Originally Posted by The Postmaster General
People say that such-and-such don't want to give up their iPhones and what-not but that applies beyond the poverty line. No one, for the most part, wants to give up luxuries. People on welfare don't want to give that up any more than people getting insane tax breaks. My point is that everyone is pretty damn similar and there is a sort-of overlaying group among the poor, middle and rich who can look on and realize it's just people being selfish.
I think if we looked at it, the upper 1% and lower earner percent people fall into a living off the grid type of lifestyle. I'm talking about homeless people, who hustle for needs vs. those who influence politicians, are all but untouchable by laws, and so forth. I guess what I'm saying is that, in my eyes, a homeless guy who keeps to himself is the same as someone like Mitt Romney to me. The only difference is that I can't help a guy like Mitt.
I don't want you to think I'm saying citizens, collectively, need to support the homeless guy through taxes. I do, however, think we need to protect our collective interests. We need to have shelters, food banks, etc. in place, for a variety of reasons I don't have the patience to get into right now, but I see it as a sort-of investing in insurance or, to be harsh and hoping to not stigmatize, a security system. We can afford for a guy like Mitt to not buy another vacation home but we can't afford for a guy on the street to have a nervous breakdown or pass out in midday traffic.
There's a lot more to my thinking here but that's just touching on a bit of it. I tend to think that both sides are cool by me, but that both the rich and the poor exploit things. It shouldn't be those who exploit our system that dictates what the system is. That goes for the poor who mooch off welfare or the rich who mooch off loopholes. The thing, for me, is that only the latter has real resources to have the bigger impact on the system.
You bring up some interesting points and I don't disagree with very much of it. You have to remember though that the government is almost if not more dependent on the poor than the poor are dependent on the government. Two points I would make on this are: 1. (and I hate citing statistics for reasons I stated above - but the numbers on this are fairly conclusive and available) That after world War II, poverty dropped by 1% every year until LBJ's Great Society in the 60's; and was on its way toward no longer being a matter of large concern. "Our poor are disappearing. Quick! Let's evoke a moral outrage and make a War On Poverty!" [As an aside, you'll see this pattern appear all over the political firmament; when something is about to be solved by non-governmental means, there will be a moral outrage of a sort, and the government will make this issue a chief focus]. But alas, let's get back on track-
2nd point - The "system" that deals with the homeless isn't designed for bringing people out of homelessness; or let me put it this way, those who are trying
to no longer be homeless. The system really isn't designed to weed out deserving vs. undeserving poor. Instead, Joe Schmoe from Idaho who just got kicked in the balls by the economy and was laid off from a decent living, having exhausted his unemployment in not being able to find a steady job, and who is now on the street doing whatever he can to get by/get work; what happens? He gets lumped in with the schizophrenics, the addicts, and lazy complacents(or to the layman, is "just another homeless guy" or "bum"). To the system, shelter, food line, public aid bureaucrat, Joe Schmoe is just another number looking for a handout. If it was designed differently(i.e. weeding out the undeservings), you'd almost certainly see better results. And as more and more Joe Schmoes who are becoming homeless through little or no fault of their own are hitting the streets with greater abandon in this uber-shitty economy; the tides of treatment(not to mention reputation) are vastly arrayed against them.
The gov't loves their precious poor(and by love I don't mean that they love them - they love that YOU love them). I think private charities might just show a little more efficiency in this area.
Originally Posted by The Postmaster General
You are using an extreme example. What you are describing with corrupt and unethical law enforcers, or unfair laws, isn't being robber in an alley. It's akin to the Manson family murders or something - I mean, using your metaphor, which I don't agree with. To me, the metaphor would be mandatory 20% gratuity for parties of 6 or more, if that even. There is also something floating around in all this colorful hyperbole where there's something to be said for the fact that you are totally switching victim and assailant roles. The mandatory gratuity thing is so much more on par, since you can go to jail for not paying a restaurant bill. Even still I think it's stretching it in favor of tax payers being victims, because dining and dashing would put you in pound-in-the-ass jail, while not paying taxes wouldn't. One person I knew didn't pay taxes for 30 years and you know what happened when they finally "turned themselves in" (I use quotes because they gave themselves up only because they needed crucially to get back on the grid due to a major accident…) -- What happen was that they paid a fine.
Either way, no one suffers from PTSD because the taxes were too damn high.
Even still, there are so many viable options where you don't have to feel like the government is holding a gun to your head. (has that ever happened? Someone was shot by police for not paying taxes? I don't mean after ending up in a standoff on some compound…)
What I said was not an extreme example; incidents far more egregious than that one are an everyday affair. Not to mention that I tried to walk away from a cop once when he wanted to browbeat me about a fight I had witnessed and I then immediately noticed the officer's rapidly increasing pace and preparation for a similar Macho Man Randy Savage flying clothesline move on me. So I spun around and finally acknowledged the thug in blue costume.
And my statement wasn't that police or "heroes" were the same as the robber in the alley; just that they're worse and why I would have more respect for a criminal. With a cop, you simply cannot fight back, even if you are 100% right/good and he is 100% wrong/evil. With a criminal, you can at least have a fighting chance.
But we're getting away from the real argument, the argument from morality. (And btw your restaurant metaphor doesn't work either as there is no force component) Have people been shot for not paying their taxes? Not that I personally know. But yeah, I've read several cases like in the book Lost Rights by James Bovard(a book that made me so angry I couldn't even finish it). And while some of these victims maybe weren't the sharpest knife in the drawer, I'd say they were pretty brave(even if stupid by pragmatic standards).
The simple basic fact, which is ironically so easily obfuscated by most, is that when dealing with taxation on any level(let alone any gov't edict), there is a gun in the room. I'll say it again. There is a gun in the room. Does the gun have to be whipped out every single time to be deemed immoral? Of course not. You would not deal with such thieves if they did not have the legal right to initiate the use of force, would you? They have the power of the gun behind them with impunity; you do not. Or let me run it by you another way--- If you don't pay taxes, fines accrue. If you don't pay the fines, men in suits will show up to collect them. If you don't pay them, men in blue costumes will show up, kidnap you, and throw you in rape rooms. If you resist successfully enough or try to escape from your captors, then yes, you will be shot.
Your friend managed to not have to go through this agonizing ordeal, congratulations. But that definitely does not excuse that the very constant threat
of what I have just outlined is both very real, very cleverly disguised, and hardly civilized. The fact that such thuggery continually gets a moral sanction frankly astounds me and speaks volumes about the cult of CULTURE.