The Instigator
Arnar
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
spankythang503
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points

Taxation is theft

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
spankythang503
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/19/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,676 times Debate No: 39176
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (1)

 

Arnar

Pro

The enforced collection of taxes by a state is legalized theft. Con will attempt to argue that this is not the case. First round is for acceptance only. No new arguments can be presented in the last round.

Definition of theft:

Intentionally taking a persons property without their consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.

Good luck con!
spankythang503

Con

Definition of consent:
compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another(1)

(1) http://i.word.com...

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Arnar

Pro

I accept con‘s definition of consent and present my fairly simple syllogistic main argument as follows.

P1. Taxes are compulsory (i.e. the governed are forced to pay taxes and are not given the chance to consent. This is backed up with threats of physical force).

P2. Forcing someone to hand over their property without their consent is theft (Definition of theft given in opening statement).

C. Taxation is theft.

Anticipated rebuttal

Social contract

A common counterargument to the resolution is to attempt to demonstrate a supposed social contract. Con may try to argue that taxation is justified by this implicit social contract agreed to by the governed, thus refuting premise 1. There are several problems with the social contract theory:

1) The governed are not offered any contract. The state does not approach prospective citizens with a contract discussing
the pros and cons and persuading them to accept it.

2) The governed have no say in the matter. Since the social contract is implicit, people are simply forced to accept it by virtue of being born in a certain culture or area. A contract where one party coerces the other to accept it, is an invalid contract.

I look forward to reading con‘s arguments and rebuttals.
spankythang503

Con

The social contract argument does refute your first premise for several reasons.

1) In response to the pro's assertion that the social contract is not explicitly offered, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that contracts which are not explicitly put in writing can exist and hold as much weight as express written contracts(1)(2).

2) The governed give consent through their use of public resources. The implied contracts mentioned in my first point have been defined as ones in which "a party tacitly accepts a benefit at a time when it is possible to reject it"(3). Compulsory"and tax payer funded"education ensures that the governed have tacit understanding of the tax system before they are expected to pay for it.

3) One is not forced to accept this contract; they are permitted to leave the land that their government has charted, defended, and paved for its citizens. If I am born in a rented house and my parents stop paying for me, I cannot continue living in that house and claim that the rental agreement is void due to coercion.

Thank you

(1)http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2)http://supreme.justia.com...
(3)http://definitions.uslegal.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Arnar

Pro

1) Con is mistaken in assuming that the problem lies in the fact that the contract is not a formal one in writing. The problem is that it is not offered to citizens at all. People are not asked to consent to anything. They are told that they „implicitly consent“ to something simply by being born in a specific region and that this somehow overrides their actual words of explicit dissent.

2) People use public resources because they‘re the ones paying for them and because in many cases they have to use them (roads for example). The fact that citizens use services provided by the state does not imply consent to be expropriated any more than a kidnapping victim accepting a meal from her kidnapper implies a consent to being kidnapped.

People being educated about how the tax system works is irrelevant to whether taxation can be considered theft. I assume that con‘s intention here is to further demonstrate consent, but knowing how the system works does not imply consent any more than knowing what assault is implies a consent to being assaulted.

3) Con‘s argument that if people don‘t like being expropriated they can just leaves amounts to little more than blaming the victim that no one would consider legitimate in any other scenario. For example, telling someone that if they don‘t like being forced into sexual slavery by the state they should just move somewhere where it isn‘t practiced is an absurd rationalization. The blame is clearly on the one practicing slavery and not on the one forced into it.
spankythang503

Con

1)Pro says that the implied social contract "is not offered to citizens at all" and that people consent "simply by being born in a specific region". Let me reiterate what I said before: the government offers the contract when they offer public resources and the governed accept through their use of said resources. Use of these resources would override "actual words of explicit dissent".

2)These public resources are not necessary to survive, like the kidnapper's meal is, nor is the tax payer held against their will inside the country. I earlier defined an implied contract as one in which one party knowledgeably accepts a benefit when it is possible to reject it. Pro seems to dispute that it is possible to reject public resources, but that is incorrect; it is very much possible to live your life without using resources from a particular government.

Education is completely relevant in terms of where consent can be established. Pro has taken my point regarding education out of context and their example of assault fails because the victim only knows about assault. Again, my earlier definition of implied consent required not only knowledge, but knowledgeable acceptance of a benefit. An assault victim does not tacitly accept a benefit, therefore there is not implied consent.

3)Pro's third point appears to solidify previous implications (e.g., comparisons to kidnapping, assault, sexual slavery) that taxes are not only theft, but morally reprehensible. The reason that the "victim blaming" the pro attributes to the tax system would not be considered legitimate in any other scenario is that tax payers do not consider themselves victims. There has never been a time in history where the majority Americans thought they were paying an unfair amount income taxes(1). Regardless, supposed "victim blaming" and morality as a whole are irrelevant in the context of this debate, which is why I have done my best to avoid those topics.

(1)http://content.gallup.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Arnar

Pro

1)Pro says that the implied social contract "is not offered to citizens at all" and that people consent "simply by being born in a specific region". Let me reiterate what I said before: the government offers the contract when they offer public resources and the governed accept through their use of said resources. Use of these resources would override "actual words of explicit dissent".

Let us use yet another analogy to consider whether implicit consent based on accepting services overrides explicit dissent:

A man and a woman are in a bar. The man offers the woman a drink (a non-essential service) which she accepts (implicit consent established). If the man now attempts to have sex with the woman despite her explicit words of dissent, would he be justified in light of the implicit contract between them and would it be consentual? Lets assume that in this scenario the woman knew that the man would attempt this and had the chance to leave, but chose not to for some reason.

Another interesting point to make is what exactly does the contract allow the state to do? Any action the state would take, no matter how atrocious, would presumably be consentual on part of the governed, and therefor justified, given that they accept services provided and are capable of leaving the country.

„2)These public resources are not necessary to survive, like the kidnapper's meal is, nor is the tax payer held against their will inside the country. I earlier defined an implied contract as one in which one party knowledgeably accepts a benefit when it is possible to reject it. Pro seems to dispute that it is possible to reject public resources, but that is incorrect; it is very much possible to live your life without using resources from a particular government.“

The fact that the meal is necessary to survive was not the point of the analogy. The point was that one does not consent to something just by accepting services provided. You could of course simply change the analogy a bit and replace“meal“ with any non-essential thing. Access to the victims favorite book for example. Would accepting the book, a clearly non-essential service, constitute consent on the victims part to being kidnapped? This would of course mean that no kidnapping had taken place and the „victim“ is a willing participant.

It was never said that it‘s impossible to reject public resources. It is indeed possible, but comes at the cost of a significantly lower standard of living. Not being able to use roads would make one's life quite difficult.

Regarding con‘s point that the victim is not able to leave, while the taxpayer is: The point of the analogy is that the victim is forced to do something in the same way that the taxpayer is forced to do something, regardless of their explicit dissent.

„Education is completely relevant in terms of where consent can be established. Pro has taken my point regarding education out of context and their example of assault fails because the victim only knows about assault. Again, my earlier definition of implied consent required not only knowledge, but knowledgeable acceptance of a benefit. An assault victim does not tacitly accept a benefit, therefore there is not implied consent.“

I fail to see how the point was taken out of context. Regardless, now that all the conditions for what constitutes this implied contract have been made clear, a more apt analogy can be constructed as can be seen in the first point.

„3)Pro's third point appears to solidify previous implications (e.g., comparisons to kidnapping, assault, sexual slavery) that taxes are not only theft, but morally reprehensible. The reason that the "victim blaming" the pro attributes to the tax system would not be considered legitimate in any other scenario is that tax payers do not consider themselves victims. There has never been a time in history where the majority Americans thought they were paying an unfair amount income taxes(1). Regardless, supposed "victim blaming" and morality as a whole are irrelevant in the context of this debate, which is why I have done my best to avoid those topics.“

The point of the analogies was not that taxation is morally reprehensible, although that could certainly be discussed in another debate, but rather that it is non-consentual in the same way that assault, kidnapping, etc. are.

Tax payers do not consider themselves victims because they have never experienced not being a tax payer. People are much more likely to be content with the status quo when they have never experienced an alternative. This does not demonstrate consent but rather shows the social conditioning that people have gone through. Of course, if it is the case that taxation is theft, then any amount of taxation is unjust regardless of what percentage of Americans thinks otherwise.

Premise 1 of the syllogism presented in round 2 has, in my opinion, been succesfully defended. It should therefor be concluded that taxation is indeed theft and so the resolution has been affirmed. I leave it to the voters to reflect on these points and thank con for an interesting debate.


spankythang503

Con

spankythang503 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by jwcmcorbin 3 years ago
jwcmcorbin
One more thing, although the con makes a good point in that people can live a life without the use of public resources, it hurts the purpose that people need public resources which are provided by the govt, and therefore can be taxed on there usage.
Posted by jwcmcorbin 3 years ago
jwcmcorbin
Although I agree with the con for the debate. The true winner to me was Pro, they gave there own argument while con didnt really argue it. The Pro seemed at bit harsh but other then that I would have given this to the Pro.
Posted by Arnar 3 years ago
Arnar
It is strange to lose a debate where the opponent forfeits the last round, leaving all your arguments standing.
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
"offers the contract when they offer public resources and the governed accept through their use of said resources"

Yet you cited public education as a use of public resources, and by law even if you never use the public education system you are obligated to pay taxes that pay for that system. So on and so forth for every other government service.

What of property taxes? What government resources can you refuse to avoid that?

Your use of public services is not the basis of taxes, otherwise it would be fees and you would not be charged unless you used those services. Like power, water, and road tolls.

Your position requires that somehow you say they use those resources by simply interacting in society. Once again relying on the premise that the government owns society instead of finite repayable services that may be refused.

"that taxes are not only theft, but morally reprehensible"
Theft is morally reprehensible which is why people don't like to think of taxation as theft despite it meeting the definition of theft.

Pro has already given a definition for theft, you are the one who must prove that every single person who pays taxes has consented to what they are paying either explicitly or by implicit use.

You said that even staying in the country of your birth is implied consent. i.e. the only way to avoid consenting to taxes is to leave.

An implied contract can only be formed if you do something which would require the consent of another to do, but you don't ask because it's supposed to be obvious. You go into your parents" house. You get on a bus. i.e. you use someone's property. So you are implying that living in a country requires the consent of the government of that country, that the government owns the country. That is of course a moral issue, so your whole position has been intertwined with morality the moment you brought up the concept of implied contracts.
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
"1. Where does this 'natural right' come from? What causes it to exist?"
The values of individuals

"2. What good does it do?"
Rights don't cause good, they are implied by choosing and pursuing good. Anything at all that you think is good, that you try to uphold or establish or create, you are choosing it for yourself. You cannot then logically deny that you should be allowed to do that. To believe in the good of anything you must believe in your right to choose and pursue that good.
Posted by LaszloZapacik 3 years ago
LaszloZapacik
"When I say right I mean RIGHT. Natural right that is the birth-right of every human regardless of time or culture.

I mean a right that existed before the first city states and will exist after the zombie apocalypse."

1. Where does this 'natural right' come from? What causes it to exist?
2. What good does it do?
Posted by Arnar 3 years ago
Arnar
"@Arnar, your round three offering is particularly impressive. I have made similar arguments before but never with such economy of language."

Thank you, ADreamOfLiberty. Although, it does admittedly take me quite a while to turn my ideas and thoughts into anything other people would call coherent.
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
@Arnar, your round three offering is particularly impressive. I have made similar arguments before but never with such economy of language.

I want to remind other readers that the key point here is whether or not people are giving implied consent by being born in a nation and not being able or willing to leave.

When slavery was legal in the united states you could apply the same argument to people born into slavery. Yes they were caught and returned if they attempted to escape, however; would it have been moral to offer them a choice between mass exodus and being kept as servants? (under CONs premise they were servants not slaves since choosing not to leave the master's house would be implicit consent).
Posted by ADreamOfLiberty 3 years ago
ADreamOfLiberty
"Not so much a social convention as a legal concept. Call that a right if you want, it's all the same."
No it isn't. When I say right I mean RIGHT. Natural right that is the birth-right of every human regardless of time or culture.

I mean a right that existed before the first city states and will exist after the zombie apocalypse.

If property is only yours because the law makers say you are allowed to keep it, and the only reason the law makers are law makers is because they have the guns, then the only reason property is yours is by the favor of the people with the guns.

The difference between what you call a thief and a social contract is merely military-political power.

If that is anyone's idea of rights I can understand why they think the concept extraneous.
Posted by LaszloZapacik 3 years ago
LaszloZapacik
"This obviously rests on the notion that property is a matter of social convention, I do not believe that I think it's a right."

Not so much a social convention as a legal concept. Call that a right if you want, it's all the same.

In short, if there was no taxation, state, law, etc then there wouldn't be any property in the first place.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by AndrewB686 3 years ago
AndrewB686
Arnarspankythang503Tied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited last round, so Pro gets conduct. Spelling and grammar were equal, so its a tie. Pro never used resources, Con did, so resources go to Con. Arguments were decent on the part of both, so arguments are a tie as well.