Killing Tinker Bell

By: FireTag
June 23, 2012

Peter Pan was a wonderful story for me as a six-year old when the Broadway show was first televised by NBC to help market the new-fangled color TVs. Even though we didn’t have the money for color TV, seeing pirates and flying children cavort above the stage even in black-and-white made the program then the most-watched in TV history. (The best part was I got to stay up late; it was the arts, after all.)

At the end of Act II, Captain Hook succeeds in capturing Wendy and all of Peter’s other allies and slips poison into Peter’s medicine bottle, unseen by anyone but the tiny fairy Tinker Bell. Since Peter isn’t very good at listening to anyone, he ignores Tink’s warnings, and prepares to drink. So Tink zips in front of him and downs the poison herself. To the horror of the millions of children watching, Tinker Bell’s light begins to sputter and fade. Tinker Bell is dying.

And then Peter turns to the audience and invites them to enter completely into the fantasy world. Tink can be saved if only the children believe hard enough. They must clap their hands louder and louder and recite over and over, “I do believe in fairies. I do believe in fairies. I do. I do.”

There may have been children somewhere cynically saying, “I don’t believe in fairies!” However, I was not one of them, and there were millions of kids just like me watching that show. And what do you know? Tinker Bell was magically healed, and Peter flew off to rescue Wendy and the Lost Boys.

But, of course, the healing wasn’t magic. The script had always been written that way.

Now, we could launch into an interesting discussion from here into the connection of religious faith and miracles — but that isn’t where I want to go today. Instead, I want to talk about how the lack of belief is playing into economic conditions.

I was lured into this line of thought by an article last week in a British newspaper. The author, Janet Daley, described a world economy that is a lot like the crocodile with the ticking clock in its tummy in the stage play:

“The economy is now beyond the control of national governments, and therefore outside the remit of democratic politics. It has become truly global, and thus a law unto itself; nation states have gone broke in their attempt to feed its gargantuan appetites for consumption and debt. The remedies for this began in panic and are now ending in delusion: first the banks went bust and were bailed out by governments; then the governments went bust and needed to be bailed out by – whom? International funding agencies which get their cash from – where? From central banks which will have to print gigantic amounts of money to replace all the money that simply disappeared in the bad debt that bankrupted the banks in the first place. And if we all agree to accept the illusion that this newly printed cash has actual value – if we all clap really hard and say that we believe in fairies – then the whole show can get back on the road and we will be rich again.”

Daley goes on to note that this requires nearly everyone, and certainly everyone in positions of power, to convince themselves that the clapping is also convincing everyone else. As soon as one nation — say, Germany, or the UK, or the United States — can no longer look away from the nakedness of the Emperor (if you’ll pardon the mixed fairy tale metaphor) and hide from the self-knowledge that this is not ending well for everyone, the script moves on from reviving Tinker Bell to figuring out who will be forced to pay the bills.

Everyone is drafting a new script for themselves, but nobody knows what the final script will be, or whether they are being offered the role of hero, the role of villain, or the role of victim.

We are having an electrical problem. Please return to your cabins.

Do you think that if any individual were actually in control of what’s happening in Europe, North Africa, or the Mideast  – from Bush to Obama to  Cameron to Sarkozy to Merkel to Mubarak to Erdogan to Putin to Assad to Netanyahu to Khamenei — any of them would have let things get this far?

One prime candidate to pay the bills, unfortunately, is the coming generation. Kids are wonderful, but they aren’t power players. So they may be future heroes or future villains, but they are likely to enter the stage as potential victims. In nations where economic hardship meets political upheaval, we see the specters of war, disease, starvation, or ignorance robbing hope and potential from lives. But even in so-far-sheltered locales of the Western nations, the new script is not what we’ve imagined it to be, and we haven’t yet realized the change.

As Niall Ferguson has recently written:

“The heart of the matter is the way public debt allows the current generation of voters to live at the expense of those as yet too young to vote or as yet unborn. In this regard, the statistics commonly cited as government debt are themselves deeply misleading, for they encompass only the sums owed by governments in the form of bonds…But the official debts in the form of bonds do not include the often far larger unfunded liabilities of welfare schemes like – to give the biggest American programs – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“The most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues is $200 trillion, nearly 13 times the debt as stated by the US Treasury. Notice that these figures, too, are incomplete, since they omit the unfunded liabilities of state and local governments, which are estimated to be around $38 trillion.

“These mind-boggling numbers represent nothing less than a vast claim by the generation currently retired or about to retire on their children and grandchildren, who are obligated by current law to find the money in the future, by submitting either to substantial increases in taxation or to drastic cuts in other forms of public expenditure…”

It should, of course, be noted that either of those routes imply drastic decreases in private expenditures on one’s own health, comfort, or personal development. We will not all be living in equality, leisure, or self-fulfilling careers in such a future. Even opportunities to serve others will be curtailed.

Ferguson points to two possible outcomes, but describes the current system as simply fraudulent, with looming dangers simply hidden from view:

“It seems as if there are only two possible ways out of this mess. In the good but less likely scenario, the proponents of reform succeed, through a heroic effort of leadership, in persuading not only the young but also a significant proportion of their parents and grandparents to vote for a more responsible fiscal policy. .. If we do not do these things then I am afraid we are going to end up with the bad, but more likely, second scenario. Western democracies are going to carry on in their current feckless fashion until, one after another, they follow Greece and other Mediterranean economies into the fiscal death spiral that begins with a loss of credibility, continues with a rise in borrowing costs, and ends as governments are forced to impose spending cuts and higher taxes at the worst possible moment.”

In a religious setting, “reform” begins with “repentance”, or, at the very least, acknowledgement of past moral ignorance. We have been ignorant of what desires for more consumption without greater productivity and wisdom is bringing upon us. We have to stop clapping now and let Tinker Bell take her place as a children’s fantasy. We have to be urgently about the business of telling the pirates from our allies, and of relearning restraint. Or it will be our children and grandchildren sacrificed to the crocodile.

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33 Responses to Killing Tinker Bell

  1. Stephen Marsh on June 23, 2012 at 5:29 AM

    I read this in rough draft and wondered where it was going.

    larger unfunded liabilities of welfare schemes like – to give the biggest American programs – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

    – those create huge issues, the same ones that are currently bedeviling Japan.

    I wish I was competent to address the issue beyond worry.

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  2. Bonnie on June 23, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    I read through and though your observations about responsible fiscal policy are a no-brainer, I was ecstatic that you connected it to repentance at the end. That whole process, including a recognition of what was wrong, that it was morally not just experientially wrong, a willingness to do whatever is needed to right that wrong, and a communion with God about the matter is exactly the solution. Interestingly enough, in the BofM history that is meant to warn us of precisely these things, prior to war, the people had by and large distanced themselves from God into a secular society focused on economies. Collective repentance rights that shift.

    Economic collapse is always a prelude to war, and we will see war like we’ve not seen (when has our economy been so global before?) if we do not “repent.”

    Nice article.

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  3. FireTag on June 23, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Ferguson makes the point that the first thing that must be done is to get beyond denial that there is a problem, and I guess that makes a spending addiction much like any other.
    As long as people that propose reforms, be they Ryan in the US or Merkel in Germany, are successfully vilified by people whose power depends on DISPENSING (not RECEIVING) the wealth, and the scope of the problem can be hidden from discussion by clever language (so that adding only a few trillion dollars in NEW spending over the next ten years can be called a draconian cut because you really wanted to add $10 trillion in new spending over the same decade) and inattentive voters, the problem doesn’t get solved until the riots get very violent.

    After all, even the “draconian” solutions on the table don’t propose to achieve balance for DECADES.

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  4. FireTag on June 23, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Bonnie:

    Thank you. I think I was writing my last comment while you were writing yours, and missed it at first.

    I would only add that we ARE already at war; certainly the leaks coming out from “high administration officials” to the NYT make our “covert” war against Iran very “overt”. For so many years we have been able to frame discussions publicly as war versus peace. This time, it may be war versus being collateral damage.

    I hope we still have the capacity our parents and grandparents had, or it will not be well for our children and grandchildren.

    I believe in happy endings, but the middle can really suck.

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  5. prometheus on June 23, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    We should hold a year of jubilee – all debts everywhere forgiven and everyone begins with a clean slate.

    Who know, it might even work better than riots and open warfare…. :D

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  6. FireTag on June 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Prometheus:

    I did see the joke icon, but I first saw only the comment summary before I went to lunch, and it made me do some serious thinking about what it would really mean for jubilee as a serious suggestion.

    Jubilee was suggested in a subsistence/agrarian Hebrew economic system in which the assumption of debt was a last resort when bartering had already failed among trusted kin, wasn’t it? And the lenders were, by definition, above the rest of the people or they would not have had anything spare to lend. Collateral was slave labor if the loan came due and production to repay the loan hadn’t occurred. So it was a moral advance to not destroy your brothers and sisters in order to maintain your own comfort when they could not “repent” even if they HAD been guilty of irresponsibility and were not merely victims.

    Interestingly, even in Roman times, merchants had low social status unless they were primarily landowners who moved commodities on massive scale. Trade was secondary to military power, which had been employed to acquire the land holdings in the first place.

    Today, we are ALL lenders and debtors. We loan our government money in advance of our future tax requirements (we notice the forced loan less when we call it “withholding”). They promise to pay back future expenses. Sometimes people (especially my generation) get more than they pay in plus interest; sometimes those loans won’t be paid back. We borrow money from banks for a home that we will pay back in 30 years — perhaps cycling through several upgrades in housing through the interim. We buy cars or monthly groceries on credit. We loan wages to 401k plans which we expect to fund retirements, or buy stocks which represent claims to shares of future earnings. We borrow to go to colleges, and promise to pay back our future earnings to a bank or to the government. Governments fund each other.

    Forgiving all debts really is complicated, and would really have surprising effects on all of us. I think we’d get the riots and open warfare anyway. I just don’t think the Chinese are going to be willing to fund our retirements and college eds instead of doing the same thing for the Chinese people. I don’t think that putting our people AHEAD of their own will strike them as necessary repentance on their part, or as particularly likely to be educationally redemptive for us.

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  7. Mark N. on June 24, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Isn’t money, when we get right down to it, just a convenient fiction? Let’s invent a better one. Let’s come to the realization that we’re all in this together, that there’s plenty to go around (provided one can grasp Nibley’s idea that “more than enough is more than enough”) and then we cancel all the debts. If we can’t come up with an economic system that doesn’t depend on a lot of people preying on a lot of other people, then I guess we deserve what we get.

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  8. FireTag on June 24, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Mark N.:

    “If we can’t come up with an economic system that doesn’t depend on a lot of people preying on a lot of other people, then I guess we deserve what we get.”

    A minimum requirement, IMO, is that the economic system on earth must work DESPITE the fact that a lot of people prey on other people. And it must do so in recognition that there are also predators/parasites in any political system that purports to control the predators/parasites in the economic system.

    Money has gone through several upgrades since it began as a more convenient way for everyone to carry around sheep on their shoulders with which to barter, and the differences between the M1 money supply and the M6 money supply are pretty esoteric, but simple barter doesn’t seem to be able to support anything like a population of 7 billion humans.

    Now if we really develop the spiritual capacities to multiply loaves and fishes… I’m still working on that, but struggle with my own internal spiritual parasites.

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  9. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    @Bonnie,

    I disagree with the sentiment that there must be collective repentance. The repentance must be individual which leads to a “collective” correction. Maybe just semantics but important difference none-the-less.

    In the scriptures this is also true, the individuals must repent, if they don’t then the few that do will be lead out of the city and the whole city will be destroyed. Right?

    @prometheus,

    Although I don’t think the solution is political in nature it should be mentioned that Dr. Paul on his platform wanted to erase trillions in debt held to the federal reserve from against the US government. So there is some debt that could “easily” be erased.

    @Mark,

    There is a system that works, it’s called the free market. It outs the predators and then starves them. Right now we have a system where the predators are outed and then rewarded for their predation. Statism doesn’t work.

    @All,

    I agree with the sentiment that we should recognize our sins and then repent. I have said what the core sin is, but no one believes me. What is the sin? Using violence as a means to an end. What does this include? Taxation. What is taxation? Taxation is the theft of individuals money for that goes to the mobsters we call government. What is the solution? Individual liberty. What is individual liberty? It is when people are willing to take on the responsibility for their own sins, i.e., that we will no longer oppress one another for ends we deem “necessary.”

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  10. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Jon:

    I do think Bonnie is using collective in the sense of “most individuals”. There are also scriptural promises that individuals who repent will be spared, but the interpretation of those promises must also be tempered by the knowledge that God also allows people to be martyred and suffer because of the sins of others. “If they die unto me…”

    Faith, then, has to be more than a tactic for achieving personal safety. And a majority freely choosing to use government as a means to care for the poor is not AUTOMATICALLY theft.

    I emphasize AUTOMATICALLY because the concentration of resources does attract predators and parasites. It seems universal; it happens even in cyberspace. So, any economic system that loses sight of the need to be constantly evolving its “immune system” against parasites and its defenses against predators which DO arise in government is in for trouble.

    I would say that even more fundamental than violence, however defined, as a sin is the pride that underlies it. Violence is a means to the desire for unrighteous dominion (love that Mormon term). The heart that desires to be other than what it was “meant” to be and thus makes others less than what they were meant to be destroys themselves almost by definition, because what would stand in their place even if they succeeded would be something that wasn’t “them”.

    I guess this is what you were saying about using violence as a means to an end, but I’d place more focus on the end than the means.

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  11. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Faith, then, has to be more than a tactic for achieving personal safety. And a majority freely choosing to use government as a means to care for the poor is not AUTOMATICALLY theft.

    Under the Israelites in the old testament it was considered theft. The people were allowed the outlining fruits of a field but this was also only if the farmer allowed for it.

    The question is, if it is OK to take from others for your own benefit then how much is enough? Can they take 100% of your money that you earn? Why not? I know why, it is because it is theft. Alma the elder said that each individual must choose to give to the poor. There is no scriptural nor logical support for taking from the “rich” or middle class to give to the poor at the point of a gun. There is a reason for that, it is because it is theft.

    The means and the end are just as important. We don’t tell the child that it is OK to cheat on his test because he needs to pass the class. Why do we think these ethics change when we are adults?

    There is a logical and ethical inconsistency here. Eventually we will need to decide to follow Christ and take on liberty and no more use the labors of others for our own benefit.

    We’ve gone through these arguments before, I just think we need to stay consistent in our ethical treatment of others. There is no reason to think that ethics stop at the doorway to government.

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  12. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Jon: did you not see the distinction I made between society CHOOSING to use government to care for the poor and government TAKING? Any law, including restricting you to not driving at 150 mph, will be imposed without UNIVERSAL consent.

    There is a big difference between advocating NO GOVERNMENT ROLE and advocating no UNCONTROLLED government role. The difference between medicine and poison is dosage.

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  13. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    I’m OK with government as long as it lives up to the ethical standard, once it goes beyond the ethical standard (AKA God’s law, natural law, etc.) it becomes poison, as you say. So the limit is the natural law, so, taxation remains theft because it is contrary to natural law and our inalienable rights (same thing really).

    I agree, laws that adhere to the constraints given by natural law don’t need a majority, but when they don’t adhere to natural law it becomes tyranny of the majority.

    The idea that majority rule is sufficient to declaring what is ethical and what isn’t is a dangerous proposition.

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  14. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I can certainly agree that self-government IS dangerous, because any decision about how to balance the differentiation of community to promote the individual versus building the community can lead to pain.

    We can go to one extreme by saying “let us just build NO community”. We can go to the other extreme by saying “let us have NO individuality”.

    You are simply not going to convince me that ALL taxation is theft when very few people in America would deny that the Constitution explicitly grants governments power to tax. Your point has to be more nuanced, or you simply should not be surprised that it isn’t gaining much traction. (Incidentally, you may actually be delivering credibility to the more-taxes-are-better side of the argument, which I think is the opposite of your intent.

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  15. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    By no means am I saying that we shouldn’t build community. I only say it should be done voluntarily within the bounds of natural law. Community is important. We build community every day when we decide to have families, churches, etc. I see no violence nor theft when those communities are built. I am just saying that government should do the same. BTW when government exceeds natural law it becomes what is called the state and is no longer government, or at least portions of it are no longer government.

    Just because the constitution says something does not make it true. Are we to say that a black person is 3/5ths of a person? Heaven forbid!

    Ethics is black or white, it is true or not true. When someone uses unprovoked violence against another and takes their money then that is what we call theft. It doesn’t matter who is doing the stealing and it doesn’t matter under what name(s) you do this it is still the same, theft.

    If your proposal is true then people can tax up to 100% of someone else’s wealth. If this is true then doesn’t that make us all slaves? Ahh, yes, this is what Frederick Douglass wrote about when he wrote his autobiography (although he didn’t explicitly state it – he came close though).

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  16. prometheus on June 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    See, Jon, I just don’t think you have a leg to stand on when you start claiming taxation as theft. I get your dislike of social programs, although I disagree with it. Taxes, however, provide for the enforcement of contracts through the court system, defense and international trade agreements, diplomatic relations with other countries allowing for freedom to travel, and depending on where you live, things like postal service roads, among other things.

    Also, you insist it is theft – how can it be theft when I willingly pay the government to provide services for me? There are some things that are more effectively and efficiently provided centrally as opposed to individually.

    Two last points and then I am done. :)

    1) I can’t help but feel that this insistence on extreme property ownership and control over one’s possessions comes from too much attachment to material things. (Please don’t take this as being directed at you, personally, Jon, as I am trying to get at generalities regarding your philosophical position here. :D)

    I am not so sure that being that protective of ‘stuff’ is really in anyone’s best interest – it creates alienation and isolation, which leads to point 2:

    Independence is all well and good, to a point, but if we stop there, we are living alone saying to everyone else, “I don’t need you.” I think that interdependence is a higher goal to aspire to – we live together, work together and recognize that we need each other, deeply and desperately. This seems to me to be the way to Zion, rather than each of us setting up our own independent fiefdoms surrounded by walls and fences (again – please don’t take this as an accusation but rather a critique of a philosophy).

    Anyway, a bit of a threadjack here, sorry. :)

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  17. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Jon:

    We DECIDED to have a state; we made a social contract. In fact, we decided to have one state instead of thirteen because thirteen weren’t working very well. In additional fact, we got to thirteen because families were inadequate for building fleets to cross oceans, Nephi nor the brother of Jared being anywhere to be found at the time. :D

    Ethics is seldom black and white. As both Hawkgrrrl and I have discussed in several posts, progressives and conservatives aren’t even wired to process moral values according to the same criteria. Although I would welcome the thought that I, as a conservative, am morally superior to progressives, modesty and intellectual honesty suggests to me that God wants progressives around, too. Conservatives and progressives created He them.

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  18. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    prometheus:

    No comment, but I hit the like button.

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  19. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    @prometheus,

    I’m not talking about what is good vs what is bad. I’m talking ethics. I’m not placing a value on these things when I say taxation is theft. The only time I place a value on something is when I write that the government shouldn’t steal. So, yes, it is nice to have roads, that is a good thing to have roads but should the government steal to get those roads? I (and others beside me) say no, you and a lot of other people say yes.

    How can it be theft when you do it willingly? What of your neighbor that doesn’t want to pay taxes? First he will get a few letters that says he should pay. If he ignores the letters. An agent of the state will come with a letter. If he still doesn’t pay then they will come and try an put him in jail, if he decides to protect his property then they will shoot and kill him, if he survives he will go to jail. So, that sounds like theft to me. It sounds like the mafia to me.

    Just because you willingly subject yourself doesn’t stop reality from being reality. Just because the cow likes the food she is fed doesn’t stop the reality that she will eventually go to the slaughter house.

    There are some things that are more effectively and efficiently provided centrally as opposed to individually.

    No disputation here. Intel does a great job making highly complex chips. I don’t think I would be able to do that individually. But Intel doesn’t hold a gun to my head and make it mandatory that I pay for their services.

    I can’t help but feel that this insistence on extreme property ownership and control over one’s possessions comes from too much attachment to material things.

    You could make the opposite argument also. People’s attachment to material things is what makes them envy and steal others possessions. I don’t think being that envious of other people’s possessions is a healthy for the spirit and mind.

    Also, I personally, am not “protective of my stuff.” I willingly give money and time to help others. I just take offense when someone says I must bend over and take in the butt. Because that is what we are saying, that we don’t own our bodies that others do and can do what they will with them.

    Independence is all well and good, to a point, but if we stop there, we are living alone saying to everyone else, “I don’t need you.”

    I don’t know where you guys are getting this. I never said it and I refute it every time. All I’m saying is it is not good to steal. And that we should fight against this unethical behavior.

    Besides the scriptures definitely saying there is property here’s a proof that property exists:

    this ultimate proof for these rules as just rules: if a person A were not the owner of his physical body and all goods originally appropriated, produced or voluntarily acquired by him, there would only exist two alternatives. Either another person, B, must then be regarded as the owner of A and the goods appropriated, produced, or contractually acquired by A, or both parties, A and B, must be regarded as equal co-owners of both bodies and goods.

    In the first case, A would be B’s slave and subject to exploitation. B would own A and the goods originally appropriated, produced, or acquired by A, but A would not own B and the goods homesteaded, produced, or acquired by B. With this rule, two distinct classes of people would be created—exploiters (B) and exploited (A)—to whom different “law” would apply. Hence, this rule fails the “universalization test” and is from the outset disqualified as even a potential human ethic, for in order to be able to claim a rule to be a “law” (just), it is necessary that such a rule be universally—equally—valid for everyone.

    In the second case of universal co-ownership, the requirement of equal rights for everyone is obviously fulfilled. Yet this alternative suffers from another fatal flaw, for each activity of a person requires the employment of scarce goods (at least his body and its standing room). Yet if all goods were the collective property of everyone, then no one, at any time and in any place, could ever do anything with anything unless he had every other co-owner’s prior permission to do what he wanted to do. And how can one give such a permission if one is not even the sole owner of one’s very own body (and vocal chords)? If one were to follow the rule of total collective ownership, mankind would die out instantly. Whatever this is, it is not a human ethic.

    Thus, one is left with the initial principles of self-ownership and original appropriation, homesteading. They pass the universalization test—they hold for everyone equally—and they can at the same time assure the survival of mankind. They and only they are therefore non-hypothetically or absolutely true ethical rules and human rights.

    PS, I know my language my be strong, but I’m just trying to show the proof and the illogical fallacies given and trying to refute said fallacies.

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  20. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    @FireTag,

    In additional fact, we got to thirteen because families were inadequate for building fleets to cross oceans

    First off, once again, I have no problem with people getting together and helping each other. Please stop saying that I do. Please read what I write more carefully. It seems you are characterizing me without reading what I am writing.

    We DECIDED to have a state; we made a social contract.

    I didn’t. Who is “we.” The social contract was theory created to make people feel good when they steal your stuff. There is no contract. King Benjamin had ALL the people agree, not just one. The ancient Israelites had all the people agree and individually contract to be part of their tribe. If you are interested I can bring more to the table on why the Social Contract is invalid. Let me know if you are interested.

    Ethics is seldom black and white.

    I’m defining ethics as the strict philosophical science (like mathematics) to determine ethics. Now, I’m defining morality as social norms. So ethics is black and white. Morality isn’t black and white. Two separate ideas.

    I’m not saying I am better than anyone either. All I’m saying is that there exists a code of ethics that can be determined by strict logic and reasoning. I’m saying that this code of ethics is equivalent to natural law, God’s law, inalienable rights, etc (what ever you want to call them). I’m saying that at the very least we should live up to this code of ethics.

    Morality is something else entirely. Like saying gays can’t marry (and I’m not talking about state sanctioned marriage – because that is itself unethical even for straight people) is unethical, but morally people can disagree, morally someone can say that they will not marry two gay people.

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  21. prometheus on June 25, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    A few responses, Jon.

    “What of your neighbor that doesn’t want to pay taxes?”

    This is where one can either convince the majority to follow you and abolish taxes, or one cannot. If not, then one has no real choice but to accept the consensus. Every one receives benefits from taxes, much like everyone receives benefits from unionization, whether those benefits are recognized or wanted or not. It would be grossly unfair to receive those benefits without contributing anything.

    At the end of the day, being a member of a community means we must all come to terms with each other and find a way of coexisting peacefully. Those who try to break the system without regard for the will of the community are breaking the community itself. Should they be restrained from doing so? Absolutely.

    “But Intel doesn’t hold a gun to my head and make it mandatory that I pay for their services.”

    Minor quibble here, but they do. Every time you go to a store that uses an Intel chip somewhere, part of what you pay goes to Intel in the form of buying the equipment that uses the chips. Unless you withdraw totally from all economic transactions, you are automatically charged for Intel’s services. So while you might argue that in theoretical terms it still isn’t mandatory, in every practical sense it is.

    “I don’t know where you guys are getting this. I never said it and I refute it every time. All I’m saying is it is not good to steal.”

    I have no doubt at all that you contribute to your local community – I was criticizing the philosophy, not you personally. It was perhaps tangential to what you were specifically saying, but it is nonetheless a conclusion commonly drawn by extreme libertarians. Apologies if you felt unfairly painted by that brush – it really wasn’t my intent to do so. :(

    In any case, you keep insisting that the government steals without, in my opinion, showing a strong case that it does in fact do so. Ultimately, the government is not yet independent of the people. It could be argued that we are heading that way, but the reality is, it would only take one election to abolish income tax. One. Period. The people have the power to shut down the IRS and all of the forced participation you disapprove of. The people have not been convinced that this is in their best interests and so do not make this choice. It remains a voluntary system in a global sense, although individuals may resent it.

    When the US government becomes a totalitarian state, denying the people the right to participate in any form and overturning the rule of law, you and I will see completely eye to eye on this, Jon. :D Then it will be theft because there will be no recourse for changing the system.

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  22. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    This is where one can either convince the majority to follow you and abolish taxes, or one cannot. If not, then one has no real choice but to accept the consensus.

    So you’re saying that the “Tyranny of the Majority” is a good thing? This is not only my idea, this is in the scriptures to, it is at least as old as the scriptures.

    Just like a woman has no choice when she is getting raped? Just because one is forced to do something doesn’t make it OK. It is 100% ethically wrong, black and white. If the majority say it is OK to rape women that doesn’t make it OK, neither does it make it OK to steal.

    Every one receives benefits from taxes

    Just like the mafia gave back to the community it doesn’t make it right that the mafia is extorting money from you. The mafia can even set up a system where you can vote for your favorite mafia goon, that doesn’t make it right. It is ethically wrong.

    Every time you go to a store that uses an Intel chip somewhere, part of what you pay goes to Intel in the form of buying the equipment that uses the chips.

    Yes, but I am not directly buying their product if I don’t want to. Government you have to directly contribute, unless you some how figure out a way to get around it.

    At the end of the day, being a member of a community means we must all come to terms with each other and find a way of coexisting peacefully.

    Once again, the “Tyranny of the Majority” argument. I agree we should coexist peacefully, hence my argumentation for ethics or natural law. But you say we should live peacefully together and then turn around and say it is OK for one group to steal from another at gun point, how is this peaceful? It is not.

    Those who try to break the system without regard for the will of the community are breaking the community itself. Should they be restrained from doing so? Absolutely.

    Not if they are not breaking with natural law. Even in the BoM this is shown in Mosiah 26 when Alma tries to get Mosiah to force people to be morally good, but Mosiah tells Alma to go fly a kite, it isn’t the position of the government to tell people what to do beyond natural law.

    Now if the community had made contracts with each individual and without coercion then it would be OK to enforce it according to the agreements made.

    nonetheless a conclusion commonly drawn by extreme libertarians

    This is not a position that I am familiar with. I haven’t heard any of them say that. I know you weren’t saying it at me but I hear this charge, even against conservatives, but it makes no sense, it is a logical fallacy held by the person or by the person looking at the others beliefs. Just look at the Free State Project and you will find many libertarians and anarchists that definitely help each other out.

    In any case, you keep insisting that the government steals without, in my opinion, showing a strong case that it does in fact do so.

    I don’t know how to make my case any more clear, it’s night and day for me. What did you think of the last quote that shows that we do own property?

    Ultimately, the government is not yet independent of the people.

    I agree. But when government educates the children and brain washes them to believe that the state is benevolent the governmental system is working from an unfair advantage. It’s the Stockholm syndrome. You can even read a paper on it written by in the 1500s that talks about it. It would be easy for the people to change things, but, when they don’t understand liberty and freedom and they believe that when the government takes $100 and returns $20 to the people that the government is being benevolent it is hard to change course.

    By no means is it a voluntary system. Once again, the woman being rapes has the choice to not be in the house where the rapist is going to attack but when she is attacked it is the rapist who is in the wrong, not the woman. Or a cow can run out the fence knocking it over, but since the cow’s mind is enslaved she cannot break free, likewise, people’s minds are enslaved just like Stockholm syndrome.

    When the US government becomes a totalitarian state, denying the people the right to participate in any form and overturning the rule of law

    Rule of law dictates that natural law is adhered to. It dictates that everyone is on equal ground (equality before the law) these conditions don’t exist so there is no rule of law, when it comes to the state there is only chaos. How many laws are on the book and even the government can’t tell people how to adhere to the law because it is so difficult. Federal prosecutors have a game where they figure out how to convict Mother Theresa of a federal felony, when she can be prosecuted how is this “rule of law?”

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  23. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    OK, let me try and explain that taxation is theft better.

    THE Encyclopaedia Britannica defines taxation as “that part of the revenues of a state which is obtained by the compulsory dues and charges upon its subjects.”

    I don’t expect you to read this but it does a fantastic job of explaining and countering all your arguments. The whole thing is worth reading, I don’t expect you to, but I pretty much agree with the below argument.

    It is true that State apologists maintain that taxation is “really” voluntary; one simple but instructive refutation of this claim is to ponder what would happen if the government were to abolish taxation, and to confine itself to simple requests for voluntary contributions. Does anyone really believe that anything comparable to the current vast revenues of the State would continue to pour into its coffers? It is likely that even those theorists who claim that punishment never deters action would balk at such a claim. The great economist Joseph Schumpeter was correct when he acidly wrote that “the theory which construes taxes on the analogy of club dues or of the purchase of the services of, say, a doctor only proves how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits of mind.”2

    It has been recently maintained by economists that taxation is “really” voluntary because it is a method for everyone to make sure that everyone else pays for a unanimously desired project. Everyone in an area, for example, is assumed to desire the government to build a dam; but if A and B contribute voluntarily to the project, they cannot be sure that C and D will not “shirk” their similar responsibilities. Therefore, all of the individuals, A, B, C, D, etc., each of whom wish to contribute to building the dam, agree to coerce each other through taxation. Hence, the tax is not really coercion. There are, however, a great many flaws in this doctrine.

    First is the inner contradiction between voluntarism and coercion; a coercion of all-against-all does not make any of this coercion “voluntary.” Secondly, even if we assume for the moment that each individual would like to contribute to the dam, there is no way of assuring that the tax levied on each person is no more than he would be willing to pay voluntarily even if everyone else contributed. The government may levy $1000 on Jones even though he might have been willing to pay no more than $500. The point is that precisely because taxation is compulsory, there is no way to assure (as is done automatically on the free market) that the amount any person contributes is what he would “really” be willing to pay. In the free society, a consumer who voluntarily buys a TV set for $200 demonstrates by his freely chosen action that the TV set is worth more to him than the $200 he surrenders; in short, he demonstrates that the $200 is a voluntary payment. Or, a club member in the free society, by paying annual dues of $200, demonstrates that he considers the benefits of club membership worth at least $200. But, in the case of taxation, a man’s surrender to the threat of coercion demonstrates no voluntary preference whatsoever for any alleged benefits he receives.

    Thirdly, the argument proves far too much. For the supply of any service, not only dams, can be expanded by the use of the tax-financing arm. Suppose, for example, that the Catholic Church were established in a country through taxation; the Catholic Church would undoubtedly be larger than if it relied on voluntary contributions; but can it therefore be argued that such Establishment is “really” voluntary because everyone wants to coerce everyone else into paying into the Church, in order to make sure that no one shirks this “duty”?

    And fourthly, the argument is simply a mystical one. How can anyone know that everyone is “really” paying his taxes voluntarily on the strength of this sophistical argument? What of those people—environmentalists, say—who are opposed to dams per se? Is their payment “really” voluntary? Would the coerced payment of taxes to a Catholic Church by Protestants or atheists also be “voluntary”? And what of the growing body of libertarians in our society, who oppose all action by the government on principle? In what way can this argument hold that their tax payments are “really voluntary”? In fact, the existence of at least one libertarian or anarchist in a country is enough by itself to demolish the “really voluntary” argument for taxation.

    It is also contended that, in democratic governments, the act of voting makes the government and all its works and powers truly “voluntary.” Again, there are many fallacies with this popular argument. In the first place, even if the majority of the public specifically endorsed each and every particular act of the government, this would simply be majority tyranny rather than a voluntary act undergone by every person in the country. Murder is murder, theft is theft, whether undertaken by one man against another, or by a group, or even by the majority of people within a given territorial area. The fact that a majority might support or condone an act of theft does not diminish the criminal essence of the act or its grave injustice. Otherwise, we would have to say, for example, that any Jews murdered by the democratically elected Nazi government were not murdered, but only “voluntarily committed suicide”—surely, the grotesque but logical implication of the “democracy as voluntary” doctrine. Secondly, in a republic as contrasted to a direct democracy, people vote not for specific measures but for “representatives” in a package deal; the representatives then wreak their will for a fixed length of time. In no legal sense, of course, are they truly “representatives” since, in a free society, the principal hires his agent or representative individually and can fire him at will. As the great anarchist political theorist and constitutional lawyer, Lysander Spooner, wrote:

    they [the elected government officials] are neither our servants, agents, attorneys, nor representatives . . . [for] we do not make ourselves responsible for their acts. If a man is my servant, agent, or attorney, I necessarily make myself responsible for all his acts done within the limits of the power I have intrusted to him. If I have intrusted him, as my agent, with either absolute power, or any power at all, over the persons or properties of other men than myself, I thereby necessarily make myself responsible to those other persons for any injuries he may do them, so long as he acts within the limits of the power I have granted him. But no individual who may be injured in his person or property, by acts of Congress, can come to the individual electors, and hold them responsible for these acts of their so-called agents or representatives. This fact proves that these pretended agents of the people, of everybody, are really the agents of nobody.3
    Furthermore, even on its own terms, voting can hardly establish “majority” rule, much less of voluntary endorsement of government. In the United States, for example, less than 40 percent of eligible voters bother to vote at all; of these, 21 percent may vote for one candidate and 19 percent for another. 21 percent scarcely establishes even majority rule, much less the voluntary consent of all. (In one sense, and quite apart from democracy or voting, the “majority” always supports any existing government; this will be treated below.) And finally how is it that taxes are levied on one and all, regardless of whether they voted or not, or, more particularly, whether they voted for the winning candidate? How can either nonvoting or voting for the loser indicate any sort of endorsement of the actions of the elected government?

    Neither does voting establish any sort of voluntary consent even by the voters themselves to the government. As Spooner trenchantly pointed out:

    In truth, in the case of individuals their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent. . . . On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money renders service, and foregoes the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he uses the ballot, he may become a master, if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defense, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot—which is a mere substitute for a bullet—because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. . . .
    Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot would use it, if they could see any chance of meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented.4
    If, then, taxation is compulsory, and is therefore indistinguishable from theft, it follows that the State, which subsists on taxation, is a vast criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any “private” Mafia in history. Furthermore, it should be considered criminal not only according to the theory of crime and property rights as set forth in this book, but even according to the common apprehension of mankind, which always considers theft to be a crime. As we have seen above, the nineteenth-century German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer put the matter succinctly when he pointed out that there are two and only two ways of attaining wealth in society: (a) by production and voluntary exchange with others—the method of the free market; and (b)by violent expropriation of the wealth produced by others. The latter is the method of violence and theft. The former benefits all parties involved; the latter parasitically benefits the looting group or class at the expense of the looted. Oppenheimer trenchantly termed the former method of obtaining wealth, “the economic means,” and the latter “the political means.” Oppenheimer then went on brilliantly to define the State as “the organization of the political means.”5

    Nowhere has the essence of the State as a criminal organization been put as forcefully or as brilliantly as in this passage from Lysander Spooner:

    It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other. . . .
    But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: “Your money, or your life.” And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
    The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.
    The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

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  24. Mark N. on June 25, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    The ideal situation, it seems to me, would be that the government would be able to expel a non-taxpayer from the country (just as those who didn’t agree with the Father’s Plan of Salvation were cast out). Since the government really has no neutral territory that it can “cast out” non-taxpayers into, they do the next best thing, which is to put people into prison who refuse to pay taxes.

    Paying taxes is voluntary, to the extent that one understands that there is a punishment for not paying them, and makes the conscious decision that sitting in prison is much better that forking over their tax dollars so that things they don’t agree with don’t get paid for from their funds.

    If there was some location to which the government could send people and tell them “from here on, you’re on your own; feel free to start your own society any old way you see fit”, then that would probably be the best way out. But land on this planet is a finite resource, unfortunately, and it’s all been grabbed. So far as I know, at least.

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  25. prometheus on June 25, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    I am only going to address a couple of things here for now, Jon.

    You keep complaining about the Tyranny of the Majority, but what would happen if your way was the majority way? I’d be out of luck. Every majority is a tyranny, really.

    I am also not suggesting that we don’t own property, although I think that ownership is a concept that is fraught with many, many problems.

    I think that part of what we disagree on is this idea of natural law and what exactly it comprises, or whether it exists at all.

    I read the quote, and I disagree with the argument about voluntarism and coercion. Perhaps I might disagree with the government about the amount I pay, but just disagreeing over the price of services rendered does not nullify the concept of voluntary participation.

    The political bit is a whole other post in itself. :)

    At the end of the day, we aren’t going to convince each other, I don’t imagine. I am quite happy in my Canadian socialist paradise. :D

    Good chatting with you about it all, though.

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  26. Jon on June 25, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    Yeah, I don’t really ever expect to convince anyone on this subject. It’s like religion, everyone just believes what they believe except for the few rare converts, except it’s not like religion because there is a strict science behind ethics, like mathematics.

    In a voluntary society you could agree with a bunch of like minded fellows and purchase some land and live like a statist society. It is actually the opposite, as Mark N. stated, there is no room for my way of thinking because you are thrown into prison or killed if you fight for your natural rights.

    To say we can’t own property is to say we can’t own ourselves, which has many problems with it. Since your Canadian, apparently, I can understand why you don’t understand natural law, granted one of the best speakers on a voluntary society, Stefan Molyneax (sp) is from Canada. I don’t understand why Americans don’t understand the concept of natural law though, it is in the scriptures, the founders of this country put it into our law and declaration of independence, and it goes back to earlier history of Britain. So, I don’t understand why more people haven’t been taught about it. Even you, prometheus, mentioned when you wrote, “Law of the Land” which is a reference to natural law (the puremormonism blog has a rather lengthy post on it).

    The way I came to think that taxation was theft was during the debates on health care. I questioned how much was ethically and morally OK for the government to take from people, what was the underlying principle. I determined through reading that it was because there is no underlying principle to taxation and that it was theft and that we are basically slaves.

    Anyways, enjoyed the discussion again, don’t know why I keep bringing it up, I still haven’t figured out how to convince anyone, granted I guess I never will, these type of things people need to be willing to do the leg work themselves in order to change their minds.

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  27. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Mark N.:

    Your answer to Jon’s argument is among the most interesting I’ve heard in reading Jon’s comments for several months. The Supreme Court decision on Obamacare to be issued Thursday may actually mark an important boundary in whether ANY constraints upon government — a government of powers delegated by the people through a social compact listing enumerated powers — can still exist. If the mandate stands, both economic activity and economic inactivity can be regulated under the commerce clause, which pretty much means everything can be regulated. And with the Executive branch already telling the Legislative branch it will obey laws it likes and ignore laws it doesn’t, the Republic would even be well on the path to an imperial presidency in the Julius Caesar sense. Our Constitution just might contain a Doomsday machine just like the treaty creating the Eurozone does.

    So this is Jon’s argument carried to the opposite extreme; Jon says everything must be individually voluntary or no social compact exists; the mandate says everything must be governed by the impact on the community — as decided by the values of the leaders of the community — because no one can be voluntarily exempted (let alone expelled) from the social compact.

    Excommunication applied to the secular world might be an interesting concept to imagine. In fact, when we apply social compacts to things like borders, we are basically doing that, aren’t we? (In fact, don’t we have a whole series of interlocking social contracts — with family, clans, tribes, nations, etc. — that basically define in what order we share our resources with each other?)

    I’m not even sure we’d have to put people in jail because we had no land left. Earth’s population is actually not very dense; it just seems that way because it’s heavily concentrated near cities with the best resources. There are still miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles, as the old joke goes. (Didn’t the colonization of Australia start that way?)

    prometheus:

    “Every majority is a tyranny, really.”

    Good point. I do prefer that tyranny to value self-restraint, however, and I definitely prefer it to a tyranny of a minority — which seems to me to be a more immediate danger. Majorities tend to be temporary and somewhat self-correcting (although Jon does describe some mechanisms by which temporary majorities can unfairly entrench themselves if the people are inattentive to protect themselves).

    Jon: One man’s freedom can be seen as another man’s free rider.

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  28. FireTag on June 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Jon:

    I know of multiple systems of mathematical logic, and there is no proof that mathematical logic is even complete or self consistent. There is even a bunch of work suggesting the opposite might be true.

    I doubt the situation is any more concrete in ethics. God has more tricks up his sleeve than we CAN imagine, IMO.

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  29. Bob on June 26, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    Mark N. & FireTag,
    YES_YES!! But there IS ROOM. We just tell everyone who still wishes to pay taxes leave Utah, those who don’t, stay or move there. The Church will handle everything__we will call the new zone__Zion!

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  30. FireTag on June 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Bob:

    I was thinking Independence. More reliable climate and water supply, and easier for the innocents to escape to when the rest of the Gentiles collapse. God does plan ahead, you know. :D

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  31. Jon on July 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    As overthrow your government day (AKA Independence Day) comes tomorrow just thought we should have an official mourning for natural law RIP:

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah (Alma 1:14)

    Now it was in the law of Mosiah (Alma 11:1)

    And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people (Helam@n 4:22)

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  32. FireTag on July 3, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Mourn later. Mobilize to vote now.

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  33. Jon on July 3, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    @FireTag,

    I already made my vote by educating myself, my family, and anyone that will listen to me. :)

    In the elections what choice is there? One socialist or the other fascist? I choose none of the above, but wait, I can’t make that choice, I’m but a slave :-\

    So what choices does a slave have? Revolt with violence? No, that doesn’t work very well. How about revolt by opting out? Ah yes. How do I do that? Don’t accept aid from the government as much as possible (sorry, gonna keep using the roads). Not sending my kids to government indoctrination camps, check. That is my vote. At this juncture voting for freedom is not an option, the Gadianton robbers have full control and they won’t be “voted” out.

    So RIP natural law until enough people clap their hands and believe in it once more.

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