Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Libertarian is within all of us

"There was a time when we honored those who created the prosperity and the freedom that we enjoy. Today we honor the complainers and sue the creators. Perhaps that is inevitable in an era when we no longer count our blessings, but instead count all our unfilled wishes"
Thomas Sowell

When engaging in a discussion with someone I find an effective technique to get them on board with your argument is to identify points you have in common with them. Once you have identified common ground it becomes easier to explain a certain point of view as the other person is more receptive to your ideas. In political spheres it is a popular myth that people of both right and left are diametrically opposed and share nothing in common. As can be seen with the recent Conservative conference where chants of "Tory Scum" and eggs been thrown by some of the people, they actually believed the other side to be pure evil. The difference between the participants entering the conference and the protesters outside were not as different as the scenes would make you believe.

If I was to ask a couple of questions to the protesters and the conference delegates first would be, do you believe in not taking other peoples stuff? Second, do you believe that we should not do harm to others? I would bet over 99% of people would agree with both points, in that people have a right to their own bodies and property and that we should respect one another and not cause untoward harm. You may not realise it but these two questions are central to Libertarian thought. Many people agree with such broad statements but in practice many seem blinded by their own contractions in life.

The classic example is when Governments decide to embark into conflicts. To pay for such skirmishes instead of asking for peoples money it rather takes from the citizens in order to hurt others, breaking both principles above. Iraq, Afghanistan and the Arab Spring uprisings - non of this was a direct threat to own bodies but yet our Governments decided it was in their interest to engage in armed conflict. Rather than protect our liberty we now find they have destabilised the region further, armed ISIS and created power vacuums in many countries. Why can Government take money from all of us in the form of taxation? We may all agree that a chunk of this money goes to good causes but there are many other good causes I could force others to support but as a society we view this as unacceptable and quite right. People have no right to tell others what to do with their fruits of their own labour.

The protesters outside the Conservatives Conference view themselves as morally superior yet their actions contradict this premise. Their belief is the rich should pay more into schools and hospitals. In essence their moral argument boils down to taking from people who work very hard and create wealth for the poorest; claiming they have the moral high ground as it benefits the poor. All they are advocating is organised theft, they themselves are not giving or creating solutions to combat poverty but instead believe that taking from their fellow man is compassionate. I could advocate the same policy its not hard, its no skin off my back. I wouldn't pay the extra money as I'm just taking it from others. Instead of holding such a view these people should instead enter business and come up with new innovations, products and make goods more plentiful for everyone including the poorest. Rather than complaining about their lot be grateful of the abundance they have compared with many billions in the world. Rather than plotting to take assets from others be the change that they wish to see in the world. Food used to be expensive. We now have diets of abundance because people put in hard work to create wealth and find better ways to produce goods. Everything good we have, has come about not by protest, self pity or complaining. It has come about from hard work, action and a can-do attitude. People from modest backgrounds have achieved astonishing things all because they dreamt they could. 

If the protesters believe that taking other peoples stuff is acceptable then would they also advocate that people in the slums of India or Bangladesh should take from the poorest worker in the West? This gulf is far greater than if we compare a millionaire and the poorest worker in a western country. The millionaire can own a few houses, a plane, a yacht, or a fancy car but an average worker can afford to use all these products just to a less extravagant extent. Compare that to people on less than a dollar a day. They have no clean water and have to walk miles to obtain their "drinking" water that could kill them. They have one meal a day of gruel, a subsistence diet and are lucky to live beyond their 40's. The millionaire and western worker has no difference in all the above. Both can also get drunk, have the latest iPhone and entertain themselves with large TVs and endless content. The only people in true poverty are the ones in 3rd world slums but many of us would not agree if those people were to turn round and demand we give them money against our free will. 

Regardless of your political beliefs ask people if they want better schools, hospitals, transport and so forth; again the majority of people would also share this view. We all have these end goals in common but its the means to achieve them that differ. I would argue we all have a little Libertarian in us. We just need to learn to express it more and understand that liberty is the only true moral system to resolve conflict with one another in a civil manner. It holds up to the two questions I asked at the start of the article that we all believe are right; yet all our mainstream political parties break these principles all the time with the majority of the public unwittingly supporting such actions.

Friday, 9 October 2015

The Morality of Taxation

Paying tax is not a burden. It is the subscription we pay to live in a civilised society.
Jeremy Corbyn

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul.
George Bernard Shaw

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
Ronald Reagan

There are some great probing questions in the video above, well worth a watch if you haven't seen it. When I suggest to people that I don't think we should have taxes, full stop, its hard for many to comprehend. Looks of disgust or the fact I must be mentally ill are common responses. How will the world work if we didn't have taxes? Liberty is a belief in voluntary co-operation with one another. For example when I go to work I do it for my own self interest. I sacrifice my time in order to get paid. My company pays me not because it wants to but because they need someone to do a job in order to stay in business. Thus we both enter into a voluntary agreement and where these two self interests meet we end up with co-operation with one another. Taxation doesn't work under this model instead it forces people to enter into agreements they may disagree with. I may not support intervention in Syria or money spent on the latest rail projects. Yet if I don't pay I go to jail. There is no voluntary agreement; no choice to opt out; my individual choice is taken away from me.

The majority of people are dormant Anarchists. We all believe one another has a right to their own bodies and actions and to pursue their own interests. However when it comes to the concept of taxation we have become so passive to it that we actually don't even question it. I think we all should give it great pause for thought. Some say its the price we pay to live in a civilised society when in fact taxation is a direct contradiction to the statement. How can initiating force on one another be civilised? How can it be civilised to allow a majority to decide if we should go to war then force the minority who opposed it to also pay for it? As the video states I may believe a cause is worth giving to but I do not have the right to force other citizens to also give against their free will.

So if you decide that taxation if immoral then your next question is, how would society function without it? What if it could, in fact what if  society could prosper far more than is currently the case, in fact the poorest and most vulnerable would gain greatly under such conditions. The de-nationalisation of money will allow asset poor people to accumulate wealth far easier than the current government fiat monetary system that constantly erodes in value thus leading people to speculate, generally favoring able investors. Education could be done far better by voluntary co-operation and level the field for all. Healthcare is undergoing a revolution - its the free market and liberty that will solve Americas $90 Trillion projected shortfall in healthcare spending. The price of land and housing is a blight which highlights the vested interests of successive Governments maintaining high house prices. The UK has over 90% of land as empty space. For most of that the Government pays the largest landowners to just sit on the land giving less incentive to sell (taxpayers subsidise it unwittingly). Planning is controlled by Government bodies. Londoners bemoan the price of housing and we are told there is no space in an attempt to explain the rising costs yet New York is half the size with the same population but their house prices are not double the cost (and still with New York the planning is a mess). They have built vertically to fully maximise the land and give people larger homes to live in. For the vulnerable of society, the 1-2% that can't pay, there would be ample good will to help those in need by the use of voluntary action. People would not only be wealthier but would also be more compassionate rather than the current rob thy neighbor mentality in order to get as much "free" stuff as possible.

Rather than fear a collapse if there was no Government we would in fact flourish. So ask yourself, is taxation the price you pay to live in a civilised society? Or is being civilised not using force and co-coercion; instead co-operating with one another in a voluntary matter?