Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
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10-02-2012, 07:59 PM
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
Stealing is unethical. To tax simply to transfer income is unethical.
We agree to contribute to the government to provide public goods (parks, police, fire protection, etc) and those not able to pay receive the services as well.
When a democracy evolves to the point that elected officials believe that they have a "moral obligation" to redirect incomes, we are in serious trouble.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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10-02-2012, 08:02 PM
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
So the fight really did start when he hit me back? Undecided
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11-02-2012, 07:43 AM
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
(10-02-2012 07:59 PM)Thomas Wrote:  Stealing is unethical. To tax simply to transfer income is unethical.

Have you heard of the expression: "to right a wrong"?

Before throwing words like "unethical" around, we need to examine the full context of the situation.

Exactly by what means was some of the high income acquired?

Could it be that it was a sort of 'theft'? (legal theft, of course, most of the time).

In which case redistribution is not unethical but, rather, highly ethical.

We are not stealing from the rich -- we are only stealing back. Big Grin

In communist Hungary, taking things (anything we could get away with) home from our workplace was common practice. Nobody considered it theft.

We were slaves of the state -- we took back a small fraction of what was ours in the first place.

After all, we were the people and the people owned everything. Right?

Now, in the Capitalist West, poor people are faced with the same situation.

In overwhelming majority of the cases, it is not the fault of poor people that they are poor (no matter how much the super rich want to blame their victims, as always) -- they are victims of the system and of their ruling elite.

The fight did not start "when he hit me back", as schoolyard bullies always claim.

There is a cause-and-effect chain going back through history and, however convenient for some, it cannot be ignored. Undecided
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11-02-2012, 08:02 AM (This post was last modified: 11-02-2012 08:25 AM by Thomas.)
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
(11-02-2012 07:43 AM)Zat Wrote:  
(10-02-2012 07:59 PM)Thomas Wrote:  Stealing is unethical. To tax simply to transfer income is unethical.
Have you heard of the expression: "to right a wrong"?

You must first define the wrong you wish to assume.
Your analogy is false when you define taking from the wealthy as "hitting back"
You must first show how they hit first in your analogy.
The fact that someone has a high income does not mean that they have stolen (are steeling) it from the poor.
If the poor have nothing what did they steel? Were the poor rich before and someone took their wealth and we need to get it back for them?

The problem is very simple. The assumption of guilt by possession and the ensuing action taken to right the declared wrong is unethical on its face.
What you end up with is one political party taking from the group that does not vote for them and giving to the group that does, and calling it fairness.

You can legislate against injustive, but you can't legislate for justice without causing unjustice.

Here's the real problem:
You think someone else has your stuff and you want the government to go take it from "the they".
"They" are not going to let it happen. The government is run by the "they".
My advice to you is to shut up winning about someone else having more stuff than you.
You're not getting the "participation trophy" that you got in grade school.
Reality has set in and you don't like it. Too bad. Reality will not change no matter how huch you whine!
Go find some sort of job or three. Work your way up. Get training / education. Scrape by and grind it out.
Then one day you can be on a website forum typing what I'm typing to a 20 something who has been told all his life that the world owes him something.
Where's my "participation trophy". Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
You don't get one. The trophies go to those that actually accomplishg something
So focus on accomplishing something for yourself and not bitching about the accomplishments of others calling it "unethical".

Have a nice day.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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11-02-2012, 08:22 AM (This post was last modified: 11-02-2012 08:30 AM by Zat.)
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
(11-02-2012 08:02 AM)Thomas Wrote:  If the poor have nothing what did they steal?

Cart before the horse, if I have ever seen one.

They have nothing because they have been robbed blind, all through human history.

You have to analyze the fundamental organizational principles of society and see who is running the show, in whose interest, by what methods.

Who is doing the work and who is reaping the benefits.

Don't take anything for granted, don't just assume that what you have been taught all your life is automatically true (like religion?).

Think, analyze, study history and the progress of human civilizations to see how we ended up where we are now.

It did not start yesterday. Undecided
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11-02-2012, 08:28 AM (This post was last modified: 11-02-2012 08:32 AM by Thomas.)
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
(11-02-2012 08:22 AM)Zat Wrote:  
(11-02-2012 08:02 AM)Thomas Wrote:  If the poor have nothing what did they steal?

Cart before the horse, if I have ever seen one.

They have nothing because they have been robbed blind, all through human history.

You have to analyze the fundamental organizational principles of society and see who is running the show, in whose interest, by what methods.

Who is doing the work and who is reaping the benefits.

Don't take anything for granted, don't just assume that what you have been taught all your life is automatically true (like religion?).

Think, analyze, study history and the progress of human civilizations to see how we ended up where we are now.

It did not start yesterday. Undecided

Are you a Marxist? This is his argument. Its false. And his solution caused the deaths of millions.

Thanks for your advice to think and study. I'm a professor of economics by profession. So i've already been doing this.

BTW, using loaded terminology does not make your point stronger "robbed blind" or make it true.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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11-02-2012, 08:34 AM (This post was last modified: 11-02-2012 09:12 AM by Zat.)
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
(11-02-2012 08:28 AM)Thomas Wrote:  I'm a professor of economics by profession.

That explains it! Big Grin

As John Ralston Saul wrote in "The Doubter's Companion":

"There are two professions whose experts never apologize for their incorrect predictions: meteorologists and economists".

and

"Economics sprouted from the same intellectual roots as Weather Forecasting -- rarely accurate but devoid of memory, thus cheerful about being wrong"

Big Grin

No, Thomas, I am not a Marxist -- I am a sane alien from Melmac.

...and I was (before I retired) a professor of Theoretical Physics.

So I learned to think in terms of experimental facts, fundamental principles (axioms as we call it) and solid cause-and-effect chains.

I guess these classes were not taught in economics. Big Grin

(08-02-2012 09:16 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  I have two quibbles with the premise.

Help? and The Poor?

It's a government's job to ensure the welfare of its citizens. It's the citizen's right to expect government to ensure hir welfare. To the best of its ability.

If a country is poor because of climate or misfortunes of war, its government must attempt to bring food, water, shelter and basic care to as many as possible, and to work toward alleviation of the problem, before anyone in that country is allowed to be rich, before any national luxuries, like guns and airplanes, football teams and cathedrals are even considered.

A rich, peaceful country has no excuse to own a class that can be designated as "the poor." If a citizen is damaged or has bad luck or made poor choices and lost their place in society, they must be rehabilitated - not just with money, but with medical aid, counseling, re-training, support and if necessary, coercion - to regain it. By the end of a productive life, everyone should have contributed enough to retire with dignity, in security.

Charity has no part in these matters: this is the purpose and function of a society. Mutual assistance and support is the only reason we put up with the noise and smell and drudgery of civilization. What for does society exist if not its members?
So, having "the poor" as an accepted, standard, permanent segment of society is the utter failure of society.

Should we pay taxes? Sure. Lots of things need to be done on a large, municipal, state or national scale that benefit all the citizens. How should taxes be allocated? That's a political issue; in democracies, priorities change as circumstances and governments change; each budget reflect the administration's concerns of that year.
Some expenditures, like education, pension, health care, water purification, public safety are constant and are, or ought to be, enshrined in laws that are not subject to administrative whim. For these commitments, there must be an inviolable funds that are never risked and never used for any other purpose. Keeping these funds at the correct level for the current and anticipated population must take precedence over discretionary spending and tax exemption on profits.

Democracy works just fine in assigning importance to various public matters. Democracy, whatever the economic base, tends toward socialism. Therefore, the people who want more and more and more, always corrupt democratic systems. Unfortunately, the populace is too lazy, trusting and inattentive to prevent them hijacking the machinery of government, so usually has to overcompensate, once it has happened - and that's always messy.

This brilliant post by Peterkin (got 7 likes so far) needs repeated in this thread, just in case apologists of social injustice missed it.

And, if this doesn't help them, I suggest they take a look at the "US Foreign Policy - Diplomatic and Military" thread (especially Post #7) to see how the real world is run by our rulers whom they are so eager to defend.

Undecided
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11-02-2012, 09:58 AM (This post was last modified: 11-02-2012 10:04 AM by kim.)
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
(10-02-2012 07:59 PM)Thomas Wrote:  Stealing is unethical. To tax simply to transfer income is unethical.
We agree to contribute to the government to provide public goods (parks, police, fire protection, etc) and those not able to pay receive the services as well.
When a democracy evolves to the point that elected officials believe that they have a "moral obligation" to redirect incomes, we are in serious trouble.

But this has already been done -"serious trouble" has come about because incomes have been redirected. A lot. Using billions of dollars - more, in fact. CDO and derivatives came about instantly, deliberately, and handling was overseen quite systematically. (Please note, I contribute the following as only one, very brief example.)

The climate of deregulation since the early 1980s and finally, the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, has not only corrupted global economics, it has seriously corrupted the entire way in which economics has been taught in the US for the past twenty years.
---------
The market in credit derivatives started from nothing in 1993. By 1996 there was around $40 billion of outstanding transactions, half of which involved the debts of developing countries.

In November of 1999 Congress repealed the GSA with the establishment of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which eliminated the GSA restrictions against affiliations between commercial and investment banks.

It was reported in April 2007 that total notional amount on outstanding credit derivatives was $35.1 trillion with a gross market value of $948 billion.

As reported in The Times on September 15, 2008, the "Worldwide credit derivatives market is valued at $62 trillion".

In 2011, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation estimated that the size of the global credit derivatives market in 2010 was $1.66 quadrillion USD.

Who's "moral obligation" would it be if not our elected officials' to redistribute wealth to make the field even again? Or should I be ready to take up my pitchfork? And just in case anyone thinks I would be storming someone's castle... think again; I'd be defending my own. Yep, me and that guy in Nebraska -we know what wealth is and we know how we got it... believe me; we don't mind sharing.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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11-02-2012, 10:05 AM
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
It's simple YES! I'm no big thinker here but a country is known by how they treat the poor and underprivileged. How much money is enough? so you cant buy the island in a remote part of the Pacific. It's so silly. What is rich would be the better question! Once you figure that out then you can ask your question.
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11-02-2012, 10:18 AM
RE: Do we have the right to tax people in order to help the poor?
Non-economists slam economists, because economist simply tell them what they don't want to hear.
There is something wrong in the thinking when people outside of a profession claim to know more than those in the profession.

I do not pretend to know more about treating the sick than doctors, some think they do. It is true that economists DON'T KNOW a lot more than we DO KNOW, but we do KNOW IT. The problem with most people is that they claim TO KNOW and actually know much less and what they know they know incorrectly. Then they press political agendas based on their beliefs.

Economies are extremely complicated. Consider that over 10 billion individual unique products are sold in just NYC every day and it will be different tomorrow. Try and model this on a graph or a computer program. An economy is organic. When you try to over simplify it as the rich stealing from the poor for centuries, capitalism is the root of all evil, etc... you end up with Karl Marx…Communism...millions dead...etc. Marx was not an economist, but he thought that he knew better. If you believe capitalism is evil and unethical you are a Marxist. Embrace your beliefs. I simply disagree.

Capitalism is an evolution from aristocracy where the middle class was formed. Now capitalism is blamed as the cause of the destruction of the middle class. Which is it? Created it or destroyed it? Again the problem is over simplification.

“The problem with capitalism is the unequal distribution of benefits; the virtue of socialism is the equal distribution of misery”, Winston Churchill.

The world economy is doing several things in several directions all at once. The US economy is moving to a service and information capitalism, an evolution from commodity capitalism, which was an evolution from serfdom through the industrial revolution.
Would you like to go back to the serfdom days? That can be arranged, it’s called communism. Communism is just another form of aristocracy, where very few own everything and the rest very little. I have to just laugh at the buy-in people give this 99% rhetoric of the OWS crowd. You do realize that they are promoting ending capitalism and instituting socialism, which by definition is the 1% ownership society. It’s all driven by ignorance of how economies work. The argument is that for you to be free we must take everyone’s freedom. Really? The government that gives you everything can also take everything away. Are you sure that you want this? I am sure that I don’t!

So your original question was, “Is it ethical to take from the wealthy to give to the poor”. If you believe so then you are against private ownership. Private ownership must be eliminated so that the government is not "taking anything", but simply redistributing a "public good". Do you see the ethical dilemma here? If you believe that all material possessions should be public goods you are a communist. Where do you stand? That is a debate we can have.

Redistribution may sound good when you are an American on the bottom of the income scale, but consider that over 3 billion people live on less than $1,000 of income a year around the world. When we fairly redistribute income to its logical conclusion everyone gets $3,500 a year in income. Does this sound good to you or do you just want to take from “rich” Americans and give to the “less rich” Americans and screw the true poor in the world?

That concludes our econ 101 lesson for today. Thanks for attending the lecture.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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