The Instigator
Dorsatum
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
JDB6829
Con (against)
Losing
0 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...
Dorsatum
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/4/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 358 times Debate No: 105510
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)

 

Dorsatum

Pro

My position is that taxation is a cohesive and morally irredeemable practice, regardless of whether taxation has a positive or negative impact on society. I believe that even if we decide taxation is "worth it" its inherent immorally is important to note.
JDB6829

Con

Do you enjoy public education? Do you enjoy emergency services? Roads you drive on? Military? Answering yes to any of these questions simply contradicts your argument. Where does the government get the money to provide these things to you? Taxes. Where is the theft and immorality you speak of when the government provides you with services such as these?
Debate Round No. 1
Dorsatum

Pro

I do very much enjoy things such as roads and emergency services. And of course, the people who are building those roads and rendering those services must be compensated. In the same way, the people growing our food and building our homes must be compensated. Why such violent tactics are seen as necessary to fund some essential services, but not others, is beyond me.

"Where does the government get the money to provide these things to you? "

The argument is NOT that the government needs to provide these things without collecting money. The argument is that we should recognise that the use of violence, or the threat of violence, to fund these essential services is immoral. Then we can have the discussion as to whether it is justifiable or necessary.

"Where is the theft and immorality you speak of when the government provides you with services such as these?"

Your argument here seems to be that "If the government is giving you things you need/want in exchange for your tax dollars then it is not theft"

So let us define theft as "taking of the property or services of another without consent"

Taxation is performed by force, you must pay taxes whether you agree with them or not. If you refuse the government will use violence to force you to pay. It is this distinction that makes taxation theft. Outside of the defence of one's own rights, or the defence of the rights of others, the use of violence must always be always immoral.

If I were to break into your home and force you to pay me $1000 but then used $300 to fix your door and $400 to repaint your garage does that mean that the stealing of your money is now justified? Of course not as you did not consent to the exchange. You would rightfully demand I return the stolen money.

You might then claim that the government has some standing that gives it the power to make the immoral moral. As dangerous an idea as it is wrong.
JDB6829

Con

I'm glad that we both can agree on the importance of taxes in paying for certain services the government provides to citizens like you and I.

Right off the bat I want to begin by saying paying taxes is simply a law, just like any other. As a citizen, you are required to pay taxes and obey laws in exchange for the governments protection as well as various services we have discussed. That should be logical.

You say the argument is to "recognize the use of violence, or the threat of violence, to fund these essential services is immoral", which I disagree with.

Violence - behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

The use of violence to enforce the law (depending on the circumstances obviously) is simply illegal. Just like any other law, the government has the right to enforce their laws accordingly, but they must do it constitutionally. To further your view I would like to ask you to provide an example of this "violence" or "threat of violence" there is when you break the law and illegally evade taxes.

You define theft as "taking of the property or services of another without consent". The consent to you paying taxes is being a citizen of the country in which you live. It is your duty as a citizen to pay taxes.

"Taxation is performed by force, you must pay taxes whether you agree with them or not. If you refuse the government will use violence to force you to pay."

First of all, where is this violence? You make it sound as the the government is quick to physically assault you in the event you commit tax evasion. Using violence to enforce tax laws is simply unconstitutional. Of course the government is going to enforce their laws, but they will not do it unconstitutionally. Let me ask you, if the government didn't force you to pay taxes, would you? Would millions of other citizens willingly pay taxes without the government "forcing" them to?

I will definitely agree that "the use of violence must always be always immoral", but I need you to give an example of violence being used to enforce laws regarding taxation. To say that it's happening without any evidence does not solve any problems. Give me some examples and we can discuss them together.

Now onto your example of me forcing you to pay me $1000. First of all, I will agree with you that is theft, but I'm not the government for which you are a citizen. Using that example is simply a false equivalent.

You added that I "might then claim that the government has some standing that gives it the power to make the immoral moral", which ridiculous. The government has the right to make laws in which its citizens agree to follow and enforce them.
Debate Round No. 2
Dorsatum

Pro

We do not agree on the importance of taxes, I do recognize that they MAY be unavoidable, however, that is a topic for another debate. We do agree on the importance of the services taxes currently fund, tho I do not agree that taxes must be the only way to fund those services.

You say that "The use of violence to enforce the law (depending on the circumstances obviously) is simply illegal. " but also state that the government "..has the right to enforce their laws accordingly,.."

Yet these are mutually exclusive. The government must ultimately rely on violence to enforce all of its laws. It may give you every opportunity to comply before actually using any force, but that doesn't change the fact that the threat is present.

If I don't pay taxes I'll get a letter, if I ignore that letter I'll get a visit from an auditor. If I don't let him onto my property the government will go to the bank to take it's money directly. If I beat them to it and keep my money in a safe on my property they will eventually send police to seize the property and/or arrest me. If I resist the arrest or attempt to defend my property, the police will use violence to take me into custody and seize the "taxes" by force. If I resist hard enough (using the same force used against me) it could well end with me shot and killed. I am not familiar with American tax law but I am sure that it must play out similarly.

The simple truth of it is if laws did not include the threat of violence, however far down the chain of escalating consequence, no one would follow them. Or at least far fewer people would.

"You define theft as ""taking of the property or services of another without consent"". The consent to you paying taxes is being a citizen of the country in which you live. It is your duty as a citizen to pay taxes."

And yet being a citizen is not voluntary, I was born in this land and feel tied to it but never consented or agreed to be part of the organization of Canada. I wish Canada no harm but if I wish to be left alone to "do my own thing" Canada will not allow it. If I try to do so without permission Canada will eventually send men with guns.

"It is your duty as a citizen to pay taxes."

And what does this mean? I believe I have a duty to help my fellow humans, but how and when I choose to do that is the jurisdiction of no one but myself. And so each person must decide what they feel they have a duty toward. I do not have a duty to do anything just because a group of other people in a fancy room somewhere said so. Elected or otherwise.

"I will definitely agree that "the use of violence must always be always immoral", but I need you to give an example of violence being used to enforce laws regarding taxation. To say that it's happening without any evidence does not solve any problems. Give me some examples and we can discuss them together."

I hope my explanation above explains my view on this. Eventually, all laws end at the point of a gun, they must if they are to have any real power. Without the use of force, the government would have no recourse when people disobey their laws.

For my example of the $1000 robbery it to be a false equivalent, there must be some difference between the government and the average human or citizen. Something so significant and fundamental that the immoral can become moral. What gives the government this power? Did the government of Nazi Germany or Mao's China have this same moral exemption? How far can a government go for "The greater good". Is anything any government does "moral" by default, so long as they pass a law saying it is ok before they do it? Are some governments exempt from morality and others not? Or are they all exempt so long as they call themselves a government?

"You added that I ""might then claim that the government has some standing that gives it the power to make the immoral moral"", which ridiculous. The government has the right to make laws in which its citizens agree to follow and enforce them."

You used here the wording "agree to" this implies consent which is the most important principle here. But your agreeing or disagreeing with a law is irrelevant. You must follow the law whether you agree or disagree with it. If you don't your choice is to accept the consequences or continue to disobey until the government uses force.

I am sure you would not argue that "Because X thing is legal X thing is moral" Most all of the worst atrocities in history where entirely "Legal". Legality describes what a government has said is allowed or not allowed, it does not equate to morality.

The idea that a government is held to a different standard of morality is an incredibly dangerous idea. I might go so far as to say the most dangerous idea ever conceived. Governments have certainly killed far more humans than other force. But they are a tool like any other. A tool I suggest we hold to the same moral standards we hold ourselves to.
JDB6829

Con

I'll begin my argument by stating the fact that I'm an American citizen.

In you're opening paragraph, you state that you "do not agree that taxes must be the only way to fund those services." You're simply shifting the argument to now say that taxes shouldn't be the only thing the government should use to pay for various services they provide. So now you're ok with taxes being collected to pay for certain things but they shouldn't be the only way to pay for it? I'm glad that you do realize taxes are, for the most part, unavoidable. Benjamin Franklin also noted that "Nothing is certain except death and taxes". Since you say taxes shouldn't be the only way of paying for government programs and services, please give an effective alternative that governments all over the globe have missed for hundreds of years.

"The government must ultimately rely on violence to enforce all of its laws. It may give you every opportunity to comply before actually using any force, but that doesn't change the fact that the threat is present. The simple truth of it is if laws did not include the threat of violence, however far down the chain of escalating consequence, no one would follow them. Or at least far fewer people would. All laws end at the point of a gun, they must if they are to have any real power."

You're exactly correct. Every law is enforced or simply no one would follow them, and I completely agree with you. You say you're against the use of violence when enforcing laws, but what else is there to do if a citizen of the government is willfully breaking the laws? What do you do? They obviously have proved they won"t comply with written law, so why would they comply with anything else you try to get them to do?

"Without the use of force, the government would have no recourse when people disobey their laws."

That statement literally just contradicted your whole argument and proved my point. When someone commits tax evasion, which is what the argument has shifted to, the only way the government can end up getting the money you OWE them (by living in their country under their protection) is to somehow make you give it to them. You are probably going to argue that such action is immoral, which in some cases is, but a person who has gotten to that point has violated a law which they are required to follow in the country in which they live. They simply are not complying with law. Instead of complaining about what the government does when you violate their laws, why don"t you follow the laws? No harm no foul.

As a citizen of a country, you are required to obey laws and pay taxes whether you want to or not, that's just simple government, and it"s been that way for thousands of years. Yes, it is your duty as a citizen to pay taxes. Being a citizen is completely voluntary. Do you think the government should just give you citizenship on free terms? You agree to follow the laws and" here it comes" pay taxes. In return for your loyalty and obedience to the government, they give you citizenship, which has many benefits.

I'm assuming you're an ordinary, law abiding citizen. Why is the fact that it is law that you, and millions of other citizens, are required to pay the government taxes in exchange for protection, programs, and services that benefit you as a citizen such a problem? Taxation is simply not theft. It is obvious you don't live anywhere for free, so why do you think the government should let you live free in their country? I don't see the issue or the immorality.

"Did the government of Nazi Germany or Mao's China have this same moral exemption? How far can a government go for "The greater good". Is anything any government does "moral" by default, so long as they pass a law saying it is ok before they do it? Are some governments exempt from morality and others not? Or are they all exempt so long as they call themselves a government?"

That"s ridiculous. No one is arguing that government is exempt from morality. Why are you comparing death, famine, and genocide to the collection of taxes? It is in no way immoral for a government to require a citizen to pay them so they can live in their country.

Since we"re comparing situations, is rent theft? I"m sure you wouldn"t argue that a landlord requiring you to pay rent is theft, would you? Of course you wouldn"t, you live under the conditions which they set, and you pay them rent in exchange for their property in which you live. Taxation is, in a way, the government"s way of requiring you to pay rent. You live in their country under their conditions (laws) and pay them so you can live "under their wing". Where is the immorality?

My conclusion to this section is that taxation is simply not theft, you as a citizen pay taxes and follow laws in exchange for the governments protection, programs, and services that benefit all citizens. You even stated that "Without the use of force, the government would have no recourse when people disobey their laws", which is true, but it is in no way immoral for the government to use force when you are proving to not comply and fulfil your duties as a citizen.
Debate Round No. 3
Dorsatum

Pro

My opening paragraph was a response to your assertion that we agree on the importance of taxes. I do not agree, I acknowledge that they MAY be unavoidable. I then clearly stated that this is off topic as we are discussing the morality of taxes, not the logistics of avoiding them. An interesting topic for another debate. I will not be providing alternatives to taxes in this debate as that is off the topic. If you would like to have a separate discussion on alternatives to taxation I would be more than happy to at some other time.

We seem to agree that the government must ultimately have violence at their disposal if they are to enforce the laws they write. However this in no way contradicts my argument. The fact that violence is necessary does not make the use of that force moral. Morality is not derived from necessity. If I am fixing my roof and need more lumber, which I can't afford to purchase, my need does not make stealing the lumbar moral. Similarly, the government's need for violent tactics to enforce taxation does not make that violence (or threat of violence) moral. I am sure you would not argue that any action that is "necessary" is by default moral.

"You are probably going to argue that such action is immoral, which in some cases is, but a person who has gotten to that point has violated a law which they are required to follow in the country in which they live. They simply are not complying with law. Instead of complaining about what the government does when you violate their laws, why don"t you follow the laws? No harm no foul."

Well, I see you agree that the government's use of violence is sometimes immoral. A person may be required by law to pay taxes, but that is a legal requirement, not a moral requirement. We have already been over the incredibly important difference between something legal and something moral. One describes the rules set out by a governing body, the other describes what is right and wrong. You said yourself that sometimes the government's use of force and violence is immoral. Does it not follow that what is lawful is not necessarily moral?

Yes, as a citizen of a country you are legally obligated to follow the laws and pay taxes. But again, that is not a moral obligation, it is a legal one. The fact that it has been that way for thousands of years equally has no bearing on its morality. To say so would be an appeal to tradition (argumentum ad antiquitatem) a logical fallacy. Would you say that killing is moral? We, humans, have been killing even longer than we have been taxing each other, a great deal of that killing has been well within the bounds of the law, is it moral to kill so long as the killing is sanctioned by a government?

Whether taxes are a problem or not, is not the topic of discussion. What is being discussed is the morality of taxes, regardless of whether they are necessary or not.

Why does this land belong to Canada? Did it not belong to a great many native Americans long before Canada ever existed? Is it not only through the monopolization of force that Canada retains control over this geography? Certainly is was the use of force that obtained the land now called Canada from the native Americans who were here long before. There is no moral claim that any human can make on any piece of land. It was here long before us and will be here long after. The land does not below to anyone, nation or individual.

"No one is arguing that government is exempt from morality"

Now you say the government is not exempt from morality. Earlier you said that me forcing you to pay me $1000.00 would be immoral but stated my example was a false equivalent; because I am not a government. We agreed that it is immoral for me to take money from you by force, even if I use that money, in part, to improve your life. Now you say that a government is not exempt from the moral standards of you or I. Which is it? Why is it immoral for an individual to take money by force (regardless of use) and yet moral for a government to do that same thing.

Rent is an interesting issue, and many people would certainly claim that rent is theft. I am not among them, as a building had some cost to its construction, and may, therefore, be rightly claimed as property. Unlike land, the house was built and the builder or the person who paid them now owns it. But what gives the government its claim on the landmass on which we live. It would seem to be nothing more than force. We already discussed how it was certainly force that obtained the land in the first place. Further, when you agree to rent a house which someone built, the agreement is voluntary and consensual. The basis of any moral interaction. Governments claim on an entire landmass, where people have lived far longer than said government has existed, is an entirely different story.

We have seen how morality is not tied to the law, and it is clearly not tied to need. Both the law and need are strong drivers of human actions, but they have no bearing on whether an action is moral.

We agreed that it is immoral for an individual to take money or property by force, regardless of whether that money is used to improve the life of the person from whom it was taken. You stated that governments are not exempt from morality. We still have no reason that an immoral action, when undertaken by an individual, should be moral when undertaken by a government.

Perhaps you might claim that taxation is moral due to the democratic process. This would be nearly as dangerous an idea as governments turning the immoral moral by virtue of being a government. If a majority can turn the immoral moral, we have the same problem. If nineteen out of twenty people believe that the twentieth is a witch and must be burned at the stake, the burning is certainly not moral.

You conclude that taxation is not theft, yet we have failed to uncover a single variable which would give a government the moral exemption to make that so. I do not dispute that our current government spends a significant amount of the money it collects through taxation on programs and services that we use. However, we discussed earlier how without consent, the taking of money or property by force must still be theft; regardless of what the law says, how badly the money is needed by the person or persons doing the steeling, and whether or not the money is used in part to improve the life of the person from whom it was taken.

"but it is in no way immoral for the government to use force when you are proving to not comply and fulfil your duties as a citizen."

Would you stand by this statement if the government you follow decreed that part of your duties as a citizen included rounding up Jews, or homosexuals, or Muslims? What if it included segregation or fighting in an unjust war? Do you truly feel it is the case that any action is moral so long as it is untaken as part of your "Duty as a citizen"

Taxation today may not be a problem, it may not be a bad thing, it may even be a force for the improvement of all our lives; it also may not be. Whatever our stance of the outcome of taxation, in the modern western world, we should be aware of moral principles, so as to help avoid traps. Traps such as "It's your duty as a citizen" or "it's moral because the government said so" or even "It's the right thing to do for the greater good" these are the very lines of thought that led to the examples I have used throughout this discussion; from the Nazis to the Hutu to Stalin and Mao and so many more.
JDB6829

Con

In your opening paragraph, you state that we are discussing "the morality of taxes". Debating whether taxes are "immoral" is off topic according to the title of the debate, "Taxation is theft". Taxation is in no way theft.

You keep going back to the argument to say that "the government's need for violent tactics to enforce taxation does not make that violence (or threat of violence) moral. I am sure you would not argue that any action that is "necessary" is by default moral."

What are we debating? Are we debating whether taxes are theft or whether the use of violence (or the threat of violence) to enforce law is moral?

It is blatantly obvious this is how government works, and we"ve clearly established this. The government is not exempt for morality at all, but you breaking the law is in clear violation of the laws you agree to follow simply by living under that government. You obviously don"t live in any country, or any place for that matter, for free. As I"ve repeatedly stated, your duties as a citizen (you have duties as a citizen because that"s how society works) of the country you live in are to abide by the laws and pay taxes, and when you infringe on what the governing body requires you to do to live and be a citizen of their country, then they have every right to enforce their laws accordingly, but you"re quick to say that that"s immoral because the government has to use force when the governed won"t comply.

"You conclude that taxation is not theft, yet we have failed to uncover a single variable which would give a government the moral exemption to make that so." Taxation is not theft. Do you feel entitled to the land that you live on for free? Do you feel the government should protect you from other countries and criminals for free? Freedom is not free. You can"t just live in any country for free because the government pays to keeps its citizens safe, educated, informed, and so on. The government has every right to tax its citizens due to the obvious fact that the citizens use services, roads, schools, and many more that the government pays to provide to them. How do you not see this? We"ve clearly stated that if the government didn"t enforce tax laws that no one would follow them, meaning the government wouldn"t have adequate funds to function at any level. How in any way is this immoral? Just because you as an individual don"t want to abide by law, it doesn"t mean the government is immoral just because they have to use force to enforce written law that is subject to everyone.

"However, we discussed earlier how without consent, the taking of money or property by force must still be theft; regardless of what the law says, how badly the money is needed by the person or persons doing the steeling, and whether or not the money is used in part to improve the life of the person from whom it was taken.

Without consent? Your consent is being a citizen of that country. Law is law, and it doesn"t become effective just because you consent to it. If you feel that laws are immoral due to the "threat of violence" to enforce them, then I"m sorry, you don"t have any idea at how simple law enforcement works. Even you stated in your own words that "without the use of force, the government would have no recourse when people disobey their laws". You argue that its immoral like there"s something else anyone can do about it. When you have an effective solution to the problem then maybe we can have this debate again, but as of now, the use of force is the only way to get criminals to comply with law, regardless if the law is a tax law, theft, or murder. Morality is defined simply as right versus wrong, so how is it immoral that a government needs to enforce law to protect and provide for its citizens? Obviously, government in the past has gone down a dark path, but where do you see people"s natural rights being violated because they don"t pay taxes?
I simply don"t see the immorality in a governing body requiring its subjects to pay them in exchange for many things, I just don"t it. You keep wanting to go down the path that the government shouldn"t use force to enforce laws because in a way it"s "immoral". Literally the root of the word "enforce" is force. It"s called justice, not immorality.
You keep trying to bring examples of atrocities committed by governments in the past to try to say that I"d be in support of that. Examples such as genocide of entire races and groups of people, death in large numbers, and famine induced by poor government are irrelevant in a discussion in whether taxes are moral or immoral.
You keep trying to imply that I don"t recognize the difference between legal and moral, which is absurd. I follow the laws of my land and experience no forms of immorality from the government. Criminals are punished through justice, but you"re wanting to say that their punishments are immoral rather than justice in action. Using your logic, there is no effective way to implement law morally.

I"ll conclude by simply stating taxation is simply not theft, due to numerous examples I"ve provided. As a citizen you are required to comply with law, and the government has the right to enforce its laws accordingly. You say the use of force to implement law is immoral, even when the word force is the root word of enforce. The definition of theft is "the action or crime of stealing", but the government isn"t stealing your money at all, just like a landlord isn"t stealing from you when you pay rent.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Dorsatum 6 months ago
Dorsatum
It is actually on my list. Not that I ever make any progress on getting through that list...
Posted by Leaning 6 months ago
Leaning
You might like Fr"d"ric Bastiat The Law. I tried reading it a few years ago but found it a bit hard to follow at the time.
Posted by Dorsatum 6 months ago
Dorsatum
Theft: "taking of the property or services of another without consent"

Morality: "A moral action is one which does not infringe on the natural rights of another"
Posted by PointyDelta 6 months ago
PointyDelta
oh bloody hell mate you're arguing normative statements with utilitarian thought

you're gone
Posted by PointyDelta 6 months ago
PointyDelta
Define theft and immorality and I'll take this one.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Deonatus 6 months ago
Deonatus
DorsatumJDB6829Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's central arguments to prove taxation is not theft were a) taxation is necessary and b) taxation is consensual because government owns the land upon which its citizens live. Pro refuted Con's first core argument by pointing out that necessity does not morally justify the action because there is still no consent. Con's only response to that was to say the morality of the action is off topic but did not address Pro's assertion that taxation is immoral because it lacks consent which was the definition of theft used. Thus Con's argument relied on the claim that citizens owe government for living on their land. Pro made the argument that land was not government's property because it was taken and controlled by force in the first place and was not created or produced by the government that claims it. Con failed to address or refute that point on which their other central argument depended.