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Comment Re:Rose tinted glasses (Score 1) 513

That distinction is entirely within the realm of people who have resources to allocate to start with. If you don't, you don't get a chance to be either a good investor or a bad investor; you don't get to invest at all, because anything 'allocated' to you must immediately be spent servicing unavoidable debts (like rent or mortgage interest) to others who then get to spend it again on someone who will just have to pay it right back to another capital owner.

Comment Re:Rose tinted glasses (Score 1) 513

In a slave economy, the masters own their servants directly.

In a feudal economy, the lords own the land the servants live and work on, and the servants are free... to choose which lord they will serve in exchange for the land to live and work on.... or to not work, and not live, if they prefer.

In a capitalist economy, the capitalists own different kinds of capital besides land and the servants can mix and match whose capital they work on and whose capital they live on and try to pair it up so some of their masters^W lords^W capitalists pay enough for work to cancel out what the others charge to live.

What most people today call "communism" is just state capitalism, where there is only one master/lord/capitalist that owns all the various kinds capital and for whom everyone works and by whom everyone lives: the state.

It's all just degrees of abstraction away from slavery unless you own all the capital you need to live on and work with yourself; and by the time you're there, it's an easy step further to get some poor schmuck to work it for you in exchange for borrowing what he needs to live, and then you are part of the problem yourself, an effective slavemaster with your first servant.

Comment Re: Well yeah (Score 1) 353

Actually, I just had a spot of hope after rereading this just now:

It only takes one robot-owning elite with his unlimited robot-supplied resources to decide that he'd like to give everyone free robots, and bam, utopia for everyone. So long as not 100% of the eventual robot-owning elites are complete heartless monsters, it's utopia for everyone. Hurray!

Comment Re: Well yeah (Score 1) 353

Worse, the unwashed masses wouldn't become slaves in the dystopian scenario, because you only feed and shelter slaves to keep them alive to work for you. When robots displace humans, the robot-owners no longer need humans, and won't feed or shelter them and they will just die. Either of starvation or exposure, or from robotic machine-gun fire trying to overthrow the system.

Also, I would break it down to more like four scenarios:

- The dystopian one where the elites own the robots and have no need for anyone else and everyone else dies. The good news is, this scenario ends up utopian when, after everyone else is dead, 100% of the surviving humans live in robot-waited bliss for all eternity.

- The slightly less dystopian one where for some reason, the elites who own the robots keep everyone alive, but at their pleasure, making everyone forever perpetually beholden to them. There is some chance that this could transition to a utopian scenario as well, if generations down the line the robot-owning elites who have never wanted for anything see no reason not to just have their robots give other people free robots because why not, it's not like it costs them anything.

- The still only slightly less dystopian one where, before the robot-owning elites can fortify themselves behind a wall of killbots, a popular uprising uses the power of the state to seize the robots for the common good. Now there aren't robot-owning elite overlords... just the robot-owning government upon which everyone is now dependent. So pretty much the same as the previous scenario in the end.

- The nigh-impossible utopian scenario where by some means or another wealth with which to purchase privately owned robots is widely distributed enough that everyone just retired into robot-waited bliss together, without facing dependency on either the robot-owning government or some private robot-owning elites or else death by robot or by starvation or exposure.

The last is obviously the best, but I don't have high hopes for it. The one of the middle options seems most likely to me. And I can just hope that the possibility those have for a gradual transition to a utopia, for future generations at least, comes to pass. Otherwise, it might in the end be better if the first, worst dystopia happens, since at least it would get all the survivors on to their utopia faster, and not leave the vast majority of humanity enslaved for all of eternity.

I guess at least anyone can decide to default to that first option for themselves at any time by charging face first into a killbot.

Comment Re:wars destroy wealth (Score 2) 513

And just to clarify the reasoning behind that big caveat about how this is not an argument in practice against taxation:

- States are just gangs, and taxation is just theft

- Gangs tend to spring up spontaneously in any power vacuum

- Most of them don't know any other way to fund their activity besides theft, though there might in fact be better ways

- Some gangs are better than others (for the people in their turf), and the kind that spontaneously arise are usually the worst; established gangs sometimes in time develop better rapport with their subjects and actually think about the long-term well-being of the turf so as to best maintain their power over time.

- Therefore, it's pragmatically better to accept a decently good gang in power than to let the worst of the worst bad gangs spring up in their absence, and to work toward making the gang in power better (hopefully someday to the limit that it stops being a gang entirely and transforms into an beneficial organization playing by the same rules as everyone else in the turf), rather than just destroying it.

- Meanwhile, since most gangs don't know of any other way to fund their activity besides theft, and we've got to accept the existence of some gang and thus some theft, it's best (as in least bad) if we can get them to steal mostly from those who can more easily afford it, as well as to spend it on activities that not only help out the people in their turf, but help out those most in need more than the rest.

So yes, because states are gangs and taxation is theft, until we can figure out a way to have stateless governance funded by something other than taxes, progressive taxation in a democratic state is the best practical option.

Comment Re:wars destroy wealth (Score 1) 513

Depends entirely on your definition of "anything in return." Even brutal monarchs need to fund military and whatnot (again you can argue whether your taxes are paying for things you personally think are important.)

A mugger uses my cash to pay for something too. If he pays for something I happen to like -- say, bullets with which to kill someone I don't like, or more analogous still, someone from a rival gang in another turf -- does that make it not theft?

That said (and I admit its stretching definition a bit since its hard to justify the king's new gold-plated carriage as being useful to the people,) there is also a major difference between a greedy monarch and a democratically elected representative -- the peasantry don't have any say in choosing their monarch, nor can they "fire" him short of regicide if they think he's doing a shit job of representing them, whereas an elected representative can be voted out (sometimes not soon enough, but I'll try to stay on topic!)

So if the gang start asking the locals who should be in charge of the gang, that makes mugging the locals not theft?

No it isn't, mostly because that "or else" clause has enormously different connotations when its the IRS asking for your taxes vs a mugger asking for your wallet.

They both end with "or else we'll shoot you", the IRS just prefaces it with "...or else pay even more money or else go to jail..." before they get to the "...or else we'll shoot you part". But you're still presented with a choice: pay up, pay up more, get abducted and locked up, or if you refuse any of those, get shot. All laws are ultimately backed by "...or else we'll shoot you." (Which doesn't make them unjust; some things are worth shooting people over, just like sometimes stealing is excusable).

Taxation isn't considered "wrongful" (well, outside of libertarian rhetoric) and therefore by definition, isn't theft regardless of anything else -- even when a greedy monarch uses the money for entirely self-serving purposes.

If the only distinction you make between "taxation" and "theft" is that one is considered wrong and the other isn't, you're basically conceding my entire point. It's the same act, just considered acceptable when one party does it (and given a special name then), and not when any other does.

When the mafia shakes down businesses for "protection" money and is so powerful that they basically control the entire goings-on of a neighborhood, they have effectively become a government, and the money they demand from people has become a tax. If the mafia gradually turns nice and starts polling people to decide on who to put in charge of what neighborhood and even doing genuinely good things for the neighborhood, it never changes the fact that they're still the mafia shaking people down for money. It's certainly better if they do it in a nice way like that, but the underlying reality is still the same.

Of course it helps that the government (monarch or otherwise) who collects the taxes also defines "wrongful." That's part of why the US was founded with strong checks and balances against too much concentration of power -- they knew how England operated and didn't really like the prospect. Hell excessive taxation was no small part of why the US broke ties with the mother country in the first place.

So if a gang robs a crowd and most of the crowd are like "nah man it's cool, we know these guys, they ask us who they want running our hoods, and like kill the foreign gangs and sometimes do cool murals and shit" then that makes it not theft? Even of the people in the crowd who are not cool with it?

And again, reemphasizing my original point: I am not arguing here for the immediate abolition of all taxes and let the pieces fall where they may, or even really for any practical change in who is taxed what to pay for what. I have pragmatic opinions on those matters, given the practical alternatives, that are probably even more progressive than yours. But when it comes down to brass tacks we're talking about a kind of theft masquerading under a different name and an aura of legitimacy, and there's just no denying that.

Comment Re:"Toxic" comments huh? (Score 1) 195

The only way you legally prevent anyone from doing anything is to threaten them with consequences for doing so. Every law is a statement to the effect that "if you do X we will do Y to you in retaliation" (where "Y" is usually "fine you money or else put you in jail or else or shoot you"). The consequences are the prevention.

In light of which the example I gave was actually a bad one. In many respects you are not free, even in the meaningless "if you accept the consequences" sense, to rob an armored car, because it's not just threat of consequences that keep the contents of armored cars safe. Unless you attempt the robbery at just the right moment, odds are that you simply will not be physically able to get into it even if the guards stand around doing nothing. That's why it's armored.

A better example would be: you are not free to kick an innocent child in the head. Nothing will physically prevent you from doing so, but you will face consequences as a result of doing so, some of which constitute the legal prohibition on doing so. The fact that people will drag you off to jail for doing it (or shoot you if you resist that) -- those consequences -- is what makes you not free to kick a kid in the face. If there weren't any such consequences, you would be free to do so. It's the precisely the consequences that limit the freedom.

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