The Instigator
AncientWisdom
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Pro (for)
Winning
35 Points

Taxes Should Not Exist in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 12 votes the winner is...
Ragnar_Rahl
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/10/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,186 times Debate No: 8931
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (22)
Votes (12)

 

AncientWisdom

Con

Until recently, I would've assumed that my stance on this issue would've been unanimously agreed upon by all sane individuals. However, recently I've come across various profiles on this site of people who claim that they're against taxes. One person claimed on his profile that he's against taxes because "taxes are stealing."

Aside from the fact that taxes are necessary for our government to even exist (let alone function), the government isn't "stealing" when it taxes its citizens. As a universal rule, the term "money" refers to a circulating medium of exchange. When someone earns money, it is in their possession only until they decide to exchange it for something else. The fact that money can be used in this way is entirely because the government recognizes it as such; currency is sponsored by the government, and therefore, any given holder of any given amount of money does not OWN that money. The fact that the government lets them hold it is entirely in recognition of the fact that they are entitled to any product being sold for equal or lesser value.
Ragnar_Rahl

Pro

"
Aside from the fact that taxes are necessary for our government to even exist (let alone function),"
This is not true. It is entirely possible to operate a government based upon user fees.
"As a universal rule, the term "money" refers to a circulating medium of exchange. When someone earns money, it is in their possession only until they decide to exchange it for something else. The fact that money can be used in this way is entirely because the government recognizes it as such; currency is sponsored by the government, and therefore, any given holder of any given amount of money does not OWN that money. The fact that the government lets them hold it is entirely in recognition of the fact that they are entitled to any product being sold for equal or lesser value."
The problem with this argument is that money existed prior to government, and taxes exist ontologically prior to any acceptance of paper money. The only reason we use paper money is because the government requires by law that taxes be paid in it. If someone produces something, and sells it for gold, with no help from the government, they will be required on penalty of prison to pay taxes in paper money, despite not possessing any paper money (They are therefore required to give up the things they created in "exchange" for paper money, which they then must give up.) It is thus irrelevant who owns the "money", because the "money" is not what is at issue-- the real values the individual owns by virtue of his having created them are being stolen. Adding the extra step of Federal Reserve Notes only serves to mask this fact, not eliminate it.

If someone points a gun at me and demands the keys to my car, he is stealing from me. If he "offers" me a worthless piece of paper in exchange, this does not turn the theft into consent-- since I have no option to refuse the "Trade." It just introduces a confusing element.

Indeed, even if I did consent to accept Federal Reserve Notes in exchange for my real property (which I would never do, nor would any sensible person, it is a worthless piece of paper and nothing more when you take the government's guns out of the equation), that would STILL not offer an excuse for then taking the money back from me. If a child trades his Charizard card for someone's Blastoise, and then threatens to stick the other child in a cage if he does not return the Charizard, no one will regard this as a fair trade, especially if the second child doesn't even get the Blastoise back.
Debate Round No. 1
AncientWisdom

Con

The logistics of operating a government based on user fees is, in practical terms, ridiculous (at least for a nation as large as the United States). In order for it to work, individuals would have to pay user fees for just about anything, or would have to pay ridiculously high prices for services that do have user fees.

However, I believe I've strayed from the point. As for whether or not taxes can be considered "stealing," your explanation as to why taxation is, in fact, a form of stealing, is beyond sufficient. Nonetheless, this explanation can only be applied to certain types of taxation, such as income tax or property tax. Keep in mind that the term "tax," in noun form, means "a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc." (as defined by dictionary.com (specifically http://dictionary.reference.com...) ).

I would also like to take note of the somewhat more detailed definition of taxation provided by Wikipedia: "To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state" (http://en.wikipedia.org...).

Both of these definitions state that taxes are imposed BY a government (or a functional equivalent). This basically means two things: (1) user fees are no less a type of taxation than any sum of money levied upon privately provided products or services is; the only difference, of course (as you've noted), is that taxation on the latter is stealing, whereas taxation on the former (or "user fees," as you put it) is not. (2) Despite your assertion that taxes existed before government, taxes could not have existed without some sort of governing influence.

By the way, on an awkwardly related note, I found an article concerning the earliest known system of taxation on the University of Pennsylvania Almanac website (http://www.upenn.edu... (found through Wikipedia) ), and found that Egypt's was the earliest. It was imposed by the Pharaoh, so there was, in fact, a firm government already in place. However, I'm sure that, when defined more loosely, you could find earlier forms of taxation. I'd be interested in hearing your examples. Nonetheless, I still maintain that their could not have been taxes without some sort of governing influence in place.

So, the following should serve as a reminder for both of us, so as not to distract from the main point: the debate does not concern the issue of what TYPE of taxes should exist; the debate simply pertains to the issue of whether or not ANY taxes should exist. And as I've more or less stated, all you've really done is provided another form of taxation; you haven't explained why taxes should simply not exist.
Ragnar_Rahl

Pro

"The logistics of operating a government based on user fees is, in practical terms, ridiculous (at least for a nation as large as the United States). In order for it to work, individuals would have to pay user fees for just about anything, or would have to pay ridiculously high prices for services that do have user fees.
"
Ridiculously high? Why exactly? Considering that people could actually economize, skimping on the purchase of those services they don't need (impossible when everyone is required to purchase every service), there would be less for the government to do-- it would surely be cheaper than taxes, and if your argument is comparing the price to anything but taxes it is irrelevant.

"
However, I believe I've strayed from the point. As for whether or not taxes can be considered "stealing," your explanation as to why taxation is, in fact, a form of stealing, is beyond sufficient. Nonetheless, this explanation can only be applied to certain types of taxation, such as income tax or property tax. Keep in mind that the term "tax," in noun form, means "a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc." (as defined by dictionary.com (specifically http://dictionary.reference.com......) ).

I would also like to take note of the somewhat more detailed definition of taxation provided by Wikipedia: "To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state" (http://en.wikipedia.org......).

Both of these definitions state that taxes are imposed BY a government (or a functional equivalent). This basically means two things: (1) user fees are no less a type of taxation than any sum of money levied upon privately provided products or services is"

User fees are not "Demanded," per the first definition. They are not "Imposed." A man with a gun "Demands," "Imposes." What someone asking for user fees does is "Offer something in exchange for them." To "Demand", or for something to be an "imposition," obviously implies not leaving open the option of refusing such an offer.

Even if your definitions did include user fees, which they obviously don't, such definitions would not be in common usage-- no one refers to the money placed into a government-owned vending machine to acquire a soda as a "tax" for example.

"(2) Despite your assertion that taxes existed before government, taxes could not have existed without some sort of governing influence.
"
I think you misinterpreted, I do not recall stating taxes existed prior to government. Perhaps you are confusing it with the issue of money being prior to it? I do not hold that taxes are possible without government :).
Debate Round No. 2
AncientWisdom

Con

I shall begin by responding to your first point in Round 2:

"Ridiculously high? Why exactly? Considering that people could actually economize, skimping on the purchase of those services they don't need (impossible when everyone is required to purchase every service), there would be less for the government to do-- it would surely be cheaper than taxes, and if your argument is comparing the price to anything but taxes it is irrelevant."

Touche. Quite a valid point. It was careless of me not to think that through. However, like I said, I believe I strayed from the point in the paragraph to which you were responding.

Clarification of definitions:
(1) demand (as a verb) - to call for or require as just, proper, or necessary; to ask for with proper authority (both of these can be found here: http://dictionary.reference.com...)
(2) impose (again, as a verb) - to lay on or set as something to be borne, endured, obeyed, fulfilled, paid, etc.; to put or set by or as if by authority (again, both of these can be found at http://dictionary.reference.com...)

Seems to me, by these definitions, I can legitimately stand by my assertion that user fees are, in fact, a form of taxation, provided I clarify the following: user fees are nonetheless "demanded" from or "imposed" upon the individual; the only difference is that they're conditional.

Let's take an example. Suppose your house catches on fire, and the government requires user fees before (or after) they permit the fire department to take action. You can choose to do nothing (in which case your house burns down completely), or you can decide to take advantage of the government's offer. If you choose to do the latter, the government is still "demanding" taxes from you, OR "imposing" them, at least within the context of your decision.

To strengthen my argument, I wish to take note of the fact that if you consider the above example to not be a form of taxation, and you maintain that taxation cannot definitively be conditional, then logically you'd have to consider the income tax in this country (as it stands now) not to be a tax. After all, the government threatening you with a gun or jail time is still conditional. You can choose to either refuse (in which case, you get imprisonment, or, under more oppressive regimes, you get shot), or you can can choose to pay (in which case you receive the services the government provides, and you DON'T get imprisoned or shot).

Though this example may seem somewhat extreme, it is nonetheless sufficient. It is perfectly analogous to the fire department example; the only difference is the severity.

Furthermore, in order to remain consistent, someone in your position would have to consider sales tax on private industries NOT to be a form of taxation. After all, the tax is "imposed" on the citizen who purchases a product, but it's only within the context of his or her decision.

I would also like you to be aware that common usage of a word does not necessarily mean that word is being used correctly, nor does it determine the definition of the word. Here are some examples (they may seem off the wall, but they're the first ones that came to mind): (1) Caucasian - people assume it simply means "white," or "white person." However, Caucasian is actually a broader term, referring the Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Indians (India Indians, not Native Americans), among others. (2) literally - people misuse this word constantly, using it as if it means "actually" (e.g. I'm literally going to love this). When really, it means: in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical (http://dictionary.reference.com...) (e.g. I am literally working around the clock (i.e. this would mean that someone is actually working around a physical clock, which is most likely laying on the ground somewhere) ).

And last but not least, the definition of "money." Money, as I've stated, is a circulating MEDIUM of exchange. This means that something has to be placed between the exchange of two products. In other words, it does not and cannot include direct trading of two products. With that said, check this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org...

It states that Mesopotamia was the first to use "money." And Mesopotamia, of course, did have a government.
Ragnar_Rahl

Pro

"
(1) demand (as a verb) - to call for or require as just, proper, or necessary; to ask for with proper authority (both of these can be found here: http://dictionary.reference.com......)
(2) impose (again, as a verb) - to lay on or set as something to be borne, endured, obeyed, fulfilled, paid, etc.; to put or set by or as if by authority (again, both of these can be found at http://dictionary.reference.com......)

Seems to me, by these definitions, I can legitimately stand by my assertion that user fees are, in fact, a form of taxation, provided I clarify the following: user fees are nonetheless "demanded" from or "imposed" upon the individual; the only difference is that they're conditional."

"Just, proper, or necessary," with "Authority"-- none of these refers to a trade. "Offer something in exchange" is neither call for nor require. A trade is not "laid on or set," "put or set by or as if by authority."

"Fire stuff...
"
Not according to the definitions.

"
To strengthen my argument, I wish to take note of the fact that if you consider the above example to not be a form of taxation, and you maintain that taxation cannot definitively be conditional, then logically you'd have to consider the income tax in this country (as it stands now) not to be a tax. After all, the government threatening you with a gun or jail time is still conditional. You can choose to either refuse (in which case, you get imprisonment, or, under more oppressive regimes, you get shot), or you can can choose to pay (in which case you receive the services the government provides, and you DON'T get imprisoned or shot)."
This is misinterpreting my argument. Those conditions are unequivocally an imposition, you were not going to get imprisoned or shot before they went and did those.

Whereas, if the government offers you a service on a given condition-- you weren't going to get the service anyway before they made the offer, thus, they are not "laying on" anything to be endured etc.

"
Furthermore, in order to remain consistent, someone in your position would have to consider sales tax on private industries NOT to be a form of taxation. After all, the tax is "imposed" on the citizen who purchases a product, but it's only within the context of his or her decision."
Again ignoring the point of my distinction. I am not abolishing the term taxation by nature of it's being conditional-- but by nature of what sort of condtion it is. Is it a "condition" in the sense that they offer you something you didn't have before in exchange for what you have? No imposition or demand is made then, your options from beforehand are intact, you can keep them that way OR change them. Are they making it so that no matter what they'll take something you had before, as they are with sales tax, income tax, or so forth (They'll take you're money, or take your life, but they won't leave you with the option you had before them of giving up neither.) That is a demand, an imposition. They are using their authority, not your choices, as the primary issue in the matter.

"
I would also like you to be aware that common usage of a word does not necessarily mean that word is being used correctly, nor does it determine the definition of the word."
Words exist for no other purpose than to be used in expressing ideas, and have no objective meaning. The meanings arise from usage. Deviations from common usage may be justifiable, but they must be justified-- in the absence of a good reason, the common usage should prevail as the one most understood. "Because the dictionary said so," is ad authoritatem, not a good reason.

"
And last but not least, the definition of "money." Money, as I've stated, is a circulating MEDIUM of exchange. This means that something has to be placed between the exchange of two products. In other words, it does not and cannot include direct trading of two products."

" an intervening agency, means, or instrument by which something is conveyed or accomplished: Words are a medium of expression. " http://dictionary.reference.com...

The agency or means of two people each placing a different ordinal preference on a pair of goods and therefore exchanging them is plenty fine as a medium.
"

It states that Mesopotamia was the first to use "money." And Mesopotamia, of course, did have a government.
"
The basic point was that, even "money" in the limited sense you have, is ontologically (not necessarily chronologically) prior to government. It is conceivable for money (Not fiat money, but, say, precious metals) to be used even in the absence of government.
Debate Round No. 3
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
That is, provides it at the cost of unwilling payers of course. I suppose technically a charity separate from the state could purchase protection for the poor from the government if it so chose without making a "welfare state."
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
And any state which provides the smallest unearned commodity, INCLUDING service as a protector, is a welfare state.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
If there are no provisions in place to protect life as a human being, as an end in oneself, protecting life as the slave of whosoever is unwilling or unable to pay for their own damned enforcement costs does little good.

You may choose to end debates you are involved with as you please, though it makes little sense with any conceivable purpose you might have for them.
Posted by Princess 7 years ago
Princess
I have said everything that I had wanted to say.
I choose to end this small debate of ours right now.
Posted by Princess 7 years ago
Princess
I am not advocating a welfare state. Government has only one function: To prevent people from forcefully imposing their will upon others.

I am not advocating a tax which would compensate for our government spending, because I do not advocate our current government spending. I am proposing a tax which would only pay for a fair justice system and a reasonable defense. That is all.

Claiming that murder is not permissible holds no merit alone. If there are no provisions set in place to enforce those words, they are just words.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"There will be poverty-stricken people who will not pay in your proposed system, not because they are unwilling, but because they would literally not be able to."

I thought you weren't advocating a welfare state? Glad you've shown your true colors.

Defense, like anything else, must be earned, or it is unjust.

"Is a small tax on the middle and upper class really a larger act of coercion than murder?"
There is no "small tax" at issue here (Present government spending is what, about half of GDP? That means the tax has got to be similar if a tax it must be), and size doesn't matter. No tax is permissible. No murder is permissible either, but the government is not responsible for that unless it agrees to be responsible in exchange for some consideration. The criminal is. Even preventing murder is no excuse for enslaving someone who had nothing to do with the murder.

"And the poor would would not receive any legal defense at all, while the wealthy can easily pay any user fees for their legal defense and even a whole team of lawyers."
The state requires information to ensure it is not violating its own rules. As such, it must pay the full costs of the inquiries it is carrying out. This is part of the task of law enforcement. If an adversarial system is better, which I'm not entirely sure of, it would have to pay for defenders out of that amount, as it presently does.
Posted by Princess 7 years ago
Princess
There will be poverty-stricken people who will not pay in your proposed system, not because they are unwilling, but because they would literally not be able to. Your proposed system would allow the act of raping or killing, even if the person cannot afford protection. The "free sample" is not enough to protect them. And the poor would would not receive any legal defense at all, while the wealthy can easily pay any user fees for their legal defense and even a whole team of lawyers. Is a small tax on the middle and upper class really a larger act of coercion than murder?
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"

But if I were not to pay the user fee in your proposed tax system, I would still be protected for free. There would still be thiefs, murderers, rapists in prison, unable to hurt me because they are contained in the prison system, which I would not paying to upkeep."
This doesn't help you when the ones who aren't in the prison system because they only commit crimes against those who haven't paid (Who are bound to expand in number rather rapidly when they realize how much easier it is to be a criminal who checks proof of payments before committing crimes) come after you.

"I would still be looting as I would be receiving something for nothing.
"
Even if I never purchase a computer with the Windows operating system, I can still get Windows media player free on, say, a mac. I'm receiving something without having to pay for it.

Is that looting? No, it's a free sample provided to get me to pay for the full package.

A full package that is very likely to be paid.

Externalities exist in such quantity that if everyone had to pay for every positive externality, not a million accountants could do the work one person would need.

"
A person could always move to live in the oceans "
Humans cannot breathe water. We need ships. And ships get blown up by navies when they anger big governments by living freely.
When I can be blown up by any government for the steps I take to avoid taxes, what it amounts to is I have no such step.

"or any uncolonized island they find."
"Uncolonized" isn't the relevant standard, "Unclaimed" is. And no such island exists.
Posted by Princess 7 years ago
Princess
Wjmelements, I am arguing whether taxes should exist or not in the United States. And I am arguing that they should exist to compensate any service which collectively benefits all people who live there such as defense and justice. I understand what Ragnar Rahl is proposing. I read his argument and I am against it.
Posted by Princess 7 years ago
Princess
"Because you won't be able to present proof of having paid, and so a murderer will know they can murder YOU without penalty, Mr. Unimaginative."

But if I were not to pay the user fee in your proposed tax system, I would still be protected for free. There would still be thiefs, murderers, rapists in prison, unable to hurt me because they are contained in the prison system, which I would not paying to upkeep. There would still be terrorists which cannot pass the borders of the country to hurt me, whether I pay or not. I would still be looting as I would be receiving something for nothing.

"Whenever I hear the move somewhere else cop-out, I've challenged them Where? I've never gotten a valid answer. It's your turn to try."

A person could always move to live in the oceans or any uncolonized island they find. Of course they will not receive food or protection, but taxes do not exist there.
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Vote Placed by AncientWisdom 7 years ago
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