Economics

The Libertarian Class Struggle

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Sheldon Richman summons libertarians to class struggle. Just keep the classes straight:

Karl Marx is famous for drawing attention to the idea of class struggle. Yet remarkably in 1852, historian David Hart recounts, Marx wrote, "[A]s far as I am concerned, the credit for having discovered the existence and the conflict of classes in modern society does not belong to me. Bourgeois historians presented the historical development of this class struggle, and the economists showed its economic anatomy long before I did."

By "bourgeois historians" and "economists" Marx meant laissez-faire liberals such as Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, and other early nineteenth-century French writers.

………..
Getting the members of the classes straight is important if we are to accurately distinguish the exploiters and exploited……..

Who are the exploiters? All who live off of the industrious class. Besides common crime, there is only one way to do that: state privilege financed by taxation. "The conclusions drawn from this by Comte and Dunoyer (and Thierry) is that there existed an expanded class of 'industrials' (which included manual labourers and the above mentioned entrepreneurs and savants) who struggled against others who wished to hinder their activity or live unproductively off it," Hart writes. "The theorists of industrialism concluded from their theory of production that it was the state and the privileged classes allied to or making up the state … which were essentially nonproductive. They also believed that throughout history there had been conflict between these two antagonistic classes which could only be brought to end with the radical separation of peaceful and productive civil society from the inefficiencies and privileges of the state and its favourites" (emphasis added).

………….

……the taxing power necessarily produces two classes: those who create wealth and those who take and receive it. The producers of wealth naturally want to keep it and use it for their own purposes. Those who wish to expropriate it look for clever ways to get it without unduly upsetting its creators. One way is to teach people that they are the state and that paying ever-more in taxes benefits themselves. The "public" schools have been particularly useful in that mission.

As long as government is in the wealth-transfer business, class conflict will persist. Class in this sense is an important tool of political analysis. It's time that advocates of individual liberty and free markets reclaimed it from the Marxists.

A decent selection of bibliographical links relevant to the French liberal school of economic thinkers that Richman is discussing here.

NEXT: D.C. Going to the Mat on Guns

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  1. Someone named Richman talking about society’s need to end social programs… Liberals would jump all over this one.

    Is he suggesting that what we need is a “revolution?” 😉 😉 😉

  2. Ralph Raico did a lecture on this a while ago: http://www.mises.org/multimedia/mp3/marxism/Raico.mp3

    The story from Mises with footnotes and all:
    http://www.mises.org/story/2217

    The whole conference of Marx and Marxism:
    http://mises.org/media.aspx?action=category&ID=47

  3. Those who wish to expropriate it look for clever ways to get it without unduly upsetting its creators. One way is to teach people that they are the state and that paying ever-more in taxes benefits themselves.

    Haven’t you all heard this argument here a couple dozen times?

    Sound the troll trumpet and let them gather in force.

  4. Wow, not only is he appropriating “class struggle,” he’s appropriating Marx’s beliefs about representative democracy, too.

    What’s next, the color red?

  5. It’s another one of thoses things libertarians can’t quite figure out – half the time the government is run by the wealthy for the purpose of furthering their interests, the other half of the time the wealthy are the victims of a government that they appearantly have no influence over.

  6. It’s another one of thoses things libertarians can’t quite figure out – half the time the government is run by the wealthy for the purpose of furthering their interests, the other half of the time the wealthy are the victims of a government that they appearantly have no influence over.

    The ‘T’ is for ‘Tautology’!

  7. I wonder if there’s any libertarians who would back the confiscation and redistribution of inheritance. This would have the effect of continually renewing the close relation, existing in the dawn of Capitalism in the 1700’s, that early capitalists had with their workers, by preventing large amounts Capital from being concentrated in a (relatively) few family dynasties, as tends to happen in capitalism.

  8. It’s not as strange as the dual libertarian ideas that government is both a highly efficent machine capable of secretly controlling a population of millions yet also a bungling organization of fools that can’t even effectively run a DMV office.

  9. Talk like this scares me, and I’m a libertarian. I’m sure it scares off many decent people.

    In any case, it’s not just a few bastards in top hats waxing fat at the expense of the starving masses (Congress/the capitalists/the elders of Zion/whomever), as it is in the cartoonist Marxist view of the world, and the worldview of less thoughtful libertarians. It’s not at all clear to me the idea of class itself is all that useful outside an explicitly caste society. In all modern societies all people are workers and capitalists, and tax-payers and tax-eaters, to varying degrees on any given day. It was just reported in Reason that half of the income of Americans now comes from government.

    That must include some of us here. Suppose–just suppose–a violent libertarian revolution was pulled off, and cadres went around expropriating and liquidating anybody they considered in the pay of the state. How many of us here can be sure they’d be safe?

  10. In my experience, libertarians tend to come from the petty bourgeois and professional class backgrounds. This is the same background as the “small government” Republican wing, although they differ in that the Republican petty bourgeois tends to be rabidly anti-immigration, pro-war, and religiously fundamentalist. However, this latter group is economically distinguished from libertarians in having jobs in the military or law enforcement, which tends to color their views on war, drugs and the prison-industrial complex, etc.

  11. You know, if you read Richman’s description of “industrious” and “exploitative” classes, it appears that he’s saying Paris Hilton is the victim and the illegal immigrant cleaning one of her family’s hotel bathrooms is the exploiter.

    It’s an interesting way to look at the world, I’ll give him that.

  12. e

    I wonder if there’s any libertarians who would back the confiscation and redistribution of inheritance. This would have the effect of continually renewing the close relation, existing in the dawn of Capitalism in the 1700’s, that early capitalists had with their workers, by preventing large amounts Capital from being concentrated in a (relatively) few family dynasties, as tends to happen in capitalism.

    Here’s one. The way I see it, in a minarchist world, the government must raise some revenue (preferably little) for purposes such as the enforcement of property rights. In order to raise that money, I could support ways that could do the least damage, such as inheritance taxes instead of income taxes. Income taxes have bad effects, whereas inheritance taxes will ensure (to an extent) equality of opportunity, giving poor kids the same chance to achieve as rich ones.

    Another example of a measure that could help rather than hurt the world is a pigouvian tax. As long as the government needs to collect revenue, why don’t we do it in ways that ensure both equality of opportunity (inheritance taxes) and property rights (pigouvian taxes, which ensure that property rights in non-tradeable goods such as air quality are taken into account).

    This is why I support a carbon tax, so long as it is offset by income tax decreases.

  13. Dan T.,

    In case you can’t figure out the difference between “industrious” and “exploitative”, just subsitute the words “tax-payer” and “tax-beneficiary”, respectively.

  14. brian, interesting; but I was talking about massive confiscation of inheritance, not just a tax.

    I understand the economists mentioned in the article to be focusing on this problem: the injustice present in the exploitation of the “expanded class of ‘industrials’ (which included manual labourers and the above mentioned entrepreneurs and savants) who struggled against others who wished to hinder their activity or live unproductively off it”. If this is the problem, then you will need to mostly forbid inheritance of all but a pretty minimal sum in order to prevent the concentration of capital that leads to the exploitation of this entreprenurial/small capitalist/laborer class, in my opinion.

  15. Class in this sense is an important tool of political analysis. It’s time that advocates of individual liberty and free markets reclaimed it from the Marxists.

    Good luck with that.

    It’s not as strange as the dual libertarian ideas that government is both a highly efficent machine capable of secretly controlling a population of millions yet also a bungling organization of fools that can’t even effectively run a DMV office.

    Except for the fact that you just made up the first of those ideas, you’re right.

  16. does “Russ R” = “Russ Roberts”? If so, I love your podcast.

  17. e

    brian, interesting; but I was talking about massive confiscation of inheritance, not just a tax.

    Oh, I’m not entirely sure; it sounds scary on the face of it. I’ll have to think about that.

  18. It’s not as strange as the dual libertarian ideas that government is both a highly efficent machine capable of secretly controlling a population of millions yet also a bungling organization of fools that can’t even effectively run a DMV office.

    You don’t need to be a highly efficient machine to “control a population of millions”, you just need a monopoly on the use of force.

  19. Except for the fact that you just made up the first of those ideas, you’re right.

    I might have exaggerated a bit, but there have been plenty of posts on H&R about how the government is on its way to controlling every aspect of our lives.

  20. In case you can’t figure out the difference between “industrious” and “exploitative”, just subsitute the words “tax-payer” and “tax-beneficiary”, respectively.

    Well, everybody pays taxes and the rich seem to benefit from them the most, so there you go.

  21. Sorry brian, that’s a different Russ.

    “In order to raise that money, I could support ways that could do the least damage, such as inheritance taxes instead of income taxes.”

    BTW, an inheritance tax also introduces distortions into the economy.

    Think about how much more old people will spend if they know they will be penalized for passing money on to their children.

    Then think about how many fewer people will bother to take care of their elderly parents when they realized that their inheritence is being spent.

    Then think about how many fewer people will bother having children when “having someone to take care of them in old age” is no longer part of the bargain.

    Mess with incentives and you’ll radically change behaviors.

  22. “Well, everybody pays taxes and the rich seem to benefit from them the most, so there you go.”

    That’s some pretty weak analysis there Dan T.

    So are you saying that everyone contributes equivalently to the government’s tax pool? Or do some people contribute more than others?

    If so, do those who contribute less, receive commensurately less in payouts? Or is the opposite true?

    I suggest that you go look at the sources of tax revenue, then look at where those tax dollars are spent, take a moment to soak it all in, and get back to us.

  23. Think about how much more old people will spend if they know they will be penalized for passing money on to their children.

    Huh? If I have $1 million to pass on to my children but because of taxes it will end up being only $500,000 does that suddenly mean that I am just going to say “screw it, I’m not going to leave them anything”?

    Then think about how many fewer people will bother to take care of their elderly parents when they realized that their inheritence is being spent.

    Again, huh? “I’m not going to bother taking care of mom because my $1 million is going to only be $500,000 after taxes?”

    Then think about how many fewer people will bother having children when “having someone to take care of them in old age” is no longer part of the bargain.

    A third “huh?”, for obvious reasons.

  24. If so, do those who contribute less, receive commensurately less in payouts? Or is the opposite true?

    “Payouts” are hardly the only way somebody benefits from taxation. Our military, for example, protects millions of dollars of Paris Hiltons’ assets but none of the person’s who has none.

  25. BTW, an inheritance tax also introduces distortions into the economy.

    Although, continuous exploitation and oppression of entrepreneurs by wealthy-by-inheritance also distorts the economy. Your examples of “distortion” are simply suppositions about people’s psychology. Personally, I would work harder knowing that my child will grow up in a just society as by knowing he will mooch off my labor rather than learning the values of self-sufficiency and hard work.

  26. What e said.

  27. Oh, I’m not entirely sure; it sounds scary on the face of it. I’ll have to think about that.

    I agree that it sounds scary; however the reason it sounds scary is not that it is just – it IS just. It is scary because it would be violently resisted by the tiny minority who have gained so much inherited wealth. Their numbers are few but they own the government, so they have almost all the guns.

  28. just reported in Reason that half of Americans’ income comes from taxes…

    Can anyone point me to that reporting?

    Inheritance taxes – just got back from having lunch with a guy who wants to leave $1mm to his kids and the rest to charity. I said, what if, after taxes, there’s only a million left? Answer: then charities will get nothing.
    In his case at least, taxes replace charity and government, not the person who earned the assets, decides who the recipients will be.

  29. Why does it have to be a tax.

    If you don’t want your kid to grow up being a mooch on your hard-earned money, simply stipulate in the will that the kids don’t get anything.

  30. Their numbers are few but they own the government, so they have almost all the guns.

    What? You mean that the government is not some entity that is totally independent from the people it governs?

  31. Dan T.,

    “If I have $1 million to pass on to my children but because of taxes it will end up being only $500,000 does that suddenly mean that I am just going to say “screw it, I’m not going to leave them anything”?

    Do yourself a favor and read this before you expose more of your economic ignorance.


  32. What? You mean that the government is not some entity that is totally independent from the people it governs?

    Do you ever actually make a point?

  33. e:

    Of course, there’s also the issue of non-tangible inheritance. For example, the rich man’s son who was sent to a fancy private school, bought his way into a top-notch college, etc., but received no money or assets in inheritance still “inherited” all the funding for all that expensive education. Whereas the poor kid in the inner-city didn’t get any of that.

  34. Marcvs

    What? You mean that the government is not some entity that is totally independent from the people it governs?

    Do you ever actually make a point?

    I think he made an interesting point there, one that is well-known to any libertarian: government is run on the part of the few to control the many. If you don’t think so, I know many H&R commenters who would be happy to give you a tongue lashing.

  35. ” How many of us here can be sure they’d be safe?”

    This is where a fanatical devotion to the Second Amendment really comes into play.

  36. Russ R

    Dan T.,

    “If I have $1 million to pass on to my children but because of taxes it will end up being only $500,000 does that suddenly mean that I am just going to say “screw it, I’m not going to leave them anything”?

    Do yourself a favor and read this before you expose more of your economic ignorance.

    True, but as long as we’re talking about economics, why would a self-interested individual leave any bequests at all for their kids? Why don’t they just consume it all? The answer may be obvious, but realize that marginal analysis is the idea that the actor weighs marginal utility and marginal cost. That can’t really be used when the actor dies tomorrow, since utility and costs don’t really have much meaning anymore for the actor.

    Also, the estate tax is roughly 45%, above an exemption of $2 million(which rises to $3.5m soon before being repealed), so the numbers above ($1m becoming $500,000 after taxes, or there being only $1m left after taxes) are misleading.

  37. Also, the estate tax is roughly 45%, above an exemption of $2 million(which rises to $3.5m soon before being repealed), so the numbers above ($1m becoming $500,000 after taxes, or there being only $1m left after taxes) are misleading.

    I just made up the 50% tax rate there, the point was to illustrate that if you wanted to leave your kids as much money as possible then you’d leave them as much money as possible, regardless of how much of the inheritance is taxed.

  38. why would a self-interested individual leave any bequests at all for their kids? Why don’t they just consume it all?

    As I think you go on to comment, a person may value the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your child will not struggle as much financially. Also, and perhaps the most obvious answer, a person does not necessarily know exactly when they are going to die, so even in an attempt to consume it all, they’ll likely fail.

  39. If you think conspicuous consumption is out of control now, wait until that confiscatory inheritance tax comes into effect. I’m seeing a boom in the space tourism industry.

    Where, by the way, will that inheritance confiscation go? Do you envision a “negative income tax” of some sort, funded by the aforementioned confiscation?
    Maybe we could just give it all to the Small Business Administration…

    I crack myself up, some times.

  40. Reinmoose

    As I think you go on to comment, a person may value the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your child will not struggle as much financially. Also, and perhaps the most obvious answer, a person does not necessarily know exactly when they are going to die, so even in an attempt to consume it all, they’ll likely fail.

    I didn’t say that, but I was thinking it–thanks. However, if it was simply the fact that you don’t know when you will die, then you should get pretty close to consuming it all, with a small error. I was just pointing out that, while marginal tax rates surely effect incentives such as how hard to work (income tax), the benefits of inheritance and costs of estate taxes do not accrue to the donor, so a rational individual engaging in marginal analysis would not take these costs and benefits into account. Or, if they do, it will certainly not be to their full extent, just like how I may give some money to charity, but not as much as if I directly benefitted from the charity.

  41. “[T]he benefits of inheritance and costs of estate taxes do not accrue to the donor, so a rational individual engaging in marginal analysis would not take these costs and benefits into account.”

    Only if the “donor” is utterly indifferent to the ultimate disposition of his assets; how many people can you say that about?

  42. “the benefits of inheritance and costs of estate taxes do not accrue to the donor, so a rational individual engaging in marginal analysis would not take these costs and benefits into account.”

    Not true… unless you’re a strictly self-centered objectivist who derives absolutely no utility from altruism. (And I don’t know anyone who fits into that category.)

    Anyone who was planning on leaving any inheritance to start with, only does so because he/she must derive some positive utility from the act.

    Imposing a tax on the value that inheritance reduces the marginal utility the individual will derive.

    This makes it possible for the individual to increase his/her total utility by reallocating resources away from the estate and direct it toward current spending until the marginal utility of both options is returned to equilibrium.

    Therefore, with an inheritance tax, there will be a shift toward current spending and away from leaving money to heirs.

  43. Russ R

    Therefore, with an inheritance tax, there will be a shift toward current spending and away from leaving money to heirs.

    You’re probably right. But I think that that is a good thing for reasons such as equality of opportunity. What has Paris Hilton done to merit her giant inheritance? Probably less than the inner-city kid who helps his parents with the housework, yet receives no inheritance at all.

  44. err, maybe not “no inheritance at all,” but susbtantially less.

  45. “What has Paris Hilton done to merit her giant inheritance? Probably less than the inner-city kid who helps his parents with the housework, yet receives no inheritance at all.”

    I doubt that Ms. Hilton has done anything of note to merit her fortune, but fairness has nothing to do with it.

    My issue with an inheritance tax is in the impact it would have on entrepreneurs like Conrad, not socialite heiresses like Paris.

    Do you think Conrad Hilton would have invested as much in the business if he knew the his family’s stake in it would die with him?

  46. Russ seems to be saying that on one hand the ability to pass wealth on to your children is so important to people that they’ll work hard and take great risks to earn it, but yet on the other hand they’d rather blow the money than pass it on to their kids if it’s going to be taxed.

  47. Russ R

    Do you think Conrad Hilton would have invested as much in the business if he knew the his family’s stake in it would die with him?

    Obvious, as a student of economics, I believe incentives matter, but that does not mean that changing one minor incentive slightly will radically change peoples’ behaviors. I think this is one of those cases where the issue is so peripheral to his primary incentives, that changing it through some type of inheritance tax will have a negligible effect. For example, if you take away my jacket on a brisk fall day, it doesn’t mean I won’t walk to work like I always do.

    But even if I grant your point that he will respond, there is no guarantee that the distortions due to this change in incentives will be greater than the distortions of our current income tax system. In fact, I think those distortions are much much greater–so why not raise the inheritance tax and reduce the income tax? Less distortions, more fairness, and a more meritocratic society.

    Oh, and I believe fairness has a lot to do with it. Just because you do not talk about fairness doesn’t mean it is not an issue.

  48. http://edbrownextendedentries.blogspot.com/2007/07/tom-cryers-trial-summary.html

    Sheldon Richman is one of the libertarians who denounce the Tax Honesty movement, as Brian has posted to this blog on other occasions.
    I mention this because I have responded to him that it is wrong for comfortable libertarians like him to denounce those who fight the IRS for being not purist enough…ie minarchists instead of anarchists like himself.

    BTW, I am mostly of anarcho capitalist leanings, with some unanswered questions. Other IRS fighters like Larken Rose are anarcho capitalists too. Mr Richman does not have a monopoly on purity of thought.

    What he does have is the strange view (for a libertarian) that the same government that lied to us about the war in Iraq, and lies to us about the dangers of marijuana, etc., is telling the sworn gospel truth about the income tax–that we all got to pay it, that everything that comes in is income, etc.

    I have mentioned on this blog that an attorney in LA was fighting the IRS and you can read his brief on the wethepeople.org website. I don’t know if any one here bothered, but I am happy to report that a jury of his peers recently acqitted him of two counts of willful failure to file, largely because the IRS with the help of DOJ could not produce a law requiring him to file and pay income tax.

  49. PS LA stands for Louisiana, not Los Angeles. Sorry.

  50. “[T]he ability to pass wealth on to your children is so important to people that they’ll work hard and take great risks to earn it, but yet on the other hand they’d rather blow the money than pass it on to the government .”

  51. Libertree, I think you mischaracterize Mr. Richman’s position. The proponents of the 16th amendment clearly intended to tax wages.
    Richman’s position (see his articles in the FFF publication) is that no court will rule otherwise, and even if they did, Congress would quickly remedy whatever defect there is in the law that caused the court to rule wages weren’t income. He also notes that the IRS has the guns to enforce whatever interpretation the government wants to put on the matter. While resistance may be noble, it
    is also futile (absent a huge army of resisters). The American people will have to intellectually come to another view on taxation before the 16th is abolished or income viewed as only from profits and capital gains.

  52. from the Conrad Hilton entry in wikipedia:
    “His estate founded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He left US$250,000 to each of his surviving siblings and US$10,000 to each of his nieces and nephews. Most of his assets were willed to the Roman Catholic Church and charities. However, Conrad’s son, Barron, contested the will and won in 1988. The net worth of Barron and his descendants then jumped to over US$335 million.”

    Hm.

  53. Dan T:

    To resolve your views of a schizophrenic libertarian relationship with government, at least from my view, I’d suggest that the wealthy only ‘get their way’ from government to the extent that their way is perceived to get more votes for the politicians in question.

    Rich people can’t buy votes that run against strongly popular policies for a given office holder. What they can do is argue that their business interests produce more jobs for said politician, so even when rich people have influence over the government it is only because the government perceives that it is acting to buy more votes.

    This is consistent with Richman’s reading. The government’s ability to redistribute creates the political component of class warfare all by itself.

  54. e asked: “I wonder if there’s any libertarians who would back the confiscation and redistribution of inheritance?”

    No. Nononononono.

    Did I mention “no”?

    P.S. No.

  55. In response to this: “In case you can’t figure out the difference between “industrious” and “exploitative”, just subsitute the words “tax-payer” and “tax-beneficiary”, respectively.”

    Dan T. said: “Well, everybody pays taxes and the rich seem to benefit from them the most, so there you go.”

    To which I respond: Dan T., you’re not wealthy, are you? Cause once any high income person files a 1040 form, they ought to grasp who is getting the pointy end of that stick. Which part of “wealthy people pay most of the taxes, and poor people and bureaucrats get the net benefit” is stumping you?

  56. My understanding from economic statistics I’ve read over the years is that the middle class pays most of the taxes and also receives most of the entitlements. Apparently what we have is a giant government that employs a bunch of bureaucrats to take a whole bunch of money from your average person just to turn around and provide him retirement and medical benefits he could have just paid for himself.

  57. Libertree, I think you mischaracterize Mr. Richman’s position. The proponents of the 16th amendment clearly intended to tax wages.
    Richman’s position (see his articles in the FFF publication) is that no court will rule otherwise, and even if they did, Congress would quickly remedy whatever defect there is in the law that caused the court to rule wages weren’t income. He also notes that the IRS has the guns to enforce whatever interpretation the government wants to put on the matter. While resistance may be noble, it
    is also futile (absent a huge army of resisters). The American people will have to intellectually come to another view on taxation before the 16th is abolished or income viewed as only from profits and capital gains.

    Creech: you misstake my position. The 16th Amendment was not intended to empower Congress to tax wages and salaries–because everyone (going back to the Anti-federalists) had already agreed it had the power. All the amendment did was fix the problem the Supreme Court identified in Pollock, namely, it removed the alleged need for apportionment for taxes on the income from property. In other words, repealing the 16th wouldn’t change a thing with respect to wages and salaries. Sorry.

  58. It’s another one of thoses things libertarians can’t quite figure out – half the time the government is run by the wealthy for the purpose of furthering their interests, the other half of the time the wealthy are the victims of a government that they appearantly have no influence over.

    Dan T.: Where do you get this? Not in anything I’ve written. Wealthy corporate types have long used the state to extract wealth from the mass of the population. Anything that goes to the bottom is pretty much to keep them quiet. Read Nock’s “Our Enemy the State” for details.

  59. Does everyone realize that we are talking about giving the state more power to take property?

  60. Um are we not unpopular enough…the last fucking thing we need to be associated with is communism.

  61. Well, everybody pays taxes and the rich seem to benefit from them the most, so there you go.

    Damn straight…SO LETS CUT ALL TAXES!

    And take back our money from those rich fuckers!

    i forget, is Dan T the one just making up stuff to piss everyone off?

  62. Dan T. No. 1: “You know, if you read Richman’s description of ‘industrious’ and ‘exploitative’ classes, it appears that he’s saying Paris Hilton is the victim and the illegal immigrant cleaning one of her family’s hotel bathrooms is the exploiter.”

    Dan T. No. 2: “Well, everybody pays taxes and the rich seem to benefit from them the most, so there you go.”

    Did it ever occur to you that the first statement is just putting words in Richman’s mouth based on your own cartoonish view of libertarians, or that the second might actually be a legitimate conclusion of libertarian class theory?

  63. “I am happy to report that a jury of his peers recently acqitted him of two counts of willful failure to file, largely because the IRS with the help of DOJ could not produce a law requiring him to file and pay income tax.”

    Nonsense. See this: http://tinyurl.com/2567v7

  64. “What he does have is the strange view (for a libertarian) that the same government that lied to us about the war in Iraq, and lies to us about the dangers of marijuana, etc., is telling the sworn gospel truth about the income tax–that we all got to pay it, that everything that comes in is income, etc.”

    More nonsense. It’s got nothing to do with believing the government. It has everything to do with being able to read and use logic. See this: http://tinyurl.com/28vcjz

  65. This is what Whittaker Chambers was talking about when he said that Atlas Shrugged as “the wiff of the gas chamber” about it.

    No good comes from a politics of dividing people up into “the productive” and “the parasites,” and wishing for the former to wage war on the latter.

  66. “No good comes from a politics of dividing people up into “the productive” and “the parasites,” and wishing for the former to wage war on the latter.”

    While I agree with joe here, I can’t help but notice that he just happens to be a guy with a government job, who spends most of his workday posting comments on internet blogs.

    just saying…

  67. To which I respond: Dan T., you’re not wealthy, are you? Cause once any high income person files a 1040 form, they ought to grasp who is getting the pointy end of that stick. Which part of “wealthy people pay most of the taxes, and poor people and bureaucrats get the net benefit” is stumping you?

    Well, if the poor are getting most of the benefit of taxation, then why are they still poor?

    Once again we’re back to the strange viewpoint that the wealthy are victims of the very government that they control – despite the fact that the government’s policies have contributed to the top 5% getting significantly richer.

  68. Dan T. No. 1: “You know, if you read Richman’s description of ‘industrious’ and ‘exploitative’ classes, it appears that he’s saying Paris Hilton is the victim and the illegal immigrant cleaning one of her family’s hotel bathrooms is the exploiter.”

    Dan T. No. 2: “Well, everybody pays taxes and the rich seem to benefit from them the most, so there you go.”

    Did it ever occur to you that the first statement is just putting words in Richman’s mouth based on your own cartoonish view of libertarians, or that the second might actually be a legitimate conclusion of libertarian class theory?

    I’m not putting words in Richman’s mouth, only drawing a conclusion from his stated view that the poor “live off” the rich, when a more realistic view is that the rich got that way on the backs of the poor.

    Maybe that’s not what he really means. I hope not, because it’s crazy.

  69. Russ R,

    I haven’t worked for the government in two years, and was more productive when I did.

    Nice try.

  70. Well, if the poor are getting most of the benefit of taxation, then why are they still poor?

    For one thing, and this is often obfuscated in poverty statistics, the individual people constituting “the poor” changes from year to year.

  71. “What he does have is the strange view (for a libertarian) that the same government that lied to us about the war in Iraq, and lies to us about the dangers of marijuana, etc., is telling the sworn gospel truth about the income tax–that we all got to pay it, that everything that comes in is income, etc.”

    Nothing strange about that for for libertarians, because in this case the gov’t is doing no more than referencing their own edict, which anyone can easily verify by doing anything other than a highly selective and strained reading of statute — and there are judges out there who’d like nothing better than to stick it in the eye of IRS if they could find a non-laughable way to so read it — while in the case of the dangers of marihuana, etc., which requires empiric statements about the material world, they can be seen to be lying.

    However, I’ve long regarded class theory in this case to be of doubtful value in explaining the extent of transfers in the USA. If anything, the USA’s welfare state is less voluminous than that of other countries because USAns are especially wary of becoming net taxpayers in favor of a recipient class, while in other countries they see themselves as having a fair chance of being beneficiaries of such “insurance”. Even so, the percentage of people who are significant lifetime net tax consumers, not only in the USA but in just about any other jurisdiction, is too small to explain any weight on the political scales.

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