Reality vs Ideology.

in #ideology2 years ago


In some of my previous posts, I've talked about prioritising reality over ideology, and supporting policy on the basis of evidence and outcomes rather than on the basis of whether it's [capitalist/socialist/anarchist/whatever] enough. But it's very easy for someone to say "sure, I'm not ideological at all" without actually realising what that entails, so I decided to give an example using two deeply ideological arguments that I see all the time. (Actually, they're more or less the same argument, there's just a right-wing version and a left-wing version.)

The libertarian version of this argument is "taxation is theft." Libertarians imagine a hypothetical world that's exactly the same as the current one, except citizens didn't have to pay taxes at all and they'd simply have X dollars more in their bank account, where X is the amount of money that they pay in sales tax, property tax, income tax, and so forth. Of course, this is nonsensical: without taxes, the government wouldn't be able to exist at all, and U.S. dollars wouldn't be a thing. Sure, you could use Bitcoin or gold or pressed latinum or some other form of independent currency, or maybe just go back to a barter system. But in terms of real purchasing power, that would almost certainly be a net loss that left the libertarian (and everyone else) far worse off. And that's without even considering all of the government-provided services (infrastructure, utilities, law enforcement, emergency services, logistical coordination) that contribute to economic growth and result in a higher quality of life and a greater degree of wealth for everyone.

The leftist version of this argument is "profit is theft," the idea that any money which goes to a corporation's shareholders is being 'stolen' from the workers who actually produce the goods and provide the services that make money for the business. Again, this posits a hypothetical world that's exactly the same as the current one, except the money that now goes to shareholders would instead be distributed among workers in the form of increased income. But again, this hypothetical falls apart: if there hadn't been shareholders to invest their money in the company back when it was a startup with no guarantee of success, the company wouldn't have existed in the first place. Sure, you could have sole proprietorships and partnerships and co-operatives, and those models work great for small businesses. But for large-scale endeavours that require the coordination of thousands of people across the world, and might not survive, and probably won't generate any net income for years even if they succeed? It just isn't feasible.

But even if I was to concede the point that "taxation is theft" or "profit is theft," so what? To the very limited extent that they're true, they're only true in a highly abstract philosophical sense. Maybe if you subscribe to some extreme deontological "never compromise, even in the face of Armageddon" code of ethics, it makes sense to oppose taxation/profit purely on principle. But to me, that's the same kind of logic as saying "no, I wouldn't lie to an axe murderer, not even to save my friend's life, because lying is always wrong regardless of the circumstances." Personally, I prefer to put the actual, tangible, material well-being of real living people above these sorts of esoteric ideological reifications. If some amount of codified "theft" results in better outcomes for everyone, then so be it.



In Venezuela, taxes are paid and the money collected goes into the pockets of ministers and the military. This year, some companies rose up and did not pay taxes. They say the sanction will be to expropriate it.

I believe Taxes are good for any country, because if there is no taxes how come the government will have money to do something good for the country.

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