we even lived in a democracy.

    I suppose I could just use him as my test case, and simply open with 'the government is effectively stealing the value of parents etc...' and see what happens. You interested in the result?

    I'm not even going to try the 'you think taxation isn't theft because you think it isn't theft.' He will answer, "Because it isn't." I prefer to keep my /headdesking to a minimum to prevent bruising.

  8. "a democratic country cannot vote to murder someone because murder is always unethical..."

    So... I guess he hasn't heard of Obama's new "citizen assassination program", or capital punishment (especially those cases where DNA evidence proved an innocent person was executed), or the fact that ALL "laws", even "tax laws", are ultimately enforced by threat of death?

    The interesting thing is that the US government does prevent exit. If you leave you will be forced to leave behind a lot of your property, plus the government will still insist you must continue to pay "taxes"- even if you renounce citizenship/divorce The State. Mike Gogulski's experiences are educational in that regard.

    Yeah, let me know how your test case works out. Did you show him my video on "Theft by any other Name"?

  9. Being conservative, he's against anything Obama does anyway.

    I haven't thought about that angle on the tax laws before, thanks.

    I'm not at all surprised to find that USG makes exit even more difficult than it naturally is.

    So...I got the debate to collapse to 'because governments have the right to impose taxes on their territory...'

    So once again, taxes are just because taxes are just. Any argument that shows they're not just must be in error, due to the fact that taxes are just.

    I very strongly get the intuition that, while I can pull out this core axiom, I can't ever get him to consciously admit the reasons behind it.

    I think there's a deeper delusion from which this one extends, and that delusion will be subconsciously defended at all costs.

    I believe I can prove that both democracy and taxation are unjust from first principles. But I believe I can't ever get him to accept those proofs.

    Hmm... and writing to you about it gave me an idea, for the second time in a row. So thanks again.

    I think I've figured out a method for attacking that core circular argument that won't be an utter waste if he won't admit the points against him.

    Incidentally, because we both recognize the importance of consent...I'd like to affirm that my housemate has agreed to debate this with me. I'm not ambushing his beliefs and forcing him to defend them.

  10. It sounds like his support of The State and taxation is a religious matter to him. Not necessarily religious/spiritual, but religious "just because I believe it no matter what the facts may be".

    In this case, your best bet may be to just drop little clues for him to find on his own rather than pointing them out to him. It depends on how strong a person he is. It takes a strong person to finally realize they have been supporting and defending the wrong side- it takes an even stronger one to admit it openly.

    I wonder if leaving one of my books laying around where his curiosity might get him to glance at it might help. You could even download one for free (from here: link) and print it out.

  11. I bet it sounds that way because it's true. The way you put it matches him incredibly well, especially considering you did it over the internet.

    Mmm, hints. Certainly a good fallback plan. Thanks once again.

    I don't know if he'd ever read your books, but I'm apparently going to, seeing as I show no signs of stopping...