93 1 min 15 yrs

precious.jpgSO let me get this straight: The Man Who Stole Your Old Age could leave Downing Street at any time with a pension pot somewhere north of £3million. Paid for by us, the people without a pension pot to do you-know-what in, because our pensions were stolen by the man with the £3million pot. What’s more, his £3million pension is protected against the theft he himself perpetrated on our own pensions. Not bad for a man who hasn’t had a job since 1983.

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93 thoughts on “Prime Minister Clunky Fi$t

  1. Pure speculation, yes, but I predict that Gordon Brown will be the man who makes Labour unelectable for the next 20 years, just as Sunny Jim did before him. He will be forced from office and forced to call an election at a time not of his choosing, due to a vote of no confidence. An election that he will lose.

  2. Having said that, part of me wants to just see how he does for the time being. A refreshing change from Blair, Brown is not charismatic or photogenic or even media-savvy. His shirt collars are a disgrace at times, (no way would I go to work looking like that), he picks his nose and eats the bogeys live on BBC camera, so perhaps he’s human after all. Plus, he has suffered a few knocks in his family life, maybe he has some genuine compassion and humanity in him. Let’s wait and see how he does.
    Andrew’s Chinese Proverb of the day could be relevant to this – let’s see how he reacts when (if) a crisis emerges, that would show us what he is really made of.

  3. Anyway, I’m fed up with both Labour and the Tories and their two-party sham of a system, these days. Time for some sort of revolution, I say. Let’s kick the lot of them out and start from scratch. Politics has become a shabby old joke here, there’s got to be a better way forward than what we have at the moment.

  4. CL,

    shame they lost the follow-up text – "How to ensure the guy that takes over isn’t just as bad, if not worse", tragically burned in the Cultural Revolution.

  5. I see the Brown hate-fest has started.

    Great choice of photo Pete. Obviously you’ve studied the first lesson of the attack-dog photo editor, which is use the worst photo possible and choose a suitable caption. The nazis pioneered this technique against the jews in the 1930s. Of course, they were really commies, weren’t they?

  6. ‘which is use the worst photo possible and choose a suitable caption. The nazis pioneered this technique against the jews in the 1930s’.

    This is where Godwin’s Law comes in handy.

  7. Peter –

    Let’s see. His government claims a third of my living, and it’s the first third. Then there’s the Council Tax, Add on the taxes I pay on my fags, booze and petrol and VAT and car licence and all the other ways he steals my money. Any more and Bob Geldof will be holding a gig to feed me.

    In return I post a photo which I believe pretty much sums him up.

    So yes, I can see we’re oppressing each other equally.

  8. Peter – i think the point about pensions and bogeys is a very fair one. However regards how this pans out i will wait and see. Some say he will be very different, other indications are the status quo.

  9. Pete Moore

    Obviously you must never use public services. The roads that you drive your gas guzzler on are paid for by your taxes. If you get sick the NHS will treat you for free. If your house goes on fire the fire brigade won’t charge you for putting it out. Oh, and all those wars you support have to be paid for.

  10. Peter,

    Are you seriously claiming that the British public gets anything vaguely resembling value for money for the taxes it pays?!?

  11. DSD

    Pete Moore was talking about theft, not value for money. Theft is what a mugger does.

    As to value for money, of course there’s waste in the public sector, just as there is in the private sector, only worse due to the absence of market discipline. But that’s a different thing from theft.

  12. Peter,

    "only worse "

    Debatable. The majority of private companies go to the wall, so there’s a lot of untold waste right there. But of course one man’s waste is another’s risk, and risk is necessary for innovation.

    Also while government has the same disadvantages of huge scale as very large private companies, it doesn’t have to make a profit – and from the customer’s perspective that can equally be regarded as waste.

  13. Peter –

    I know you’re not stupid, so stop pretending that everything has to be explained to you repeatedly. You know I believe that national defence is a legitimate function of government. Don’t make me tell you again.

    You say: If you get sick the NHS will treat you for free.

    Free? Free at the point of being taxed to pay for it? Great, when I next pop out for a loaf of bread and 20 Bensons I’ll tell myself they’re free as I’m handing over the money. That’ll really cheer me up.

    So, nothing to say about Brown’s ยฃ3million pension then? Nothing to say about us paying for it under pain of imprisonment while he steals our pensions? Nothing to say about his pension having legal safeguards to prevent it from being raided like he raided ours?

  14. "You know I believe that national defence is a legitimate function of government."

    So the part of your taxes that pays for defence is not theft then, just the part that pays for everything else, including the NHS?

    Please enlighten us with your list of public services which you approve of.

  15. Peter,

    A friend of mine got mugged once. He said it made him feel lucky to be alive. So, because the mugger gave him a new sense of being, was the mugger not stealing from him when he took his property by force?

    If I hotwired and drove off in your car, and left a fiver on the driveway, is that acceptable?

    If I raped your wife and she enjoyed it a little bit towards the end, is that ok?

  16. Also, one private sector waste: waste is a bad word because it’s not really waste. When a private firm starts selling underwater-showers and goes bankrupt, you might think all the money invested in it was wasted, but it wasn’t. Firstly a lot of that money will go somewhere anyway (machinery will get sold off etc) but more to the point this acts as a signal to the market that underwater-showers are not the invention of the century. When a firm fails, this is a good thing. The market improves because of it. When governments fail, they invariably cary on regardless lest they lose votes.

  17. Peter –

    No, I won’t explain myself yet agian. Hows about you tell me how taking my property against my wish isn’t theft? Please, I want a solid, intellectual rationale for why it isn’t theft. I don’t want any wishy-washy liberal claptrap about how it’s good for me really. Give me the reason why taking my property without my permission is not stealing from me. I don’t want any commie nonsense about the common good and how bay-bees won’t be able to feed if I don’t hand over my hard earned. Give me some intellectual rigour on how theft from me isn’t theft at all.

  18. "Hows about you tell me how taking my property against my wish isn’t theft?"

    I was thinking more in terms of the law of the land, duly passed by an elected government and all that. Boring I know to a right-wing storm-trooper like yourself, but true all the same.

    Check out the dictionary definition of theft and you’ll maybe get the difference.

  19. Pete Moore,

    "Give me the reason why taking my property without my permission is not stealing from me."

    Pretty simple: it’s not your property.

    What made you think you could spend your money and keep it too?

    All this has been explained to you before and you then claimed to be bored when you ran out of arguments.

  20. "right-wing storm-trooper"

    In favour of low taxation and you’re a Nazi soldier. Nice.

  21. "1. to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch."

    Sounds like taxes to me…

    You’re walking down the street and a mugger jumps out, puts a knife to your throat and demands your money. This is wrong, right?

    The next day you walk down the same street and this time a gang of muggers jump out. They all take a vote, and it’s unanimous: they want to take your money. So out come the knives and the demands. This is still wrong right?

    Well the next day you walk down the same road again and (it’s a VERY dangerous road) what do you know, 22% of the British electorate (the same number that voted Labour in the last election) jump out and they all say they want to take your money, knife to your throat. Surely this is still wrong?

    But let’s suppose it’s not 22%, let’s suppose that 51% of the electorate do it (not likely, considering turnout is only 60% and it’s a 3+ party system). What if 51% said they wanted to take away all your food so that you starved, is that legitimate? Or take away your daughter’s favourite doll? How about your kidney? What if they decided to double the rate of income tax for black people?

    I’d have thought the fact that the last century saw millions voting themselves into complete dependence on tyrants would have made your (and my) generation understand that to choose one’s government by majority vote is not necessarily to secucure legitimacy of action on their part.

  22. Peter –

    What CL said.

    to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force

    Well that’s taxation covered then.

  23. Let’s see:

    Without pernmission [sic] or right: so the state has no legitimacy then?

    Secretly: Payslips and Vat receipts are not secret, they’re right out in the open for all to see, as are the taxes laws.

    By force: Only as a last resort, if someone breaks the law by refusing to pay. Are you in favour of law-breaking?

  24. Pete,

    assuming that you are not a complete anarchist, how should the state support itself if not through taxes?

  25. CL,

    ""1. to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch."

    Sounds like taxes to me…"

    Sounds like not paying taxes and using the services anyway without paying.

    You wouldn’t voluntarily eat in a restaurant every day and claim you should never pay the bill or that somebody else who ‘gave permission’ should pay it.

    Your analogy of mugger is also bogus because it fails to mention that the "mugger" is actually collecting money that you owe for services you received. Understood that way, your scaling up of the analogy to the whole electorate actually involves you stealing from more people, and not the other way around.

    After all, if you really thought you were being robbed every day you would not calmly discuss it on a blog like some kind of wuss. You would fight or leave.

  26. Peter –

    Nope, the state doesn’t have my permission and doesn’t have the moral right to vote itself into my wallet.

    Richard Carey –

    Why should there be anything beyond a tiny state to support? More civil servants work for Hackney Council today than were employed by the entire civil service when the British Empire was at its height.

    Beyond national defence and the protection of people, property and contracts there is virtually no legitimate function of the state. Shrinking the state to a fraction of its size would be undoubtedly a good thing.

  27. Pete,

    and how will this minimal state support itself, if not through taxation?

  28. Chance for me to raise my favourite obession again (well without Felix there is a gap in the obsessional market;o) ). A friend of mine has seen GB speak and says that he exhibits strong ND mannerisms (Thst is of course not conclusive) [ND neirologically different e.e dyspraxia, dyslexia AD(H)D Autism) shirt collars is an interesting sign. I think that the person who got into hot water for saying that Brown was "slightly autistic" (I think that was the phrase) may not have been far off the mark.

  29. Frank,

    You misunderstand me. I do pay my taxes, as it happens. What else am I to do? As I’d rather give up my wallet to the mugger than be stabbed, I’d rather pay my taxes than go to jail, but that dosn’t make either action acceptable. And I do in fact intend to leave the country – but for the moment I have not the money to do so. And even in Wyoming I’ll have to pay the federal income tax. I’d much rather make the neighbourhood mugger-free than move to another neighbourhood…

    Having paid my taxes here though, it would seem only reasonable that I try and recoup some of that lost capital by making use of the services offered. Think of it as me chasing the mugger and snatching back a few notes.

    Now, if I had a choice in the matter I might pay a fee or contribution for certain services – for national defence for instance. But other services I would choose not to consume – like state healthcare, social security (I’d consume them perhaps, just not those services offered by the state).

  30. Richard,

    States are quite capable of supporting themselves without using force to plunder vast sums from their citizens. The USA, for a large part of its history, was funded by two things: user fees, and voluntary contributions. When you used the service of the post office, you paid a fee. When you didn’t use the post office, you didn’t pay a fee. When you used the ports, you paid a fee. When you didnt, you didn’t. With this revenue they could pay for the post office, the navy, the courts and so on and so forth. They could have done away with the post office and saved yet more money.

  31. Richard Carey –

    IIRC, before 1914 the US had no income tax and prospered. You already obtain a host of services from private providers. Health services, education, road building and virtually everything else done by government could all be provided more efficiently and at lower cost by the private sector. When you govern yourself you have no need for someone else to do the job for you.

    A Briton born a century ago could easily go through life without coming into contact with the state. For many it happened only when they posted a letter. The British history of the 20th Century is the story of how the state expanded grotesquely at the expense of personal liberty.

  32. Cynical Lib – you are reading your Wyoming survivalist camp brochures with a little too much faith. I hope they don’t put you on outhouse duty the first month at the compound.

    The claim that the government could survive without taxation in this day and age (federal taxation started in the 19th Century) is of course absurd. There things that we could do without (A bridge to nowhere in Alaska, former President Clinton’s gym membership, certain farm subsidies etc) but there are things that are clearly needed and reasonable taxation is required.

  33. Mahons,

    I agree.

    Pete,

    much as you can argue, with reason, for a drastic reduction of the state, and consequently in taxation, you haven’t really answered the direct question, how a minimal state would pay for itself without taxation, in some form or other. And if the local council doesn’t pay for my road to be fixed out of taxes, and a private company does it, how is this to be organised? Am I to sit down with my neighbours and go through a bidding process? Will I be able to say "actually I like the potholes, they give the road character". One of the reasons you have local councils etc is because most people don’t want to know about the things they do, let alone get involved, and having a public sector is in some cases the most efficient way of organising things.

    So, I’m all for keeping the state from growing ever bigger, and there’s much fat that can be trimmed, but a minarchist or anarcho-capitalist state is far off, and would probably have the same sorts of problems that we face in this one.

    Try to be more positive. Don’t see the taxman as a mugger, see him as a loan shark, collecting on a debt.

  34. Richard,

    Have to say that I see the taxman as a thief, a robber, an agent used by the State to take away my self-generated wealth. I have a lot of sympathy for the line Pete takes. That said, your questions are also really good ones and I don’t have anwers to them all but what the UK really needs is a political organisation dedicated to maximising freedom and liberty and we do need answer to the issues you raise. But at heart – I hate the State.

  35. Richard Carey –

    Potholes: the problem you identify isn’t one of private provision of roads, it’s more to do with how we extricate ourselves from the elephantine state sitting on us.

    A private road is a private road – you want to use it, you pay for it. The M6 toll road is the best bit of highway in the country. The QE2 bridge at Thurrock was built by a private corporation and paid for by drivers dropping a quid into a bucket on each crossing. French motorways are superb. Interestingly, these roads and bridges work, they are efficient and they don’t have potholes. If all roads were privately owned they wouldn’t have potholes becasue the owners would understand that drivers would go by another route, thereby avoiding the potholes.

  36. "there are things that are clearly needed and reasonable taxation is required."

    Care to name a few things that we need which cannot be provided by:

    The market
    User fees
    Voluntary contributions to government
    Charity

  37. David,

    and some people wondered why you posted "anarchy in the UK" a while back! I think the best approach to the question of the state is to ask the question "what do we require of the state?" and work away from that point, rather than thinking "what is the ideal state?" or anything along those lines. It’s certainly got too big, and I’d like it slapped back into place by asserting the principle that it derives its legitimacy from us as individuals and our natural rights.

    Pete,

    good points and I don’t disagree, but there are limits to how far you can take this, as far as I can see

    I’d rather the local council, inefficient as they no doubt are, were responsible for my own road, rather than a chinese-funded private equity company, charging me for the "service" of being allowed to drive to my home.

  38. The military, the nation’s infrastructure, basic social services, emergency and disaster response, space exploration, civil and criminal legal systems for starters.

    Care to identify a modern nation in which they pass the hat for voluntary contributions for those items? Are you suggesting bake sales?

  39. I wonder do we have a consensus that "the State" is too big? Is this a Right/Left thing?

    Mahons,

    Are you suggesting the State arranges the tray bakes?;-)

  40. David – Funny. Clinton would have eaten the cakes before they were sold, Bush would have burned them (and still served the cakes claiming nothing was wrong), Gore would claim he invented cake, Blair would have handed his cake to Adams, Ahern would plant a file in his, and Paisley would claim that cakes are immoral while wiping the crumbs off his face.

    Seriously, I think there is substantial waste in government that is not necessarily a left/right issue but more of a honesty issue. In some ways it is less rightwing or leftwing than it is of the populance against the political class. The best (and outnumbered) politicians on either side are those who recognize that fact.

  41. >>Paisley would claim that cakes are immoral while wiping the crumbs off his face.<<

    fun-NEY! I see that vacation helped sharpen your sabre-like wit, Mahons. BTW, how WAS Coney Island? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  42. Pete Moore,

    " If all roads were privately owned "

    Then so would the road to your house, and the roads to access it. They can charge you to use them until you go bankrupt. And you think you’re being robbed now?

    When all is said and done the state will only take some of your money. In the absence of a state, other people will take all of your money, your life, and your anal virginity, just for the sheer giddy hell of it.

  43. Funny mahons. David has hit upon a t-shirt idea ‘Hate the State’. I imagine some hardcore leftie getting up real close to it, all excited like, and then seeing the small print underneath ‘f*** the NHS’.

  44. Charles – Good one. I haven’t been to Coney Island in years. We hit the Delaware shore, Annapolis and D.C.

  45. Charles,

    Some would call it a charitable assumption. ๐Ÿ™‚

    CL,

    "But other services I would choose not to consume – like state healthcare, social security "

    Since these are provided as a public good they benefit everyone indirectly (according to most people), and you can’t choose not to consume a public good, except by not being here.

    As long as you are here then you pay your share towards the benefits you do get and towards making the whole project work. That is not robbery. If you think the tax money is badly spent (and who doesn’t – they just disagree as to the details), then you can object to specific government projects and try to bring people to your view. Or if you don’t want to be involved at all, that is also fine, you can leave. But it is not reasonable to expect everyone else to adjust to suit a few whiners who complain about paying for the services and use them anyway.

    "And even in Wyoming I’ll have to pay the federal income tax. I’d much rather make the neighbourhood mugger-free than move to another neighbourhood…"

    So don’t go to Wyoming. Go to Somalia. No taxes there. Enjoy.

  46. Frank -"a charitable assumption" is now in the running for funniest ATW comment of 2007.

  47. Frank O’Dwyer –

    Long before bankruptcy I’d simply stop paying. But if the company managed to force me into bankruptcy, where would they then get their income? Leave the business of making money to people who understand it.

    Mahons –

    Even libertarians agree that certain matters, such collective national defence require collective means. Infrastructure – Britons built much of the infrastructure here and around the world by private investment. Left to government alone many parts of the world would be much the poorer for roads and railways.

    Social services – Individuals, companies, church organisations, charities all provided vastly better services before big clunky government came along.

    Emergency and disaster response – I can be persuaded to include those under national defence. But it’s undeniable that a vastly smaller state results in a vastly greater sense of personal responsibility. Look at NO after Katrina: tens of thousands of useless adults were unable to make the most basic decisions for themselves, so infantilised were they by welfare crack.

    Space exploration – Bert Rutan has sent private craft into space.

    Civil and criminal legal systems – Yes, enforcing the protection of people, property and contracts is a legitimate function of the state.

  48. Mahons, Frank O’Dwyer –

    The law doesn’t cap the amount of tax you’re allowed to pay. Send a cheque to your Treasury and they will cash it.

    So time to put up or shut up. If paying tax is so good and beneficial then get posting.

    Photograph the proof and email it into ATW. I’ll be happy to post it up.

  49. Left to government alone many parts of the world would be much the poorer for roads and railways.

    Yeah, the privatised railways in Britain have been SUCH a success, dontcha think? Compared to the socialised ones on the continent. God, could be teach those French how to run a railway (not). LOL!

  50. Pete Moore,

    Estate agents don’t cap the amount you can pay either. If you believe unfettered capitalism is so great then buy me a house and pay the agent double commission.

    After all you seem to think that just because I think a bill is fair I would want to pay someone else’s bill.

    Your argument. Put up or shut up.

  51. Pete: there is no bankruptcy protection in a stateless society, they would be free to come beat it out of you.

    I suppose because many of the images from New Orleans were of black people you feel fre to use the term welfare crack. Why the code words -say what you mean.

    I blame a public housing resident known as George Bush for a failed response (blame equally shared with the hapless Mayor). But it was a failure of government, not a reason to abandon government. And not as bad as the flood in 1927 when there were less government safeguards.

  52. Pete: I am not saying more tax is the answer, I am just identifying your fringe idea of no taxation as an irrational idea for a modern nation.

  53. >>And not as bad as the flood in 1927 when there were less government safeguards.<<

    Mahons, I think that in 1927 people were more self reliant and didn’t wait for the government bus to come pick them up. But since you were there, I’ll take your word!

  54. Oi Peter! Answer him about Gordo’s ยฃ3million pension and it’s legal safeguard for Gawd’s sake, please. Are you a politician or something?

    Cheers.

  55. ‘privatised railways in Britain have been SUCH a success, dontcha think? Compared to the socialised ones on the continent. God, could teach those French how to run a railway (not). LOL!’

    You said it Pete – and their healthcare for all.

  56. Pete Moore:

    "Not putting up then boys?"

    You really don’t want to be posting, er, ‘straight’ lines like that in a thread containing the phrase ‘anal virginity’

    Mahons, it’s you he wants…offer yourself to him.

  57. Frank: Then you and I would both question the existence of a loving God. No thanks.

  58. The military – provided by user fees at ports, airports etc and by voluntary contributions and volunteers and civillian militias. Also treaties and alliances will bolster our capability. All easily enough to provide an effective defence force, though I’ll grant you it wouldn’t be enough to run about invading countries all the time.

    The nation’s infrastructure – the market, just as it provides the cars that drive on it and the appliances powered by it. Businesses can’t sell their goods if there ain’t no roads. However, we already have an infrastructure so no need to actually build a new one, only to keep it functionining and improve it. Government can let the market in to do its work as needed without giving up actual ownership to private firms. The government does a shit job of this right now and we could use a bit more market influence in there.

    basic social services – charity, if you want to help the disabled, give to a charity, you don’t need a taxman to make you give

    emergency and disaster response – the market, via insurance, and also charity re. disaster response

    space exploration – the market, via entrepreneurs (Virgin Galactic anyone?)

    civil…legal systems – user fees, pay for themselves, could even be profitable, those profits going to pay for everything else.

    criminal legal systems – user fees and voluntary contributions combined with fines, profits from criminal labour etc.

  59. Alison,

    Well spotted…I wondered would anyone recognise it ๐Ÿ™‚

    CL,

    "The military – provided by user fees at ports, airports etc "

    The artist fee formerly known as taxes? Who is making the private owners of the airports pay for the military again and why?

    "charity, if you want to help the disabled, give to a charity, you don’t need a taxman to make you give"

    Except for important stuff like the military (see above)…the disabled can go screw

    "However, we already have an infrastructure so no need to actually build a new one, only to keep it functionining and improve it."

    Or not improve it and let them run down. After all where else will people drive? They can pay for the the run down roads and like it. Competition means additional roads cut into the countryside and less land for houses (land is finite).

    "criminal legal systems – user fees and voluntary contributions combined with fines, profits from criminal labour etc."

    A recipe for warlords and slavery.

  60. Cynical:
    Military: Your approach would serve to pay for an army the size of the Swiss Guards, not a modern armed force.

    Infrastructure: even if we pretend it is only roads, who sets and enforces the speed limits, responds to accidents, determines where the roads will go (not through my property). We have a pretty good national highway system over here, I wouldn’t want to mess it up by letting Enron destroy it or giving it to some unaccountable private entity.

    basic social services: charity is not sufficient, and much of it isn’t charity.

    emergency and disaster response: insurance is insufficient in resposne to disasters (they have no army, medical personnel, sandbags). And who regulates the insurance – do you have that high an opinion of insurance companies?

    space exploration: there isn’t a private individual capable of matching the actual need.

    civil legal systems: user fees – impossible and denies people access to the Courts.

    criminal legal system: impossible to sustain on labor and voluntary contributions. Insurance – how? Would I be correct in assuming these ideas are being floated with no real model?

  61. "The artist fee formerly known as taxes? Who is making the private owners of the airports pay for the military again and why?"

    Again, you misunderstand. The government does not charge the private owners of ports, it charges the owners of the ships docking at the ports, for the right to enter our waters/dock on our coast etc.

    "Except for important stuff like the military (see above)…the disabled can go screw"

    I don’t understand this at all. Rephrase?

    "Or not improve it and let them run down. After all where else will people drive? They can pay for the the run down roads and like it. Competition means additional roads cut into the countryside and less land for houses (land is finite)."

    Go back and read again what I wrote. The government already owns the roads, I wasn’t suggesting they sell them off. But even if I was, what would be different?Right now we have a single monopoly controlling all of the major roads in the country and charging whatever it likes for them. In fact, it dosn’t charge, it just takes, by force. But I wasn’t suggesting that anyway.

    "A recipe for warlords and slavery."

    I don’t have the foggiest idea why the government fining criminals (as it does now) and letting people contribute of their own free will to the government, which in turn spend some of that money on the courts would lead to warlords. Care to explain? In fact, the only thing which seems to differentiate the current government from a warlord is that it’s made up of more than one person (as much as Mr. Brown might like to think otherwise). The plunder, the thievery, the war, it’s all there.

    Oh, and I forgot to add "insurance" to social services. There’s just too many methods of provision to think of in one go!

  62. Mahons,

    I could write a serialised explanation of how one might fund an entire government without the use of plunder, but I fear it may take me some time. If you would be interested you need only ask.

    Until such time as I get around to creating the blueprint for a complete state all on my own, I would beg you to do thus: don’t think of reasons why plunder is the only way to provide for something. Imagine you are in government and imagine you cannot use plunder, then ask yourself how you would go about providing the services the people demand. Then imagine you’re a businessman and think about how you would provide the supply to meet the demand. I’ll bet in medieval times when some crazy capitalist suggested that maybe the aristocracy didn’t need to own everything, there were people who said "that’s crazy, how will us peasants afford land???" They just weren’t thinking very hard.

  63. CL,

    If it is the government charging user fees, those are taxes.

    User fees won’t pay for public goods, which everyone uses. So you get freeloading.

    Voluntary contributions won’t happen. You whine about paying for things you use now, what will you do when you can get them for free?

    Last but not least, you and Pete have been whining that tax is theft and mugging for how long now. And yet when it is something YOU want, like the military, then theft is suddenly OK. Seems like your principles are rather flexible and your ‘moral argument’ is neither.

  64. Cynical Lib -save you ink, cite a modern example of a tax free nation you would live in.

  65. Frank,

    User fees and plunder are not the same thing. You know that, don’t be stupid. Call it tax if you will, makes no difference to me. What matters to me is that one action is legitimate, a voluntary exchange of goods and servies, the other not, involuntary thievary. It’s got nothing to do with what I do and do not want provided. If the government can provide a bullet-proof jag for the prime minister without thievary, well more power to them, I don’t care.

    Mahons,

    Strawman. I can hear the 15th century king saying "free the serfs? But no one else has done it!" and the 17th century aristocrat saying "free the salves? But no one else has done it!"

  66. Cynical: I suspected you heard voices, and they might as well be from centuries ago. Your economic worldview is impractical and unsustainable. Taxation is not something anyone enjoys, it is just that there is a maturity and responsibility level that helps one understand that it is necessary. That isn’t to say we should try to reduce it when feasible.

  67. I must say this is one of the most interesting and entertaining debates I’ve yet seen on ATW.

  68. Pete Moore

    You still haven’t explained how the privatised British railways are superior to their publicly owned counterparts in France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Austria etc.

    Would it be:

    (a) the outrageous fares – Britain has the highest rail fares in Europe by a mile, or

    (b) the filthy, overcrowded trains

    I’m sure the poor serfs of Europe are just dying to be liberated from their commie railways by a good dose of free-enterprise profiteering. You’re the one arguing for privately run railways, so let’s hear your case.

  69. Peter –

    I never offered to explain anything about Britain’s current railways. However, suffice to say that the privatisations were handled stupidly, though less so than the theft back of private property under Byers.

    I drive, occasionally get the tube in London and never use buses or trains. Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a monkey’s about public transport.

    I was referring, of course, to the original provision of roads and railways both in Britain and around the world-made-civilised by us. Private enterprise did all that, not a committee from a non-existent Dept of Transport. But you knew what I was referring to so stop acting dumb.

    Still nothing to say about Brown’s pension?

  70. They’re not still going on about income tax are they? What I want to know is whether Peter is going to defend Gordo’s ยฃ3million safeguarded pension in light of his destruction of private pensions? Is this the same Gordo who was such a vociferous rottweiller in the Barlow Clowes (sp?) affair way back when it was someone else’s fault? Why do fierce dogs have such difficult spelling?

  71. "Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a monkey’s about public transport."

    I knew you were a petrol-head. But you’re also an extreme free-marketeer so I thought you might be able to make some sort of case for Britain’s privatised railways. Obviously the mantra "private sector good, public sector bad" has its limits then. As to Brown’s pension, I couldn’t give a stuff.

  72. Thanky you Peter. I dare say Gordo couldn’t give a stuff about our pensions either, the bastard.

  73. Peter –

    Nice of you to make your mind up at last.

    You want a good word about the privatised railways? Here you go then: you can’t buck the market. If the demand doesn’t exist to keep them in profits then shut’em down.

  74. CL,

    "User fees and plunder are not the same thing. You know that, don’t be stupid. "

    Ditto to you re taxes and "plunder". And what is the difference between your "user fee" and a tax anyway? Why should someone who docks at a port pay a "user fee" to fund a military that benefits you and not them? Why can’t they just claim you’re mugging them and not pay like you want to?

    Also, when you voluntarily stay here instead of leaving, claiming you haven’t enough money, what you really mean is you know you’re better off here. If you really believed you were being robbed and mugged and threatened every day then you could go to anywhere else (Somalia) on a loan and pay it back in short order with the money that you claim you’re currently being mugged for all the time. And yet you stay. Almost as if you didn’t really believe you were being mugged.

    Between that fact and the fact that both you and Pete support taking money from people in order to pay for programs that you want and they don’t, it’s obvious that your tales of woe about mugging are self-serving bullshit. After all if you will resort to "theft" when expedient then you can hardly object to "theft" now.

  75. Pete Moore

    But they ARE in profits. It’s the lousy service and sky-high fares that people object to. But maybe we should just close them down and tarmac the whole country to make it even better for petrol-heads. More roads and cars, that’s got to be the solution for Britain. Let the Europeans keep their commie railways, we’ll stick with the free market at all costs. You KNOW it makes sense!

  76. Pete Moore,

    "Long before bankruptcy I’d simply stop paying."

    Not that long before. You would be unable to leave, or unable to access, your house. If you did so without paying then you would go to prison and your property would be confiscated to pay your bill. (Now I forget – is that one of the many legitimate functions of Government or not? If not then some guy called Guido would simply beat the living tar out of you, and then confiscate your property).

    Either way, kiss goodbye to your house and your gas guzzler.

    "But if the company managed to force me into bankruptcy, where would they then get their income?"

    From renting what was formerly your house back to you or some other sucker.

    That or from putting you in a zoo and charging people to come see you.

  77. Some of the questions put to me are stepping on a blog post I had been planning (Frank’s distinction, or rather, lack thereof, between taxation and user fees), so I’ll link you to that when it’s up, but for now let’s return to some questions that I asked…that went notable unanswered. I’m being accused of being inconsistent, so let’s make sure the pot isn’t calling the kettle black. Plus I’ve been answering a lot and not getting many answers:

    Taxes (by taxes I mean plunder, not user fees – eugh, if you can’t work with the difference then just guess or something) are legitimate because of a democratic mandate from 22% of the electorate, that’s what was said earlier. An example of such an alledgedly legitimate tax is income tax – whereby rich people pay not only more in absolute terms, but more in relative terms, than others. For simplicity, let us suppose that ‘rich people’ pay twice as much as ‘poor people’. That, according to Frank, Mahons etc, is legitimate.

    So, if 22% of the people voted for black people to pay twice as much income tax as the base rate i.e. twice what white people pay, would that not be equally legitimate?

  78. CL,

    The reason that rich people pay more in absolute terms (relative terms is debatable) is partly that they get more in absolute terms and partly that the marginal utility of that money is less for them.

    For example if you have more property then you are getting more value from a police service and the justice system in general. If you do a lot of business then you probably use the courts more.

    Similarly if you earn more then you can afford to pay more than someone who earns less. You can argue that it is more in absolute or even relative terms but the fact is that you will miss it less. Of course, if the state gets greedy then the economy takes a tumble.

    No such rationale exists for taxing people based on the color of their skin. Moreover many societies including this one have decided that such discrimination is criminal. Last but not least there are limits on what governments can legimately do, so not every vote outcome is legitimate.

    And I’m afraid for ‘legitimate’ you have to read ‘legal’. In this context talk of "moral rights" is essentially gilding your own farts. Like property rights, the rights of people and of governments are ultimately a matter of consensus, they do not issue from your fundament. In other words: the universe does not define any property rights, and you do not get to decide what they are on your own.

  79. "The reason that rich people pay more in absolute terms (relative terms is debatable) is partly that they get more in absolute terms and partly that the marginal utility of that money is less for them. [etc etc etc]"

    So majority vote is not enough? It must also have some kind of theory behind it? Who decides which theories are valid?

    "the rights of people and of governments are ultimately a matter of consensus"

    And if the consensus was that black people should be treated as slaves?

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