Government Brings Out the (Undisciplined) Kid in Us

by Don Boudreaux on August 19, 2008

in Everyday Life, Family, Inequality, Politics, Standard of Living, The Hollow Middle

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Boston Globe:

Derrick Jackson wants
government to reduce income differences among Americans ("Politely
declining to touch the income gap
," August 19).  Forget that even poor
Americans today generally have greater access to goods and services
than did middle-income Americans of a generation ago
.  Instead ask:
what kind of philosophy demands that government adopt and act on values that all decent
parents teach their children to reject?

Who among us sends our
children to school or to the playground with admonitions to begrudge
classmates or playmates possessing nicer clothing or fancier toys?  Who
among us counsels our youngsters to form schoolyard coalitions for
forcibly confiscating expensive sneakers and video games from ‘rich’
kids for "redistribution" to poorer kids?  Who among us would not scold
our children for such envy, and punish them severely if they
participated in such thievery?

Children should avoid envy and learn to thrive by producing rather than by taking.  The same is true for adults.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 50 comments }

Oil Shock August 19, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Great work again!

Ekonomix August 19, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Do you think the rich got rich only because they worked harder? How about luck? I am not sure this justifies a huge gap in tax rates, but it justifies some progressivity.

Ekonomix
http://turkeconomy.blogspot.com

Oil Shock August 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Sure Luck helps! But luck is more like winning a lottery. It is a fleeting one time event. Businesses are created over years of hardwork. It takes luck almost every day, which is the same as hard work everyday.

If you buy lottery ticket everyday, what are the chances that you will get lucky every day? or every other week?

Don Boudreaux August 19, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Oil Shock's response to Ekonomix is the fundamental one. But I'll add here that EVEN IF people get rich largely by luck, that fact does not justify forcible redistribution. People often win at poker because they are luckier than the other players, but this fact doesn't justify the other players ganging up on winners to take some of their winnings.

Dan L August 19, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Children are taught that two of the Ten Commandments forbid stealing and covetousness. Politics is collusion between individuals who are tempted to break one but not the other. Politicians willingly thieve for envious voters.

I appreciate your stuff!

Hat Trick August 19, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Ekonomix: The tax code is already extremely progressive. The top ten percent pay 70% of all income tax. How much more progressive do we need to get?

GU August 19, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Luck, IMO, justifies a sort of 'welfare safety net'. The fact that luck factors into some of the income distribution outcomes in this country does not argue for massive redistribution.

The sad thing is that such a safety net could be administered in a much cheaper, fairer way than the current hodgepodge that is our modern welfare state.

GU August 19, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Another way to make my point: we should focus on alleviating the effects of bad luck, not on leveling-down the effects of good luck.

Esox Lucius August 19, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Luck – nothing aggravates me like someone saying that people become successful by "luck". My brother plays the guitar very well, exactly where did the "Luck" factor in? He spent thousands of hours practicing. Was he lucky to practice for hours, lucky to love music, or lucky to be on stage when it came time to play a song he knew.

I am successful in business, I practice every day, 7 days a week, all told probably 70 hours a week. Where's the luck?

Luck is sour grapes from the unmotivated, untalented and timid.

Mace August 19, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Ekonomix -

You should read the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by the late Kurt Vonnegut. Try this link:
http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/hb.html

It's a very short read. Why stop at income? Using a "fairness" criteria and under the guise of progressively taxing "luck," we'd live in a society where Cindy Crawford wears a cardboard box and a goalie's mask.

Charlie August 20, 2008 at 2:26 am

What happens when the six year old and the three year old go on an easter egg hunt? How many parents divide resources amongst their children pretty equally, rather than put the resources where they would generate the highest return? How often do parents set up competitive sports leagues where forcibly parents redistribute playing time from the most talented to the weaker atheletes by mandatory everybody gets to play rules? How many parents object to the common classroom rule that you can't bring candy to class unless you share it with everybody?

It seems there are many values we share besides freedom and private property rights. It looks like we try to teach our children to balance those values as we try to balance them.

LowcountryJoe August 20, 2008 at 5:33 am

What happens when the six year old and the three year old go on an easter egg hunt?

I've tried that (redistribution) — my kids are only 19 months apart. It didn't go over well because one of my kids stayed out longer. Funny thing is, when left alone, the kids traded favorites with each other and got more of what they wanted. I'm not making this up.

How many parents divide resources amongst their children pretty equally, rather than put the resources where they would generate the highest return?

Most do this; true. However, as they get older, receiving resourses becomes conditional (e.g. you can stay at home only as long as you're attending a local college).

How often do parents set up competitive sports leagues where forcibly parents redistribute playing time from the most talented to the weaker atheletes by mandatory everybody gets to play rules?

In earlier years, the time divided up still only amounts to two to three innings. As we get older, the substitution rules of the actual game are enforced and the weaker kids, if still weak, lose interest in the game or lose playing time. Tell me that if by high school, you still see redistribution rearing its head in non-blowout games.

How many parents object to the common classroom rule that you can't bring candy to class unless you share it with everybody?

Candy -only because it is highly disruptive at early ages. THe have-nots complain that they do not have candy — and this is usually because they, the have-nots, have parents that would prefer to their children to avoid high sugar intake at school because that's what the parent have been conditioned to do. And while we'd like our kids to share, because parents believe that that in turn will help build frienships, why did you choose candy? Why not lunch or lunch money?

It seems there are many values we share besides freedom and private property rights. It looks like we try to teach our children to balance those values as we try to balance them.

There are usually other motives in play that go beyond the realm of pure altruism. pure altruism…giving for the sole purpose of feeling good inside and not because a recognition for being a giver is likely to develop.

Hammer August 20, 2008 at 10:55 am

Unless of course you value that warm fuzzy feeling than the items you are giving away, then it is just selfish. At that point, both people win, and no one wants that!

Well, not on the left, anyway.

CRC August 20, 2008 at 11:49 am

Regarding the issue of "luck", I'm reminded of the expression: "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

Gary August 20, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Redistribution of wealth is like smashing an attractive person in the face with a socket wrench because hey – we should all be equally bad looking, even though you got the good genes. In the end, we all end up looking worse.

Charlie August 20, 2008 at 3:44 pm

"How many parents divide resources amongst their children pretty equally, rather than put the resources where they would generate the highest return?"

I think this is one of the most interesting examples, because parents often do the exact opposite, that is using more resources where the return is lower to try to bring one of their child on par with the others. It often manifests in extra time (or money) spent tutoring or disciplining the child.

This was such a bizarre post to me, because day in and day out Don complains about paternalism and then argues that we should govern with the values of parents. Freedom within the family is mostly derived from parental decree. Where you can go, who you can see, what you can do, how you can worship, is all up to the parent. Hayek makes the exact opposite point of Don arguing the values inside the family should be quite separate from the values outside the family.

Crusader August 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Justify why the values of the family shouldn't be the values of the nation?

scott clark August 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Charlie,

I suspect you are intentionally avoiding the main point.

Don is not saying that the values of the family should be the values of the community. Inside the family it is acceptable for parents to allocate their family resources amoung their children in any fashion. Its just not ok for your neighbors to allocate your families resources for you.

The main point is that the values of envy and theft have no place in either sphere, but people always seem so enamored of them when it comes to "public service."

Charlie August 20, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Scott,

What is theft in the family sphere? If your parents confiscate your nintendo wii, what recourse do you have? Governments assert rights to people's property, that is "theft", parents assert rights to children's property, that is not "theft". Why? Because YOU think one claim is legitimate and the other is not? (of course, in actuality, neither is theft, since we have a rule of law that says it isn't, what YOU think doesn't matter)

The overall point is that when parents deprive their kids of freedom they are asserting a value. Namely, it is ok for someone with better judgement to coerce someone with worse judgement into making a decision.

So no, I'm not deliberately missing the point. When Don says, "what kind of philosophy demands that government adopt and act on values that all decent parents teach their children to reject?" The answer could very easily be classical liberalism (libertarian).

kook August 20, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Charlie boy! Come to Daddy.

James August 20, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Charlie:

If your parents pay for some toys with their money, those toys belong to them. They can't steal them and not because of what some legislative body or anyone else says. Rather, the seller surrendered ownership of those toys to the parents at time of purchase.

I wonder, if you an unknown person were to take your things from you by force, would you obeject immediately, or first investigate whether or not that person's judgement was superior to your own?

Sam Grove August 21, 2008 at 1:26 am

The family is perhaps the one venue where communism has a place, due to the dependent nature of children.

Any parent that doesn't try to wean their children from that dependency would be deemed neurotic.

The reason we try to teach those values to our children is so they grow up to be decent human beings.

Alas, the device of government permits adults to ignore those values at will.

GU August 21, 2008 at 1:55 am

I would like to clarify my earlier posts. I said that luck, bad luck specifically, may be a reason to implement a welfare "safety net" funded by redistribution (both Friedman & Hayek argued for such a "safety net").

Others seem to have responded that luck plays very little role in distribution outcomes, and that hard work is the main determinant. While I agree that hard work is almost always a prerequisite to success, this view needs to be tempered by some perspective. Some people are born with low intelligence, low social skills, low physical attractiveness, etc. For some, no amount of hard work will make up for their deficiency in currently valued skills and attributes. It would not be such a bad idea to help such people out, since they are not in any way morally responsible for their terrible lot in life.

Also, occasionally, bad things happen to good people who follow the rules and work hard. A safety net allows these people to recover, and gives others the impetus to take risks that they might otherwise not take.

This is not mushy leftism, but intellectually honest libertarianism. If you really think there should be NO welfare state, you have to tell us your morally defensible reason for this belief. If your qualm is merely that our current welfare state has run amok and that any more is overkill, then I wholeheartedly agree–our current welfare state is very flawed and I don't wish to expand it.

Hans Luftner August 21, 2008 at 2:28 am

Perhaps a better word than luck would be circumstance. But people still have to act within these circumstances. Both parts play a role.

You want a morally defensible reason for opposing the welfare state? It's predicated on violence, for one. People who are otherwise minding their own business are threatened with violence, by the state, if they do not surrender their property to the state.

The less well-off could be cared for easily through voluntary means. It happens every day. You just don't hear about it as much.

Oil Shock August 21, 2008 at 3:24 am

Libertarianism is more of a political philosophy than moral philosophy. I may be against war on drugs, doesn't mean that I endorse drug abuse or drug peddling. I may consider prostitution as immoral from a religious perspective, yet I see no role for government in it from a political perspective. I may believe that it is very important to be charitable and yet find it to be no business of government to force me to take care of any other person/persons.

Sure, there is a role for charity in society. There are those who are born with low levels of mental capability, who may not be able to fend for themselves. Over the centuries, families and charitable instituions have supported these people. But by taking away these functions from the very people who are motivated in doing these acts and transfering these responsibilities to parasites who are profiting from government largesse, you are killing the incentive for families and charities at the same time worsening the situation for the very same people you are trying to help.

LowcountryJoe August 21, 2008 at 5:45 am

Excellent replies, Hans Luftner and Oil Shock.

If you really think there should be NO welfare state, you have to tell us your morally defensible reason for this belief.

Because as HL and OS have pointed out, welfare can be done through private giving. If this is doubted, then how do you suppose enough people allow welfare to exist through public financing and with legislation? Seems like a majority are in favor, at least.

Now, what if the burden was on you to morally defend compulsory giving rather than relying on private giving? I actually think it should be something you must defend.

vidyohs August 21, 2008 at 6:22 am

Don asks,

What parent would teach his child envy and forcible redistribution?

The short answer is parents that don't have a clue about parenting.

I see the results virtually daily in my work.

Being a parent means being a leader and a teacher. Being a leader and a teacher means making unpopular decisions and enforcing the discipline those decisions require.

The "greatest generation" came home from the war without the courage to face their own children and the results is a disaster for America.

The parent that acted in the best long term interest began to disappear with that "greatest generation" that produced the Baby Boomers. And, the Baby Boomers became the first virtual across the board undisciplined and "me" generation in our history. They produced the Yuppies, the yuppies produced the…….et. al.

By the late 60s I dreaded having anyone with small children even visiting my home because of the destructive and self centered way they had taught their children to behave.

I see the majority of children today who may not go to the playground and want "that" kid's sneakers; but they have been carefully enculturated to believe that they should have a pair just like them, or better, and it should have arrived yesterday in a government delivery truck.

Sam Grove August 21, 2008 at 12:04 pm

This is not mushy leftism, but intellectually honest libertarianism. If you really think there should be NO welfare state, you have to tell us your morally defensible reason for this belief. If your qualm is merely that our current welfare state has run amok and that any more is overkill, then I wholeheartedly agree–our current welfare state is very flawed and I don't wish to expand it.

You might try answering the question: Why has our welfare state run amok?

Could it be that the welfare state contains the seeds of its own eventual destruction?

What incentives are created when welfare becomes an entitlement?

The great thing about private charity is that when a giver sees that an organization that he/her may be giving to is not working properly, he/her may choose to give elsewhere.
With the welfare state, that is not so easily done.

I had a friend (who has passed away in recent years) who volunteered with community services for 'marginal' types observed to me that "as soon as they qualified for SS disability income, they would go downhill.

Why? Because they no longer had to struggle. Once they stopped struggling, they began to atrophy in various ways.

Sam Grove August 21, 2008 at 1:50 pm

The 'greatest generation' was succored on the New Deal and produced many that believed the purpose of the government was "to take care of us": quoting my aunt.

James August 21, 2008 at 8:37 pm

GU: Why do I need to specifically defend my objection to the government taking my belongings to give to others? I object to the government doing so for all the same reasons that I object to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker taking my belongings to give to others.

You know, I'll bet you'd object if I took your belongings to give to others and you'd probably have reasons for objecting. Would any of those reasons cease to be reasons if and only if I started working for the IRS?

Charlie August 22, 2008 at 1:15 am

"If your parents pay for some toys with their money, those toys belong to them. They can't steal them and not because of what some legislative body or anyone else says. Rather, the seller surrendered ownership of those toys to the parents at time of purchase."

Completely bizarre objection, one becauase it shows complete ignorance of the law, if a child makes money then parents have private property rights to it (there are some legal things you can do to thwart those rights, set up trusts or get a parental divorce, but defacto get a job at 14 or 16 and buy your wii and your parent can still confiscate it). Also, in any other circumstance between two consenting adults a gift is a gift, the giver sacrifices his or her property rights to that object. Do you really not know this?

"I wonder, if you an unknown person were to take your things from you by force, would you obeject immediately, or first investigate whether or not that person's judgement was superior to your own?"

What argument are you making here? That kids don't like when there parents confiscate something? I concede! But it certainly doesn't respond to the fact that when parents assert their property rights over their children, it is upholding a different value than classical liberalism. (But maybe you are choosing to deliberately miss the point, as it was obviously very clear).

"You want a morally defensible reason for opposing the welfare state? It's predicated on violence, for one. People who are otherwise minding their own business are threatened with violence, by the state, if they do not surrender their property to the state."

You can't make the "theft" or "violence" argument without giving a relevent alternative. Can the government commit "theft" to gather enough money for a police force and a court system to establish and protect private property rights or is the only just option anarcho-capitalism with zero taxation and no government? If it is the former and some taxes are not theft, then what makes them morally just that YOU agree with them. Can you appeal to a larger principle? If the latter is the only option then can you win on practical grounds, is there any evidence that such a society could exist, if so, why doesn't it?

Charlie

Charlie August 22, 2008 at 1:17 am

"Why do I need to specifically defend my objection to the government taking my belongings to give to others? I object to the government doing so for all the same reasons that I object to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker taking my belongings to give to others."

Same objection, is the just relevant alternative only anarchy or is it just the types of taxation you agree with–those types aren't "theft".

James August 22, 2008 at 2:29 am

Charlie:

I'm not ignorant of any law. Rather, I don't believe that the pronouncements of legislative bodies define what is theft, what is just, etc.

Since you have trouble following the argument, recall that you wrote "Namely, it is ok for someone with better judgement to coerce someone with worse judgement into making a decision." If I coerce you, would you object before or after determining whether or not my judgement is better than yours?

By the way, if you are into alternative logics, please say so explicitly. Otherwise, quit asserting nonstandard rules of inference such as "You can't make the "theft" or "violence" argument without giving a relevent alternative." An act is theft if it conforms to the definition of theft. Whether anyone proposes an alternative is neither here nor there.

Charlie August 22, 2008 at 7:09 am

-James

Try reading the whole quote, "The overall point is that when parents deprive their kids of freedom they are asserting a value. Namely, it is ok for someone with better judgement to coerce someone with worse judgement into making a decision."

I have not taken a position on whether parents SHOULD be asserting this value, and certainly have not argued that this is the preeminent value that should be given priority over all other values in all forms of social policies. My whole point is that parents teach their kids many values inconsistent with classical liberalism. How I FEEL about that fact hasn't come up.

"An act is theft if it conforms to the definition of theft."

I will provide a definition of theft that English speakers use from Merrian-Webster's (www.m-w.com):

1 a: the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it b: an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

Obviously, taxation does not meet this definition of theft, since it is not felonious or unlawful. Therefore, as best I can tell and according to M-W, you are making up a new definition for theft. That is fine, but please, actually define it so that I can understand your argument. Specifically, is all taxation "theft" under your definition or just some taxation. When a parent confiscates a child's property, is that theft under your definition? Obviously, in the M-W definition, neither of these cases is theft, because neither is unlawful. How about under the Jamesian definition of theft? (Can I guess the definition will be something like "taking someone else's property when James doesn't think it is appropriate"?)

Ted August 22, 2008 at 11:51 am

Charlie has a valid point in that, to avoid the free-rider problem, some coercive taxation seems necessary to pay for the institutions that protect property rights: police, courts, and a military. The problem is that, little by little, reasons are found to justify expanding beyond this role, and the mechanism of taxation makes it too easy to raise additional revenue to feed the expansion.

If only there were some legal document that limited the government's tendency to overreach . . . y'know, like a "Bill of Rights" or something.

Hans Luftner August 22, 2008 at 12:47 pm

We could quibble over the definition of "theft" all day. The word used isn't as important to me as the action itself. Can we agree that taxes & theft both share the characteristic of one party appropriating the property of another party without the consent of the second party? If so, what is it about the non-state "taker" that makes his action less excusable than the state one?

I didn't even use the word "theft" in my above post. I think my original description of the activity was pretty straightforward.

I suspect we would also disagree on the definition of "lawful".

Oil Shock August 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm
Charlie August 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

-HL

But it still follows that if taxation = "theft," then you have to be for anarcho-capitalism, right? No publicly funded government, police or courts. Does every libertarian that calls taxation theft really believe that?

I think many don't. I saw Walter Williams give a speech with the "theft" and "violence" spiel, until someone in the crowd asked him about national defense and all of a sudden he starts hedging and talking about "free rider problems" rather than the immorality of all taxation.

It seems to me it is very fashionable to use that language, but most people run from the inevitable conclusion. It seems just to be popular because it allows libertarians to make themselves out to be victims just like some of the liberals they hate.

Oil Shock August 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Charlie,

I empathize with Anarcho-Capitalist persuasion. I have a question. How did United State Thrive and Expand for more than 140 years without an Income Tax on people's labor?

I recommend that you also read "The myth of National Defense" by Hoppe.

Charlie August 22, 2008 at 8:18 pm

"How did United State Thrive and Expand for more than 140 years without an Income Tax on people's labor?"

This seems irrelevant to the discussion, but is this a difficult question to answer? Important aspects were relatively free trade, relatively well established property rights, reasonable respect and governance by the rule of law, and a reasonably well functioning constitutional democracy to preserve those rights in the future. In such an environment, overall growth is almost entirely driven by the nebulous "technology growth," which is broadly defined by how productive scarce inputs.

I guess the better question though should go back to you though, Oil Shock. If the income tax is so cripplingly harmful to incentives, fairness and our general moral sensibilities, shouldn't the establishment of income taxes devastated our per capita GDP growth?

Year GDP Growth Per Capita
1790 – 1913 1.46%
1914 – 2007 2.22%

Oil Shock August 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Why do you think Per Capita GDP growth is better than Absolute GDP growth ( I'm not a big fan of GDP stats – leaving that aside)?

1800s were marked by large familes with many children and single income earners, where as now a days families are radically smaller and often with atleast 2 income earners. Back then a small % of productive population was supporting a large number who were dependent. So why do you want to just divide the GDP by the total number heads ( regardless of their ability to produce )? You see how productive the producers were despite the social arrangements?

Have you calculated the absolute real GDP growth instead of the per capita GDP? You will be shocked to find the truth. What amazes me is that with very primitive technology, our ancestors achieved stunning economic growth and productivity rate than we were ever managed.

What changed between 19th and 20th centuries? The size of the government changed radically. Federalism was thrown into the dustbin. The republic gave way to the Welfare/Warfare state. Liberties were sacrified.

Remember this country was born out of a tax revolt.

Hans Luftner August 23, 2008 at 12:33 am

Charlie,

You still haven't addressed whether taxes were actually an involuntary confiscation of property (you object to the word "theft"), you merely argued that some people apply this more consistently than others, then named a theory that applied it consistently, then named a famous person who does not. Whether anyone has ever applied it consistently does not affect its nature.

Maybe there are instances when stealing, or whatever you want to call it, is justified, or maybe there can never be any just excuse. One step at a time. Before we address the implications of the moral nature of taxation, let's identify it. Otherwise we wind up fooling ourselves into pretending to act virtuously while transgressing against others, & that would be totally lame.

Charlie August 23, 2008 at 2:51 pm

"Have you calculated the absolute real GDP growth instead of the per capita GDP? You will be shocked to find the truth…

What changed between 19th and 20th centuries?"

Obviously immigration laws, an easy way to increase absolute GDP is to add a person.

Charlie August 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm

"You still haven't addressed whether taxes were actually an involuntary confiscation of property (you object to the word "theft"),"

I have no objection to calling taxes involuntary. But think about what your definition calls theft. Anytime a court awards one party compensation for damages done, whether it is property damaged, a fine for breaking the law, or alimony, all of these are called theft in your definition. If I am walking along and take a machine gun to your heard of cows, and you take me to civil court and the judge awards you damages that I must pay, you are stealing from me!

It seems like a bad definition. Why not just call taxes "involuntary confiscation" and not try to change the definition of theft?

Charlie

Oil Shock August 23, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Obviously immigration laws, an easy way to increase absolute GDP is to add a person.

Leaving aside the fact that you didn't address the large family social structures of the 19th century, I still find your statement completely ridiculous.

If number of people was the single most significant factor in determining the GDP of the economy, China & India will have the largest economies in the world. If adding people at a fast rate was a quick way to add to the GDP, Africa will have most of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Sure, the number of PRODUCTIVE people definitely is one significant factor. THis is why in the future, India probably has an upper hand over china. India has a young population that will come of age in the future where as largest segment of China's population is currently productive.

19th century population of the U.S set the stage for immense 20th potential, yet, meddlesome government has significantly curtailed that potential with their intereference in the economy.

Charlie August 23, 2008 at 4:48 pm

"I still find your statement completely ridiculous.

If number of people was the single most significant factor in determining the GDP of the economy, China & India will have the largest economies in the world"

You are totally misrepresenting what I said. Look a couple of posts up.

"In such an environment, overall growth is almost entirely driven by the nebulous "technology growth," which is broadly defined by how productive scarce inputs."

You read this right? Did you just forget already? I never said anything close to "number of people was the single most significant factor in determining the GDP"

But it is a mathematical fact that adding people adds to GDP (unless somehow you think a person creates zero or negative productivity, that is you wouldn't employ them even if they were willing to work for a penny). You cannot address the difference in GDP growth and GDP per capita growth without talking about immigration. Immigration in the 19th century and before dwarfed immigration in the 20th century.

"19th century population of the U.S set the stage for immense 20th potential, yet, meddlesome government has significantly curtailed that potential with their intereference in the economy."

This is a claim for which you have provided no evidence. Prove it. How much did meddlesome government curtail growth? Do you have any argument that leads to this claim?

Charlie August 23, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Some data from wikipedia "Demographis of the United States"

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics
_of_the_United_States)

Population growth rate per year from 1790 – 1900 is 2.47% from 1900 to 2000 is 1.3%.

So I think it is obvious that there is a simple reason per capita growth and overall growth are different, one has a denominator the other doesn't.

Which matters? You tell me. Who has a higher standard of living, China or the U.K., India or Ireland?

Oil Shock August 23, 2008 at 10:20 pm

In the year 1800, % of white population under the age of 15 was about 40% of total population of the united states.

In the year 1900, the average age of the population was 22.9. The % of population under 15 was still 34.5%. In year 1900, 12% of the population was under the age of 5.

In year 2000, % under 15 was only 21%. Draw your own conclusions.

Hans Luftner August 24, 2008 at 12:36 am

It seems like a bad definition. Why not just call taxes "involuntary confiscation" and not try to change the definition of theft?

I did call it involuntary confiscation. I still haven't actually called it theft. I merely pointed out that you object to this use of the word.

If I destroy your property, I am in effect robbing you of that property. I fail to see how compensating you for that loss is the same as you thieving from me, in any definition described here. By being the aggressor here, I was "asking for it" if you will. That's hardly the same as minding my own business & receiving a tax bill. Do you honestly not see where these are different? What damages did I cause the state to require I compensate them?

Or to put the question plainer: what is the basis of their claim to my property?

Charlie August 24, 2008 at 5:52 am

"what is the basis of their claim to my property?"

There should be a body that arbitrates property right disputes. There should be a body that protects the property rights of others and captures offenders of those property rights. Those services are expensive. Taxes should be levied to provide those services.

I think that is the basic logic. Feel free to voice your point of contention and we can discuss it more fully.

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