From the Department of We're All In It Together...

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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#161  Postby mrjonno » Mar 31, 2014 8:17 pm

laklak wrote:We are more in agreement than we are disagreement, mrjonno. Regulation is absolutely necessary to prevent a resurgence of 19th century robber baron capitalism. The fly in the ointment is the scope of the regulations.


It's as much as about what is capitalism 'for', if its utilised to ensure we have a decent society with food, healthcare and shelter for all then fine. If its worshipped as something good in itself is when you get a problem
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#162  Postby Beatsong » Mar 31, 2014 8:22 pm

laklak wrote:There's always a lot of talk around here about "wealth inequality" and "redistribution". In this thread, particularly as it relates to inheritance or estate taxes. It isn't fair that that poncey git gets a couple of million quid when his daddy pops his clogs and I don't. So we'll take it from him and redistribute it to "the people", because, after all, he didn't "earn" that money. Well, neither did The People. I'll never understand how it's considered immoral to take unearned money from your parents but it isn't immoral to take unearned money from total strangers.


The problem with your objection is that it takes the personal property rights of individuals as they currently exist as axiomatic. The fact that it winds back to acknowledging the property rights of individuals as they currently exist, and denying the validity of challenging those rights, is thus nothing more than circular.

The problem with libertarian conceptions - and even many capitalist conceptions - of property rights, is that they ignore the fact that property right ITSELF only exists by the agreement of society. You own your house, your money, your guns, whatever, by virtue of the fact that you live in a society that recognises your name as owner on the title deed or bank account, has laws against infringement of that ownership, and supports a judiciary and police force to enforce those laws. Without those things there IS NO "gets", "take", "earns" or any of the other words that make your paragraph above mean anything. You can do a Seth and claim how you have those rights according to some bizarre woo-infested claim about the little homunculous at the wheel of nature, but then you're talking about something else. You're talking about a claim, not a right, It only becomes a right when other people agree with you about it (not necessarily everyone, but enough people to maintain a social fabric based on acceptance of such laws and customs).

What follows from this is a fundamental circularity. You rail against people claiming that "the people" have some right to "take" X amount of wealth from some individual for redistribution, while completely ignoring the fact that the wealth is only "his" by virtue of the agreement of "the people" in the first place.

If you really want to consider wealth as "belonging" to an individual in an absolute sense, which is in no way subject to anything to do with society, then fine. All I have to do then is come along and steal all your wealth, and we don't have to have this conversation. Because of course you wouldn't dream of getting the police or judiciary involved, would you? That would just be SOCIETY telling me what do or don't have a right to own, and they've got no right to do that, have they?

The point is that the social conversation about how we call some things the property of some individuals, pass and maintain laws to enforce that claim and prevent others from infringing upon it, is part of the same conversation that we have about the limitations of that process, and about how we promote equality of opportunity so that everybody can have a fair crack of the whip at acquiring such property. It's one conversation. Libertarians and right wing capitalists try to pretend that it's two separate ones, that the first one has already been had and resolved and can't possibly be reopened again, and means that 1% of the British population owns 70% of the island and there's nothing anyone can do about it, because "that's just the way it is". The second conversation (about redistribution etc.) can then be dismissed as immoral to even consider because it violates the cast iron conclusions of the first conversation.

But that's a lie because the first conversation only gets its validity from the same factors of social agreement that give the second conversation validity too. What does it means to say this is "mine"? What does it mean to agree that this is "yours"? What gives you the right to call it "yours"? What gives you the right to circumscribe my behaviour in relation to the thing, by telling me that it's "yours" and not "mine"? Etc. etc.

Socialism is not based on taking and redistributing the wealth of individuals, as you claim. It's based on looking more deeply and honestly at the process by which we associate wealth with individuals in the first place, exactly what's involved in that association and on what basis we choose to continue making it. That isn't doing anything different from what you do all the time: you call things "property" and invoke the power OF SOCIETY to maintain their status as such.
Last edited by Beatsong on Mar 31, 2014 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#163  Postby Beatsong » Mar 31, 2014 8:25 pm

laklak wrote:A bit of both, actually. I realize I went a bit OT with the discussion of Cuba, but I think the two concepts are linked.


So when you say "Pretty much every socialist economy is in the shitter", do you mean that every country that has attempted to fundamentally organise the economy according to socialist principles is in the shitter, or that every country that has practised substantial wealth redistribution is in the shitter?
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#164  Postby mrjonno » Mar 31, 2014 10:07 pm

I would argue any country that puts up borders to trade which is basically any country (they all have borders) is socialist to some extenct
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#165  Postby OlivierK » Mar 31, 2014 11:07 pm

American socialism built the interstates and the Hoover Dam and put men on the moon. American socialism funds the world's largest military force.

Hell, Americans are denying the supremacy of the individual every time they go to an Olympics and chant U! S! A! U! S! A! at people who they have nothing in common with but who were born slightly closer to them than the other guys.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#166  Postby azeed » Apr 01, 2014 2:31 am

Beatsong wrote:Socialism is not based on taking and redistributing the wealth of individuals, as you claim. It's based on looking more deeply and honestly at the process by which we associate wealth with individuals in the first place, exactly what's involved in that association and on what basis we choose to continue making it.


Equality is an enlightened step too far for many people who in their heart of hearts believe that the top dogs should own all the riches, possess all the power, and lead the pack while lesser, weaker dogs should have nothing and do what they are told.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#167  Postby Nicko » Apr 01, 2014 8:30 am

Beatsong wrote:If you really want to consider wealth as "belonging" to an individual in an absolute sense, which is in no way subject to anything to do with society, then fine. All I have to do then is come along and steal all your wealth, and we don't have to have this conversation. Because of course you wouldn't dream of getting the police or judiciary involved, would you? That would just be SOCIETY telling me what do or don't have a right to own, and they've got no right to do that, have they?


You do realise he'd shoot you, don't you?

Nice post though. Particularly the criticism of US Libertarianism.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#168  Postby Strontium Dog » Apr 01, 2014 10:59 am

azeed wrote:Equality is an enlightened step too far for many people who in their heart of hearts believe that the top dogs should own all the riches, possess all the power, and lead the pack while lesser, weaker dogs should have nothing and do what they are told.


Right, because it's not like there's a middle ground between the worthy owning everything and the hoi polloi owning nothing, is there :roll:
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#169  Postby Scot Dutchy » Apr 01, 2014 11:42 am

Strontium Dog wrote:
azeed wrote:Equality is an enlightened step too far for many people who in their heart of hearts believe that the top dogs should own all the riches, possess all the power, and lead the pack while lesser, weaker dogs should have nothing and do what they are told.


Right, because it's not like there's a middle ground between the worthy owning everything and the hoi polloi owning nothing, is there :roll:


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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#170  Postby azeed » Apr 01, 2014 2:22 pm

Strontium Dog wrote:Right, because it's not like there's a middle ground between the worthy owning everything and the hoi polloi owning nothing, is there :roll:


Maybe you have some kind of point to make which you'd like to share with us?
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#171  Postby Strontium Dog » Apr 01, 2014 2:54 pm

Pretty sure I already did.

Meanwhile, some evidence to support your claim would be welcome.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#172  Postby Sendraks » Apr 01, 2014 2:56 pm

Strontium Dog wrote:Pretty sure I already did.

Meanwhile, some evidence to support your claim would be welcome.


http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2013/05/30/distribution-of-wealth-in-the-4th-most-unequal-country-in-the-world/
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#173  Postby Strontium Dog » Apr 01, 2014 3:01 pm

And how does that support the idea that "many people... in their heart of hearts believe that the top dogs should own all the riches, possess all the power, and lead the pack while lesser, weaker dogs should have nothing and do what they are told".
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#174  Postby Sendraks » Apr 01, 2014 3:09 pm

I'm just providing the material to see what other's make of it.

My view regarding inheritance tax and unearned wealth is fairly well established early on in this thread.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#175  Postby Emmeline » Apr 04, 2014 9:42 pm

The Conservative party would be better off scrapping inheritance tax altogether rather than increasing the threshold to £1m, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested.

The thinktank said raising the threshold from its current level of £325,000 would mean only a small number of rich families would be obliged to pay the tax, raising very little revenue for the Treasury.

"In these circumstances more radical change should surely be considered. One option would be simply to abolish the tax," said the institute's Stuart Adam and Carl Emmerson in a report.

"It would simplify the tax system and get rid of an ineffective and unpopular tax which can be criticised in any case as a source of double taxation in cases where bequests are financed from earnings that have already been taxed."

http://www.theguardian.com/business/201 ... id-cameron
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#176  Postby minininja » Apr 04, 2014 10:51 pm

Article is a bit misleading. The actual report is certainly worth a read. But yes, raising the threshold to a million significantly reduces the number of people paying (which is under 3% anyway) and the amounts that the remainder will pay. If they were to do that, they might as well scrap it, and replace it with something better. As the report says, a tax on all gifts received above a threshold (I'd say maybe match the income tax-free threshold annually?) would be both fairer and harder for the very wealthy to avoid.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#177  Postby Strontium Dog » Apr 04, 2014 11:27 pm

As experts they ought to be well enough acquainted with circular flow to avoid terms like "double taxation". I'd rather see them make the case for inheritance tax than indulge such populist nonsense.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#178  Postby mrjonno » Apr 06, 2014 4:26 pm

Strontium Dog wrote:As experts they ought to be well enough acquainted with circular flow to avoid terms like "double taxation". I'd rather see them make the case for inheritance tax than indulge such populist nonsense.


Distribution of wealth seems a good a start.

Basically the reasons people don't like inheritance taxes are the reasons I do
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#179  Postby laklak » Apr 07, 2014 3:15 am

Nicko wrote:
Beatsong wrote:If you really want to consider wealth as "belonging" to an individual in an absolute sense, which is in no way subject to anything to do with society, then fine. All I have to do then is come along and steal all your wealth, and we don't have to have this conversation. Because of course you wouldn't dream of getting the police or judiciary involved, would you? That would just be SOCIETY telling me what do or don't have a right to own, and they've got no right to do that, have they?


You do realise he'd shoot you, don't you?

Nice post though. Particularly the criticism of US Libertarianism.


All property "rights" are based on force. Either individual force, in the form of a shotgun or spear or bow and arrow, or social force in the form of the police, courts, lawyers, deeds, titles of ownership and the entire apparatus of modern governance.

Of course society tells us what to do, what we can own, what we owe to fund the collective good, what we can expect in return from the collective. The only people I've ever seen arguing your strawman position are living in compounds out in the woods, waiting for the asteroid strike or Yellowstone eruption. They're the lunatic fringe, and their position is no more relevant to current Libertarian thought than Joe Stalin's musings are to U.S. Democrats or UK Laborites.

The points of contention are who decides what comprises the collective good and at what point the good of the many override the rights of the one. You draw your lines differently than I do. You think inherited wealth is bad, or if not actually "bad" than at least not so "good" as to insure it stays with the people it's willed to. You believe the collective has a better moral and ethical claim on that wealth than the hereditary beneficiaries. I disagree.
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Re: From the Department of We're All In It Together...

#180  Postby minininja » Apr 07, 2014 9:03 am

laklak wrote:The only people I've ever seen arguing your strawman position are living in compounds out in the woods, waiting for the asteroid strike or Yellowstone eruption. They're the lunatic fringe, and their position is no more relevant to current Libertarian thought than Joe Stalin's musings are to U.S. Democrats or UK Laborites.

The trouble is we've all heard far too much from Seth over the years. :shifty:

The points of contention are who decides what comprises the collective good and at what point the good of the many override the rights of the one. You draw your lines differently than I do. You think inherited wealth is bad, or if not actually "bad" than at least not so "good" as to insure it stays with the people it's willed to. You believe the collective has a better moral and ethical claim on that wealth than the hereditary beneficiaries. I disagree.

So what do you think about vast inequalities of wealth amounting over multiple generations? About the extreme inequalities of opportunity it leads to? The effects it has on an economy? The effects it has on democracy as a small minority of extremely wealthy people can buy all sorts of political influence?
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