The Instigator
Double_R
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
socialpinko
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Taxation is not theft

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Double_R
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/14/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,983 times Debate No: 24272
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (57)
Votes (4)

 

Double_R

Pro

Taxes: a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Theft: the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another;
http://dictionary.reference.com...

The definitions provided above are for the purposes of avoiding semantics. Con may challenge the definitions in whole or in part but must provide a valid argument consistent with a reasonable interpretation of the resolution to suport his/her disagreements.

The country of reference in this debate will be the United States. The three main forms of taxation to be discussed will be income tax, sales tax, and property tax. Con may make an argument to include other forms of taxation, but must show why these other forms should be accepted as relevant to the general discussion. Remember that taxation is a broad term, and the resolution does not negate that it can be theft, but rather it negates that it is theft.

Round 1 for acceptance, no new arguments in round 4. All other standard debate rules apply.

Voters

Please take into account that this is an extremely biased topic. The winner should not be the debater whom you personally agree with, but whomever made the strongest argument in this debate. For more please read:
http://www.debate.org...
socialpinko

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Double_R

Pro

As stated by the definitions above, theft is the wrongful taking of another person’s property. But in order for this to occur, the property being taken must first belong to the person being deprived. Below I will outline 3 different theories of ownership and why taxation fails to qualify as theft in each of them:


Natural Ownership


Under this theory, the only property a person can own is their own body. My hands, and my feet for example are mine because they are a part of me and are completely natural. Anything a person acquires does not fall into this definition of ownership, therefore under this theory taxation fails to qualify as theft because money can not naturally be ours.


Societal Ownership


This is the most commonly referred theory of ownership, which could also be called legal ownership. I call it Societal Ownership because laws are simply the product of society. This theory dictates that the relationship between an owner and their property is that of societal recognition. So in other words if I own a piece of land, what makes me the owner is the fact that society recognizes me as the owner. This is usually supported with a title to the property and documentation filed at the county clerk’s office.


Taxation under this theory fails to qualify as theft by the definition alone since taxation is written into the law, therefore giving government the legal right to the money taxed. Arguing against ownership under this theory would be a logical absurdity.


Moral Ownership


This appears to be where the debate is. Allow me to explain Moral Ownership with the following analogy: Suppose I own an umbrella. Now suppose it is raining and I need to walk to the corner grocery store to pick up a case of beer. Not wanting to walk outside in the rain, I ask my friend Bob to go to the grocery store for me. Since I know Bob has no umbrella to walk home with, I entice him by offering him to keep my umbrella if he buys me a case of beer. Bob accepts and proceeds to the grocery store.


But what if he returns and did not buy me a case of beer? What if he instead decided to pick up something for himself? The obvious conclusion would be that he does not have a moral right to keep my umbrella, because he did not fulfill his responsibility which was a condition of his right to keep my umbrella. Now suppose I take the umbrella back; is that theft? It would be absurd to consider it theft because I can not steal something which is mine to begin with. Had Bob bought me a case of beer the umbrella would have been rightfully (morally) his, but he failed to do that.


The analogy highlights the main consideration in determining the moral owner of anything, which is that of acquisition. A person who acquires something immorally does not have a moral right to that which they acquired. What makes the acquisition moral is that it is acquired by following the terms and conditions set by the previous owner. So if I give something of mine away then that something morally belongs to that person. But if I do not give something away and they take it, then I still have every moral right to that which was taken.


Applying Moral Ownership to Taxation


The claim often made that taxation is theft seems to stem from the Moral Ownership theory, supported by the concept that it is wrong for the government to forcefully take money from unwilling citizens. However, the problem once again is that for this argument to be valid they must establish that government is taking something that is theirs in the first place. This is quite problematic, since taxation is imposed before any individual makes a decision that will result in taxation.


An individual for example who earns a paycheck may claim that the government is taking his money by taxing him. However this argument only works if the pre-tax dollars are his. To make this case he must disregard the fact that paying those taxes was a condition of his earning that paycheck in the first place. Being that the condition was set before he ever began to offer his services to his employer, this is factually false. If that employee tries to keep that money then he is keeping that which is not his, because he did not acquire it under the terms and conditions set for him.


But one might ask, what gives government the right to set those terms and conditions? Quite simply, the fact that it was the government who printed the money in the first place as part of its monetary system. Once it was created it became morally (and legally) owned by that government. From there it is distributed under the conditions that it would be part of a system of exchange which includes being subject to the laws of taxation. Therefore anyone who acquires this money must accept the terms and conditions of doing so in order to have a moral right to it. Accepting that money under those conditions is a choice, therefore anyone who chooses to take part in the system is choosing to release a portion of that money back to its rightful owner. This contradicts the concept of theft and thus is not theft.


Coercion Argument


It is often argued that it may be a choice but in reality there is no reasonable alternative so Americans are being coerced into paying taxes. Coercion is simply the act of forcing someone to act in a manor which is against their will. For example if a robber puts a gun to your head and asks for your wallet, you would be smart to give it to him. But under the same logic utilized above, that is a choice and therefore not theft. I will grant Con this argument if he can show how this analogy is valid, however it is not.


Remember that the keyword in the definition of theft is wrongful. Showing that someone has no better alternative does not mean that the person offering the choice is being wrongful. Putting a gun to someone’s head and asking for their wallet is coercion because they are ultimately forced into making a decision which is against their will, which is wrong. But if I ask for his wallet by offering him 1 million dollars, that is not coercion because his ultimate decision will not be against his will, and is therefore not wrong.


Living in the US qualifies as the latter example not the former. Every American has a choice, they can either take part in our system of taxation, or move to another country or even a deserted island. Those who claim that this is coercion do so under a false pretense that they are entitled to the lifestyle we enjoy in this country, a lifestyle built on a system of taxation. No such entitlement exists. The US is not responsible for the fact that no other nation in the world can offer the same lifestyle, and the US is certainly not responsible for the fact that living on a deserted island somewhere being forced to hunt for food for a living is an inferior lifestyle. In fact the lifestyle of the latter is the only moral entitlement we as human beings have.

socialpinko

Con

I would like to begin by first thanking my esteemed opponent for the chance to debate this topic. It's been a while since I've done a real political debate and look forward to the exciting exchange of ideas on the subject. On the respective points of natural and societal ownership, I concede that under those definitions specifically, taxation would not be correctly defined as theft. For this debate, my opponent and I will focus on the moral ownership theory of property and whether taxation is theft under its conception.


===Moral Ownership===


My opponent is correct in foreseeing that this aspect of ownership will be where the crux of the debate will focus. My opponent's point lies in the idea that the government's forceful taxation of income (along with other various forms of taxation) is simply the result of a voluntary transaction between citizen and government. My opponent argues "the fact that it was the government who printed the money in the first place as part of its monetary system." is the basis of the agreement which entitles the government to a portion of a person's income. If someone accepts these conditions without upholding their end of the deal (under my opponent's conception this would mean not paying taxes) then one is contradicting their agreement and is thus stealing from the government.


This is certainly an interesting argument by my opponent, though certainly flawed nonetheless. For one, it would appear my opponent has simply assumed that the State has a legitimate monopolized control of what may be paid in exchange for services. My opponent's cites some sort of "conditions" set, but where were these conditions set explicitly and where did every individual subject to taxation explicitly agree to them? It would appear no such agreement exists and my opponent simply takes this as a given.


I predict that in response to this point however, my opponent will cite a social contract or argue that within the State's jurisdiction, citizens are subject to conditions set by it. This approach is seriously flawed though. For instance, the social contract does not have actual existence in reality. There is no contract signed by all members of society in which they agreed to form a State and abide by its rulings. The social contract is only useful as a metaphorical quasi-justification for State power.


On citizens being subject to laws within the State's jurisdiction, I would also contest legitimate jurisdiction of the State in the first place. The State is merely an institution which forcefully declares it's sovereignty based on the supposed obligation imposed by the Constitution, which was signed by men hundreds of years ago and thus cannot form the basis of any legitimate obligation on those alive today who had no say in the matter. After all, if I sign my and my progeny's property away to someone, that doesn't actually obligate my progeny to give anyone their property since it was never my place to contract out their property in the first place. Likewise the signers of the Constitution who created the U.S. had no place attempting to sign away the rights of future born people and had no place in creating any legitimate obligation on them based on a contract which they and they only signed.


===Coercion Argument===


My opponent argues that just because someone doesn't have a good alternative to an action, doesn't mean that the action itself was coerced. I will agree with my opponent as per our definition of wrongful. However, this is not the point when it comes to taxation as coercion. It isn't that there is no libertarian territory free of taxation with a high standard of living. The reasoning is that the State has no moral legitimacy or sovereignty over its alleged territory in the first place and thus when the State demands payment, no one is under legitimate obligation to pay them. Therefore the taking of this payment constitutes theft.


My opponent argues that remaining within the United States qualifies as an example of a situation where someone if offered a value in exchange for another value. Just because someone doesn't think they have better options, my opponent argues, doesn't mean that the act is one of coercion. It is simply a sub-par choice for the person in question. Of course I refer my opponent to my previous point. The institution which calls itself the United States government has no legitimate sovereignty over the territory which it claims.


As an institution it is based on a document signed by a small group of men who were themselves elected by a minority of the then-existent population over two hundred years ago. Not only did most people alive in the American territories at that point have no say in the matter (women, Native Americans, African Americans, etc.) as they were prohibited from voting for the representatives which decided on ratification but no one born after the signing had any say either. How can this document impose legitimate obligation on anyone other than the ratifiers when they were then only parties to such a contract. The short answer is that it doesn't. My opponent argues for the existence of obligation to the State based on the false and unsupported presupposition that it has legitimate sovereignty over its alleged territory which has not only been unsupported but has been positively shown to be false. The State is an institution made of people like any other and thus must be held accountable to the same standards of contractual obligation as any other institution or person.
Debate Round No. 2
Double_R

Pro

In round 2 I laid out my case to affirm the resolution which mainly focused on the theory of moral ownership. Con did not contest the obvious fact that in order for theft to occur the individual being deprived must own the property in question, and has also agreed that moral ownership is the theory which pertains to the resolution. Yet Con made no arguments to affirm that the citizens being taxed have any rightful claim to the money that they posses before taxation, he only argues that the government does not have a right to set the conditions from which a citizen is being taxed. Therefore, my only challenge in this round is to show that the government does have a moral right to set those conditions in the first place.


Moral Ownership Does Not Account for Land


Earlier I demonstrated the concept of moral ownership and explained that its founding basis is acquisition. Acquisition however does not apply to land. Land can only be claimed as territory in which those who claim it proceed to control the use of it. If someone else then comes along and claims the land as their territory it can not be considered theft because no one ever had a right to it in the first place. Con seems to think that my case relies on the government’s rightful claim to the land which it declares as its territory, just the opposite. The fact that no one has a right to this land is an important aspect of my case. Just as the government has no rightful claim to land, neither does Con or any individual who does not wish to pay taxes.


Setting Conditions is Justified


Being that ownership of land does not fall under moral ownership, it is irrelevant to the discussion. Thus, we must find a different basis to determine the government’s moral rights to set conditions on the territory it claims. First, recognize that the government is in fact a real entity. Con claims that it is illegitimate because it was created by a small minority of the population. This argument is also irrelevant. Cons disagreement with how an entity was formed does not negate that the entity exists.


As far as setting conditions, we must also recognize that any entity is morally justified in protecting the best interests of its people. This does not mean that every action must benefit every individual. To be morally justified it must only be orientated towards protecting the peoples best interests. These interests would be those that are most commonly shared. And to determine which interests are most commonly shared we have elections, where every member of society has equal say. This system is built on morality, therefore Con has no legitimate claim that conditions set under these principles are immoral.


Considering that it is in fact moral for the government to set these conditions, one can not claim that it is immoral to enforce them. By Cons logic the governments taking of money (which he has yet to show belongs to him) is not moral because he has not agreed to it. Con apparently presumes that one can accept the benefits of an arrangement without the conditions. This would be no different then someone accepting a job as a waiter without agreeing to serve food. Citizens are taxed based on their participation in the system. Taxes are a part of the system. Agreeing to participate is agreeing to its conditions.


Social Contract


Although I never made the argument of a social contract Con refutes this by arguing that such a thing has no existence in reality. If not existing in reality is accepted as a rebuttal then I win this debate because no one could ever have a moral ownership of anything since it doesn’t exist in reality either. Social contacts are simply a moral account for agreements made between an individual and their society. The agreement is not necessarily that of a conscious decision, but rather the decision one ought to make. I am not sure how Con can explain that he has no moral obligation to follow the governments conditions, for it is these conditions which our desirable way of life was built on. A way of life he chooses to take advantage of by living here.


Conclusion


My case is fundamentally built on the concept that those who pay taxes choose to accept that obligation. That choice begins with the decision to live in a country built on taxation, and consequently a decision to take part in the system which taxation is a condition. Con has not contested any of this but rather he argues over the rights a government has to set those conditions, which I have addressed. Con has yet to fulfill his main burden, which is to show that citizens have a moral right to the money which is taken as a result of taxation. His argument at best demonstrates that no one has a moral right to such money, an argument that even if accepted still affirms the resolution.

socialpinko

Con

===Moral ownership and Land===


My opponent offers a most interesting argument in his refutation. He argues that moral ownership of objects themselves does not necessitate ownership of land. Therefore, he argues, there is no reason why forcing monopolized rule over a given geographical are could possibly constitute theft. There are two fatal problems with this proposition though. (1) It ignores the fact that land ownership is a necessity in justifying ownership of things derived from it and (B) It legitimizes any and all theft against legitimate ownership.


(1) Land ownership as necessary for ownership of its derivatives.


Without land ownership, there is no way that we can naturally come to own anything legitimately. In my opponent's own conception of moral ownership which we expands on in his R2, my opponent simply starts with the example of a person morally owning an umbrella and then moves on to show his point about the relevancy of acquisition (which I bring up in refuting his justified conditions argument below). However, where do we obtain the original point of moral ownership? It would appear my opponent only thinks that we are justified in morally owning a piece of property after it has been created from materials coming from land itself (everything from metal to wood to wheat which we use to make morally owned property originates on land). But this lends itself to two specific problems.


A. It doesn't justify the original source of acquisition which my opponent makes a point to argue is morally relevant to justification of ownership.

B. This distinction fails to hold any relevant meaning. My opponent has failed to justify why we can come to own things from land but not land itself.


(2) Non-land ownership as legitimizing theft of morally owned possessions.


My second criticism of my opponent's point on land ownership is that in itself it compromises property which is legitimately acquired even by my opponent's own standards. For instance, if all that is necessary to legitimize sovereign jurisdiction over someone is to grant it to one's self on the basis that one believes it is in the best interest of those who one proclaims it over then it grants every level of theft as justified as long as one simply claims jurisdiction over and around the land that someone lives. If you don't really own the land you live on then I am not acting unjustifiably in proclaiming sovereignty over your land for your own good and extracting your wealth. This is basically the same description of government actions just applied to a smaller scale to show more accurately the moral relevance.


===Justified Conditions===


My opponent's argument rests on the supposition that land does not fall under the confines of moral ownership. Therefore, since I have refuted this necessary supposition in the above point the argument my opponent posits here is moot. Moral ownership necessarily extends to land. Otherwise moral ownership itself could not exist and would invalidate legitimately held property. Even ignoring this point though my opponent's points are open to internal inconsistencies, two of which I will elaborate on here.


===


My opponent attempts to argue that the way in which an institution is formed ought not be relevant, that that "does not negate that the entity exists". However, my opponent here ignores the moral relevance in origins. Consider the lottery. Now let's say that I steal $100,000 from a wealthy neighbor and use it to buy a huge number of lottery tickets and end up actually winning. Am I morally entitled to the winnings? Of course not because I was only able to win the money as a result of prior theft. Likewise the government is only able to exist because of prior illegitimate extension of quasi-sovereignty over a large area. This is clearly a morally relevant matter in deciding its own legitimacy.


===


My opponent argues that a government can do what it needs to do to protect the interests of its people and one of these things is to tax. But where are these interests defined exactly and wouldn't a general interest of people be to not have an institution form that assumes their obligation to it regardless of choice? My opponent would be able to salvage this point if he added the point that generally grants legitimacy to every other institution, that of voluntary association. If someone explicitly wants to be granted the services of a government then they may do so but the government simply refrains from providing services to anyone who does not want them. They would not be afforded police services as well. If they choose to receive services by the government then they would be subject to taxation.


Now my opponent argues that this is already the case and that we already choose to get government services by living within its borders. However, he is equivocating two types of interaction, action which is legitimately voluntary and action which is merely assumed to be. To explain my point with an analogy, consider a city grocery store that decides that it is in the best option of the citizens of the city to exclusively patron it and no other stores. Therefore the city proclaims jurisdiction over the entire city and claims that anyone residing in the city agrees to only use its services. Obviously this is not voluntary interaction as one must either patron the store exclusively or leave their own property. The action is clearly coerced.


===Social Contract===


In his argument regarding the social contract, my opponent argues that it is not "necessarily that of a conscious decision, but rather the decision one ought to make". This alone should prove once and for all that the social contract does not exist in reality as any real contract that imposes any legitimate obligation. For instance, we do not apply this sort of analysis to any other contractual relationship. Just because we think it would be in one's best interest to make an agreement with me does not in itself mean that they have actually made such an agreement and it does not mean that I therefore possess the right to coerce an exchange. Likewise, the belief that one would be better off under a real social contract does not legitimize its enforcement over the unwilling.
Debate Round No. 3
Double_R

Pro

Earlier I introduced 3 different theories of ownership and explained how they work. The purpose of this was to establish a foundation for our debate. In order to determine who rightfully owns something we must first determine what constitutes rightful ownership. Only then can we apply our concept to an individual or entity.

Con and I have both accepted that the ownership theory which pertains to the resolution is moral ownership. I have given an account for what constitutes such ownership, Con has contributed nothing except to show that my concept is invalid. First, let us understand that establishing an objective moral ownership theory requires establishing objective moral truths. This was never my burden or intention in this debate. Second, Cons rebuttals only leave us with the conclusion that ownership of anything is impossible, so even if his arguments are accepted he has only succeeded in affirming my case.

Moral Ownership - Land

In the previous round I argued that moral ownership does not extend to land. This is true according to the interpretation of moral ownership I have previously argued, but as I have implied there is no one true interpretation. Mine was based on the concepts of creation and acquisition. Con argues against creation as a valid starting point for ownership simply because I did not properly justify it. However any moral theory can be infinitely questioned. If I state that murder is wrong, no reasonable person will claim that my statement is invalid simply because I did not justify it. When a person creates something they obviously have a moral claim to that which they created, but Con does not accept this because he argues that a creation comes from land. So if creation is not a valid starting point to establish ownership then what is? Con has given us no answer.

To extend ownership to land, allow me to introduce another starting point: agreement. For example if two people who do not get along are stranded on a deserted island together then they may agree that each of them stay on “their” side of the island. If one of them now builds a shelter based on this agreement and the other takes over that land, then under this conception it could be considered theft. However, this interpretation would still not support Cons case because agreement was not a factor when theUSclaimed its territory. The constitution clearly states the government’s intent, if the citizens disagreed with it then we are still back to square one; no justification for either side to claim that land.

At this point I will simply end this argument here. I could certainly continue making my case for whyUSsovereignty is justified, but that is an entirely different debate. What we are debating is whether taxation is theft. That can only be determined by establishing who owns pre-tax dollars. Cons argument that theUSgovernment is morally unjustified does not affirm his case. If the government is morally unjustified then so is its monetary system. And if its system is unjustified, then how can Con claim that he has a moral right to own a part of it?

This right here is the dilemma for Con. If Cons justification for why he shouldn’t have to pay taxes is that he has not agreed to the system, then under what concept does he justify his participation in the system? For example how does he justify accepting an arrangement to work in exchange for US printed money, if he doesn’t accept the validity of US printed money? Con can claim that he has no other choice (disregarding the choice to relocate) but even then, this argument still fails.

Con does have another choice, he can not work. He can find a spot somewhere in the woods to sleep and rub sticks together to stay warm. He can hunt for food and create clothing out of the skin of the animals he hunts. He may not like these choices, but they are choices. However, he doesn’t want to do any of that. He’d rather get his food from a grocery store which was founded by someone only because they wanted to earn US dollars. He’d rather get his clothing from Old Navy,Marshalls, Sears, etc… stores which were founded only because someone wanted to earn US dollars. He’d rather take advantage of all the benefits which are a direct result of our monetary system, but seems to believe that he has no moral obligation to follow the rules of that very system. Such bizarre moral standards would only lead us to further conclude that there is no moral justification of owning anything. Cons arguments do not support his case.

Unjustified Conditions

Con here begins with an analogy of a lottery winner to demonstrates the governments moral illegitimacy. I have already explained why Cons argument still does not support his overall argument, so even though I disagree with his conclusion I have no reason to spend time refuting it.

Con then argues that a government is not fulfilling the best interests of its people because it does not grant everyone a choice to partake in its system. He argues that the government should only tax those who wish to receive their services. There is no feasible way for a government to operate in such fashion nor has any society in history flourished under such conditions. A military defending against an external attack can not limit their efforts to only protect taxpayers. If the police see someone being mugged, they can not look for some taxpayer ID card to determine if they should intervene. If wildfires are spreading in California, firefighters can not pull up geographical maps to show where the taxpayers are and only put out the fires in those areas.

Everyone benefits from government services. If paying for them is a choice then no one would pay and all government services will cease. This idea may please Con, but if so then I would remind him that there are plenty of places in the world with no strong functioning government. Con is free to live in any of them, but would he want to do that? Of course not.

Lastly, Cons grocery store analogy is invalid. The citizens of the city did not accept being confined to only one grocery store as a condition when they bought their property and moved into the city. The condition was inserted after the fact, which is the exact opposite of taxation.

Social Contract

Con once again claims that a social contract does not exist in reality. If that is the case then neither does moral ownership. Therefore Cons argument leads us to again conclude that no one owns anything, in which case theft can never occur.

Conclusion

Throughout this debate I have repeatedly argued that theft can not occur if a person does not own the property in question to begin with. I have presented different theories of ownership under which a person can own something and why none of these theories lead us to believe that a citizen has any legitimate claim to pre-tax dollars in their possession. Con has argued against my theories under some belief that refuting them somehow affirms a citizen’s rightful ownership of those dollars. For this to have worked, Con would have needed to provide a theory that validates a citizen’s claim to that money, that is, a theory which explains why someone should be morally exempt from following the rules of a system they willfully participated in. But he did not. His only attempt was to invalidate the system itself, which only invalidates his participation in it.

Con will no doubt still hold onto the belief that he is being coerced into participating by having any other reasonable option forcefully taken away from him, an argument which seems to stem from an apparent belief in his own self entitlement to live here. Disagreeing with the government’s origins does not entitle one to the land it claims. And without a valid personal claim to this land one can not dispute that there living here is purely voluntary. Therefore, their participation is not coerced.

Id like to thank Con for an interesting debate, and wish him the best of luck.
socialpinko

Con

Let me begin by pointing out that my opponent is mistaken in his assumption that by arguing for land as legitimate ownership, I am denying our agreed upon adherence to moral ownership as the foundation on which the debate is based. Far from it, in my point on land ownership I was arguing to show that if one accepts the moral ownership theory, then one must logically also accept that land is a justified form of ownership. I would like to stress to readers that there is nothing in my opponent's initial R2 description of moral ownership theory which states that it is incompatible with land ownership. In fact, as my own argument showed, it logically necessitates it.


===Moral Ownership and Land===


The first point my opponent makes against my land theory of moral ownership is that I have supposedly argued against creation as a valid starting point in ownership. From this, he argues that my own forwarded theory is invalid in that it is vulnerable to the same criticism. I agree with the part stating that without a valid creation point, neither theory can be valid. However, it is my opponent's justification and not my own which fails according to the creation criticism. My opponent believes that all one has to do is come to acquire something legitimately in order to own it. But as I previously showed, my opponent provides no legitimate starting point wherein someone may begin to legitimately own property. He simply asserts that land cannot be owned while simultaneously arguing that we can own the products of it without logical reasoning as to the relevant difference. Can we pull dirt out of the ground and own it but not own it while it is still attachde to the Earth? If so wherein lies the relevant distinction?


My opponent's next point lies in the idea of agreement. He argues that the starting point in ownership is agreement and derives the rest of his argument from there. I will argue that this assertion is patently false and my opponent never justified the point. He merely asserted it as a starting premise. However, this merely strawmanns land ownership theories. The point I asserted in my own conception of land ownership was the point of legitimate acquisition. To be legitimate is not to necessarily imply agreement with others as someone might envy my own land and thus not agree. But this would not invalidate my claim. The point of acquisition lies in the first use of the land, not agreement with others.


-Monetary System-


At this point my opponent moves on to another point, the monetary system. He argues that if the government is morally unjustified, then so is the monetary system which it puts in place. My opponent then claims that this means that one cannot claim entitlement to money. This is a flawed point though in that he fails to take into account the distinction between fiat money and wealth value. In performing a service one is payed for they are always paid in wealth value from some monetary system, whether it be a gold system or fiat varies. Under a government, it forces employers to pay according to their own fiat system and holds a monopoly on the monetary system. My opponent makes the flawed point here in thinking that (1) those opposed to government sovereignty want repayment in governmental monetary terms and (2) a monetary system is solely possible under a government. Both are incorrect given that historically market forces have created independent means of transferring wealth that adhere to certain characteristics i.e. elementary, durable, holding other industrial uses, etc. (with the dominant historical means being gold, silver, and copper).


Even in refuting my opponent's point on its face value, my opponent's point at its base lies in the flawed assumption that any system setup by the government is justified so long as one is within that system. Of course he makes the fatal flaw again of assuming the legitimate sovereignty of the government (and so its ability to make legitimate rules for a given area) in attempting to defend its legitimacy in the first place. How can my opponent argue for taxation as non-theft if the government's legitimacy is not only a premise in the argument itself (that we accept living under the dominion of government) but is a reason specifically used to defend that very premise (that we choose not to leave the dominion of government)? The point employs horribly circular logic.


===Justified Conditions===


In attempting to refute my point on justified conditions, my opponent brings up basic public goods theories. However, let me remind voters that this is the last round of the debate and thus my refutation of this point will not be able to be defended by my opponent. Seeing this though, I still cannot drop an argument, even if my opponent surfaced it in the last round.


My opponent argues that without taxation, things like defense would not be feasible. However, note that my argument is not against collectively funded services, but against coercively funded ones. Note that nothing within my argument precludes people from voluntarily funding things like defense or police in a communal like manner, so long as everything is voluntary (being against theft). My opponent's point here makes a flawed equivocation of coercion and collective action which he nowhere justifies and is an extreme mis-characterization of both types of acts. Non-government theft does not mean that people cannot voluntarily agree to live in communities wherein they communally fund services such as collective or personal defense. The thing that separates this from government funding is that a government arbitrarily extends its sovereignty whereas a communal organization is created from the bottom up by people who voluntarily pool their and only their own property and capital. Furthermore, he makes a category mistake in that we are not defending ownership based on utilitarian concerns, but on MORAL OWNERSHIP concerns.


===Social Contract===


I can certainly claim that a social contract does not exist while simultaneously maintaining moral ownership seeing as the acquisition theory I'm defending does necessarily rest on agreement, but merely on one acquiring a given property in a justified manner. This was the definition set out by my opponent in defining moral ownership. He merely implicitly assumed some connection between it and agreement as made evident by his total ignorance of any but contractual origination of property (which are actually characteristic of societal ownership that he defined, making a social contract in fact antithetical to moral ownership).


===Summary and Conclusion===


My opponent argues that one may come to legitimately own property by acquiring it in a justifiable manner, however denies the fact that there is no relevant distinction between owning land and owning its derivatives, a point he never responded to. My opponent also makes the flawed presupposition that land ownership could only be justified by agreement without taking into account the fact that I was defending moral ownership (acquisition theory) and not societal ownership (contractual theory). He merely assumed that I was defending agreement in justified acquisition without arguing as to why this must have been the case.


Furthermore, my opponent presupposes government legitimacy not only in his defense of taxation as non-theft, but even in his defense of government sovereignty itself. He argues that we give it legitimacy by not moving away. He actually mentions relocation multiple times. But obviously one would not call someone moving into your house and demanding your subordination legitimate sovereignty so long as you stay there. Furthermore, he continuously argues against land ownership while maintaining legitimate government claims to land sovereignty. Due to these contradictions and my own case showing that legitimate land derivatives ownership logically necessitates primary land ownership, I urge a Con vote.
Debate Round No. 4
57 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
First off, apologies to those who have received a dozen emails over out little exchange here.

"If anyone didn't want to be a part of the society then they wouldn't be a part of it. For instance, let's say a few thousand people decide to pool their property together to form such a society, no one who didn't want to be part of it would be a part of the society or beat any of the responsibility to pay for defense. Likewise, anyone part of the society joined voluntarily and thus would probably be good for their payments. If they're not then per their contractual arrangement they would have to leave."

Number of problems with this. If people believe others will foot the bill, they are unlikely to put as much money into something. So if people want to band together to create a defense network, it will not be as powerful or at least not as well funded if the entire society as a whole worked together and put in equally, rather than only those who wanted to fund a military.

Second issue, this means those that fall on bad times will be forced to leave when they can't pay their dues, whereas in my version of society, the centralization gives enough funds to cover people when they fall on bad times, and no one is forced to leave due to back luck. Even if, in your system, the people WANTED to implement such a system, their smaller size would make it difficult, and again you'd into issues where some individuals will not want to fund such a project.

"I was attempting to figure out the standard by which you define when an action is right or wrong."

THAT, will take a while. My fault, not yours.

"You're arguing decentralized societies are inherently unstable."

No, I'm arguing in the current situation they are. If all that exists is warring tribes, then no centralized power is necessary. If someone creates a centralized power in order to take over other areas, then those areas will need to band together. You are the one arguing centralized is always bad, best I can
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
"Okay then, let's take a random area. Colorado. So how would the area of Colorado function under your system? What would happen to the, let's arbitrarily say 30%, who would not want to contribute to this society and did not wish to put into the public defense?"

If anyone didn't want to be a part of the society then they wouldn't be a part of it. For instance, let's say a few thousand people decide to pool their property together to form such a society, no one who didn't want to be part of it would be a part of the society or beat any of the responsibility to pay for defense. Likewise, anyone part of the society joined voluntarily and thus would probably be good for their payments. If they're not then per their contractual arrangement they would have to leave.

"Instead of determining whether a past action is right or wrong, it looks at what future actions would be right or wrong and prescribes you to follow the right action based upon the likely consequence. For example, if a person commits a crime, but is in the process rendered incapable of committing that crime again (for whatever reason), then no punishment is necessary, as punishment is only used to manipulate future action, not in the name of justice, which is so often merely a synonym for vengeance."

I was attempting to figure out the standard by which you define when an action is right or wrong.

"Of course not, when is anything always categorically necessary? It works both ways though, one can't generalize that centralization of power is always categorically unnecessary."

That's not the point. You're arguing decentralized societies are inherently unstable. THAT is a category error since you just admitted they're not always so. Like everything else concerning geo-politics it varies according to the model.
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
"So then you agree that one can't generalize that centralization of power is always categorically necessary then?"

Of course not, when is anything always categorically necessary? It works both ways though, one can't generalize that centralization of power is always categorically unnecessary.
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
"I'm defending the voluntary formation of a society/community wherein people AGREE to join and pay for things like defense or what have you. It basically functions like a State with three exceptions. (1) People enter voluntarily instead of having sovereignty proclaimed over their property, (2) The internal hierarchy is less centralized i.e. much more personal freedom, and (3) it would be of a smaller nature, not the size of a nation-state."

Okay then, let's take a random area. Colorado. So how would the area of Colorado function under your system? What would happen to the, let's arbitrarily say 30%, who would not want to contribute to this society and did not wish to put into the public defense?

"Basically you would just argue that the premises behind consequentialism i.e. that the end result of an action determines whether it is right or wrong is correct."

That's a very basic description, and a common one, but devoid of much of the nuance behind the theory, or at least my take on it. It only looks one level deep, at the action-reaction, but never the consequences down the line, and hence the major problem with it. Instead of determining whether a past action is right or wrong, it looks at what future actions would be right or wrong and prescribes you to follow the right action based upon the likely consequence. For example, if a person commits a crime, but is in the process rendered incapable of committing that crime again (for whatever reason), then no punishment is necessary, as punishment is only used to manipulate future action, not in the name of justice, which is so often merely a synonym for vengeance.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
"To bring this full circle, if only those who wanted to specifically invest in defense put into it, and then only towards their own protection or the protection of their immediate subjective area, they will be far more vulnerable than if you have an entire large area all putting in towards mutual defense. Hence, taxation."

That's not what I'm defending. I'm defending the voluntary formation of a society/community wherein people AGREE to join and pay for things like defense or what have you. It basically functions like a State with three exceptions. (1) People enter voluntarily instead of having sovereignty proclaimed over their property, (2) The internal hierarchy is less centralized i.e. much more personal freedom, and (3) it would be of a smaller nature, not the size of a nation-state.

"I agree fully, I left a comment right after my post saying exactly that, to quote it: "P.S. If debating ethics "good\ beneficial" will have to be RIGOROUSLY defined before actual arguments begin. I don't want to turn this into a debate on subjectivity or semantics."

Basically you would just argue that the premises behind consequentialism i.e. that the end result of an action determines whether it is right or wrong is correct.

"A good, if not excellent question. It depends upon the current power scale. If all that existed was the United States, then it MAY be beneficial to break up the powers so as to prevent the government from taking over everything. However, if there is a power equal to that of the entire United States combined (or closely related to said power level) then breaking up would be detrimental as it would tip the power balance against what was formerly the US."

So then you agree that one can't generalize that centralization of power is always categorically necessary then?
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
"Not really. You're referring to outward hierarchies as in relationships between societies and other societies, irrespective of their internal organization which is what I refer to when I say decentralized."

Not sure what this actually means. To bring this full circle, if only those who wanted to specifically invest in defense put into it, and then only towards their own protection or the protection of their immediate subjective area, they will be far more vulnerable than if you have an entire large area all putting in towards mutual defense. Hence, taxation.

"Beneficial needs to be defined within the scope of a value though does it not?"

I agree fully, I left a comment right after my post saying exactly that, to quote it: "P.S. If debating ethics "good\ beneficial" will have to be RIGOROUSLY defined before actual arguments begin. I don't want to turn this into a debate on subjectivity or semantics."

"Should every country in Asia create a centralized alliance (essentially becoming one country) because the U.S. invaded two of them?"

A good, if not excellent question. It depends upon the current power scale. If all that existed was the United States, then it MAY be beneficial to break up the powers so as to prevent the government from taking over everything. However, if there is a power equal to that of the entire United States combined (or closely related to said power level) then breaking up would be detrimental as it would tip the power balance against what was formerly the US.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
"An alliance is merely a centralization of centralized powers. If it is not, is still more powerful than a decentralized. If the Allied powers were united but decentralized, we'd probably be speaking\typing German."

Not really. You're referring to outward hierarchies as in relationships between societies and other societies, irrespective of their internal organization which is what I refer to when I say decentralized.

Eh, I don't like the word "truth" in this case. I'd prefer "Consequentialism is the most beneficial ethical theory" (and\or consistent).

Beneficial needs to be defined within the scope of a value though does it not? For instance, the Nazies could consistently say Nazism was beneficial vis a vis it's goals. You'd have to defend the existence of a good and also that it's conveyed by consequentialism.

"Hence my Hitler example. If you tell 19 of the 20 countries that you won't attack them, you just want that 20th country, you can take them over easily. The other 19 will likely back down because each will be thinking for themselves. Then the agressor will tell 18 of the remaining 19 countries that they are not going to attack them, they just want the 19th country. Then they just want the 17th country, and then the 16th, and eventually the remaining countries will be weak enough to take on all at once, or at least, by the time they band together, realizing the aggressor won't stop until it takes over everything, they won't be powerful enough to stop said aggressor . . or at the very least, they will pay a heavy price."

So can't your logic be applied in response to any invasion of a country? Should every country in Asia create a centralized alliance (essentially becoming one country) because the U.S. invaded two of them? The point is your theory equally proves that the entire world needs one institutionalized and centralized police force, basically a world government. Where's the difference in logic?
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
P.S. If debating ethics "good\ beneficial" will have to be RIGOROUSLY defined before actual arguments begin. I don't want to turn this into a debate on subjectivity or semantics.
Posted by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
"What you're defending is alliance, not unitary government. What I'm defending doesn't preclude allying with others in times of emergency or crisis."

An alliance is merely a centralization of centralized powers. If it is not, is still more powerful than a decentralized. If the Allied powers were united but decentralized, we'd probably be speaking\typing German.

""Consequentialism is a true ethical theory""

Eh, I don't like the word "truth" in this case. I'd prefer "Consequentialism is the most beneficial ethical theory" (and\or consistent).

I could spring it on you mid-debate, but in the interest of fairness I should let you know that within my consequentalist ethics, I incorporate a bit of virtue ethics. All that I will say for now is that virtue has consequence.

"If you wanted to take over a whole continent, you would have to face like ten or twenty individual armies on several different fronts."

Hence my Hitler example. If you tell 19 of the 20 countries that you won't attack them, you just want that 20th country, you can take them over easily. The other 19 will likely back down because each will be thinking for themselves. Then the agressor will tell 18 of the remaining 19 countries that they are not going to attack them, they just want the 19th country. Then they just want the 17th country, and then the 16th, and eventually the remaining countries will be weak enough to take on all at once, or at least, by the time they band together, realizing the aggressor won't stop until it takes over everything, they won't be powerful enough to stop said aggressor . . or at the very least, they will pay a heavy price.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
"I think you meant "defense" in the end there. If that's the case, while it is true that it doesn't preclude such a situation, decentralization does not encourage such a thing, but rather discourages it. Hence my example from Hitler. Are you really saying that if the U.S., France, Britain, and Russia, had been decentralized they would have been equally or more effective at stopping Hitler? It is a simple fact that organized central structures are more effective than decentralized structures. Does this make it legitimate? By itself, no. It does, however, show your system to be untenable, for it will never be given the chance to work."

What you're defending is alliance, not unitary government. What I'm defending doesn't preclude allying with others in times of emergency or crisis.

"OH BOY DO I! It's my second favorite thing to debate, with Free Will being my first favorite. Now you have me excited."

Note that I'm a nihilist though. So perhaps, "Consequentialism is a true ethical theory"?

"So let's say you have areas A and B. Each area is broken into 32 districts. What would happen if, over the course of 100 years, if A centralized and B did not? B would have to endure fighting among the 32 districts, while A would be able to work together to create a large army that could roll over a weakend B with little to no re "

You're unfortunately still equating internal structural hierarchies with military power. Imagine North America. There's no unifying power. Does that mean it's easy to conquer? No. That's because the individual armies of most of the countries within it are generally able to defend themselves. What about Europe? Same thing. Asia? Same thing. If you wanted to take over a whole continent, you would have to face like ten or twenty individual armies on several different fronts.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by mcc1789 4 years ago
mcc1789
Double_RsocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Despite a more nuanced attempt that most from Pro to establish that taxes are not necessarily theft, I feel it ultimately failed to overcome Con's arguments.
Vote Placed by HonestDiscussioner 4 years ago
HonestDiscussioner
Double_RsocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: On the point that Con made about social contracts not really existing, Pro argued that if that is the case, then neither does moral ownership. Con did not refute this, only he continued to insist the social contract does not exist. On this point alone, Pro wins.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 4 years ago
CiRrK
Double_RsocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
Double_RsocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: A very good debate! The argument I found persuasive is that acceptance of the benefits of an organized society constitutes acceptance of a contract that entails taxation. I think that leaves room for some taxes being theft, but that's another subject.