Re: Weasels vs. transparancy / traffic cameras

From: Martin Ling (
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 02:15:32 MDT

On Mon, May 22, 2000 at 07:15:41PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> Martin Ling wrote:
> >
> > On Mon, May 22, 2000 at 08:19:21AM -0700, James Rogers wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Since when exactly was the level of taxation directly inversely
> > > > proportional to how 'free' a country is? Unless one is arguing for a
> > > > system of no taxation and public services at all, the specifics seem
> > > > somewhat irrelevant.
> > >
> > >
> > > The specifics are entirely relevant. First, the amount of taxation
> > > essentially determines how much of your labor is slave labor (adjusted for
> > > rate of return, but that typically is pretty damn low). Second, taxation
> > > that is tied more closely to service usage is more fair than taxation
> > > based on other arbitrary metrics.
> >
> > [snip long, but very good example of (non)efficient tax usage]
> >
> > I was ambiguous. What I think I meant is that the specifics in terms of
> > the percentile figures for taxation are not much use with no
> > consideration of how that money is being used (which can be well or
> > badly, as you say).
> >
> > Once you've decided to allow for some taxation, however (as opposed to
> > none at all, as Mike has suggested - and it is a vaild option) it makes
> > very little sense to try and compare exactly how much freedom a country
> > has removed, via its taxes. There are simply far too many factors.
> Well, the fact is that Charlie is enslaved 40% of the time, while I am
> enslaved less than 16% of the time. Which of us is more free?

But if you look at both formal and effective freedoms, you may work out
to be more free than before, overall.

Formally, I have the right to go into a computer shop and buy myself a
nice shiny new laptop. Effectively, I can't, because I can't afford it.

Formally, I have the right to a good education, but in a tax-free,
service-free system, I may not have the effective freedom to have it.
But by removing some of one of my freedoms (the right to choose how I
spend my money), one of my other rights is protected.

Things aren't as simple as more tax == less freedom. By careful
adjustment - removing some to ensure, or add, others - one can end up
with greatly varying amounts of freedom.

It's still a very solid point that a system of no taxation at all is
pretty damn free. But if you're going to allow for even a bit of tax to
maintain basic public services (such as a minimal police force - the
night watchman state), you have to take into consideration that by
difference balancing, varying levels of taxation could result in more or
less freedom, depending on how the money is used.

So as long as the US and UK both maintain *some* level of taxation, it's
not particularly useful to try and compare their freedoms based only on
the tax rate.

Although I'm very happy to discuss the specifics of the freedoms gained
and lost in both systems.


| Martin J. Ling              Tel: +44 (0)20 8863 2948   |
|      Fax: +44 (0)20 8248 4025   |
|  Mobile: +44 (0)7940 482675 |

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