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Old 08-15-2008, 08:38 PM   #16
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Ho hum. This ignores the practical reality that the nature of bureacracy is to expand itself. When has a government ever voted for less power for itself? When have parliamentarians ever voted for a reduction in their salaries?
The practical reality is that bureaucracy expands, due to the failure of the electorate to choose proper representatives or punish them for misrepresenting them. The practical reality is that, when polled, for instance, most Americans support any slew of social programs, transportation spending, and a strong national defense, and many elected representatives are judged, at the local level, on what they bring back to their district. And, in spite of "low approval ratings" for Congress and the President, very few incumbent representatives are ever ousted (most people support their local representatives, while they despise those outside, whom they have no choice over), and only a handful of states ever swing from one party to the other come presidential election time.

In other words, the bureaucracy is bloated, spends too much while cutting taxes, and adds on pork projects because that is exactly what their constituents want. Democracy is working, in theory; it is the voters who have failed. The voters have exactly the kind of government that they want, because actions speak much louder than words or polls.
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:41 PM   #17
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I think you are right in the sense that it's hard to argue that for every taxpayer, there is a meeting of the minds between him/her and the government.

But do you really believe that other contracts are equal? If I am applying for a mortgage, what is my bargaining power up against an entity like HSBC or Bank of America? In pretty much every instance where an individual customer is at the mercy of a large corporation, you will have unequal bargaining power. Do we consider that to be theft? Is it lesser theft?
I don't think that's a particularly good example, to be honest. The market for home loans in most developed countries is extremely competitive. Granted, it is more difficult to get a mortgage now in the so-called post credit crunch world, with conditions having tightened, but rarely in a given country is there only one mortgage lender offering financing. Actually, if anything in recent years - and granted, this is less apparent now - banks were forced to cut their margins to the bone in competing for business.

Now that I think of it, though it has become more difficult to obtain mortgage financing, for those in the fortunate position to have spare funds to lend to the banks, their bargaining power has never been higher. Far from the individual customer (of savings products) being at the mercy of a large corporation, the large corporation is at the mercy of a discerning, well-informed saver, who constantly shifts his/her funds around to avail of the best rate.

Also, you are under no obligation to obtain mortgage financing - or any other form of credit - from any lender. The state obliges all of us to finance anything it deems fit, basically, and applies severe penalties to those who 'opt-out', i.e., evade their taxes.
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:53 PM   #18
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The practical reality is that bureaucracy expands, due to the failure of the electorate to choose proper representatives or punish them for misrepresenting them. The practical reality is that, when polled, for instance, most Americans support any slew of social programs, transportation spending, and a strong national defense, and many elected representatives are judged, at the local level, on what they bring back to their district. And, in spite of "low approval ratings" for Congress and the President, very few incumbent representatives are ever ousted (most people support their local representatives, while they despise those outside, whom they have no choice over), and only a handful of states ever swing from one party to the other come presidential election time.

In other words, the bureaucracy is bloated, spends too much while cutting taxes, and adds on pork projects because that is exactly what their constituents want. Democracy is working, in theory; it is the voters who have failed. The voters have exactly the kind of government that they want, because actions speak much louder than words or polls.
That is because have a debased political currency (and not just in the US). We have allowed the PR crowd to guide developments of our political systems, which the politicians love of course because it enhances their public profiles.

I simply do not agree with the thesis that a well-informed electorate are going to vote for pork-belly type projects whatever happens. If the electorate were truly informed about the results of their political choices, then I believe they will vote in much greater numbers in favour of, for want of a better expression, politicians of an anti-statist or libertarian bent.
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:58 PM   #19
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I simply do not agree with the thesis that a well-informed electorate are going to vote for pork-belly type projects whatever happens. If the electorate were truly informed about the results of their political choices, then I believe they will vote in much greater numbers in favour of, for want of a better expression, politicians of an anti-statist or libertarian bent.
I disagree. Voters will say that they oppose "pork projects," but who gets to define what such a project is? Probably most voters, when asked, will never identify such a project as something that happens near them. "Pork projects" are always other projects in outside districts.

The fact remains that American voters, at least, want low taxes and high spending, and that's what all serious research indicates. This is why the U.S. operates at such crippling deficit levels, because that is what you get when the people voting for you want tax cuts and the same level of government spending. Decades of pandering to the lowest common denominator in all aspects of American life, refusing to tell people that they are objectively wrong and coupled with a longstanding culture of anti-intellectualism, has led to this, and we are reaping what we sow.
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Old 08-15-2008, 09:24 PM   #20
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Well anyway, the argument about taxation greatly predates our modern 'retail democracy', and indeed democracy itself. I'd say the practical argument about taxation ended around the time that kings took upon themselves the right to make war, or indeed to do anything much. In Britain's case, about a millenium.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:11 PM   #21
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Well anyway, the argument about taxation greatly predates our modern 'retail democracy', and indeed democracy itself. I'd say the practical argument about taxation ended around the time that kings took upon themselves the right to make war, or indeed to do anything much. In Britain's case, about a millenium.
But this is where I say that taxation can only be considered theft in an unfree society. In communism, you can certainly blame the government, because you have no alternatives to them or the candidates they choose. In a modern representative democracy, where we, in theory, have limitless parties to choose from, it is our fault if we choose bad leaders ultimately. We are not forced into a two-party system, but if everyone votes that way, that's what we get. In other words, a representative democratic government is only as bad as its voters.
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Old 08-16-2008, 02:10 AM   #22
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True enough. I guess my point is that the era of absolute monarchs left behind one important legacy: the existence of a state. Democratic or otherwise, it's rare that the vaccuum not be filled by something - and indeed, taxation is a fundamental.
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