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Amazing video revealing the "barrel of a gun" nature of taxation

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Wheylous Posted: Mon, Nov 5 2012 8:32 AM

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h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 5 2012 8:39 AM

Lol that was funny.

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I enjoyed that. I was impressed with how much progress he was able to make with some of them. I was also not surprised when they still resisted the ideas. I can only imagine the progress in 20 years.

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I've read that you need to be exposed to a concept around 7 times before it really sticks with you.

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I think the "barrel of a gun" thing is an awful way to discredit government taxation. My landlord will "hold a gun to my head" if I don't move and don't pay the rent (or do whatever else he tells me to do in order to live there), and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The difference is in who has legitimate property (and thus the right to do it) and who doesn't. The kid with the water gun -- like a lot of libertarians -- doesn't finish his thought. All he does is stir up emotions.

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Groucho replied on Mon, Nov 5 2012 9:40 AM

But the landlord doesn't threaten you in order to get money. He would only threaten you for tresspassing on his property without permission. Big difference.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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IMO, the "gun" argument is the biggest non sequitur libertarians have ever devised. Ever. I hate it.

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Groucho replied on Mon, Nov 5 2012 9:46 AM

Considering you're a troll, who cares?

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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No, I agree with you that there's a difference. It's just a lot of libertarians (like the kid in the video and people who think the kid in the video made a good point) leave out the most important premise: who has legitimate property. Hence, it's a non-sequitur.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Nov 5 2012 11:19 AM

1) He's not a troll

2) Even if it's a non-seuqitir, it's only a minor one that disappears quickly upon examination. If you're against this argument, then you should really be against almost all arguments put forth against greater state power:

We: "End the drug war!"

You: "Well, technically private property owners are legally allowed to ban drugs on their property"

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Groucho:

But the landlord doesn't threaten you in order to get money. He would only threaten you for tresspassing on his property without permission. Big difference.

The only difference between them is that you accept the landlord's claims as legitimate and not the state's, which means if someone believes the state's claims are legitimate then the gun argument fails. 

Unless you're a complete pacifist everyone accepts pointing a gun at someone and telling them to do X or have the trigger pulled. 

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Even if it's a non-seuqitir, it's only a minor one that disappears quickly upon examination.

It disappears quickly for us. This kid just held up th (water)gun at people and then walked away. With his premises, we could also be lead to the conclusion "Property is theft/force" which is no good. I think that's why the people in the video looked like they thought something was wrong -- with what the water gun kid was saying and with what the government is doing-- and just didn't know what.

If you're against this argument, then you should really be against almost all arguments put forth against greater state power

I'm against this incomplete argument because it relies on emotion as opposed to logic.

We: "End the drug war!"

You: "Well, technically private property owners are legally allowed to ban drugs on their property"

Yeah, I think that's important to point out. For example, growing up in my house, we weren't allowed to do any drugs (even when we reached "adulthood" at 18). The family had a privately-enforced prohibition policy; there's nothing unlibertarian about that. There is something unlibertarian about government prohibition.

A better argument than "end the drug war" would be "the government has no right to prohibit the use of drugs [for 'adults']" Unless we want to make some lame Utilitarian argument. No?

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Clayton replied on Mon, Nov 5 2012 12:36 PM

I don't think "shock therapy" is an effective way to go about educating people. Furthermore, I think that libertarians would do well to make it clear that we are not putting people to a totalistic dilemma - the choice is not "government" or "no government". What I would ask people is this: Given that we already have State and local governments, and given that it is the Federal government who is sending foreign aid, invading foreign countries, starting foreign wars, raising astronomical debts and building outlandish and obviously unsustainable entitlement programs - why shouldn't we just withdraw? Why not ask our State government to send the Federal government a letter stating: 

"We've had enough of your crap, we don't agree with any of your policies and we are sick of you sucking the lifeblood out of our inhabitants. Consider this notice that all inhabitants of X State are no longer under obligation to comply with Federal tax laws or any Federal laws except as already applicable to foreigners. Please withdraw all movable Federal assets from our territory. Federal land holdings will be placed in trust and can be either continue to be administered by the trust on behalf of the Federal government or auctioned by the trust, proceeds to be received by the Federal government."

There is no need to contemplate Mad Max scenarios or any other such Chicken-Little propaganda. And rather than just leaving a question-mark in people's minds, I think we can provide concrete steps forward.

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http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com
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Oh, and:

1) He's not a troll

Thanks. Haha.

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Groucho replied on Mon, Nov 5 2012 1:35 PM

My apologies for the "troll" remark. Sometimes it's hard to tell around here. blush

So let me point out what I see as the big flaw in comparing the government to the landlord.

Taxes are not rent. Government demands taxes from its citizens regardless of if they live in the country or not.

If you don't pay taxes, the government does not deport you or evict you from its "property". It threatens to use any amount of force (including deadly) to confiscate from, kidnap, and incarcerate you.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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This just hit me, too:

We: "End the drug war!"

That's a conclusion, not a premise. I don't object to the watergun kid's conclusion ("End taxation"); it's his premise that's weak ("'cause it's like holding a gun to your head!"). If the reason provided for ending the drug war was "'cause prohibition is like holding a gun to your head," I would say "Well, technically private property owners are legally allowed to ban drugs on their property." But I agree with the conclusion nonetheless.

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gotlucky replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 10:40 AM

I'm with Groucho on this one. The point of the gun argument is to highlight the fact that fundamentally, there is no difference between the violence of an individual and the violence of a group of individuals. The argument is not about whether it is legitimate to rob someone in order to redistribute to the poor or give foreign aid to another state. This argument is a shorthand for methodological individualism. The state is just a group of individuals, and those individuals do literally the same thing as what "private" criminals do.

To be clear, the argument is not: Pointing a gun at someone is wrong always.

The argument is: If you are against an individual doing X, then what is the difference between one individual doing X and two or more individuals doing X.

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 11:01 AM

gotlucky - interesting point. It certainly squares well with Bastiat's analysis in The Law. But still, I think the point was the barrel of the gun thing.

QC - If we stopped and explained the entirety of libertarian theory to people on the first go it would never work. Such small bits of convincing are important, even if in the end they hide small details.

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gotlucky replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 11:09 AM

I think the barrel of the gun is just to highlight the issue. If it were 1000 years ago, it would have been a sword or arrow. From what I saw, I thought the questioner was asking: what's the difference between me threatening you or the state threatening you?

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 11:56 AM

The trouble with most of this kind of discussion is that it fails to challenge the myth of modern politics that you have a say. You don't have a say unless you're very wealthy or politically powerful or well-connected.

People need to instead concentrate on what they can control (the little things in their own lives... business, family, friends, community). By turning their focus away from what they can control and onto what they cannot control, people voluntarily subject their lives (the part they can control) to a tragedy of the commons. The political elites profit from this because much of political power is founded on the inability of the masses to properly manage their own affairs.

This is why my focus - in terms of libertarian theory - is on morality. Morality concerns your choices... something you actually control. In terms of political theory, I think we need to create a pathway for people to turn their focus away from that which they do not control and back onto competent management of their own affairs. This is why my emphasis is on secession, 10th amendment, nullification, etc. People need to stop "thinking globally" and start "thinking and acting locally", as locally as possible. "How can I improve my management and use of my own time? How can I better the lives and welfare of my family? How can I help my friends and community? How can I contribute to the political and fiscal soundness of my local region and state?"

Let the world worry for itself. Everyone (except the pundits and political gasbags) has enough to worry about in their day-to-day life. Plastic doesn't require "global consciousness" and world government. George Carlin - a veritable modern pro[phet - explains it all here:

Clayton -

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com
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Groucho replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 12:16 PM

I remember my disappointment in George Carlin's final album "It's Bad For Ya". It was mostly funny, but he had a bit on "natural rights" that rubbed me the wrong way (it's still hilarious though).

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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That was awesome.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 1:28 PM

With Carlin, you have to remember it is an intricate web of satire and wisdom - I don't disagree with any of the thoughts he exresses in that segment.

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Groucho replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 6:14 PM

The only thing I didn't like is equating "rights" to "privileges" (and the bit about the "right to own a gun so you can kill your girlfriend's parents"). Other than that, it's awesome.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Blargg replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 9:51 PM

That's the thing that gets me. These people are voting on what to impose on me. Why should someone else get to vote for force used against me? It's also why it's absurd when they tell me that I should vote or else I'm wasting it and can't complain. So you want me to take part in a process where everyone throws in their opinion, and the most common one then gets imposed on me? Why is this even put to vote? I should be the lone voter on what is imposed on me, because it doesn't impact anyone else. Likewise for every other individual in this country. I want to cast my vote for freedom, but that's not an option on the ballot, and the very process is one of servitude. If I took part in that, I would be voting for servitude, and just sharing my opinion on what kind I'd like to see them impose. When people criticize me, it shows how much of a sham their claims of acceptance of difference of people. Yeah, you accept difference as long as everyone goes along with your idea of using force on everyone, of using a broken process for deciding what gets imposed on an individual. When someone has a different view (someone who believe it or not respects your view and even respects you going out to the polls and voting) you put them down, you dismiss them without even thinking about what they are saying. You turn into rabid sports fans around election time, and forget about all these things you proclaim to care about.
 

And this video is great. It really fires me up (in a good way). I'm not going to take the lame bullshit arguments from voters putting me down. It really is clear to me now, when someone says they voted for so-and-so, I can come back and ask why the hell they did that. Look at what they're doing. YOU voted for this guy. What, you're saying that you didn't know he would do this? Give me a break! Look at what every one before him has done. You can't tell me this was unexpected. What, you had to vote for someone? No you didn't! You went in and said, "I want this guy presiding over the country." That's what your vote means. So I'm holding you responsible for what this guy is doing now (along with everyone else who voted for him). You have no excuse for voting if you didn't really believe in it. It's people like you who just go along with things that support it. That doesn't absolve you from complicity.

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gotlucky replied on Tue, Nov 6 2012 10:02 PM

@Clayton

I agree with your focus. But I think that if you can open people's minds to seeing the state as a double standard, then it is easier for them to work for change locally.

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