Saturday, April 9, 2011

Please take some time to think about what you just said.

I wasn't going to write anything serious today. Then ...

I've got a friend, lets call him Richard, primarily because that's his name. Most of his his politics fall on the right side of sensible, by which I mean he's obviously thought about it all and is capable of backing his random statements up. He made a comment on the book of face yesterday about the hobby horse of the day, the tupperwaka.  Two things here,  1)Whoever came up with tupperwaka - nicely done. And 2)don't worry this is not another rant about the tupperwaka and the general lack of planning that we are prone to when spending large amounts of money. 

Anyway. Further down the exchange, someone he knows came up with a gem when talking about taxes:
If I stick a gun under your nose and say "Give me
your cash", it would obviously be theft. If the govt does it, they are
doing it to provide "communal se...rvices".
I can't do it under the pretext of providing a service. That would be
coercion. But the govt can. There is no moral difference.
<facepalm>. Seriously? I can only imagine that this line of thinking comes about from a them vs. us type mindset when thinking about the government. There is a huge difference. The government is not a separate group of people outside of society ruling over us. If it was, we'd have a problem. The government is our means of governing ourselves as a society. Being a member of society is not just a matter of an individual having rights. Everyone who wants to be considered part of society needs to acknowledge that
there are also responsibilities involved. No, we weren't given the option of joining or not joining when we were born. When we become adults though, we have the option of leaving and finding another society more to our liking.
The government, in taking taxes, are acting as our agents. In redistributing those funds, they are acting as our agents. If someone doesn't like the way things are happening, they have the opportunity to convince others and if a sufficient number of them agree, things change. The fact that you can't convince a sufficient number of people that we shouldn't be paying taxes does not make it theft. It means that society does not at this point in time believe that is the right course of action. There are two legitimate courses of action here. 1) shut the hell up. 2) try and change things - lobby, run for parliament, civil disobedience, whatever. To label tax as theft though demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the underpinnings of a working society and it pains me. Not as much as having to listen to people talk aliens visiting ancient nomad desert cultures thousands of years ago like in the cafe this morning, but it pains me nonetheless.
The other gem this chap produced was the view that the current government hasn't really done any damage to the R&D environment in NZ, but I'll save that for sometime next week when I can go find a few sources to back me up.

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