[ExI] Under the libertarian yoke was Re: Next Decade May See No Warming

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Wed May 7 07:04:58 UTC 2008

On May 6, 2008, at 10:22 PM, Damien Sullivan wrote:

> On Wed, May 07, 2008 at 12:19:12AM -0400, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
>> On Sun, May 4, 2008 at 8:43 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com 
>> > wrote:
>>> A tax in a democracy is a kind of conditional contract just like  
>>> this.
>> ### No, most definitely it is not. One of the essential features of a
>> valid contract is that it is being entered voluntarily, that is,
>> neither of the parties, their agents, principals, nor allies, is
>> threatening violence to induce another peaceful party to sign the
>> contract. Clearly, the agents of the state are threatening deadly
> OTOH, apparently it *is* valid to threaten violence to anyone who
> doesn't accept the existing distribution of property rights.

Property rights are inseperable individual rights which are ultimately  
a form of self-ownership.   Abrogation of property rights is a form of  
initiation of force against the owners of that property.  Now we can  
certainly have quite good discussions of what is an is not  
"property".  Personally I have very little use for much of what is  
called "intellectual property".

>> violence to anybody who fails to meet their peremptory demands, and
>> therefore neither the state nor its victims can enter into a  
>> contract.
>> The threat of violence is sufficient to invalidate or pre-empt a
>> contract.
> The US Constitution was accepted by votes of the legislatures of all  
> 13
> initial states, and by the request of the legislature or convention of
> each subsequent state.

Which included no provision whatsoever for anything like the current  
income tax.  It actually prohibits such and the 16th Amendment  
according to Supreme Court rulings does not add any new taxing  

> A very literal social contract.

Liberal in the old sense, not as that word is abused today.

> Of course,
> there were flaws in the process: non-unanimity (but that needn't  
> matter
> if you contract to form a state government which can make majority  
> vote
> decisions), lack of votes to women and blacks.

The US was set up as a republic, not a democracy.   In losing the  
difference lies much of our deterioration.

> The fact that none of us
> were born back then seems less significant, since we're supposed to
> respect property distributions from before our birth -- despite their
> ultimate origins being equally flawed.
>> ### You are in fact not capable of giving consent to pay taxes,  
>> simply
>> because you have no choice. Are you following it? No matter what is
>> your opinion, what kind of "conditions" you are imagining, you *have*
>> to pay the tax.
> And if you inherit property in a condo, you have to abide by the condo
> association fees and regulations.  If you don't like it, you can sell
> out.  Why not regard yourself as having inherited a share in the US
> association?

Since you can sell out you are not bound.  There is no such thing as  
"a share in the US association".

>> ### Why people keep voting is a whole another issue, none of it
>> however can legitimize a tax as a form of contractual payment.
> If a group of people unanimously agreed to a constitution which  
> included
> provisions that fees could be levied on all members by a majority  
> vote,
> that'd be a contractual 'tax'.

No it would not.  It would be a tyrannical assault of the majority on  
any minority who would not voluntarily pay such.   This is impossible  
to see without some grasp of individual rights though.

> If they unanimously agreed to a constitution which didn't have that
> provision, but allowed for supermajority vote adoption of new
> provisions, then the fee provision could be adopted, and then the fee
> itself.

Yes, but this in fact has not occurred in the US.

> So you can certainly set up something similar to a modern democratic
> government, contractually, in principle.  You can get closer, too, if
> all land or water within an area is agreed to be owned by the
> association.  Then what happens to a child born within the  
> association?

This is rank socialism.  No thank you.   Note that what we live in in  
the US is pretty much socialism already.   We did not vote to do so  
per se.

> I saw an interesting argument recently that minarchy is the least
> adaptive societal form.  We ultimately solve problems with violence  
> -- if
> we can't deal with someone who's causing a problem, we try to beat  
> them
> up.  In anarchy, plenary rights to violence rest with all individuals.
> If someone starts dumping pollution into "our" air, we can go beat him
> up, he can defend himself or give in, may the best mob win.

That is not how an anarchic or a minarchic society works.

> In a normal state, we give up that right (or have it taken from us) to
> the state, which holds all plenary rights to force.

But the critical difference is whether it has the power to decide to  
use force for anything it wishes or its use of force is severely  

> Instead of beating
> him up, we appeal to the state to defend our rights.  Risks: the state
> may not.  The state may even be used against us.  OTOH, things may  
> work
> out -- the state may defend our rights against people much more  
> powerful
> than us, at no risk to our own lives.  Which outcome happens depends  
> on
> the state, and the people.
> In minarchy, we give up our rights to violence, but the state can act
> only in a predetermined sphere.  Being minimal, it has no rights  
> outside
> its initial list.  Expanding that list is probably very problematic if
> possible at all, since it involves new bans on behavior, or
> redistributing property rights, which is exactly what minarchy doesn't
> want.

Actually, not so.   The list is expanded when and only when the  
recognized rights of people are shown to be violated by activities not  
previously recognized as a violation.   I would argue that is  
precisely the right amount of flexibility.   Similarly old  
proscriptions can under examination perhaps be seen as not violating  
anyone's rights and thus as illegitimate use of state force.  They  
would then be removed form the set of enforceable laws.

> But this leaves it helpless when conditions change, when conflicts of
> property no one thought to define rights about come into play.

That is a bogus argument contrary to historical fact as well as legal  

>  Who
> owned the ozone layer, to defend it against CFCs?

Use of CFCs turned out to be a danger to all of us and thus contrary  
to our right to live.  No ownership of the ozone layer per se was  

> Who in the 18th
> century imagined one would need rights against acid rain?

Irrelevant for the reasons above.

> Or against
> Denmark, say, deciding to melt off the Greenland ice cap to develop  
> its
> property, incidentally threatning oceanside property worldwide?

A good trick if they could manage it which they could not.   If real  
behavior legitimately harms others then it would be covered in  
anarchic and minarchic law eventually when the threat is clearly shown.

> I have
> a right to my beach, Denmark has a right to develop Greenland, none of
> our ancestors imagined our rights would conflict via sea level rise.

No one has a right to infringe by initiation of force (which includes  
most real physical harm) on the rights of others.   That is  
Libertarianism 101.     Did you miss that?

- samantha

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