To begin, I will be addressing the argument from ethical relativism in the context of my comment section disputes with Anarchists/Anti-Statists. I keep getting the old "Who are you to say that people shouldn't work for 13 cents an hour while billionaires roam?! Fairness is relative. Checkmate".
Easy does it, right? Wrong...
My first bit of advice to anyone making this point would be to phrase the argument differently. It's not about who I am. I could be anybody, from the nicest person on earth, to the biggest scumbag on earth. It wouldn't change the logic of my stance. Beyond that, admissions of the impossibility of objectivity in relation to morality/ethics must lead to a direct recognition that the very foundation of any "majority rule is immoral" or "taxation is theft and therefore immoral" categorical imperative cannot rely on a concretely defined standard of superior value judgments and must therefore be rooted in mere intersubjective consensus in order to be compatible with any statement that so much as flirts with the aforementioned admission. Seeing as how democracy is evidently intersubjective consensus in action, the above admission also renders various rejections of democracy as self-refuting, given then Western democracy strongly relies on active consensus to function in place of objectivity.
As mentioned, most anarchists have used moral relativism in an attempt to instantaneously disqualify all ethically driven arguments I've made so far. The idea here is that any argument grounded in a human-derived sense of hierarchical ethics fails solely on the basis of it being an argument grounded in a human-derived sense of hierarchical ethics. As always, I will humor this claim as being self-evident and apply rigorous consistency to it. The gaps should already be apparent, since the people I'm dealing with uninterruptedly rely on the existence of raw ethics in order to hammer home their virtuous points about theft and mob rule. Given their feisty rejection of all ethically rooted standards of measurement, the crippled value judgement they espouse is just as chained to mind-dependency and therefore cannot amount to anything more than an argument over whose favorite color is the bestest best color. To protest this, is to arbitrarily hold their particular feats of moral outrage to a different standard of measure. A leaner *wink-wink* standard of measure. But value clashes are either legitimately irreconcilable, or they are not. No such thing as a linearly square circle. No such thing as being a little bit pregnant (if you'll pardon the cliche). The moment we grant consensus policy-shaping power, as we have done above, we're left with the only game in town for policy analysis being 100% reliant upon Near-Unanimous Consensus as the benchmark. Once this is recognized not as a component, but rather the lone arbiter of ought in so far as defining policy criterion, it follows that any subset of Near-Unanimous Consensus (subsets include: Unanimity Minus One / Unanimity Minus Two / Unanimity Minus Three / Rough Consensus) has been ennobled as worthy of generating just grounds for a particular set of value codes to be written in stone, and thus obtain enforcement status. Regardless of whether the codes are in the interest of civility, all other factors be dammed. My opposition has demonstrated a capacity to recognize this, but when applying the criteria exclusively to their own particular positions and values. It is only when the statist makes an argument heavily in favor of intersubjective consensus being knighted as the generator of policy, that we see finger-pointing sprout with accusations of mob rule imposition entering into the equation, and thereby rendering consensus to mean diddly-squat. How commodious. Consensus barred from super majority thresholds, be it 90%, 80%, 75%, two-thirds, or 60%, is plainly reducible to irreconcilability, so we're right back to where we started. These guys' "anti-mob rule" arguments are compelling as long as we permit them to be contingent upon the hilariously duplicitous presupposition that only anarchists are allowed to pick and choose when consensus techniques amount to a philosophical no-no with a dead-end, and when they're declared to be a fortuitous exemption (IE: When they don't entail a justification for moral outrage at the hands of taxation, or what have you). U.S. Constitution not withstanding, proponents of the "taxes are treachery and must be abolished" sentiment clearly have no qualms applying or abandoning any variation of consensus-based decision making techniques as reason to scrap the current systems they consider to be unfair, as evidenced by their rejection of objective morality. Let's recap all this.
Morality is in the eye of the beholder. Check.
Democracy is the enemy. Check.
Intersubjective consensus is the best we can do when it comes to morality. Check.
Democracy is still the enemy though... Check...
You can't have it both ways gents. You cannot on one hand conveniently dismiss any ethical argument you dislike on the grounds that appeals to it are all 100% subjective and are therefore deserving to be rendered perfidious, while in the same breath claiming moral high ground when it comes to a particular principle you feel passionately about, which isn't even backed up by intersubjective consensus on a large scale anyway, proving it to be even more contradictory to the dicey presuppositions I've been kind enough to outright accept from you. And no, replacing the word "ethical" with the word "preference" when you gripe about taxation doesn't negate my critique. Even if it did, whatever merit the arbitrary terminology of "preference" adds to your anti-tax stance, the same standard would have to be applied to my arguments or to anyone else's. So if I just added "preference" to my verbiage and had a consensus backing it (which I do), I would by your own lapsed logic be well within reason to argue my position. But I'm not. Why? Because in the end, we're still left with anarchists unabashedly cherry-picking the particular preferences which are to be held to a higher standard on a societal scale. So even when humoring their ethical relativism non-starter, the holes in logic are beyond pervasive.
That said, concepts such as fairness are rock solid to begin with and any humoring of relativism is unwarranted. It is mind-numbingly short sighted to use the existence of differing opinions regarding what constitutes as fairness as evidence that the very concept of fair game is itself nebulous. Our ability to disagree on these matters is a product of built in biases, all of which we're capable of filtering out of our system as long as we possess intellectual integrity. If you don't, then it's perfectly understandable how what I'm advocating here can seem out of bounds and loopy to you. In addition to intrinsic bias, a lack of knowledge in regards to all circumstantially relevant details concerning a given matter is also a large contributor to our inability to grasp where fairness lies in some of the more convoluted scenarios. It should always be stressed that this lack of absolute knowledge on our part, does not render key elements of reality itself as incomprehensible. Such setbacks don't eliminate the possibility of a broader perspective, or even a 360 perspective, though they do often get in the way of it. None of this is difficult to decipher, so why do people pretend to be incapable of decoding it? We all have an inner ape in our brain, but it's a perfectly mitigatable force, proven by the fact that modern humans suppress their instincts all the time, to the benefit of civility. We can all concede that it is universally fair to impose identical rules on two teams trying to outperform each other in a sporting event. Imposing only 50% of the rules on one team would be unfair, and only a biased preference in favor of the team that just so happens to get a pass from having to abide by half the rules, enables us to pretend that there is nothing intrinsically unfair about it. There's the all-too-common patriotic flag-waver, then there's George Bernard Shaw. The two subjects have profoundly different wheels turning in their heads when evaluating patriotism. One is bamboozled by archetypal animalistic passions compartmentalized within, the other by a heightened discipline fueled by a level-headed incredulity towards those exact passions. To insist that both are equally enslaved to their respective biases and emotions, is the epitome of denial. It's painfully transparent that people enjoy having subjectivity to cling to in order to rationalize their selfishness and narrow agendas.
Just as my video time expired, I was talking about democracy being analogous to market forces. I was in the middle of pointing out that, just as ignorant majorities can elect leaders poorly and even take away minorities' rights in some circumstances, these exact majorities can be culpable of similar vices when left to the whims of the market. Just as they voted for Bush and Reagan's deficit spending, they have also empowered abysmal websites like Google by becoming walking dollar signs for them. As a result, Google was made wealthy enough to afford purchasing what 3 years ago used to be a perfectly decent site called YouTube. This resulted in the beginning of the end of YouTube. In their replies to me on this point, the anarchists simply said "Well then that's the consumer choice. Either deal with it, or use a different website!". So they rationalize the latter, while being dissatisfied with former and summing it up as mob rule. Should I just make the same rationalization after every election? Should I just say "Well that's the voter choice. It's democracy! Either deal with it or move to another country."? No I shouldn't. I display dissatisfaction with both. Why don't anarchists display dissatisfaction with both? It's only when market forces cause the lowest common denominator to thrive, that they seem to be okay with it. Just as most elections are limited to the two-party system due to the modern day unparalleled campaign financing by way of special interest groups, a market force has its own free-choice limitations due to rigid advertising. We know who decides what mass audiences see. Their options are mostly guided by outside forces. People aren't simply given what they want, their wants are shaped for them by multi-million dollar driven advertising campaigns. If flicks like Avatar have naturally built in massive audiences, why is it necessary to spend millions upon millions of dollars on pre-release publicity hypes in order to create the already existing mass audience it supposedly has? Those who assert that independent films routinely fail to appeal to mass audiences, never explain why that is, as if the explanation genuinely escapes them. It's very simple, independent films are kept from the general public due to a lack of distribution and publicity. Creators of independent films don't have tens of millions of dollars to spend so to publicize their work. This entire ordeal is not simply a matter of demand creating supply. Often times, it's supply that creates demand. The first condition of all consumption, is accessibility to the product. Prime time TV shows, along with movies that open in every shopping mall you can name, all obtain large audiences not because there is a spontaneous wave of popular demand carrying them to the top, but because of the strenuous pulling from the top. Emails from individual viewers are rarely considered representative of the general public. Market research and rating surveys are also misleading because they seldom incorporate any viewer reactions to specific content. It's patently obvious that conglomerate executives who claim to give consumers what they like, do everything in their power to make consumers like what they give. I used TV and movies as examples, but this applies to a plethora of other products on the market. Why glorify the market when the free-choice it entails is about as synthetic as the free-choice people have to vote for an honest presidential candidate? Just as supporters of Ralph Nader have no reason to vote their conscience because they know Nader has no real chance of winning, vloggers by the same token have no reason to leave YouTube because we don't want our content surrounded by nothing but tumbleweeds. Net-Neutrality would fix this problem, just as IRV would fix the two-party duopoly problem. Advocate pragmatic solutions folks, not free-market fantasies.
I also ran out of time before I had a chance to address JacobSpinney's further spinning of my points. So I'll do that here.
Definitions of Totalitarianism:
1. A system of government where the people have virtually no authority and the state wields absolute control of every aspect of the country, socially, financially and politically. For example a dictatorship such as the Nazi regime.
2. A political system based on absolute power of a single party or dictator.
3. Totalitarianism - dictatorship: a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.
4. Totalitarianism - absolutism: the principle of complete and unrestricted power in government.
So yeah, not what I'm advocating. Give it up already.
He said that I disregarded his entire point about McDonald's and consumer choice. Actually, he misparaphrased my entire point by addressing it with one of his one-liners. My argument, in its entirety, is right there in Part 1 for anyone to read. He keeps asking me "Shouldn't people be able to decide how much risk they put themselves in?" as if I hadn't already made it crystal clear a number of times that they should be allowed to take risks, but only for themselves, not their 5 year olds who are unaware of the risks. Nevermind unaware, they are incapable of even comprehending what a risk is. I guess Jacob only read a part of the blog because I already specified this in great detail. Either that or he blatantly ignored the explanation and just went for the kill by not acknowledging that I made myself clear. My "bait and switch" comment was about the impact of regulations not impeding on consumer rights. It's all there in Part 1. Not repeating it here. On top of that, I also brought up the possibility of the non-existence of disclaimers. He said disclaimers would surely exist because the owner wouldn't want to be sued by the poisoned party through a private court.
Number 1: Filing lawsuits costs money which the type of people who can't afford to shop in expensive restaurants (and are therefore subject to cheap restaurants and higher possibility of being poisoned) cannot afford to file. Before you shout "pro-say" at me, take a look at how seldomly pro-say cases actually result in the plaintiff obtaining justice.
Number 2: A Private Court can be formed and overseen by anyone who has the money to generate and operate it. So instead of we the people getting to elect authority, we should just let people with money self-appoint themselves to positions of authority and form decisions that can result in owners of restaurants being physically forced to pay the poisoned party for the damages? As corrupt as it is, we'll keep the public system, thanks.
I also like how he mentioned that a family member of the poisoned party would have to end up doing the suing because the poisoned party wouldn't be alive anymore in some of the cases. You gotta love the nonchalant way in which he mentioned this.
Then he said if a consumer wants to buy a product that has been confirmed to be safe, the consumer himself should have to pay the extra 50% or so which would cover the cost of the safety measures being taken into effect. So in a free market, anyone who wants a 0% guarantee that they're not ordering poison should have to pay twice as much for their food anytime they're hungry. Do I even need to add anything here? What sane person would choose this over simply having a regulatory system in place that takes care of these things? Good luck getting that one past the general public. Not on your life.
Then he mentioned how life insurance companies would drop you from your plan if you eat at unsafe places. Great, so the options are: Go eat at the most expensive place where everything goes under the radar or get dropped from your life insurance plan. Wonderful. Go free-market! I can hear the excitement of the masses already.
Then he summarized my entire return policy counterargument by saying that all I came back at him with was "Well not all companies have return policies. Period." when in fact that was only my opening line, and I only made mention of it because he made it sound as if every company does have them, when they don't. I'm sure he knows why I brought it up and that it wasn't my only point, but it was smack in the middle of my long blog so I guess it's okay to pretend otherwise. I'm not going to repeat the other arguments I made every time it is suggested that I didn't make them.
On governments not refunding tax dollars when providing sub-par services: He said that he accepts full refunds for the shows he does, and that's great. He said that everyone else he knows in the entertainment industry does this as well. He must know some really generous hosts, because all venues I know of don't provide refunds. He said movie theaters offer refunds. Not exactly. In selective regions, each theater sets its own refund policy, but most of the time a cash refund is not offered. Rather, a "see future movie/performance" refund is offered, and you'd have to leave the theater within the first 15 or 20 minutes of the showing if you wish to get your "refund". None of these analogies can be used to suggest that the gov't should offer tax refunds, because as I argued in Part 1, services are fully used up in the case of taxation. No 15 minute walkouts and such. Also, everyone would ask for refunds if it came to taxes, whereas when you're doing a show for a smaller group of people, you get to interact with them. A level of admiration for the host is often formed. This admiration factor would often guilt people away from demanding a refund, even if they find the performance itself to be sub par. It's safe to say that this all important factor is not found in cases where the gov't is providing services.
Inheritance: As I said in the video he replied to, my argument wasn't "Inheritance is a great big evil". The whole point revolved around the way anarchists preface their taxation argument. They keep using the word "earn". Incidentally popping out of a rich pussy has nothing to do with "earn". Not that this alone is reason enough to tax away an insanely large percentage of anyone's wealth after they die, but if you're going to gripe about the lack of fairness in regards to taxation, then at least admit that it is also unfair that a tiny percentage of people are arbitrarily given massive head starts, which they can benefit off of even more through capital gains/interest. So taxation in lots of instances isn't "taking money away from people who earned it" because the act of inheriting is not the act of earning. That was my whole point.
"An Inheritance tax leaves people with no incentive to become rich".
I can't believe people still use this argument. Nobody is dumb enough to live a poor man's life just because 20% of their fortune would be taxed away after they die, resulting in their spawn only inheriting 80% of it. This does not enter into most people's minds when they contemplate becoming rich. Even if the estate tax were to shoot up to 99%, people still wouldn't just settle for studio apartments and daily mashed potatoes in the here and now. Especially not the Wall Street types, who evidently have a pathological obsession with building their little green sand castles. Not much else concerns them.
"If an inheritance tax exists, people will just blow all their money so that there will be no inheritance left to tax".
First off, we do have an inheritance tax and people don't blow away all their cash before they die. They didn't blow it away even back when the inheritance tax was much higher. It's asinine to suggest that they would blow it away with today's lower inheritance tax rate. Secondly, even if they blew it all away, so what? The more money people spend, the stronger the economy becomes overall. Why portray high consumer rates as a negative in this case?
"An Inheritance tax lowers the standard of living."
No, the standard of living in the US, for instance, was much higher back when the inheritance tax was higher. If you want to say "correlation =/= causation" then you must also apply the principle in the rare cases where a low inheritance tax correlates to a high standard of living. I'm not sure of any such cases, but maybe they're out there.
"You start off saying that the richest people in the world inherited their wealth. This is empirically false."
He then linked to source citing 10 of the richest people in the world today, 7 of which are "self-made billionaires" (ha!). The problem is, I never said the top 10 richest people inherited their wealth. I said that throughout most of recorded history, most of the wealth that has existed was passed down from generation to generation via nepotism. All of this family wealth has been growing, to this very day, and combined it makes up a huge chunk of the overall pie. Is it all added up on some graph that's been composed somewhere on the internet? Who knows. I'm not going to waste time looking for it because it should be evident to anyone with a basic grasp of history. We know for a fact that all of that legacy wealth didn't just vanish into thin air overnight.
"We're all inheritors in some aspect."
So because some people inherit next to nothing, he's going to pigeonhole the entire issue by equivocating the minimals to the maximums. This is not my idea of a fair or rational argument.
"Some people are born ugly and some are born good looking. Shouldn't that also be a problem then, if inheritance is?"
Well, this is a problem, first of all. The analogy itself is faulty though because good looking people can't obtain better looks just by having good looks in the first place. Whereas with wealth, those who have a birth right to it can simply use it to make more and more through capital gains and other such parasitical blood-suckery. Good looks don't bring about better looks by their very nature, whereas money alone has the intrinsic ability to breed more money, ad infinitum.
Then he asked me if I started from zero or if I had help from my parents in the food and shelter department throughout my childhood. Err, yes I did, but other kids don't. I am perfectly capable of recognizing and admitting the inherent unfairness here, without doing it in a backhanded way, or displaying a hostile attitude about having to admit it (something I can't say about most anarchists). Just as we would with any other unfair game, we should strive to fix the inherently unfair game of life somewhat by taxing fortunate people like me at a higher rate than those who are less fortunate than me. Philanthropy is great and all, but it's subject to the arbitrary whims of a self-absorbed, nepotistic, selfish species. Even I, with this disciplined outlook, still know myself to be selfish in practice. I'm glad that we have a progressive tax system here in Canada, because had I not been taxed progressively throughout my acquirement of raises over the years, I'm fairly sure that I'd have opted not to spend the extra money I'd have pocketed, on those less fortunate than me, despite knowing full well that more than half of those people ended up less fortunate through no fault of their own, unless one wishes to blame the receivers of life's poorly dealt cards, over the act of receiving said cards. To categorically write them all off as lazy, weak-willed, or deceitful as some of them do defraud the safety-net systems in effect, is to have a visceral reaction unsupported by statistics. The solution consists of scrapping the safety-nets which are just begging to be defrauded. And I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that doesn't encompass all or even most of the safety-nets currently in effect in the US. The same cannot be said of any social program or parent-only tax subsidy which gives poor people incentive to have kids they shouldn't be having, but I'm on a massive tangent by this point, so more on the ills of those subsidies some other time.
By the way, the moment I turned 18 is the moment I started covering all of my own expenses, but if someone in my family had offered to give me a large sum of money that I never earned, while other kids who worked throughout their childhood ended up with nothing, I'd take zero issue with the taxation of the transaction. And I say this as someone who doesn't oppose having detractors of this sentiment obtain their own spot of land where they wouldn't get taxed for these transfers, the same way Monarchs didn't. This will probably never happen of course, but it's silly to lay the blame on me for the fact that only 0.01% of the population is enticed by this proposition enough to actually volunteer their services and go through with the experiment.
Self made billionaires: No such thing. Oh, "But the people working for them do so voluntarily. Ergo, their profiteering is legit!". Except for the fact that the contracts some of these workers submit to are about as voluntary as your willingness to pay taxes, seeing as how you do technically have the option of moving to Somalia where you wouldn't have to pay them. No one is literally holding a gun to your head and preventing you from fucking off to Somalia. Should I just pretend that you guys voluntarily continue to pay your taxes because you haven't fucked off to places like Somalia yet? This is exactly what you do when asserting that people who work for next to nothing in underdeveloped countries do so willingly because they have the viable option of starving. Their option consisting of starvation is of the same weight as your option consisting of Somalia. Voluntary, my foot.
Bill Gates is especially unworthy of the "Self-made billionaire" branding. Gates didn't even invent the PC operating system, Gary Kildall did. Pick up a copy of They Made America for the full scoop on that one. This kind of incidental "right place, right time" scenario happens quite often with inventors. Asserting that it results in a Self made billionaire isn't much different from describing a winner of a one billion dollar jackpot as a Self-made billionaire because the lucky bastard managed to pull off picking the winning lottery ticket. It is largely a product of the individual's environment rather than the individual's oh so imaginative cognitive functions, which apparently need to be showered with more net worth than a dozen third world countries combined, less they refrain from being imaginative.
As for Corporations being enabled by the State: As I've explained before, all contemporary corporate privileges wouldn't automatically vanish without the existence of the State. It's easy to see how certain privileges would cease to exist, like modern bankruptcy laws bailing out insolvent businesses. But other privileges would still exist in mildly different incarnations, and to deny this is to deny the existence of economic power, and to greatly undermine just how congenitally accumulative economic power is by its own nature. Corporations are presently legal entities shielded by State force, but so are many other things, like private property. This is a prime example of how the "Corporatism" talking points (often parroted in Anarcho-Capitalist circles) are arrived at by the employment of the exact same line of thought that we see used by Anarcho-Socialists, who go around attributing the exploitation of the working class to the existence of the State, since State force is used to preserve the right to private property, which is most beneficial to the elites. Both camps are equally idiotic here, since a State is not required to protect either private property or a Corporation. Anarcho-Capitalists agree with me on the former, but not the latter, because their conceptualization of the issue is entirely broken down by the semantics at hand, thanks to restrictive, binary verbiage which appeals to them as it makes it easy to squeeze States and Corporations into the same tiny box, the exact same way traditional Anarchists try to pigeonhole States and private property to a fundamental binding. The actual crux of the matter revolves around the fact that all that is needed for the protection of both these things is:
#1. Money. Check.
#2. People willing to be employed for the purposes of protecting the given entity. Check.
If the State, just by virtue of having a monopoly on law, is naturally prone to create and sustain these horrid Corporations, the theory must account for why in Scandinavian Europe (which is far more Statist overall than the US) levels of Corporate crime are tremendously lower than in the US. Wouldn't it follow from the "No States = No Corporations" premise, that the less government intrusiveness, the less Corporate malpractice? Why then, do so many Nations whose big governments' regulatory oversight over Corporations surpasses that of America's, all just happen to have lower levels of Corporate crime? If the theories peddled by my opposition rang true, shouldn't we be seeing established patterns to the contrary by this point? Why aren't we seeing them? Is it because the relevant data has been tampered with at the hands of sneaky, pro-big gov't Corporatists? Or could it be because the cliche saying "The government that governs best is a government that governs least" is balderdash and the rational statement should read: The government that governs best is the government that governs best. Not only that, but name one Corporation from Northern Europe that's a blight on humanity. Just one. Every time I ask people to do this, I end up suffering through No True Scotsman fallacies. A most pesky fact that the "Blame Corporatism, not Capitalism!" crowd constantly blocks out is that the highest ranking Corporate big wigs prey upon free-market individualistic schools of thought in order to subsidize think tanks that cater to them politically. The Cato Institute comes to mind. For decades now, these guys have been funding institutes like Cato and Mises which peddle the very arguments I'm replying to here. I guess Corporate criminals are just economically masochistic and strive to destroy themselves from within by pumping money into the promotion of arguments which are sure to spell their doom! Either that, or Anarcho-Capitalists are their useful idiots. You decide. And that's not even getting into the colloquial use of the term Corporation, which simply views the term as "Any company that gets huge and is therefore difficult to compete with".
I've got more to say but this is running too long as it is. Thanks for reading.