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seer
05-09-2014, 06:20 AM
I really like Pope Francis, but he is sounding more and more like a socialist:



VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis called Friday for governments to redistribute wealth to the poor in a new spirit of generosity to help curb the "economy of exclusion" that is taking hold today.

Francis made the appeal during a speech to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of major U.N. agencies who met in Rome this week.

Latin America's first pope has frequently lashed out at the injustices of capitalism and the global economic system that excludes so much of humanity, though his predecessors have voiced similar concerns.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_REL_VATICAN_UN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-05-09-06-31-28

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:22 AM
I really like Pope Francis, but he is sounding more and more like a socialist:

I don't know much about the history, but I speculate that Marxism actually borrowed a lot from Christian social policy. (Anyone who knows better please do correct me.)

seer
05-09-2014, 06:27 AM
I don't know much about the history, but I speculate that Marxism actually borrowed a lot from Christian social policy. (Anyone who knows better please do correct me.)


No, in christian theology giving is completely voluntary. The state does not force you to give.

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:29 AM
No, in christian theology giving is completely voluntary. The state does not force you to give.

But in Christian theology you don't have workers aren't exploited by being paid incredibly low wages such that they live from hand to mouth. Keep in mind Francis is speaking in the global context, and not necessarily addressing the controversies of your country.

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:34 AM
By the way, you might want to read the script (http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/may/documents/papa-francesco_20140509_consiglio-nazioni-unite.html).

Teallaura
05-09-2014, 06:35 AM
Since Marx totally rejected religion and Christianity in particular ('opiate of the masses', remember?) it's highly unlikely he drew directly from Christian philosophy. Possibly unconsciously, but the case for that is tenuous.

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:36 AM
No, in christian theology giving is completely voluntary. The state does not force you to give.
The state forces a certain amount of taxation. :shrug:

seer
05-09-2014, 06:39 AM
But in Christian theology you don't have workers aren't exploited by being paid incredibly low wages such that they live from hand to mouth. Keep in mind Francis is speaking in the global context, and not necessarily addressing the controversies of your country.

Pretty much every one in New Testament times lived from hand to mouth. I have no problem with people being paid well - like scripture says - a laborer is worth of his wages.

Teallaura
05-09-2014, 06:40 AM
The state forces a certain amount of taxation. :shrug:
But those funds don't have to go to social programs - defense is a state duty; unemployment insurance traditionally is not.

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:41 AM
Pretty much every one in New Testament times lived from hand to mouth.
:doh:

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:42 AM
But those funds don't have to go to social programs - defense is a state duty; unemployment insurance traditionally is not.
I'm sorry? Did Francis speak about unemployment "insurance"? Or are you just projecting your own national context on his global message?

seer
05-09-2014, 06:42 AM
The state forces a certain amount of taxation. :shrug:

Yes, the state does. You were asking about Christian theology.

Leonhard
05-09-2014, 06:45 AM
I really like Pope Francis, but he is sounding more and more like a socialist:

If you knew more about the history of his Holiness, I think you'd be a bit more careful about firing off as odious a title as what you gave this thread.

The Church rejects both free market economics and marxism as disordered. It proposes a balanced view, rules should be put in place that protect the weak and poor in society, and shows a preference for local production. Beyond this there's no clear political agenda.

Just because its not laissez faire economics, doesn't meant its Marxism.


No, in christian theology giving is completely voluntary. The state does not force you to give.

Its voluntary in the sense that its voluntary to follow God's law. However there's no Biblical mandate against what Francis is talking about. If there is, I want to see it.

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:45 AM
Yes, the state does. You were asking about Christian theology.
If we are agreed that under general Christian social policy, the state uses force to ensure tax monies are collected, can you give a reason why some of it shouldn't be used to help the poor? Can you name any reason why this is bad in general, instead of just pointing out flaws in certain weath redistribution policies?

Teallaura
05-09-2014, 06:50 AM
I'm sorry? Did Francis speak about unemployment "insurance"? Or are you just projecting your own national context on his global message?
It's called 'an example'. It merely represents a social policy. Traditionally, the state has been responsible for ensuring peace within and without its borders (threats domestic and foreign) and ensuring justice. It has not been responsible for ensuring economic well being beyond ensuring the peace that permits economic well being.

Are you always this testy when people answer your questions? :eh:

Teallaura
05-09-2014, 06:53 AM
If you knew more about the history of his Holiness, I think you'd be a bit more careful about firing off as odious a title as what you gave this thread.

The Church rejects both free market economics and marxism as disordered. It proposes a balanced view, rules should be put in place that protect the weak and poor in society, and shows a preference for local production. Beyond this there's no clear political agenda.

Just because its not laissez faire economics, doesn't meant its Marxism.



Its voluntary in the sense that its voluntary to follow God's law. However there's no Biblical mandate against what Francis is talking about. If there is, I want to see it.


Question: Leo, is he proposing the State take on the Church's role or something else?



I'm addressing this specifically because I'm NOT debating the point - I need an answer (if Leo doesn't know, I'll research it if and when I have time).

Paprika
05-09-2014, 07:27 AM
Are you always this testy when people answer your questions? :eh:
Was this post (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?p=52978#post52978) responding to your answer of my question? :eh:

Teallaura
05-09-2014, 08:19 AM
Was this post (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?p=52978#post52978) responding to your answer of my question? :eh:

You asked about taxation and I answered it directly - so yes, it was an answer to the question asked, and no, it wasn't snarky, off topic or argumentative, so no, you're snapping is not justified. Any other stupid questions? ( <- NOW I'm being snarky.) :eh:

Paprika
05-09-2014, 08:29 AM
You asked about taxation and I answered it directly - so yes, it was an answer to the question asked, and no, it wasn't snarky, off topic or argumentative, so no, you're snapping is not justified. Any other stupid questions? ( <- NOW I'm being snarky.) :eh:
Eh, I didn't ask about taxation, but yeah, my tone was overly sharp. My apologies.

Teallaura
05-09-2014, 08:33 AM
:smile: You asked Seer. But fair enough, apology accepted.

robrecht
05-09-2014, 09:08 AM
Benjamin Franklin on Private and Public Property:

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s12.html

There's a reason why our Declaration of Independence guarantees a fundamental right to 'the pursuit of happiness' and not 'property' as some were saying at the time (cf Virginia Declaration of Rights, John Locke). Some of the founders held to a traditional Christian idea that all the benefits of creation belonged to all people. Societal and government conventions may be judged by how well they serve this ideal. Ultimately, happiness is a personal, interpersonal, and communal goal, and not just an individual item. As Richard Cumberland had said, promoting the good of others is essential to the pursuit of our own happiness.

seer
05-09-2014, 09:11 AM
If you knew more about the history of his Holiness, I think you'd be a bit more careful about firing off as odious a title as what you gave this thread.

Yes the title was provocative, but that is me. In my defense it was formed as a question and I did note that I really liked him - having read some of his bio in the past.


The Church rejects both free market economics and marxism as disordered. It proposes a balanced view, rules should be put in place that protect the weak and poor in society, and shows a preference for local production. Beyond this there's no clear political agenda.

Just because its not laissez faire economics, doesn't meant its Marxism.

OK



Its voluntary in the sense that its voluntary to follow God's law. However there's no Biblical mandate against what Francis is talking about. If there is, I want to see it.

I didn't say there was a biblical prohibition.

Joel
05-09-2014, 03:14 PM
I don't know much about the history, but I speculate that Marxism actually borrowed a lot from Christian social policy. (Anyone who knows better please do correct me.)
Modern Catholic social teaching began to be codified in 1891 with Rerum Novarum.
Marx died in 1883.

They adopted certain ideas from Marx, moreso in Quadragesimo Anno 1931, such as his understanding of "exploitation" and inequality, and class conflict, while rejecting other Marxist ideas. Popes have often advocated state wealth redistribution, and positive universal "rights" (i.e., a right to have others produce and provide you with something). They have advocated nonsense ideas like a "just wage" or "equivalent value". They have often proclaimed things based on terrible understandings of economics.

Joel
05-09-2014, 03:43 PM
If we are agreed that under general Christian social policy, the state uses force to ensure tax monies are collected, can you give a reason why some of it shouldn't be used to help the poor?
In addition to Teallaura's answer, I'd suggest that taxation is theft, and is at best a necessary evil, which should be kept to a minimum.
So then your question assumes a bad way of looking at things, I think. It should not be a matter of: Step one confiscate a bunch of money from people, and then Step two decide what to do with all this money. Instead the focus should be on: what is it that makes this evil necessary (or whether injustice can be justified at all); and then figure out the efficient way to do it and fund it, with the least taxation possible. And if you can later cut costs, the response should not be to ask how to use the money saved, but to reduce taxation.

If you can divert tax money from project A to project B, then presumably the level of taxation for project A wasn't as "necessary" as supposed, and thus did not morally justify that level of taxation to begin with (was an unnecessary evil). Thus the mere fact that you were taxing at that level certainly does not imply that taxing for B is morally justified, since justification of the prior taxation level is already suspect.

There are a large number of practical reasons to oppose a welfare state. Here I'm restricting myself to the reason from morality/justice.

Along with what Teallaura said, the state has long been recognized as the legitimate use of physical force (referred to in such phrases as the "power of the sword"). And traditionally the use of the sword has been considered legitimate only in carrying out justice, any other use being unjust and excessive/disproportional.

Joel
05-09-2014, 04:08 PM
Benjamin Franklin on Private and Public Property:

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s12.html

There's a reason why our Declaration of Independence guarantees a fundamental right to 'the pursuit of happiness' and not 'property' as some were saying at the time (cf Virginia Declaration of Rights, John Locke). Some of the founders held to a traditional Christian idea that all the benefits of creation belonged to all people. Societal and government conventions may be judged by how well they serve this ideal. Ultimately, happiness is a personal, interpersonal, and communal goal, and not just an individual item. As Richard Cumberland had said, promoting the good of others is essential to the pursuit of our own happiness.
Franklin and some others were pretty statist. Franklin's arguments there are pretty bad.

Do you have evidence that that is why Jefferson used "pursuit of happiness"? Jefferson himself was very Lockean, and there are lots of allusions to Locke's Second Treatise in the Declaration. I guess your theory is that Jefferson decided to use a broader term to make more people happy? Another theory is that it has do do with Jefferson's own epicurean philosophy. Another theory is that it has to do with Jefferson's decision to list unalienable rights. But your right to your property is alienable, meaning that you may transfer your right to your hammer to another person. To have a list of unalienable rights, Jefferson would need to replace "estate" with an unalienable right that underlies it including your right to acquire and own property (pursuit of happiness).

And I would think that a more "traditional Christian idea" is that of "Thou shall not steal", which presupposes the existence of private property.
It's also not clear that it makes sense to distinguish between individual happiness and communal happiness. Only individuals are happy. That certainly may involve human interaction and concern others, but that doesn't mean there exists some ethereal happiness in addition to (thus distinguishable from) the happiness of the actual individuals involved.

Zymologist
05-09-2014, 06:03 PM
In addition to Teallaura's answer, I'd suggest that taxation is theft, and is at best a necessary evil, which should be kept to a minimum.
So then your question assumes a bad way of looking at things, I think. It should not be a matter of: Step one confiscate a bunch of money from people, and then Step two decide what to do with all this money. Instead the focus should be on: what is it that makes this evil necessary (or whether injustice can be justified at all); and then figure out the efficient way to do it and fund it, with the least taxation possible. And if you can later cut costs, the response should not be to ask how to use the money saved, but to reduce taxation.

If you can divert tax money from project A to project B, then presumably the level of taxation for project A wasn't as "necessary" as supposed, and thus did not morally justify that level of taxation to begin with (was an unnecessary evil). Thus the mere fact that you were taxing at that level certainly does not imply that taxing for B is morally justified, since justification of the prior taxation level is already suspect.

There are a large number of practical reasons to oppose a welfare state. Here I'm restricting myself to the reason from morality/justice.

Along with what Teallaura said, the state has long been recognized as the legitimate use of physical force (referred to in such phrases as the "power of the sword"). And traditionally the use of the sword has been considered legitimate only in carrying out justice, any other use being unjust and excessive/disproportional.

:thumb:

Paprika
05-09-2014, 06:12 PM
In addition to Teallaura's answer, I'd suggest that taxation is theft, and is at best a necessary evil, which should be kept to a minimum.
So then your question assumes a bad way of looking at things, I think. It should not be a matter of: Step one confiscate a bunch of money from people, and then Step two decide what to do with all this money. Instead the focus should be on: what is it that makes this evil necessary (or whether injustice can be justified at all); and then figure out the efficient way to do it and fund it, with the least taxation possible. And if you can later cut costs, the response should not be to ask how to use the money saved, but to reduce taxation.

If you can divert tax money from project A to project B, then presumably the level of taxation for project A wasn't as "necessary" as supposed, and thus did not morally justify that level of taxation to begin with (was an unnecessary evil). Thus the mere fact that you were taxing at that level certainly does not imply that taxing for B is morally justified, since justification of the prior taxation level is already suspect.

There are a large number of practical reasons to oppose a welfare state. Here I'm restricting myself to the reason from morality/justice.

Along with what Teallaura said, the state has long been recognized as the legitimate use of physical force (referred to in such phrases as the "power of the sword"). And traditionally the use of the sword has been considered legitimate only in carrying out justice, any other use being unjust and excessive/disproportional.
Your approach assumes that taxation is an evil. I fail to see how it is necessarily or intrinsically so.

Joel
05-09-2014, 06:43 PM
Your approach assumes that taxation is an evil. I fail to see how it is necessarily or intrinsically so.
It is theft. (because it is taking that which is someone else's without their consent) In any other context, it is an act that everyone recognizes as theft. Theft by majority vote is theft. Theft by some guy who is the strongest is theft.

If you start with a hypothetical group of people stranded on an island, say, without a government and without the idea of a human government, but understanding morality of justice (don't steal, don't kill, etc.), they would recognize that a powerful guy suddenly going around and forcing everyone to give him money (or goods) is theft/unjust. Likewise a gang (even majority) banding together and forcing everyone else to give them money is theft. The only reason for them to ever come to the conclusion that it's acceptable to appoint a head thief or organize a thieving organization (they'll call it a "government") is if they think the cause is so necessary that it becomes a necessary evil. The most likely original justification for this is something like: that hostile forces are coming to destroy them, and without this mass theft (which they decide to call "tax") they won't be able to amass the means of defense and they will all perish or have everything stolen from them by the hostiles. (Whether they are correct in the assessment of its necessity may be a matter of debate.)

Calling someone or something a "government" or calling theft "tax" doesn't magically turn evil into not-evil. And nobody would consider thinking that it's morally justified unless they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil, or some such argument that it is a necessary evil.

KingsGambit
05-09-2014, 06:46 PM
I am fairly surprised at how many Christians argue that governments are inherently illegitimate and that taxation is inherently theft. I do not personally believe either position is very compatible with Christianity given the biblical support for the legitimacy of both, which is of course not to accuse those holding such positions of anything more than cognitive dissonance.

robrecht
05-09-2014, 06:48 PM
Franklin and some others were pretty statist. Franklin's arguments there are pretty bad.

Do you have evidence that that is why Jefferson used "pursuit of happiness"? Jefferson himself was very Lockean, and there are lots of allusions to Locke's Second Treatise in the Declaration. I guess your theory is that Jefferson decided to use a broader term to make more people happy? Another theory is that it has do do with Jefferson's own epicurean philosophy. Another theory is that it has to do with Jefferson's decision to list unalienable rights. But your right to your property is alienable, meaning that you may transfer your right to your hammer to another person. To have a list of unalienable rights, Jefferson would need to replace "estate" with an unalienable right that underlies it including your right to acquire and own property (pursuit of happiness).

And I would think that a more "traditional Christian idea" is that of "Thou shall not steal", which presupposes the existence of private property.
It's also not clear that it makes sense to distinguish between individual happiness and communal happiness. Only individuals are happy. That certainly may involve human interaction and concern others, but that doesn't mean there exists some ethereal happiness in addition to (thus distinguishable from) the happiness of the actual individuals involved. I don't think Franklin is presenting an argument so much as merely expressing his view. The point is, one could easily make the accusation that he was much more of a socialist than Obama and somewhere up there with Pope Francis.

I think its common knowledge that Jefferson was influenced by both Locke and the Virginia declaration. He was from Virginia. It was written earlier that same year, and if you look at the language it seems obvious the Declaration of Independence was partially dependent upon (and therefore only partially independent of) it and that that 'property' was left out as a fundamental right:


A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government .

Section 1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Declaration_of_Rights

I don't see any real difference between 'inalienable' and 'inherent and cannot be deprived or divested'.

I do not see any necessary contradiction between the commandment not to steal and the notion of private and public property as societal norms meant to realize the larger ideal of creation being the gift of God for all people. Did Adam and Eve own the Garden of Eden?

TimelessTheist
05-09-2014, 07:06 PM
I wouldn't say the Pope goes so far to the left that you can consider him a commie. However he is criticizing certain aspects of capitalism.

Zymologist
05-09-2014, 08:42 PM
I am fairly surprised at how many Christians argue that governments are inherently illegitimate and that taxation is inherently theft. I do not personally believe either position is very compatible with Christianity given the biblical support for the legitimacy of both, which is of course not to accuse those holding such positions of anything more than cognitive dissonance.

The issue would appear to be, then, whether there actually is any biblical support for the legitimacy of taxation. I've given the issue some thought, and I don't think it's quite as open-and-shut as most Christians assume it to be.

Spartacus
05-09-2014, 08:50 PM
Here's the part where College Boy raises his hand and mentions that he's taken several courses on Catholic Social Teaching.

With respect to Marxism, you need look no further than Rerum Novarum itself to see that the Church rejected both industrial capitalism and socialism. Those interested in further reading can consult the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (i.e. the modern form of the Inquisition) and its document on liberation theology (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19840806_theology-liberation_en.html), in which then-Cdl. Ratzinger drew some very clear lines about exactly how Marxist a Catholic can get.

Quadragesimo Anno paragraphs 44-45 are particularly interesting in that Pope Pius is responding to the claim, made by some, that Leo XIII had in Rerum Novarum defended a Lockean notion of private property. Just something interesting I thought I'd point out.

With respect to Pope Francis, I'd point y'all in this direction: http://ethikapolitika.org/2013/12/16/benedict-defends-francis-markets-ethics/

If Francis is a socialist, so is Benedict, and so was Jesus. In other words, if "socialist" is the only word you know for these ideas, you need a bigger moral vocabulary.

Epoetker
05-09-2014, 10:15 PM
Francis is a socialist because his thinking on the issue is either squishy, confused, or doublespeakish and doesn't match the rigor that Benedict brought to his quotes. All of the sensible quotes were, in fact, from Benedict. The quotes from Francis were fatuous:

“The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

Did Benedict ever say that publicly about Naziism? Would he have been left alone if he did?

Manwë Súlimo
05-09-2014, 10:24 PM
The issue would appear to be, then, whether there actually is any biblical support for the legitimacy of taxation. I've given the issue some thought, and I don't think it's quite as open-and-shut as most Christians assume it to be.

I'm coming to this discussion blind, so please forgive me if I'm being too simplistic; but if human governments are, in theory, ordained by God then it must follow that they collect tax. They can't operate without revenue - it's just not possible.

I think it only gets messy when an individual decides they don't want the protection and benefits of a certain or any society - they can't move anywhere because basically everywhere but Antarctica has been claimed by a government and failure to follow they're laws leads to unpleasantness.

Paprika
05-09-2014, 10:48 PM
If Francis is a socialist, so is Benedict, and so was Jesus. In other words, if "socialist" is the only word you know for these ideas, you need a bigger moral vocabulary.
This. Amen.

Paprika
05-10-2014, 12:25 AM
It is theft. (because it is taking that which is someone else's without their consent) In any other context, it is an act that everyone recognizes as theft. Theft by majority vote is theft. Theft by some guy who is the strongest is theft.

If you start with a hypothetical group of people stranded on an island, say, without a government and without the idea of a human government, but understanding morality of justice (don't steal, don't kill, etc.), they would recognize that a powerful guy suddenly going around and forcing everyone to give him money (or goods) is theft/unjust. Likewise a gang (even majority) banding together and forcing everyone else to give them money is theft. The only reason for them to ever come to the conclusion that it's acceptable to appoint a head thief or organize a thieving organization (they'll call it a "government") is if they think the cause is so necessary that it becomes a necessary evil. The most likely original justification for this is something like: that hostile forces are coming to destroy them, and without this mass theft (which they decide to call "tax") they won't be able to amass the means of defense and they will all perish or have everything stolen from them by the hostiles. (Whether they are correct in the assessment of its necessity may be a matter of debate.)

Calling someone or something a "government" or calling theft "tax" doesn't magically turn evil into not-evil. And nobody would consider thinking that it's morally justified unless they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil, or some such argument that it is a necessary evil.
I find your stance extremely bizarre.

It's depends entirely on the premise that we own absolutely what we have. But that is not so; we have responsibilities and duties beyond our individual selves, including society at large, and paying taxes is one of them.

More fundamentally, from a Christian perspective, we don't have absolute ownership even of ourselves. All was made by God and belongs ultimately to God. We are stewards of what He gives us, and He wants us to pay taxes.

Spartacus
05-10-2014, 07:10 AM
Francis is a socialist because his thinking on the issue is either squishy, confused, or doublespeakish and doesn't match the rigor that Benedict brought to his quotes. All of the sensible quotes were, in fact, from Benedict. The quotes from Francis were fatuous:

“The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

Did Benedict ever say that publicly about Naziism? Would he have been left alone if he did?

Godwin's law. You lose.

More seriously, popular revolutions against authoritarian oppression and social reform movements in many parts of the world were led or informed by Marxism. Catholic social teaching was dealing with Marxism before the bloodshed of the Russian and Spanish revolutions, back before marxism had the political means to start enforcing the side of Marxist ideology which Benedict criticized in the CDF document.

If nothing else, the fact that anyone who speaks up for the poor is immediately labeled a Marxist means that the term is no longer as pejorative as you would like it to be. When everyone from Dorothy Day to Pope Francis has been accused of Marxism by the reactionary right, the term kind of loses its force.

Zymologist
05-10-2014, 08:16 AM
I'm coming to this discussion blind, so please forgive me if I'm being too simplistic; but if human governments are, in theory, ordained by God then it must follow that they collect tax. They can't operate without revenue - it's just not possible.

I think it only gets messy when an individual decides they don't want the protection and benefits of a certain or any society - they can't move anywhere because basically everywhere but Antarctica has been claimed by a government and failure to follow they're laws leads to unpleasantness.

Ug...I don't think I should have posted anything. The opinion that I have on this subject is in the extreme minority, and I don't think anybody will be really willing to entertain it. It would probably just be easier to forget I said anything.

Darth Xena
05-10-2014, 08:50 AM
Modern Catholic social teaching began to be codified in 1891 with Rerum Novarum.
Marx died in 1883.

They adopted certain ideas from Marx, moreso in Quadragesimo Anno 1931, such as his understanding of "exploitation" and inequality, and class conflict, while rejecting other Marxist ideas. Popes have often advocated state wealth redistribution, and positive universal "rights" (i.e., a right to have others produce and provide you with something). They have advocated nonsense ideas like a "just wage" or "equivalent value". They have often proclaimed things based on terrible understandings of economics.

Easy when you are a fabulously rich entity.

Paprika
05-10-2014, 10:45 AM
Ug...I don't think I should have posted anything. The opinion that I have on this subject is in the extreme minority, and I don't think anybody will be really willing to entertain it. It would probably just be easier to forget I said anything.
I'm sure if you present a position rationally it would be taken seriously.

Darth Xena
05-10-2014, 10:56 AM
You haven't met some of the members here apparently

Paprika
05-10-2014, 10:58 AM
You haven't met some of the members here apparently
True. Let's say instead that I would take it seriously as something to refute. :tongue:

Darth Xena
05-10-2014, 10:59 AM
Gotcha. I was just reading firstfloor, Psychic Missle, and square peg when I read your prior statement and LOLd since no amount of rational posts will engage them on some subjects.

Zymologist
05-10-2014, 12:20 PM
I'm sure if you present a position rationally it would be taken seriously.

In that case, just think of it as an academic question that I don't really want to pursue right now. I say academic, because it really has no impact on how I live my life. I pay my taxes, and if the IRS were to come after me, they would be bored to tears.

Spartacus
05-10-2014, 01:44 PM
Easy when you are a fabulously rich entity.

Setting aside the patrimony of the 13th-16th centuries, "fabulously rich" is not the right word to describe the entity which is the conduit for so much charitable work the world over with so little overhead expense.

Darth Xena
05-10-2014, 02:48 PM
Sure it is , I made no comment on charitable work-- Bill Gates does tremendous charitable work and is fabulously wealthy

KingsGambit
05-10-2014, 04:52 PM
Ug...I don't think I should have posted anything. The opinion that I have on this subject is in the extreme minority, and I don't think anybody will be really willing to entertain it. It would probably just be easier to forget I said anything.

I don't think those sort of views are an extreme minority at all... especially among libertarian types, they're fairly common. And I don't want you to feel unsafe expressing your opinions here. You have a history of making well defended points so you would be taken seriously even if not all agree.

Zymologist
05-10-2014, 05:56 PM
I don't think those sort of views are an extreme minority at all... especially among libertarian types, they're fairly common. And I don't want you to feel unsafe expressing your opinions here. You have a history of making well defended points so you would be taken seriously even if not all agree.

Aw, shucks. You say the nicest things.

ETA: But seriously, thanks. That's a cool thing to hear.

Teallaura
05-11-2014, 05:33 AM
Aw, shucks. You say the nicest things.

ETA: But seriously, thanks. That's a cool thing to hear.

But your mom still dresses you funny....






















































(:glare: KG! You want he should get the big head or something?!)

Darth Xena
05-11-2014, 08:53 AM
Ug...I don't think I should have posted anything. The opinion that I have on this subject is in the extreme minority, and I don't think anybody will be really willing to entertain it. It would probably just be easier to forget I said anything.

Being of a libertarian bent myself I would be interested.

Epoetker
05-11-2014, 06:44 PM
Godwin's law. You lose.

More seriously, popular revolutions against authoritarian oppression and social reform movements in many parts of the world were led or informed by Marxism. Catholic social teaching was dealing with Marxism before the bloodshed of the Russian and Spanish revolutions, back before marxism had the political means to start enforcing the side of
Marxist ideology which Benedict criticized in the CDF document.

Funny you should mention that...


If nothing else, the fact that anyone who speaks up for the poor is immediately labeled a Marxist means that the term is no longer as pejorative as you would like it to be. When everyone from Dorothy Day to Pope Francis has been accused of Marxism by the reactionary right, the term kind of loses its force.


In 1960, she praised Fidel Castro's "promise of social justice". She said: "Far better to revolt violently than to do nothing about the poor destitute." On January 3, 1962, a Vatican press conference revealed that Castro had excommunicated himself by his persecution of the clergy and bishops.[49] (This excommunication occurred latae sententiae,“by the very commission of the offense.”). Several months later, Day traveled to Cuba and reported her experiences in a four-part series in the Catholic Worker. In the first of these, she wrote: "I am most of all interested in the religious life of the people and so must not be on the side of a regime that favors the extirpation of religion. On the other hand, when that regime is bending all its efforts to make a good life for the people, a naturally good life (on which grace can build) one cannot help but be in favor of the measures taken."

The wikipedia page has the best quote: "Jesuit Daniel Lyons "called Day 'an apostle of pious oversimplification.' He said that the Catholic Worker 'often distorted beyond recognition' the position of the Popes."

Just as leftists, socialists, and Communists do with all authority, from the political and heirarchical to the personal: (http://www.fathercekada.com/2014/04/28/bergoglios-new-marriage-mess/)


“I want a mess,” said Jorge Bergoglio during World Youth Day in Rio last year — and boy, is he making one.

I’m not referring to the John XXIII/John Paul II canonization but to another potentially more momentous incident that’s been obscured by it.

On Easter Monday, Francis phoned an Argentine woman who had been refused communion by her parish priest for living in an invalid marriage. Bergoglio told her she could “safely receive Communion, because she is doing nothing wrong.”

These people are Communists in spirit, liberals in actual fact, though they may be anything else as long as it serves the Spirit of the Age, as distinct from the Holy Spirit.

They're also utter intellectual lightweights incapable of speaking to real human or divine aspirations in any serious context. You may as well defend the cast of "The View."

Darth Executor
05-11-2014, 07:59 PM
^owned

Spartacus
05-12-2014, 07:40 AM
When an avowed pacifist like Day says that violent revolution is better than complacency, we would do well to understand it not as an endorsement of violent revolution, but as a condemnation of complacency with respect to economic injustice.

That you, Epo, should accuse anyone else of being "incapable of speaking to real human or divine aspirations in any serious context," provides me with no little amusement.

robrecht
05-12-2014, 08:04 AM
Spartacus does not own anyone, but is presumably opposed to slavery, and a pretty smart kid.

Epoetker
05-12-2014, 10:57 AM
When an avowed pacifist like Day says that violent revolution is better than complacency, we would do well to understand it not as an endorsement of violent revolution, but as a condemnation of complacency with respect to economic injustice.

Or, she could just be trying to realize the benefits of violence without paying the cost, like pretty much every other leftist out there who believes in cathartic violence: (http://deconstructingleftism.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/cathartic-violence-and-progressivism/)


Although progressives avoid violence themselves, they don’t mind it when others use it and it suits their purposes. You see this in the early Victorian period. In “A Tale of Two Cities” Dickens portrays the French Revolution as an unfortunate but inevitable explosion of violence created by the cruel oppression of the people by the aristocracy. Reaction by northern abolitionists and progressives to the Nat Turner uprising and massacre of whites was that it was a more or less justified response to slavery. The reaction to the John Brown raid was similar, or more positive.

The idea of cathartic violence as the inevitable and socially and spiritually cleansing response to oppression was codified by Lincoln, implicitly in the Gettysburg Address and more explicitly in his Second Inaugural Address. The idea faded with Reconstruction but came back with the communist promotion of black civil rights in the early 20th century and the wider civil rights movement and worldwide communist revolution later in the 20th century.

The idea remains with us as the leftist response to crime by groups they classify as oppressed-blacks and Hispanics obviously, but even women. Since these groups are good and could only engage in violence if seriously provoked, violence on their part serves as a signal that some oppression must be remedied, on the individual level as well as the social level. Thus criminal proceedings against a black criminal will conclude with what can be done to help him, rehabilitation being an important part of the sentencing procedure in progressive justice systems. The criminal justice system in the US is infused with a sense of regret that it is necessary at all.

The concept of cathartic violence is stupid, but more troublesome is its immorality and vacuity. The concept of pacifism is wrong, but at least contains the insight that violence will tend to lead to more violence. Any violent act or system of violent acts must contain in its intent some kind of stable solution that is better than the status quo. And it must recognize that violence has a serious deleterious effect on the person engaging in the violence. Violence can never be cathartic, this is a gross intellectual, moral and spiritual error.

Some kind of reconciliation is crucial for positive human existence; even progressives sometimes make bogus attempts at it, as when a communist revolution and mass murder aren’t going to happen- as in South Africa- or have been attempted and failed- as in Central America. But in almost all cases, progressivism is wedded to the idea of cathartic violence.

Give South Africa time, most of the violence has been officially extralegal but following a pattern of actual genocide.


That you, Epo, should accuse anyone else of being "incapable of speaking to real human or divine aspirations in any serious context," provides me with no little amusement.

Who is this man who brings a knife to gunfight?

Joel
05-12-2014, 11:06 AM
I am fairly surprised at how many Christians argue that governments are inherently illegitimate and that taxation is inherently theft. I do not personally believe either position is very compatible with Christianity given the biblical support for the legitimacy of both, which is of course not to accuse those holding such positions of anything more than cognitive dissonance.
I don't think it is Biblically considered more than a necessary evil either. Government would be unnecessary and nonexistent if it weren't for the need of defense and to punish evildoers, which would be unnecessary in the absence of evildoers who harm others.

Also I think you are misusing the term "cognitive dissonance." It is not the holding of contradictory views but the discomfort felt upon realizing that one has been holding contradictory views. (Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)


I don't think Franklin is presenting an argument so much as merely expressing his view. The point is, one could easily make the accusation that he was much more of a socialist than Obama and somewhere up there with Pope Francis.

Hamilton was perhaps even worse.



Did Adam and Eve own the Garden of Eden?
Interesting question. I think something like the Lockean view makes the most sense. Something like this: At first the Garden was unowned, but parts could become owned by doing work upon it. For example, if we imagined a hypothetical foreigner (who did not actually exist, of course); he could at the beginning have legitimately entered the garden and taken and eaten some good fruit (unless explicitly forbidden by God Himself). But if Adam did a bunch of work, say gathering apples and making cider, then the cider would be owned by Adam, and it would be theft for the foreigner to take the fruit of Adam's labor.



If Francis is a socialist, so is Benedict, and so was Jesus. In other words, if "socialist" is the only word you know for these ideas, you need a bigger moral vocabulary.
They certainly aren't socialists, because they did not advocate the collective ownership of the means of production. A welfare state is not socialism.

Benedict was at least as bad as Francis (as far as I know) regarding economics (as seen in his Caritas in Veritate). But I don't think their wrongheaded ideas can be attributed to Jesus.


I'm coming to this discussion blind, so please forgive me if I'm being too simplistic; but if human governments are, in theory, ordained by God then it must follow that they collect tax. They can't operate without revenue - it's just not possible.

It would be simpler if God did indeed appear and verbally ordain someone as king (for example). As it is, we have to use our judgement about what/who is and is not a legitimate government and what is the extent of legitimate government. Which is not as straightforward as people at first think. Secondly, it's not logically necessary that good government must be funded by tax (i.e., coercively). There may be voluntary means. Thirdly, even if necessary, it goes back to my point that it would then become, at best, a necessary evil.



I think it only gets messy when an individual decides they don't want the protection and benefits of a certain or any society - they can't move anywhere because basically everywhere but Antarctica has been claimed by a government and failure to follow they're laws leads to unpleasantness.
I think we also need to be careful to distinguish society and government. Opposing a particular government (or wanting to have nothing to do with it) is not the same as wanting to quit society.


I find your stance extremely bizarre.

It's depends entirely on the premise that we own absolutely what we have. But that is not so; we have responsibilities and duties beyond our individual selves, including society at large, and paying taxes is one of them.

This requires more careful analysis. It makes no sense to suppose a duty to pay tax for its own sake, apart from the any need for taxes. After all, a bunch of wealth could be taken via taxation, and then destroyed. To whom would this be a duty to pay? It would benefit no one, and make everyone worse off. In such a case if you wanted to help your fellow men, you would oppose such taxation. Thus you have to take into account the need for the taxation and what causes the duty to arise. (Not to mention the question of to whom it is due.)

A moral obligation to submit to tax would also not be an endorsement of taxation. Consider that when Jesus said to turn the other cheek to one doing violence, he is in no way condoning the one doing violence.



More fundamentally, from a Christian perspective, we don't have absolute ownership even of ourselves. All was made by God and belongs ultimately to God. We are stewards of what He gives us, and He wants us to pay taxes.
You are equivocating. Ownership is meant in different senses. Otherwise, it would always be false to say any man owns anything, because God owns everything. In which case the commandment "Thou shall not steal" would be meaningless. But ownership among men is meant in a different sense than when we say God owns everything. Consider a hammer; yes, God owns it in the ultimate, unqualified sense. But when we say a human, let's call her Alice, owns the hammer, we are talking about inter-human interaction. What we mean is that it is immoral (more specifically injustice) for another human to take the hammer from Alice without her consent. We mean that among humans, it is Alice who has the moral license to decide how the hammer is used. (Which of course could be preempted by God's explicit action, because of his ultimate ownership, at any time. But I've never seen that happen.)

Spartacus
05-12-2014, 04:34 PM
Or, she could just be trying to realize the benefits of violence without paying the cost, like pretty much every other leftist out there who believes in cathartic violence: (http://deconstructingleftism.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/cathartic-violence-and-progressivism/)

Or like anyone who defends the death penalty as it's currently practiced.

Just Some Dude
05-12-2014, 05:04 PM
Who is this man who brings a knife to gunfight?

Pot calling the kettle black much? You might have the right idea to show up to the fight against liberalism and other modern evils (like modern liberals claiming they are eliminating racism, when alls they do is simply reverse who is the oppressor and oppressed), but compounding your zeal with raw hatred for people not of your own race or sex isn't helping.

Paprika
05-13-2014, 06:09 AM
This requires more careful analysis. It makes no sense to suppose a duty to pay tax for its own sake, apart from the any need for taxes. After all, a bunch of wealth could be taken via taxation, and then destroyed. To whom would this be a duty to pay? It would benefit no one, and make everyone worse off. In such a case if you wanted to help your fellow men, you would oppose such taxation. Thus you have to take into account the need for the taxation and what causes the duty to arise. (Not to mention the question of to whom it is due.)
It may not have been clear in that post: I'm not saying that it's a social duty or responsibility to pay all taxes, but that it's a duty to pay some taxes.


A moral obligation to submit to tax would also not be an endorsement of taxation. Consider that when Jesus said to turn the other cheek to one doing violence, he is in no way condoning the one doing violence.

I think this point needs more analysis. You cannot say that it is not an endorsement of taxation, but rather, that is not necessarily an endorsement of taxation. The key determinant, in my opinion, would be the reason given for submitting to taxation.


You are equivocating. Ownership is meant in different senses. Otherwise, it would always be false to say any man owns anything, because God owns everything. In which case the commandment "Thou shall not steal" would be meaningless. But ownership among men is meant in a different sense than when we say God owns everything. Consider a hammer; yes, God owns it in the ultimate, unqualified sense. But when we say a human, let's call her Alice, owns the hammer, we are talking about inter-human interaction. What we mean is that it is immoral (more specifically injustice) for another human to take the hammer from Alice without her consent. We mean that among humans, it is Alice who has the moral license to decide how the hammer is used. (Which of course could be preempted by God's explicit action, because of his ultimate ownership, at any time. But I've never seen that happen.)
I am not equivocating. On the contrary, I am distinguishing very clearly between God's absolute ownership of everything, and man's non-absolute ownership of some things. Let us consider the picture you paint. You say that God can preempt Alice's moral license, doesn't He do that by revealing through Scripture that taxes should be paid?

If you don't mind, I would also like to comment further on your earlier post (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?1932-Is-The-Pope-A-Commie&p=53299&viewfull=1#post53299); thus far, you have provided no sufficient reason to think that taxation is necessarily evil:
If you start with a hypothetical group of people stranded on an island, say, without a government and without the idea of a human government, but understanding morality of justice (don't steal, don't kill, etc.), they would recognize that a powerful guy suddenly going around and forcing everyone to give him money (or goods) is theft/unjust. Likewise a gang (even majority) banding together and forcing everyone else to give them money is theft. The only reason for them to ever come to the conclusion that it's acceptable to appoint a head thief or organize a thieving organization (they'll call it a "government") is if they think the cause is so necessary that it becomes a necessary evil. The most likely original justification for this is something like: that hostile forces are coming to destroy them, and without this mass theft (which they decide to call "tax") they won't be able to amass the means of defense and they will all perish or have everything stolen from them by the hostiles. (Whether they are correct in the assessment of its necessity may be a matter of debate.)

Possibly it might be so that in the hypotheticals you give that the form of taxation is evil. It does not, however, address taxation in all scenarios. As you are a Christian, I find your omission of any form of God's ordination of government or taxation in your hypothetical rather surprising.

robrecht
05-13-2014, 07:50 AM
Hamilton was perhaps even worse. Cool! Can you supply some references or links, please? I would like to know more about his thinking about this.


Interesting question. I think something like the Lockean view makes the most sense. Something like this: At first the Garden was unowned, but parts could become owned by doing work upon it. For example, if we imagined a hypothetical foreigner (who did not actually exist, of course); he could at the beginning have legitimately entered the garden and taken and eaten some good fruit (unless explicitly forbidden by God Himself). But if Adam did a bunch of work, say gathering apples and making cider, then the cider would be owned by Adam, and it would be theft for the foreigner to take the fruit of Adam's labor. Let's not talk about the cider just yet, ie, the fruit of Adam's labor. I'm more inyerested in your original characterization. When you say that the Garden was unowned, are you denying that God was the owner? And when you say that parts of the Garden could become owned by doing work upon it, are you saying that the worker gains (some?) ownership of the means of production? And, finally, would God still be the ultimate owner of the earth and all that is in it?

Epoetker
05-13-2014, 10:58 PM
Or like anyone who defends the death penalty as it's currently practiced.

Definitely not practiced quickly enough. Prisons are far more dehumanizing than executioners.


Pot calling the kettle black much? You might have the right idea to show up to the fight against liberalism and other modern evils (like modern liberals claiming they are eliminating racism, when alls they do is simply reverse who is the oppressor and oppressed),

If your response to liberals is simply to call them hypocrites for failing to adhere to the liberal ideal of no racism, and stop there, then I probably have failed. The Republican Party as a whole is in fact responsible for giving people both false hopes and false ideals, which matches only the current liberal philosophy minus ten or twenty years. I'm here to bring the truth as it is, not as the false ideology of the day wishes it.


but compounding your zeal with raw hatred for people not of your own race or sex isn't helping.

If you think my general opinion of "everything in its proper place, the wife in her home with her children, the foreign nationals in their own foreign countries, and the criminals and their enablers in the grave" is RAW HATRED, you may be operating under a strong delusion or three. Rest assured that I don't need RAW HATRED to enact or teach these concepts, as they are duties born of knowledge and experience, not the passions of youth or the fads of the day. And ironically, they often come universally to men in all nations who have lived long enough to see them.

Spartacus
05-14-2014, 10:37 AM
Definitely not practiced quickly enough. Prisons are far more dehumanizing than executioners.

Nice dodge, but it remains clear that cathartic violence is as much a part of the common justification for the death penalty for violent crime as it is for economic crime. The line between justice and revenge is sometimes difficult to discern.

Darth Executor
05-14-2014, 10:56 AM
Nice dodge, but it remains clear that cathartic violence is as much a part of the common justification for the death penalty for violent crime as it is for economic crime. The line between justice and revenge is sometimes difficult to discern.

That's because there isn't a line between justice and revenge. Justice is revenge administered by an ideally objective third party.

Epoetker
05-14-2014, 11:11 AM
Nice dodge, but it remains clear that cathartic violence is as much a part of the common justification for the death penalty for violent crime as it is for economic crime. The line between justice and revenge is sometimes difficult to discern.


That's because there isn't a line between justice and revenge. Justice is revenge administered by an ideally objective third party.

Both wrong. The human impulse to revenge oneself upon his wrongdoer is completely natural and straightforwardly applicable in many cases, but if cathartic violence was what justice was all about, then we'd still be having all executions carried out by the family of the accused. Those who murder innocents need to be put to death even if the society is either ambivalent about or okay with it, (actually one might say especially if the society is either ambivalent about or okay with it.) The truest order is from the Lord and his Law.

In any case, the article was about cathartic violence as seen by the Left, which would, for instance, snicker knowingly at a movie where a white villain met his end in a black neighborhood, but would be appalled/sickened/disgusted/othered if a black villain met his end in Lower Appalachia. There are some impulses you just can't encourage in certain people, right?

Darth Executor
05-14-2014, 11:38 AM
Both wrong. The human impulse to revenge oneself upon his wrongdoer is completely natural and straightforwardly applicable in many cases, but if cathartic violence was what justice was all about, then we'd still be having all executions carried out by the family of the accused. Those who murder innocents need to be put to death even if the society is either ambivalent about or okay with it, (actually one might say especially if the society is either ambivalent about or okay with it.) The truest order is from the Lord and his Law.

Nope, you wrongly conflating revenge with catharsis. I recommend tracking the word's etymology (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=revenge&allowed_in_frame=0) for a more complete picture. Revenge does not require anyone to feel good about it or a wronged party to be upset about the original act. Evil (read: liberal) mouths have attempted to strip the act of all its nuances for obvious, perverse, self serving reasons.

OU812
05-14-2014, 02:31 PM
Justice is revenge administered by an ideally objective third party.

While explicitly acknowledging that such a thing doesn't exist in reality.......

......or maybe not.

OU812
05-15-2014, 08:48 AM
While explicitly acknowledging that such a thing doesn't exist in reality.......

......or maybe not.


(crickets)

Yeah definitely not.

But by all means, let's continue the "My Statism is better than YOUR Statism" game*

*also known as the Democrat ('Liberal') vs. Republican ('Conservative') Shell-Game.

Epoetker
05-15-2014, 10:40 PM
(crickets)

Yeah definitely not.

But by all means, let's continue the "My Statism is better than YOUR Statism" game*

*also known as the Democrat ('Liberal') vs. Republican ('Conservative') Shell-Game.

In all fairness, this is more International Socialism versus National Socialism, which is at least more honest.


Revenge does not require anyone to feel good about it or a wronged party to be upset about the original act. Evil (read: liberal) mouths have attempted to strip the act of all its nuances for obvious, perverse, self serving reasons.

And it is in response to this general understanding that I have moved away from using the word, and illustrated it with more words than are perhaps necessary for those with a more historically informed vocabulary. Noting that revanche in the original French terminology was also used for purposes considerably more destructive than the correction of evils, and also noting that its elevated definition still requires a very extensive and specific shared moral understanding among those who use it in order to avoid the normal human cycle of violence in response, I did not see it as the best term to use in that instance.

And besides, salutary genocide is generally not done simply in order to assuage revanchist feelings, but to prevent them from running out of control in the future. Whether I have to crush a human impulse or a human tribe, I would prefer to do it for very clear and very immediately explainable reasons. "I was in the mood" is not one of them.

Joel
05-16-2014, 01:32 PM
This requires more careful analysis. It makes no sense to suppose a duty to pay tax for its own sake, apart from the any need for taxes. After all, a bunch of wealth could be taken via taxation, and then destroyed. To whom would this be a duty to pay? It would benefit no one, and make everyone worse off. In such a case if you wanted to help your fellow men, you would oppose such taxation. Thus you have to take into account the need for the taxation and what causes the duty to arise. (Not to mention the question of to whom it is due.)

It may not have been clear in that post: I'm not saying that it's a social duty or responsibility to pay all taxes, but that it's a duty to pay some taxes.

Okay, so then it seems you do acknowledge that it at least depends on the reason/necessity for the taxation, and that it is not a duty to pay tax for its own sake. Which goes back to my point that "nobody would consider thinking that it's morally justified unless they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil, or some such argument that it is a necessary evil." i.e., lesser of two evils.





A moral obligation to submit to tax would also not be an endorsement of taxation.

I think this point needs more analysis. You cannot say that it is not an endorsement of taxation, but rather, that is not necessarily an endorsement of taxation. The key determinant, in my opinion, would be the reason given for submitting to taxation.

Okay.



I am not equivocating. On the contrary, I am distinguishing very clearly between God's absolute ownership of everything, and man's non-absolute ownership of some things. Let us consider the picture you paint. You say that God can preempt Alice's moral license, doesn't He do that by revealing through Scripture that taxes should be paid?

You just above have agreed with me that there is not a duty "to pay all taxes". There isn't a duty to pay just any tax, or just any claim that happens to be called "tax".
At minimum that means we have to use our ability to reason, to judge which is which. And Scripture certainly does not explicitly tell us how to distinguish them. We might even consider whether the obligation suggested in Scripture (if any) can be fulfilled in a number of different ways.

Moreover, as I said before and you agreed, saying that you should give something does not necessarily imply that it is moral for the other party to do the taking.



If you don't mind, I would also like to comment further on your earlier post (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?1932-Is-The-Pope-A-Commie&p=53299&viewfull=1#post53299); thus far, you have provided no sufficient reason to think that taxation is necessarily evil:
Possibly it might be so that in the hypotheticals you give that the form of taxation is evil. It does not, however, address taxation in all scenarios. As you are a Christian, I find your omission of any form of God's ordination of government or taxation in your hypothetical rather surprising.
I think that I have given sufficient reason to think that what we call taxation, if it is done in any other case, by anyone else, is recognized to be theft.
I think that I have also given good reason to throw into question the possibility of any circumstances in which it becomes not theft. I myself have long sought high and low for any such possibility, and have asked lots of people, and have not yet found any.

EXCEPT, in the hypothetical case where God Himself makes a special declaration to us, e.g., appointing one particular person a king over particular other persons. But that doesn't usually happen.

As for my scenario, can you explain how would God's ordination be discerned in it? At what point would we have reason to discern that a bandit or bandit gang's theft has suddenly switched from being evil to being authorized and positively good, even though the ostensibly objective nature of the acts is unchanged? Likewise there may very well be multiple competing persons or gangs. How would you discern that one is ordained by God and the others are criminals? or whether they are all being criminals?

Joel
05-16-2014, 02:03 PM
Cool! Can you supply some references or links, please?

Try googling information about the conflicts between Jefferson and Hamilton. What I was getting at was that Hamilton was a successful advocate for a larger, more powerful government. And for one that gets quite involved in the economy. He was behind the creation of the U.S.'s first central bank. He also seems to have originated some of the persisting arguments for an expansionist interpretation of the Constitution. It seems that much that is wrong with U.S. politics today can be traced back to Hamilton. If you want more help along these lines let me know.



Let's not talk about the cider just yet, ie, the fruit of Adam's labor. I'm more inyerested in your original characterization. When you say that the Garden was unowned, are you denying that God was the owner?

As I replied to Paprika in post #57, we mean different things when talking about God's ownership and man's ownership (otherwise we would be talking nonsense). Thus I was not denying God's ultimate ownership of everything. I was expressing the idea that it was unowned with respect to man--that it is as of yet undefined which human has the moral right to use/control a thing.

There is some difficulty here in the case of the garden when there was only Adam or only Adam and Eve. It becomes easier if we are talking post-Eden with more people, and talking about parts of the earth no man has yet been to or seen.



And when you say that parts of the Garden could become owned by doing work upon it, are you saying that the worker gains (some?) ownership of the means of production? And, finally, would God still be the ultimate owner of the earth and all that is in it?
Isn't it a little too early in this line of reasoning to introduce the distinction of means of production? At first the only means of production would be things like their physical bodies and standing room. And I would say that each person owned their own bodies. (Again, not in the sense opposed to God's ownership of them, but with respect to men--that no other human has a right to use the person's body without the person's consent.) So in this sense, there was private ownership of the means of production to begin with.

Then you want to know about new means of production? Perhaps someone takes some reeds and fashions them into a kind of net with which to catch fish. The reeds started out as unowned. They were not made by any man and no one had put them to any use before. The net (which is a new means of production) would then be owned by its fashioner in the sense that it would be theft for our hypothetical 'foreigner' to take it (acting as a kind of parasite, injurious to the fashioner of the net, as well as having no special claim to the matter--the original reeds--over the fashioner).

While at the same time, yes, God would be the ultimate owner of it and everything.

Paprika
05-16-2014, 06:52 PM
Okay, so then it seems you do acknowledge that it at least depends on the reason/necessity for the taxation, and that it is not a duty to pay tax for its own sake. Which goes back to my point that "nobody would consider thinking that it's morally justified unless they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil, or some such argument that it is a necessary evil." i.e., lesser of two evils.
...
As for my scenario, can you explain how would God's ordination be discerned in it? At what point would we have reason to discern that a bandit or bandit gang's theft has suddenly switched from being evil to being authorized and positively good, even though the ostensibly objective nature of the acts is unchanged? Likewise there may very well be multiple competing persons or gangs. How would you discern that one is ordained by God and the others are criminals? or whether they are all being criminals?
Again, you seem to be reasoning from the premise that taxation is necessarily evil. I don't hold to that premise, nor do I think that you have sufficiently demonstrated it. Your hypotheticals do not establish it, nor does your "I myself have long sought high and low for any such possibility, and have asked lots of people, and have not yet found any"). "Nobody would consider thinking that it's morally justified unless they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil, or some such argument that it is a necessary evil" is merely an assertion, and has hardly been justified by you.
.
Also, "criminals"? Do you mean criminal as being defined by whatever law is in effect?

rogue06
05-19-2014, 03:19 PM
Since Marx totally rejected religion and Christianity in particular ('opiate of the masses', remember?) it's highly unlikely he drew directly from Christian philosophy. Possibly unconsciously, but the case for that is tenuous.
Perhaps Pope Francis is reading from the Gospel According to Marx.

:outtie:

robrecht
05-19-2014, 04:05 PM
Try googling information about the conflicts between Jefferson and Hamilton. What I was getting at was that Hamilton was a successful advocate for a larger, more powerful government. And for one that gets quite involved in the economy. He was behind the creation of the U.S.'s first central bank. He also seems to have originated some of the persisting arguments for an expansionist interpretation of the Constitution. It seems that much that is wrong with U.S. politics today can be traced back to Hamilton. If you want more help along these lines let me know. Oh, never mind, that's all common knowledge. I thought you were saying that Hamilton was worse than Franklin with respect to private and public property.


As I replied to Paprika in post #57, we mean different things when talking about God's ownership and man's ownership (otherwise we would be talking nonsense). Thus I was not denying God's ultimate ownership of everything. I was expressing the idea that it was unowned with respect to man--that it is as of yet undefined which human has the moral right to use/control a thing. Oh, good, I'm glad to hear that you are not denying God's ultimate ownership of everything. Do you acknowledge that God's ultimate ownership of everything limits the sense in which we can speak of man's ownership, hence man's ownership is not ultimate, unconditioned or absolute in the sense God's is?


Isn't it a little too early in this line of reasoning to introduce the distinction of means of production? At first the only means of production would be things like their physical bodies and standing room. And I would say that each person owned their own bodies. (Again, not in the sense opposed to God's ownership of them, but with respect to men--that no other human has a right to use the person's body without the person's consent.) So in this sense, there was private ownership of the means of production to begin with. No, by no means do I think it is too early. Wouldn't you also say that the land was indeed a means of production? So, when you say that parts of the Garden could become owned by doing work upon it, are you saying that the worker gains (some?) ownership of the land?

Joel
05-20-2014, 10:48 AM
Again, you seem to be reasoning from the premise that taxation is necessarily evil. I don't hold to that premise, nor do I think that you have sufficiently demonstrated it.

No, I'm reasoning from the premise that theft is evil.
And the premise that "Taking that which is another's without their consent is theft."

To make it more explicit:

1) Taking that which is another's without their consent is theft.
2) Taxation is taking that which is another's without their consent.
3) Therefore taxation is theft.

And then.
1) Theft is evil.
2) Taxation is theft.
3) Therefore taxation is evil.

Thus it is a conclusion, not my premise.



Your hypotheticals do not establish it,

No, my hypothetical scenario was to help provide you with possibly a way of explaining to me how taxation could be not-theft. If it's possible, there should be some way to get from that scenario to legitimate taxation. If there is, all you have to do is point it out. I don't see it.



nor does your "I myself have long sought high and low for any such possibility, and have asked lots of people, and have not yet found any").

That was my way of asking you to please show it to me, since you clearly know what it is. Don't keep it concealed from me.



"Nobody would consider thinking that it's morally justified unless they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil, or some such argument that it is a necessary evil" is merely an assertion, and has hardly been justified by you.

Actually that one I think we have established. You agreed with me that there is not a duty "to pay all taxes". Thus there may be some taxes which there is not a duty to pay. In which case, it is a taking from someone who has no duty to pay, which is theft. And nobody thinks that theft is morally justified (unless perhaps they thought it was necessary to stop some greater evil).



Also, "criminals"? Do you mean criminal as being defined by whatever law is in effect?
I mean in the sense of one who breaks the eternal, immutable law of Justice. If you like, you can replace "criminal" with something more specific, like "thief". E.g.: How would you discern that one is ordained by God and the others are thieves? or whether they are all committing theft?

Epoetker
05-20-2014, 10:58 AM
Taking that which is another's without their consent is theft.

So, if a parent gives something to his children, then takes it away when they misbehave, is that theft? Before you start making judgments on actions, we need to hear judgments on actors, something which libertarians are generally much, much, weaker on than most.

Joel
05-20-2014, 11:08 AM
Oh, good, I'm glad to hear that you are not denying God's ultimate ownership of everything. Do you acknowledge that God's ultimate ownership of everything limits the sense in which we can speak of man's ownership, hence man's ownership is not ultimate, unconditioned or absolute in the sense God's is?

I was more specific than that, when I said in post 57:



"Ownership is meant in different senses. Otherwise, it would always be false to say any man owns anything, because God owns everything. In which case the commandment "Thou shall not steal" would be meaningless. But ownership among men is meant in a different sense than when we say God owns everything. Consider a hammer; yes, God owns it in the ultimate, unqualified sense. But when we say a human, let's call her Alice, owns the hammer, we are talking about inter-human interaction. What we mean is that it is immoral (more specifically injustice) for another human to take the hammer from Alice without her consent. We mean that among humans, it is Alice who has the moral license to decide how the hammer is used. (Which of course could be preempted by God's explicit action, because of his ultimate ownership, at any time. But I've never seen that happen.)"


It is "limited" in the sense that it is restricted to referring to relations among men.



No, by no means do I think it is too early. Wouldn't you also say that the land was indeed a means of production? So, when you say that parts of the Garden could become owned by doing work upon it, are you saying that the worker gains (some?) ownership of the land?
I'd say a thing is not a means of production until it is used by humans for production (it isn't an inherent property of the thing). But perhaps that is splitting hairs.

But the reeds (in my example of someone who fashions unowned reeds into a net) came from the land, were unowned and unused, and the net is then owned, as I explained. So, yes, can become owned in that sense.

But perhaps you are asking about a fixed geographical location. Similarly, after Eden, when man had to till the ground, suppose someone clears an unowned plot of ground, tills it, fertilizes it, plows, plants, waters, etc, producing a fruitful field. That person then owns the field, in the sense that it would be theft for our hypothetical 'foreigner' to take it (acting as a kind of parasite, injurious to the fashioner of the field, as well as having no special claim to the matter--the original unowned plot of ground--over the fashioner).

Joel
05-20-2014, 11:32 AM
So, if a parent gives something to his children, then takes it away when they misbehave, is that theft? Before you start making judgments on actions, we need to hear judgments on actors, something which libertarians are generally much, much, weaker on than most.
I was speaking regarding adults. Children create special cases of persons who are not fully capable of consent and reason, and have a guardian. And this may give rise to certain cases where a parent may override the child's desires for the child's own good, in ways that would be a violation of rights if done to anyone else. This raises a large discussion of its own.

Now "give" can refer to handing something to someone, without the intent to transfer ownership. But I assume you meant the parent transferred title (such as in the case of transferring funds to an account owned by the recipient). Then taking it would indeed be theft.

But then you might say, what if the child is, say, waving his object around dangerously (could damage property or injure persons). Well even in the case of adults doing such a thing, it would be reasonable to take the object or physically restrain the person. In that case we are no longer talking about a person peacefully owning property; we are talking about someone who has committed a crime: injuring or threatening another person's right to their life, liberty or property. In which case the culprit is thought to have, by such action, forfeited (proportionally) his own rights to his life, liberty, or property. This is not a limitation of property rights (which ideally would never be violated), but a matter of what happens when someone violates the rights of another.

robrecht
05-20-2014, 12:11 PM
I was more specific than that, when I said in post 57:



"Ownership is meant in different senses. Otherwise, it would always be false to say any man owns anything, because God owns everything. In which case the commandment "Thou shall not steal" would be meaningless. But ownership among men is meant in a different sense than when we say God owns everything. Consider a hammer; yes, God owns it in the ultimate, unqualified sense. But when we say a human, let's call her Alice, owns the hammer, we are talking about inter-human interaction. What we mean is that it is immoral (more specifically injustice) for another human to take the hammer from Alice without her consent. We mean that among humans, it is Alice who has the moral license to decide how the hammer is used. (Which of course could be preempted by God's explicit action, because of his ultimate ownership, at any time. But I've never seen that happen.)"


It is "limited" in the sense that it is restricted to referring to relations among men.More specific, but not what I am trying to get at. Let me ask it in a different way:

A lazy man inherited many orchards from his wealthy and pious father. Unlike his father, the lazy man wanted a bigger house, vacation homes, and many sports cars so he cut the wages of his employees from $10.10/hour to $5/hour. Later, he learned that he could employ illegal migrant workers for $4/hour and not have to pay FICA taxes to the bloated federal government. The lazy many became even wealthier and bought more and more orchards until he owned all the land in the area. Then progressively more desperate migrants come into the area and eventually some agreed to work for $.50 per hour. Then one of the fired workers with 10 children became truly desperate and agreed to work for $.45 per hour and got his old job back. After a couple of his children got sick and died of starvation, the worker hears the voice of God asking him if it is truly just for the wealthy owner of all the orchards in the state to pay so little to his workers while he is getting richer and richer? The poor man thinks long and hard about his love for God and his family and his obligation to feed his family, and says to God in fervent and humble prayer, "No, I do not believe it is just and I do not believe that you want my children to starve, what should I do?" He believes he hears God answer and tell him to take home a few pieces of fruit in his pockets every day to feed his children and keep them alive because this was not what He had in mind when he placed Adam in the Garden. A few days later, the manager of the orchard catches the desperate man stealing fruit but lets him go becaue he has compassion on him. That Sunday at Church the manager is filled with the Spirit of God and decides to pay the man more money per hour out of his own pocket so that the migrant worker will not bear the shame of needing to steal to feed his family.

Was the lazy owner a good steward of God's creation? Was he justified in the eyes of God? When he dies and meets St James at the pearly gates (Peter was on a break), he's a little nervous and says he had always greatly admired St Paul's theology of sola fide and would rather speak with him. What should St James do? Go look for Paul? Wait for Peter to get back and ask him? But, wait, he's in luck, he sees his older brother Jesus nearby, playing with some very happy children on the playground just inside the gate.

Joel
05-20-2014, 05:14 PM
More specific, but not what I am trying to get at. Let me ask it in a different way:

A lazy man inherited many orchards from his wealthy and pious father. Unlike his father, the lazy man wanted a bigger house, vacation homes, and many sports cars so he cut the wages of his employees from $10.10/hour to $5/hour. Later, he learned that he could employ illegal migrant workers for $4/hour and not have to pay FICA taxes to the bloated federal government. The lazy many became even wealthier and bought more and more orchards until he owned all the land in the area. Then progressively more desperate migrants come into the area and eventually some agreed to work for $.50 per hour. Then one of the fired workers with 10 children became truly desperate and agreed to work for $.45 per hour and got his old job back. After a couple of his children got sick and died of starvation, the worker hears the voice of God asking him if it is truly just for the wealthy owner of all the orchards in the state to pay so little to his workers while he is getting richer and richer? The poor man thinks long and hard about his love for God and his family and his obligation to feed his family, and says to God in fervent and humble prayer, "No, I do not believe it is just and I do not believe that you want my children to starve, what should I do?" He believes he hears God answer and tell him to take home a few pieces of fruit in his pockets every day to feed his children and keep them alive because this was not what He had in mind when he placed Adam in the Garden. A few days later, the manager of the orchard catches the desperate man stealing fruit but lets him go becaue he has compassion on him. That Sunday at Church the manager is filled with the Spirit of God and decides to pay the man more money per hour out of his own pocket so that the migrant worker will not bear the shame of needing to steal to feed his family.

Was the lazy owner a good steward of God's creation? Was he justified in the eyes of God? When he dies and meets St James at the pearly gates (Peter was on a break), he's a little nervous and says he had always greatly admired St Paul's theology of sola fide and would rather speak with him. What should St James do? Go look for Paul? Wait for Peter to get back and ask him? But, wait, he's in luck, he sees his older brother Jesus nearby, playing with some very happy children on the playground just inside the gate.
It seems like this is based on a bad understanding of economics. Presumably the wealthy father was paying the going market price for the labor ($10.10), where the economically savy father knew to adjust to the point where the marginal cost of labor equals the marginal revenue from labor.
So when the foolish son tries offering only half the going price for the labor, he finds that all his employees quit and go work for another firm that is paying the going market price. His productivity and income falls through the floor. He's forced to sell the orchards and he dies in poverty.

Just like a farmer planting corn, who decides to make more money by cutting costs by offering to buy seed at $2/bushel instead of the going price of $5/bushel. The result: no one sells him any corn.

Your story shows no understanding of how prices are determined in a market. It's not a matter of one buyer arbitrarily deciding what to pay.


All that aside, it seems that what you are trying to get at is that a person should not merely be just, but should also be charitable regarding property. Yes, of course.
But this doesn't oppose what I've been saying about ownership.
(I also don't see any reason why charitable giving must be via wages as opposed to a separate act, which in turn raises doubt that an employer would have any unique blame.)

robrecht
05-20-2014, 05:29 PM
It seems like this is based on a bad understanding of economics. Presumably the wealthy father was paying the going market price for the labor ($10.10), where the economically savy father knew to adjust to the point where the marginal cost of labor equals the marginal revenue from labor.
So when the foolish son tries offering only half the going price for the labor, he finds that all his employees quit and go work for another firm that is paying the going market price. His productivity and income falls through the floor. He's forced to sell the orchards and he dies in poverty.

Just like a farmer planting corn, who decides to make more money by cutting costs by offering to buy seed at $2/bushel instead of the going price of $5/bushel. The result: no one sells him any corn.

Your story shows no understanding of how prices are determined in a market. It's not a matter of one buyer arbitrarily deciding what to pay.


All that aside, it seems that what you are trying to get at is that a person should not merely be just, but should also be charitable regarding property. Yes, of course.
But this doesn't oppose what I've been saying about ownership.
(I also don't see any reason why charitable giving must be via wages as opposed to a separate act, which in turn raises doubt that an employer would have any unique blame.) Rather, I am trying to determine if you see any actual consequences with respect to justice of your acknowledgment of God's ultimate ownership of all creation? Was the lazy son being just in God's eyes?

(By the way, it was a parable, not a lecture in economics.)

Darth Executor
05-20-2014, 05:41 PM
It seems like this is based on a bad understanding of economics. Presumably the wealthy father was paying the going market price for the labor ($10.10), where the economically savy father knew to adjust to the point where the marginal cost of labor equals the marginal revenue from labor.
So when the foolish son tries offering only half the going price for the labor, he finds that all his employees quit and go work for another firm that is paying the going market price. His productivity and income falls through the floor. He's forced to sell the orchards and he dies in poverty.

Just like a farmer planting corn, who decides to make more money by cutting costs by offering to buy seed at $2/bushel instead of the going price of $5/bushel. The result: no one sells him any corn.

Your story shows no understanding of how prices are determined in a market. It's not a matter of one buyer arbitrarily deciding what to pay.


No, his story is entirely accurate. It's not a matter of arbitrary pay. The son can pay very little because the supply of unskilled labour is much higher than the demand. This is, in fact, what happens in real life, particularly in the modern United States where illegal immigration is rampant and outsourcing is easy (and only getting easier).

Paprika
05-20-2014, 09:40 PM
No, I'm reasoning from the premise that theft is evil.
And the premise that "Taking that which is another's without their consent is theft."

To make it more explicit:

1) Taking that which is another's without their consent is theft.
2) Taxation is taking that which is another's without their consent.
3) Therefore taxation is theft.

And then.
1) Theft is evil.
2) Taxation is theft.
3) Therefore taxation is evil.

Thus it is a conclusion, not my premise.


No, my hypothetical scenario was to help provide you with possibly a way of explaining to me how taxation could be not-theft. If it's possible, there should be some way to get from that scenario to legitimate taxation. If there is, all you have to do is point it out. I don't see it.


That was my way of asking you to please show it to me, since you clearly know what it is. Don't keep it concealed from me.
I don't have to present from your scenario that taxation is not necessarily evil, I can give one of my own: The trivial refutation is that many people do willingly and cheerfully pay taxes, and thus it isn't theft from them.

Another is that many people work for the public good: eg clerks, judges, the police, those who maintain public property and so on. These people deserve wages for their work. Thus, there is a public obligation to pay them wages, and this often is through tax money.

This is of course in line with Paul's argument in Romans 13.

For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
That is, the authorities are the ministers of God, and deserved to receive wages for their work. Hence taxes are owed. And when you owe someone something, and refuse to hand it over, I submit that it isn't necessarily wrong for force to be applied to make that handing over happen, and that it isn't theft. Your premise 1) fails here, since it is possibly to physically possess something which you owe someone else.



I mean in the sense of one who breaks the eternal, immutable law of Justice. If you like, you can replace "criminal" with something more specific, like "thief". E.g.: How would you discern that one is ordained by God and the others are thieves? or whether they are all committing theft?
What is this eternal, immutable law of Justice that you are referring to?

Teallaura
05-21-2014, 07:17 AM
I don't have to present from your scenario that taxation is not necessarily evil, I can give one of my own: The trivial refutation is that many people do willingly and cheerfully pay taxes, and thus it isn't theft from them.

Another is that many people work for the public good: eg clerks, judges, the police, those who maintain public property and so on. These people deserve wages for their work. Thus, there is a public obligation to pay them wages, and this often is through tax money.

This is of course in line with Paul's argument in Romans 13.

That is, the authorities are the ministers of God, and deserved to receive wages for their work. Hence taxes are owed. And when you owe someone something, and refuse to hand it over, I submit that it isn't necessarily wrong for force to be applied to make that handing over happen, and that it isn't theft. Your premise 1) fails here, since it is possibly to physically possess something which you owe someone else.


What is this eternal, immutable law of Justice that you are referring to?
^Amen!

Joel
05-21-2014, 11:49 AM
No, his story is entirely accurate. It's not a matter of arbitrary pay. The son can pay very little because the supply of unskilled labour is much higher than the demand. This is, in fact, what happens in real life, particularly in the modern United States where illegal immigration is rampant and outsourcing is easy (and only getting easier).
For anything, the quantity supplied is higher than the quantity demanded only when the price is higher than the equilibrium (market) price.
So at best, given your supposition, Robrecht is supposing a situation in which the equilibrium price is $0.50/hr. Which is not realistic. At that price, the quantity demanded would skyrocket far above the supply. Even just around the home, average people would want to hire far more services for all kinds of things.

But for the sake of argument, let's suppose that the equilibrium and going price is $0.50/hr. That is, all the other employers are paying about $0.50/hr, and only the rich father was paying $10.10/hr. Now there are a few possibilities:
1) He was paying far more than the market value of the labor (thus taking a loss) as an act of charity. In which case it raises the question of how the rich father stayed rich in the orchard business while being unprofitable.
2) Or in order to not be taking a loss, he would need to reduce production and output by so much that the fruit sold is in such a low supply that the marginal revenue rises to match the $10.10/hr marginal cost for labor. The father would then only have a small orchard with little quantity sold. Not nearly as wealthy. And much fewer employees (thus more people working for others at $0.50/hr). And surely that would not last, because the high price for the fruit would provide incentive for new competitors to enter the market with their own orchards, until demand is satisfied again and the price driven back down.
3) Or the father was able to not take a loss because the high wages enabled him to be selective in hiring. It enabled him to hire the best, most productive workers, such that the market value of their labor is $10.10/hr instead of the usual $0.50/hr. In which case we are no longer talking about the same pool of low-skilled workers.

Whichever way you look at it, it doesn't make much sense.


Rather, I am trying to determine if you see any actual consequences with respect to justice of your acknowledgment of God's ultimate ownership of all creation? Was the lazy son being just in God's eyes?

(By the way, it was a parable, not a lecture in economics.)
Social democrats use similar parables to reach all kinds of bad conclusions, based on lack of understanding of the laws of economics. So you will have to excuse me for wanting to ward off those commonly made errors.

As I've said, yes God's ownership has consequences. I've said that although Alice's ownership of her hammer means no other human may take or use the hammer without Alice's consent, God may still, of course, take or use the hammer without Alice's consent. God could, too, if He wished, come down and announce verbally to Alice that He is transferring her title to the hammer to someone else.

As for the justice of the son:
First of all, I've never understood why poverty is so often blamed on employers. For the sake of argument, let's suppose that the market price for the low-skilled labor in question were $5/hr. So the employer is paying a guy $5/hr, and the guy is poor, and let's suppose that no one is giving charitably to him. Why should the employer, who is paying the man a wage, be considered more guilty than every other person in the world who are giving the man nothing at all? If the employer is guilty and everyone else is not, then the employer can eliminate his sin by firing the worker, and thus the employer would join the morally-neutral ranks of everyone else in not giving the man anything at all. But that is absurd. And if anything, we see that the employee would be even worse off unemployed, thus he is net benfitting from the employment. Thus the situation is that the employer is the only one in the world economically benefitting the guy. Thus if anything he should have the least blame of all!

If however, we were going to blame everyone equally for not giving charitably to the guy, and we suppose that the employer were inclined to give charitably, there is no reason at all why the employer ought to give charitably via the paycheck for the labor services. It need not have anything at all to do with the exchange of labor services for money. The employer, as anyone else, may do his charitable giving to the guy as a separate gift, clearly identified as a gift.

As for the exchange itself, of labor services for money, if the equilibrium market price is $5/hr, that would imply that hiring the employee for an extra hour of work would add $5 to the owner's revenue. For the employer to pay more than that, say $6 would mean taking a loss by paying $6 for $5 of revenue. Thus knowingly paying this extra would be a $1 act of charity.


So then, was the son being just? Well, assuming the son did not take or damage anything owned by another human, and did not physically infringe upon anyone's person or liberty, and the exchanges were all consensual, and he gave to each what is due (i.e., $5 for $5 of productivity) then the son clearly did remain within the bounds of justice.

If the son sinned, it was not in lacking justice, but in lacking charity. The two are not identical (though the latter seems to imply the former).

Carrikature
05-21-2014, 12:17 PM
Joel, I think you have a fundamental mistake in how you approach wages. The idea of wages having a market value sounds nice on the surface, but it doesn't work that way in practice. In practice, the employer pays their worker as little as they can get away with, and actual wages vary from person to person. Highly skilled employees have some degree of negotiation ability, but even that is within a range of what the employer is willing to pay. Low-skill workers do not have that luxury. If they aren't willing to accept a position for a given sum, someone else will be. Their relative needs are also greater. Where the high skill workers aren't working solely for food and clothing, the low skill worker definitely is.

Moreover, the quantity of employees can change when the overall rate is reduced. I can employ twice as many people and pay them half as much for the same total cost. My productivity goes up, especially when dealing with low skill laborers who (barring a few outliers) by and large produce about the same rate regardless. Where 'market value' may be $10/hr for a position, most people would be willing to accept half of that if it meant a difference between a job and no job. That's especially true for those living near poverty level (read: migrant workers).

Next, unless supply and demand is in the hands of a single individual (or possibly a very select group), an owner does not have the ability to limit production in the manner you suggest. However, your responses in post #85 assume a near parity between gross income and total overhead (including wages). This is seldom (if ever) the case. Rather, a rich owner could still make a significant profit even while paying his/her workers more than the average. The higher wage rate does not eliminate profits, it merely reduces them. Further, looking back at the 'twice as many workers for same cost' idea mentioned earlier, the increased production levels would mean the owner realizes even more yearly profits.

Finally, even supposing that competitors will eventually try to edge their way in, that does not mean they will be successful. It's common enough practice for a large corporation to buy out a smaller company to reduce competition. In the case of orchards (or any land-intensive product), there may be very little opportunity to purchase the resources necessary to even get started. On top of that, any group with significant productivity could lower margins enough to where smaller companies simply can't make a noticeable profit due to lack of volume. Even if the small company manages to get established, by the time they begin to make a dent in the corporation's profits, the corporation is already extremely rich.

Joel
05-21-2014, 01:59 PM
I don't have to present from your scenario that taxation is not necessarily evil, I can give one of my own: The trivial refutation is that many people do willingly and cheerfully pay taxes, and thus it isn't theft from them.

Of course it isn't theft from them, because they consented. In which case taxation was unnecessary (superfluous). It becomes a gift and loses its nature as taxation. In fact, if everyone individually consented to give, then taxation would be completely superfluous. The government would be funded via voluntary means instead of by taxation which is, by nature, compulsory. The only point and essence of taxation, vs voluntary means of funding, is that it is the taking of that which is another's (of some nonzero set of persons) without their consent. And that's theft.



Another is that many people work for the public good: eg clerks, judges, the police, those who maintain public property and so on. These people deserve wages for their work. Thus, there is a public obligation to pay them wages, and this often is through tax money.

That's putting the cart before the horse. You are first supposing that an agreement to exchange (services for money) was made, without first having the ability to pay, and then because there is no other means to pay, you are supposing that it must therefore be acceptable to steal from everyone to fulfill the obligation that had been formerly accepted. That seems hardly an acceptable moral justification. It would also have crazy implications; it would imply that anyone who starts doing such things have the same claim, e.g. if any random person decides to start their own police/defense force.

Now you might try to shift your argument and say that these are jobs that just need to be done. In which case you are making my earlier point, that you must rely on some overriding necessity. In this case either you can find voluntary ways to fund the jobs, in which case no taxation needed. Yay! Or you can't, and you are faced with the decision of whether to force all your neighbors to pay. That is, you are faced with a choice of the lesser of two evils: forgo the work being done, or use force on innocent people to take their money (i.e. theft) to fund the work. So we'd be back at my lesser-of-two-evils point. And then, again, the argument would justify equally any random person who decides to do the same thing.

You might try another approach and argue that because the work in question benefits everyone, that it is fair if everyone pays. What this amounts to is saying that the work has positive externalities (that people other than the direct actor(s), such as the buyer and seller, benefit). But this doesn't actually make it not theft. There are positive externalities with lots of things. E.g., if I make my front yard beautiful, it is enjoyed by all my neighbors (and may improve their property values). But that doesn't give me the right to forcibly extract payment from my neighbors. That would be theft. The only way it would be not theft is if my neighbors consented to give a donation or voluntarily contracted ahead of time to pay me in exchange for my doing the beautification project. So here to, the existence of positive externality does not justify taxation.


As for Romans 13, if the old TWeb hadn't been destroyed I could point you to a thread where I discussed it in depth. It's clearly talking about people bearing the sword to enact justice and thus serving God. Paul indicates that a good reason to pay is that the recipient is bearing the sword to enact justice and you are not. And then there's an imperative to do justice: render to all what is due them. We might be able to infer from their combination that he is saying that if you aren't doing justice via the sword, then you should do justice by paying those who are, thus fulfilling your obligation to do justice. But then it's not clear that it must or ought to be a legally compulsory thing. Do you not agree that a voluntary system, if possible, would be superior, and that compelling all your otherwise innocent neighbors is a less desirable option? It also seems to leave open to our judgement who to pay, what to pay, etc. As you too agreed that it is not an obligation "to pay all taxes". It is certainly not talking about all cases of positive externalities, but only about justice enacted by the sword.

It's also interesting that the verse instructing to render to each what is due is immediately followed by "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another ; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." It seems that better than paying people what you owe them is to not get into such an obligation in the first place. It may not be as necessary as it at first appears.




Your premise 1) fails here, since it is possibly to physically possess something which you owe someone else.

The premise is: "Taking that which is another's without their consent is theft."
In which case the thief would then possess that which is another's (and thus owes the other). Forcing the thief to return the thing is not theft, because it is not the thief's but the other's. Thus the premise holds.

Likewise, if you have a contractual obligation to deliver property (such as money), and you retain it past the due date (at which time it becomes the other's property), then you are in possesion of another's property without their consent and thus a thief. Again the premise holds.

What you are actually trying to do here is argue against premise (2): "Taxation is taking that which is another's without their consent." Your argument would be that taxation is the ruler taking what is the ruler's, and not taking that which is another's. Perhaps, but then that raises all the questions I raised before, and more: How do you discern who if any among possibly numerous claimants has the true claim? Why not every random person who decides to start enacting justice by the sword? What or how much is rightfully his? How does this change in rightful ownership arise? What if a person is already fulfilling his obligation to do justice in some other way?

And if you are going to argue that it is (or is akin to) payment for services rendered, then we can go back to how our discussion started:




If we are agreed that under general Christian social policy, the state uses force to ensure tax monies are collected, can you give a reason why some of it shouldn't be used to help the poor?

So then your question assumes a bad way of looking at things, I think. It should not be a matter of: Step one confiscate a bunch of money from people, and then Step two decide what to do with all this money.

Instead the focus should be on: what is it that makes the specific sum of money rightfully the ruler's? Your argument here does not imply that the ruler is owed a certain sum of money no matter what, that the ruler may decide to spend as he pleases. Rather it would be a specific amount owed for a specific service provided. And then because it's a compulsory obligation (as opposed to consensually entering into a contractual obligation), and because, as I said, this only could arise as a matter of necessity (to do enact justice by the sword) it should be only what is necessary, and nothing more, and should be done as efficiently as possible. And if the 'ruler' is able to enact justice with less effort (or less is needed, say because crime rates drop) then surely less would be owed for lesser services rendered.

So then, as I said in that same post to begin with:



If you can divert tax money from project A to project B, then presumably the level of taxation for project A wasn't as "necessary" as supposed, and thus did not morally justify that level of taxation to begin with [was not owed]. Thus the mere fact that you were taxing at that level certainly does not imply that taxing for B is morally justified, since justification of the prior taxation level is already suspect.




What is this eternal, immutable law of Justice that you are referring to?
Do you not believe in justice? I ask, because from the context of the discussion you seem to perhaps think that it is "defined by whatever law is in effect" making it arbitrary and making every statute just by definition, as opposed to statutes being just or unjust (subject to the judgment of justice) and thus prior to human-invented statutes.

Or are you shifting the discussion to new ground, and asking me to specify the content of justice, perhaps because you suspect that we disagree on that point? Which is fine. In which case I would start by saying that justice is what is referred to in Romans 13. It is the matter of against what is it morally acceptable to "bear the sword" (i.e., when is physical force/violence against fellow men acceptable). Justice is to "render to all what is due them". Paul lists specifics "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and it is doing "no wrong to a neighbor". Paul also points out that justice is included in (and implied by) loving your neighbor. (But I would say that love and justice are not equivalent. Love includes justice, but it goes beyond justice too.)

Darth Executor
05-21-2014, 02:01 PM
For anything, the quantity supplied is higher than the quantity demanded only when the price is higher than the equilibrium (market) price.

For labor (which is not the same as products because the supply of people is not based on data emailed to manufacturing by the marketing department) the quantity supplied is higher than the quantity demanded whenever the demand for products is reached without needing to employ them all. This is increasingly common in a world where manufacturing/transportation are getting cheaper and more effective every day.

What happens if you overproduce perishable food items? We can discard giving them away, but companies don't like to give away extra food because it lowers the price for the products they actually sell to customers. But you can't keep them, because they take up space and jack up your electricity bill via refrigeration. So you get rid of them, or maybe sell them to a farmer to use as fertilizer.

Now, we could put on our Aspergers hat and use your formula on people. The result wouldn't be much different, with the exception of the fertilizer part because the employer doesn't actually own the workers.

Of course, in real life people aren't like apples, so if they have no jobs (or welfare, like libertarians demand) they tend to apply their skills in ways libertarians wouldn't approve of, like bashing libertarians over the head with a club and stealing their wallet. Or voting for Hitler. There is, after all, a sudden demand for income, no matter the source.


Social democrats use similar parables to reach all kinds of bad conclusions, based on lack of understanding of the laws of economics. So you will have to excuse me for wanting to ward off those commonly made errors.


The parable sounds more like a paleocon parable. Social democrats, like libertarians, are busy trying to flood the first world with every rapist, murderer and barbarian they can get their hands on, albeit not entirely for the same reasons. And from my experience libertarians usually understand the laws of economics, then fail to apply them in meaningful ways because they don't understand people at all.

Joel
05-21-2014, 04:32 PM
Joel, I think you have a fundamental mistake in how you approach wages. The idea of wages having a market value sounds nice on the surface, but it doesn't work that way in practice. In practice, the employer pays their worker as little as they can get away with,

No more so than every buyer of anything seeks to pay as little as possible for the same good, just as much as every seller of anything seeks the highest price he can get. Far from destroying the law of supply and demand, it is what implies the law of supply and demand. It cannot be escaped.

Over 100 years ago, the theory was proposed that labor services are somehow different and that wages get driven down to bare subsistence. This has long since been debunked, logically (by the law of supply and demand) and by history, in which average wages have, in fact risen greatly over time, adjusted for inflation. Average living standards have risen greatly. The vast majority of wage earners receive in the market a wage above the legal minimum.



and actual wages vary from person to person.

Sure that happens. Economically speaking, that's because labor is not a homogeneous good. For example, different people have different abilities, thus making their services be considered different goods. Lower skilled workers may be more homogeneous.

The point remains that if a particular person's particular labor services for an hour has a market value of $5, say, then no one will pay more than $5. (except perhaps as an act of charity)



Highly skilled employees have some degree of negotiation ability, but even that is within a range of what the employer is willing to pay. Low-skill workers do not have that luxury.

Yep, that has to do with the size of the market. A person selling or buying a Rembrandt likely has room to negotiate. A person selling or buying bushels of corn has little to no room to negotiate. Likewise the buyer, as well as the seller, of low-skilled labor services has little to no room to negotiate, since the pool of buyers is large too.



Moreover, the quantity of employees can change when the overall rate is reduced. I can employ twice as many people and pay them half as much for the same total cost.

The first sentence is true. The second is unlikely. From the equilibrium wage, in order to hire more people, you have to increase your wages, to attract more workers, while lowering your wage would likely result in workers leaving. Or more generally speaking, when the demand for something goes up, the price goes up, all else being equal. And yes, hiring more workers will tend to increase total output, but marginal productivity will decline (law of decreasing marginal utility and law of decreasing returns) and could even go negative.

The real problem that people are usually getting at is the existence of unemployment: the supply exceeding demand. In which case you have a "buyer's market". In that case, if employers hire additional labor, it will tend to decrease unemployment, rather than drive up the price. Or employers could reduce wages (downwards toward the equilibrium).

But as I said, unemployment is caused only by the going price being higher than the equilibrium price. In an unhampered market (which we do not have) wages would quickly be driven toward the equilibrium price, eliminating involuntary unemployment. And employers won't go below the equilibrium point.



Next, unless supply and demand is in the hands of a single individual (or possibly a very select group), an owner does not have the ability to limit production in the manner you suggest.

Exactly my point. My point was that was not a reasonable possibility. I was listing all the possibilities in that scenario and explaining why each was unreasonable to suppose.



However, your responses in post #85 assume a near parity between gross income and total overhead (including wages). This is seldom (if ever) the case.

In an unhampered market, profits tend toward zero. And marginal cost and marginal revenue tend toward each other. That's not to say that they equal each other, but that that is the direction things move, and it's likely to be a moving target, in the constantly changing market.




Rather, a rich owner could still make a significant profit even while paying his/her workers more than the average. The higher wage rate does not eliminate profits, it merely reduces them.

Businessmen think on the margins. E.g., what is the effect of increasing (or decreasing) labor services by one unit (whatever unit the businessman is concerned with at the time). If hiring an additional hour (say) of labor will add $5 of revenue, then paying $6 for it is taking a loss on that transaction and is not worth doing (regardless whether the firm as a whole is making a profit or loss).

If $6 is the going rate, then the businessman will want to downsize because each hour reduced means cutting total cost by $6 but only reducing revenue by $5, thus each hour not cut means a loss of $1. He (and all businessmen) will want to keep cutting until the marginal revenue and marginal cost become equal (e.g., where the additional revenue is $5 and the going wage rate is $5).

Likewise in the other direction, if the going wage rate were $4, then the businessman will want to expand production by hiring additional labor, because each additional hour costs $4 but brings in $5 of additional revenue. They will want to keep expanding until marginal cost and marginal revenue are equal (e.g., increased demand for labor drives wages up to $5). And all employers are doing this at the same time.

Thus in either direction, marginal cost and marginal revenue are driven toward each other. And it is this that determines wage rates. It's not a matter of employers arbitrarily deciding what to pay. It's determined by laws of economics.



Finally, even supposing that competitors will eventually try to edge their way in, that does not mean they will be successful.

Eventually? All the other businessmen in the world seeing the chance to make $10.10 per $0.50 (a 2020% return on investment)? They will jump on the opportunity as fast as humanly possible. The very attempt will drive down prices, and at least some will tend to be competent and succeed.



It's common enough practice for a large corporation to buy out a smaller company to reduce competition.

That's not as feasible as you'd think. In this case, the rich father wants to keep marginal revenue at $10.10, so he has to keep buying out (and shutting down) all these competitors as they rush in, while at the same time maintaining the small output that maintains the enormous incentive to keep new competition flooding in. That's not sustainable.

Around 1900 in the U.S. there was a huge upsurge in mergers and buyouts in an attempt by big business to reduce competition and control the markets. Perhaps the biggest such movement ever. And it didn't work. Competition in every industry continued to grow like crazy. That's when big business turned to pushing for the creation of the federal regulatory state to achieve their goal of restricting competition and controlling the markets.



Even if the small company manages to get established

Who said small? We are talking about every businessman in the world being drawn by the opportunity to make a huge return. The one orchard owner in this case is likely to get quickly dwarfed by the combined competition (composed of varying sized firms).


For labor (which is not the same as products because the supply of people is not based on data emailed to manufacturing by the marketing department) the quantity supplied is higher than the quantity demanded whenever the demand for products is reached without needing to employ them all.

The demand for the product is a curve, not a single specific quantity. It is, for practical purposes, unlimited with respect to quantity. There is no foreseeable end to human wants. And the potential want for additional labor is enormous.

The demand for factors of production (such as labor or iron or tools or seed) is, like anything else, determined by supply and demand. In a free market, if a factor of production goes unused its price would drop toward zero increasing the quantity demanded until the quantity of supply and quantity demanded were equal, or until the price hits zero and nobody can use any more. The latter would happen only because some other factor(s) of production is too scarce and is a limiting factor. Otherwise it's profitable to make use of a productive factor with a price of zero.

And that's not really the case we are seeing. We don't currently have unemployment because the price has hit zero. We have unemployment at nonzero prices. It can only be because the price is above the equilibrium price. Which does not last in a free market (which we don't have). With unhampered markets, prices quickly correct toward equilibrium eliminating involuntary unemployment and shortages. If you prop the price artificially up, that doesn't solve anything. It just causes unemployment.

And the evidence is not that the equilibrium wages (or incomes) are falling toward zero.

Your post seems to indicate that you think I don't care about unemployment or that I think it's no big deal. On the contrary, I agree that unemployment is bad, and that is one reason I favor free markets.



Social democrats, like libertarians, are busy trying to flood the first world with every rapist, murderer and barbarian they can get their hands on, albeit not entirely for the same reasons. And from my experience libertarians usually understand the laws of economics, then fail to apply them in meaningful ways because they don't understand people at all.
I don't know what you are talking about. Libertarians want rapists, murderers, vandals, etc. punished severely and prevented from harming anyone.

Paprika
05-21-2014, 07:45 PM
Of course it isn't theft from them, because they consented. In which case taxation was unnecessary (superfluous). It becomes a gift and loses its nature as taxation. In fact, if everyone individually consented to give, then taxation would be completely superfluous. The government would be funded via voluntary means instead of by taxation which is, by nature, compulsory. The only point and essence of taxation, vs voluntary means of funding, is that it is the taking of that which is another's (of some nonzero set of persons) without their consent. And that's theft.
This is just bizarre. When you make an voluntary agreement with another person, that you will exchange money for his labour, your giving him the agreed money isn't a "gift".



That's putting the cart before the horse. You are first supposing that an agreement to exchange (services for money) was made, without first having the ability to pay, and then because there is no other means to pay, you are supposing that it must therefore be acceptable to steal from everyone to fulfill the obligation that had been formerly accepted. That seems hardly an acceptable moral justification. It would also have crazy implications; it would imply that anyone who starts doing such things have the same claim, e.g. if any random person decides to start their own police/defense force.

No, I am supposing a scenario in which all the people involved agree beforehand to pay a certain group money in return for the group doing work for the public good.

I'm going to ignore the paragraphs starting with "you might try" because they're not really relevant to my stance.



But then it's not clear that it must or ought to be a legally compulsory thing. Do you not agree that a voluntary system, if possible, would be superior, and that compelling all your otherwise innocent neighbors is a less desirable option? It also seems to leave open to our judgement who to pay, what to pay, etc. As you too agreed that it is not an obligation "to pay all taxes". It is certainly not talking about all cases of positive externalities, but only about justice enacted by the sword.

I don't see how the issue of whether taxation should be "legally compulsory" has any relevance to whether it is necessarily evil.


What you are actually trying to do here is argue against premise (2): "Taxation is taking that which is another's without their consent." Your argument would be that taxation is the ruler taking what is the ruler's, and not taking that which is another's. Perhaps, but then that raises all the questions I raised before, and more: How do you discern who if any among possibly numerous claimants has the true claim? Why not every random person who decides to start enacting justice by the sword? What or how much is rightfully his? How does this change in rightful ownership arise? What if a person is already fulfilling his obligation to do justice in some other way?

These are good questions, but they do not necessarily invalidate my stance, just as questions of moral epistemology do not necessarily invalidate a stance of moral ontology that there exists objective moral standards.


Instead the focus should be on: what is it that makes the specific sum of money rightfully the ruler's? Your argument here does not imply that the ruler is owed a certain sum of money no matter what, that the ruler may decide to spend as he pleases. Rather it would be a specific amount owed for a specific service provided. And then because it's a compulsory obligation (as opposed to consensually entering into a contractual obligation), and because, as I said, this only could arise as a matter of necessity (to do enact justice by the sword) it should be only what is necessary, and nothing more, and should be done as efficiently as possible. And if the 'ruler' is able to enact justice with less effort (or less is needed, say because crime rates drop) then surely less would be owed for lesser services rendered.

So then, as I said in that same post to begin with:



If you can divert tax money from project A to project B, then presumably the level of taxation for project A wasn't as "necessary" as supposed, and thus did not morally justify that level of taxation to begin with [was not owed]. Thus the mere fact that you were taxing at that level certainly does not imply that taxing for B is morally justified, since justification of the prior taxation level is already suspect.

You seem to be objecting to certain levels of taxation which you think unjustified. Which, of course, does not mean that all taxation is evil.


Do you not believe in justice? I ask, because from the context of the discussion you seem to perhaps think that it is "defined by whatever law is in effect" making it arbitrary and making every statute just by definition, as opposed to statutes being just or unjust (subject to the judgment of justice) and thus prior to human-invented statutes.

Or are you shifting the discussion to new ground, and asking me to specify the content of justice, perhaps because you suspect that we disagree on that point? Which is fine. In which case I would start by saying that justice is what is referred to in Romans 13. It is the matter of against what is it morally acceptable to "bear the sword" (i.e., when is physical force/violence against fellow men acceptable). Justice is to "render to all what is due them". Paul lists specifics "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and it is doing "no wrong to a neighbor". Paul also points out that justice is included in (and implied by) loving your neighbor. (But I would say that love and justice are not equivalent. Love includes justice, but it goes beyond justice too.)
You are the one who brought up "Justice" with a capital J. Naturally, I am curious as to what you mean by the word. Now Paul doesn't explicitly say that "justice is to "render to all what is due them"", so I would be interested in how you exegete a standard of justice out of the passage.

Joel
05-22-2014, 12:15 PM
This is just bizarre. When you make an voluntary agreement with another person, that you will exchange money for his labour, your giving him the agreed money isn't a "gift".

That's not necessarily the arrangement we were speaking of. (There are such exchanges, such as when you pay court fees when you make use of the courts, but that's different from a general tax.) But gift or exchange, whatever. The distinction I was making is between voluntary and compulsory.



No, I am supposing a scenario in which all the people involved agree beforehand to pay a certain group money in return for the group doing work for the public good.

I'd have no problem with that. But that's not what we are talking about with taxation. The government wouldn't have to be involved in what you describe. It's just a voluntary organization then.



I don't see how the issue of whether taxation should be "legally compulsory" has any relevance to whether it is necessarily evil.

I'm not saying necessarily evil. I'm saying normally evil. And there would have to be some overriding necessity (or other special circumstances) to make it acceptable. That is, using force against your neighbors or taking what is theirs is normally evil. Ideally we would never have to use force or threaten anyone. It is something to be avoided whenever we can.



These are good questions, but they do not necessarily invalidate my stance, just as questions of moral epistemology do not necessarily invalidate a stance of moral ontology that there exists objective moral standards.

Fair enough. Except for the question "How does this change in rightful ownership arise?" That one is relevant, calling into question whether it can happen at all. It's a question of its existence, rather than epistemology.



You seem to be objecting to certain levels of taxation which you think unjustified. Which, of course, does not mean that all taxation is evil.

My objection is not essentially about tax levels. My point since the beginning has been that it is an action that is normally evil, and that it requires some overriding necessity (say a lesser-of-two-evils kind of dilemma) to make it acceptable and "not evil" in the sense of being the best available option.

So then the question of levels of taxation arose only because of that. The acceptable level would be only that which is compelled by necessity.



Now Paul doesn't explicitly say that "justice is to "render to all what is due them"", so I would be interested in how you exegete a standard of justice out of the passage.
That has been a standard definition/formula of justice (or the central element of it) throughout history. E.g., from Plato's time, Aristotle, Cicero, through Roman and medieval jurists. There seems to have been little disagreement about that among the ancients. The phrase would have been readily recognized.

robrecht
05-22-2014, 02:19 PM
Social democrats use similar parables to reach all kinds of bad conclusions, based on lack of understanding of the laws of economics. So you will have to excuse me for wanting to ward off those commonly made errors. No, parables are used to illustrate truths, not to arrive at conclusions.

οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην, καὶ πῶς πάσας τὰς παραβολὰς γνώσεσθε;


As I've said, yes God's ownership has consequences. I've said that although Alice's ownership of her hammer means no other human may take or use the hammer without Alice's consent, God may still, of course, take or use the hammer without Alice's consent. God could, too, if He wished, come down and announce verbally to Alice that He is transferring her title to the hammer to someone else. Thor has a similar power over his hammer. Any practical everyday implications for us mere mortals of God's ownership of all creation? For example, one Christian view is that God intended all creation to be for the benefit of all. Human society is seriously flawed, but to the extent that a particular human society or form of government or economy helps us realize that ideal, it is serving God's purpose. When society allows greater and greater wealth and power to be concentrated by very few at the expense of the great majority of God's people, then it does not seem like it is serving God's purpose very well.


As for the justice of the son:
First of all, I've never understood why poverty is so often blamed on employers. For the sake of argument, let's suppose that the market price for the low-skilled labor in question were $5/hr. So the employer is paying a guy $5/hr, and the guy is poor, and let's suppose that no one is giving charitably to him. Why should the employer, who is paying the man a wage, be considered more guilty than every other person in the world who are giving the man nothing at all? If the employer is guilty and everyone else is not, then the employer can eliminate his sin by firing the worker, and thus the employer would join the morally-neutral ranks of everyone else in not giving the man anything at all. But that is absurd. And if anything, we see that the employee would be even worse off unemployed, thus he is net benfitting from the employment. Thus the situation is that the employer is the only one in the world economically benefitting the guy. Thus if anything he should have the least blame of all!

If however, we were going to blame everyone equally for not giving charitably to the guy, and we suppose that the employer were inclined to give charitably, there is no reason at all why the employer ought to give charitably via the paycheck for the labor services. It need not have anything at all to do with the exchange of labor services for money. The employer, as anyone else, may do his charitable giving to the guy as a separate gift, clearly identified as a gift.

As for the exchange itself, of labor services for money, if the equilibrium market price is $5/hr, that would imply that hiring the employee for an extra hour of work would add $5 to the owner's revenue. For the employer to pay more than that, say $6 would mean taking a loss by paying $6 for $5 of revenue. Thus knowingly paying this extra would be a $1 act of charity.

So then, was the son being just? Well, assuming the son did not take or damage anything owned by another human, and did not physically infringe upon anyone's person or liberty, and the exchanges were all consensual, and he gave to each what is due (i.e., $5 for $5 of productivity) then the son clearly did remain within the bounds of justice.

If the son sinned, it was not in lacking justice, but in lacking charity. The two are not identical (though the latter seems to imply the former).If the lazy greedy son who inherited his wealth and learned how to game the system to get cheaper labor by not paying FICA taxes, is guilty of anything, it is not because he provides someone else with a job, but because he is lazy, greedy, and cheating the government and those who pay their fair share into social welfare systems. Do you believe that laziness and greed are sinful?

Paprika
05-22-2014, 07:24 PM
I'd have no problem with that. But that's not what we are talking about with taxation. The government wouldn't have to be involved in what you describe. It's just a voluntary organization then.


I'm not saying necessarily evil. I'm saying normally evil. And there would have to be some overriding necessity (or other special circumstances) to make it acceptable. That is, using force against your neighbors or taking what is theirs is normally evil. Ideally we would never have to use force or threaten anyone. It is something to be avoided whenever we can.
Once you redefine your stance (not necessarily evil, but normally evil), and start trying to redefine taxation (no true taxation is a voluntary) in the middle of the discussion I lose whatever remaining interest I've had.

Epoetker
05-22-2014, 10:41 PM
Once you redefine your stance (not necessarily evil, but normally evil), and start trying to redefine taxation (no true taxation is a voluntary) in the middle of the discussion I lose whatever remaining interest I've had.

I don't. The move to libertarianism is perfectly natural, especially in this age, for a man who seeks a just, consistent, and righteous set of rules in life; all he needs is a push in the right direction afterwards. (http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2010/02/from-mises-to-carlyle-my-sick-journey.html)


Holmes is entirely ignorant of Carlyle, however, only because he is entirely ignorant of both politics and literature. Since not one man in a thousand today knows anything of Carlyle, and that man is almost surely misinformed (please read Carlyle before you read about Carlyle), the slate is - once again - blank. Are you, too, entirely ignorant of both politics and literature? We can't all be Sherlock Holmes.

Joel is a libertarian type for roughly the same reason Sherlock Holmes was ignorant of Carlyle-politics and literature held no particular active interest for him, at least not above those that encouraged following the right laws and keeping the peace. Alas, they are unavoidable in this life, whatever form they may take! (http://books.google.com/books?id=3qQOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA127&dq=carlyle+%22figures+of+arithmetic%22&ei=KKhXSJbzAY7WsAPOsqm-DQ#v=onepage&q=carlyle%20%22figures%20of%20arithmetic%22&f=true)


To believe practically that the poor and luckless are here only as a nuisance to be abraded and abated, and in some permissible manner made away with, and swept out of sight, is not an amiable faith. That the arrangements of good and ill success in this perplexed scramble of a world, which a blind goddess was always thought to preside over, are in fact the work of a seeing goddess or god, and require only not to be meddled with: what stretch of heroic faculty or inspiration of genius was needed to teach one that? To button your pockets and stand still is no complex recipe. Laissez faire, laissez passer! Whatever goes on, ought it not to go on; the widow picking nettles for her children's dinner; and the perfumed seigneur delicately lounging in the OEil de Boeuf who has an alchemy whereby he will extract from her the third nettle and name it rent and law? What is written and enacted, has it not black-on-white to show for itself? Justice is justice, but all attorney's parchment is of the nature of Targum or sacred parchment. In brief, ours is a world requiring only to be well let alone. Scramble along, thou insane scramble of a world, with thy pope's tiaras, king's mantles and beggar's gabardines, chivalry ribbons and plebeian gallows ropes, where a Paul shall die on the gibbet and a Nero sit fiddling as imperial Caesar, thou art all right and shalt scramble even so; and whoever in the press is trodden down, has only to lie there and be trampled broad. Such at bottom seems to be the chief social principle, if principle it have, which the Poor Law Amendment Act has the merit of courageously asserting, in opposition to many things. A chief social principle which this present writer, for one will by no manner of means believe in, but pronounce at all fit times to be false, heretical, and damnable if ever aught was!

Joel
05-23-2014, 11:40 AM
Once you redefine your stance (not necessarily evil, but normally evil), and start trying to redefine taxation (no true taxation is a voluntary) in the middle of the discussion I lose whatever remaining interest I've had.
I'm not redefining my stance. It has been that since I started. I even quoted my first post in our discussion for the purpose of showing that. If there is such a thing as a "necessary evil" then surely the "necessary evil" is "not-evil" in the sense that it is the best available option. Right? What the phrase is saying is that it is something that is normally evil, but some overriding necessity makes it acceptable/justified. Yes?

And my point regarding all this, from the beginning of our discussion is that this has implications. It implies that it should not go beyond that necessity, and should be eliminated wherever possible.


And I'm not redefining taxation. A tax is "a compulsory contribution to state revenue" ( https://www.google.com/#q=define:tax ).
The thing that distinguishes a tax from a voluntary donation or a voluntary exchange (both of which are done all the time among individuals and voluntary organizations) is that the tax is compulsory. That is its essence--it's distinguishing property. Without the compulsion, the tax would become merely a suggested donation (something which easily exists outside of government).



I don't. The move to libertarianism is perfectly natural, especially in this age, for a man who seeks a just, consistent, and righteous set of rules in life; all he needs is a push in the right direction afterwards. (http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2010/02/from-mises-to-carlyle-my-sick-journey.html)

Joel is a libertarian type for roughly the same reason Sherlock Holmes was ignorant of Carlyle-politics and literature held no particular active interest for him, at least not above those that encouraged following the right laws and keeping the peace. Alas, they are unavoidable in this life, whatever form they may take! (http://books.google.com/books?id=3qQOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA127&dq=carlyle+%22figures+of+arithmetic%22&ei=KKhXSJbzAY7WsAPOsqm-DQ#v=onepage&q=carlyle%20%22figures%20of%20arithmetic%22&f=true)
This doesn't describe me. Libertarians do not "believe practically that the poor and luckless are here only as a nuisance to be abraded and abated". Carlyle in your quote seems to misunderstand what "laissez faire" refers to. And libertarians have done much to show that free people tend to create their own order, and thus the fear of lack of order is unfounded. Checking wikipedia, it seems he also misunderstood the principles behind the Poor Law Amendment Act, principles that Mises and Rothbard refuted.

Thoughtful Monk
05-23-2014, 08:56 PM
I wouldn't say the Pope goes so far to the left that you can consider him a commie. However he is criticizing certain aspects of capitalism.

I have been thinking on and off about this and came to a realization today.

The real problem is taking a Political standard (left vs. right) and applying it to a Spiritual matter. Of course, its not going to work very well. I have looked at enough Catholic social teaching to know that some of it would be conservative and some would be liberal. That means you can't put it into either the left bucket or right bucket - it doesn't fit.

The same is true with me. Some of my beliefs as I try to follow Christ would politically be considered leftist and some are rightest. I personally believe as you more closely follow Christ, you will be harder to categorize as a leftist or rightist.

I think its a very legitimate discussion to have on is Pope Francis's positions that correct Christian response to the situation. But let's not try to force him into a political label that won't fit.

Paprika
05-23-2014, 09:53 PM
I have been thinking on and off about this and came to a realization today.

The real problem is taking a Political standard (left vs. right) and applying it to a Spiritual matter. Of course, its not going to work very well. I have looked at enough Catholic social teaching to know that some of it would be conservative and some would be liberal. That means you can't put it into either the left bucket or right bucket - it doesn't fit.

The same is true with me. Some of my beliefs as I try to follow Christ would politically be considered leftist and some are rightest. I personally believe as you more closely follow Christ, you will be harder to categorize as a leftist or rightist.

I think its a very legitimate discussion to have on is Pope Francis's positions that correct Christian response to the situation. But let's not try to force him into a political label that won't fit.
Indeed. Welcome to the club :smile:

Teallaura
05-24-2014, 10:16 AM
Um, guys, you're mistaking the issue stances for the definitions.

Joel
05-28-2014, 11:54 AM
Here's a good article on the subject, if anyone is interested:

"Pope Francis, Bad Economist"
http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/pope-francis-bad-economist-2/

Don't worry, it doesn't call him a socialist.

Some good quotes:

"From “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) to his recent address to the United Nations, Francis has made it a centerpiece of his young papacy to warn people against a naïve trust in markets. What he seems not to realize is that he is himself guilty of a naïve trust, not in the possibilities of markets, but in the likelihood of a political solution to global poverty."

"In the entire history of the human race, no one has ever died of inequality. But far too many have died of poverty."

"Across states, countries, and time, the economic data are remarkably consistent: Societies that enjoy more economic freedom experience less poverty, less unemployment, and yes, less income inequality. More economically free societies have higher median incomes, less environmental degradation, more gender equality, and less child labor."

"But Francis seems to be wholly, and sadly, unaware of this. ...he warns us away from the only mechanism that can achieve his end, while embracing and emboldening the very organizations – governments – that have been largely responsible for perpetuating both poverty and inequality throughout history."

Paprika
05-28-2014, 03:56 PM
Don't worry, it doesn't call him a socialist.
Right, it merely says that he "follows more in the failed footsteps of Karl Marx".


"From “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) to his recent address to the United Nations, Francis has made it a centerpiece of his young papacy to warn people against a naïve trust in markets. What he seems not to realize is that he is himself guilty of a naïve trust, not in the possibilities of markets, but in the likelihood of a political solution to global poverty."

:ahem:


"In the entire history of the human race, no one has ever died of inequality. But far too many have died of poverty."

:duh:


"Across states, countries, and time, the economic data are remarkably consistent: Societies that enjoy more economic freedom experience less poverty, less unemployment, and yes, less income inequality. More economically free societies have higher median incomes, less environmental degradation, more gender equality, and less child labor."
:shocked:


"But Francis seems to be wholly, and sadly, unaware of this. ...he warns us away from the only mechanism that can achieve his end, while embracing and emboldening the very organizations – governments – that have been largely responsible for perpetuating both poverty and inequality throughout history."
:lmbo:

Look, I realise that Francis' analysis isn't particularly complete and fleshed out in Gaudium, but I really do think that this type of strawman burning should cease.

robrecht
05-28-2014, 04:06 PM
"Pope Francis, Bad Economist" I suspect the pope is trying to introduce a discussion of moral values into the realm of economics. BTW, no response to Post #92?

Joel
05-28-2014, 06:26 PM
Right, it merely says that he "follows more in the failed footsteps of Karl Marx".

That's different from saying that Francis is a Marxist. And the author is right. As I pointed out earlier in this thread, the Popes have adopted certain ideas from the Marxists. That's not to say that the Popes have been communists, just that some of the bad ideas they have adopted come from the Marxists.

To be fair to Francis, we might correct the author slightly and say that Francis himself is not drawing directly from the Marxists, but is following in the footsteps of his predecessors (who originally got those ideas from the Marxists).



Look, I realise that Francis' analysis isn't particularly complete and fleshed out in Gaudium, but I really do think that this type of strawman burning should cease.
What strawman? What Francis says seems to be the same things that Popes have often said (as I pointed out earlier in this thread). No strawman is intended, and the description of what the Popes have taught seems accurate. If it's a misunderstanding please explain how it is mistaken.


I suspect the pope is trying to introduce a discussion of moral values into the realm of economics. BTW, no response to Post #92?
I hope to get a response to your post soon.

The problem here is not that the pope is discussing economic things from a moral point of view. That's great. The problem being pointed out is Francis (following Popes before him) advocating solutions counter-productive to what he intends. To give an analogy, to try to give you an idea of the complaint, suppose Francis were speaking about the problem of child obesity, and out of that concern he were to urge parents to increase their children's intake of sugar. The problem with that would not be that morality was being introduced into the discussion, but that his understanding of laws of cause and effect was mistaken, and because of that he would be giving dangerous advice.

Being mistaken/ignorant might be written off as the Popes being human (assuming they aren't, in these cases, taken to be speaking infallibly). But it's exacerbated by speaking from a position of authority, and advocating things that greatly affect so many people. Or as economist Murray Rothbard said, “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

robrecht
05-28-2014, 06:33 PM
That's different from saying that Francis is a Marxist. And the author is right. As I pointed out earlier in this thread, the Popes have adopted certain ideas from the Marxists. That's not to say that the Popes have been communists, just that some of the bad ideas they have adopted come from the Marxists.

To be fair to Francis, we might correct the author slightly and say that Francis himself is not drawing directly from the Marxists, but is following in the footsteps of his predecessors (who originally got those ideas from the Marxists).


What strawman? What Francis says seems to be the same things that Popes have often said (as I pointed out earlier in this thread). No strawman is intended, and the description of what the Popes have taught seems accurate. If it's a misunderstanding please explain how it is mistaken.


I hope to get a response to your post soon.

The problem here is not that the pope is discussing economic things from a moral point of view. That's great. The problem being pointed out is Francis (following Popes before him) advocating solutions counter-productive to what he intends. To give an analogy, to try to give you an idea of the complaint, suppose Francis were speaking about the problem of child obesity, and out of that concern he were to urge parents to increase their children's intake of sugar. The problem with that would not be that morality was being introduced into the discussion, but that his understanding of laws of cause and effect was mistaken, and because of that he would be giving dangerous advice.

Being mistaken/ignorant might be written off as the Popes being human (assuming they aren't, in these cases, taken to be speaking infallibly). But it's exacerbated by speaking from a position of authority, and advocating things that greatly affect so many people. Or as economist Murray Rothbard said, “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
Can you give a very specific example? I have not read any of Francis' discourses but I used to be familiar with the prior history of church social teaching. What is the worst example you can think of?

whag
05-28-2014, 08:06 PM
Since Marx totally rejected religion and Christianity in particular ('opiate of the masses', remember?) it's highly unlikely he drew directly from Christian philosophy.

No, not Christianity in particular but any religion that exploits through fear. And he didn't say "masses."


Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.”

Paprika
05-28-2014, 09:49 PM
What strawman? What Francis says seems to be the same things that Popes have often said (as I pointed out earlier in this thread). No strawman is intended, and the description of what the Popes have taught seems accurate. If it's a misunderstanding please explain how it is mistaken.
For one, the idea that Francis has a "naive" trust in political solutions. Another is that because Francis warns against the dangers of free markets as they are, he is therefore against them.


In his repeated call for a resolution to the (real) problem of poverty and the (imagined) problem of inequality, he warns us away from the only mechanism that can achieve his end, while embracing and emboldening the very organizations – governments – that have been largely responsible for perpetuating both poverty and inequality throughout history.

Paprika
05-28-2014, 09:50 PM
I suspect the pope is trying to introduce a discussion of moral values into the realm of economics. BTW, no response to Post #92?
It is most interesting, but entirely unsurprising that invariably all critiques of Francis' economic discourse focus on his attacks on the free markets the world has, while ignoring the equally strong critique of the idolisation of money and the rampant consumption. Looks like the latter hits too close to home, which is why they focus on the former to ignore it.

Epoetker
05-28-2014, 11:43 PM
ignoring the equally strong critique of the idolisation of money and the rampant consumption.

I don't see it. Ted talks are about idolization, but it's not money that's being idolized. Very few people actually idolize money as such, otherwise they might actually ask intelligent questions about how much, say, solar-paneled glass roads would actually cost. Come to think of it, women feeling the frivorcee vibe might ask boring but intelligent questions about how much money they need to raise their children.

And as far as consumption is considered, I haven't heard a single public word against fat or feminist acceptance from this pope.

When Roissy, the devil's virtuoso, is making your spiritual points in the worldly realm far better than you are, you're probably failing at your job.

Joel
05-29-2014, 11:17 AM
Any practical everyday implications for us mere mortals of God's ownership of all creation? For example, one Christian view is that God intended all creation to be for the benefit of all. Human society is seriously flawed, but to the extent that a particular human society or form of government or economy helps us realize that ideal, it is serving God's purpose.

I don't think that ideal follows from that premise. It's not clear that it's a good ideal either (e.g., tragedy of the commons). Private property has long been recognized to be superior, and is implicit in Scripture.

It seems that the point of the Biblical passages indicating that God owns everything is to point out God's sovereignty and authority and power over everything. And that everything is and ought to be for His sake. And His moral right to give and take away as He pleases. There may be some additional implications of this, such as Psalm 50 pointing out that God doesn't want sacrifices (gifts of material things) per se, because it is already all His. I've also heard God's ownership used to argue that we ought to use what means we have to serve God.

It does not seem to imply any limitation to human ownership, except in the manner I described in earlier posts.



When society allows greater and greater wealth and power to be concentrated by very few at the expense of the great majority of God's people, then it does not seem like it is serving God's purpose very well.

One reason I advocate free markets is that they tend toward increasing competition (leading towards smaller and more numerous firms) and a raising of living standards for the great majority.
The modern concentration of wealth and firms has coincided with the exponential growth of government intervention in the markets.

(As a side note, concentration of wealth is not necessarily at the expense of anyone else. Suppose the richest person in the world does something to create new wealth, while everyone else's wealth remains unchanged. Statistically, wealth is then more concentrated than before. But no one is materially worse off. And the overall state of affairs is probably improved. Inequality can possibly increase in such a way that everyone is better off.)



If the lazy greedy son who inherited his wealth and learned how to game the system to get cheaper labor by not paying FICA taxes, is guilty of anything, it is not because he provides someone else with a job, but because he is lazy, greedy, and cheating the government and those who pay their fair share into social welfare systems. Do you believe that laziness and greed are sinful?
I think it may be more accurate to call laziness and greed vices. They are included in the traditional list of "the seven deadly sins", but that name is misleading. The idea was not that they themselves are sins in the proper sense, but that they are very attractive vices that tend to lead one into the commission of many sins, and thus we are taught to rid ourselves of them.

But it also doesn't seem that they have much to do with property ownership rights. (similarly how I pointed out earlier that charity and justice are not equivalent. Neither are laziness or greed injustice in themselves, though they may lead one to the commission of injustices.)

(And as for cheating the government, paying a fair share, and social welfare systems, I would question your premises so your statement about them is debatable, which we could go into if you wanted.)

robrecht
05-29-2014, 12:33 PM
I don't think that ideal follows from that premise. It's not clear that it's a good ideal either (e.g., tragedy of the commons). Private property has long been recognized to be superior, and is implicit in Scripture.

It seems that the point of the Biblical passages indicating that God owns everything is to point out God's sovereignty and authority and power over everything. And that everything is and ought to be for His sake. And His moral right to give and take away as He pleases. There may be some additional implications of this, such as Psalm 50 pointing out that God doesn't want sacrifices (gifts of material things) per se, because it is already all His. I've also heard God's ownership used to argue that we ought to use what means we have to serve God.

It does not seem to imply any limitation to human ownership, except in the manner I described in earlier posts.

One reason I advocate free markets is that they tend toward increasing competition (leading towards smaller and more numerous firms) and a raising of living standards for the great majority.
The modern concentration of wealth and firms has coincided with the exponential growth of government intervention in the markets.

(As a side note, concentration of wealth is not necessarily at the expense of anyone else. Suppose the richest person in the world does something to create new wealth, while everyone else's wealth remains unchanged. Statistically, wealth is then more concentrated than before. But no one is materially worse off. And the overall state of affairs is probably improved. Inequality can possibly increase in such a way that everyone is better off.)

I think it may be more accurate to call laziness and greed vices. They are included in the traditional list of "the seven deadly sins", but that name is misleading. The idea was not that they themselves are sins in the proper sense, but that they are very attractive vices that tend to lead one into the commission of many sins, and thus we are taught to rid ourselves of them.

But it also doesn't seem that they have much to do with property ownership rights. (similarly how I pointed out earlier that charity and justice are not equivalent. Neither are laziness or greed injustice in themselves, though they may lead one to the commission of injustices.)

(And as for cheating the government, paying a fair share, and social welfare systems, I would question your premises so your statement about them is debatable, which we could go into if you wanted.)
God's creation being for the benefit of all is not a good ideal?

Joel
05-29-2014, 02:53 PM
Can you give a very specific example? I have not read any of Francis' discourses but I used to be familiar with the prior history of church social teaching. What is the worst example you can think of?
For specific quotes, I have to do some searching. It's been a while since I read them.

The Popes seem to have adopted the Marxist ideas of "exploitation" of employees.
As one example, Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate, writes of labor unions, "their necessary activity of defending and promoting labour, especially on behalf of exploited and unrepresented workers". One can search the text for "exploitation" for various others.
Or Francis in Evangelii Gaudium speaks of "exploiting undocumented labour".

For another example, there is the Marxist emphasis on inequality and class conflict. Francis (ibidem) writes, "Inequality is the root of social ills."

For another example, they adopt the Marxist boogeyman of "speculators". Francis it's necessary to reject "financial speculation". He blames inequality on free markets and "financial speculation". Likewise Benedict wrote of the evils of "speculative financial dealing", referring to it as "scandalous speculation".

Some other bad ideas I recall:

Advocating state wealth redistribution. E.g. Benedict (ibidem) referring to "political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution". (various others by searching that document. He even advocates wealth distribution by a global government). Francis elsewhere (speech to U.N.) advocates "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state"

Benedict called for a world government, "a true world political authority", with "real teeth" unlike the U.N., "to manage the global economy" and "to regulate migration", among other things.

And I could list more mistaken economics ideas, if you need.


For one, the idea that Francis has a "naive" trust in political solutions. Another is that because Francis warns against the dangers of free markets as they are, he is therefore against them.
I guess I don't know about the "naive" part. He does have a trust in political solutions. "It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare." He puts emphasis on politics and politicians to solve the problems he is describing. Politics "remains a lofty vocation" (in stark contrast to his opinion of free markets, as I show below).

As for markets as they are today, libertarians (including me) also argue against the status quo, and argue that the problems are due to existing government interventions, so the solution is freer markets.

But Francis is not merely warning against markets as they are (which are not that free, and he should know that if he isn't "naive"). He is rejecting free markets as help toward a solution. "We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market." Not only that, he absurdly blames free market ideas (which are not being implemented) for the problems! "This imbalance [wealth inequality] is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation."

It is clear that he (mistakenly) thinks that what we have now are radically free markets and that that is causing the problems, with the conclusion that we must move in the direction away from free markets. The problems must be "radically resolved" by rejecting free markets. And he goes straight from paragraphs blaming free markets for the problems to paragraphs appealing to politicians to solve the problems.


While we are talking about straw men, I might also point out that Francis presents a straw-man of those who advocate free markets (and attributing to them a "naive trust")



It is most interesting, but entirely unsurprising that invariably all critiques of Francis' economic discourse focus on his attacks on the free markets the world has, while ignoring the equally strong critique of the idolisation of money and the rampant consumption. Looks like the latter hits too close to home, which is why they focus on the former to ignore it.
The reason why libertarians don't critique the latter is because there is no reason to disagree with them. I don't know what you mean by "hits too close to home". Libertarians have no need to "idolize money" (whatever that means) or advocate rampant consumption. If anything, one problem we have is massive government intervention aimed at incentivizing people to increase their consumption. It's not the markets that are encouraging too much consumption.


[edited to add]
By the way, my "theft/taxation is normally evil" is similar to pointing out that killing is normally evil. Sometimes some overriding factor might make killing another person necessary or justified (self defense? just war?) but that doesn't make the killing good in itself, and killing people is still something that should be kept to the bare minimum, right? It's only ever a necessary evil at best, right?
[/edited to add]

Joel
05-29-2014, 03:20 PM
It's not clear that it's a good ideal either (e.g., tragedy of the commons). Private property has long been recognized to be superior, and is implicit in Scripture.

God's creation being for the benefit of all is not a good ideal?
I said it's not clear that it's a good ideal. It depends on what you think that entails. I've heard some argue from that premise for the abolition of private property (either totally or mostly, or in land, or in the means of production, or the like). In which case, no it would not be a good ideal. Communal property has negative results such as the tragedy of the commons. Private property is far superior, and is the best way for the greatest number to enjoy the greatest benefit from God's creation.

I'd also be wary of the stated ideal being used to entail some kind of prosperity gospel.

Spartacus
05-29-2014, 03:31 PM
For specific quotes, I have to do some searching. It's been a while since I read them.

The Popes seem to have adopted the Marxist ideas of "exploitation" of employees.
As one example, Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate, writes of labor unions, "their necessary activity of defending and promoting labour, especially on behalf of exploited and unrepresented workers". One can search the text for "exploitation" for various others.
Or Francis in Evangelii Gaudium speaks of "exploiting undocumented labour".

If you think criticisms of economic exploitation originated with Marx, you're historically illiterate.


For another example, there is the Marxist emphasis on inequality and class conflict. Francis (ibidem) writes, "Inequality is the root of social ills."

What other causes of specifically social ills are there?


For another example, they adopt the Marxist boogeyman of "speculators". Francis it's necessary to reject "financial speculation". He blames inequality on free markets and "financial speculation". Likewise Benedict wrote of the evils of "speculative financial dealing", referring to it as "scandalous speculation".

People condemned financial speculation long before Marx, and it doesn't take much more than a basic education in early 19th century American politics to know that.


Advocating state wealth redistribution. E.g. Benedict (ibidem) referring to "political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution". (various others by searching that document. He even advocates wealth distribution by a global government). Francis elsewhere (speech to U.N.) advocates "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state"

AKA the World Bank, if it was doing its job properly.


Benedict called for a world government, "a true world political authority", with "real teeth" unlike the U.N., "to manage the global economy" and "to regulate migration", among other things.

And international migration isn't something that needs more discussion and coordination between nations?


I guess I don't know about the "naive" part. He does have a trust in political solutions. "It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare." He puts emphasis on politics and politicians to solve the problems he is describing. Politics "remains a lofty vocation" (in stark contrast to his opinion of free markets, as I show below).

Emphasis added. Read the quotes you cite before you criticize them.


But Francis is not merely warning against markets as they are (which are not that free, and he should know that if he isn't "naive"). He is rejecting free markets as help toward a solution. "We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market." Not only that, he absurdly blames free market ideas (which are not being implemented) for the problems! "This imbalance [wealth inequality] is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation."

It is clear that he (mistakenly) thinks that what we have now are radically free markets and that that is causing the problems, with the conclusion that we must move in the direction away from free markets. The problems must be "radically resolved" by rejecting free markets. And he goes straight from paragraphs blaming free markets for the problems to paragraphs appealing to politicians to solve the problems.


While we are talking about straw men, I might also point out that Francis presents a straw-man of those who advocate free markets (and attributing to them a "naive trust")

It is certainly naive to treat economic models, which assume the long-term as well as perfect knowledge among rational actors, as descriptive of reality as it is. The "invisible hand" of the market must not be mistaken for the hand of divine providence.

Spartacus
05-29-2014, 03:33 PM
I said it's not clear that it's a good ideal. It depends on what you think that entails. I've heard some argue from that premise for the abolition of private property (either totally or mostly, or in land, or in the means of production, or the like). In which case, no it would not be a good ideal. Communal property has negative results such as the tragedy of the commons. Private property is far superior, and is the best way for the greatest number to enjoy the greatest benefit from God's creation.

I'd also be wary of the stated ideal being used to entail some kind of prosperity gospel.

How is it not a version of the prosperity gospel to say that we must direct morality and government action toward material prosperity rather than what has been called "integral human development"?

robrecht
05-29-2014, 03:41 PM
I said it's not clear that it's a good ideal. It depends on what you think that entails. I've heard some argue from that premise for the abolition of private property (either totally or mostly, or in land, or in the means of production, or the like). In which case, no it would not be a good ideal. Communal property has negative results such as the tragedy of the commons. Private property is far superior, and is the best way for the greatest number to enjoy the greatest benefit from God's creation.

I'd also be wary of the stated ideal being used to entail some kind of prosperity gospel.
I suppose I'm partly to blame for the black and white reasoning being displayed here because I'm merely trying to make a minimal case here. I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but am asking you directly, is it a good ideal, leaving aside means, for God's creation to be of benefit for all?

I have not been arguing for the abolition of the right to private property, but rather inquiring as to its limits (eg, slavery); nor have I advocated a prosperity gospel, quite the contrary.

Joel
05-29-2014, 06:58 PM
If you think criticisms of economic exploitation originated with Marx, you're historically illiterate.

I admit that I'm not aware of a history of the theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation_theory) prior to Marx. Please tell me about it. It always seemed very closely associated with Marx.

To some extent I would guess that for any idea we could find roots that go way back. But do we say that even communism itself is not Marxist because Plato thought of it first?

And it does seem that the ideas that Popes have shared in common with Marxists (and economic fascism too!) have have shown up when Marxism (and economic fascism) became popular among academics. (Such as in Quadragesimo Anno.) It seems likely that these ideas were picked up from being popular ideas in academia at the time. Is there reason to think otherwise?



What other causes of specifically social ills are there?

Well first wealth inequality is not necessarily a cause of social ill. I earlier gave the example that a person could increase a wealth inequality statistic by creating new wealth, without making anyone else worse off. It's not clear that that is necessarily a social ill.

And then many kinds of social ills are possible in the absence of inequality. Many dystopian stories have been written about what would happen if a state tried to eliminate inequality.



People condemned financial speculation long before Marx, and it doesn't take much more than a basic education in early 19th century American politics to know that.

I guess that's not too surprising; "speculators" is a useful scapegoat. Please tell me more about this history too.

Some other bad economic ideas taught by Popes that I didn't mention I know have been around for centuries, such as the idea of a "just price" or "just wage". Or the idea of exchanges of goods of equivalent value. Those are bad ideas that aren't connected with Marx (as far as I know).



And international migration isn't something that needs more discussion and coordination between nations?

I tend to be in favor of people being free to move where they wish. Except perhaps in cases of specific violent crimes, with probable cause or some such thing.



Emphasis added. Read the quotes you cite before you criticize them.

I read it. It doesn't affect my point, that he does trust political solutions. That doesn't exclude him also urging private action. And the whole paragraph that sentence is in is primarily about politics and seeking political solutions. As well as it being implicit in his rejection of free market solutions, saying that it is the cause of the problems.

We might also note that "financial leader" doesn't necessarily refer to free-market actors. The wealthy Big Bankers today, for example, did not get that way via a free market, but via a government cartelized and controlled system, with many government subsidies, special legal privileges, and protections from competition.



It is certainly naive to treat economic models, which assume the long-term as well as perfect knowledge among rational actors, as descriptive of reality as it is. The "invisible hand" of the market must not be mistaken for the hand of divine providence.
Economics does not only look at the long term. But it's worth noticing that lots of problems arise from people thinking short term (something that Benedict rightly complained about). Usually the harder job that people don't think through is to take into account the long term.

Good economics does not assume perfect knowledge or perfectly rational actors (nor 'homo economicus' or other such bad assumptions).

And the "invisible hand" is just a metaphor for certain economic laws.

The main straw man of Francis' I had in mind was his "some people continue to defend trickle-down theories", despite there being no such thing. "Trickle-down economics" is a straw-man; no economist (whether advocate of free markets or not) proposes any such theory.


How is it not a version of the prosperity gospel to say that we must direct morality and government action toward material prosperity rather than what has been called "integral human development"?
I don't know. Who says that? Is this directed at someone else?

robrecht
05-29-2014, 07:01 PM
And it does seem that the ideas that Popes have shared in common with Marxists (and economic fascism too!) have have shown up when Marxism (and economic fascism) became popular among academics. (Such as in Quadragesimo Anno.) It seems likely that these ideas were picked up from being popular ideas in academia at the time. Is there reason to think otherwise? You mean other than the fact that popes generally oppose academia? And vice versa.

Joel
05-29-2014, 07:10 PM
I suppose I'm partly to blame for the black and white reasoning being displayed here because I'm merely trying to make a minimal case here. I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but am asking you directly, is it a good ideal, leaving aside means, for God's creation to be of benefit for all?

Like I was saying, that phrase can be taken to mean lots of different things. You'd have to explain what exactly you mean by it.

If it's just a generic statement that God intends benefit for all his creatures in creation, then sure, but then it's non controversial and, correspondingly, doesn't imply much. It doesn't seem to imply anything about private property rights. It doesn't imply that God intends that benefit to be in the form of everyone being not-poor. For some people it may involve being tortured to death as a martyr.



I have not been arguing for the abolition of the right to private property, but rather inquiring as to its limits (eg, slavery); nor have I advocated a prosperity gospel, quite the contrary.
I don't think of anti-slavery as a limit to property rights, but as being implied by a correct understanding of property rights, which starts as I said before, with each person's ownership of himself. Slavery is thus a violation of property rights. Therefore being anti-slavery is defending, not curtailing, property rights.

robrecht
05-29-2014, 07:17 PM
Like I was saying, that phrase can be taken to mean lots of different things. You'd have to explain what exactly you mean by it.

If it's just a generic statement that God intends benefit for all his creatures in creation, then sure, but then it's non controversial and, correspondingly, doesn't imply much. It doesn't seem to imply anything about private property rights. I think it may imply a limitation on property rights if one is interested in God's intention for all creation.


I don't think of anti-slavery as a limit to property rights, but as being implied by a correct understanding of property rights, which starts as I said before, with each person's ownership of himself. Is that not a limit to the right of private property, ie, a person is not allowed to own another person?


Slavery is thus a violation of property rights. Therefore being anti-slavery is defending, not curtailing, property rights. Depends on how you define property, doesn't it? If one defines property as something short of owning other people, that is indeed a limitation, is it not? Look at this question in the context of our founding fathers. Ownership of people was indeed private property. We have moved beyond that vision of society.

Paprika
05-29-2014, 10:50 PM
I guess I don't know about the "naive" part. He does have a trust in political solutions. "It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare." He puts emphasis on politics and politicians to solve the problems he is describing. Politics "remains a lofty vocation" (in stark contrast to his opinion of free markets, as I show below).
You make it sound like it's wrong or misguided to have any trust whatsoever in all political situations. And the emphasis is hardly on just the politicians, but on the church communities, and people in general, especially the rich.


As for markets as they are today, libertarians (including me) also argue against the status quo, and argue that the problems are due to existing government interventions, so the solution is freer markets.

Yes, we know. And you have to understand that not everyone else has a binary view that because certain government interventions cause problems and are the main problem in some national contexts, that therefore all government interventions are bad, and therefore we should have "freer" markets internationally.


But Francis is not merely warning against markets as they are (which are not that free, and he should know that if he isn't "naive"). He is rejecting free markets as help toward a solution. "We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market."
That is, we can no longer trust in the unseen forces and invisible hand to deliver justice. I don't see that as a complete rejection of all free markets, rather a rejection of absolute trust being placed solely in them.


Not only that, he absurdly blames free market ideas (which are not being implemented) for the problems! "This imbalance [wealth inequality] is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation."

It is clear that he (mistakenly) thinks that what we have now are radically free markets and that that is causing the problems, with the conclusion that we must move in the direction away from free markets. The problems must be "radically resolved" by rejecting free markets. And he goes straight from paragraphs blaming free markets for the problems to paragraphs appealing to politicians to solve the problems.
It's fair to say that trying to do "free" international trade has merely led to a great deal of suffering in the poorer nations. I don't think it accurate to say that no free market ideas are being implemented; sure, they may not be implemented fully as originally conceived but in modified form with some government intervention to limit the amount of damage.


While we are talking about straw men, I might also point out that Francis presents a straw-man of those who advocate free markets (and attributing to them a "naive trust")
He says that "some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system". If that is a straw man, feel free to demonstrate how. I don't see how you can do that unless you can demonstrate that there exist not people who continue to defend such theories.

Paprika
05-29-2014, 11:05 PM
If you think criticisms of economic exploitation originated with Marx, you're historically illiterate.

Comparisons to Marx generally fall under dismissal by association.

Joel
05-30-2014, 10:49 AM
I think it may imply a limitation on property rights if one is interested in God's intention for all creation.

Is that not a limit to the right of private property, ie, a person is not allowed to own another person?

Depends on how you define property, doesn't it? If one defines property as something short of owning other people, that is indeed a limitation, is it not? Look at this question in the context of our founding fathers. Ownership of people was indeed private property. We have moved beyond that vision of society.
I should clarify. Sure property rights are limited in the sense of being delimited. E.g., if Alice owns her hammer, then Bob doesn't.
What I was trying to say was that anti-slavery does not arise from some factor external to property rights that is overriding property rights. It's not a matter of: Factor X in this case is more urgent than property rights, so in this case we need to make an exception and ignore/suspend property rights in favor of X instead. On the contrary, it's not an exception, it's implied by the rule.
E.g., "Bob doesn't own Alice's hammer" is not an exception to property rights, but is implied by Alice's property rights.
Likewise for "Bob doesn't own Alice's body."

robrecht
05-30-2014, 11:10 AM
I should clarify. Sure property rights are limited in the sense of being delimited. E.g., if Alice owns her hammer, then Bob doesn't.
What I was trying to say was that anti-slavery does not arise from some factor external to property rights that is overriding property rights. It's not a matter of: Factor X in this case is more urgent than property rights, so in this case we need to make an exception and ignore/suspend property rights in favor of X instead. On the contrary, it's not an exception, it's implied by the rule.
E.g., "Bob doesn't own Alice's hammer" is not an exception to property rights, but is implied by Alice's property rights.
Likewise for "Bob doesn't own Alice's body."But we've still seen an major shift in this theory and practice of individual private property rights in the past 150 years. In the past, property rights included ownership of other people. Now it does not. The individual right to private property has been substantially curtailed for some and extended to others, who were previously considered property of others. We hope this change in our limitation of the individual private property rights of some has produced a society that is a little closer to God's intent for human society. For those who believe this, it is just and right to put limitations on the individual private property rights of some.

I think God's intent for all of his creation may thus imply a limitation on the individual private property rights of some.

Joel
05-30-2014, 12:25 PM
You make it sound like it's wrong or misguided to have any trust whatsoever in all political situations.

Yes, we know. And you have to understand that not everyone else has a binary view that because certain government interventions cause problems and are the main problem in some national contexts, that therefore all government interventions are bad, and therefore we should have "freer" markets internationally.

Government interventions in the voluntary market (thus replacing voluntary human interaction with coerced interaction) are injustices, or at best necessary evils.

A political solution means a solution by means of the Sword--violence (or at least the threat of it). Christians especially should be always wary, at least, of advocating the use of the sword. People speak of using it for compassionate or charitable ends, but it is a means that is discordant with such ends. And as we have discussed earlier, it has normally been thought that it's a means acceptable only for enacting justice (i.e., against murderers, thieves and the like, not peaceful people engaging in voluntary interaction).

But besides that, the overwhelming evidence is that such intervention is harmful to people and society. Politics has a terrible track record. It is the cause of much suffering and poverty and inequality and monopolies, etc. Such interventions are usually designed by and for the benefit of special interests, usually the rich. The creation of the federal regulatory state in the U.S. was pushed for by big business.



That is, we can no longer trust in the unseen forces and invisible hand to deliver justice. I don't see that as a complete rejection of all free markets, rather a rejection of absolute trust being placed solely in them.

As far as I know, nobody every claimed that the benefit of the "invisible hand" was to deliver justice. Rather it's that free markets produce information and incentives that induce people to correct errors, equilibrate/regulate supply and demand, efficiently allocate and use resources, and the like. Thus the market is self-correcting. And that the means of profiting in a free market is by being the best at serving the desires of one's fellow men. And that it provides for the coordination of massively complex systems of production without requiring an overarching/central planner. (e.g., see the short essay "I, Pensil" by Leonard Reed http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html)

Enacting justice (i.e., stopping & punishing murderers, thieves, and the like), on the other hand, is not done by acting in the free market (voluntary exchanges) but by the sword.



It's fair to say that trying to do "free" international trade has merely led to a great deal of suffering in the poorer nations.

It's true that governments often deceitfully refer to their anti-free-market actions as "free market" or some such thing. E.g., there's NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). But these "free trade" agreements actually move in the direction opposite to free trade. Instead they provide for ways of imposing state interventions on an international level. It's usually an attempt to force all the governments involved to impose the same onerous restrictions on their people. They typically seek to privilege and subsidize big business and their exports. Yes, these policies have led to a great deal of suffering.

Free trade, on the other hand has tended to raise people out of poverty.



I don't think it accurate to say that no free market ideas are being implemented; sure, they may not be implemented fully as originally conceived but in modified form with some government intervention to limit the amount of damage.

But that government intervention is the opposite of free market. Sure it can be a matter of degree, but for over 100 years things have been moving exponentially away from free markets, not toward them.

As for damage, it is typically government intervention that causes the damage. Often it works as a vicious cycle, where additional interventions are advocated as solutions to damage created by earlier policies. The new policies then cause more damage, creating calls for yet more intervention, causing even more damage, and so on. The politicians keep up the ruse by always blaming whatever freedom that remains for the damage the politicians caused.



He says that "some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system". If that is a straw man, feel free to demonstrate how. I don't see how you can do that unless you can demonstrate that there exist not people who continue to defend such theories.
As I replied to Spartacus, no one continues to defend "trickle-down economics" because no one ever proposed/advocated any such theory to begin with. It was always a straw man.

Economist Thomas Sowell has repeatedly challenged his colleagues or anyone to "to quote any economist — in government, academia, or anywhere else outside an insane asylum — who had ever argued in favor of a “trickle down theory.”"

"The “trickle down theory” has been a stock phrase on the left for decades and yet not one of those who denounce it can find anybody who advocated it. The tenacity with which they cling to these catchwords shows how desperately they need them, if only to safeguard their vision of the world and of themselves."

And "As someone who spent the first decade of his career researching, teaching and writing about the history of economic thought, I can say that no economist of the past two centuries had any such theory."

Now on the other hand, the evidence does indicate that freer markets do tend to result in less inequality, more competition, higher average incomes, less poverty and disease and infant mortality, less unemployment, and the like.

Joel
05-30-2014, 02:01 PM
But we've still seen an major shift in this theory and practice of individual private property rights in the past 150 years. In the past, property rights included ownership of other people. Now it does not. The individual right to private property has been substantially curtailed for some and extended to others, who were previously considered property of others. We hope this change in our limitation of the individual private property rights of some has produced a society that is a little closer to God's intent for human society. For those who believe this, it is just and right to put limitations on the individual private property rights of some.

I'm not a moral relativist. I think man has no more power to change God's Laws of morality (including justice regarding property rights) than he has to change the laws of physics. You might agree; perhaps what I mean by God's Laws, you refer to by "God's intent for human society". Thus it is not the nature of property rights that changed but man's understanding of them, as with man's understanding of the laws of physics. And like with physics, we ought to strive to conform our understanding of them to their reality. Assuming that we do have a more-correct understanding today, it is not the case that man altered the limits, but that man was in error in his understanding of them, and then discovered an improved understanding of property rights.

Assuming our current understanding is the correct one, then it's not accurate to say that the change curtailed some property rights. Rather it would be more accurate to say that in the past, the civil statutes unjustly and substantially curtailed the property rights of many people (those enslaved), and extended unjust privileges to others (the slavers).


It's also not accurate to say that everyone shared that misunderstanding in the past. Abolitionism existed in the American colonies, and existed in France in the 1300s.
Christians going back to at least John Chrysostom taught that slavery is a result of sin. Support for slavery may have come not from careful reasoning but the tendency of people to invent justifications their sins or whatever benefits themselves. It also seems likely that the vast majority of people just never gave it careful thought, and just went with the flow. There were also faulty theories of race (that certain races were a lesser species). There were also justifications by people who acknowledged that slavery is unjust, but said that it was impractical to abolish slavery. Thus not all justifications argued from a premise about property rights.

And it seems unlikely that any argument for slavery from property rights would stand up to reason, then or now. For example, a person might try to argue that he purchased the slave fair and square from a third party who transferred title to him, and thus the slave is his rightful property. But the existence of an exchange is insufficient to prove his case. As a counterexample: thieves often sell stolen goods. That transaction does not therefore give the buyer a rightful title, even if the buyer was ignorant that it was stolen goods. The buyer has a valid title only if the seller had a valid title, so it only pushes the question back a step. (A fact which I suppose was usually swept under the rug.) You would have to somehow argue that kidnapping a person causes you to rightfully own that person. Did anyone actually make such an argument? What was the argument?



For those who believe this, it is just and right to put limitations on the individual private property rights of some.

I think God's intent for all of his creation may thus imply a limitation on the individual private property rights of some.

Keep in mind, what I said, that the limits in question are not a limitation of property rights per se, but are implied by property rights. E.g., "Bob does not own Alice's hammer/body." is not a limitation imposed from without, but is due to "Alice owns her hammer/body." That limit as a negative concept does not have existence on its own, but is an implication of the positive concept of Alice's ownership. My anti-slavery argument is not essentially a negative claim (that people don't have the right to own other people); rather that negative statement is merely a corollary to the positive claim that Alice owns her own body. The essence is not a denial of property rights but an affirmation of property rights.

So, for example, to simply curtail the property rights of Bill Gates (say because he is 'too wealthy' or some such thing), all else being equal, would not be an example of the kind of limits I acknowledged. Rather you would have to establish the positive claim that such and such possession of Bill Gates is actually the property of some specific person. Who? Which particular good(s)? What reason do we think it is actually, say, Alice's? How did Gates come to be in the possession of Alice's property? What was the specific crime he committed? Can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that specific crime took place? And the like.

robrecht
05-30-2014, 08:06 PM
I'm not a moral relativist. I think man has no more power to change God's Laws of morality (including justice regarding property rights) than he has to change the laws of physics. You might agree; perhaps what I mean by God's Laws, you refer to by "God's intent for human society". Thus it is not the nature of property rights that changed but man's understanding of them, as with man's understanding of the laws of physics. And like with physics, we ought to strive to conform our understanding of them to their reality. Assuming that we do have a more-correct understanding today, it is not the case that man altered the limits, but that man was in error in his understanding of them, and then discovered an improved understanding of property rights.

Assuming our current understanding is the correct one, then it's not accurate to say that the change curtailed some property rights. Rather it would be more accurate to say that in the past, the civil statutes unjustly and substantially curtailed the property rights of many people (those enslaved), and extended unjust privileges to others (the slavers).

It's also not accurate to say that everyone shared that misunderstanding in the past. Abolitionism existed in the American colonies, and existed in France in the 1300s.
Christians going back to at least John Chrysostom taught that slavery is a result of sin. Support for slavery may have come not from careful reasoning but the tendency of people to invent justifications their sins or whatever benefits themselves. It also seems likely that the vast majority of people just never gave it careful thought, and just went with the flow. There were also faulty theories of race (that certain races were a lesser species). There were also justifications by people who acknowledged that slavery is unjust, but said that it was impractical to abolish slavery. Thus not all justifications argued from a premise about property rights.

And it seems unlikely that any argument for slavery from property rights would stand up to reason, then or now. For example, a person might try to argue that he purchased the slave fair and square from a third party who transferred title to him, and thus the slave is his rightful property. But the existence of an exchange is insufficient to prove his case. As a counterexample: thieves often sell stolen goods. That transaction does not therefore give the buyer a rightful title, even if the buyer was ignorant that it was stolen goods. The buyer has a valid title only if the seller had a valid title, so it only pushes the question back a step. (A fact which I suppose was usually swept under the rug.) You would have to somehow argue that kidnapping a person causes you to rightfully own that person. Did anyone actually make such an argument? What was the argument?

Keep in mind, what I said, that the limits in question are not a limitation of property rights per se, but are implied by property rights. E.g., "Bob does not own Alice's hammer/body." is not a limitation imposed from without, but is due to "Alice owns her hammer/body." That limit as a negative concept does not have existence on its own, but is an implication of the positive concept of Alice's ownership. My anti-slavery argument is not essentially a negative claim (that people don't have the right to own other people); rather that negative statement is merely a corollary to the positive claim that Alice owns her own body. The essence is not a denial of property rights but an affirmation of property rights.

So, for example, to simply curtail the property rights of Bill Gates (say because he is 'too wealthy' or some such thing), all else being equal, would not be an example of the kind of limits I acknowledged. Rather you would have to establish the positive claim that such and such possession of Bill Gates is actually the property of some specific person. Who? Which particular good(s)? What reason do we think it is actually, say, Alice's? How did Gates come to be in the possession of Alice's property? What was the specific crime he committed? Can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that specific crime took place? And the like.
Bottom line, do you think that an individual's right to private property is absolute? If not, by what is it limited, eg, God's ownsership of all creation intended to be for the benefit of all, or any other conception of justice or the common good or any other considerations?

Joel
06-02-2014, 12:04 PM
Bottom line, do you think that an individual's right to private property is absolute? If not, by what is it limited, eg, God's ownsership of all creation intended to be for the benefit of all, or any other conception of justice or the common good or any other considerations?
I think it's just as I've said before: If it's Alice's hammer, then Bob cannot justly take it without Alice's consent. No one but God may justly take it from Alice without her consent.

But, as I've said, there are other aspects to morality besides justice. There may be other aspects of morality, such as charity, that might say that Alice ought to give her hammer to Bob (or to the "common good" or whatever). But that doesn't justify Bob taking it without Alice's consent. That is, Alice might sin by being uncharitable (thus retaining the hammer when she ought to give it), but that doesn't justify Bob being unjust (stealing the hammer). Thus it doesn't annul or limit property rights.

Does that answer your question?

robrecht
06-02-2014, 12:24 PM
I think it's just as I've said before: If it's Alice's hammer, then Bob cannot justly take it without Alice's consent. No one but God may justly take it from Alice without her consent.

But, as I've said, there are other aspects to morality besides justice. There may be other aspects of morality, such as charity, that might say that Alice ought to give her hammer to Bob (or to the "common good" or whatever). But that doesn't justify Bob taking it without Alice's consent. That is, Alice might sin by being uncharitable (thus retaining the hammer when she ought to give it), but that doesn't justify Bob being unjust (stealing the hammer). Thus it doesn't annul or limit property rights.

Does that answer your question?The area I'm interested in is the specifically the common good. Is it your understanding that the common good should only served by individual charity, or can a government of the people, for the people, and by the people make provision for the common good? Or would that be theft, pure and simple? And can those of us who believe in God look for God's will in how we attempt to build a society that best serves the common good?

Joel
06-02-2014, 07:04 PM
The area I'm interested in is the specifically the common good. Is it your understanding that the common good should only served by individual charity, or can a government of the people, for the people, and by the people make provision for the common good? Or would that be theft, pure and simple? And can those of us who believe in God look for God's will in how we attempt to build a society that best serves the common good?
Define "the common good". Is it anything that is good for everyone (thus would have unanimous consent)? Is it a Pareto improvement (a change that makes at least one individual better off without making any other individual worse off)? Or does it include that which is good for only some people (e.g., the majority) at the expense of other people? (which would not be "common" to everyone)

And does "by the people" mean all the people (i.e., unanimous consent) or only some of the people (e.g., a majority), imposing their will on other people?

robrecht
06-02-2014, 10:28 PM
Define "the common good". Is it anything that is good for everyone (thus would have unanimous consent)? Is it a Pareto improvement (a change that makes at least one individual better off without making any other individual worse off)? Or does it include that which is good for only some people (e.g., the majority) at the expense of other people? (which would not be "common" to everyone)

And does "by the people" mean all the people (i.e., unanimous consent) or only some of the people (e.g., a majority), imposing their will on other people? Well, you used the term first, but I think it would commonly (lol) mean something that is generally perceived as beneficial by the majority of people (or their representatives) at the cost of most people. 'By the people' generally means those who care enough to exercise their role in the body politic.

Joel
06-03-2014, 11:08 AM
Well, you used the term first, but I think it would commonly (lol) mean something that is generally perceived as beneficial by the majority of people (or their representatives) at the cost of most people. 'By the people' generally means those who care enough to exercise their role in the body politic.
You used the term first (post 125).

You say "generally perceived as beneficial by the majority of people (or their representatives) at the cost of most people." First of all, note then that something that is "the common good" is not necessarily worth doing. Suppose the majority thinks it would be beneficial to have an enormous mural painted across the near face of the moon (an aesthetic benefit). On the other hand, the cost of doing so would be so astronomically huge that the cost would almost certainly dwarf the benefit. It would not be a net benefit. So it's not automatically the case that "the common good" should be done.

Secondly, once we start talking about net benefit, we need to consider the actual human beings involved. You say the cost is somehow divided among most people. Now such project may be a net benefit for some people and a net loss for other people. So do you restrict "the common good" to be a pareto improvement (thus not a net loss to anyone) or can it be something that is a net loss to some people? (I think we can assume it is a net benefit for some people, otherwise no one would advocate doing it at all.)

From your definition above, I would take it that your answer would be something like: it must be a net benefit to most people, but not necessarily all.

We could imagine a case in which a project is not a net loss to anyone. But in that case no government force is needed. We can organize all the affected parties to agree to contribute voluntarily, outside of government, say via something like Kickstarter. So presumably that is not the case you have in mind.

That leaves us with the case that it is a net loss to some people. But then it is not obvious that it is morally acceptable to do the project (using force to compel those to whom it is a net loss). It is a case of forcing some people to subsidize the interests of other people. Which is theft. You appeal to the benefitted group as being the majority. But surely merely being a greater number does justify theft. That would just be a form of might makes right. All kinds of unjust oppression can arise from the more numerous (thus more powerful) group oppressing minorities. (Likewise if done by the majority's representatives/agents.). So again, it is not at all clear that being "the common good", as defined here, makes something actually good or even acceptable.




Now on to "by the people." Do you mean all of those who "care enough to exercise their role" (thus the case of unanimous consent)? Or do you mean some subset of them (e.g., a majority of them, or their agents) imposing their will on the others, who voted against them? Suppose a majority supports and enacts the moon-mural project, while a minority objects (perhaps because they would prefer the moon be left in its pristine state). It's not really being done by all of those who "care enough to exercise their role", but by the majority, against the will of the minority who voted against the project.

Or for a more extreme example, suppose the majority enacts the enslavement of the minority. It's not really being done by all of those who "care enough to exercise their role". Surely you aren't going to claim that somehow the slaves (who futilely voted for their own freedom) are doing it to themselves! Or if the majority votes to kill the minority, surely you aren't going to say that those in the minority are committing suicide.

My point is that "by the people" in this sense doesn't refer to all of "the people" or even all those who "exercised their role", but refers to some kind of majoritarianism. Thus, like "the common good", it is a phrase that gives the appearance that one's position is obvious and unassailable (Who could possibly object to "The Common Good"?) But when we examine them more closely, they turn out to be not what they first appear.

Spartacus
06-03-2014, 11:43 AM
I'd have made more posts in this thread, but it seems to have gone irreversibly in the direction of Wall-of-text-iness. :frown:

Zymologist
06-03-2014, 11:46 AM
I'd have made more posts in this thread, but it seems to have gone irreversibly in the direction of Wall-of-text-iness. :frown:

This seems to be the natural progression.

robrecht
06-03-2014, 12:06 PM
You used the term first (post 125). Oops, so I did!


You say "generally perceived as beneficial by the majority of people (or their representatives) at the cost of most people." First of all, note then that something that is "the common good" is not necessarily worth doing. Suppose the majority thinks it would be beneficial to have an enormous mural painted across the near face of the moon (an aesthetic benefit). On the other hand, the cost of doing so would be so astronomically huge that the cost would almost certainly dwarf the benefit. It would not be a net benefit. So it's not automatically the case that "the common good" should be done. Let's stipulate common sense on the part of most commonors. That may not be a reasonable assumption, but I don't think further discussion is possible without such a stipulation.


Secondly, once we start talking about net benefit, we need to consider the actual human beings involved. You say the cost is somehow divided among most people. Now such project may be a net benefit for some people and a net loss for other people. So do you restrict "the common good" to be a pareto improvement (thus not a net loss to anyone) or can it be something that is a net loss to some people? (I think we can assume it is a net benefit for some people, otherwise no one would advocate doing it at all.) I don't think we should stipulate this. For example, a soldier may give his life in combat in a war to preserve freedom.


From your definition above, I would take it that your answer would be something like: it must be a net benefit to most people, but not necessarily all.

We could imagine a case in which a project is not a net loss to anyone. But in that case no government force is needed. We can organize all the affected parties to agree to contribute voluntarily, outside of government, say via something like Kickstarter. So presumably that is not the case you have in mind. No, we're talking about government here.


That leaves us with the case that it is a net loss to some people. But then it is not obvious that it is morally acceptable to do the project (using force to compel those to whom it is a net loss*). It is a case of forcing some people to subsidize the interests of other people. Which is theft. You appeal to the benefitted group as being the majority. But surely merely being a greater number does [not] justify theft. That would just be a form of might makes right. All kinds of unjust oppression can arise from the more numerous (thus more powerful) group oppressing minorities. (Likewise if done by the majority's representatives/agents.). So again, it is not at all clear that being "the common good", as defined here, makes something actually good or even acceptable.
I agree. Perhaps our assumption of common sense should include some minimal sense of shared values and social & individual conscience for most people.

*In some cases, a government might compensate an individual so that it is not intended to be a net financial loss, 'though it would be a loss in another sense.


Now on to "by the people." Do you mean all of those who "care enough to exercise their role" (thus the case of unanimous consent)? Or do you mean some subset of them (e.g., a majority of them, or their agents) imposing their will on the others, who voted against them? Suppose a majority supports and enacts the moon-mural project, while a minority objects (perhaps because they would prefer the moon be left in its pristine state). It's not really being done by all of those who "care enough to exercise their role", but by the majority, against the will of the minority who voted against the project. No, unanimous consent is not realistic.


Or for a more extreme example, suppose the majority enacts the enslavement of the minority. It's not really being done by all of those who "care enough to exercise their role". Surely you aren't going to claim that somehow the slaves (who futilely voted for their own freedom) are doing it to themselves! Or if the majority votes to kill the minority, surely you aren't going to say that those in the minority are committing suicide.Surely.


My point is that "by the people" in this sense doesn't refer to all of "the people" or even all those who "exercised their role", but refers to some kind of majoritarianism. Thus, like "the common good", it is a phrase that gives the appearance that one's position is obvious and unassailable (Who could possibly object to "The Common Good"?) But when we examine them more closely, they turn out to be not what they first appear.I agree. Do you think there is such a thing as the common good with the above assumptions or any other other additional and realistic assumptions?

Joel
06-03-2014, 03:00 PM
I don't think we should stipulate this. For example, a soldier may give his life in combat in a war to preserve freedom.

If we are talking about someone doing this voluntarily, then evidently he values preserving freedom more than preserving his own life (as in Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!"), thus it is not a net loss for him. Also because it is voluntary, then we aren't talking about a case where government force is needed.

Since you say we are not talking about voluntary action but government-coerced action, then I presume that we are instead talking about the case of forcing someone against their will to give their life for the majority. But then it's not clear that that is morally acceptable. If anything it is disturbing, the collective engaging in human sacrifice. It seems wrong for the same reasons that it's wrong to do force someone to submit to medical experiments in order to improve medicine for the majority. Or to kill someone for their organs for other people.

Thus we still may need to require that the project be a pareto improvement?



I agree. Perhaps our assumption of common sense should include some minimal sense of shared values and social & individual conscience for most people.

Sure but I don't see what that gains us for this discussion, because we are, by definition, still talking about the case that the project is a net loss to some people. Thus we are necessarily talking about a case in which values differ/conflict. (Even though the people involved have some other set of shared values.)

We are necessarily talking about the use of force to impose some peoples' values, at the expense of other people. And that doesn't morally justify the project. On the contrary it makes it morally suspect. And seems hardly deserving of a name like "the common good".

I think that answers your question.

robrecht
06-03-2014, 08:31 PM
If we are talking about someone doing this voluntarily, then evidently he values preserving freedom more than preserving his own life (as in Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!"), thus it is not a net loss for him. Also because it is voluntary, then we aren't talking about a case where government force is needed.

Since you say we are not talking about voluntary action but government-coerced action, then I presume that we are instead talking about the case of forcing someone against their will to give their life for the majority. But then it's not clear that that is morally acceptable. If anything it is disturbing, the collective engaging in human sacrifice. It seems wrong for the same reasons that it's wrong to do force someone to submit to medical experiments in order to improve medicine for the majority. Or to kill someone for their organs for other people.

Thus we still may need to require that the project be a pareto improvement?

Sure but I don't see what that gains us for this discussion, because we are, by definition, still talking about the case that the project is a net loss to some people. Thus we are necessarily talking about a case in which values differ/conflict. (Even though the people involved have some other set of shared values.)

We are necessarily talking about the use of force to impose some peoples' values, at the expense of other people. And that doesn't morally justify the project. On the contrary it makes it morally suspect. And seems hardly deserving of a name like "the common good".

I think that answers your question. Do you think that individuals owe anything to society, to their fellow man, at large? Do we have a responsability to create and maintain a larger community in which we and others can live? As we grow old and approach death, do we still have responsibility toward the younger generations? To teach values and skills, as others have done for us? Do you believe there is anything that can rightly be called the common good?

Joel
06-04-2014, 01:19 PM
Do you think that individuals owe anything to society, to their fellow man, at large? Do we have a responsability to create and maintain a larger community in which we and others can live? As we grow old and approach death, do we still have responsibility toward the younger generations? To teach values and skills, as others have done for us? Do you believe there is anything that can rightly be called the common good?
As I wrote in post 126, "there are other aspects to morality besides justice. There may be other aspects of morality, such as charity, that might say that Alice ought to give her hammer to Bob (or to the "common good" or whatever). But that doesn't justify Bob taking it without Alice's consent. That is, Alice might sin by being uncharitable (thus retaining the hammer when she ought to give it), but that doesn't justify Bob being unjust (stealing the hammer). Thus it doesn't annul or limit property rights."

Likewise neither would it justify "the majority" or some such group taking it without Alice's consent.

Thus these other aspects of morality are to be fulfilled via voluntary human interaction. You shouldn't think that just because we rule out one means (coercion by the threat of force) that that rules out all other means of doing a thing. The use of force is the worst (at best, last resort) means of doing things, and entails a low view of morality. Voluntary means are innumerable and far nobler, and arguably more effective.

Things like creating and maintaining "a larger community" and educating the younger generations can be and are achieved through voluntary means. You said we should assume common sense and "sense of shared values and social & individual conscience for most people." Great, so let us strive to achieve these great things through peaceful and voluntary means. Yes?


The other aspects of morality, such as charity, are not in conflict with the Justice that says no one but God may justly take Alice's hammer. Rather justice is a prerequisite to charity. One is not loving if one is unjust.

robrecht
06-04-2014, 02:18 PM
As I wrote in post 126, "there are other aspects to morality besides justice. There may be other aspects of morality, such as charity, that might say that Alice ought to give her hammer to Bob (or to the "common good" or whatever). But that doesn't justify Bob taking it without Alice's consent. That is, Alice might sin by being uncharitable (thus retaining the hammer when she ought to give it), but that doesn't justify Bob being unjust (stealing the hammer). Thus it doesn't annul or limit property rights."

Likewise neither would it justify "the majority" or some such group taking it without Alice's consent.

Thus these other aspects of morality are to be fulfilled via voluntary human interaction. You shouldn't think that just because we rule out one means (coercion by the threat of force) that that rules out all other means of doing a thing. The use of force is the worst (at best, last resort) means of doing things, and entails a low view of morality. Voluntary means are innumerable and far nobler, and arguably more effective.

Things like creating and maintaining "a larger community" and educating the younger generations can be and are achieved through voluntary means. You said we should assume common sense and "sense of shared values and social & individual conscience for most people." Great, so let us strive to achieve these great things through peaceful and voluntary means. Yes?

The other aspects of morality, such as charity, are not in conflict with the Justice that says no one but God may justly take Alice's hammer. Rather justice is a prerequisite to charity. One is not loving if one is unjust.I have not forgotten, but I was still trying to get your opinion on matters of justice, social debt and the common good without appealing to charity. I agree that voluntary efforts are far superior, but I am not convinced that is practical. For example, education in this country is largely supported through taxes, and much moreso in social democracies, where I would argue that there is a system that allows for a higher education that is based more on a meritocracy and less on inherited wealth. Would you argue that education should be entirely voluntary, that public schools are inherently evil?

robrecht
06-04-2014, 05:57 PM
Pardon my intrusion ...No intrusion, John, I always appreciate your insights. I think home schooling is great, when the family has the means to do it well, but it is not practical for many people who need two incomes or single-parent families. But, I was speaking about higher education, ie, university level and beyond. I did not make that very clear, but I admired the public higher education in Western Europe, where practically anyone can afford to attend at some of the finest universities in the world and study to the level of a doctorate if they have the ability and the initiative. That is what I meant by a public higher education based more on a meritocracy than inherited wealth. How many poor or middle class students can afford to go to Yale or Princeton or Harvard? A few get scholarships and many more get varrying degrees of financial aid, but it is still way too expensive for the vast majority of people. Not so in Western Europe, where a poor kid who is super smart can become a doctor or lawyer or world-class exegete or classics professor at universities that are, in some ways, much more prestigious than practically any university in this country where private tuition can be $50k per year and up.

Joel
06-04-2014, 06:23 PM
I have not forgotten, but I was still trying to get your opinion on matters of justice, social debt and the common good without appealing to charity. I agree that voluntary efforts are far superior, but I am not convinced that is practical. For example, education in this country is largely supported through taxes, and much moreso in social democracies, where I would argue that there is a system that allows for a higher education that is based more on a meritocracy and less on inherited wealth. Would you argue that education should be entirely voluntary, that public schools are inherently evil?
Each individual example (such as education) can create a lengthy discussion on its own.

There are two ways to discuss it. One is from a moral point of view: is it unjust? is it morally imperitive? or somewhere in between?
The other is the question of "practical", like whether X can be done at all via voluntary means.

However, the two are not necessarily independent. Great thinkers have held that the moral is always expedient.

As for the 'practical', I do think education can be achieved through voluntary means. Quality education can be had for quite low cost. And (voluntary) charity can provide for those who cannot afford it. There is some historical precedent for this. In the U.S. around 1840 and before, education at least elementary was virtually universal, and government schools were rare. Census data shows this. De Tocqueville commented on it. Charity was sufficient to provide education for the poor. And we can look at the reasons why people pushed for the creation of government schools. It wasn't because people were going without education. It was for various other reasons, usually involving the desire to force everyone into the same school (which of course the advocators would want to control according to their own desires/values/religion).

As for the moral, I think government schools are unjust, for reasons I have given before. We could consider additional reasons more specific to education. For example, as economist Murray Rothbard wrote,



"One of the best ways of regarding the problem of compulsory education is to think of the almost exact analogy in the area of that other great educational medium — the newspaper. What would we think of a proposal for the government, Federal or State, to use the taxpayers' money to set up a nationwide chain of public newspapers, and compel all people, or all children, to read them? What would we think furthermore of the government's outlawing all other newspapers, or indeed outlawing all newspapers that do not come up to the "standards" of what a government commission thinks children ought to read? Such a proposal would be generally regarded with horror in America, and yet this is exactly the sort of regime that the government has established in the sphere of scholastic instruction.

"Compulsory public presses would be considered an invasion of the basic freedom of the press; yet is not scholastic freedom at least as important as press freedom? Aren't both vital media for public information and education, for free inquiry and the search for truth? It is clear that the suppression of free instruction should be regarded with even greater horror than suppression of free press, since here the unformed minds of children are involved."
http://mises.org/daily/2226/Education-Free-and-Compulsory


And here's another way to consider the issue in general. In 1867, Lysander Spooner put it this way. Suppose that some (not all, as you have stipulated) of the people in a certain town write up a contract saying, "We, the people of the town of A-----, agree to sustain a church, a school, a hospital, or a theatre, for ourselves and our children." In that case:



"Such an agreement clearly could have no validity, except as between those who actually consented to it. If a portion only of "the people of the town of A-----," should assent to this contract, and should then proceed to compel contributions of money or service from those who had not consented, they would be mere robbers; and would deserve to be treated as such.

"Neither the conduct nor the rights of these signers would be improved at all by their saying to the dissenters: We offer you equal rights with ourselves, in the benefits of the church, school, hospital, or theatre, which we propose to establish, and equal voice in the control of it. It would be a sufficient answer for the others to say: We want no share in the benefits, and no voice in the control, of your institution; and will do nothing to support it."
http://lysanderspooner.org/node/63


And it might be that the dissenters in saying so are sinning, if some aspect of morality were to say that they ought to contribute to the project. But, I don't think that morally justifies the others in forcing the dissenters.

Moreover, it's not necessarily the case that the dissenters are sinning at all. They might dissent for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps they disagree with the educational philosophy of the writers of the contract, and think the contractors' plan is inferior or will even harm children, and the dissenters wish to establish their own school (perhaps drafting a separate contract of their own). Also different people are in different situations, and everyone has to make tradeoffs. Perhaps a particular dissenting individual/household has something else that is more morally compelling for them, on which to expend their resources. To compel them to divert their resources would be to force them to violate their conscience. Thus it is imperative that we defend the freedom of individual conscience in such matters.

robrecht
06-04-2014, 06:31 PM
Each individual example (such as education) can create a lengthy discussion on its own. ...It doesn't have to be such a long discussion, unless you want it to be. I think your answer to my question is 'yes'. Correct?

Joel
06-05-2014, 10:26 AM
It doesn't have to be such a long discussion, unless you want it to be. I think your answer to my question is 'yes'. Correct?
Yes.

Teallaura
06-05-2014, 10:33 AM
Yes.



:shocked: A one word answer from Joel?!?!?!


:egad: It's the end of the world!!!!!
























































:wink: Sorry, couldn't resist!

robrecht
06-11-2014, 10:19 AM
... Keep in mind, what I said, that the limits in question are not a limitation of property rights per se, but are implied by property rights. E.g., "Bob does not own Alice's hammer/body." is not a limitation imposed from without, but is due to "Alice owns her hammer/body." That limit as a negative concept does not have existence on its own, but is an implication of the positive concept of Alice's ownership. My anti-slavery argument is not essentially a negative claim (that people don't have the right to own other people); rather that negative statement is merely a corollary to the positive claim that Alice owns her own body. The essence is not a denial of property rights but an affirmation of property rights. ...
Would you agree with prochoice advocates who make a distinction between a baby that is able to be taken care of by others after birth, but which/who is dependent upon and part of the biological mother's body prior to birth? It would seem to me that any absolute right to private property based upon ownership of one's own body fails to recognize the conflicts of such rights that can occur. From a moral or legal perspective, should Alice recognize the right of the government to intervene in her decisions regarding her own body? Even after birth, a child has rights that can conflict with the rights of biological and legal parents. Is it ever necessary for a child to become a temporary ward of the state? Would it be appropriate only for charitable institutions to intervene in such situations? Taxes to provide for judges and police and foster homes and prisons are all a form of theft that cannot be justified by an appeal to the common good? Do not members of society have an obligation to ensure that children are not abused? Or is that only an obligation for those who choose to do so out of charitable motivations? And how would those who are thus charitably motivated presume to intervene in situations involving the rights of parents, families, and children?

Joel
06-17-2014, 05:33 PM
Would you agree with prochoice advocates who make a distinction between a baby that is able to be taken care of by others after birth, but which/who is dependent upon and part of the biological mother's body prior to birth? It would seem to me that any absolute right to private property based upon ownership of one's own body fails to recognize the conflicts of such rights that can occur. From a moral or legal perspective, should Alice recognize the right of the government to intervene in her decisions regarding her own body? Even after birth, a child has rights that can conflict with the rights of biological and legal parents. Is it ever necessary for a child to become a temporary ward of the state? Would it be appropriate only for charitable institutions to intervene in such situations? Taxes to provide for judges and police and foster homes and prisons are all a form of theft that cannot be justified by an appeal to the common good? Do not members of society have an obligation to ensure that children are not abused? Or is that only an obligation for those who choose to do so out of charitable motivations? And how would those who are thus charitably motivated presume to intervene in situations involving the rights of parents, families, and children?
All good questions.

I don't agree with the prochoice argument. The baby in the womb is not part of the mother's body. It seems that is established biological fact. Thus it is not a "decision regarding her own body", but a decision that harms someone else's body to the point of intentionally killing them.

As for rights of children to provision from their parents, it is true that some libertarians do argue that parents should have no legally enforceable obligation to their offspring. I disagree with them on the grounds that the parents caused there to be an offspring dependent upon them. Thus they acquire a legal obligation in the same way that if you injure someone (perhaps making them dependent) you are usually liable for restoring them and supporting them in the meantime.

As for ward of the state, I'm not very knowledgeable about family law, but it seems that the relevant situations would be (1) if the parents die without a will or next of kin, or some such incapacitation, or (2) the parents are guilty of abuse or criminal neglect. In the latter case, I should think the parents should be made to pay the intermediate cost of supporting the child. In the former, I think it would be appropriate for the child to be turned over to a voluntarily-funded orphanage or adoption agency or foster program, until adopted.

Judges, police, and prisons have been a more difficult subject. First note that if government is reduced to the small scope I advocate it will not cost that much. Furthermore, as much as possible, convicted criminals should be made to pay the costs of their making it necessary to have police, judges, etc. Prisons certainly should not consist of the innocent (including victims) being forced to support the incarcerated criminals. So any remaining cost is likely to be rather small. I think that if voluntary means are possible (which I think likely), then compelling third parties to fund it is simply theft (just as it would be theft for me to start my own school and force others to fund it). If it turns out it is not possible by voluntary means, then at best it becomes a necessary evil.

No government ever has ensured that children are not abused. More generally it is a case of one person doing violence to another. (We might set aside the controversial discussion of what is and is not included in child abuse.) Of course that should be illegal (being a violation of self-ownership). Intervention might sometimes, in an emergency, require an individual to use force in 'self defense' (which usually is defined to include defense of others), but normally should be via courts.

robrecht
06-17-2014, 05:57 PM
All good questions.

I don't agree with the prochoice argument. The baby in the womb is not part of the mother's body. It seems that is established biological fact. Thus it is not a "decision regarding her own body", but a decision that harms someone else's body to the point of intentionally killing them.

As for rights of children to provision from their parents, it is true that some libertarians do argue that parents should have no legally enforceable obligation to their offspring. I disagree with them on the grounds that the parents caused there to be an offspring dependent upon them. Thus they acquire a legal obligation in the same way that if you injure someone (perhaps making them dependent) you are usually liable for restoring them and supporting them in the meantime.

As for ward of the state, I'm not very knowledgeable about family law, but it seems that the relevant situations would be (1) if the parents die without a will or next of kin, or some such incapacitation, or (2) the parents are guilty of abuse or criminal neglect. In the latter case, I should think the parents should be made to pay the intermediate cost of supporting the child. In the former, I think it would be appropriate for the child to be turned over to a voluntarily-funded orphanage or adoption agency or foster program, until adopted.

Judges, police, and prisons have been a more difficult subject. First note that if government is reduced to the small scope I advocate it will not cost that much. Furthermore, as much as possible, convicted criminals should be made to pay the costs of their making it necessary to have police, judges, etc. Prisons certainly should not consist of the innocent (including victims) being forced to support the incarcerated criminals. So any remaining cost is likely to be rather small. I think that if voluntary means are possible (which I think likely), then compelling third parties to fund it is simply theft (just as it would be theft for me to start my own school and force others to fund it). If it turns out it is not possible by voluntary means, then at best it becomes a necessary evil.

No government ever has ensured that children are not abused. More generally it is a case of one person doing violence to another. (We might set aside the controversial discussion of what is and is not included in child abuse.) Of course that should be illegal (being a violation of self-ownership). Intervention might sometimes, in an emergency, require an individual to use force in 'self defense' (which usually is defined to include defense of others), but normally should be via courts.You ignored the idea that an unborn child is dependent upon the pregnant mother's body. Does the pregnant mother have an absolute right to ownership of her body, or is it appropriate for society to limit that particular individual right to private property?

Abusive parents, like convicted criminals, may be poor and unable to pay for upkeep of necessary societal institutions. It is all too easy to say that a child should be turned over to a voluntarily funded orphanage, but turned over by whom? And what if there are not enough voluntarily funded adoption agencies or foster programs? You say your preferred form of government "will not cost that much", but, be realistic, it will never be free. Thus, you seem to accept taxes as a necessary evil.

A common thief or gangs of violent criminals and invading armies might also justify their theft as necessary. So, rather than devolving into total anarchy, perhaps it would actually be good to set up and improve upon some institutional protections and guidelnes that are actually in and of themselves good insofar as they reduce the magnitude of the necessary evil that cannot be avoided in society. Can you not imagine such a common good of society that necessitates an obligation on the part of its members? Some kind of obligatory commitment to support that which is for the good of society as a whole and for those who are not yet able to support or protect themselves, perhaps?

Joel
06-18-2014, 11:47 AM
You ignored the idea that an unborn child is dependent upon the pregnant mother's body. Does the pregnant mother have an absolute right to ownership of her body, or is it appropriate for society to limit that particular individual right to private property?

I did address that. I pointed out that the parents caused that state of affairs (of this other person being dependent on them, including biologically on the mother during pregnancy.). "Thus they acquire a legal obligation in the same way that if you injure someone (perhaps making them dependent) you are usually liable for restoring them and supporting them in the meantime."



Abusive parents, like convicted criminals, may be poor and unable to pay for upkeep of necessary societal institutions.

In some cases forced labor to pay for their costs may be appropriate (e.g. for the incarcerated instead of forcing the innocent to support them). But there will likely be cases where costs cannot be recaptured from the criminals. That's what I was referring to when I said there would be some small remaining cost.



It is all too easy to say that a child should be turned over to a voluntarily funded orphanage, but turned over by whom? And what if there are not enough voluntarily funded adoption agencies or foster programs?

Couldn't anyone who discovers an orphan take them to an orphanage? I don't understand what the problem is there.

As for lack of funding, presumably the orphanage(s) and/or other concerned parties would go around informing people of this emergency, urging people to donate more or else orphans will die.

But I guess you ask what if, after all such attempts, funding still falls short? The only alternative to voluntary means is coercion. The alternative would be for the orphanage(s) or others to form a gang to go around holding people up at gunpoint taking the money (or some equivalent thing). But that's morally questionable at best. It may be a moral dilemma or a "hard case", and hard cases make for bad law.

It's a sad state of society if such a case arises. We should not start out presuming that the people will not fund it voluntarily. And if they, as a whole, are unwilling (or unable) to save the orphans' lives, then a government solution is unlikely as well.



You say your preferred form of government "will not cost that much", but, be realistic, it will never be free. Thus, you seem to accept taxes as a necessary evil.

I said there would likely be some small remaining cost. But that doesn't imply that taxation is necessary. A small cost is likely to be able to be paid by voluntary means.



A common thief or gangs of violent criminals and invading armies might also justify their theft as necessary.

Yes, and that creates an interesting dilemma. If a "necessary evil" justifies the state taking a particular action, I see no reason why it would not justify everyone and anyone in taking the same action. While on the other hand, if it does not justify state force, then I don't see any other moral justification for it.



So, rather than devolving into total anarchy, perhaps it would actually be good to set up and improve upon some institutional protections and guidelnes that are actually in and of themselves good insofar as they reduce the magnitude of the necessary evil that cannot be avoided in society. Can you not imagine such a common good of society that necessitates an obligation on the part of its members? Some kind of obligatory commitment to support that which is for the good of society as a whole and for those who are not yet able to support or protect themselves, perhaps?
Of course there needs to be government, for the protection of human rights.

The first thing I was arguing is that we should seek to minimize such things as taxation to what is necessary. Sure protections and guidelines for this would be good. Modern states on the other hand have expanded the use of taxation and other coercion far, far beyond what necessity could justify.
In seeking to achieve this minimization we may just find that the necessity is in fact zero--that these goals can be achieved through voluntary interaction. I think this is likely. There is a growing body of writing by libertarians exploring how this might be done.

Note however that voluntary efforts falling short does not necessarily justify coercive means (state intervention). In most cases, government intervention has at least a good chance of making things even worse (or being morally worse). Just because voluntary efforts fall short does not mean we should switch to something even worse.

Things that are good for "society as a whole" are presumably desirable (and considered worth the cost) by the vast majority. In which case it is quite likely that they will be willing and able to achieve such things voluntarily.

As for people who are not able to support or protect themselves (and have no obligatory support, such as children from their parents), that is a matter for charity (private/voluntary). A voluntary society I think is also best for reducing the need. Relatively free markets, for instance, have done more than anything to lift the vast majority of people out of poverty. Voluntary interaction in markets has vastly reduced poverty, disease, death, etc. It has enabled many to be productive who would have been utterly helpless/dependent in ages past due to disability. It is the option that will do the most to minimize the number of helpless people and maximize the means people have to help them. It is not at all clear that coercive intervention in this area won't make this very problem worse than otherwise, rather than better.

robrecht
06-18-2014, 12:23 PM
I did address that. I pointed out that the parents caused that state of affairs (of this other person being dependent on them, including biologically on the mother during pregnancy.). "Thus they acquire a legal obligation in the same way that if you injure someone (perhaps making them dependent) you are usually liable for restoring them and supporting them in the meantime."So do you agree that the right to individual private property, in this case a woman's ownership of her body, is not absolute?


In some cases forced labor to pay for their costs may be appropriate (e.g. for the incarcerated instead of forcing the innocent to support them). But there will likely be cases where costs cannot be recaptured from the criminals. That's what I was referring to when I said there would be some small remaining cost. What do you mean by small? How much do you think it will cost to maintain federal, state and local goverment in these United States?


Couldn't anyone who discovers an orphan take them to an orphanage? I don't understand what the problem is there. I suppose if you happen to see a child playing in the street, one could choose to be generous with their time and haul them off to an orphanage. But, how do they know if the child is an orphan or abused or just dumb. Shouldn't there be someone that people can call when they suspect abuse so that an investigation can be done to try and protect the rights of both the child and the parents? A certain amount of structure seems advisable if we want a minimum level of responsible activity rather than chaos.


As for lack of funding, presumably the orphanage(s) and/or other concerned parties would go around informing people of this emergency, urging people to donate more or else orphans will die.Sure they could. Or not. Is there no obligation to do so? Just hope someone takes care of this if they want to?


But I guess you ask what if, after all such attempts, funding still falls short? The only alternative to voluntary means is coercion. The alternative would be for the orphanage(s) or others to form a gang to go around holding people up at gunpoint taking the money (or some equivalent thing). But that's morally questionable at best. It may be a moral dilemma or a "hard case", and hard cases make for bad law.

It's a sad state of society if such a case arises. We should not start out presuming that the people will not fund it voluntarily. And if they, as a whole, are unwilling (or unable) to save the orphans' lives, then a government solution is unlikely as well. It seems like you have a very naive and unrealistic view of human nature.


I said there would likely be some small remaining cost. But that doesn't imply that taxation is necessary. A small cost is likely to be able to be paid by voluntary means. Have you found this to be the case anywhere on this planet among modern 'civilized' societies?


Yes, and that creates an interesting dilemma. If a "necessary evil" justifies the state taking a particular action, I see no reason why it would not justify everyone and anyone in taking the same action. While on the other hand, if it does not justify state force, then I don't see any other moral justification for it. So do we just sit on our butts and ponder such interesting dilemmas while our lands are taken, our young men killed, our women and children enslaved? Or do we create and continually strive to improve upon a manner of government that keeps the magnitude of necessary at some minimally acceptable level? If the latter, how do we pay for such an experimental and evolving government.


Of course there needs to be government, for the protection of human rights. Do you know of any modern governements that are even minimally effective without some form of taxation and coerced service?


The first thing I was arguing is that we should seek to minimize such things as taxation to what is necessary. Sure protections and guidelines for this would be good. Modern states on the other hand have expanded the use of taxation and other coercion far, far beyond what necessity could justify.
In seeking to achieve this minimization we may just find that the necessity is in fact zero--that these goals can be achieved through voluntary interaction. I think this is likely. There is a growing body of writing by libertarians exploring how this might be done. Utopian writings do not seem to produce utopian societies very often. In fact, are you aware of any successful utopian societies?


Note however that voluntary efforts falling short does not necessarily justify coercive means (state intervention). In most cases, government intervention has at least a good chance of making things even worse (or being morally worse). Just because voluntary efforts fall short does not mean we should switch to something even worse.

Things that are good for "society as a whole" are presumably desirable (and considered worth the cost) by the vast majority. In which case it is quite likely that they will be willing and able to achieve such things voluntarily.Your estimation of the probability of achieving a voluntary utopia is based on what exactly? Reading utopian literature?


As for people who are not able to support or protect themselves (and have no obligatory support, such as children from their parents), that is a matter for charity (private/voluntary). A voluntary society I think is also best for reducing the need. Relatively free markets, for instance, have done more than anything to lift the vast majority of people out of poverty. Voluntary interaction in markets has vastly reduced poverty, disease, death, etc. It has enabled many to be productive who would have been utterly helpless/dependent in ages past due to disability. It is the option that will do the most to minimize the number of helpless people and maximize the means people have to help them. It is not at all clear that coercive intervention in this area won't make this very problem worse than otherwise, rather than better. I suppose you think that child labor laws, for example, caused more harm than good? Minimal mining safety standards? Were modern weapons of war, used for offensive and defensive purposes, developed with voluntary resources? Utilities and power grids? Where are the modern utopian societies that you imagine?

Joel
06-19-2014, 02:15 PM
So do you agree that the right to individual private property, in this case a woman's ownership of her body, is not absolute?

No, I don't. First of all because it's like the "limitation" I permitted before, where Bob does not own the hammer because Alice does. The mother may not kill her offspring, because it isn't hers. The child is a self-owner. Just as Alice may not hit Bob on the head with her hammer, because it's Bob's head. As before, If you want to call this a "limitation", fine but then it's one that is implied by property rights taken to the logical conclusion, not something external to property rights that is overriding property rights.

Some try to argue for an "eviction" theory. That for the above reason it should be illegal to kill, but legal to "evict" the child. Existing abortion procedures don't do that however. Moreover the child is not like a trespasser on the woman's property, because the parents themselves acted to cause the situation. And acquiring an obligation through your voluntary actions (also including injuring someone, entering a contract) doesn't mean property ownership is not absolute. Just as voluntarily giving away ownership as a gift does not mean property ownership is not absolute.

(As a side note, my argument implies that the father has an equal obligation toward the child and thus to the pregnant mother.)



What do you mean by small? How much do you think it will cost to maintain federal, state and local goverment in these United States?

By small I mean a small fraction of what modern states spend.

I suppose you want numbers?
If we reduced federal, state, and local to just the categories of defense, protection, and running the 3 branches (executive, legislative, courts), that reduces spending to 20% of its current level.
But then "defense" spending I think contains mostly inappropriate military spending that doesn't defend us and can make us less safe.
And those other categories would also have much less to do, and thus need a small fraction of their spending.

I'd guess that with that the total would easily be 1% or less of current total spending. For reference, 1% would be about $63 billion per year (an average of about $200 per person, as compared to the $20,000 per person today).

As a comparison, federal, state, and local spending in 1900, adjusted for inflation, is 0.6% of today's. And they surely were not anarchy. And about half of that spending was in categories I've already eliminated above, so the remainder would be about 0.3% of today's spending.

And then we could reduce further by making criminals pay as much as possible of their costs. And perhaps losers in lawsuits paying the costs incurred.
We could go even further by encouraging the use of alternatives (private arbitrators, private security, even some private defense measures can be taken).
Who knows how small we can go. And we won't really know what the level of "necessity" is unless we do our best to reduce down to it.

My numbers come from http://www.usgovernmentspending.com



I suppose if you happen to see a child playing in the street, one could choose to be generous with their time and haul them off to an orphanage. But, how do they know if the child is an orphan or abused or just dumb. Shouldn't there be someone that people can call when they suspect abuse so that an investigation can be done to try and protect the rights of both the child and the parents? A certain amount of structure seems advisable if we want a minimum level of responsible activity rather than chaos.

Of course, but that's not unique to children. It's the same if, say, you suspect your neighbor is injuring his wife.



Sure they could. Or not. Is there no obligation to do so? Just hope someone takes care of this if they want to?

If there's not enough people caring, then political action is unlikely too. (Though political action can be selfish too. e.g., "If I get the state to force all my neighbors to pay, then I can contribute less myself.")
After all, your hypothetical here is that nobody is motivated enough to go out and do fund raising. So for the same reason nobody would be motivated to push for or create a government program either (except out of ulterior motives). So that's not a fix for this particular problem.



It seems like you have a very naive and unrealistic view of human nature.

How so?



Have you found this to be the case anywhere on this planet among modern 'civilized' societies?

Not a reasonable question. I'm sure early abolitionists were asked for examples of modern civilized societies functioning without slavery, in an attempt to suggest that a society without slavery is utopian/impossible. It's not my fault that all modern 'civilized' states are unjustly, unreasonably enormous behemoths. (doing things I would call downright uncivilized)

On the other hand we can find particular times and places where the various aspects have been successfully voluntarily funded. For example, Pennsylvania Colony, as I recall, at one time went 20 years just fine with zero taxation. And during that period, it had the fastest growing population and economy of any of the colonies. This period was ended not by necessity nor by choice, but by force, ultimately by the British Crown.

And we can see that quality of life according to all kinds of measures correlate with how 'voluntary' things are in various countries and at different times. The freer people are, the better off they tend to be, statistically. There



So do we just sit on our butts and ponder such interesting dilemmas while our lands are taken, our young men killed, our women and children enslaved? Or do we create and continually strive to improve upon a manner of government that keeps the magnitude of necessary at some minimally acceptable level? If the latter, how do we pay for such an experimental and evolving government.

I'm no opponent to incremental improvement. My suggestion for a first step is to start working to reduce to the current necessity. Then perhaps we can work on reducing that necessity (if any).
I'm not saying taxation will be eliminated in one stroke.



Utopian writings do not seem to produce utopian societies very often. In fact, are you aware of any successful utopian societies?

I do not claim that it would be a perfect world. There will still be petty thieves, murderers, kidnappers, con artists, etc. Accidents and injuries would still occur. etc.
And as I said, voluntary efforts alone may fall short (of whatever goals we happen to have), but that alone doesn't imply that coercive alternatives are any better.



I suppose you think that child labor laws, for example, caused more harm than good? Minimal mining safety standards?

It can be difficult to tell. But some comments:

Such laws are typically a trailing indicator of public opinion. They get passed only after it is not as much of a problem anymore, e.g. because not really needed anymore or because public opinion supports it. That is, as I understand, child labor was already tending toward going away. The law wouldn't have been passed/tolerated otherwise.

And they can indeed cause more harm than good. In societies where child labor is ubiquitous it tends to be because families cannot afford to have the children not work. To ban child labor in such cases is merely to impose greater barriers to climbing out of poverty. On the other hand, families that can afford to have children not work tend to prefer that their children not work and instead focus on education, so the ban for them is superfluous. And then still today the ban harms at least some teens who want to work, who could benefit from job experience, gaining skills, etc.

Minimal safety standards can worsen things too (make us less safe). Note that minimum safety laws tend to aim at eliminating outliers (say the lowest percentile). Eliminating everything from 50th percentile down, for example, would have a large negative impact on the economy and would tend to not be tolerated nor have democratic support. So the bar is set low, as a minimum. The problem is that this creates a perverse incentive. Most people/firms were already well above where the minimum was set. Why were they above that value? For one reason, to avoid the cost of liability for accidents. But now that there is a legal standard, those people have an incentive to lower their safety standards down to the minimum, because they could argue in court that they are not liable for an accident, because they satisfied the government standard.

Likewise people tend to adjust their behavior to compensate for safety measures. I recall reading of a study showing that mandatory seat-belt laws resulted in people driving less safe. It did not reduce driver/passenger injuries, but increased accidents and pedestrian injuries and deaths. Likewise I recall a study showing that cars drivers are less cautious around a bicyclist (e.g., passing them with a smaller gap) if the bicyclist is wearing safety gear. The suggested reasoning is that it makes the bicyclist look more professional/safer and so behavior compensates. Or in general people tend to be less cautious/diligent when they imagine an all-powerful government protecting them from any dangerous foods or products. Tends to create a false sense of security.



Were modern weapons of war, used for offensive and defensive purposes, developed with voluntary resources? Utilities and power grids? Where are the modern utopian societies that you imagine?
I don't think this is a good argument. I've seen the same lame argument used in the other direction, e.g., I saw a photo of an Occupy rally where it labeled a large number of things the protestors had that were produced by corporations (e.g., phones, tablets, video cameras, clothes, makeup, bags, paper/cardboard for signs, aluminum. And commented on their use of such things as wifi, 3G, social networks, transportation, starbucks). Of course it's a bad argument because those opposing giant corporations think these things can be produced without giant corporations, and would prefer them not to be produced by giant corporations. See?

Secondly, I think it likely that people in communist countries, if they had no knowledge of free markets, would tend to suppose that if the state weren't producing bread or the rags they are wearing, that those things wouldn't/couldn't be produced at all. Just as people once thought a functional society without slavery was impossible. For most of the history of the U.S. it was thought by most that postal service could only be done by the state--that it wouldn't be done at all. But the only reason why it wasn't being done in the voluntary sector was because it was illegal. More recently that ban has been relaxed and we have found that private delivery firms have been successful, though even today there are still restrictions and delivering letters along a regular route is still illegal for private carriers. (People should have asked: If it can't be done in the voluntary sector what is the point of the ban?)

Thirdly, in the western world, virtually every kind of product can be and is produced via voluntary means. So I don't see why you think it is utopian. If there are a few remaining goods that the state still enforces a legal monopoly on (or essentially crowds out via tax funding), then I should think the burden of proof would be on those arguing that those things cannot be produced via voluntary means. (and that it's worth paying for. If people won't voluntarily pay for something, it indicates that they think it is not worth the cost. That you have to force them to pay for it may indicate that it's simply not worth the cost.)

As for utilities/grids, in particular, many (most?) of them are indeed privately owned and funded. Thus it is certainly possible. I don't know why you'd think it would require a utopia. Today, most of those firms have a legal monopoly enforced by the local government. But prior to such laws becoming common, competing utility firms was the norm. And these products/services were first mass produced by private entrepreneurs. The lame argument for imposing monopolies was the worry (of the producers) that the product would be overproduced (and thus the price to the consumers driven down). There was no worry that it wouldn't be produced at all. As is usual for state regulation of the markets, this regulation was pushed for by the big firms in the business and by special deals with the state.

As for weapons of war, it's generally illegal for people to voluntarily possess or make them. So you don't have much argument there that they can't be made via voluntary funding. It's also interesting to note that because they are solely tax funded, we don't really know the true prices of these things. We are talking about a government that has been known to pay $640 per toilet seat, $37 per screw, $387 per flat washer, $7,622 per coffee maker, etc. It's likely the actual market cost of a tank (for example) is/would be far less than what the government currently spends on one.

robrecht
06-19-2014, 03:07 PM
No, I don't. First of all because it's like the "limitation" I permitted before, where Bob does not own the hammer because Alice does. The mother may not kill her offspring, because it isn't hers. The child is a self-owner. Just as Alice may not hit Bob on the head with her hammer, because it's Bob's head. As before, If you want to call this a "limitation", fine but then it's one that is implied by property rights taken to the logical conclusion, not something external to property rights that is overriding property rights.

Some try to argue for an "eviction" theory. That for the above reason it should be illegal to kill, but legal to "evict" the child. Existing abortion procedures don't do that however. Moreover the child is not like a trespasser on the woman's property, because the parents themselves acted to cause the situation. And acquiring an obligation through your voluntary actions (also including injuring someone, entering a contract) doesn't mean property ownership is not absolute. Just as voluntarily giving away ownership as a gift does not mean property ownership is not absolute.So would you accept the 'eviction theory' in the case of rape, where the mother has not entered into the pregnancy voluntarily?

I don't think the hammer analogy works very well here. If Bob crawled up into Mary's uterus, which she owns, she ought to be allowed to protect her absolute individual ownership rights of her own uterus. If an intruder comes into her home, does she have the right to protect her absolute right to private property by shooting the intruder? Or, if she might possibly or certainly be able to dispel the intruder without the use of deadly force, is she obligated to try and use nonlethal force? In which case, her right to private property would apparently not be absolute, but rather limited by the more important right to life of the intruder? Or perhaps the intruder gives up his right to life by the act of entering someone else's private property. But what if the intruder has Alzheimer's disease or is a confused young child and does not knowingly intrude upon the homeowner's private property. Does the homeowner have an obligation to determine if the intruder is a child or demented person?

Regardless of how you answer the above questions pertaining to the eviction theory--you may not (no longer?) want to defend a form of the eviction theory--let's consider the simpler objection: existing abortion procedure do not merely evict and the mother knows that the child growing within her has unintentionally entered her uterus and therefore has not consciously ceded any rights to life or ownership of him- or herself. So she may be obligated to only use nonlethal means to protect her absolute right to private property ownership of her uterine space.

The child's property rights are in conflict with the mother's property rights. Neither can be absolute if there is to be any resolution of the situation. One person's right to private property must be violated in order for the other person's right to private property to be respected. The foolish belief in an absolute right to individual private property has left us unable to resolve this conflict of absolute individual property rights. Would it not make so much more sense to say that the child's right to life must be more important than the mother's individual right to private property? Such manner of reasoning would necessarily entail the higher or superior right to life over the individual right to private property in some cases, would it not. The right to life must be more important to the temporary protection of private property rights. So, yes, there would be a limitation of the individual right to private property, which would thus not be absolute, and this limitation would not be established by taking absolute property rights to their inevitable logical conclusion, but by subordinating this right to a more important right.

Because of length, I will only be able to respond to parts at a time. But, please do not imagine that I believe an ethical system can be grounded merely in an analysis of absolute individual rights. I belive one should not speak of rights without at the same time being aware of responsibilities, ie, our individual and collective responsibility for the common good. In my own view, our responsibility to the common good entails some relativization of a hierarchy of individual rights.

robrecht
06-20-2014, 03:02 AM
How so? I still have not had a chance to read your entire post, but much of it can be dispensed with by our agreeing to disagree on whether or not it is realistic to build a totally voluntary society that effectively protects absolute individual rights without any need for taxation. I welcome your proving me wrong on this point. I hope that the people that believe this is possible will take the idea seriously enough to actually do so. Sounds wonderful; what are they waiting for?