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The Immorality of Democratic Voting

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Our founders gave us a Republic to protect the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority through the rule of law – namely, the constitution. The goal of “progressives” is to transform us into a direct democracy where the majority can assault the rights of the minority by a simple vote.

Kel Kelly writes at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute:

Businesspeople, if they are successfully “greedy,” become rich by providing their fellow citizens (i.e., consumers) with things that make them better off. In other words, they have to earn it. But many who espouse that people don’t need more than a basic level of existence, in their own greed, constantly vote for politicians who will take money from others and give it to them. They, just like the businessman, want more than they currently have. But instead of earning it as the businessman or capitalist does, the socialists steal it from those who have more. The businesspeople’s actions are moral (unless they earned their money by theft or by being given privileges by government), while theirs are not.

The sad fact is that this is exactly what our political system — democracy — is all about. It is a system where the masses, those with less money than the minority group that has great wealth, vote for politicians who offer to take money from the wealthy minority and redistribute it to them in return for giving the politician their votes.

Voting wealth out of the pockets of those who have it is socialism, because it is done for the “common good,” for the benefit of helping that part of society that earns less. This is why democracy has been likened to two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. This is also what is known as “social justice.” Politicians are simply people who learn to be good actors in order to win your vote. They ultimately care little about real progress for the country or the lives of individuals; they care about their political careers.

Wealth redistribution, therefore, is theft. It is the taking by force from one group in order to give to another. Force is involved because anyone who fails to pay assessed taxes — confiscatory taxes that mostly go directly into someone else’s pockets — will be put in prison. People from whom money is taken have not usually voted for this action,[1] but those who wanted to receive others’ money usually have voted to take it from them. Many socialists will dispute this and argue that most people want to pay the amount of taxes they pay. This implies, for example, that when the government doubled the tax rate during the Great Depression, people, coincidentally, simultaneously wanted to voluntarily pay double the amount of income tax. It implies that when marginal tax rates reached 90 percent, people truly wanted to work and hand over 90 percent of their marginal earnings. The argument is too weak to take seriously. Besides, if most people want to pay all the taxes they pay, socialists will have no problem switching the payment of taxes from being required by law to being voluntary.[2]

Wealth redistribution does not involve only social programs such as welfare, Medicaid, and Medicare. It involves any occurrence of one party receiving money, physical goods, or services, that they did not pay the full cost of, but that another party did, on their behalf. For example, public transportation involves wealth redistribution because most who use it did not pay for the bulk of the cost. Even though they contribute by purchasing their tickets, the ticket is highly subsidized because wealthier taxpayers fund most of the cost.

Similarly, National Public Radio (NPR) is a wealth-redistribution program (mostly from the rich to the middle class). Many who listen to it paid taxes toward it, but many of those who do not listen also pay for it — and often pay more. If NPR is a viable business that would have enough people wanting to use it, it would be profitable on its own without government funding. If NPR could not survive without the government, it is a loss-making enterprise that is consuming wealth. That wealth could instead be used for profitable ventures, which would better serve society. We can see from this last example that only by having profit-and-loss statements can we determine whether a product or service is something consumers really want to have. There are never any profit-and-loss statements associated with anything the government operates, so we do not know which services are really beneficial in economic terms.[3]

Most of the taxes paid in the United States (and most countries) are paid by a small group of people: the rich. In 2005, 53.7 percent of all income taxes in the United States were paid by those earning over $200,000. Those earning between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 28.3 percent of all taxes. This means that 82 percent of all taxes were paid by those earning over $100,000.[4]Those with incomes below $40,000, in total, paid no income tax: their tax liability was more than offset by the tax rebates from the Earned Income Tax Credit. In other words, many receive money (from the rich) “returned” to them for taxes that were never paid.

Further, most taxes do not go towards essential government services such as road infrastructure, parks, education, the legal system, or police and fire departments — they go directly into other people’s pockets. No more than 10 percent of the 2009 federal-government budget goes towards these essential government services (and most of these services are taken care of with separate state and local taxes). More than 65 percent of the budget goes towards social programs or some other type of income support or assistance. (Most of the remaining portion goes to fund our wars, or, “national defense” as it’s called.)

Many claim, without an understanding of what’s really happening, that somehow the rich take money from the poor. The facts show it is quite the other way around, considering the following numbers. According to a detailed report[5] by the Tax Foundation,[6] in 2004, the bottom 20 percent of all income earners received $8.21 in government spending for every $1.00 in total[7]taxes they paid (and $14.76 for every dollar of federal taxes paid). The middle 20 percent received $1.30 for every $1 in taxes paid. But the top 20 percent of income earners received only $0.41 for every dollar of taxes paid. (Though they don’t give the figures for the top 5 percent of taxpayers, who pay almost 60 percent of all taxes,[8] their receipt of government spending, by logical deduction, must be below $0.05 or less for every dollar they pay.)

In dollar amounts, households in the lowest-earning quintile in 2004 received about $31,185 morein government spending than they paid in taxes, while the middle quintile received $6,424 more than they paid. The top quintiles, however, paid $48,449 more in taxes than they received in government spending. In the aggregate, the top 40 percent of income-earning households paid roughly $1.03 trillion more in total taxes than they received in government spending, while the bottom 60 percent received $1.53 trillion more in government spending than they paid in taxes (the difference being the amount spent by government in excess of what it brought in — an excess mostly financed by the future top income earners). This is wealth redistribution.

We can see from these statistics how absurd is the phrase “tax breaks for the rich.” The rich do indeed benefit most from tax breaks because of the fact that they pay most taxes. Tax breaks are the giving back to the rich some of the money that was previously taken from them. Yet socialists call this redistribution from the poor to the wealthy! In other words, if the poor aren’t allowed to receive as much of others’ incomes as before, and the rich are allowed to keep more of their income, then, in the eyes of socialists, the rich are taking from the poor. This is like saying that a thief who must return a woman’s purse after getting caught stealing it is redistributing money from himself to her.

When the government imposes taxes on the rich or less rich for the purposes of giving the money to another it is no different from taking his car, house, farm, or individual possessions. It is often the case that people who inherit property from deceased family members, even property that has been in their family for generations, have to sell the property just to pay the taxes. They really do lose their physical property. Even when taxes are taken straight out of people’s salary, the monetary income taken could instead have been spent to buy physical goods or assets. It is family property that will never exist but would have otherwise.

What is the morality of forcing wealth from those who have it to those who have less? How is it that people are outraged when a CEO steals from his company, or a street thug steals a car, but they are not upset with themselves and their poorer neighbors for stealing from those who rightfully earned more money than they? Indeed they actively support such theft and vote for more of it!

I conclude that society does not really care about morals. They care about what’s best for them, defining terms in different ways in different situations, to fit their own personal or ideological agenda. Socialists condemn the businessman who becomes rich by pleasing others and providing jobs for workers and who harmed no one else in the process. But socialists claim that workers (and nonworkers) who were paid the full value of their work by the businessman but still choose government force to make him pay more, are innocent, righteous, and deserve ”social justice.”

As a reminder of why businesspeople take nothing from others but simply benefit from creating wealth for them, consider the fishing net example from chapter 1 of The Case for Legalizing Capitalism: If an island businessman creates a fishing net, he is able to reap the reward of more fish (more wealth). If he sells the net to others, he becomes wealthy by exchanging fishing nets for money (which exchanges for wealth). With others having a net, too, they can have more fish at lower prices (fewer hours of labor). Plus, those who help the fisherman make nets get paid wages in the process. The businessman creates wealth for everyone without taking from anyone in the process. Everyone benefits!

When people elect politicians who make campaign promises to interfere with the marketplace, they implicitly instruct government to take control of private companies. Businesses of all sizes, whose owners voluntarily went into business to bring us goods and services in order to make a profit then become slaves to society because the government, representing the people, dictates to companies how much to produce, what it must produce, what is not allowed to do, what prices it must sell above or below, what materials it is allowed or forced to use in production, and how much of its income must be sent to other people or companies.

Suppose your family decided to start a business. You invest time, sweat, money, and opportunity costs in creating a new product or service. Your company’s product did not previously exist, but you made it available for others, without harming or forcing anyone to exchange their income for the product. After some years, your product becomes so popular that your family has now become wealthy through voluntary exchange. Others, who engage in forceful, not voluntary, exchange, in their jealousy, use the government to regulate you. They force you to sell part of your company to your competitors (antitrust legislation) who are not able to compete as efficiently and effectively; they force you to pay your workers more than you can afford (union legislation); they force you to sell your product for a lower price than the market demands and for a lower price than you would like (price controls); they force you to produce in a way that pollutes less but raises your costs and reduces your output (EPA legislation); they then impose a “windfall-profits tax” because they think you’re earning too much money this year. Your company started out being your private property that benefited society, but then society — through government regulation — took control of it and sucked it dry. Now your family earns less, your workers earn less, and less of your product is available to consumers, and at a higher price. The consumers got what they voted for. Voting for the government to improve one’s life almost always results in the opposite.


by on Nov. 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Replies (111-111):
by Bronze Member on Nov. 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM


Quoting bluerooffarm:

 Ummmm.....Blue this time :-)

Quoting MsDenuninani:

  Quoting bluerooffarm:

 I'm going to imbed my responses in green    

 I don't agree with Government research and funding..

I'm going to address this a little later, when I explain where I am coming from... 

Yes, we definitely disagree.

 In some areas, particularly in technology, government is the only entity that can do the research.  The internet is a great example - it was funded entirely by researchers at the pentagon and public institutions, because it was too risky of an investment for the private sector.

Education is another example.  Right now, my son has special needs and benefits from early intervention services, and the methods they use to help him were created and researched with government funding and researchers.  The private sector has no incentive to help children like mine - they would not make any money off it.

I have no doubt that there are places where the government makes a muck of things, and I also think that changing times require different types and quantities of government funding.  But I don't think it's wise to write it off altogether.  

Again we disagree because I don't think they should just be given their food, water, etc.  They should garden, and work to support most of what they use.  They have done something wrong to be where they are and money should not be taken from others to pay for their upkeep.

Okay, I love the idea of more prison gardens, for a variety of reasons.  But I also believe that if a prisoner falls down, or is a diabetic, we have a moral obligation to treat them, out of a comon sense of shared obligation and respect for human dignitty.  I agree with another poster that the sum total of people's lives is not their economic value.   

It's not the rich people that are getting to that point of having a disincentive to work.  The middle class will be there soon.  Many of my friends are already talking about how they are on the cusp of getting benefits.  They ask "why not have one more kid, then we'll get CHIP, or LIHEAP, or WIC." 

People, like your friend, will make rational decisions based on their options.  I do not think that means those options should be taken away.   For me, it's about who is creating the options themselves.  We have too many very rich people who have the time and money to influence politicians to help make their lives easier, and that makes no sense to me, when the balance should be making life easier for the middle class.

He works those hours so we can afford MORE than that.  What we earn is ours.  We can and should be able to choose what to do with that extra money.  Our decisions about WHAT to do with that money creates jobs for others.  We as consumers need to be smart enough to make our decisions work for other Americans.  But it is WE that need to be that smart, not the gov't being smart FOR us.  We need to choose American made products or locally made products to keep our neighbors employed so that they will in turn buy our products.  We also work today so that we will have the capability to retire some day, that will be impossible if the gov't starts taking bigger chunks to pay the people who are on the cusp of letting the system take care of them.  That's where the thinking puts us.  A place where people do not have the incentive to work.  More and more people will eventually ask "Why are we working so hard?"  I've seen it start to happen.



There's so much here to unpack.  The fact that you work more than you need to for basic needs suggest to me that there is  an incentive to work, above and beyond basic needs, which is why I do think, on balance, people will try and work even if they have public assistance.. 

There's a lot here I agree with, in terms of American-made products.  But there is a lot that the government can do there, to create incentives for Americans to buy american-made goods.  You have no right to tell someone to buy something made here if it is cheaper at Walmart.  But government can create systems which make it easier for american-made goods to compete in this market. 

You are right that I don't have the right to tell people to buy things here if it is cheaper at Walmart, but the gov't shouldn't have that power either.  There are many incentives given by the gov't to make it cheaper to ship the merchandise, gives moving incentives to make it cheaper to move to China, etc.  Actually, I would much rather see VERY high tariffs on Chinese made merchandise as incentive instead of giving tax breaks or creating "base" prices (like our milk, corn, etc) 

My MIL worked at a factory that made spray bottles and hose heads for gardening.  Two years ago it was bought by Bosch and was promptly moved to China.  She constantly buys crap at Walmart (the WORST offense IMO was her purchase of a cast iron skillet for us for Christmas that was Chinese instead of Lodge, we took it back).  She can't seem to understand that her choices in what she purchased help create the problem that sent her job to China.  The gov't is not going to fix that kind of stupid. 

I agree that we need to be smart.  We know that if children attend pre-school, for example, they are more likely to not receive government assistance in later life.  So why not have government provide more preschools for 2-5 year old children?  That would also help working mothers. And, why not mandate cheaper, more widely available birth control?  Increased use of birth control has been the only thing that is actually correlated with lower teen pregnancy, fewer abortions, and has also been correlated for greater economic outcomes over a woman's lifespan.   And not why not increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for it, when the wealthy 1) don't need it and 2) many, many more people would benefit from those taxed dollars.

I like the idea of preschool for people who need it, but I also worry about what will be made mandatory.  I homeschool my kids, and I don't believe that anyone should take that away from me.  But I have seen people who believe that I should not have the right to homeschool.  I pay my school taxes, I tried to help improve the school, I would stil be willing to help improve the school....However I now LOVE teaching my kids and I would never send them back to the school system. 

Personally I don't think that BC is so cost prohibitive, but I think that again education is the key.  The gov't has stepped into the school system and taken away the time that teachers used to have to teach other "stuff" to the kids.  There used to be more than simply math and science in the classroom, the other subjects gave girls (and boys) a reason to wait for intercourse, be responsible with their bodies.  Just teaching the basic facts aren't really enough, they also need a reason to listen.  For many kids that is band, art, dance, etc.  We've streamlined the system making it much more like a child-factory, and the testing is having some detrimental effects.  Girls with higher self-esteem are much more likely to wait and much more likely to use protection and they will find protection without us making it more widely available.  I'm not even sure what that would look like when you can walk into almost any gas station bathroom or pharmacy and pick up a condom for about 50 cents.

I highlighed the sentence above because I think it contains a key distinction to the way you and I think.  To me, government can only be as smart as the electorate.  I think we get the government we deserve, and if we're not asking it to be better, smarter, more efficient, we'll get crappy government that cares more about the status quo than the American people.  I believe government should be by the people, for the people, of the people, and the one similarity I've seen from both the tea party and the occupy movements is a sense that government is not working for us, which implies some sense that the government should be working, period.  I think government is necessary, and that our lives are saturated with it, mostly to our benefit. 

I think our lives have become saturated by gov't to our detriment.  The numbers of regulations and red tape has gotten out of hand.  The amount of superfluous crap people need to go through in order to get help, often signing up for more than they actually want because it is necessary in order to get the other thing..... example, in 2008 my hubby lost his job and we went into the unemployment office (career link) all I wanted to know was how to get my certification to teach reactivated and to apply for CHIP for the kids.  To do that I needed to sign up for WIC and have a counselling session.  They needed to know all kinds of things about our house.  We needed to sign up for LIHEAP eventhough we use wood heat that we harvest off our own property, so we knew we didn't qualify.  DH had to sign up for classes which meant a lot of searching for classes that would be beneficial because he already had a Bachelor's Degree, but Master's credits at a college wouldn't count.  It was CRAZY! 

I thought as a child that the gov't was so big that of course they should be the one to take care of these issues, but lately I believe that it needs to fall to the people more so that the government can get smaller again.  When the gov't reaches, I believe we have at least 3 new problems for every solution.

Basically, I think government should be better for all Americans, I think we're entitled to it, and I think those who are most able to do so should be willing to help pay for it. And the truth is, the very rich tend to agree, because they know that when Americans (including the ones who aren't working) can't afford to pay for their services  than no one is buying there goods and service.  I like to tell some of my conservative friends that welfare dollars pay for a lot of french fries in franchises owned by rich Americans, and cash given to poor families through the EITC and tax credits pays for a lot of tvs in lots of Walmarts.  In other words, it is not just the poor that benefit from government subsidies.  


 I do agree that it's not just the poor that benefit from the subsidies, but I disagree with giving the "basic necessities" to someone who doesn't have the drive to work.  That should be saved for the people who cannot work...the elderly, the children, the mentally and physically incapable.  I take issue with saying everyone is entitled to the basics because I also believe that everyone should pull the weight they are capable of pulling. How do we as a society decide these things?  How do we decide who is capable?  I think that is where we (collective) have issues right now. 

There are many out there that now believe we need to shake the subsidies down to their foundations and try again.  I am one of them.  We have subsidized big business for far too long to the detriment of the middle class.  BUT we have also made the safety net into a hammock for SOME people.  It's time to tighten it and make it more of a spring board.  If someone comes to the career link with a BS degree, it's time to say, OK, why don't you start taking some Master's credits instead of taking a course in Microsoft Word.  Our gov't officials should be able to think at the lowest levels and make small disicions such as that without the HOURS wasted filling out so much paperwork.  Our teachers should have the ability to say, Wow, she really just doesn't test well, let's figure out another way to show us she "gets" it.  When gov't bureaucracy gets involved, the system gets larger and people do not get helped as much or as easily as when gov't is lean.  IMO

There's not a lot you wrote there in blue that I disagree wtih, honestly.  I especially think we agree on education -- I pretty much agree with everything you said there.

(and I'm kind of relieved.  Too often I have conversations here where there is a lot of strong disagreement, and the conversation never gets to a place of rational discussion where you find that you might have more in common than you think.)

I also liked what you had to say about red tape.  I read a story recently about licensing in Utah, about a woman who braided hair but  was told she had to stop because she needed to go to school to get a certificate -- even though the school taught no classes whatsoever on hairbraiding.  I agree with you completely here -- there is a lot of licensing and bureaucratic red tape that should be removed, and I think you see it in the everyday lives of entrepeneurs and individuals that often gets missed when people talk about more macro-level issues like bank regulations.

While we will have to agree to disagree on at least one thing -- I disagree with giving the "basic necessities" to someone who doesn't have the drive to work -- (although I suspect that if we unpacked it, we might find that we agree more than we do not here as well), I will say that I think that aid should be connected to work wherever possible.  I believe this because I've seen, over time, how independence and personal responsibility are directly linked to one's personal sense of control over their life, and I think that is integral to long term stability and happiness.  In other words, people need to work not because it's better for me, but because it's better for them.

Thanks for responding and keeping the conversation going.

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