Re: MD Noam Chomsky

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Tue Jun 29 2004 - 02:56:25 BST

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    Reply from NC,

    In a dictatorship, taxation is theft.  In a true democratic
    community, people make decisions, including decisions about
    how to deal with problems of concern to the community, like
    schools, health services, transportation, etc.  Insofar as
    this leads to expenditures, they make decisions about taxes
    or some counterpart.  There is no theft.

    Societies like ours are somewhere in between.

    To take your case, suppose your neighbor never uses a road
    or a bus at the other end of town.  Why should he fund it? 
    Maybe we should each just pay for the roads we use -- and
    that means, of course, that we have to prevent others from
    using them, so we hire private armies, and if someone comes
    along with a bigger army we get nuclear weapons to keep
    them from using our road, and....  Actually, proposals like
    this are made, in all seriousness, in literature that is
    taken seriously.  And it extends to everything else,
    leading to a world in which no sane person would want to
    live, even if it would be possible to survive in it.

    Or, suppose we decide we'd rather be part of democratic
    communities where people make decisions based on concern
    and sympathy for one another.  In that case there will be
    taxes or some equivalent, but it won't be theft.

    The PBS case is basically the same.

    Noam Chomsky

    How do you feel about the argument that taxation is theft? 
    Tax money is certainly coerced by the state, and we often
    wind up supporting things we don't want to.  This argument
    works well for income tax protests, like the one you were
    involved in during the Vietnam war, but as I'm sure you
    know, the political right often likes to use it for things
    like PBS.  Why should taxes support PBS?  If my neighbor
    never listens to it and says "I don't want to pay for it",
    should he have to? 

    Related to this argument is the assumption (correct me if
    I'm wrong) that what one does when one makes a private
    donation to something like PBS is effectively what we
    strive for with system of taxation, taking special note of
    certain "free rider" difficulties as occur with Defense and
    Social Spending.  Without getting too wordy, do you think
    it's preferable to finance PBS (and the like) with
    "coerced" taxpayer money rather than by private donations? 
    And why?

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