Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK. A Fisking.

A large percentage of the stuff I read online is either wrong, insane, or propaganda for something that is wrong or insane. I argue in the comment fields of various blogs a lot, trying to change people's minds while also trying to maintain the viewpoint that we all come to our opinions because of different life experiences.

Or maybe it's just DNA.

That was before The Kitten Accounting Corps turned me onto this rhetorical nightmare at a blog called Tax Research UK. It's part of an outfit called Tax Research LLP, which helps the British government create goofy-assed tax systems.

The author, a guy named Richard Murphy, is in my opinion so deeply and profoundly wrong on so many issues that he makes my head hurt. I'm trying to find something, anything, nice to say about what he's written, so I'll affirm that Mr. Murphy's grammar and punctuation are both excellent. I'm envious.
NickM has already done a Fisking on this, but dang it, I want to get my shots in too. Every now and then you can catch a Statist saying what he really believes. In the words of Rahm Emmanuel, you don't want to let these opportunities go to waste.

I'll be needing a few tools....
Scalpel - thanks.
Laptop - got it.
Righteous Indignation - I've got plenty.
Various Free Market, Libertarian and Christian websites - check.
Copy of Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics (3rd edition) - got it.
Chainsaw - yep.
Metzenbaum scissors - check.
Let the Fisking begin ! Here's Richard Murphy with Tax Research UK.

Traffic on this blog has been very high of late.
I have noted (and those who read the comments on this blog will also have noticed) that my blogs in support of government spending – which is the only (and I stress only) way to avoid depression in the UK and other economies - have not gone down well with the libertarian community.

I'll start with the easy part first. Government spending will not help you avoid depressions. Government spending (as the current rising employment rate shows) doesn't help end depressions either. All economies have occasional recessions. Achieving a depression requires lots of people in government, all working together as a team. (See Roosevelt, F.D., and Obama, B.H. Just wait.)

They think that all tax is theft;

Yep. Taxation is a necessary evil, but it's theft all the same. If a little old lady on a fixed income doesn't pay her taxes, big men with guns will take her away and seize her assets for taxes. That's called "theft" in most circles, but it's the only way we've found to pay huge subsidies to millionaire corn farmers in Iowa.

(They think) all government activity is bad and those who win a mandate for government spending from democratic electorates are ‘statists’.

No, we don't think all government activity is bad. I believe you're thinking of the Anarchists. Libertarians generally believe that the more government activity is minimized and the more individual liberty is increased, the more society will prosper. Libertarians tend to believe that society needs a functioning courts system for the enforcement of contracts. Some libertarians believe that government should provide basic infrastructure, like roads, sewers, and an electrical grid. There are a few differences between the U.S. libertarians and the U.K. libertarians, but we tend to have the same guiding principles. And the greatest of these is smaller government.

These people – who wish to undermine society as we know it and who would end all social security, state pensions, public health services, state education and much more besides – want to overturn society as we know it.

Well, of course we do. But I wouldn't say "overturn". More like "re-turn".

As one said recently – we should rely for support on our families churches, synagogues or mosques – but not the state.

I don't know who this "one" is, but I'd like to meet him and shake his hand. Here in Fort Worth, we have BAYLOR/ALL SAINTS Medical Center, Harris METHODIST Hospital, The SALVATION Army, The PRESBYTERIAN Night Shelter, The Broadway BAPTIST Agape Meal, and numerous other programs paid for by churches, synagogues, and mosques.

This ignores the fact that many are simply outside those communities of support.

Yes, at Baylor Baptist Hospital and the Broadway Baptist Agape meal, all those in line are asked if they have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, following him in Believer's Full Immersion Baptism since that sprinkling stuff the Methodists do just doesn't quite wash away sin.
Does anyone really believe that people are turned away because of beliefs?

For them I suspect the workhouse would beckon.

Ah, the workhouses....

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

I hate to go into Scrooge mode, but I live in what is politely known as a "diverse" neighborhood. From time to time, people come by asking me for money. I give it to them, but usually it is after leaves are raked, street gutters washed out, etc. Does that make me evil? Who can afford perpetual handouts?

This Victorian concept of grudging charity is what these people promote – with the consequence of a random lottery of survival – and destitution for many.

Richard, Richard, Richard....we've avoided grudging charity in the U.S. for a long time. Now our government has a random lottery chance of survival - with destitution for many.

I do not believe in this callous, self interested view of life. It offends my Christian beliefs that suggest we have a duty as a society to fulfil the instruction – present in all major religions – but not in libertarianism that we love our neighbour as ourselves.

What in the hell does giving money to Barack Obama and his henchmen have to do with loving my neighbor? Can someone, anyone, please explain that for me?
Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.
Give unto God the things that are God's.
As someone named Sam Duncan pointed out on the Counting Cats site, Christian Socialism is a contradiction in terms. The welfare state is the opposite of Christian charity, not its embodiment. Taking care of each other is an individual responsibility, not a societal responsibility.
One thing I've noticed from reading and traveling. The more government provides, the less the concept of charity is respected. In China, the idea is ridiculed. In England, not quite so much. In the U.S., it's revered. I wonder why.

Of course that requires that we love ourselves and that means we have rights – and that they should be respected. But there is no way an earthy civilised society can ignore the needs of others – and tax is the way we meet this need in our modern, complex society in which expectations of medical and social support are high –and the cost of meeting them as high.

Nobody is saying that the needs of others should be ignored. Most of the large L libertarians that I know try to help meet the needs of others. But if you want to make a total mess of things? Get the large S society involved. Our "modern, complex society" will take at least .50 cents of every charitable dollar for themselves, all in the name of "compassion".

Those who say otherwise are not offering an alternative within our society – they are suggesting we tear down our society and replace it with another. In doing so they show complete contempt for many, some (most, I suggest, by far)of whom are in the positions they are through no fault at all of their own. One on this blog has called those in need ‘an underclass’.

Why not call these people "an underclass"? Who has done more, spent more, wasted more, yapped more, and done more to create a permanent underclass than The United States Government? Take the African-American underclass, for instance. If someone fifty years ago had intentionally decided to destroy the black family through legal means, could they have made things any worse than government did? I have days where I think government wants to maintain a permanent underclass just to preserve voting blocs.

Poverty was going away nicely on its own until government got involved in trying to end it.

I make clear I think this as repugnant as racism. (multiple sics)

This is where you piss me off, Richard. What does racism have to do with any of this? As I tried to post on your Comment Field, libertarians are generally opposed to racism, fascism, totalitarianism, statism, and any other doctrine that refuses to allow people to get on with their lives without interference from....you.

I would reject this language from a racist. I would reject a call from the far left to over throw society.

The act of throwing more and more money into the gaping maw of the beast isn't "society". Starving the beast isn't an overthrow.

Why is it then that this vicious, self interested and, might I suggest inherently socially violent group are allowed to make this sort of contribution –

Oh for the love of God. Vicious? Socially violent? Here's an oath you have to abide by to have decision-making power in the U.S. Libertarian Party: “I hereby certify that I do not believe in nor advocate the initiation of the use of force to achieve political or social goals.”

....as they do all over so many blogs where those with real concern for society, from across the mainstream political spectrum, seek to discuss issues in an open, rational and respectful fashion?

I'm bringing all the respect I can to this disagreement. Look at any of my recent posts where Dr. Ralph and I go at each other, hammer and tongs, no holds barred. Sometimes I win, and the other two times, Dr. Ralph wins. But if you're continually advocating ideas that should've died off during Feudalism, I suspect you're not getting much of what you think is rational, respectful discussion.

I would love, for example, to see far-right libertarians thrown off the Guardian bogs as a matter of course – which might improve their appeal to many others as a result.

Statists love an echo chamber. That's the only way their ideas can prosper.

It is time we named these people for what they are – as being amongst the enemies of civilised society.

That's a typo on your part in the 2nd half of that sentence, Richard. I like it that way. As a Libertarian,I really do find myself amongst the enemies of civilised society.

I am happy to do that. It would be good if others would do the same – and fight them as we do racists.

That's the silliest, most ineffective false analogy I've heard in a long time. Well, Richard, we're going to fight you as we do child abusers. We're going to fight you just like we fight puppy torturers. We're going to fight you the way we fought the hoodlums who stole grandmother's Bible. We're going to fight you like Luke Skywalker fought The Empire on the ice planet Hoth. We're going to fight you like we fought the.... (oops. almost broke Godwin's Law).

NB: Comments from known libertarian abusers will not be allowed on this blog entry, or any other on this site.

Please define abuse. Is it someone who disagrees with you? On this site, I delete spam. I delete comments that are off-topic. I delete stuff that crosses an arbitrary line into obscenity. I don't think I've ever allowed a racist comment (by my definition) to remain on the site. This thing is my property, and I can allow what I want on it. But those are the things I think of as abusive.

Please, please, please, let me know how you define abuse. I think it's when anyone dares to introduce other opinions into your Big State Echo Chamber.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Means. Ends. Clearly a difficult concept for many, and libertarians have spent centuries trying to explain it. This from Bastiat's "Justice and Fraternity" http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss4.html#Chapter%204

"We say that positive law, which always acts with authority, by way of compulsion, supported by coercive power, its penalties enforced by the bayonet and the jail, decrees neither affection nor friendship nor love nor self-denial nor devotion nor sacrifice. Hence, it cannot, by the same token, decree that which sums them all up, namely, fraternity. Is to say this, then, to annihilate or deny these noble attributes of our nature? Certainly not; it is only to say that society is larger than the law; that a great number of acts are performed, that a great many feelings are stirred, beyond and above the law.

For my part, I protest, in the name of science, with all my power against this wretched interpretation, according to which, because we recognize that the law has a limit, we are accused of denying everything that lies beyond that limit. We too, believe us, are filled with fervent emotion when we hear the word fraternity, handed down eighteen centuries ago from the top of the holy mountain and inscribed forever on our republican flag. We too desire to see individuals, families, nations associate with one another, aid one another, relieve one another in the painful journey of mortal life. We too feel our hearts stir and our tears welling up at the recital of noble deeds, whether they add lustre to the lives of simple citizens, join different classes together in close union, or accelerate the onward movement of nations chosen by destiny to occupy the advanced outposts of progress and civilization."