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Author Topic: Taxes is not Theft  (Read 7449 times)
grondilu
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February 10, 2011, 05:28:46 PM
 #41

Red herring. Nobody here has advocated for slavery. In fact, I regard unregulated private capital accumulation as a rapid path in that direction. History provides ample evidence for this.

I very much doubt so.  Private capital accumulation doesn't lead to slavery, as long as it doesn't use force to coerce people to work.

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The topic here is taxes - contributions by those who live in a in a healthy democracy to implement what the people have decided is in their best interest.
Well, it is NOT a volontary contribution.  If you don't agree with it, you have to pay anyway.  If you don't, armed people threaten you and put you in a cage.  It is not slavery, but it's pretty damn close.

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In the case of high-tech advances, basically every such development has occurred as a result of public funds. DARPA, NASA, NIH, NSF and countless other programs in the US have funded most of the major technologies of the 20th century. The rest have been funded with the help of tax-subsidization, often in the form of protection from having to actually compete in a market.  The mountain of examples does not prove that basic research requires public funds (nothing can prove a theory or hypothesis, as a high-school student understands), but the lack of counter-examples is itself quite damning evidence.

The lack of counter examples??  You're obviously biased.

Anyway, even if that was true, think about what would happen if suddenly government stopped funding those research.  Would all the scientists who were working for gov. suddenly become dum?  Would they stop thinking, creating, innovating?  Would they become too poor to organize themselves the funding of their research?  Wouldn't some private companies be glad to be able to support them financially?

In science, the governement is like an elephant in a room.  Once you get rid of it, there is plenty of room for other things.


PS.  And again, it's not even a matter of efficiency.  Science is great, no doubt of that.  But I don't value it more than my freedom.

PS.  Also, please stop using public scientific research as an excuse to legitimate taxation.   It is a very tiny small part of taxation. 
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gene
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February 10, 2011, 05:51:07 PM
 #42

I very much doubt so.  Private capital accumulation doesn't lead to slavery, as long as it doesn't use force to coerce people to work.

That's a pretty big "as long as."

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Well, it is NOT a volontary contribution.  If you don't agree with it, you have to pay anyway.  If you don't, armed people threaten you and put you in a cage.  It is not slavery, but it's pretty damn close.

I wouldn't have a problem with you becoming a hermit if you elect not to participate in society. However, we should remember that freedom isn't absolute. One's freedom may impose on another's. This problem is not magically handled by anything that you're proposing.

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The lack of counter examples??  You're obviously biased.

I await counterexamples. The examples provided by ribuck were the result of public support via taxes.

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Anyway, even if that was true, think about what would happen if suddenly government stopped funding those research.  Would all the scientists who were working for gov. suddenly become dum?  Would they stop thinking, creating, innovating?  Would they become too poor to organize themselves the funding of their research?  Wouldn't some private companies be glad to be able to support them financially?

Historically, science has occurred at universities or (far more rarely) done by bored, rich people. Typically, the first priorities for humans are to make a living, so it depends on what priorities private corporations have. These priorities are typically to make money, not advance the state of knowledge.

You are placing undue trust in the ability for a base instinct like greed to actually improve our lives. In my experience, greed is not a constructive impulse.

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In science, the governement is like an elephant in a room.  Once you get rid of it, there is plenty of room for other things.

This is true, although probably not in the way you would like to imagine.

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PS.  And again, it's not even a matter of efficiency.  Science is great, no doubt of that.  But I don't value it more than my freedom.

And that is your choice, but I think most people would rather have improved medicine, communications, etc. than the freedom to live outside of society.

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Garrett Burgwardt
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February 10, 2011, 05:59:47 PM
 #43


I wouldn't have a problem with you becoming a hermit if you elect not to participate in society. However, we should remember that freedom isn't absolute. One's freedom may impose on another's. This problem is not magically handled by anything that you're proposing.

What. Freedoms do not impose on one another, I do not have the right to take something of my neighbors, and don't have the right to kill someone. Nobody has those rights. People can all be free without imposing anything on anyone else, and I challenge you to prove me wrong.


I await counterexamples. The examples provided by ribuck were the result of public support via taxes.


Basically every improvement in computing engineering, design, that flying car that was mentioned earlier doesn't look to be government supported. Lots of medicine, if not all of it... the list goes on.
gene
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February 10, 2011, 06:11:48 PM
 #44

What. Freedoms do not impose on one another, I do not have the right to take something of my neighbors, and don't have the right to kill someone. Nobody has those rights. People can all be free without imposing anything on anyone else, and I challenge you to prove me wrong.

Some people on this very forum have expressed the desire to see every valuable resource owned. If I own all the potable water in your city, I am imposing on your freedom to live, unless you pay. This is coercion.

Also, some people do think they have the right to do anything they want. They are called sociopaths, and most people recognize that they have to be controlled. So you have made what I think is a reasonable choice about what kinds of freedom are appropriate. Unfortunately, we can't just assume that these values are shared, and consensus via some democratic process and social contract (what you described) is required.

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Basically every improvement in computing engineering, design, that flying car that was mentioned earlier doesn't look to be government supported. Lots of medicine, if not all of it... the list goes on.

Unfortunately, this is demonstrably untrue. Basic medical research typically occurs at universities with large federal funding (NIH, NSF). All of the original work in what we consider computer science came from DARPA money from the 50s to the 80s. What came after were incremental improvements toward marketability. For instance, I don't consider an ipod to be a fundamental technological advancement to be compared with something like the transistor.

Even modern aerospace firms depend heavily on military spending to survive, only to incrementally improve technology that was developed at universities or NASA. I've had this same basic conversation many times over the years. Each major tech that is brought up is inevitably the result of government money.

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grondilu
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February 10, 2011, 06:17:29 PM
 #45

I wouldn't have a problem with you becoming a hermit if you elect not to participate in society.

This is an error statits often make.  They see society as a whole.  You're part of it or you're not.

A society is basically a group of people interacting with one another.  If you reject one, you can join an other. Basically what I advocate is the right for individuals to chose who they want to work and collaborate with.

gene
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February 10, 2011, 06:40:33 PM
 #46

PS.  Also, please stop using public scientific research as an excuse to legitimate taxation.   It is a very tiny small part of taxation.

First, I'm not trying to "legitimate taxation." I'm telling it the way it is.

Second, the bulk of US tax money goes to military spending, much of which supports all kinds of research both at universities and at corporate contractors. This is well known, and I'm surprised you could make such a statement with a straight face. None of the US aerospace firms would still be around if it weren't for military contracts.

A similar situation exists in europe as well, with airbus. I think you would be surprised to see just how dependent basic research is on taxes and the sheer scale of the funding.

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gene
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February 10, 2011, 06:45:07 PM
 #47

I wouldn't have a problem with you becoming a hermit if you elect not to participate in society.

This is an error statits often make.  They see society as a whole.  You're part of it or you're not.

A society is basically a group of people interacting with one another.  If you reject one, you can join an other. Basically what I advocate is the right for individuals to chose who they want to work and collaborate with.


You are arguing over semantics. The logical conclusion of what you are saying is in agreement with what I said. People agree (more or less) on a set of rules to govern (see that word?) their interactions and sustain their system.

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kiba
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February 10, 2011, 07:02:26 PM
 #48


You are arguing over semantics. The logical conclusion of what you are saying is in agreement with what I said. People agree (more or less) on a set of rules to govern (see that word?) their interactions and sustain their system.

Society have no goal, no feeling, or no aspiration. Society is not a person. Instead, society is a total sum of individual interaction amongst human beings.

grondilu
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February 10, 2011, 08:32:26 PM
 #49

You are arguing over semantics. The logical conclusion of what you are saying is in agreement with what I said. People agree (more or less) on a set of rules to govern (see that word?) their interactions and sustain their system.

Yeah, and when they DON'T agree with such rules, they don't have to live like ermits as you suggested.  They just separate and gather in groups of people agreeing with a different set of rules.

I think this is called separationism (or maybe cessessionism), and to me it is better than democracy.
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February 11, 2011, 04:35:13 AM
 #50

http://www.fff.org/freedom/1094f.asp

Governments have killed over 203,000,000 people in the 20th century.

But at least you have nice roads and research grants to show for it.......
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February 11, 2011, 05:56:05 AM
 #51


The study was conducted at a public university. Which means that taxes helped pay for it...

I've had this same basic conversation many times over the years. Each major tech that is brought up is inevitably the result of government money.

Yes, and I had to walk on the public sidewalks (created using eminent domain) to get to my car (paid by the GM bailout money) and used gas (subsidized by the US imperialism in the Mideast) to drive on the roads (funded by taxes) to get to my research job (oh, did I mention that I attended a public school funded by State monopoly lottery money?), ... , ... , ... , ... , etc.

Folks, this discussion is going nowhere.  I am reminded of a concept called "Falsifiability":

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Falsifiability
Quote
Falsifiability or refutability is the logical possibility that an assertion could be shown false by a particular observation or physical experiment. That something is "falsifiable" does not mean it is false; rather, it means that if the statement were false, then its falsehood could be demonstrated.

Gene simply has to show that the inventor or researcher lived for some part of his life on a plot of land claimed by some monopolistic government, thereby proving that the research depended on tax money.  Since every plot of land on earth is claimed by at least one state, Gene's claim is unfalsifiable.  I am going to treat Gene as another internet troll from now on and focus my efforts on my research and on promoting bitcoin. 

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
The Script
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February 11, 2011, 06:19:13 AM
 #52

Gene, you are right about Bell Labs.  +1

Counter examples: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, Guglielmo Marconi, Heinrich Hertz, et cetera

Yes, government research is responsible for much of the technological development in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Government has also dominates the research industry using its coercive monopoly to do so.  Private companies can't compete with government tax-funded dollars, so of course government dominates the research industry.  That doesn't mean that we wouldn't have had all those great inventions WITHOUT government funding.  We might have, we might have not.  We might have more, we might have less.  You can't know, and that neither proves nor disproves whether government research is more efficient.  You provided an empirical example for government research, I have just provided empirical counter-examples for private research.  You certainly could provide more empirical examples and then I could go research more for my side.  At what point is one of us proved right?  If you have 54 confirmed examples and I only have 53?  You have to use other methods to determine whether government is more efficient than private business.  Mises, Rothbard and Hayek have done this quite well. 



grondilu
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February 11, 2011, 06:25:10 AM
 #53

Counter examples: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, Guglielmo Marconi, Heinrich Hertz, et cetera


I suggest you add Satoshi Nakamoto to this list Wink
The Script
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February 11, 2011, 09:33:52 AM
 #54

Counter examples: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, Guglielmo Marconi, Heinrich Hertz, et cetera


I suggest you add Satoshi Nakamoto to this list Wink


Who the hell is that?
Tongue
em3rgentOrdr
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February 11, 2011, 09:41:34 AM
 #55

But didn't Thomas Edison rely on the patent system to make a living off his inventions?  Tongue

-Gene.

(I couldn't resist)

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
Anonymous
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February 11, 2011, 11:53:29 PM
 #56

But didn't Thomas Edison rely on the patent system to make a living off his inventions?  Tongue

-Gene.

(I couldn't resist)

That post if full of win.
The Script
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February 12, 2011, 05:26:04 AM
 #57

But didn't Thomas Edison rely on the patent system to make a living off his inventions?  Tongue

-Gene.

(I couldn't resist)

Smiley 
fergalish
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February 12, 2011, 06:58:36 AM
 #58

But didn't Thomas Edison rely on the patent system to make a living off his inventions?  Tongue

-Gene.

(I couldn't resist)

Well, even libertarians think that property rights should be enforced in an anarchist/lassaiz-faire economy.  Patents are nothing other than intellectual property, but I don't know if the libertarian argument defends that too.  So maybe they could argue that patents are OK, but that there shouldn't be a monopoly on patent enforcement...Huh

I note that patents exist to protect the research investment of the developer and allow them to recoup their investment through exclusivity for a while.  Of course, it's being abused now, but what do the libertairians amongst us say about intellectual property?


My understanding of the "social contract" question is that, e.g. in the US, the founding fathers formulated the constitution, with popular consent.  Those who consented implicitly raised their children to consent, and so on until today.  Like lots of laws, the constitution is being abused now to enable government to pass absurd laws to which the founders and their popular following would never have consented.  So maybe ye should genuinely try to get a revolution going, unseat government, and with popular consent, formulate a new constitution/social contract which includes the missing bit from this one - that is, articles which limit government's power over periods of hundreds of years and through unforeseeable technological and sociological changes.

Let me ask a question, suppose the people of Egypt manage to get their choice of president (and not Suileman who seems to be as unliked as Mubarak).  Now suppose this guy, Mr. X, let's call him, frames a new constitution, and creates a new country Egypt_V2.0, with freedom for all, and there is rejoicing and joy in the streets.  Even though the only guy to sign the new constitution is Mr X himself, would anyone here doubt that all Egyptians agree to be bound by that constitution, even though they didn't sign it?

The only hole in the argument is parents deciding for their children.  But that can hardly be otherwise, can it?

f.
theymos
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February 12, 2011, 08:32:24 AM
 #59

Well, even libertarians think that property rights should be enforced in an anarchist/lassaiz-faire economy.  Patents are nothing other than intellectual property, but I don't know if the libertarian argument defends that too.  So maybe they could argue that patents are OK, but that there shouldn't be a monopoly on patent enforcement...Huh

I note that patents exist to protect the research investment of the developer and allow them to recoup their investment through exclusivity for a while.  Of course, it's being abused now, but what do the libertairians amongst us say about intellectual property?

Libertarians are opposed to intellectual property, as it allows non-scarce intellectual property to interfere with the use of scarce real property.

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gene
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February 12, 2011, 02:23:09 PM
 #60

Gene, you are right about Bell Labs.  +1

Counter examples:

I'll note that all of your examples predate the emergence of the modern transnational corporation, but they are interesting, nonetheless. Also, the bar for developing new technologies has been raised substantially (in terms of capital) since their times.

Quote
Thomas Edison
His famous inventions happened before 1881 and were patented (thanks, emergent - you made a statement of fact) well before the time of the modern multinational conglomerate.

It can also be argued that his inventions were not fundamental discoveries in basic science. One good example was the fluoroscope. Edison marketed the first commercial fluoroscope years after Roentgen made the critical discoveries at a university. See my point about about packaging and marketing of technology.

Now, let's take a closer look regarding emergent's point about patents:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_edison#War_of_currents
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Edison's true success, like that of his friend Henry Ford, was in his ability to maximize profits through establishment of mass-production systems and intellectual property rights.
I think that is quite interesting. Who do you think enforces those rights? Who pays for that enforcement?

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Henry Ford
His main innovation was to pay his workers excellent salaries, which allowed them to actually buy the things they produced, ensuring a market for his cars. The novelty of his idea is lost on the modern corporation, and is actually seen as a means of "wealth redistribution" by some.

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Alexander Graham Bell
The invention of the telephone also came out of substantial university research. Most people don't know that Bell was a professor at Boston U. This is what set him up with the requisite knowledge for his patent.

Another good example of having the patent system on your side...

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

Plus, we know what became of his legacy (the Bell System).

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Eli Whitney
We're talking pre-industrial revolution now? Why not include daVinci or the discovery of fire?

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Guglielmo Marconi
Patents galore, all of which stemmed from work done by...
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Heinrich Hertz
who made his discoveries while working at a public university.

I appreciate you for setting that one up.  Grin

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et cetera

You said it, brother.

More interesting:
Quote
Libertarians are opposed to intellectual property, as it allows non-scarce intellectual property to interfere with the use of scarce real property.

I'm not sure that things are so simple. Perhaps you are opposed to the idea of IP, but many self-identifying libertarians (Randians come to mind) are supportive of such rights. fergalish describes one approach to IP, which seems to be quite reasonable.

There are, of course, extremes even within the so-called "libertarian" crowd. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, ultra-free marketers espouse the notion that everything should be privately owned. This includes, by necessity, ideas. It also includes things like air. The idea here is that once the resource is owned, then the owner will naturally want to take care of it. This seems crazy to me - more likely the owner will use the control over critical resources to coerce for profit.

I find the notion of universal private ownership absurd, but I do recognize the need for IP as a means to protect individuals and smaller business from being robbed by more powerful interests. I think people should be able to decide the terms by which their programs, music, writings, etc. are distributed, and for a period of time no longer than their natural lives. Unfortunately, the very tools that were meant to protect individuals and smaller shops have been co-opted by powerful interests. This is what happens when government stops being by and for the people. Democracy helps - and democracy can also help to define sane notions for IP in the digital age.

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