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Tax Day Self-Congratulations
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Since today is Tax Day, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at this Matt Stoller post from a few days ago.
I just paid my taxes, and I have to say, I always take pride when I do so. I don't like having less money to spend, of course, and the complexity of the process is really upsetting. But I am proud to pay for democracy, and I feel when I do send money to the DC Treasurer and the US Treasury that that is what I am doing.
First of all, when you pay taxes, you are not paying for "democracy". Indeed, our system of democratic elections isn't paid for by taxes, but through the donations of private citizens to candidates, 527 organizations, PACs, etc. Some candidates can, if they choose to accept them—and the restrictions that go along with them—get matching funds from various levels of government, of course, but, in the main, our entire electoral system is paid for through voluntary donations, not tax money. And, as it happens, even matching funds for presidential elections are paid for by voluntary donations to the presidential campaign fund, which are made when taxpayers check that block on their tax returns. So, your tax money doesn't pay for democracy, your private donations do, assuming you make any, which makes Mr. Stoller's self-congratulatory point simply incoherent.

What you are paying for with your tax money isn't democracy. It's government. And that is an entirely different thing. What Mr. Stoller is paying for with his tax money is the war in Iraq, corporate welfare in the form of massive subsidies to large agro-corporations like Archer Daniels Midland, foreign aid to the government of Egypt, and a whole host of other things that are totally unrelated to democracy.

Perhaps Mr. Stoller is proud to have his money go to such things, but he is mistaken to equate them with democracy. If George W. Bush were to declare himself president-for-life tomorrow, as the more unhinged elements on the Left seem to fear, those taxes would continue, uninterrupted, because what they are paying for has no real relationship with democracy in any meaningful sense.
The right-wing likes to pretend as if taxes are a burden instead of the price of democracy.
Perhaps that is because taxes, as I have just shown, are the price of government, not democracy, and to the extent that government goes beyond its legitimate mandate to protect the citizenry from force or fraud, they are a burden. To understand that is not to "pretend" that a burden exists, it is to recognize an empirical fact, which is that the US government's current operations alone absorb one-fifth of our national output every single year. When you add in state and local taxes, the operation of government at all levels absorbs nearly one-third of our economic output. Even if you think every penny that government spends is completely justified, financing government operations with one out of every three dollars is a burden, no matter how you cut it.

What those on the right—a term which I'll use to include libertarians, for convenience—believe, however, is that 33% of our national output is too large a burden, and that the government simply does too many things.

That's not an argument—or even a complaint—about democracy, it's an argument against the size and scope of the government's current operations. That Mr. Stoller seems unable to recognize this is a sign of either ignorance, or bad faith.
And I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don't want.
We will now pause for a moment, while Mr. Stoller worships at the altar of his own moral vanity.
Personally, I find banking fees, high cable and internet charges, health care costs, and credit card hidden charges much more abrasive than taxes, because with those I'm just being ripped off to pay for someone's summer home.
Well, let's perform a brief gedankenexperiment, shall we? Let us assume that we have two items in our possession. One of them is a Visa card issued by Wells Fargo. The other one is your completed 1040 form, issued by the IRS. For our experiment, let us drop both of those items into a shredder. Now, that we have done so, which of those two issuing agencies will send armed thugs to your door, slap a lien on your house, and/or cart you off to jail?

If you guessed "Wells Fargo", you'd be sadly mistaken. Because, you see, your relationship with Wells Fargo is consensual. If you don't want to pay hidden credit card charges that buy some fat cat a summer home, then...you just stop doing it. Shred the card, and go along on your merry way. (Why, you might even use that in your regular services of self-worship as evidence that you've helped to deny a summer home to someone who didn't deserve it.) You can bank at a credit union instead of a bank. In fact, you can simply walk into an emergency room and receive health care, and refuse to pay for it, and they have to provide you with it anyway. Why, you can even shut off your cable, and watch the local broadcast channels, and even shut off your high-speed Internet access and use the local public library to browse the web.

But if you do want to avail yourself of modern financial and technological services, well, then, you have to pay for them. Because no one is interested in providing you with valuable goods and services for free. As long as you do so without fraud or compulsion, of your own free will, then you really have nothing to complain about.

On the other hand, if you guessed "the IRS" as the answer to the question, then you'd be spot on. Because your relationship with the IRS, no matter how much you try to pretty it up with musings about "democracy" and whatnot, is one of simple force. You blow off the IRS, and they will come after you. They'll slap you with fines, put a lien on your assets, freeze you bank accounts, and even haul you off to jail. The IRS doesn't give a fig about democracy. They just want "their" money, and they'll use whatever level of force is necessary to get it, or to make you pay for not giving it to them.

But, while we're on the subject, let's talk about democracy.

Democracy is not a value. It has no moral component, in and of itself. Democracy is merely a system of governance where the majority will prevails. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner is democracy, which probably doesn't seem like a very moral system to the unfortunate sheep. For some reason, we fetishize democracy as if it were, in and of itself, some font of legitimacy. But the Framers of the Constitution certainly had no illusions about democracy. As James Madison put it, in Federalist #10:
A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
Democracy is nothing more than the government doing what a majority of the people want. If the people want to lynch blacks, then that's what they get to do. If the majority wants to eliminate the free speech of Communists—or the communists themselves—then they get to do that. If the people want to stick citizens of Japanese extraction into internment camps, then that's just peachy. After all, if a majority of the electorate wants to do it, then it's perfectly democratic to do so. This means that democracy is no more resistant to tyranny than any other form of government.

What really matters to a society is not the form of government, but the constitutionalism that informs it.

Time for another gedankenexperiment. Under which government are the citizens more free:

1. A hereditary monarchy where the King and his Ministers are constitutionally forbidden to enter private homes without a warrant, impair the obligation of contracts, to censor the press, or interfere with freedom of conscience.

2. A democracy where the will of the people is unfettered.

Any system, irrespective of the form of government, that recognizes and upholds individual rights, is freer than a democratic system that doesn't.

So, those of us on what is, broadly speaking, the Right, don't hate democracy. We simply don't fetishize it, and don't assume that it has some magical or moral powers which it does not. Sure, all other things being equal, a democratic form of governance is better than the other forms, since it's better for the people to direct the actions of their government, rather than giving it over to some sort of unelected, unaccountable elite. Forcing the government to subject itself to the audit of the citizenry isn't a bad idea. But the most important thing is that the citizenry itself be constitutionally prevented from infringing on the rights of others, no matter how large a majority of the electorate wants to do it. Without limitations on the holders of power, whether the holders are kings or voters, tyranny is the inevitable result.

As I've said many times, democracy is a wonderful method for ascertaining what the people want. It is useless, however, in determining whether what they want is the right thing.

Mr. Stoller can praise democracy all he wants, of course. I note with interest, however, the lack of praise for liberty.

Indeed, I wonder if it even occurred to him.
Patriotism is about recognizing that we are all connected in a fundamental moral and physical sense, that the war in Iraq is our war, that poverty in New Orleans is our poverty, that public funding to cure cancer comes from each of us and not just the scientists who have made it theirs. The tax burden we face is a very small price to pay for the privilege of taking responsibility for our own freedom and our own society.
Repeat after me: taxation has nothing whatever to do with responsibility. It is solely a matter of legality. Responsibility is the willingness to undertake a moral obligation. Absent the operation of free will, you are not being responsible; you are being coerced.

Mr. Stoller makes some unstated assumptions here, the most important of which is that his fellow citizens will not willingly pay for these things unless coerced. His definition of "responsibility" is to coerce his fellow citizens to things they would prefer not to do. There is no other way to read this passage, since, if his fellow citizens were willing to provide the money to do these things absent compulsion, then public funding for them wouldn't be necessary.

Which leads one to wonder, if that is so, then why is the government doing things the citizens would not willingly choose to do? And, what is so wonderfully democratic about that?
And the hatred of taxes on the right comes from a hatred for this responsibility.
Again, an argument of either astounding ignorance or bad faith. I could similarly offer the tendentious argument that the reason the Left loves taxes is because they hate liberty.

The hatred of taxes has nothing to do with responsibility, but rather from the knowledge that, to the extent that government action expands, liberty must in some measure contract. When we on the Right complain about the size of government, it is, in essence a complaint that the sphere of free action is being reduced.

For instance, the money that I am forced to give for publicly funded cancer research, reduces the amount of money I have available to give to causes I might rather support, such as SIDS or diabetes research. My supply of money is limited, and the more the government takes from me, the less I have to direct to charities of my own choosing.

Indeed, by Mr. Stoller's reasoning, why should I be allowed to keep any money at all? After all, our benevolent overlords in the government could no doubt find any number of charitable or otherwise useful things to spend money on. If keep any of it, why, I'm just liable to blow it all on hats.

The difference between the Left and Right on taxation stems from a fundamental difference in each side's moral view of government. The Left views government as a source of virtue, enforcing their arbitrary vision of fairness on the citizenry. The Right, on the other hand, views government as a necessary evil that is required to prevent the citizen being subjected to force or fraud.

To the right, therefore, government action—and the taxes that fund it—must be constrained in order to maximize liberty. At the end of the day, I go back to the warning of Jerry Ford: A government that's powerful enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take away everything you have.

I find Mr. Stoller's apparent inability to recognize this truth to be a matter of ineffable sadness, rather than a source of anger.
 
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As Sir Winston Churchill said: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

I love this post, and I plan on beating people pver the head with it...

Because I just took a vote, and 100% of the people I polled think it’s a good idea... :)
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Did you see this comment?
Every year, I tell them "I don’t mind paying, the government needs the money more than I do right now."

This year, money is quite tight, with a new house, kids on the way, but I still said "the government needs the money more than I do" because in a Democracy, the government is US. Paying my taxes is paying for my future children’s nation, and I owe my kids tomorrow my taxes today.
How can you argue with people that willfully ignorant? Does that level of stupidity take practice or is it simply natural to these loons?
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Well, I’ll give Stoller this. At least he’s prepared to pay what the government asks from him, even if it’s a strain for him.

He’s not like some on the left, who want "the rich" to pay everything for everyone, with "the rich" somehow always effectively defined as "those who make more money that I do". Or those who want "corporations" to pay, while imagining that the money thereby just appears out of thin air rather than being raised by higher prices charged to the customers of said corporations.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
But good Lord, did you read the comments? These fools think "Everyone has a right to emergency medical care"? It’s mind numbing how emotional they are rather than logical.

But, we’re ’haters of democracy’ and fascists, so being that’s the best they can do then maybe we’re ok.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
I just paid my taxes, and I have to say, I always take pride when I do so.
"Just" paid your taxes? Huh. I pay my taxes every paycheck.

Too many people misunderstand the nature of taxes. The other one is "look at the money Uncle Sam sent me (refund). Um, no. It’s more "look at the miniscule amount of my hard earned money Uncle Sam allowed me to have back"

Taxes are a necessary evil but lets not go overboard with it!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Dale,

Picking on someone like this just isn’t fair. What are you going to do next, steal candy from a baby?
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://thelibertypapers.org/
I took my shots here and here, not that they seem to be interested in anything but name-calling.

I must say though that the parts in this post about a person having the alternative of emergency room health care, local broadcast channels, and public library internet use kind of misses the mark from Stoller’s post. Many of them would be happy (thrilled) if government provided everything.
 
Written By: abwtf
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
We will now pause for a moment, while Mr. Stoller worships at the altar of his own moral vanity.

—That was AWESOME.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Buncha tax hating malcontents. Where did these outrageous ideas come from?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://
I file my returns as soon as possible...

I want my "refund" as soon as I can get it, because I have an issue with giving the Govt more money than I have to. I don’t follow Islam. I don’t live by Shari law... I charge INTEREST on my loans, damnit!

That’s what your refund is. The govt paying back an interest-free loan. It had access to your money, and was indeed using it.

I don’t like that idea, frankly...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Here, here! This really should be required high school reading, an simple exercise in critical thinking about your gummint.

Reading the comments over there, they REALLY dont like their echo chamber disturbed, do they? I used to jump in and spar, but really, what’s the point?
 
Written By: rob
URL: http://
Very well said. Thank you.
 
Written By: Larry Knerr
URL: http://
Every year, I tell them "I don’t mind paying, the government needs the money more than I do right now."

Don’t put this guy down. We need more like him. Fortunately one is born every minute.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
Mr Stoller is correct when he says his taxes are "the price of democracy", because a democracy is your government. Arguing (as you do) that taxes are the price of your government and yet not the price of democracy, whilst a democracy is your government, requires some fairly obtuse reasoning.
Perhaps Mr. Stoller is proud to have his money go to such things, but he is mistaken to equate them with democracy. If George W. Bush were to declare himself president-for-life tomorrow, as the more unhinged elements on the Left seem to fear, those taxes would continue, uninterrupted, because what they are paying for has no real relationship with democracy in any meaningful sense.
Actually I am pretty certain those taxes would not continue uninterrupted. To gather the taxes would require legal apparatus or at least willing tax gatherers. Declaring yourself president-for-life is not legal and Mr Bush is not sufficiently popular amoung the ranks of government that he can order up sufficient force for those taxes to be gathered illegally.

There is meaningful relationship between taxes and democracy. Your democracy sets the taxes as the price it charges for being your government.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
Without limitations on the holders of power, whether the holders are kings or voters, tyranny is the inevitable result.
That might even be true, except voters are not the holders of power under a representative democracy such as you have. Power is held by politicians, who are largely held in check by the democracy that legitimises them. Politicians have the power to amend the constituion by acting in sufficient majority. The constitution is therefore no check on their actions, only the will of voters and other representatives acts as a check.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
His definition of "responsibility" is to coerce his fellow citizens to things they would prefer not to do.
Well written post Dale. However, you are giving Stoller too much credit when you actually provide a substantive rebuttal. The quote above focuses on Stoller’s real agenda. He and other Democrats don’t believe in Democracy, they believe in big government and the power that it confers on Democrats. As we have seen over the last six years, government bureaucracies have a will of their own regardless of who is in power (e.g. the war waged on the Bush admin. by the state dept. and the CIA, the Justice Dept. letting Sandy Burglar off with a wrist slap, etc.) Stoller wants to hide behind Democracy in his criticism of conservative opposition to big government. Democrats truly hate Democracy. They love things like McCain-Feingold and the Fairness Doctrine.
 
Written By: Anonymous
URL: http://www.qando.net
There is meaningful relationship between taxes and democracy. Your democracy sets the taxes as the price it charges for being your government.
So, if taxes are the price to be paid what happens if I don’t like the product and service I am recieving? Can I stop payment on my check? The word "price" implies a voluntary exchange. There is nothing voluntary about paying taxes, if you don’t believe me try not paying them for a while.
As I’ve said many times, democracy is a wonderful method for ascertaining what the people want. It is useless, however, in determining whether what they want is the right thing.
I assume you are speaking of the metaphorical New Hampshire townhall type democracy, not the 2 million un-elected bureaucrats empowered by 436 elected officials, of which I only have a millionth of a fraction of a vote in "choosing" 4 of them, in a choice between the top candidate from the 2 major political parties every several years, type of democracy.

The arrangement we have is a dreadful method for ascertaining "what people want", as if there were even such a thing in the first place. At best Democracy can ascertain what 50.01% of the population wants, not what "the people", as if there is such a thing, want.

But the fact that the system of government we live under, the constitution, and a vast majority of the laws (like the amendment legalizing the income tax for instance) were passed long before I was ever born, by people who lived and died long before me, and by politicians who were not beholden to me or had responsibility to me whatsoever. How is that "democracy"? As far as I’m concerned it may as well be a dictatorship because I, nor any of you, voted for any of it.


 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
So, if taxes are the price to be paid what happens if I don’t like the product and service I am recieving?
Leave. There are plenty of real dictatorships to choose from, some of them do not even have income tax.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
I note with interest, however, the lack of praise for liberty.

Indeed, I wonder if it even occurred to him.
Liberty is not free.

Whatever liberty you have is the liberty of living under your government’s protection. And what do you know...
The tax burden we face is a very small price to pay for the privilege of taking responsibility for our own freedom and our own society.
...Matt Stoller agrees.
The Right, on the other hand, views government as a necessary evil that is required to prevent the citizen being subjected to force or fraud.
...Dale Franks agrees.

What we have here is an argument over the necessary price.

Liberty is not free, if you are unwilling to pay the price you no longer get the product.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
What we have here is an argument over the necessary price.
Which is driven by an unnecessary feature set.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
When I was a young lad I took a job as a mechanic’s helper. The first car to come in after I was hired was in for a transmission rebuild. I remember being amazed as I watched the mechanic moving around under the car as it sat up on the rack, firing his air gun like an automatic weapon as bolts rained down on us. It seemed like he had that transmission in pieces on the work bench in about ten minutes.

Somehow, Dale’s deconstruction of Stoller brought back that memory.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Mr Stoller is correct when he says his taxes are "the price of democracy", because a democracy is your government
And in here your woeful ignorance is exposed, showing that converse with people like you is fruitless. We do not live under a democracy, sirrah. We live in a republic.
Actually I am pretty certain those taxes would not continue uninterrupted. To gather the taxes would require legal apparatus or at least willing tax gatherers. Declaring yourself president-for-life is not legal and Mr Bush is not sufficiently popular amoung the ranks of government that he can order up sufficient force for those taxes to be gathered illegally.
You are quibbling and cavilling, sirrah. Popularity aside, Mr. Bush is the commander in chief of the armed forces. With their backing and support, such a coup would be quite possible. (LIKELY? Different matter.) Ask the people in the Weimar Republic if you doubt that such a leader could seize absolute power. Power does not require capturing the hearts of a people, but only their bodies, which is quite easily done with sufficient force.
That might even be true, except voters are not the holders of power under a representative democracy such as you have. Power is held by politicians, who are largely held in check by the democracy that legitimises them. Politicians have the power to amend the constituion by acting in sufficient majority. The constitution is therefore no check on their actions, only the will of voters and other representatives acts as a check.
Strawman, sirrah. Mr. Franks clearly described a range of powers.
Leave. There are plenty of real dictatorships to choose from, some of them do not even have income tax.


Love it or Leave it, sirrah?

How ironically droll.
Liberty is not free.

Whatever liberty you have is the liberty of living under your government’s protection. And what do you know...

What we have here is an argument over the necessary price.

Liberty is not free, if you are unwilling to pay the price you no longer get the product.
Kindly demonstrate where paying a farmer not to raise wheat, or studying the sex lives of a household pest, or providing free abortions to women protects liberty, sirrah.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
Mr Stoller is correct when he says his taxes are "the price of democracy", because a democracy is your government. Arguing (as you do) that taxes are the price of your government and yet not the price of democracy, whilst a democracy is your government, requires some fairly obtuse reasoning.
Last I checked North Korea had police departments, Zimbabwe had public roads, Venezuela had a military, and Iran had a post office. All of those places have mandatory tax regimes as well, and yet none of them are democracies (no, not even Venezuela). So what’s the nexus between taxes and democracy again?

The point is, Angus, that paying taxes is neither the "price of democracy" nor is it a guarantee of having a democracy. Paying taxes ensures that a government, of whatever type or form, will have the funds to continue operating. That’s it. Feed it enough moola and it will grow, starve it and it will shrink regardless of whether it is a democracy and theocracy or a communist dictatorship.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Mark,
Which is driven by an unnecessary feature set.
Yes, the add ons are driving a lot of the price.

Gonzman,
We do not live under a democracy, sirrah. We live in a republic.
Actually I live under a constitutional monarchy, where there are periodic elections to choose lawmakers thus making it a democracy. I am almost certain America has a similar system of elections to office, making it a democracy.
Mr. Bush is the commander in chief of the armed forces. With their backing and support, such a coup would be quite possible. (LIKELY? Different matter.) Ask the people in the Weimar Republic if you doubt that such a leader could seize absolute power. Power does not require capturing the hearts of a people, but only their bodies, which is quite easily done with sufficient force.
Huh? I’ll suggest it is unlikely because he does not have sufficient force as the army does not favor supporting a president-for-life. Leaving POPULARITY in the equation is kind of important.
Kindly demonstrate where paying a farmer not to raise wheat, or studying the sex lives of a household pest, or providing free abortions to women protects liberty, sirrah.
Show me where liberty is free. Show me an alternative provider of liberty other than your government. Tell me how you can expect to have liberty if you refuse to pay for it.

Michael,
Paying taxes ensures that a government, of whatever type or form, will have the funds to continue operating. That’s it.
Yes. If you are paying for a democracy (as Mr Stoller is) you are paying for its operation. The taxes he pays are specific to the type of form.


(If Matt Stoller is paying tax to Zimbabwe, Venezuela or N. Korea (or indeed making a charitable payment of their capital that is not a tax like they do in Sauid Arabia) I stand corrected.)
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
Show me where liberty is free. Show me an alternative provider of liberty other than your government. Tell me how you can expect to have liberty if you refuse to pay for it.
Show me the strawman!
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Democracy implies direct rule by the people, all of whom are equal, whereas republic implies a system of government in which the will of the people is mediated by representatives, who might be wiser and better educated than the average person. In the early American republic, for example, the requirement that voters own property and the establishment of institutions such as the Electoral College were intended to cushion the government from the direct expression of the popular will.

Since you’re obviously ignorant of the importance of this distinction to Americans, we’ll let the ignorance slide for the moment. Persistence in it, however, will change that "Lack of knowledge" into "Unwillingness to learn" and officially promote you to "Stupid."
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
I am almost certain America has a similar system of elections to office, making it a democracy.
Please, allow me to disillusion you... A democracy is when you vote on the laws. A republic is when you elect people to vote on the laws.
I’ll suggest it is unlikely because he does not have sufficient force as the army does not favor supporting a president-for-life. Leaving POPULARITY in the equation is kind of important.
Actually, as commander in chief, he could order the military as he wishes. Popularity has nothing to do with his ability to command. The military followed Clinton’s orders, and he was VERY unpopular with the military. Add to that the Liberal desire to take away a citizen’s rights to own a weapon, and you have the police and military (both ultimately answerable only to the government) as the only people with guns... Bad odds, yes?
Show me where liberty is free. Show me an alternative provider of liberty other than your government. Tell me how you can expect to have liberty if you refuse to pay for it.
Liberty is fought for. Won.

It is not bought like grain futures. We have liberty because we fought and won (against the brits, and then in a series of wars). Taxes maintain the government that handles said liberty. They are not the same thing. We are not paying for democracy, we are paying for the programs instituted by the government. The government institutes those policies because we voted to give them the authority. There is a difference, even if you are too blind to see it.
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Dude, how is your residence in this country and your citizenship status not consensual?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Angus,

Since you managed to stir up quite a buzz here I won’t pile on. But I will say that, if you stop and think about it for a minute, you’ll see that this:
Yes. If you are paying for a democracy (as Mr Stoller is) you are paying for its operation. The taxes he pays are specific to the type of form.
cannot be reconciled with this:
Mr Stoller is correct when he says his taxes are "the price of democracy", because a democracy is your government. Arguing (as you do) that taxes are the price of your government and yet not the price of democracy, whilst a democracy is your government, requires some fairly obtuse reasoning.
IOW, Taxes are not The Price for Democracy, but instead, the taxes we pay in the US are the price of our government, which happens to be a democracy.

Paying taxes is not determinative of the type of government, and therefore "paying taxes" cannot possibly be the "price" for the type of government.

On the other hand, one might get away with saying that paying high taxes is the price of a socialist government, or even that paying low taxes is the price of a capitalist-friendly government. But taxes in and of themselves are simply the cost of government, whatever the type may be.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
A democracy is when you vote on the laws. A republic is when you elect people to vote on the laws.
That is a representative democracy, as may take place under a constitutional monarchy or a notional republic.
republic implies a system of government in which the will of the people is mediated by representatives, who might be wiser and better educated than the average person.
Like Gonzman says a real republic maintains ruling group who may be selected from, whereas a representative democracy will allow anybody with enough votes to be elected. There is a very little in the way of a base line qualification to enter politics in a representative democracy, witness Congress. You are not living in early America.

What you term "democracy" is merely another subset of democracy called direct democracy. If this discussion is indeed about the flaws of direct democracy then I agree with you all, it would be a silly way to legitimise anything.

However if this is to include appreciation of democracy in its broader sense, I am living in a constitutional monarchy that elects parliament to pass laws making it a representative democracy. I do not have constitutional protection of my liberty, yet here I am having a free political discussion. If liberty were intrinsically seperate from democracy and was instead reliant on constitutionallity then my life would be without liberty and it is not.
Liberty is fought for. Won.

It is not bought like grain futures. We have liberty because we fought and won (against the brits, and then in a series of wars). Taxes maintain the government that handles said liberty. They are not the same thing. We are not paying for democracy, we are paying for the programs instituted by the government. The government institutes those policies because we voted to give them the authority.
Past success is not a guarantor of your liberty, it is not a historical asset to be managed for future generations. Liberty is yours because you are prepared and equipped to defend it today, now. This preparedness is bought and paid for through government programs.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Your failure to be precise in your terms is your fault, Angus.

And I can name you several dictators and tyrants who were "elected" and continue to be "elected" to this day. So, I see no intrinsic or innate value in any brand of "democracy" for its own sake.
Liberty is yours because you are prepared and equipped to defend it today, now. This preparedness is bought and paid for through government programs.
The amount of formerly "democratic" governments who used taxes taken from its citizen to set up a despotic state is legion.

This doesn’t even rise to the level of laughable.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
Michael,
IOW, Taxes are not The Price for Democracy, but instead, the taxes we pay in the US are the price of our government, which happens to be a democracy.
Or Matt Stoller is paying a price for a democracy to be his government in the USA.

"The Price of Democracy" remains undetermined, agreed.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Gonzman,
And I can name you several dictators and tyrants who were "elected" and continue to be "elected" to this day. So, I see no intrinsic or innate value in any brand of "democracy" for its own sake.
I cannot name one free and liberal society that does not feature democratic elections.
The amount of formerly "democratic" governments who used taxes taken from its citizen to set up a despotic state is legion.
Yeah that is the gyp isn’t it. You need the government to protect your liberty from external forces whilst at the same time be wary of the government turning from democracy to become despotic.


PS - I’d be interested in the names of dictators and tyrants you know to be freely elected in regular elections, could do with a bit of humour.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
PS - I’d be interested in the names of dictators and tyrants you know to be freely elected in regular elections, could do with a bit of humour.
Saddam, Castro, Hilter was elected to power, Stalin...

Most everyone Noam Chomsky has ever gushed over...

Laughing yet?
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
I cannot name one free and liberal society that does not feature democratic elections.
Depending on your opinion of the Canadian system, you could easily name them...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Saddam, Castro, Hilter was elected to power, Stalin...
Chavez. Mugabe.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Saddam, Castro, Hilter was elected to power, Stalin...

Most everyone Noam Chomsky has ever gushed over...

Laughing yet?
A little. You, McQ and C H O M S K Y call the same places democracies, an ironic kick on that.

A cycle of free elections needs to exist, perhaps an opposition not persecuted.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
Eh... To go look up how to spell that fruit’s name correctly, I’d have to care enout to go check...

And by the definitions you used for "democracy", those places McQ and I named ARE democracies. They have open elections... Or at least they did at the very start. What they have now is open to debate...
 
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
The tax’n’spend junkies in Washington look at masochistic naifs such as Mr. Stoller the way wolves look at sheep.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Looks like Scott, et al, has beat me to it.

 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
I’m still stuck on this one.
Show me an alternative provider of liberty other than your government.
I’d say this probably made Billy Beck’s head explode, but he’s heard it all before.

Jon’s thought here was in the same vein as mine. The amount of ignorance of American history in Stoller’s post (and subsequent comments) is astounding.
 
Written By: The Unabrewer
URL: http://unabrewer.com

 
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