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Old 07-07-2012, 06:44 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Are you familiar with the name Smokey Yunick?
Sorry, but no. I've never followed Nascar. In any event, I'll be interested to read your comparison.

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You are. Like most states, the state of California State Board of Equalization requires that its residents pay a Use Tax on purchases made for which normal Sales Tax is not collected. This includes both private transactions and purchases made from out-of-state vendors (eg: mail order). Enforcement of this law is relatively lax, however it is the law. When you filed your 2011 California income tax, this was line 95 on Form 540. You are permitted to make a single "Estimated Use Tax Liability" payment in lieu of computing the actual tax liability, based on income. For taxpayers with an AGI of between $100,000 and $149,999 for instance, the Use Tax Liability is $88. (see pages 14-15 of "Instructions for Form 540 / 540A)
I hate you, Joe.


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And that may well be true. An important consideration however, and one which I've not seen raised, is that everyone seems to be taking it on faith that this is, in fact, driving all the little guys out of business. While I'm sure that they'd prefer not to have to pay their fair share (I mean, who wouldn't?) it's probably a tad naive to simply take them at their word when they say "Oh, this is just going to drive us out of business," as though we are totally unfamiliar with the use of hyperbole and drama in business.
Perhaps. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they take the tax hit or not.

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Old 07-07-2012, 07:36 PM   #22
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I don't put much faith in the Supreme Court (see Dredd Scott, and Patriot Act), and no I don't put the Founders on as high a pedestal as you assume I do.
I can honestly never quite tell where you actually stand. Sometimes you seem to speak from the perspective of a Constitutionalist, other times you seem to just make up political philosophy as you go along.

The Constitution established the Supreme Court, and granted it certain authority. If you support the Constitution, you can't go saying "I don't like the Supreme Court" simply because you disagree with some of their decisions. And if you find the entire institution of The Court offensive and worth of abolition per-se, then there's really no reason why we shouldn't go ahead and abolish the congress and the presidency as well.




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Here's a better way than the line item veto:
It's called "One subject at a time".

https://secure.downsizedc.org/etp/one-subject/
That sounds like a perfectly valid and reasonable idea, and I encourage you to contact your senators and congressional representative in support of it.



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Sorry, but no. I've never followed Nascar. In any event, I'll be interested to read your comparison.
Well, ole' Smokey was notorious in his day for extremely creative interpretation of The Rules. Even in a racing organization where "if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying," Yunick seemed to pride himself on implementing designs which passed off as legal only on the most tortured reading of the regulations- completely violating the intent of the rule, without actually running afoul of its text. Such extravagances as the "it's not a supercharger, it's a flywheel with cooling fins on it that happens to be ducted into the carburetor" concept typically resulted in the rules being updated every season (if not every race) to specifically prohibit whatever new methods he'd invented to cheat-without-cheating.

That's really all that's happened here.


The states have always taxed factory-produced cigarettes at a different rate than loose tobacco, and I can't recall every hearing anyone claim that this was anti-competitive or unfair.

Somewhere along the line, some clever person figured out that he could sell loose tobacco and pre-made cigarette tubes to consumers as two separate transactions, and additionally provide them with access to a machine which would automatically stuff the tobacco into the tubes, thus producing a finished cigarette which was functionally indistinguishable from a factory-produced smoke, and avoiding the tax which would otherwise be levied.

That's a loophole.

The only thing that the Fed has done here is to say that a retailer which hosts a cigarette-making machine which automatically creates finished cigarettes for a customer counts as a "manufacturer," and can thus be taxed in the same way as any other cigarette manufacturer.

Tell me how that's not fair?

Really, the only difference here is batch-size. Just because you are producing cigarettes in small batches does not make them any different from those rolling off a large factory line, especially considering that the process is, in either case, completely mechanized and automated.


If you genuinely want to "roll your own", purchasing loose tobacco and rolling papers and putting the cigarettes together yourself, then nothing at all has changed. The ONLY thing this law does is to clarify that a company which uses an automatic machine to assemble cigarettes and then sell finished cigarettes to a customer is a manufacturer of cigarettes, regardless of whether they are making a thousand cigarettes an hour or a hundred-thousand.


Consider the following: if there was a hypothetical Pizza Tax, would it be wrong for this tax to be collected not only on the sale of frozen pizzas from the big-chain grocery store, but also on pizzas sold by the local Pizza Hut and other pizza shops?

Because that's really all that's happened here.




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I hate you, Joe.
Why, because I don't cheat on my taxes?
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Old 07-07-2012, 07:55 PM   #23
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You made me laugh with that Smokey story. As for the question, "Tell me how that's not fair?" it could be answered in the fact that the customer, not the shop, is actually producing the finished product, so what rationale is there to tax a business for something it technically doesn't do? How does one construe this as cheating?

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Why, because I don't cheat on my taxes?
No, for ruining my blissful ignorance, lol

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Old 07-07-2012, 08:43 PM   #24
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I can honestly never quite tell where you actually stand. Sometimes you seem to speak from the perspective of a Constitutionalist, other times you seem to just make up political philosophy as you go along.
My views have evolved from a constitutionalist/natural-law libertarianism and now I'm between AnarchoCapitalism/consequentialist libertarianism, and Common-Law libertarianism.

The Constitution was a move towards centralization of power, away from the Articles of Confederation. The Swiss central gov't today is arguably less powerful than the Constitution's writers intended for this country.

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The Constitution established the Supreme Court, and granted it certain authority. If you support the Constitution, you can't go saying "I don't like the Supreme Court" simply because you disagree with some of their decisions.
The Supreme Court was not meant to be the final arbiter of what's constitutional and what's not. Some of the Constitution's writers argued that it was going to be just another tentacle of the Federal monster. They wanted the individual States to be that, by their power of Nullification of Federal laws within their borders.

<snip>

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...Consider the following: if there was a hypothetical Pizza Tax, would it be wrong for this tax to be collected not only on the sale of frozen pizzas from the big-chain grocery store, but also on pizzas sold by the local Pizza Hut and other pizza shops?

Because that's really all that's happened here.
And again, this power to create winners and losers, and to grant economic favors, is where Corporatism comes from. That's one of the reasons I prefer ZERO corporate taxes. I think the most evenly applied tax would be a straight sales (consumption) tax.
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:57 AM   #25
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My views have evolved from a constitutionalist/natural-law libertarianism and now I'm between AnarchoCapitalism/consequentialist libertarianism, and Common-Law libertarianism.
You speak of Anarcho- Capitalism and Consequentialist-Libertarianism as though they are the same thing, or are at least similar and compatible philosophies.



Consequentialist-libertarianism acknowledges that capitalism and the free market are merely a means to an end. Specifically, it sets forth the idea of a "greater good", which might be simplistically expressed as happiness / prosperity / security / etc. The sort of stuff that typically follows phrases like "We the People of the United States..."

In other words, our goal is to make life "better," and free market capitalism is a tool by which we can move towards that goal. Such an interpretation is consistent with the original ideals and desires which went into founding the US and drafting its constitution.



Anarcho-capitalism, by contrast, holds that the free market itself IS the ultimate end, and makes no judgement of the consequences of same. It makes no consideration for what is "good" or "just" for either its own individual citizens or for humanity as a whole.

In a truly anarcho-capatalist society, corporations are free to sell products which are dangerous and defective, to commit fraud, to engage in extortion and espionage, and to commit acts which are harmful to society.

In an anarcho-capitalist state, corporations are not merely free to dump toxic waste into the water supply and poison the environment, they would actually be encouraged and commended for doing so, as this would presumably decrease their operating costs and improve their profitability. After all, how can you have a truly free economy if The State can preferentially dictate who may dump their toxic waste into the river and who may not?

Anarcho-capitalism, in its purest sense, is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Specifically, the land of Bartertown as run by Tina Turner and Master Blaster. "Bust a deal, face the wheel!" I'll pass on that, thanks.




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The Supreme Court was not meant to be the final arbiter of what's constitutional and what's not. Some of the Constitution's writers argued that it was going to be just another tentacle of the Federal monster. They wanted the individual States to be that, by their power of Nullification of Federal laws within their borders.
Actually, the constitution is rather deliberately simplistic when it comes to defining the Supreme Court.

The legislative branch gets all kinds of restrictions. Lots of "Congress shall make no law..." and "there shall not be less than 200 Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every 50,000 persons.... and so forth. Very restrictive, and extraordinarily specific.

But when it comes to the Judiciary, the constitution is mostly permissive, and conspicuously succinct. Article III is by far the shortest of the three Articles defining the three branches of the government, and grants broad authority to The Court in all sorts of matters.

Most importantly, Article III Section 2 grants the Supreme Court the authority to interpret the constitution, to settle disputes arising from it, and to strike down any enactments of either the Legislative or the Executive branches which it deems to be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court was most certainly meant to be "the final arbiter of what's constitutional and what's not" as you put it. That authority is specifically granted to it.

Given the broad authority entrusted to The Court, and the nearly complete lack of restraining covenants placed upon it, and in conjunction with the almost autocratic policy of lifetime appointment, one gets the impression that The Court was intended nearly to function as a sophocracy, adjunct to the other two, more "common" branches of the government.





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And again, this power to create winners and losers, and to grant economic favors, is where Corporatism comes from. That's one of the reasons I prefer ZERO corporate taxes. I think the most evenly applied tax would be a straight sales (consumption) tax.
Neither the Pizza Tax nor the Cigarette Tax are corporate taxes- they are sales taxes, in that they are levied upon finished goods, and only at the time that these goods are conveyed to a purchaser. And assuming that they are applied uniformly, they do not create winners or losers, as all are affected equally.

And while a general sales tax (eg: VAT) is in many ways preferable to an income-based tax, that this tax be evenly applied to all goods fails to account for the reality that not all services which are provided by the state and federal governments are equally required and enjoyed by all, and that a useful correlation can be drawn between the consumption of certain classes of goods and the enjoyment (to the exclusion of others) of certain types of state-provided services.

For instance, the tax on the sale of gasoline, inasmuch as its revenue is properly allocated to the building of roads and the like, is one such example. By taxing motor vehicle fuel at a rate which is separate from the general sales tax, the burden of building and maintaining roads is apportioned unto those who enjoy the benefit of same, and at a rate equally proportionate to the degree to which the roads are used by any individual taxpayer. He who purchases more gasoline is presumed to travel more upon the roads, and is thus expected to contribute more to their upkeep.

For one who lives in the city and owns not a car, or who lives very nearby to his place of employment and commutes only short distances and not upon the freeways, should they be taxed equally for the construction of the roads as one who drives upon them a hundred miles each day because he chooses to live far out in the suburbs and yet work downtown?
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Old 07-08-2012, 03:38 AM   #26
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I sort of got sidetracked arguing con-law with Jason...

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You made me laugh with that Smokey story.
It's not only true, it's just one of the many, shall we say, "innovate solutions" that he came up with during his career as a race mechanic and car designer. He once built a car whose fuel line was 11 feet long (coiled) and 2 inches in diameter, adding an additional 5 gallons of fuel capacity.


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As for the question, "Tell me how that's not fair?" it could be answered in the fact that the customer, not the shop, is actually producing the finished product,
That's not the situation here, alas.

You are still free to purchase tobacco, rolling papers, and even the little hand-held rolling machines, and roll your own cigarettes just as before. You need not pay any additional taxes, nor will you be labeled a manufacturer.

The operators in this case had gone quite a bit further. They had created machines which fully automate the process for the customer, much like a vending machine that bakes a fresh pizza while you wait. (hence my earlier joke about the Pizza Tax. I guess it was too subtle.)

In this scenario, the customer is not producing the finished product. They're simply walking up to a machine, putting in some money, and taking out finished cigarettes. The vendors are skirting the tax law by purchasing raw tobacco and papers as though they were going to be directly re-sold, but then performing the act of manufacturing finished cigarettes and selling finished cigarettes to customers without collecting the tax which must be assessed on finished cigarettes.



But this isn't actually about cigarettes at all. It's about a media-styled perception of "the little guy" and our selective bias in perceiving how laws ought to be enforced.

When some huge corporation hires a bunch of lawyers to help them figure out clever ways to avoid paying taxes, we get all fired up and complain about how this is unfair, and demand that the laws be updated to prevent this.

Why is it, then, then when a small chain of stores figures out a clever way to avoid paying taxes, we get all fired up and complain about how it's unfair for the government to update the laws to prevent this?
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:16 AM   #27
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I don't agree with how this was passed, but it makes sense. You can't build a business around a tax loophole and then bitch when the loophole gets eliminated.
are tax loopholes illegal?

are they wrong?

are the immoral?

are they unfair?
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:36 AM   #28
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are tax loopholes illegal?
No.
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Originally Posted by Braineack View Post
are they wrong?
Yes and no.
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are the immoral?
Probably.
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are they unfair?
Sure, but life isn't fair.
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:40 AM   #29
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Sure, but life isn't fair.
I'd like to tattoo this on the forehead of every liberal that tries to "level the field".
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:44 AM   #30
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I'd like to tattoo this on the forehead of every liberal that tries to "level the field".
As opposed to conservatives that talk about "tax fairness" or how "unfair" the progressive tax system is?

Both sides distort the "it isn't fair" angle to fit their agenda.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:03 PM   #31
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Both sides distort the "it isn't fair" angle to fit their agenda.
How do you define "fair" in the context of taxation?

Is a flat income tax fair? No- it means that I have to pay a lot more then someone who flips burgers for minimum wage, despite the fact that I'm not receiving any more benefits for my tax dollars (and am probably receiving less.)

Is a flat sales tax fair? No- it means that the burger guy has to pay a much larger percentage of his income in taxes.

Is a corporate tax fair? No- it amounts to double-taxation (once on corporate earnings, a second time on the salaries which it pays and the goods which it sells.)

Is the complete abolition of all taxes, and the adoption of a "fee for service" model fair? Well, technically yes. Although there are some practical problems involved, for instance, in attempting to verify that one has paid the "Fire Protection Fee" before making the decision whether or not to send out a fire truck in response to a 911 call, especially in cases where I, having paid the fee, call 911 in response to my neighbor's house being on fire.



At best, we can attempt to reach positions of compromise which seem equitable. Such as taxing the sale of all cigarettes equally, regardless of whether they were manufactured in a large factory or a small automated vending machine.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:08 PM   #32
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How do you define "fair" in the context of taxation?

Is a flat income tax fair? No- it means that I have to pay a lot more then someone who flips burgers for minimum wage, despite the fact that I'm not receiving any more benefits for my tax dollars (and am probably receiving less.) (snip).
Would you argue in favor of a regressive tax system then, Joe? Or do you support a progressive system? Somewhere in between? I'm wondering what your actual stance on the subject is.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:10 PM   #33
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Would you argue in favor of a regressive tax system then, Joe?
A flat sales tax IS a regressive tax.

If you meant a regressive income tax, then yes, I would personally benefit from this, and therefore favor it. But I know it will never actually come to pass, because too many people would argue that it's unfair to the burger guy.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:12 PM   #34
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Would you argue in favor of a regressive tax system then, Joe? Or do you support a progressive system? Somewhere in between? I'm wondering what your actual stance on the subject is.
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A flat sales tax IS a regressive tax.
I'm trying to find out what you support and where you stand on the topic, Joe.

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If you meant a regressive income tax, then yes, I would personally benefit from this, and therefore favor it. But I know it will never actually come to pass, because too many people would argue that it's unfair to the burger guy.
DAMN YOU JOE! We both ninja edited to ninja edits.

Is this the conservative stance of "Oh my GAWD, we can't tax THE JOB MAKERS!!!111oneone" stance, or just a reasoned stance of personal benefit? I am assuming the latter as you are pretty clear about it, but we all know what that seems to do on this particular sub-forum.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:28 PM   #35
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I'm trying to find out what you support and where you stand on the topic, Joe.
Then you mis-interpret my intentions.

I stand for thought and reason. I stand for the truth.

I am not trying to get up a soapbox and espouse one specific political philosophy. I'm not an evangelist. I don't need to convert you to my "belief system." This is a web forum about gay kitties, moderated by a heavily-armed cartoon chicken. If I were serious about effecting social change, I wouldn't be doing it here.

All I want to see happen in situations like this is for people to actually take a step back and understand the truth about what's being discussed. Not just the truth as someone else claims to deliver it, but as understood from genuine comprehension. To analyze the real facts, rather than just accepting whatever premise has been put forward without question.

I genuinely don't care whether you (or anybody else) is a communist, a socialist, an anarcho-capitalist, a corporatist, or a Lutheran. I only require that you THINK about what's being discussed, rather than parrot one-liners in response to hyperbolic and misleading headlines.

Whenever I see someone make a post in a thread like this that goes "But wait; isn't such-and-such fundamentally incompatible with the idea of this-and-that..." it makes me smile.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:35 PM   #36
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Then you mis-interpret my intentions.

I stand for thought and reason. I stand for the truth.

I am not trying to get up a soapbox and espouse one specific political philosophy. I'm not an evangelist. I don't need to convert you to my "belief system." This is a web forum about gay kitties, moderated by a heavily-armed cartoon chicken. If I were serious about effecting social change, I wouldn't be doing it here.

All I want to see happen in situations like this is for people to actually take a step back and understand the truth about what's being discussed. Not just the truth as someone else claims to deliver it, but as understood from genuine comprehension. To analyze the real facts, rather than just accepting whatever premise has been put forward without question.

I genuinely don't care whether you (or anybody else) is a communist, a socialist, an anarcho-capitalist, a corporatist, or a Lutheran. I only require that you THINK about what's being discussed, rather than parrot one-liners in response to hyperbolic and misleading headlines.

Whenever I see someone make a post in a thread like this that goes "But wait; isn't such-and-such fundamentally incompatible with the idea of this-and-that..." it makes me smile.
Which is why I, at least, absolutely love to see you post in politics Joe. You are one of the guys I make certain to read if I see them post in politics.

That doesn't change the fact, however, that I'd still like to know what *you* think on said topic. This thread is on the verge of entering a progressive vs. regressive debate, which is something I would be very interested in reading your thoughts on.
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Old 07-08-2012, 03:12 PM   #37
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Get a room.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:53 PM   #38
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Anarcho-capitalism, by contrast, holds that the free market itself IS the ultimate end, and makes no judgement of the consequences of same.

It makes no consideration for what is "good" or "just" for either its own individual citizens or for humanity as a whole.
No, that a free society is the ultimate end, and many proponents hypothesize that such a system produces the most wealth and prosperity for the most people. The free market is part and parcel of a free society.

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In a truly anarcho-capatalist society, corporations are free to sell products which are dangerous and defective, to commit fraud, to engage in extortion and espionage, and to commit acts which are harmful to society. ... corporations are not merely free to dump toxic waste into the water supply and poison the environment, they would actually be encouraged and commended for doing so, as this would presumably decrease their operating costs and improve their profitability. ... Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
False. This is a common knee-jerk misconception. Anarcho-capitalism is NOT a society with no laws. It is a system of private laws. The laws would develop in the market.

The closest things to it in history are the Icelandic Commonwealth which lasted longer than the USA has been around (chieftains competed for "citizens" for paid subscriptions, and there was no executive branch of gov't)
Private Creation and Enforcement of Law: A Historical Case

.. and the early Irish system of private law:
Private Law in the Emerald Isle - Finbar Feehan-Fitzgerald - Mises Daily

In a modern Anarcho-Capitalistic system, pollution would be dealt with by protection of property rights, and by an interconnected system of insurance contracts, many of which will include pollution insurance purchased by individuals. Pollution insurance companies would have to pay customers a contracted amount if pollution appears in their environment, as stipulated in their contract. It would be in the economic interest of said insurers to monitor the nearby areas if a corporation will start operations, and said corporations would have to check with insurers that cover the area.

There would be conflicts of interest between corporations who want to profit and the aggregate interests of individuals nearby. IOW there WILL BE a direct economic cost to polluting. Because the monetary interests of individuals affected by the pollution will be comparable to or would typically be greater than any given corporation, (via pollution insurance), there will need to be a compromise between the 2 groups. The compromise will have to be economically viable. If there is none then said corporation wouldn't be able to set up shop.


In general the majority if not all of gov't functions can be replaced by competing companies. (e.g. Fedex vs. USPS, international arbitration firms vs. the court systems) One of the important things to remember is that war is very expensive and so any protection firms that decide to go to war with another protection firm would not stay profitable. They would not have the power to tax nor print money like governments to.



For those who want to learn more here are books and links:

The Possibility of Private Law - Robert P. Murphy - Mises Daily
http://www.daviddfriedman.com/The_Ma...f_Freedom_.pdf
Amazon.com: Welcome to Free America eBook: David Barker: Kindle Store Amazon.com: Welcome to Free America eBook: David Barker: Kindle Store

http://mises.org/rothbard/foranewlb.pdf
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:38 PM   #39
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No, that a free society is the ultimate end, and many proponents hypothesize that such a system produces the most wealth and prosperity for the most people. The free market is part and parcel of a free society.
Fair enough. I'll accept that distinction, but still observe that it is in many way contradictory to the fundamental tenets of Consequentialist-libertarianism.

Consequentialist-libertarianism encourages the use of a free market and a free society only inasmuch as that it recognizes them as tools which can be used to bring about prosperity and happiness, with the ultimate goal of making life "good" for its citizens. It also recognizes the authority of a central State to enact and enforce laws which regulate commerce, again with the aim of furthering the goal of prosperity.


Anarcho-capitalism, by contrast, does not specifically seek to enrich the lives of people. Rather, it seeks to achieve a specific structure. It is a highly idealistic philosophy, in much the same way as Soviet-style communism was. Unfortunately, both seek the wrong goal.

As an engineer, I'm sure you're familiar with the "functioning as designed" excuse. For everyone else, this is basically an old joke where the customer (or the marketing department, or management, or whoever) goes to engineering and says that the product isn't working properly. Engineering then points to the specifications document (which it knows to have been flawed from the beginning) and observes that the product is functioning exactly as it was designed to, and that the requirement, not the product, was faulty.

The same problem occurs here. If you have a system which is designed to seek a specific organizational system, then there's no recourse if that system turns out to be harmful to the people who it was intended to serve.


From the point of view of a humanist, anarcho-capitalism is like designing a race car in which you give exacting specifications for every single part right down to the color scheme, but fail to specify that the car should be capable of actually winning a race.





For the purpose of not muddying this conversation too much, I'll withhold comment on USPS vs. FedEx as well as "costs of pollution" for now, other than to say that package delivery services are intended to deliver packages rather than enrich the quality of life, and we've already demonstrated that a pay-for-pollution model is good at generating revenue but bad at reducing pollution, simply by looking at the EU's carbon credit program.
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Old 07-09-2012, 03:19 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by blaen99 View Post
That doesn't change the fact, however, that I'd still like to know what *you* think on said topic.
To be honest, I really don't have an opinion.

Taxation, as we know it in its present form, exists. It is no less real than gravity, and no less immutable.

There is nothing that I can do to change it; it is simply a constant. As such, I have no greater opinion of it than I do of Toyota Camrys or the fact that the sun appears to rise in the east. I simply don't spend a lot of time thinking about these things. The sun will always rise in the east, people will always buy Totoya Camrys, and the Federal Government will always tax income at rates of its own choosing.
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