We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Taxing already acquired property drastically alters the relationship between citizen and state: we become leaseholders, rather than freeholders, with accumulated taxes over long periods of time eventually “returning” our wealth to the state. It breaches a key principle that has made this country great: the gradual expansion of property ownership and the democratisation of wealth. We need more of this, not less. A wealth tax – like the old window taxes, levied because it was too hard to assess people’s income – is a sign of failure: we can’t raise enough by taxing current economic activity, so we tax again the already taxed fruits of past activity. It is a pre-modern, obsolete concept. Wealth taxes also violate a state’s original mission, to protect the life, liberty and property of citizens.

- Allister Heath

Although it is an excellent article, I strongly disagree with Heath’s use of the term ‘democratisation of wealth’ rather than, perhaps, ‘widening’ or even ‘diffusion’.

‘Democracy’ is entirely about a state legitimising its use of the means of collective coercion. It is only about ‘wealth’ to the extent that the primary use of the means of collective coercion are to confiscate wealth at gunpoint for assorted pretexts, under the legitimising notion that there is a democratic mandate to do demand-money-with-menaces in any particular instance.

137 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • His article doesn’t have much merit, if any. For a start, he’s missed the obvious point that if what you really want is the gradual expansion of property ownership, you would naturally prefer the taxing of wealth according to the level at which it is held, rather than the rate which it is accumulated.

  • For a start, he’s missed the obvious point that if what you really want is the gradual expansion of property ownership, you would naturally prefer the taxing of wealth according to the level at which it is held, rather than the rate which it is accumulated.

    Completely wrong. To tax ownership is wrong for exactly the reasons laid out in the article: it fundamentally changes the relationship between state and individual, in effect making you a leaseholder of property that is in reality owned by the state rather than you.

  • Perry, it makes no difference whatsoever. It does nothing to change the relationship between the individual and the state. It’s a completely false distinction.

    If the state takes £1 from me and spends it, then it takes £1 from me and spends. There is no meaningful difference if it takes it from me in the early stage of ownership, as with income tax, or a later stage of ownership, as with a wealth tax.

  • There is no meaningful difference if it takes it from me in the early stage of ownership, as with income tax, or a later stage of ownership, as with a wealth tax.

    No, there is a huge difference. To tax ownership rather than at the point of acquisition, by a simple process of perpetual attrition the state ends up “taking back” everything. Indeed the very nature of such an approach means that rather then buying off the state’s tax collectors on a one-off basis, you are nothing more than a rent payer for wealth that will be taxed until it no longer remains in your hands.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course property is already taxed and has been for centuries – the old land tax, and the “rates”, and the modern business rate and council tax.

    However, Mr Heath is right – the extention of the principle of property taxation is wrong.

    “Social Justice” is WRONG, income and wealth are NOT rightfully owned by the collective (however Sam Pufendorf, and after him John Locke, misinterpreted the Book of Genesis), private property ownership does NOT have to be “justified” with “as much and as good” left for others (on any other impossible fantasy). So the whole social justice cult of “distributing” income and wealth is based upon a false foundation.

    Taxing things such as rings and watches (as the more extreme Lib Dems wish to do) is just demented collectivism (based on envy and false guilt). It is the Welfare State in its death agony – lashing out at people (almost at random).

    However, the land tax thing is releated to the ancient stuff I mention above. It does not matter that the theological basis (the interpretation of the Book of G.) is forgotten (and it was wrong anyway). The “economics” marches on – with talk of “land monopoly” and so on, and the belief that if only there was a different form of land tax there would be “free access to land” “real free enterprise” (free as in “free bread” of course the “Arab Spring” view of “freedom”).

    Frank Fetter refuted this idea that “land is special” or this and that form of land tax would reduce poverty (or whatever) a century ago.

    But like Frank Fetter’s refutation of Irving Fisher – the refutation of the wonderful land tax, is virtually unknown.

    People continue to say that as long as the “price level” is not going up, monetary expansion is fine (indeed a good thing – ask Mr Osbourne).

    And people still talk about the wonders of this or that form of land tax (or other tax).

    Frank Fetter might as well just have gone fishing back in Peru Indiana.

  • To tax ownership rather than accumulation, by a simple process of perpetual attrition the state ends up “taking back” everything.

    Sounds impressive, but doesn’t add up. It only “takes back” everything if it fully taxes everything. The only thing that is relevant is the amount of tax that the state takes. The method of assessment is, for the purpose of this issue, an irrelevant smokescreen.

  • RogerC

    I found this part of the article particularly interesting:

    America fortunately doesn’t have a proper wealth tax. It relies on property taxes at a local, county level to finance spending but rates are disciplined because homeowners can easily move.

    Putting a slightly different slant on it, part of the reason why they’re able to propose things like this in the first place is because they know it’s difficult for you to get away. Moving to another country is hard, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be allowed to settle. Knowing that the majority of their subjects can’t escape is very convenient for governments wishing to prop themselves up by immoral, desperate measures like this one.

    As for the rest of it, Perry’s right: if they get away with this, there will be a level of wealth you’re allowed to keep and everything else will be gradually taxed away from you.

    ~R~

  • Sounds impressive, but doesn’t add up.

    It is a self evident truism actually.

    It only “takes back” everything if it fully taxes everything. The only thing that is relevant is the amount of tax that the state takes.

    Nope. It completely changes the issue from “the rate at which you are allowed to accumulate the wealth you own” to “the rate at which you pay the state ongoing rent to be allowed to control the wealth you have accumulated”.

    It is remarkable that you cannot see how these are materially different things.

  • PeterT

    To me the most interesting points about this are:

    - A wealth tax can be seen as a retro-active income tax, at least if it is not kept at a constant level (forever). Laws are not usually supposed to be retro-active for good practical as well as moral reasons. It would be interesting to see if a wealth tax could be challenged in the courts on this basis.

    - You can always moderate the net tax you pay the government by working less/not at all, going on benefits or changing your lifestyle pattern. The wealth tax wouldn’t allow such flexibility.

    - The introduction of a wealth tax smacks of desperation. Difficult to implement, probably highly unpopular, might not raise all that money. Have we run out of income to tax? A sign of things to come maybe.

    - For some people a wealth tax will have similar consequences as the poll tax, as there is no explicit link between the size of the tax and ability to pay it.

    Ultimately I agree with Paul that a tax is tax is wrong. I don’t think the introduction of a wealth tax changes the individual’s relationship to the state. A wealth tax is capricious but I would expect nothing less from our dear leaders.

  • I don’t think the introduction of a wealth tax changes the individual’s relationship to the state.

    It most certainly does as it makes your wealth merely something you rent from the state and you may only have control over it for as long as you keep playing that rent. It is bad enough land and housing are treated that way already. The more the state makes itself the super-owner of ‘your’ property, requiring annual rent based on its value if you wish to continue to have any directorship over its use, the less any notionally property is really ‘owned’ by an individual at all.

  • RRS

    Wading into this rising surf bit by bit and being conscious of the riptides, I offer some citations out of something like 60 years of work in this area of systems of governmental revenues and their impact on economic and social activities, more will follow (mebbe):

    RC is correct, this is already the condition as is evidenced by Inheritance Taxation and the taxation of “Estates.”

    Following the War Between the States in the US, many of the southern jurisdictions (principally municipalities and counties) found it necessary to establish taxation of Personal Property. Over the years the classifications of subject matter were reduced. There was also capitation tax (a tax on mere existence). There currently remain in most jurisdictions taxation upon vehicles, boats and certain other items related to specific activities, most of which use common facilities.

    If the desire (hardly likely) of any political group is to bring home the impact of taxation, perhaps a personal property tax upon smart phones, iPads, laptops and similar popular, but personal things could have that effect. But, in pure theory, the purpose of taxation is to provide for the functions “assigned” to governments.

    Of course, those who acceed to the operations of governments have an interest in expanding those functions and thus the purposes, even to the “reduction of obesity,” “incentives to conduct,” etc.

    Land, or its use, as “Property” as a source of revenue to those other than its occupants and users has largely derived from feudal histories (taking different shapes); in the case of the UK in the US, derived largely from the concept of enfoefment, which in turn was based on the power of claim, usually through force and violence. Thus, the power of force and violence assigned as a monopoly of governments, has a noble history supporting the forms of taxation with which we still deal.

    However, much of property is not held or used for purposes that might produce revenues. This has led to the taxation of transactions which have become more prolific as the exchange societies have developed. This trend in taxation and its penetration into many additional areas of human activities is accelerating. After all, there is only so much land, and even if the possessor of force and violence possessed all and merely allowed occupancy and use, taxation would become essentially transaction taxation.

    That’s far enough, it’s getting deeper here.

  • It is remarkable that you cannot see how these are materially different things.

    In terms of the way they are assessed, they are materially different (an income tax being generally more straight-forward than a tax on movable wealth, but far more complex than a tax on land, buildings, etc.)

    In terms of the way the burden of the tax falls, they are materially different (in my opinion, a wealth tax being superior to an income tax, although far from optimal).

    But in terms of the relationship between the state and the individual, there is no meaningful difference. The state is taking money in order to spend. The details of the underlying calculation are of no consequence.

  • Peter T:

    A wealth tax can be seen as a retro-active income tax, at least if it is not kept at a constant level (forever). Laws are not usually supposed to be retro-active for good practical as well as moral reasons. It would be interesting to see if a wealth tax could be challenged in the courts on this basis.

    I think that’s a bit of a stretch. So long as you are being taxed on the level of wealth held at some future point, rather than taxed on the level of wealth you held prior to the introduction of the tax, it’s not really retro-active.

    You can always moderate the net tax you pay the government by working less/not at all, going on benefits or changing your lifestyle pattern. The wealth tax wouldn’t allow such flexibility.

    Living without a level of retained wealth is arguably easier than living without any income.

    For some people a wealth tax will have similar consequences as the poll tax, as there is no explicit link between the size of the tax and ability to pay it.

    I’ve never understood that argument. If you have wealth, then you have the means to pay – the wealth. Income has a far worse correlation with ability to pay than wealth has.

  • llamas

    “America fortunately doesn’t have a proper wealth tax. It relies on property taxes at a local, county level to finance spending but rates are disciplined because homeowners can easily move.”

    and more to the point, which many Europeans simply can’t get their minds around, rates are disciplined because (in many/most cases) local property tax rates are voted by the people paying them.

    You haven’t seen participatory democracy in action until you’ve seen a really well-contested school millage get put on the ballot. No, it’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than many.

    Is anybody suggesting that there is no legitimate place for any d-valorem taxes on real property?

    llater,

    llamas

  • But in terms of the relationship between the state and the individual, there is no meaningful difference. The state is taking money in order to spend. The details of the underlying calculation are of no consequence.

    It is vastly different for the reasons stated repeatedly. It cuts the very notion of several property as it replaces ownership with a state assignment of control that depends on ongoing payments. As the article correctly puts it, it turns freeholders into leaseholders.

    I’ve never understood that argument. If you have wealth, then you have the means to pay – the wealth. Income has a far worse correlation with ability to pay than wealth has.

    So if I have to sell a non-divisible item such as my house or car or painting to pay a wealth tax, that is easier to manage than an income tax? I suspect you have either not thought this through very well or perhaps have socialist objectives and have indeed done so.

  • So if I have to sell a non-divisible item such as my house or car or painting to pay a wealth tax, that is easier to manage than an income tax?

    Easier to manage? Maybe not, but that isn’t the same as ability to pay, which is what was being discussed. You may have plenty of income, but that doesn’t tell you how much is committed and how much is disposable, so the supposed link to ability to pay is weak. If you’ve got a painting, the link ability to pay is stronger.

    I suspect you have either not thought this through very well or perhaps have socialist objectives and have indeed done so.

    Nice attempt at ad hominem, but neither applies.

  • Paul Marks

    I see – so people should have to sell their homes (and family possessions) to pay a wealth tax.

    Even if they actually earn very little.

    This reminds me of the Middle East.

    Historically the outsides of houses were very plain, because any display of wealth might attract the attention of the Islamic rulers.

    I do not think this a good system.

    Although Ludwig Von Mises points out that historically many radicals in the West have expressed admiration for the “egalitarianism” of the Islamic world (apart from the rulers of course).

    The Unholy “Red-Green” alliance may be older than we normally suppose.

  • I see – so people should have to sell their homes (and family possessions) to pay a wealth tax.

    Even if they actually earn very little.

    Or, in reverse:

    I see – so people should have to live in squalor in order to pay an income tax.

    Even if they actually have no disposable income or retained wealth?

  • Paul Marks

    The very poor do not pay income tax Paul – because they have a low income (i.e. – they are very poor).

    However, I think we agree that GOVENMENT SPENDING is the key problem.

    At this level of govenrment spending, taxation (in any form) is going to be crushing).

  • Paul Marks:

    The very poor do not pay income tax Paul – because they have a low income (i.e. – they are very poor).

    You’ve made the very error I was highlighting previously. You’ve assumed that more income automatically means more disposable income.

  • PeterT

    Living without a level of retained wealth is arguably easier than living without any income.

    I think this misses the mark. The point is simply that a tax that you have to pay regardless of income necessarily gives you less flexibility to adapt than a tax which you can control (in £ terms at least) to some extent by working less etc.

    Notwithstanding this point, the truth of your statement clearly depends on how much wealth you have and how much income you earn. Also I think we should not consider which situation is easier but rather which one is the least unpleasant.

    I’ve never understood that argument. If you have wealth, then you have the means to pay – the wealth. Income has a far worse correlation with ability to pay than wealth has.

    Agree with Perry’s response. Even assuming that your wealth has been assessed correctly selling your house or car or whatever is likely to be massively disruptive to your life, and also possibly carry a heavy emotional tag. I don’t think the final sentence is right; again it depends on the individual’s situation.

  • Also:

    …because they have a low income (i.e. – they are very poor).

    It takes quite a leap of reasoning to determine that if someone has a low income, they are automatically very poor, irrespective of how wealthy they are.

  • What Paul said. Wealth/property tax is still an income tax, because in order to pay it, a person has to have income (whether the income is generated through the property in question or not, is beside the point). The difference between it and a regular income tax is that it can be hugely disproportionate to the actual income, and thus force a person to dispose of said property in ways he did not intend. If I inherit a huge fancy-shmancy mansion, but choose (or am forced by circumstances) to flip burgers in MDs, barely covering the bills, I still have to pay the hefty property tax. This fact is most likely to force me to sell the mansion and move to a much smaller house in a much poorer neighborhood, much “better suited” for the likes of me – i.e. people who flip burgers for a living.

  • Paul Marks

    Then let us cut the knot and radically reduce GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

    Then all these arguments over taxation go away.

    For example, when I was born no one in little mountain Andorra argued over taxation – it just was not a real issue.

    Whereas today the arguments over the payroll tax (social security tax), sales tax, and income tax (should it come?) are intense and bitter.

    What changed?

    In 1966 the state declared that old age, health, and income support were its responsibilities – from the cradle to the grave.

    There was no reason for this (no one was starving to death in the snow) – it was the victory of ideology.

    Reverse that ideology – and the arguments over taxation go away.

  • PeterT

    You’ve assumed that more income automatically means more disposable income.

    We already have a progressive tax system where the poor pay less than the rich (and may also receive benefits). Very much less if we think of it in £ terms rather than %, which I think is appropriate if we are discussing disposable income.

    I don’t think the statement that a poor person who cannot afford the basics on their disposable income after tax would prefer a tax on the wealth of the wealthy will surprise anyone. The solution is to lower their tax rate with a commensurate reduction in government spending. I definitely agree with this.

  • If you’ve got a painting, the link ability to pay is stronger

    Preposterous. So a pensioner with a valuable house or painting has more ability to pay?

  • PeterT:

    The point is simply that a tax that you have to pay regardless of income necessarily gives you less flexibility to adapt than a tax which you can control (in £ terms at least) to some extent by working less etc.

    That doesn’t work for me. If what matters to you is paying the minimal level of a tax possible, most people can easily avoid a wealth tax by consuming all their accumulated wealth and living purely off their current income. Fewer people have the option of earning no income and living purely off accumulated wealth.

    Also I think we should not consider which situation is easier but rather which one is the least unpleasant.

    That’s of little relevance. Deliberately living a more unsatisfactory lifestyle in order to minimise your tax payments on a matter of principle is necessarily unpleasant. To that person, in the way the example was presented, it is the ease which is important.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a particularly meaningful concern, but maybe it is to someone.

  • PeterT:

    We already have a progressive tax system where the poor pay less than the rich

    No, we have a system where those with lower incomes pay less than higher incomes. It’s a distinction which is often deliberately blurred, but it is crucial.

    Perry:

    Preposterous. So a pensioner with a valuable house or painting has more ability to pay?

    Yes, obviously.

  • PeterT

    If what matters to you is paying the minimal level of a tax possible, most people can easily avoid a wealth tax by consuming all their accumulated wealth and living purely off their current income.

    Its not about paying as little tax as possible on a matter of principle; it is about maximising your happiness (or utility if you will). The point is that if the utility you get from your after tax income falls below that from your second best alternative (sitting on the couch) then you sit on the couch.

    There might well be some situations where a person could prefer a wealth tax to an income tax (even if it was revenue neutral to start with, before you adapted) but I would humbly suggests that this is not the case for most people.

  • Midwesterner

    I’m with Perry, et al on this. Whatever the provenance of property taxes, it is a no brainer that everything exposed to the tax is, as a practical matter, rented from the government. If you miss a rent payment, you soon discover who owns the building. If you miss a tax payment, you soon discover who owns the building.

    Wisconsin Governor Walker gave the biennial budget address a couple of nights ago. Watching the speech, a subtle but clear point was discernible. It was property taxes that got the Democrats thrown out of office, it is lowering property taxes that keeps Walker and the Republicans in office, and they know this. If you want to call up the hounds of hell to motivate your exit, just raise taxes on existence rather than activity. Whether a poll/capitation tax or property tax or anything similar, it will overcome all political alignments.

    In Wisconsin, as the economy tanked, property taxing authorities ignored the financial condition of the property owners. At a time when the biggest employer in our county removed thousands of direct (high paying union) jobs and all of the indirect incomes of others who depended on the trickle down, our local school district decided it needed a new swimming pool because the one it had didn’t have enough lanes. The voter survey offered two choices, build a new pool in a new place or rebuild the existing pool. Not spending the money wasn’t even on the survey.

    If you want to understand Wisconsin’s abrupt turn from the cradle of Progressivism to sending the Tea Party candidate to the Senate (Ron Johnson) and turning back all of the money and threats of the tax spending class’s litany of recall petitions, look at property taxes issues*.

    *Once the state budget was resolved and property taxes began diminishing, tax payers relaxed and allowed the Establishment Republican Party to escort (leftist Progressive Democrat) Tammy Baldwin to her new office in the US Senate. I truly believe the Establishment Republicans are in great fear of any more Ron Johnson types and they would rather have more Tammy Baldwins. They will sabotage any Tea Partyesque candidate in order to protect their gravy train. The Establishment Republicans are just lower ranking pigs at the “free stuff” trough.

    Alisa makes the point that most people miss. Property tax is a tax on income. It is a tax on your present and future income if you are able to pay it, it is a tax on your saved income if you must sell to cover the tax levy. It is indistinguishable from taxing savings accounts and pension funds.

    A very important point here… When the existence of something, be it land, a house, a painting, a bank account, a pension fund, is taxed, it manipulates how people are allowed to invest their savings. It gives the authorities the power to force you to buy certain assets and avoid others. Authorities never have benign reasons for forcing you to spend money on their designated projects and purposes.

  • RRS

    I feel the riptides running!

    All swimmers fighting the currents should relax and consider the difference between the “object” or source of measurement of a tax from the anticipated means of its extraction.

    In the riptides, do not swim against the currents, but follow them.

  • PeterT

    It was property taxes that got the Democrats thrown out of office

    Well at least it has one redeeming feature. Maybe if Clegg pushes it hard enough the LibDem vote will fall below 1%.

    No, we have a system where those with lower incomes pay less than higher incomes. It’s a distinction which is often deliberately blurred, but it is crucial.

    Fine, obviously technically true. Replace ‘income’ with ‘ability to pay’ and I’m happy to go with the rest of my statement. It seems now like you are more concerned with raising the taxes of those ‘who can afford it’ than having a tax system that allows the tax payers some flexibility to adapt. I hope that isn’t the case.

  • RRS

    IIamas,

    on the issue of ad valorem taxes on non-income producing real estate (as a form of property) there are distinct problems which have recently been demonstrated throughout the US. I referred to non-rental residential properties in particular.

    It is possible to approximate a “market value” of an income producing piece of real property. In the case of residential properties this is usually done by appraised value. The methods of appraisal are ordinarily based on sales of comparable properties. In periods of rising prices this creates distortions in values not yet realized (or realizable?).

    In the case of Fairfax County Virginia I put forth a recommendation that only a limited percentage of the increases in “appraised values” be collected as immediate revenues, and the balance of the otherwise applicable tax be established as a reserve claim against the ultimate realized the value in the event of an actual sale of the property. In the event the actual sale of the property did not produce the “appraised value” there would be no tax due. To the extent that the appraised value was realized it would be collected in the form of a tax lien at the time of title transfer; very much in the nature of a capital gain tax. As matters stood, and continued to stand, the tax was assessed on the basis of unrealized gain. The arguments against the proposal included such concepts as the value that might be realized from increasing the mortgage upon a property. Even at the local levels there is no satisfying those who want to use the mechanisms of government for their particular ideological political or economic objectives.

  • Yes, obviously.

    That is so manifestly absurd that you are clearly trolling.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Repeating myself from a day or two ago on CCiZ:

    Sigh…there IS no “good” tax. Not in this world anyway. Maybe in Shangri-La or someplace.

    I can see only a few moral ways to fund government. It could exist on purely voluntary donations, although the opportunity for corruption in that case is obvious. I don’t believe the government should be engaged in marketing anything, since that potentially enables it to be in competition with its putative masters, the individuals who make up the body it “governs.” And it also enables government to grant itself a monopoly, de facto.

    In any form of democracy, it seems to me the only proper way to finance government is the system of pay-to-vote. WHAT??? Quelle horreur!!! Yes, if you want to vote in any given election you pay a fee. Everyone pays the same fee. You only get to vote once (in each election where you paid the voting fee). You only get to purchase a vote once (for each election)–although this one invites fraud, the same as registering multiple times under multiple names in our current systems.

    What if you can’t afford the vote? Then you either take a second job, or borrow the money, or forgo voting while you save toward voting in the future.

    No system is going to be perfect, but I think that this system would be the best one, least liable to corruption and to governmental overreach–and because of the economic mobility of people in a free-market (or even mostly free-market, at least in the U.S.) system, few people would necessarily stay disenfranchised for long, if they cared enough to vote. [Hopefully when that halcyon day comes, this whole "rational ignorance" myth will have been exposed for what it is--part stupidity and part lie. At least, given the arguments I've seen for it so far. If so, they'll know enough to keep the government reined in, which will keep it financially limited, which will keep the vote cheap ("affordable")--and the market relatively free.]

  • Paul Marks

    “mostly” free market Julie?

    I think that description is (alas!) out of date when talking about the United States of America.

    As you know government spending is truly vast (particularly when off-budget and Federal Reserve antics are counted. And the rest of the economy is dominated by a vast web (thousands of volumes) of regulations – plus arbitrary actions by government officials.

    Take the example of health care……

    In the 1950s the United States had a DISTORTED market – occupational licensing (exposed by Milton Freidman – the AMA scam), FDA regulations, and on and on.

    However, the United States still had “mostly” free market health care in the 1950s.

    But now?

    When cover is determined by a vast web of regulations (totally undermining, via their mandates and other such, the principles of insurance) and by schemes that were set up with good intentions but have led to an explosion of costs – Medicare, Medicaid, the “free” E.R. Act, SCHIP ……

    All of which have had the same effect on health costs that government backed “student loans” (and other interventions) have had on tuition fees.

    In the 1950s AMerican medical care might have been described (at a streach) as “mostly” free market – but not now and not in recent decades either.

    Ditto with most other things.

    Is banking “mostly” free market?

    Farming may be “mostly” free market in New Zealand – but in the United States?

    What about education? Do most children go to independent schoools?

    “Yes but government as a whole…..”

    O.K.

    Take the numbre of people who either work for the government (Federal, State and local) or get government benefits.

    In the 1950s they were indeed a minority of people.

    But what about now Julie, what about now?

    I wish you were correct – I really do.

    But I honestly doubt that you are.

    I believe that MOST people (certainly in such States as New York and California) either work for the government or collect benefits.

    And look what the children are being taught in the schools (and the students in the universities).

    They are being taught that they are “entitled” to X, Y, Z, and that all problems are caused by “the rich” or “the corporations”.

    Even some “libertarians” teach them these lies.

  • PeterT:

    Replace ‘income’ with ‘ability to pay’ and I’m happy to go with the rest of my statement.

    And it would be wrong for the reasons given previously.

    It seems now like you are more concerned with raising the taxes of those ‘who can afford it’ than having a tax system that allows the tax payers some flexibility to adapt. I hope that isn’t the case.

    When you consider that I was arguing against people who were vigorously defending income tax on the basis of “ability to pay,” that makes little sense.

    The reference to ability to adapt also makes little sense. If I have no retained wealth and have a significant proportion of my income taxed away, I clearly have restricted flexibility to adapt.

    The lovers of income tax have offered arguments which attempt to offer false distinctions between it and wealth taxation. The reality is that they both involve the state taking a certain amount of people’s wealth to spend. It doesn’t alter the relationship with the state. The major difference, if looking to choose between the two, is that the former makes is harder to become wealthy, but easier to stay wealthy, while the latter makes it easier to become wealthy, but harder to stay wealthy.

  • Perry de Havilland:

    That is so manifestly absurd that you are clearly trolling.

    Pointing out the reality of a situation doesn’t become trolling just because you don’t like that reality.

    You gave the example of a valuable painting. Nobody lives hand-to-mouth from a painting in the way they do from their income, so, as an indicator of ability to pay, a valuable painting is clearly and self-evidently better than income.

  • You gave the example of a valuable painting. Nobody lives hand-to-mouth from a painting in the way they do from their income, so, as an indicator of ability to pay, a valuable painting is clearly and self-evidently better than income.

    If you have to sell off your assets to pay the tax, then your ability to pay is self-evidently NOT better than income. And moreover as previously explained ad nauseam, it turns you into a mere renter of your own property from the state.

  • If you have to sell off your assets to pay the tax, then your ability to pay is self-evidently NOT better than income.

    Actually, it is, because it means you are able to pay. You have the means to pay. It’s not complicated.

    And moreover as previously explained ad nauseam, it turns you into a mere renter of your own property from the state.

    And by the same token, income tax makes you a mere renter of your body from the state.

    You’re obviously a big fan of income tax, but your attempts to promote it aren’t really standing up.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Perry is promoting income tax? WTF?

  • John

    All taxes are evil, but some are apparently a necessary evil. To the extent they are necessary they are least harmful when simple, universal, and tied directly to an externality producing activity, and simple to understand and predict. When meeting these criteria, they are also, hopefully, difficult to corrupt.

    The income tax, at least as practiced, fails absurdly on nearly every point. It’s greatest failing (among many) is that it assumes that the state owns the individual’s labor, essentially that the individual rents their productivity from the state.

    The property tax, however, is even worse. It too fails nearly every test, but has the additional defect of prohibiting inaction. The income tax can be avoided, or reduced, by reducing or avoiding income producing activity. It is all in the difference between paying a tax on an activity, vs. paying for the mere right to exist. In the presence of property tax you cannot simply live and let live, be left alone. You are forced to participate.

    An often overlooked aspect is the degree, at least in the US, to which property taxes are used as a form of imminent domain. A small farm, homestead, family home, or small business on the edge of a built up area will find that property taxes have been raised to the point that the property must be sold in order to pay the taxes. This is not theoretical it happens all the time and in fact a legal dodge has been created in which “land trusts” buy up development rights in order to shelter these farms etc. but my understanding is that this technique is not wholly effective.

    It is not just land and farmers either, I knew a guy a few years ago with a small business who was driven out of business during a slow income year because he was unable to raise the money to pay the property taxes on his equipment.

    Someone above mentioned taxing savings accounts and stock portfolios. I suppose that would be a natural extension, I wonder why it isn’t practiced? It is the same idea.

    Property taxes are unjust, unreasonable, and illogical. I think their big attraction is first the itching idea that “there is all that money right there in one place just ripe for the taking” it is kind of a Basitat “seen and unseen” thing. If I blow all my disposable income on football tickets and beer there’s nothing to see. If I buy real estate or machine tools, it is visible. Second, I think for a lot of people who support this idea, it is a kind of sumptuary tax. They feel uncomfortable with the idea that someone has things “above their station”.

  • Perry is promoting income tax? WTF?

    He is a troll, ignore.

  • The standard response of those bereft of a meaningful argument.

  • The standard response of those bereft of a meaningful argument.

    You have not been making arguments, just contentions. Why a wealth tax changes the relationship with the state was explained and your reply was nothing more than… it doesn’t. Likewise having to liquidate assets to pay a tax is very obviously more onerous than paying it based on available taxed income, so again your reply is nonsensical.

    So you are a troll. Get lost.

  • Why a wealth tax changes the relationship with the state was explained and your reply was nothing more than… it doesn’t.

    I explained why your assertion was weak. That you chose to disregard the explanation and resort to ad hominem and bare assertion was your choice.

    Likewise having to liquidate assets to pay a tax is very obviously more onerous than paying it based on available taxed income, so again your reply is nonsensical.

    That’s what we call a straw man. You started off talking about “ability to pay,” but now your position on that has proven untenable, you’ve quietly shifted to talking about what is “onerous” as if it is somehow equivalent. Of course, your point is that there is an element of inconvenience in turning a non-cash asset into cash, which is true, but clearly doesn’t reflect an inability to pay. In terms of what is onerous, struggling to make ends meet due to a proportion of your income being taken away is something I’d put higher up the scale.

  • YogSothoth

    I guess if there’s zero chance you’ll ever personally generate much in the way of wealth, you favor a wealth tax. Similar to non-smokers favoring a tax on cigarettes – they with certainty it won’t be them paying the tax.

  • I explained why your assertion was weak.

    Actually all you said was it did not make any difference, and I explained why it did. You then continued to troll as if you had not been repeatedly answered.

    That’s what we call a straw man. You started off talking about “ability to pay,” but now your position on that has proven untenable, you’ve quietly shifted to talking about what is “onerous” as if it is somehow equivalent.

    If something is more onerous then it is obviously harder than something which is less onerous, ergo one has more ability to pay the less onerous thing than the more onerous thing. But I guess if someone has to sell their kidney to pay a tax, you would be of the view they have the “ability to pay”, so what is the big deal? So yes, you are a troll.

  • Perry, if you have anything of substance on the subject to post, I’ll consider it, but I’ve no wish to respond to your insults with insults, so for now, I’ll leave it at that and wish you well.

  • Troll or not, Paul did contribute an interesting thought, namely:

    income tax makes you a mere renter of your body from the state.

    Indeed. The comment by John B. further explains and expands.

  • Fred the Fourth

    The impact of property taxes on people with fixed or negligible incomes (e.g. especially the retired) was a major reason for the passage of Proposition 13 in California, limiting the amount and growth of taxes on real property. The threat was not hypothetical; many many older people were being forced from their (paid-for) homes by their inability to pay the ever-increasing rates.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul M,

    Sigh…yes, when I re-read that I realized I had two thoughts mixed together that would probably convey almost the opposite of what I meant. Your comments to what I wrote (as opposed to what I meant) are perfectly right, of course. And yes, I do of course know all that. :(

    What I meant was, that in the days when the U.S. was at least “mostly” (but, even there, I should have said “at least somewhat”) a free-market system, something around only 10% of the population remained in the lower quartile, or quintile, of income after the passage of a few years. Mixed in there was my thought that, also, that’s reportedly (can’t give a citation though) no longer the case, now that our market is so very far from “free.”

    You were quite right to make the correction.

    Embarrassed apologies to all for not rewriting the comment in the first place.

  • Julie near Chicago

    However, putting aside the sackcloth and ashes for a moment to return to the point I was trying to make:

    The solution of paying for the vote will not disenfranchise for long anyone who really wants to vote, because to the extent that they really are free, the lesson of U.S. (for instance) economic history is that where markets are largely* free people can improve their economic circumstances rather quickly.

    *Though of course never perfectly.

  • Julie near Chicago

    John at 1:46 on 2/23: Excepting your first paragraph,* every word you say is true and correct and ought to be tattooed on everybody’s forehead. As for the “sumptuary laws” remark, it prompts me to observe that this land-tax business in particular strikes me as envy punishing those who have land–whether the would-be land-taxer is envious on his own behalf or that of others.

    This taxing of property (“tax the wealth”) thing in general is often, I think, yet another form of punishing the “haves” in the name of the “have-nots.”

    *Don’t agree with Para. 1 because I say that all forms of income tax fail on both moral and utilitarian grounds. But then, since there is a method of financing a properly-sized and limited government that does not involve any taxation, my position is that all taxation fails both morally and practically. Although, sometimes the damage is small enough and people are sufficiently used to it that they apparently don’t mind it…as someone here pointed out somewhere here in the last day or two.

  • Laird

    Paul has done a masterful job of distracting everyone from the real issue. His whole argument turns on ability to pay (one of his earliest comments was “If you have wealth, then you have the means to pay – the wealth. Income has a far worse correlation with ability to pay than wealth has”), rather than on the morality of repeatedly taxing the same earnings. Which is precisely what a wealth tax is: the income from which the wealth was derived has already been taxed, and a wealth tax merely taxes it again and again, every year. Moreover, it is taxed based on nothing more than the assessor’s guess as to what the current value is. Even a capital gains tax is superior, since at least the increased value is fairly and definitively quantified, and the taxpayer has the liquidity to make the payment.

    Of course the aggregate level of government spending is too high, and if it were at a reasonable level there wouldn’t be as much interest in discussing the precise method of taxation. But, for now anyway, that spending level is a given, so tax methodology is important. All taxes are inherently unfair, but a wealth tax is probably the most unfair of all.

  • RRS mentioned above a capitation tax. Reading the comments here and thinking about it further, I seem to be reaching a conclusion that all taxes are essentially capitation taxes. Attributes such as income, property, capital etc. are used as distraction and cover (albeit often unwittingly) – but, a capitation tax being a tax on one’s existence, it is important to keep in mind that these attributes are essential parts of the human existence.

    I like Julie’s idea of the pay-to-vote tax, at least on the face of it – it would be interesting to explore it in more depth.

  • Laird:

    Paul has done a masterful job of distracting everyone from the real issue. His whole argument turns on ability to pay

    Nice try, but no, it doesn’t, at all. The only reason ability to pay came into the discussion was that somebody else introduced it as a defence of income tax and I was responding to that.

    rather than on the morality of repeatedly taxing the same earnings. Which is precisely what a wealth tax is: the income from which the wealth was derived has already been taxed, and a wealth tax merely taxes it again and again, every year.

    If you think about what you’ve posted, you’ll see that it isn’t an argument against wealth taxation. It is an argument against having income taxation and wealth taxation in the same system. Your objection isn’t oen I find partifularly compelling, but it would be satisfied by a system with just wealth taxation and no income taxation.

    The whole morality argument is weak. If the state is taking a pound and spending it, then the morality is impacted very little by the method of assessment. The one exception would be if there is some link between the tax being paid and a service being provided by the state, but both income and wealth taxation score poorly on that front.

  • If you think about what you’ve posted, you’ll see that it isn’t an argument against wealth taxation. It is an argument against having income taxation and wealth taxation in the same system.

    Wrong. It is about the material differences of a taxed-once system versus a taxed-until-it-is-gone system and why the later completely changes the dynamic very much for the worse.

    The whole morality argument is weak. If the state is taking a pound and spending it, then the morality is impacted very little by the method of assessment.

    Now *this* is why I have concluded you are a troll. The very wellspring of morality is severalty. It has been repeatedly pointed out that taxing something once when it is acquired (i.e. an income tax, which is bad enough) is at least preferable to perpetually taxing the very possession of something (i.e. a wealth tax or land tax for example) as this cuts to the very principle of several ‘ownership’. And each time this has been pointed out your response is just… nah, they are all the same.

    The only even potentially moral approach to a ‘tax’ is a service tax hypothecated to services taken, but nevertheless, amongst the whole host of manifestly immoral alternatives, some are vastly worse than others… and a wealth tax (i.e. a state rent on your nominal ownership… which the original article correctly describes as turning freeholders into leaseholders) is the worst of all for the reasons that have been explained ad nauseam. This is one of several reasons why the notion that Georgists are in any way shape or form ‘friends of liberty’ is so absurd.

  • Wrong. It is about the material differences of a taxed-once system versus a taxed-until-it-is-gone system and why the later completely changes the dynamic very much for the worse.

    Wrong. That might be what your argument is, but I wasn’t repsonding to your argument, for reasons given previously. I’ve no desire to engage with trolls.

  • a wealth tax (i.e. a state rent on your nominal ownership… which the original article correctly describes as turning freeholders into leaseholders) is the worst of all for the reasons that have been explained ad nauseam.

    I’m reticent to address this, given the manner in which it was posted, but it touches on an interesting point which has being raised by some who aren’t trolling, such as Alisa.

    The opinion has been offered that a wealth tax “turns you into a mere renter of your own property from the state,” but, as I pointed out, the same reasoning could be used to say that “income tax turns you into a mere renter of your body from the state.”

    I think this cuts to the heart of why people instinctively feel hostile to one or the other. Those who instinctively prioritise liberty will tend to feel instinctively more hostile to income tax and its implication of state ownership of an individual’s body. Those who instinctively prioritise property rights will tend to feel instinctively more hostile to wealth taxation and its implication of state ownership of property.

  • A distinction without a difference, Paul – not for people who value liberty. As I pointed out in a later comment, property is an integral part of human existence. The fact is that income-based taxes tax our bodies and minds, and property taxes tax that which our bodies and minds produced. The former may be (metaphorically?) likened to rape, with the latter so likened to repeated rape. I leave it to you to decide if both are equally evil, or is one worse than the other.

  • A distinction without a difference, Paul – not for people who value liberty.

    Please scratch the ‘no’.

  • …the ‘not’. Seriously Alisa, what do you think the ‘preview’ button is for?

  • Alisa:

    The fact is that income-based taxes tax our bodies and minds, and property taxes tax that which our bodies and minds produced.

    I think that description might be taking it a step too far. The reality is that both take property after the point of production, which is the main reason I’ve been dismissing much of the distinction that others have been trying to draw. The only real distinction is in the implied undertone of what is happening.

    There are a few “taxes” where the government does achieve its objectives by directly taking liberty rather than property, with conscription, copyright and patents being examples. I find those to be more repugnant than taxation in the general sense. Whether others feel the same will generally depend on what they value more highly – liberty or property rights.

  • Well, the point you keep missing, Paul, is that while technically liberty and property are not the same thing, materially the are synonymous: there’s no property without liberty, and no liberty without property.

  • Alisa:

    Well, the point you keep missing, Paul, is that while technically liberty and property are not the same thing, materially the are synonymous: there’s no property without liberty, and no liberty without property.

    I completely disagree. There is no “technically” about it. They are different words, with different definitions representing completely different concepts. There is interplay between them, but they are far from synonymous. It is perfectly possible to have a situation where there is liberty, but no property rights, or property rights, but very little liberty.

  • It is perfectly possible to have a situation where there is liberty, but no property rights, or property rights, but very little liberty.

    I would be interested in an example.

  • Laird

    I think Paul’s mindset had become clear with his comment that “copyright and patent”, along with conscription, are examples of the state taking liberty. That is utter nonsense. Copyrights and patents are the protection of the product of one’s mind; permitting them to be freely appropriated by others is the antithesis of liberty. But that is certainly consistent with his belief that repeatedly taxing the same property (i.e., a wealth tax) is fundametally no different than taxing it only once (at production). It’s a very anti-property mindset, marxist in nature.

  • I think Paul’s mindset had become clear with his comment that “copyright and patent”, along with conscription, are examples of the state taking liberty. That is utter nonsense.

    No, it is absolutely correct. As on numerous previous occasions, on this particular subject, you are wrong.

    Copyrights and patents are the protection of the product of one’s mind;

    No, they are utilitarian vehicles for achieving an objective the state prioritises. The most commonly quoted statement of its purpose is in the US Constitution, which says that copyright may only exist to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”

    There are two main ways the state could achieve its aim of promoting the progress of science and the useful arts. It could take money from the public, in order to pay people to write, design, etc, or it could take liberty from the public and provide the control to writers, etc. as an incentive.

    I’ve no doubt you would object to the state taking money in order to pay writers. The fact that you not only accept, but vigorously defend, the state taking liberty to provide the incentive, just highlights how anti-liberty your mindset is.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie – I catch myself still thinking about the United States as mostly free (even though I know it is not).

    And the ghost of freedom remains.

    A advised a friend to visit the United States whilst the after glow of freedom was still there – and my friend did.

    But I was too dumb to go along with her.

  • Paul, the only recent change – the one which occurred last November – is largely symbolic. As you well know, things have been going from bad to worse for many years now. Go and visit friends who just happen to live in the US. And it’s not like I’m sending you to California, god forbid:-)

  • Paul Marks

    Sorry Alisa – the time for that has passed.

    More money is going out than comming in, as it is.

  • Paul Marks

    Paul.

    If someone writes a story – and I make copies of it and sell them, do I really owe that person nothing?

    The above is a real question.

  • I should have followed the link under Paul’s name earlier. I’ve seen discussions here with Paul Lockett before, and they never turned into anything good. Oh well.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thus Laird (boldfaced type mine):

    Copyrights and patents are the protection of the product of one’s mind; permitting them to be freely appropriated by others is the antithesis of liberty. But that is certainly consistent with his belief that repeatedly taxing the same property (i.e., a wealth tax) is fundametally no different than taxing it only once (at production). It’s a very anti-property mindset, marxist in nature.

    Somebody gets it! I can’t begin to tell you how encouraging that is. Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul M,

    “The ghost of freedom”…a telling way to put it. At least we have that, although the memory is rather a hair shirt.

    Still, as you’ve reminded me more than once, some spots here are freer than others.

    And we do have quite a few people (in numbers, not percentages unfortunately) who understand. I surely hope the Tea Party movement revivifies itself in the public eye.

  • Paul, the law says you do, libertarian principles say you don’t.

  • Ian Bennett

    I wonder whether Paul would consider these two scenarios:

    Case 1. Last year, I earned £100 and the state taxed it at 20%. This year I earned nothing. Next year I earn nothing.

    Case 2. Last year I earned £100 and bought a house with it. The state taxed my house at 20%. This year I earned nothing and the state taxed my house at 20%. Next year I earn nothing and the state taxes my house at 20%.

    Please talk me through the implications of those cases.

  • Ian, the two key points that stand out for me are:

    1. Your example doesn’t appear to provide a reasonable like for like comparison. If by taxing your house at 20% you mean that you have to pay 20% of its total value every year, then your second case would to be associated with a much higher overall leve of taxation.

    2. That aside, if you were to compare the two cases, with tax rates which give the same total tax take, I don’t think the difference is as major as some people think. If you lose part of your income as income tax, then you may have to buy a less expensive house than you otherwise would as a result. With a tax on the value of the house but no income tax, you would have more money available from your income, but by buying the same less expensive house and putting the extra cash aside to cover future tax bills, you could put yourself in broadly the same position. On top of that, the overall price of houses could well be lower, as they would be less attractive as an investment vehicle.

  • Ian Bennett

    With a tax on the value of the house but no income tax, you would have more money available from your income

    Didn’t I say, in case 2, that I had no income this year and next year? Whence the money to pay the tax? (How do I eat? Assume I have a smallholding, just sufficient to feed myself.)

    My house is not an “investment vehicle”, it’s the place where I live.

  • So, in your example, you’re essentially saying that you are facing difficulties because you chose to buy a more expensive house in case 2 than in case 1. Again, you are choosing to offer a comparison which is not like for like. Your argument also only applies to a transitional period between an income tax and a tax on housing, which doesn’t give rise to a general principle.

    Essentially, what you appear to be getting at is that cash should be viewed as fair game for taxation, but other wealth should not. If that’s your opinion, fair enough, I just don’t see a reasonable justification for it.

  • Ian Bennett

    Well, no. In case 1, I have an £80 house and no money, whereas in case 2, I have a £100 house, no money and a bill for £60.

    The distinction you should be making is not between cash and other forms of wealth but between an income stream and a sunk cost; one of these is available for paying a tax demand, the other is not. Also, of course, my house currently has no deteminable value because it’s not for sale.

    As it happens, my opinion is that there is no justification for either form of taxation, and, as has been said, it’s important to note that when choosing between two evils the result will be evil even if you choose correctly.

  • Midwesterner

    The ‘advantage’(for collectivists) to Lockett’s plan is that removes resources from non-productive members of society. Lose your job in an income tax system and you still have a house, assets and the opportunity to regroup. You retain personal independence and flexibility for as long as your food supply lasts. Lose your job in Lockett’s system and the sheriff sells your house to a more productive contributor to society.

    By ‘taxing’ individual savings (in this example invested in property) a government with fascist ambitions is able to give sweeping power to employers to keep employees in line.

    Georgists are not stupid, they are just the fascist flavor of socialist not being totally honest about their true goals. Recognizing this will save Samizdatistas a lot of frustration ‘debating’ them.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Indeed Mid.

    I have often speculated that one of the major objectives of government’s around the world is to prevent you from being able to opt out of their bullshit. It would be fairly easy for some people to pool their savings, buy a plot of land, cultivate it, and then build a bloody great big wall around it and pull up the drawbridge. But property taxes prevent you from being able to do this since they must be paid in money, and compel you to stay on the treadmill of earning.

    I’m 99% sure this isn’t by accident. I think a sizeable proportion of our society would gladly go off and live in some independent cash-free commune if this were a viable option. One of the effects of property taxes is to prevent this from being the case.

  • Paul Marks

    Paul – I have an enemy down in Kent (actually I have enemies in a lot of places – I collect them….)

    Anyway he writes stories for a living. Not a bad trade, in fact I rather admire it.

    So you (I take it “libertarian principles” means you) are saying that I can sell copies of his stories and not pay him anything?

    That seems like a rather nasty trick to play – even on him.

    Still I see your side of the argument.

    On this thing I can see both sides of the argument.

    Unusual for me – as I am not the most tolerant and open minded of people.

    Perhaps the reason is that, if I am open to both sides of the argument, I can collect enemies on BOTH sides also.

    Always an interesting thing to do.

  • Ian Bennett:

    Well, no. In case 1, I have an £80 house and no money, whereas in case 2, I have a £100 house, no money and a bill for £60.

    As before, I don’t think those values are realistic. If you are being taxed 20% on your income, then to raise the equivalent amount from a wealth or property tax, the percentage would be much lower.

    In reality, in case 2, you could sell your £100 house, move into the £80 house and use the £20 as a reserve to settle the ongoing tax bill and be in much the same position as case 1.

    The distinction you should be making is not between cash and other forms of wealth but between an income stream and a sunk cost; one of these is available for paying a tax demand, the other is not.

    Again, your differentiation there really applies to cash v non-cash rather than wealth v income. If you view cash in an income stream as available for paying a tax demand then by the same reasoning, so is cash held in a bank account.

    Also, of course, my house currently has no deteminable value because it’s not for sale.

    There are ways around that, but that’s probably going off on a tangent that won’t add much to this topic.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie.

    To prosper the Tea Party movement must get past the media – it was the msm who managed to turn perception of the Tea Party movement from mostly positive, to mostly negative.

    As with so many things there are two problems – the media, and the educational system.

    I long for the bankruptcy of the media.

    Long for it too much – so that I assume it will happen (it may not).

    The educational system is an even tougher nut to crack.

    “Reform” is a failed policy – the system is what it is, that it goes in the direction of collectivism is NATURAL for this system.

    But how to break the system?

    That is the question.

  • Midwesterner:

    Lose your job in an income tax system and you still have a house, assets and the opportunity to regroup. You retain personal independence and flexibility for as long as your food supply lasts. Lose your job in Lockett’s system and the sheriff sells your house to a more productive contributor to society.

    And then after your food supply runs out? In the real world, you have to start selling assets and eating into your savings.

    In order to make a banal ad hominem attack, you’re trying to draw a distinction which is nowhere near as significant as you paint it.

    In either is situation, when income is less than outgoings, retained wealth is reduced. With a wealth tax, you are able to retain more income as a buffer to see you through bad times. With an income tax, you have less ability to build a buffer, but you have less demand on that buffer when times turn bad. In either case, the end result is likely to be the same.

  • Paul Marks:

    So you (I take it “libertarian principles” means you) are saying that I can sell copies of his stories and not pay him anything?

    I suppose the question would be, if people are free to copy the story at no cost, how are you are able to sell copies? The logical conclusion must be that you are adding some value to them, in which case, good luck to you.

  • Paul Marks

    Interesting point Paul.

    If people can just print off copies they have no need of the man in Kent – or for me.

    We both starve.

    Fair enough.

  • Paul, that raises a few interesting points.

    You aren’t selling those stories now and you don’t appear to be starving, so that fear would appear to be over-stated.

    The man in Kent may not be able to sell his stories, but then he can go and do something else to stave off starvation, just as the rest of us who don’t write stories for a living do.

    The man in Kent may still be able to make money from his writing via readings, signed books, payment in advance for writing or some other business model.

    Overall, the question that arises to me is, is the ability of writers to make money from the existing business model they use more important than the liberty and property rights of other individuals?

  • Ian Bennett

    As before, I don’t think those values are realistic. If you are being taxed 20% on your income, then to raise the equivalent amount from a wealth or property tax, the percentage would be much lower.

    OK then; in case 1, I have an £80 house and no money, whereas in case 2, I have a £100 house, no money and a bill for £10. Or even £2 if you like. Or ninepence. The principle holds; there’s no income stream to pay your tax demand.

    I assume that, as is typical with statist thugs, your “ways around that” involve me being obliged to sell my property to support your collectivist agenda.

  • Paul Marks

    This is true Paul.

    I am a fat pig.

    And the man in Kent does not have to write stories – he can go off and do something else.

  • OK then; in case 1, I have an £80 house and no money, whereas in case 2, I have a £100 house, no money and a bill for £10. Or even £2 if you like. Or ninepence. The principle holds; there’s no income stream to pay your tax demand.

    So, lets work with the £2 example. As I said previously, in case 2, you could sell the £100 house, buy the £80 house and use the £20 to pay the £2 tax bill and the £18 as a reserve that you invest to cover future tax bills. In both cases, you find yourself living in an £80 house with £20 assigned to taxation. The end result with both income taxation and wealth taxation is much the same.

    I assume that, as is typical with statist thugs, your “ways around that” involve me being obliged to sell my property to support your collectivist agenda.

    Why don’t we cut out the silly name calling? I have merely been pointing out that the difference between wealth taxes and income taxes is not as huge as some have been claiming. I could just as easily describe you as collectivist statist thug for defending income taxation, but quite frankly, I think it’s neither helpful, nor in either case, a reflection of the truth.

  • Ian Bennett

    To start with, if the end result is the same, why are you so hot for property tax? Is it because the taxation basis – the alleged value of the property – is determined arbitrarily by the state, as was the case with the domestic rate, and is still the case with council tax?

    Further, I was not name-calling you – unless you regard yourself as a statist thug – merely pointing out a perceived similarity, but if the cap fits, feel free. And, again, I’m not defending income taxation, any more than Perry was earlier, hence my earlier “two evils” allusion.

  • To start with, if the end result is the same, why are you so hot for property tax?

    I’m not. My point all along has been that wealth taxes and income tax are not as different as is claimed by those who try to present income tax as superior, such as yourself. My general preference when it comes to taxation would be taxes on land and other natural resources, as they don’t require the same invasive assessment process as exists with wealth and income taxation.

    Is it because the taxation basis – the alleged value of the property – is determined arbitrarily by the state, as was the case with the domestic rate, and is still the case with council tax?

    Personally, I prefer self-assessment as a way to avoid that particular issue.

    And, again, I’m not defending income taxation

    I know you aren’t, you’re just saying that you believe it to be preferable to wealth taxation. It was a counter example I offered as a reversal of your inaccurate and banal deliberate mis-representation of my comment.

  • Laird

    Paul: “is the ability of writers to make money from the existing business model they use more important than the liberty and property rights of other individuals?”

    Yes, absolutely. The right of an individual to the product of his mind is far more important than the so-called “liberty” of others to steal it for their personal advantage or their alleged “property rights” in stolen property. You and people of your ilk believe that the product of a man’s mind (i.e., that feature which makes him human) is of less value that of his hands (i.e., that feature which makes him closer to the animals). (And of course you ignore the purely pragmatic problem that if one couldn’t profit from one’s own intellectual property there would be much less of it, making the world a far poorer place.) Yours is the morality of the highwayman; you believe that my intellectual creation is the common property of everyone. That’s a quintessentially communist mindset, and to pretend that it is in any way “libertarian” is dishonest in the extreme. But I suppose it’s only what we should expect, since you clearly value theft over creativity.

  • Laird:

    Yes, absolutely.

    I wouldn’t have directed that question at you, because I already knew you felt that way, as you have made it clear previously that you place a low priority on liberty.

    You and people of your ilk believe that the product of a man’s mind (i.e., that feature which makes him human) is of less value that of his hands (i.e., that feature which makes him closer to the animals).

    The distinction you are attempting to draw is nonsensical. All production involves both mind and body.

    And of course you ignore the purely pragmatic problem that if one couldn’t profit from one’s own intellectual property there would be much less of it, making the world a far poorer place.

    That is a purely utilitarian argument, whereas mine is libertarian. They have at their core different priorities.

    you believe that my intellectual creation is the common property of everyone.

    No, if you keep it to yourself, it’s all yours.

  • Laird

    Precisely what “liberty” are you referring to, other than the “liberty” to steal someone elses intellectual property?

  • Laird, that’s what we call begging the question – describing something as “property” and then falsely describing the use of it as stealing, in order to reach the pre-determined conclusion.

    The intellectual monopolies we are discussing limit my freedom to express myself and to use my material property.

    The monopolies may have some utilitarian end as you have suggested. Indeed, that was the justification given for creating them. That doesn’t alter the fact they are infringements of liberty.

    I’ve already said what I consider to be the meaning of liberty. Why don’t you tell us what definition of liberty you are working to?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Elsewhere, someone wrote:

    ‘By its very nature, “intellectual property” always represents an assertion on the part of one person of ownership title to the minds, bodies and property of others.’

    To which my response was:

    People holding certain views use the same argument against the legitimacy or validity of the concept of property in general–ANY sort of property, whether land, “intellectual,” or whatever. The argument goes that if “my” lawnmower were genuinely (“genuinely,” according to whom? according to what standard?) MINE, my property, I might legitimately forbid you to use it, which would infringe on your freedom, which would be (to that degree) to enslave you.

    Therefore one cannot have legitimate property in lawnmowers. Or anything else. Learjets. Houses. Rubber duckies.

    QED.

    This may or may not be Paul L.’s position. But in any case, the crux of the issue lies in the fact that

    Property exists because somebody put some portion of his LIFE (=time + effort + physical body, which includes his brain) into making* it.

    Thus

    “Property has its genesis and its moral significance in the fact that it is the result of the expenditure of a portion of someone’s LIFE.”™ To quote myself. :)

    *(O.T. here, but in the case of “gifts of nature” — unclaimed land, nuts & berries, sticks in the forest, wild boar killed for food — a person similarly puts a portion of his life into making it reasonably claimable by him.)

  • Julie near Chicago:

    But in any case, the crux of the issue lies in the fact that

    Property exists because somebody put some portion of his LIFE (=time + effort + physical body, which includes his brain) into making* it.

    From a libertarian perspective, it doesn’t. Property exists because some items cannot be used simultaneously by multiple people and therefore, a system which allocates the right to use them, is desirable. The time and effort aspect might be relevant to who has the property rights, but it isn’t the reason they exist.

    The argument goes that if “my” lawnmower were genuinely (“genuinely,” according to whom? according to what standard?) MINE, my property, I might legitimately forbid you to use it, which would infringe on your freedom, which would be (to that degree) to enslave you.

    It might infringe my freedom to do whatever I want, but it would not infringe my liberty, as liberty is about having equal freedom and we can’t both simultaneously use the lawnmower. Ideas aren’t the same; we can both simultaneously use an idea, so if one of us is prevented from using it, liberty is infringed.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I trust it’s obvious that the foregoing applies to what a person makes de novo using his brain as much as to what he makes with the rest of his body — that is, brain-product is also property.

  • Laird

    “The intellectual monopolies we are discussing limit my freedom to express myself and to use my material property.”

    WTF? No one is limiting your freedom to express yourself. If you have something to say, say it. (And if you don’t care to copyright it that’s fine, too; it’s your choice.) But if I write a book, a collection of words which has never before existed in that form and expressing ideas which are my own, how dare you claim a “liberty” right to take it for your own? You are a fraud and a thief.

  • Laird:

    But if I write a book, a collection of words which has never before existed in that form and expressing ideas which are my own, how dare you claim a “liberty” right to take it for your own?

    Those of us who value liberty value freedom of expression. It’s unsurprising that you value the protection of a state granted monopoly more highly.

  • Also, Laird, quoting my words and then calling me a fraud and a thief for suggesting that I should be able to repeat your words could make you look like a bit of a hypocrite.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul L,

    Your argument flows from the Scarcity Theory of Property just as the Marxist argument flows from the Labor Theory of Value.

    The ECONOMIC value of tradable object is its exchange value.

    The PROPERTY status of a thing is the fact that some portion of somebody’s life went into the creating of it.

    The LIFE of the human INDIVIDUAL is that from which everything meaningful to Man flows, and that includes both property in all of its forms, and “Libertarian theory” – insofar as there IS a generally agreed-upon Libertarian Theory, which there is not, although there’s one point on which most libertarianish people largely agree, and that’s the Non-Agression Principle.

    In any case, if you truly can’t grasp that what I create with my mind is just as much mine and properly under my control, or the control of others as the result of a series of uncoerced gifts or trades; and that this control can be protected under statute only when it is embodied in some physical form, such as a movie made, a symphony recorded, a book written in ink on paper or in pixels on a screen, or a painting executed in pigment on canvas–

    If you really don’t grasp those two facts, there’s nothing more for us to talk about.

    . . .

    (By the way: Brain-product properly enters the public domain when its originator or rightful current owner can no longer be discerned; or when the same idea occurs to so many people that it appears to be somewhat of a normal thing for people to think up–like the idea of a square, say. –As a mental picture with a vaguely-stated property of being a thing with four connected straight edges that are all the same length, not as a formally defined object in the context of formal Euclidean geometry.)

  • Told you. Oh, and Perry did long before me, of course.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course a writer CREATES property – he or she does not find it.

    Unless one holds that all stories already exist (either as Platonic Forms – or “in the mind of God” a Calvinist or Islamic type of God) and that the author simply opens a metaphysical door to the story before someone else does.

    With a physical object things are easy.

    Let us say that diamonds were as common as stones (say aliens keep arriving and throwing diamonds around the world) – we might expect the economic value of diamonds to fall. Property would not change – this would still be “my diamond” (it is just that it would be of much less value).

    But an IDEA (a story or an invention) is much more difficult.

    Perhaps the way of creating something could be kept secret…..

    “You say you would have created iron if I had not – then DO SO” the Hittites are supposed to have kept the secret of how to create iron for centuries (although that is contested).

    But with a story?

    Normally one sees if a story successful – if there is demand for it. But it is hard to see how that could work in a world where anyone could copy a story (and pay nothing for it).

    Still “inventors” and “authors” would still exist (as a hobby) it would be just much harder to earn a living that way – they would have invent or write in the spare time (unless they had a private income).

    But there may be technical ways round this.

    Certainly I am uncomfortable relying on patents and copyrights – largely because that means relying on a messed up government legal system.

    And I doubt that (for example) the Chinese really take any notice of such things – they just execute people (from time to time) to maintain the illusion that they respect these things (while VAST production, ignorning I.P., occurs often not very far from the execution grounds).

    What is the future of authors and inventors?

    I do not know.

    As for the original dispute……

    Whether to tax property or income…….

    Presently the government does BOTH (for example the changes in excise duties and so on hit “the rich” more than the cut in income tax from 50% to 45% help the rich – and there is the “business rate” and the “council tax” and ….).

    Sir Robert Walpole (the first British Prime Minister) wanted to do NEITHER.

    There was no income tax at the time – and he wanted to get rid of the land tax (he did reduce to 10% of the rentable value – two shillings in the Pound).

    Walpole also wanted to get rid of all taxes on imports – free trade would have been established (before Adam Smith write a word – of course Sir Dudley North had argued for free trade as far back as the 1690s).

    Of course Sir Robert Walpole also wanted to introduce a general “excise” (a national sales tax) – hence the crises of 1733 (which he never really recovered from – leading to the de facto censorship of plays from 1737 onwards, only got rid of the 1960s).

    But a national sales tax just opens another can of worms………..

    I can go on all today (perhaps for the 700 pages that Noah Porter manages on the human mind – in a book I have never really been able to read from cover to cover), but what is the point?

    It is GOVERNMENT SPENDING that is the problem – not the exact tax system.

    I think I will say it three times – perhaps people will get the message.

    It is GOVERNMENT SPENDING that is the problem.

    It is GOVERNMENT SPENDING that is the problem.

    It is GOVERNMENT SPENDING that is the prioblem.

  • Julie near Chicago:

    Your argument flows from the Scarcity Theory of Property just as the Marxist argument flows from the Labor Theory of Value.

    Correct, just as your argument flows from a Labour Theory of Property.

    The PROPERTY status of a thing is the fact that some portion of somebody’s life went into the creating of it.

    That is your opinion of how you would like things to work, not a statement of fact. Property rights as they exist do not work that way and if they did, they would infringe on liberty.

    “Libertarian theory” – insofar as there IS a generally agreed-upon Libertarian Theory, which there is not, although there’s one point on which most libertarianish people largely agree, and that’s the Non-Agression Principle.

    In order for the word “libertarian” to be meaningful, it must imply a belief in the primacy of liberty. If someone cannot agree with that, I cannot see how they can legitimately describe themselves as libertarian.

    In any case, if you truly can’t grasp that what I create with my mind is just as much mine and properly under my control

    As I said earlier in the thread, trying to distinguish between things created with the mind and things created with the body is nonsensical. Both work together in the creation of anything.

    By the way: Brain-product properly enters the public domain when its originator or rightful current owner can no longer be discerned; or when the same idea occurs to so many people that it appears to be somewhat of a normal thing for people to think up–like the idea of a square, say.

    I can see why you have said that; as you’ve determined that copyright and patent should be viewed in the same way as property rights over goods, but given that they expire in a way that genuine property rights don’t, you need some way to explain that away. However, the explanation isn’t the most satisfactory. The idea of the state being able to determine when an idea would have been independently thought is unrealistic and an incredibly abitrary basis for a property right; people have been dismissive of property taxation due to the perceived arbitrary nature of the assessment process, but that would take it to a whole new level.

    The time limited nature only really makes sense if you look at copyright and patent as what they really are – tax-like utilitarian devices, used by states to encourage creativity for the “greater good,” not some supposed right for authors, etc. to have a monopoly for their own benefit. That is why the US consitution permits them to be enacted “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

  • Paul Marks, on your copyright and patent comments, I’m in broad agreement with what you’ve said there.

    On this:

    It is GOVERNMENT SPENDING that is the problem – not the exact tax system.

    It is certainly a problem, but, if your aren’t going down the route of removing all government and all associated spending, then you will still have a tax system and the choice of tax system will also be a problem.

    One of my concerns with tax systems is not just the money aspect, but also what the assessment mechanism involves the state doing. My principle objection to income taxes, sales taxes and general wealth taxes is that they require a large amount of information be made available to the state to enable their collection. I liked the term Sean Gabb used to describe it – a financial inquisition. At least with taxes on land and to a lesser extent, buildings, the process is far less intrusive.

  • Paul Marks

    Paul – I will forgive you the reference to Mr take-words-out-of-context-and-smear-Paul-Marks-with-them.

    After all I am not exactly a saint myself. In fact I am a nasty Cold War space monster – and I would still be doing terrible things (if I was not such a fat, and hopelessly unfit, piece of ….).

    On IP – who knows what clever technical ways people will come up with to protect their creations?

    On tax and spend.

    Reduce the spending enough – and the tax system will not matter nearly so much.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    “It is perfectly possible to have a situation where there is liberty, but no property rights, or property rights, but very little liberty,” writes Paul (not Paul Marks, I hasten to add).

    Terrible comment, one of the worst. I suggest you read this by Richard Pipes, and disabuse yourself of such nonsense. Quickly.

    A diffuse system of private property rights diffuses power, and hence is conducive to a liberal, rather than collectivist, order. This is hardly an original observation, of course. But it is worth pointing out that while private property rights are not a guarantee of liberty (nothing is) it is closely intertwined with, and correlated with, liberty. You can of course have authortarian regimes that regulate what private property owners do, so that their ownership is purely nominal. Private property, when fully exercised and respected, rather than abused as it is now, is a clear aspect of a properly liberal order.

    This is basic stuff, do we really have to keep pointing this out? FFS.

  • JP, while you clearly don’t like my comment, nothing you’ve offered contradicts it. One thing being correlated or conducive to another does not make it necessary. My comment stands.

  • I’ll just point out that I asked Mr. Locket for an example to support his assertion, JP – needless to say, none was forthcoming. Of course it may now, but then expect a lengthy subsequent “discussion” on what liberty is, what property is, and what ‘is’ is. A waste of time.

  • Paul Marks:

    Reduce the spending enough – and the tax system will not matter nearly so much.

    Yes and no. From a financial perspective, the assessment methodology is of little relevance if the the amount is tiny. However, even if income tax were only 1%, I would still have to account to the state to exactly the same extent.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    “JP, while you clearly don’t like my comment, nothing you’ve offered contradicts it. One thing being correlated or conducive to another does not make it necessary.”

    Of course I don’t “like” the comment. And yes, I am well aware that correlation is not causation. But some correlations are highly suggestive, and carry weight when put alongside other considerations. At the very least, the existence of closely correlated states of affairs encourages people to ask why one is correlated with the other.

    It happens to be a fact, widely observed, that societies where there is a high degree of personal liberty are ones where private property exists and is respected to a considerable degree, and where that property is widely dispersed, and not held in a few hands (that includes held by even supposedly democratic regimes). The arguments have been made many times: that several property works against the danger of monopoly; the ability to “exit”, the allowance for innovation and trying out of new ways of doing things, and so on.

    I suppose it might just be possible for people to be free while living in a society where every item and piece of land is owned by the state, and where the only freedom is “social” freedom, and I can think of countries where there is nominal ownership of property alongside an intrusive and authortarian state (to some extent, this is a feature of the mixed economies of the West already). But it is frankly obstinacy on your part not to see that the connection is not a real and valid one. And bear in mind that there is usually a direction of travel here: societies in which private property rights are aggressed against tend, in historical experience, to be ones where other freedoms are on the wane. And in the case of “social” freedoms, it is not often possible to distinguish. A woman’s right to own and transfer property rights was not just an economic issue, it was also a feminist issue. Ditto with the rights of non-whites to engage in economic transactions in parts of the world.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    I should also add that hostility to wealth is highly correlated with the sort of flat-earth economic climate of opinion in which liberty tends to get the shitty end of the stick.

  • Paul Marks

    Hello Paul.

    Quite correct – if the state demands even 1% of your income, it can demand details of all your income.

    And if the state demands even 0.1% of your property – it can demand details of all your property (in order to work out what 0.1% would be).

    And demanding details of all property you own is even MORE intrusive than demanding all details of your income.

    So (by your logic) we should go over to excise taxes – accept we already do (20% sales tax – and vastly higher on booze, baccy and fuel).

    Freedom without property rights?

    That would be a neat trick.

    No property rights over your body? So no “right of exit”?

    And what is the point of a “right of exit” (from a monestary or a secular commune) if people can come to the new place that you live and steal your stuff?

    “Ah I have got you P.M. – you would deny people there freedom to rob others!”

    Well I could do a John Locke or Herbert Spencer tap-dance and talk about “equal freedom” (or an Edmund Burke tapdance and talk about “social freedom”).

    But, although I actually quite like to watch tapdancing, I am not going to bother – I am going to CONFESS.

    Yes I would restrict people’s freedom – I would not let them rob (or rape, or murder) other. I put justice (the libertarian nonagression priniple – no agression against the bodies and YES other property of people) first.

    “Then you are really a propertarian – not a libertarian at all”.

    If by freedom we mean Hobbes style water bursting out of blown dam – then I plead GUILTY.

  • Laird

    While I (obviously) disagree with just about everything Paul has said here, he did make one comment with which I am in general agreement: “My principle objection to income taxes, sales taxes and general wealth taxes is that they require a large amount of information be made available to the state to enable their collection. I liked the term Sean Gabb used to describe it – a financial inquisition. At least with taxes on land and to a lesser extent, buildings, the process is far less intrusive.” (I wouldn’t put sales taxes on the same “intrusiveness” plane as income or wealth taxes, though.) It’s more a philosophical argument than an economic one, and seen from that perspective makes a certain degree of sense. But one cannot divorce economics from a discussion over taxes, and the fact remains that wealth/property taxes constitute a continuing intrusion into one’s economic life, whereas income taxes only intrude once. Both are bad, but wealth taxes are worse.

  • I beg to differ, Laird: the only reason that income taxes are more intrusive on one’s information is because income is easier to hide than property – or even more precisely, because it is possible to hide income, while hiding property, such as real estate, is virtually impossible. So I think that if you look at it this way, it makes income taxes preferable for the taxpayer for yet another reason.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The libertarian and the “propertarian”:

    The NAP is not something that somebody “pulled out of his southern orifice.” It is the principle of human behavior that honors the TRUE libertarian primary principle, the ethical foundation of libertarianism, and that is the individual’s right to his own life. To every speck, iota, jot and tittle of it. To live it as he sees fit; to expend it as he sees fit, consistent with the NAP (see below on Liberty).

    That directly implies the individual’s absolute right of disposition of whatever he produces; whether it’s useful to or desired by others or not. Because what a man produces is the result of his use of a part of his life; and if that product is expropriated (stolen!), so is a part of the piece of his life that went into its making.

    One cannot BE a libertarian unless one is a “propertarian,” in the sense of fully and completely understanding that property rights must be accepted as existing, or else the liberty of the individual does not exist; and must be inviolable, or else individual liberty is likewise not inviolable.

    For when you steal a man’s stuff, you steal the output of a portion of his life.

    Some people think freedom means freedom from all constraints, not merely from the constraints of the Non-Agression Principle. Yet humans do have the physical capability, and sometimes the intent, to act against the NAP and violate the personhood of others. This is what occasions the need for the concept of “liberty,” as distinct from “unrestricted freedom to do as one will.” The freedom upon which libertarians insist is freedom WITHIN those constraints, which freedom we call “Liberty.” And that includes the liberty embodied in the “right of disposition” of one’s property.

    Paul M is quite right.

    Johnathan, expanding on the final paragraph of your comment of 2/28, 5:56 p.m.:

    Property is the product of the expenditure of parts of people’s lives; therefore to appropriate their property IS to appropriate the portion of their lives that went into the making of it; therefore liberty IMPLIES unobstructed, unrestricted property rights.

    If all property is in the hands of the Expropriator (whether an individual or a group), then only its own sensibilities prevents the Expropriator from treating the people as it will; all property is its, which includes weapons; and “rights” specified in contracts are not guaranteed thereby, because the Expropriator has the physical means to back up any decision it might make in the way of breaking the contract.

    And in the same way, “social freedom” exists only insofar as the Expropriator allows it to. (And if it wants to go on being Expropriator, it knows it had better restrict the heck out of social freedom, whether by physical means–as in Communist countries–or by indoctrination, as in various theocracies throughout history where Supreme Leader was also the object of religious worship.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just to be thorough…. *Snarl, grin*

    I hope everyone understands that when I go on about “the absolute right of disposition of one’s property or product,” said right includes the right to assign the property right to another or to others via uncoerced agreement or contract.

    So, yes, you can join a commune or a convent, if you want.

  • Midwesterner

    While the IRS could get a warrant and audit my home, it is unlikely. On the other hand, the government property tax assessor has the power to enter my premises on demand and my theoretical right to deny him access is countered by his legal authority to just make up whatever shit he wants if I don’t let him in. From your basement to your attic, he will search your entire home for things he can tax. This isn’t hypothetical, this is routine procedure.

  • Julie near Chicago

    *Sigh*…”Some people think freedom means freedom from all constraints, not merely from the constraints of the Non-Agression Principle.”

    No, s/b “Some people think freedom means freedom from all constraints, including the constraints of the Non-Aggression Principle.”

    . . .

    Yes, you may join a convent if you wish and if you are female.

    On the other hand, any gender may join a monastery.
    Restricting the monastery to male friars only would be sexist.
    And prohibiting the woolly mammoth would be speciesist.

  • Laird

    Wait, any gender can join a monestary? When did that happen? I thought that all monks were male by definition, just as all nuns were female by definition.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, Laird, Laird. You just HAVE to get with the program.

    The bad old days of restricting monasteries to male monks are gone. Now nuns are different. They’re female, you see, and Female Pride would NEVER permit the unwashed–nor even the washed–feet of The Oppressive Gender to cross the convent’s threshold. (Unless, of course, the nun is Héloïse and your name happens to be Abélard. That would be different.)

    WHEN did this happen?? My DE-AH! Haven’t you heard Simone de Beauvoir? Andrea Dworkin? (Oh dear. See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Dworkin )

  • Laird

    Julie, of course I’ve heard of both, but to my knowledge neither ever tried to enter a monastery, or even advocated female monks. If I’m wrong please enlighten me.

    However, I see that Wikipedia does say that the term “monastery” can refer to a home for monastics of any sort, either monks or nuns. (Perhaps that’s because the word “nunnery” has become a little, well, tainted thanks to Mr. Shakespeare?) But monks are still only men, right?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird–I’ve been kidding all along about the monastery bit. Yes, monasteries are for monks–or so I’ve always understood anyway, pace Wikifootia *g*, and yes, monks are male. That was my point–any all-male organization or institution or sewing circle *g* is by definition sexist (according to the Feminazis, that is.)

    The whole thing was supposed to be shot at the Feminist movement (of the A. Dworkin/Germaine Greer/Simone de Beauvoir/ etc. type–that is, the “Feminazis, the “all males are just naturally oppressors, marriage is slavery, a wife is ‘a whore to her husband, a slave to her children,’ in fact all sex is rape and all pornography is rape”–you know, the PC-type DOWN WITH MEN! Feminist Movement.) They think that any woman who enjoys being a wife and mother and thinks her husband is the bee’s knees is not really a woman, in the same manner as race hustlers think that Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas are not really black. These are the people who somehow fail to be very upset with the Islamics who think nothing of throwing acid on misbehaving women, or stoning them to death. “Fail to be very upset”? No, they fail to even notice.

    :)

  • Laird

    So, no monkettes?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Tsk, pity. Maybe we could make up for it by sending them a bunch of — well, see for yourself. And plenty more where these came from! (This is the shortest one I could find.) ;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MkVuFOMnco

  • JP:

    I suppose it might just be possible for people to be free while living in a society where every item and piece of land is owned by the state

    You appear to be confusing two very different scenarios:

    1. An arrangement with no property rights.

    2. An arrangement with strong property rights, all held by the state.

  • Paul Marks:

    Quite correct – if the state demands even 1% of your income, it can demand details of all your income.

    And if the state demands even 0.1% of your property – it can demand details of all your property (in order to work out what 0.1% would be).

    And demanding details of all property you own is even MORE intrusive than demanding all details of your income.

    If you are talking about property in the wealth tax sense, then I would say that they are on a similar level of intrusiveness. If you are talking about property in the sense commonly used when talking about property taxes – i.e. land and buildings, then they are far less intrusive.

    So (by your logic) we should go over to excise taxes – accept we already do (20% sales tax – and vastly higher on booze, baccy and fuel).

    No, as sales taxes are more intrusive than taxes on land and buildings.

    No property rights over your body? So no “right of exit”?

    I don’t own me, I am me. Start from a nonsense concept and you are likely to reach a nonsense conclusion.

  • I don’t own me, I am me. Start from a nonsense concept and you are likely to reach a nonsense conclusion.

    Yup, you are trolling. Go away.

  • Alisa:

    the only reason that income taxes are more intrusive on one’s information is because income is easier to hide than property – or even more precisely, because it is possible to hide income, while hiding property, such as real estate, is virtually impossible. So I think that if you look at it this way, it makes income taxes preferable for the taxpayer for yet another reason.

    I don’t see it; the conclusion you’ve reached is at odds with the argument you’ve offered in support of it.

    As you’ve pointed out, income taxes provide a great opportunity for a state power grab. Tax something which can be easily hidden and you’ve got an excuse to demand information about the intimate details of the public’s affairs, in order to check that it isn’t being hidden. If you think it is preferable for the taxpayer to have to continually account to the state, then I can see the point you are trying to make, otherwise, I’m at a loss.

  • Paul: what Perry just said.

  • Deleted by the management. Get lost. Not a request.