jump to last post 1-18 of 18 discussions (222 posts)

The Idea that Taxes are Theft

  1. Don W profile image81
    Don Wposted 4 months ago

    I want to get people's views on this.

    The thread's inspired by comments I've seen from people in and outside of this forum that suggest taxes are theft.

    The idea goes: if the government forces people to pay taxes (under threat of imprisonment) then they are essentially stealing people's money by force.

    This view has never made sense to me. I've always seen taxes as part of a social contract. In exchange for the protections, freedoms and opportunities that come with being a part of civilized society, everyone who can afford to, pays something towards the upkeep of that society.

    Some argue that taxation can't be justified in this way because you can't opt-out. If someone stops paying their taxes, government will just lock them up.

    But it's not true that people can't opt-out. Only US citizens, permanent residents or a green-card holders must report their income to the IRS and pay tax on it. That makes sense, because only citizens enjoy the full benefits of living in US society. So taxation is closely tied to citizenship.

    If someone no longer wants to directly pay towards the upkeep of US society, then effectively they are saying they no longer want to be a US citizen. The government can't compel anyone to maintain their citizenship, so it can't stop anyone from opting out of the social contract that requires payment of taxes.

    For most ordinary working people, the negative impact of renouncing citizenship (e.g. uprooting and moving to another country) far outweigh the positive impact of not having to pay taxes, but that's not the government's fault. The full benefits of society are conferred only on citizens for obvious reasons.

    This all seems logical to me, but some people genuinely hold view that taxation is a type of theft.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. promisem profile image94
      promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      I agree with you that taxes are part of a social contract required to maintain the safety and security of a country.

      They also are no different than the goods or services we buy at a shopping center. Taxes pay for goods and services from government.

      You can't take something from a store and refuse to pay for it. You can't use roads, bridges, schools, military, etc., without paying for them. If you don't want to pay for them, you can choose to go to another country that doesn't have them.

      Taxes are purely capitalistic.

      1. GA Anderson profile image83
        GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Hey promiseem, I think you might want to rethink that "goods from a store" analogy. Of course I must pay for the goods I take from the store. But I didn't take any pampers for the baby down the street, so why do I have to pay for them?

        Or, to be less cute, I didn't buy a Trac phone, so why do I have to pay for the one someone else took, (without paying for it)?

        GA

        1. promisem profile image94
          promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Your point is well taken. But I think the complexity of our society doesn't allow us to get everyone to pay based on differing levels of use. At least not for the bigger items such as defense.

          The exchange of funds and services is a contract between the government as a whole and the citizens as a whole. I saw the following definition online:

          A social contract is "an implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for state protection."

          1. GA Anderson profile image83
            GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            I agree with your comment promisem, but it is extent of that "implicit agreement" that goes to the "legalized theft" point of the OP, and my thoughts about when the changes to that implicit agreement go beyond the commonly viewed basic social functions of government, ie. defense, roads, bridges, etc.

            When those "changes" begin to be for the tangible benefit of some citizens, and not all citizens, and when the costs of those benefits are paid for by some citizens, and not all citizens - then I think there is support for some to have the legitimate view of "legalized theft."

            You are right in that it is unrealistic to try to proportion taxes based on use - regarding our governments basic and primary functions, (again, that defense, roads, etc. stuff). But I don't think that is the issue of these taxation discussions. I think that, almost without exception, the discussions involve taxing for benefits to segments of society instead of the whole of society.

            So it's not proportional taxation based on use, it's legalized theft by vote of the majority.

            GA

            1. promisem profile image94
              promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              I'm with you on your first paragraph but not quite on the second. It's individual responsibility that makes a difference for me.

              An abandoned child can't come up with a way of paying his or her fair share of taxes. So some of our taxes go to the care of that child. The child gains and we lose.

              On the other hand, a fully capable adult who doesn't work and figures out a way of getting welfare is someone who gets benefits at our expense. To me, that's a legitimate form of theft.

              The fact that our society sometimes succeeds and sometimes fails at dealing with certain segments should not be a reason to look on taxes in general as theft. I believe the real thief is the lazy bum who won't work.

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                "I believe the real thief is the lazy bum who won't work."

                What about the person that simply wants. as opposed to needs,  what they demand?  A cell phone.  A nice house, with separate bedrooms for all the kids, good food as opposed to marginal.  Or the person that intentionally sets up situations where they cannot reasonably support themselves?  Or even the person that continues to make bad decisions (maybe the single woman continually getting pregnant or the person building a home next to a river for the third time), counting on society to bail them out?

                Thoughts?

                1. promisem profile image94
                  promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  It goes to the merit part of individual responsibility. Society shouldn't pay for an individual's cell phone, etc. The individual has to earn it.

                  But there are limits to merit. A person doesn't "earn" $1 billion a year in zero-based stock options and no salary as part of a strategy to avoid income and employment taxes that benefits himself and financially harms society. That person also doesn't earn $1 billion by abusing the system to get that money.

                  I suspect you will like my first paragraph but not my second.  smile

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    Your first is fine.  The second ignores that nearly all these "avoidance" strategies are made possible as a scheme to benefit society.  Take the social engineering out of the tax code and there won't be any of those schemes left.  It also grossly exaggerates income - never heard of anyone earning a billion in a year.  And finally, if a person is smart enough to use the tax code to their advantage (or hire someone to tell them how) then it is most definitely being "earned".

                  2. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    But I think the larger question is where does "help" end and "total support" begin?  We could build giant dormitories instead of the section 8 program, for instance.  We could give cheap food sufficient to sustain life instead of choosing what one likes.  We could require a HMO type health plan instead of medicaid.  We could require work for any benefits, even from the disabled.

            2. promisem profile image94
              promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Related question: Is a phony war a theft of our tax dollars and an abuse of the social contract?

              1. GA Anderson profile image83
                GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                Well now, that would be for another thread wouldn't it? Just as we are discussing what constitutes "legalized theft" here, we could discuss what constitutes a "phony war" there.

                Do I need to page peoplepower73 to tell you the importance of staying on topic? ;-)

                GA

                1. promisem profile image94
                  promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  "Is a phony war a theft of our tax dollars..."

                  I am on topic. If your concept of taxes as theft applies to welfare, it must also apply to war and national defense. It is using our taxes to benefit individuals, i.e., the oil and defense industry executives who profited from the wasteful and unncessary Iraq war.

    2. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Have to go with promisem that that taxes are part of a social contract required to maintain the safety and security of a country.  They also provide for roads, bridges, schools, etc. - things we all benefit from. 

      And just like he says, if you choose not to pay for those benefits you are free to choose a different country.

      But is your question actually about taxes used to benefit specific individuals, or even small groups of individuals, without providing any benefit to the taxpayer?

      1. Marisa Wright profile image93
        Marisa Wrightposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Actually you were the one who talked about taxes being theft.

        I think what you're saying is that if taxes are used to build roads, water, provide schools and hospitals etc, - things the whole population can use - then it's not theft.  But if taxes are used to assist a small portion of the population, like the poor, then it is theft. 

        The trouble with that is, how far do you take it?  Is it theft that I pay taxes used to build interstate roads, when I don't own a car and never travel on them?   Why should I pay taxes to build schools or pay teachers, when I have no kids?  Maybe you own a car and never take public transport, so why should your taxes pay for that?

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          You benefit from roads; your groceries come to you via roads if nothing else.  Without the interstate system our economy would die within months.  A good road system is absolutely essential to the country as a whole.  Same with schools; it is absolutely essential for the country to educate it's children, at least a minimum amount.  You live in a country - you are responsible for it's operation.

          But it is NOT essential to support specific individuals that contribute little or nothing to the country.  And you are NOT responsible for their support.  That's not to say that you shouldn't feel a moral responsibility to help out, but that is not a reason for a third party to force you to provide support.  It is your money and therefore your decision, not that of the third person.

          I see it like this.  Bob, Joe and Alice live in the same country, but a thousand miles apart.  Bob is rich, Joe is doing well but Alice is poor.  She has too many children for her income, chooses to live in a high cost area and refuses to train for a better job.

          Joe finds out about Alice and sends her $50 to help out.  He doesn't know her, has never met her, but wants to help the needy.  Meanwhile, Bob has given $500 to help set up a local job skills bank to improve work skills of the poor in his town.  Joe writes Bob, requesting Bob send money to Alice as she is poor as Joe doesn't want to cut into his own standard of living to support Alice; he reasons that Bob has lots of money and should support the needy.  Bob refuses; he feels he has contributed enough already and feels no need to give to strangers on the other side of the country.  Joe is furious; Bob is obviously cruel, heartless and uncaring.  Joe gathers his friends, arms themselves and goes to Bob's house, stripping it of anything of value and doling out the proceeds to Alice to help her out on a weekly basis.

          With a  weekly income to supplement her meager earnings Alice has no need or desire to improve.  She remains poor but lives a reasonable lifestyle, depending on the income from Bob's belongings for her support and the support of her children. 

          Bob's job bank has, by now, helped 10 people to double their income by improving work skills, and those 10 people have contributed to the job bank as well, allowing it to take in 20 people rather than 10.

          You tell me: which person has done "right" and which has overstepped their moral authority by theft?  Which has benefited from charity and which is locked into it?  Which action (job bank or giving cash) produces the best results? 

          And finally, tell me if Joe had an ethical or moral right to take from Bob whatever he wanted, to use for purposes JOE defined - purposes which benefit Bob nothing at all.

    3. Onusonus profile image87
      Onusonusposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      You don't understand? Perhaps you should crack open a history book. Or maybe read the US Constitution.
      https://fee.org/media/22195/taxthoughtspic.jpg?width=460&height=461

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        From Wikipedia:
        In order to help pay for its war effort in the American Civil War, Congress imposed its first personal income tax in 1861. It was part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800). This tax was repealed and replaced by another income tax in 1862.
        In 1894, Democrats in Congress passed the Wilson-Gorman tariff, which imposed the first peacetime income tax. The rate was 2% on income over $4000, which meant fewer than 10% of households would pay any.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_ … ted_States

        1. Onusonus profile image87
          Onusonusposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Hardly anywhere near the kind of taxes that we face today. And they were all intended to be temporary for the cause of freeing the slaves.
          Unlike today's congress...
          http://www.meoso.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/without-government-will-build-spikes-homeless-people-sleep.jpg

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            You certainly got that one right - todays taxes are confiscatory, nothing less.

            1. promisem profile image94
              promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Do you mean confiscatory in the dictionary sense? "The action of taking or seizing someone's property with authority; seizure."

              If taxes are part of the social contract, is the payment of them actually seizure if they are part of a social contract?

              1. Live to Learn profile image81
                Live to Learnposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                I think the problem has become not so much the taxation but what they do with the taxes. And, how they work to figure out how to add more taxes (think Obamacare) and how they work to take money from anything else they've collected other than taxes (think Social Security). All whilst increasing the debt to record proportions.

                Fiscal responsibility would go a long way toward stopping the moaning.

              2. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                Taxes and the proper use of them is a part of the social contract.  When those taxes are confiscated (in the dictionary sense) and used for anything but the good of the country, of society, then it becomes something else.  Greed, maybe - we want what we can't afford so confiscate the wealth of another to pay for it.

                Both GA and Jennifer have explained this in greater detail.

                1. promisem profile image94
                  promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  Maybe politics is ultimately about the size and shape of the social contract. Taxes and the proper use of them is often in the eye of the beholder.

                2. Misfit Chick profile image92
                  Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  Yes, and I explained the opposite perspective above - sorry you missed it. The 'proper use of taxes' doesn't happen when one political party imposes their ideals on the opposing side as if THEY are the only minority to be regarded as RIGHT. (I will remind you that Obamacare is the compromise between the two healthcare ideals of 'no healthcare' and '100% free healthcare.)

                  Really, did you even READ what I wrote above... The proper use of taxes is something to be negotiated or tinkered with, not REMOVED in order to remove programs that our society NEEDS.

                  Our country has done a LOT to help create this homeless mess-hole; and one of the ways we've done that is by sending our soldiers across the pond for multiple 'tours' to save money, I guess. They finally return with mental battlescars, are released with an honorable discharge, then promptly kicked to the curb after their physical wounds have healed. Many of our homeless veterans are still young men under the age of 30 and we treat them like garbage!!

                  We created the homeless situation with the way we barely trickle funds needed into organizations that can help them. We created the situation by not adjusting things in our society that needed to be adjusted as they were happening with regards to things like education & jobs. The amount of people who fall between the cracks of 'not having enough money' because they have a low-paying job (I've told you before that MANY homeless people HAVE JOBS); and falling out of low-to-middle incomes by losing their job for whatever reason - and needing HELP to crawl back out of those traps is significant.

                  Also, depression is a HUGE contributor to our country's homeless problem; and our society is competitive, not inclusive. When have you EVER seen anyone continue to be immature or lazy or mooch off of others when they are HAPPY, capable and content within themselves to stand on their own 2 feet? Not nearly as much, anyway - and yet, healing mental wounds we can't see in the mind is not something you view as being necessary.

                  But, you consider any taxes witheld from you to be confiscated? Like I said, single-payer is becoming more & more of a scream since Trump has been in office. Get ready to be really ripped off in a few years when we implement that or something similar. I, for one, will be celebrating with the masses; and your complaints will be music to my ears when that happens. I'm really looking forward to saying, "I told you so." smile

                  Not the first or only time this has happened: chants of 'single-payer!' kept interrupting this Hostile Town Hall For Congressman Who Helped Save GOP Health Care Bill
                  http://www.npr.org/2017/05/11/527895032 … ealth-care

                  https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/13526036.jpg

                  https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13526037.jpg

                  https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13526039.jpg


                  https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13526043.jpg

          2. Will Apse profile image88
            Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Why people hark back to the primitive and poverty-stricken past as some kind of utopia is beyond me.

            And what is that nonsense about slaves? You think taxes are some kind of conspiracy perpetrated by black people?

          3. PhoenixV profile image80
            PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            I just wish the Government was more efficient with our money. Why cant 600 million dollars worth of paychecks for deceased Federal employees build Spikes For The Homeless? They get paid, why cant they do something as productive as building spikes or other sharp objects for homeless people. This is something I could get on board with.

          4. crankalicious profile image86
            crankaliciousposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            We should definitely go back to like it was in 1913. Strip voting rights away from blacks and women and make 8-year-olds work 18 hour days.

            1. PhoenixV profile image80
              PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Exactly. If the Government can't spend 10 trillion dollars in the next 5 years, children with be forced back into the mines and women will not be allowed to vote.  No other options that I can see.

              1. Misfit Chick profile image92
                Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                There are other options - again:


                https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/13526060.jpg


                https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13526061.jpg


                https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/13526062.jpg

                1. PhoenixV profile image80
                  PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  http://bknation.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/bknation_zombies.jpg.jpg
                  https://i.ytimg.com/vi/QUYKSWQmkrg/hqdefault.jpg

                  If you employed someone or a group of people and it cost you 600 million in wages, do you think you might just possibly notice when they picked up their paycheck and cashed them, that they were in fact dead?

                2. promisem profile image94
                  promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  To your point, Warren Buffett pointed out the other day that health care expenses are far more damaging to U.S. businesses than corporate tax rates.

                  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/busi … ffett.html

      2. Will Apse profile image88
        Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        The United States imposed income taxes briefly during the Civil War and the 1890s, and on a permanent basis from 1913.

        So I am guessing that is where your '1913' came from.

        Before that the US collected taxes on imports, whiskey, and (for a while) on glass windows. States and localities collected poll taxes on voters and property taxes on land and commercial buildings.

        The fact is, governments collected taxes in biblical times, churches collected tithes.

        Armies were often self financing, of course. Looting and a-pillaging.

        Could cut back on taxes and go back to the looting. I suppose.

      3. PhoenixV profile image80
        PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        The US Government paid 600 Million Dollars to deceased Federal employees. How do you think those folks will survive without our taxes to support them?

    4. GA Anderson profile image83
      GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Hello Don W.,
      Here are my thoughts, (since you asked).

      As your question is posed - requiring payment of taxes as part of a social contract to be part of a society, I think your view is entirely correct. It is a legitimate demand. But...

      ...your question leaves out an important consideration regarding discussions about taxes - the application.

      If all citizens paid the same tax, (or even the same rate of tax), then your view still holds, and there are no grounds for the "legalized theft" arguments. But that is not the case.  From the very start, the Constitution's authors held the idea that selective, or progressive taxation was the only 'fair' way to finance our government. So, from the beginning our taxation has been based on moral judgement. And that does open the door for the "legalized theft" argument.

      Then our income tax was initiated as a progressive tax. The more you could afford - the more that was demanded. Again, a moral decision. Albeit one that was accepted as the most "fair" method of supporting our government's needs.

      And there is your legalized theft argument. Why should someone be required to pay more than others for the same services - just because they can afford to?

      As a society we initially accepted this legalized theft via the progressive tax structure because behind its apparent "fairness" was the realization that it was also the only method that could finance our government without impoverishing our non-rich citizens.

      Once we accepted that little bit of, (valid?), legalized theft as a necessary price for our society, for the basic government functions, as defined by the constitution,  we started tumbling down that slippery slope of morally justified taxes, instead of equitably imposed taxes.

      I think we have all heard of the time when the top income tax rate was 94%. That sounds like legalized theft to me - even if our government was in dire straits just to cover the basics.

      Then we entered our more modern era when government went beyond its basic functions needs to its social support functions needs. As described by one of our more active forum members as; "cradle to grave entitlement" This is the era when our citizens discovered they could vote themselves all the "bread and circuses" they wanted. And this is also the era when our system of taxation became more a system of "legalized theft."

      Those "cradle to grave entitlements" and those new "bread and circuses" demands weren't part of the basic social contract. And taxing 'some' citizens - not all citizens, to pay for them is legalized theft. The thoughts you mentioned encountering are just arguments regarding the degrees of acceptable theft.

      ... at least that's the way I see it.

      GA

      1. promisem profile image94
        promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        The numbers suggest that progressive taxation is pragmatic rather than moral.

        U.S. federal budget: $3.65 trillion
        U.S. population: 321 million
        Federal budget per person: $11,371
        Median household income: $56,500
        Median household size: 2.6 people

        If everyone paid the exact same amount of taxes, the median household would pay $30,000 a year just in federal taxes or 53% of their gross income.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Of course it's pragmatic - there is nothing moral about charging different prices for different people, all for the same product.

          But it becomes theft when those taxes are used to benefit individuals rather than society.  We hollered and complained about bank bailouts (rightly so) but no one seems to be bothered when it is individuals rather than a group of people that profit. 

          (But you forgot about the myriad of other taxes that will lower the flat amounts to people.  Not that it changes the basic equation; we cannot afford to all pay the same, even for basic govt. services.)

          1. promisem profile image94
            promisemposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            I was addressing his comments about the moral basis of progressive taxing.

            It is not theft when it benefits people incapable of caring for themselves, unless we are willing to let them die in the streets.

            It is theft when we spend trillions of tax dollars on unnecessary wars to the benefit of defense companies.

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              So was I.  A case might be made for it being impossible to maintain the country, and therefore the "victim" is benefiting according to the social contract, but it's shaky.

              Whether an action is theft or not does not depend on the use of whatever is stolen.  Nor does it depend on whether the thief wishes a certain outcome over another.  Neither one changes the morality of the theft.  It might give a reason, and I might even consider it an excuse, but the morality has not changed because of either of those.

              True.  Now all you have to do is define "unnecessary wars" and prove it was for the benefit of defense companies.  Your unsupported opinion is insufficient.

        2. GA Anderson profile image83
          GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          You are right promisem. I 'jumped the gun'.

          In my example of the origins of the progressive tax structure - it was a pragmatic decision. But in later years when the rational became; "...it's only fair  that the rich pay more," it did become a moral justification.

          Your modern day numbers are the proof of that. We spent more than we had to provide the "bread and circuses" the public demanded.

          GA

      2. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        I've been reading the exchanges with interest.

        From your comment, and others, it seems the issue is not the principle of taxation as part of a social contract per se, but the application of it; mainly the difference in how much people pay.

        In your comment you see progressive tax as essentially a "moral judgement" which opens the door to the "legalized theft" argument.

        But theft is essentially taking without consent or legal right, so to determine if something can be considered theft we need to consider how it relates to consent and legal right, not perceived fairness/ unfairness.

        Let me offer an analogy:

        Someone is a member of a gym, paying monthly dues in exchange for the benefits of being a member. The facts about the gym are as follows:

        1. The gym has a legal right to determine the terms and conditions of membership, including its price structure, concessions and discounts.

        2. The gym charges Alice $50 per month, but offers concessions for low-income earners. So Bob, a low-income earner, is charged $25 per month.

        3. If someone doesn't like the terms and conditions of membership, they can cancel their membership and join a different gym. The gym has no legal right to prevent someone cancelling their membership.

        4. If people maintain their membership, they must abide by the terms and conditions of membership.

        Can Alice reasonably claim the gym is stealing from her? I would argue she can't.

        Alice may believe it's unfair Bob pays less than her, and she is free to express that, and even lobby the gym's board to change it (although others can counter that by doing the same!) But by remaining a member, she is consenting to the T&Cs of membership, which the gym has the legal right to set. So she can't reasonably claim the gym is stealing from her, i.e. taking from her without consent or legal right. The fact of her continued membership provides both.

        1. Nathanville profile image89
          Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Hi Don, I fully agree with your analogy.  In respect of a county, whether it is the USA, the UK or any other democracy, the people make their choices on tax policies by which Governments they put in power through democratic elections. 

          In the case of British politics:-

          •    The Conservatives (Republicans) philosophy is lower direct taxes and higher indirect taxes.

          •    The Liberal Democrats (Democrats) policy in their election manifesto has always been to add 1% or 2% to everyone’s income tax.  Yet in spite of this 25% of the British population usually vote for them; but they win fewer seats than this because General Elections for Members of Parliament are on the basis of first past the post for each ‘constituency’ (seat).

          •    The Labour Party and Greens (Socialism) is to increase income tax on the rich.

          So at the end of the day, the people do give their consent to the taxation they get by which party they elect to power.  Therefore, as you indicated the question of moral judgement or perceived fairness becomes more of an academic question until the next Election.  And the same, I would have thought, would apply to America.

          1. Don W profile image81
            Don Wposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Yes, Congress can make laws (including tax laws) only because enough people consent for those laws to exist.

        2. GA Anderson profile image83
          GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Hello Don,

          I would offer that the issue is not so much about someone having to pay more, but about why they have to pay more. As in what they are paying more for.

          I think your gym analogy needs a few more details to be applicable;

          First, it is the only gym in town, and Alice must attend a gym. Then, Alice's entire life; work, home, social life, are all tied to that town. So her choice is to attend that gym, or leave town.

          Second, Alice understands the reduced dues for low-income Bob, and has no problem with it. So she signs-up.

          But then, the gym owner sees that Bob, (and the other low-income members), doesn't have proper workout clothes. So he bumps Alice's, (and other full-price dues members), monthly dues by $5 so he can provide proper work-out clothes to those that need them. Alice can see the logic of this, and is ok with this too.

          After work-outs, most members go to the beverage bar for refreshments to replace lost fluids but it is a cash bar, not free. Bob can't afford those refreshments, but the gym owner thinks Bob needs to replace his lost fluids too. So he bumps  Alice's, (and other full-price dues members), monthly dues by $5 so he can provide refreshments for Bob, (and the other low-income members),

          Alice winces, but says ok, Bob needs to drink too.

          The gym also offers Zumba exercise classes - also at an additional cost. Yes, the gym owner thinks Bob, (and the other low-income members), should be able to take Zumba classes too. So he bumps  Alice's, (and other full-price dues members), monthly dues by another $5 .

          This gets raised eyebrows from Alice, but she holds her tongue and pays-up.

          Another offering from the gym are massages - at an extra cost of course, and Alice frequently finishes her gym day with a massage. Sure thing, the gym owner thinks Bob, (and the other low-income members), should be able to get massages too. So he bumps  Alice's, (and other full-price dues members), monthly dues by another $10.

          Now Alice is getting steamed. And she lets the owner know it. But, it is the only gym in town, and Alice must go to a gym, and she doesn't really want to leave town. So... she bites the bullet and pays-up.

          Then the gym offers a new service - a personal concierge to bring members fresh sweat towels, and fetch their refreshment bar orders, and layout their Zumba class gear, and schedule their massages. Bob, (and the other low-income members), tells the gym owner he deserve this service too. So it's another dues increase for Alice's, (and other full-price dues members).

          For Alice, this is more than she bargained for in her original gym contract, but, the gym owner insists, and Alice has only two choices pay-up, or turn her life upside down and move out of town.

          Do you think Alice might have reached a point yet where she considered the dues increases as "legalized theft," because her alternative was too life-disrupting? Or would it take a few more freebie services cost increases to push her over the edge?

          .A final point. Of course Alice has the option of petitioning the Board members, but now there are more board members representing the Bobs, than the Alices. So changing the Board's mind isn't really a realistic option.

          I guess I did like your analogy after all. It encompasses the concept of a social contract, the point that a progressive cost schedule, (taxes), is acceptable to most reasonable folks, (Alice was a reasonable person), the illustration that most reasonable folks accept some flexibility in the terms of that social contract, and that there is a point where the terms of an original agreement become too distorted to still be considered the same original agreement.

          GA

          1. Don W profile image81
            Don Wposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            You're right, some more details are needed to improve the analogy:

            5. All gym members automatically become shareholders, with an equal share in the gym.

            6. Each director on the gym's board represents a group of shareholders.

            7. The members/shareholders of the gym elect the "president" of the board and its directors, who operate the gym on behalf of the shareholders.

            What does that change?

            The "owner" of the gym is in fact Alice and Bob, along with all the other members of the gym.

            The programme to help provide workout clothes to those on low incomes, could only have been implemented if it was either recommended to the board by gym members, or was suggested by a director, and then approved by gym members.

            If Alice disapproves of the programme, or any other concessions offered, then her recourse is to persuade other members/shareholders of her point of view so the board (acting on behalf of shareholders) changes gym policy.

            She can also try to get elected to the board by outlining what she believes are the best policies for the gym, and hoping enough like minded members support her. Or she can cancel her gym membership altogether.

            While we can all sympathize with the fact Alice "doesn't really want to leave town". It does not justify her claim that the gym is committing theft. Considering something theft does not make it actual theft.

            In addition, Alice's view does not entitle her to try to reduce Bob's influence with the board by, for example, making it harder for him to participate in shareholder votes. That is contrary to the board's constitution.

            In short, none of the additional details you provided change the fact that Alice is participating in a contract, which she is free to cancel should she feel the terms are unacceptable.

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              When the majority, using it's size and guns, takes more and more from a minority, saying all the while "Either gimmee what you have or leave your life behind you on the way out" when does it become theft?  Never, because the ones with the most guns is always right?  Never, because if the price of total life upheaval is paid (leave the gym) then the financial end is not due?

              What gives Bob (and the rest of the majority) the ethical right to put Alice in that situation of paying one price or the other, simply because he wants what she has and possesses the force to take it at will?

              1. Nathanville profile image89
                Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                Wilderness, what gives Bob and the rest of the majority the ethical right is ‘Democracy’.   Unlike defining Morals (which is an individual belief) ethics is something that by definition is decided by society.

                1. wilderness profile image95
                  wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  Unfortunately the analogy breaks down at that point, for the US is NOT a "democracy", it is a "republic".  Most of our constitution is devoted to protecting the minority from the excesses of the majority - something this hypothetical gym has failed to do.

                  Both morals and ethics are defined by society.  But that society does not, and cannot, define those ethics or morals for individuals - there are always people that think differently there, and when the societies morals or ethics become intolerable either revolt or leave.  We already see the money leaving our country - those that own it will follow if it becomes too onerous.

                  1. Kathleen Cochran profile image85
                    Kathleen Cochranposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    Wilderness:  I've been out of the net for 2 weeks and I'm just now reading this thread with interest and respect for the civility of the discussion.  You finally made the salient point: we are a republic.  We select people to determine how these taxes are to be used.  That is where we need to pay close attention to what decisions they make, why they are making them, and who they intend to benefit from those decisions.  The societal contract is being administered by our elected officials.  It is our responsibility to hold their feet to the fire and be accountable to their responsibilities.

                2. GA Anderson profile image83
                  GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  ... and consider that pure democracy is nothing more than mob rule. In the case of nations - it is just larger mobs.

                  GA

              2. Don W profile image81
                Don Wposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                The "right" to govern the gym a certain way was established during the gym's formation, by its founders, and approved by the original members/shareholders.

                The rights of membership and how the gym is governed are laid out in the board's constitution. The underlying principle is that decisions are made through agreement and compromise, with no one person or group among members, or the governing body, able to exert too much power.

                Alice has every right to use all the appropriate governance mechanisms to influence what concessions and discounts the gym offers.

                Because of the way the gym is governed though, it is very unlikely Alice will get everything she wants implemented (or if she does, that it won't be reversed at some point in the future). Therefore ideally, her proposal for the gym's concession policy will consider the views of members who disagree with her, and a compromise reached. The same is true for Bob.

                In this way, stable progress and improvements are made to the gym, in an iterative way, over time.

                Members consent to this governance framework not only because it is a fundamental part of the whole enterprise, but also because it can work well.

                The only time it doesn't work well is when members believe getting everything they want in the short-term, is more important than compromising to achieve steady progress in the long term. If Alice rejects the gym's governance framework in favor of the latter, then she is not just rejecting a policy, she is essentially rejecting the principles on which the whole enterprise was founded.

                She has every right to do that, but if she decides canceling her membership and joining a different gym is too disruptive, that's a personal decision based on her individual circumstances. The gym is not responsible for it.

                1. wilderness profile image95
                  wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  If gym membership costs are going up, doubling, tripling or more, for one group while another is paying less and less, I have to doubt that anyone in their right mind would join without being forced to (or they think they will the "takers" rather than the "givers").

                  Which means that the original charter never envisioned one group getting the power to force such payments from it's constituency.  Nor is there any "compromise" being reached; Alice's payments just keep rising in order to pay for those that don't pay their share.  Nothing she can do will stop that as the power has shifted to one side; the side that wants and requires the other side to foot all the bills.

                  What improvements are you talking about?  So far Alice's payments aren't going to maintain or improve the gym; they are going to Bob to give him what he won't pay for himself!  Nothing at all is going to Alice - not new gym equipment, new running track, new towels or more classes.  It's all going for Bob's personal wants, and benefiting ONLY Bob.

                  And that's the whole point of this exercise - to recognize that Alice's increasing payments aren't benefiting her.  Not by choice, either - she can't use Bob's new shoes.  She can't wear the clothes her money bought Bob, she can't drink his refreshments her money bought, she can't even use the massage her money bought for Bob.

                  And finally, she can't get on the board (if there is one) because the percentage of the membership demanding others to pay for them is too large - they get all the spots simply from sheer numbers.  The gym has become a charity instead of a gym, and most certainly IS responsible for that.

                  1. Don W profile image81
                    Don Wposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    "Alice's payments just keep rising in order to pay for those that don't pay their share. Nothing she can do will stop that as the power has shifted to one side; the side that wants and requires the other side to foot all the bills."

                    If the current president of the board is someone who agrees with Alice and is in the process of trying to implement the price reduction she wants, she can't reasonably claim the above is true. In fact the above would be be more true for Bob than Alice.

                    But before Alice gets too excited about the new president of the board, she needs to consider that if the current president tries to implement everything she wants in the short term, and ignores the views of the majority who wanted someone else to be president, then when power shifts back (as it inevitably will) those changes will likely be undone, Alice will be back to square one, and the whole debate will start again with no real progress made.

                    Real progress can only be made when the group within the governing body that currently wields most power, comprises. So when another group is in that position, they don't immediately set about reversing what the last group did. But for that to happen members and directors need to understand they can't operate the gym exclusively according to everything Alice wants. They also need to consider the needs of Bob, and those who support Bob.

                    For example: Bob's supporters might agree for a service Alice objects to being cut, in exchange for Alice agreeing to continue a service Bob's supporters genuinely believe contributes to the gym's overall success.

                    In this way, no one gets everything, but everyone gets something.

                    The gym is not a dictatorship (yet), and there is some way before it comes to that. So it's unreasonable for Alice to claim it is, just because the last president of the board, and the majority of members disagreed with her views.

                    But I'm getting off topic in my own thread, which is about the idea of taxation as theft. Based on what's been said, Alice's argument seems to be: If I don't like what the gym's revenue is being spent on, then I should be able to refuse to pay the membership fee. If the duly appointed governing body enforces the gym's membership rules by demanding payment, then it's theft because even though I am not being forced to remain a member, I don't want to cancel my membership.

                    Again, unless I'm missing a key feature of the argument, I don't think anyone would reasonably say that Alice's argument stands up under scrutiny.

            2. GA Anderson profile image83
              GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Well Don, that gym owner of your first description of the analogy must have been busting at the seams to have contained all the shareholders and directors that your analogy now contains./

              And I suppose the illustration of the initial social contract that Alice agreed to must have had a few un-noted  pages also.

              So by your reckoning the gym is now controlled by the democratic efforts of the majority. A "my way or the highway situation. It seems to me your analogy now more closely represents a picture of tyranny of the masses. Alice's only choice is to determine when enough is enough - and move out of town.

              Who will pick up the additional cost of her lost revenue in order to keep the gym running?

              I suppose that if the gym owner had stopped at just the discounted membership, then Alice would still be around, because that was the contract she agreed to. Beyond that point, her ever increasing costs could easily be seen as legalized theft - at least by Alice, and at least until the extortion becomes more than she is willing to pay.

              As for swinging votes her way - that would mean convincing people to give-up their freebies, and we have seen how well that works. Bob won't give up his concierge or pay more money - because he knows he can make Alice pay more - for now.

              GA

    5. PhoenixV profile image80
      PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Alice recently learned that the gym spent $975,000.00 dollars to ship an aspirin from the local store to the spotter in the free weights division. Alice also learned the gym is subsidizing some study investigating the libido of the cockroaches in the gyms lunchroom.  Furthermore, Alice became visibly upset when she also learned that her gym fees were being used to furnish said cockroaches with crack cocaine.

      Once again Alice feels the gym is in breach of a so called social contract. Alice is adamantly convinced that her fees are being eroded away faster than sandy beaches can be nourished and decides to take the advice of something she read on the interwebz, of opting out.

      Then the gym demanded a tax for her to leave ie expat tax.

    6. AshtonFirefly profile image83
      AshtonFireflyposted 3 months ago in reply to this

      I'm guessing that the same people who think taxation is theft also walk on sidewalks, drive on public roads, and send their kids to public school.
        So if they think taxes are theft, they need to sell their vehicle, homeschool their kids, and not use the sidewalk. Or paved roads. And never let their kids enter a library. Also not take any medicine whose creation has been funded by government research.
        Let them pay personally for all those things at will, and see if they still think tax is theft.

      1. ahorseback profile image48
        ahorsebackposted 3 months ago in reply to this

        Read the constitution .

        1. AshtonFirefly profile image83
          AshtonFireflyposted 3 months ago in reply to this

          Be specific about your point. Vague one liners with zero intellectual contribution, along with the insinuation that someone is uneducated is about as worthless as public discussion gets. Please try harder.

          1. PhoenixV profile image80
            PhoenixVposted 3 months ago in reply to this

            Roads and bridges are paid for by gas tax. Property tax pays for schools. Homeless people that dont own a car should not be allowed on the roads or have kids in school.  Someone has taxes taken out of their check. They go to the store and buy smokes with money they earned that was taxed.  They pay a city or sales tax on the pack o smokes. They turn the pack over and thete is a tax stamp. Government has a negative 500 star rating on Charity Nav.

          2. ahorseback profile image48
            ahorsebackposted 3 months ago in reply to this

            Read the tenth amendment first ,  every point  in your last post is  a locally or state  tax based , legislated and  directed  as well by local voting and funding our  health care HAS historically been paid for at free will ,  by contractual agreement between customer and company ,  created and sustained by  free market competition and not by lobbied for  corporate  money  paid to congress members and then dictated conveniently by the same congress ,   The tenth amendment protections are to guard AGAINST tyrannical taxation of central government  for hardly any purpose .

            Vermont , a few  short years ago , developed a plan for  single payer hearth care and like many states they  did so unfunded . Recent studies show it will triple  our  yearly state budget from two billion  to six billion .  That is never going to happen here without  severe taxation or  legislated federal subsidizing .   Anyone that suggests  that doubling our taxes in my state  would probably be hung from a lamp post .

            No where but in liberal dreams is free health care guaranteed by either local , state or federal government . 

            You will have to try harder.

            1. colorfulone profile image88
              colorfuloneposted 3 months ago in reply to this

              I don't think you tried hard enough, but that was an intelligent answer that at least deserved a thank you. Educational!

              I read that taxes have doubled since JFK...and that he fought against higher taxes.  He may have been an insider but he was a President that I respected for that and more, not so much on the affair. 

              Classified documents on JFK's death can be released to the public in 2017 at the discretion of the President.  I hope that Trump will make known who killed JFK.   (Evidently, the Russians had released the findings of their investigation and named LBJ.)

              Would you like President Trump to declassify the death of JFK?

              1. ahorseback profile image48
                ahorsebackposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                Of course , The American people deserved to know then , as they deserve it now .

            2. AshtonFirefly profile image83
              AshtonFireflyposted 2 months ago in reply to this

              There, see how easy that was? And I was talking about all taxes, including state and local ones. tje thread had developed beyond that, but I was responding to the original. As far as free National Healthcare is concerned, I disagree and the alternative has been devastating. You're speaking of an instance of one state, which does not apply on a national scale. But congrats on being intellectual this time.

              1. ahorseback profile image48
                ahorsebackposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                ".......Congrats on being intellectual this time ......... as compared to what , your  intellect ?  That  was far too easy . As matters of fact  , most taxes are voluntarily self inflicted . Been to a school board  budget meeting lately  ?  Lower attendance voter apathy  , attending education union members  ,  school board manipulations ,   the worst  taxes are basically local education taxes , town ,city , county  , state taxes are the higher and the least monitored by the lack of vigilance by tax payers . 

                As your education has no doubt  enlightened  you  -  the "big bad wolf" federal tax man is actually the lower  $ entities of almost all  tax collections .  Your enemy , if you dislike taxes  , are the higher local and state taxes , Are taxes  constitutional ?  No , or rather on only certain levels  of federalism ,  the people you elect at all levels of government are not your friends .   The more you entrust to them ,  the better their financial  future becomes.     Voted for more , bigger ,more expensive government lately ?

                1. AshtonFirefly profile image83
                  AshtonFireflyposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                  Intellectual as opposed to your vague one liner from before, of course.

                  1. PhoenixV profile image80
                    PhoenixVposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                    Taxes bad.

                  2. ahorseback profile image48
                    ahorsebackposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                    Intellect , often requires only one liners ? No B.S. , ask Will Rogers you know ?

                2. AshtonFirefly profile image83
                  AshtonFireflyposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                  Indeed they are; my paycheck reminds me biweekly. I don't mind paying these state and local taxes at all, so there's no issue unless it's spent on some frivolity. And I'm not stupid enough to think that the government is not corrupt.  Also, I'm not sure what you could understand about my intellect, given that my post was directed to the OP and did not address the issue you apparently thought I was addressing, but whatever floats your boat.

          3. promisem profile image94
            promisemposted 2 months ago in reply to this

            LOL. Great response!

      2. GA Anderson profile image83
        GA Andersonposted 3 months ago in reply to this

        Hi Ashtonfirefly, if you go back and peruse the thread you will see that the thought was not that paying taxes was in itself considered theft, it was that there comes a point when increased taxation is considered by some to equate to "legalized theft" because one must pay, or face force and possible imprisonment for not paying. Or, leave the country.

        The thread notes plenty of examples to clarify what the opposing opinions meant by the description of "legalized theft."

        ps. I do appreciate that my taxes helped pay for the sidewalks, roads, and schools, but I do balk at increasing  my taxes to pay for "Bob's workout clothes."

        GA

        1. AshtonFirefly profile image83
          AshtonFireflyposted 2 months ago in reply to this

          Ahaaa, well I was responding to the original post. I was not aware how far it had evolved.

    7. Justin Earick profile image81
      Justin Earickposted 2 months ago in reply to this

      If taxation is theft , then so must be the use of any and all public accommodations. So, sure, keep up the notion that taxes are theft, just don't ever in your life use public roads, breathe air whose pollution is regulated by the federal government, send your kids to public schools, do business in a market protected by law enforcement, hire workers educated with public funds...

      1. ahorseback profile image48
        ahorsebackposted 2 months ago in reply to this

        You all have forgotten or never learned US founding history ,  Constitutional taxation  is and  was for minimal  taxation .      America  actually became a nation because of tyrannical  taxation and yet , now over taxation is by voluntarily  submitting it ?
        What happened ?

        "America the Beautiful" became "America the Nanny State "

        1. Justin Earick profile image81
          Justin Earickposted 2 months ago in reply to this

          I agree that America was hardly a legitimate nation before we formed a civil society of self governance funded by communal taxation. Again, never use a public road or send your kids to public school or collect a social security check in your life if you actually believe the nonsense you about taxes...
          The biggest problem we have as a nation is that the wealthy have bribed politicians in order to skirt their taxes. The wealthiest Americans were taxed between 70-94% from the mid 1930 through the 1970s. Reagan destroyed the Middle class and the American Dream when we redistributed the wealth of the nation from the people to the crony capitalists, resulting in going on 40 years of wage stagnation, and the lowest social mobility of any developed nation. Congrats for destroying the American Dream, anti-tax loons...

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 2 months ago in reply to this

            I think you're missing the main thrust here - we all pay taxes, and all receive something for it.  Roads and other infrastructure, military protection, research producing the products we enjoy, etc.  We don't always agree on the usefulness of what we get, but that's life.

            But when we take from one to give to another, without any compensation of any kind (roads, etc.) it becomes another matter, and becomes simple theft.  The vast entitlement programs of the US have crossed that line; simply a method of redistributing wealth, with the "givers" receiving nothing in return.  The idea that we actually own what others have earned - that it is ours for the taking - such as that 94% confiscation rate even though no one paid it is beyond comprehension.  How did we become a nation of thieves, taking what others have and returning nothing?

            1. Justin Earick profile image81
              Justin Earickposted 2 months ago in reply to this

              For one, taxation does not become theft simply because you somehow think that you can forever avoid using public roads, using the sewer system, breathing air with government mandated pollution regulations, attending public schools, hiring workers educated at public schools, utilizing currency made by the US government...
              Second, that would be an impossible task.
              The top tax rate was 94% when unemployment rate was 2% and the American Dream was constructed via public policy of taxing corporattions and the wealthy. You want to talk effective tax rates? The effective corporate tax rate in the US is the lowest in the industrial world; corporations used to account for a third of US tax revenue, now just a tenth. That is why our deficit is a high as it is - because we've used the tax code to redistribute the wealth of the nation to corporations and the wealthy by refusing to make them pay their fair share like they did when we used those funds to build a strong middle class that was the envy of the world (though Japan's debt/gdp is double ours, and they're doing just fine, even without the virtue of the petrodollar...)

              1. wilderness profile image95
                wildernessposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                Suggest you re-read the post you replied to.  It delineates the difference between public projects and entitlements...and the morality of taxing just to give it away without zero benefit to the one being taxed which is what is being termed "theft".

                Effective tax rates...how about looking up what the effective tax rate was when the top rate was 94%.  You will find that it was less than it is today.  Which in turn means it is a red herring to even bring that obscene rate up.

              2. GA Anderson profile image83
                GA Andersonposted 2 months ago in reply to this

                Oh gawd! Not another "fair share" argument. Justin, it's good to see a new voice in the forums, but,  follow the thread. You will see you are a bit off-base.

                GA

          2. PhoenixV profile image80
            PhoenixVposted 2 months ago in reply to this

            So if you dont smoke marlboros, buy gas, own your own car or own your own home, your kids should not be going to school. In a bus. On a road.

            400 billion a year on interest on 20 trillion in future taxes.  Interest and taxes were invented by the greedy too lazy to steal. Instead of being their cheerleader they need an audit, then some restitution.

  2. Jennifer Mugrage profile image89
    Jennifer Mugrageposted 4 months ago

    Here's how I understand it.

    The government has certain legitimate functions that come within its proper sphere of authority, and which only the government is equipped to provide for citizens.  On the national level, this would be things like national defense, national highways, regulating interstate trade, and little else, really.  On the local level, this would include things like city roads, parks, water, and police force. 

    These are things that citizens would find it very hard to provide for themselves, and they come under the natural sphere of the national or local government's authority.  Taxing for such things is legitimate.  It is, as you describe, part of the social contract.

    The problem comes when people think this legitimate function can be extended until, basically, the government can take it into their own hands administrate, tax for, and even have a monopoly on, *anything that someone decides they ought to.* 

    The 'someone' could be the federal gov itself, a government agency, an activist body, or even a plurality of citizens.  It doesn't matter.  If someone decides the the government ought to be the entity to provide something, and has a right to tax in order to do so, does that make it the gov's legitimate role?  Answer: No, it does not.

    For a lot of reasons.  One, it is unjust to usurp a role that ought to be filled by someone else. Two, such usurpation is really a form of abuse of power. Three, government (not surprisingly) tends to be really, really bad at performing functions outside of its natural sphere.  Whether it's education, art, or health care (to name just the obv ones), once it become the govn't's job, it immediately starts to become more expensive, bureaucratic, slow, and generally inane.

    The other big problem with this is cases where the taxes are, basically, being levied on one group of citizens and then handed over to another.  For example, I tax Peter to pay for Paul's college education. If Peter says, "That's not fair!," my response is, "You have the money, he doesn't.  It's for the common good."  To take by force from those who "can afford it" just because they can afford it and someone else needs it is to trample on basic property rights.  It's in cases like this that taxation is basically theft with the power of the state behind it.

    1. Misfit Chick profile image92
      Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      This also goes along with wilderness and other people who believe that there is no benefit to the taxpayer in the government administering, facilitating or regulating things they view to not to be within the government's responsibilities.

      1) This isn't 1913 or any year prior to it. Our population is much larger, we've got more issues to deal with as a larger society. How many school shootings were there back then? How much different (or similar) is the subject of race? The way jobs are spread out is different - and some are obsolete. Back in 1913, subjects like education were a much smaller thing. Like it or not, the government of this country needs to become more involved. Why?

      2) Because we can't trust businesses to regulate themselves. Even if industries began to create their own oversite system to regulate themselves, we'd still need someone 'neutral' we could trust to make sure they are following whatever protocols they should be following. Look what has happened to our economy in the past because of excessive greed by corporations. And what the HELL is going on with the outrageous cost of some drugs? How anyone can think we should just go back to letting them all do their own thing is amazing to me.

      3) Things like healthcare & food stamps are so screwed up beyond this erroneous notion that 'those people are all lazy'; and no matter what, anyone and everyone should be able to pay medical expenses out of their own pockets with the outrageous cost that they are - is seriously closed off from reality. What about pre-existing conditions? What if you have a handicapped child - a child that pro-lifers INSIST that you have to have despite that many of them refuse to help you take care of it after its born - whether you were raped, or not. What a hornets nest.

      This is an article that just came out about Amazon including a homeless shelter in one of their new highrises being built in Seattle - and they've been hosting a homeless shelter for a while, now. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/ … ss-shelter

      Our homeless situation in Seattle is so bad that it was declared a state of emergency a couple years ago. There are heroine needles absolutely everywhere; and they keep having to clear out homeless camps. Crime keeps getting worse...

      But, one person & one family at a time (there are SO MANY veterans & little kids) we do what we can to get them back on their feet through job training or substance abuse therapy or whatever it is they need to help get them back on their feet. I was reading in another article last week that the biggest problem we have is that there are almost TWICE as many evictions happening than we can get people through the systems in any given month. If we could catch them at the point before they get evicted, we would be able to stay on top of things, better. On top of that, our mild climate & blue-state generosity draws homeless from all over - almost 20% are from other states.

      And of course, the systems (there are several) are understaffed, overworked and underpaid because people and the government fight over who should pay for these lazy good-for-nothing bums.

      What would I get out of it? Cleaner streets, safer neighborhoods, more of my follow citizens actually working instead of being homeless... Yeah, we get stuff out of it. Especially when you are one of the people looking them in the eye and giving them what they need - whether its from the government or directly out of your pocket, it makes no difference.

      I keep hearing more and more about a single-payer healthcare system - and that wasn't something I even considered to be a possiblity for this country before Trump came along. But that man is a unifying force for those who oppose his 'extremes'. I would not be surprised if that's what we end up having within a decade - maybe even less.

      Enjoy your tax breaks now. I don't think they are going to last very long. smile

      https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13525561.jpg

      https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13525563_f1024.jpg

      https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13525569.jpg

      1. Will Apse profile image88
        Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        The UK is going the same way, although the stats are not quite as bleak, yet. We never needed food banks in the past, but now they are common. And homelessness is constantly rising.

        Makes a mockery of all those years of increasing GDP and productivity. Wealth is just systematically siphoned off by the already wealthy.

        They know what they are doing though, they keep enough of the population onside with a comfortable life and blame the lowest forty percent for all the social ills.

        That really is the tyranny of the majority, one of the great ills that democracy is prone to.

  3. PhoenixV profile image80
    PhoenixVposted 4 months ago

    I am not a doctor. I have never attended some school of medicine. I have never driven an ambulance or had occasion to give cpr.  I just dont have much confidence in paying alot of taxes to an entity that cannot tell if the employees it pays, to the tune of 600 million, are dead. But I am no doctor.

    1. Misfit Chick profile image92
      Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Brilliant. I never said - ever - that Ocare is perfect the way it is and that it didn't need some serious tinkering. My point was, throwing it all completely away is not the answer for the reasons I said within my long dissertations above.

      Also, it is the reason why the single-payer system - that three-quartersish of the American public favor - is still yet to come. Trump, his party and his supporters are making sure of that. I won't be voting for the 'middle of the road' candidate next time. I'll be voting for Bernie, assuming he runs. I would never have said that last year around this same time.

      Congratulations - Trump really is changing our country for the better. I was completely wrong. Its just not all happening 'now'. smile

      1. PhoenixV profile image80
        PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        I'm not sure how many deceased Federal employees were covered under Obamacare, but Id guess there were some. My heart really goes out to them and I do consider the everyday challenges of just getting out of bed and picking up their Government checks, considering their affliction. My only concern is I believe my tax money would be better used if the deceased restricted themselves to self employment as opposed to working for the Government and my taxes.

      2. Kathleen Cochran profile image85
        Kathleen Cochranposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        The ACA was never defined as perfect.  How much closer would we be to perfecting it if seven years ago, instead of just voting to end it, we'd worked together to improve it?  In the long run, it's purpose was to reduce costs by solving the problem of healthcare for the nation as a whole.  If we all saw it that way we would be well on the way to providing care for all our citizens at a reduced cost.

        1. Live to Learn profile image81
          Live to Learnposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          That may be true but I saw Obamacare as a first attempt, destined to fail, simply because it approached the problem 'business as usual'. Protect corporations and their profits while allowing pork barrel politics to lumber on; all the while ignoring the needs of the American people. It was a lip service attempt at health care.

          I think the Republicans will also fail.  It will take a few failures for them to come to grips with the fact that a health care system which does, truly, look to the needs of the American people will have to put them first.

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Well said, and one of the biggest problems with the whole concept.  It was an attempt to work within the then current system while making it do what it could not, and still cannot do.

        2. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Kathleen, the "purpose" of the ACA was never to reduce health care costs for the nation.  Only to shift those costs to someone else while increasing national costs beyond what we can pay.  There is zero doubt that it was presented to save costs for everyone, but there is also zero doubt that those pushing for it either didn't know what it was ("vote for it and THEN read it") or knew very well it was unworkable from the start.

  4. Nathanville profile image89
    Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago

    Generally, from a British perspective, the question wouldn’t even arise simply because the British cultural and social attitudes are so different to the way many Americans seem to think. 

    From a British perspective, paying taxes for healthcare (NHS), Education, State Pensions and the welfare state (which is what some Americans object to) is generally considered by British people more of an insurance rather than a tax e.g. we all need education, we all need healthcare and we all benefit from the State Pension in old age.  Plus the welfare state is there in the event of falling on hard times e.g. through redundancy or long term illness; it then provides security while you need it.

    I know one of the objections from some Americans is that the rich pay more than the poor for benefits that most benefit the poor.  If I understand the American tax system correctly then income is taxed using just a single ‘progressive’ tax e.g. where the percentage increases with the more you earn.

    FYI, in Britain two forms of taxes are used together on income.  The main tax (called income tax), is used to collect Government Revenue to pay for those things that affects everyone e.g. Defence; and it is a stepped progressive tax.  The other tax on income, specifically designed to collect Government Revenue for Healthcare, Education, State pensions and welfare is called ‘National Insurance Contributions’ and it’s not a progressive tax.  The National Insurance paid on income is:-

    •    12% on income earned from £8,160 ($10,500) per year, but
    •    Only 2% on all income above £45,000 ($58,000) per year.

    So although everyone in Britain, including the super-rich benefit from free healthcare for all at the point of use, free Education (under 19) and State Pension (from 66).  The National Insurance form of income tax helps to ensure that those who most use the welfare system, and most need the other benefits, pay a greater proportion of their income tax than a progressive tax system would. 

    So although I’m sure some will disagree, and still argue that its theft from the rich, I think the British system of having a progressive tax on income to cover general government expenditure, and a flat rate tax that drops down for high earners, does at least try to make the tax system more equitable for all.

    History leading to the introduction of National Insurance in the UK in 1948:  https://youtu.be/U6mOiYXq1Bk

    1. Misfit Chick profile image92
      Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Oddly, the main reason why Americans are afraid of a similar system is based on hysterical Christian dogma (although we've got a few know-it-all atheists in the mix, like wilderness): ie., if we set our country up to collectively support each other in this way; that would somehow mean that we are coelesing into a scary communist or socialist government instead of emphasizing individual freedom to the max.

      This is scary not only because they believe both systems are literally EVIL (yeah, in the literal kind of way complete with demons) - but they are considered to be so because that is supposedly a step toward a 'one world government' with the anti-christ being able to take over the world.

      Scary stuff, if you believe your eternal soul - and everyone else's - is on the line. Anyone who believes that probably needs to read my 1st spotlight article.

      We're dealing with a really weird mix of religious superstitions, lack of education and plain 'ol lack of logic or empathy. I walk among the homeless in Seattle almost every day; and I've worked with agencies that deal with them in several different ways on several occassions through marketing/organizing & participating in charity events.

      The most heartbreaking thing for me, is that most of these people really ARE capable of working, have dreams and WANT to work and support themselves. Do you really think our young veteran men are HAPPY becoming the 'addicted outcasts' they have become? You're sorely mistaken if you believe that. Many of them are in serious freakin PAIN and can barely pick their heads up. You've heard of the alarming increase in suicides among our military, right?

      Go ahead, keep ignoring them. I refuse to. Maybe its because I look them directly in the eye more often.

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        You know, saying this kind of thing is about like saying that anyone wanting decent health care for all is a communist at heart, wanting a complete equalization of wealth according to needs.  Value of work is to be ignored in favor of being given whatever is needed to live a luxurious life.  And they are too stupid to figure out we don't have the resources to give everybody whatever they want.

        Both are obviously false, both are obnoxious, and neither makes any attempt to understand the viewpoint of the other.  Don't you agree?

        1. Live to Learn profile image81
          Live to Learnposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          I'm always impressed with the fact that you are willing to engage in conversation with people too prejudiced to think rationally.

  5. PhoenixV profile image80
    PhoenixVposted 4 months ago

    What about the 1.7 Billion dollar ransom obama gave to Iran in the middle of the night? I dont drive on the roads in Tehran. 1.7 Billion could have kept deceased Federal employees in walking around money for 3 years.

  6. Will Apse profile image88
    Will Apseposted 4 months ago

    A lot of this discussion comes down to the split between people who care and people who do not.

    If the well being of others matters to you, or you happen to think our civilization is genuinely worth something, you might want democratic governments to get involved in crucial issues. Like maintaining a livable environment. And reducing gross suffering and injustice.

    If your life revolves around the mall, TV, and maybe shooting a few animals at the weekend then you would probably rather have a few extra dollars in your pocket.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      "If the well being of others matters to you, or you happen to think our civilization is genuinely worth something,"... you are willing to set aside morals and take whatever you can grab, because "your cause is just" (at least in your own mind).  The ends justify the means is alive and well for some people and the injustice of theft is not to be discussed.

      Of course, along with that comes the fact that "people who care", care only for the moment and only for the endorphins produced by generosity in giving other people's money away.  The children of the future do not enter the equation, only those of the moment.

      It's amazing how abusive, hateful, and downright disgusting words can be isn't it?  Especially when we're talking about someone else, like those we declare "not to care" or animal killers.

      1. Nathanville profile image89
        Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Wilderness:-
        •    Yep, the wellbeing of others does matter to me, and civilization is genuinely worth something.
        •    I don’t need to take or grab; as being lower middle class I’ve worked all my working life paying my fair share of taxes.
        •    And yes supporting the poor and needy through the tax system is a just cause.
        •    A fair system of taxes where everyone, including the rich, contributes isn’t theft, and it is just.
        •    Throughout my whole working life I never claimed a penny in benefits from the State, but was more than content to pay my taxes in the knowledge of the benefit it has to society; including the welfare of those in need.
        •    The children of the future do come into the equation because I would want them to enjoy the same level of social benefits that my generation and the generations before me have benefited from; since 1948 when the NHS and welfare system were introduced in Britain.  A system that has served the British people well for the past 69 years.
        •    As a Brit, it’s hard to comprehend why anyone in the modern civilized world shouldn’t want to share social responsibility through taxes; but would rather instead count the dollars in their pockets while others starve, or die of illness due to poor healthcare. 
        •    And guns and hunting isn’t a British thing; we see it all as rather barbaric.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          I think you mistook a sarcastic response to a rude, obnoxious, hateful post as meant to be something else.  But I will reply to:

          "A fair system of taxes where everyone, including the rich, contributes isn’t theft, and it is just."

          Is still "fair" when some "pay" a negative $30,000 and others pay millions?  All for the exact same product?

          1. Nathanville profile image89
            Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Thanks for clarification that your comments were just sarcasm wilderness.  As GA stated; "It is a citizen's right to decide the extent of their compassion".

      2. Will Apse profile image88
        Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Which morals exactly are being set aside?

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Start with the one almost universal moral; the Golden Rule.  Until you wish others, at their discretion, to take whatever of your possession they desire to use for their own purposes, you are ignoring it as you do that very thing.  Pretending that the ends justifies the means because your cause is just doesn't cut it.

          Or, I might add, declaring that others don't care, have no empathy, and insinuating that they are "bad" somehow because they don't see the future you see.

          1. Nathanville profile image89
            Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Wilderness, no one is taking possessions they desire for their own purpose; you obviously don’t understand how welfare works.  People don’t take what benefits they want when they want; they have to apply to the Government, and if its means tested then the process can be demeaning and the benefits only covering what society (governments) deem to be reasonable; which in the case of America may well be little more than survival in poverty.

            No the end does not justifies the means; what’s just and fair, and what is socially acceptable justifies the means.  Britain obviously has a more social caring society than America, that’s the choice of the British people that stems back for centuries e.g. with the foundation of the ‘poor relief’ laws passed by the government in 1552.  From 1552 a successions of laws were passed to help the poor and needy in Britain, progressively striving to improve conditions, but which didn’t eradicate wide spread poverty until the establishment of the welfare State in 1948.

            Although times were always harsh for the poor in Britain until well into the 1950s, at least British society cared enough to try and improve life.  In contrast, my perception of American society seems to always have been one of ‘number on first’ and hard luck to anyone who can’t swim.

          2. Will Apse profile image88
            Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            This is the wiki def of the Golden Rule:

            The Golden Rule or law of reciprocity is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. It is a maxim of altruism seen in many human religions and human cultures. ...

            I have no problem with altruism.

            Another pretty solid maxim: 'The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation'.

            That was Jeremy Bentham, circa 1800.

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              "The Golden Rule or law of reciprocity is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated."

              Exactly what I said.  Until you decide that it's OK for others to take whatever they wish from you, to further their own goals, you are violating that rule when you raise taxes in order to give the money to a third person.

              Altruism is great.  So be altruistic and help others, but don't steal in order to have the funds to do it.  That isn't altruism - altruism comes from you, not from grabbing what you want from someone else.

    2. GA Anderson profile image83
      GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Hello Will,

      It's just my opinion of course, but your lead sentence seems more than a bit sanctimonious. And that is not an attractive perspective.

      It is a citizen's right to decide the extent of their compassion. Just because it doesn't match your perspective of compassion doesn't mean it is uncaring.

      Your denigration of certain activities is as telling of your attitude as you think it is of those you describe.

      GA

  7. PhoenixV profile image80
    PhoenixVposted 4 months ago

    I think big government and more and more taxes are a way for liberals to feel charitable without having to actually be charitable. Taxes on gas pay for roads and bridges and property taxes pay for schools, I believe. Income taxes mostly pay for the interest on/ and money that pays for Governments doing what they do best: killing more people than the Black Plague. I would much rather give my money to real causes like The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Spikes for the Homeless or Doctors without Borders.

  8. MontanaTroyBrooks profile image80
    MontanaTroyBrooksposted 4 months ago

    No taxes are not theft. I think a good number of folks enjoy the benefits provided by the current system e.g if you had to pay a toll every time you used a road it would be a lot more money than most people make at the end of the year. Same thing goes for public service. Every time you call the police to file a complaint. If everything was private the expenses would be huge...so I would not gripe too much. Way to many more worry about someone getting something they think they do not deserve. They believe that this is solely why we pay high taxes.

    1. Nathanville profile image89
      Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Hi Troy, well put; and straight to the point.

  9. Nathanville profile image89
    Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago

    As part of continued research I’ve been doing, as part of an article I’ve been writing, I stumbled across this video below; which reminded me that a progressive tax on land owners to pay for poor relief in Britain actually stems back to 1598.  Something I should have remembered from when (years ago) I did Economic History at college.

    So, in answer to this question (unlike American Society), progressive taxes on the rich for the benefit of the poor is deeply rooted into British Society, and not just a recent fad of Socialism.

    The other point to consider is that until the 1850s you had to effectively be a landowner in order to be an elected Member of Parliament in the House of Commons in Britain; and during that time only landowners had the vote.  So it was only landowners voting for landowners to represent their own interests in Parliament. 

    Therefore, these poor laws that gave automatic rights to relief for the poor through the progressive taxation of landowners, that lasted from 1598 until 1834 was laws passed by landowners putting the onus on landowners to pay the taxes for the benefit of the poor.

    It’s against this backdrop that (in Britain at least); taxing the rich for the benefit of the poor is socially accepted by Society as being morally just.

    The Old Poor Laws from 1598 to 1834 and the Economic Rise of England: https://youtu.be/2govtUmuTSk

    1. GA Anderson profile image83
      GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Hello again nathanville, you have made this point in several responses, and I think a little nudge to get back to the OP's point might be in order.

      Americans have accepted that the rich should pay more taxes than the poor - to support our government, from the very beginning. Alexander Hamilton, one of  our primary Constitution authors voiced that sentiment in his Federalist Papers writings:

      "...; and must naturally tend to make it a fixed point of policy in the national administration to go as far as may be practicable in making the luxury of the rich tributary to the public treasury, in order to diminish the necessity of those impositions which might created dissatisfaction in the poorer and most numerous classes of the society."
      Courtesy of a My Esoteric thread:  http://hubpages.com/politics/forum/1363 … ost2813658

      And when our Income Tax was first initiated, (yep, that famous year - 1913), a progressive tax structure - with the rich paying the lion's share - was accepted as a pragmatic need by most American citizens.

      Most sensible Americans understand this reality, and don't see it as undue "legalized theft."  But... the demand for more and more taxes, for very easily contestable needs - always with the demand that the rich pay more, has led to comments such as the ones you are addressing here.

      And it isn't just a matter of 'picking the needs you think are legitimate," and calling all others theft.

      The line has to be drawn somewhere. Perhaps these two examples that I think cross that line might illustrate my point; Free cell phones for the poor is a reality, and free diapers for the poor was a state, and then an Obama administration, (failed), effort.  Guess who pays.

      The rich already pay more taxes, and Americans accept that, but because we think they can afford to pay more, there is always the demand for them to do so. The consideration of what we are spending the money on always seems secondary.

      Americans are not uncaring and without compassion - but there are limits. And that is the point I think OP tries to ignore.

      GA

      1. Will Apse profile image88
        Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Why shouldn't the rich pay more? There is absolutely no benefit in allowing more and more wealth to accumulate in fewer and fewer hands.

        We now have the absurd situation that the world’s 8 richest men are as wealthy as half the world’s population.

        A few reasons to resist this concentration of wealth and power:

        It undermines democracy (some would say our democracies have already been bought by the wealthy)

        It empowers the kind of people who have very little experience or understanding outside of business and who are primarily driven by greed. Hence the slow progress on climate change and the indifference to the suffering of the majority.

        If you have a billion, the next billion comes too easy in low tax economies. Make these people work for their privileges. Give the talented but excluded, a fairer chance.

        1. PhoenixV profile image80
          PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Seeing that "low tax economy" is not working, should we just jimmy the locks on their mansions second story windows?

        2. GA Anderson profile image83
          GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Hello Will,

          The rich do pay more, so there is no "why shouldn't they" question.

          The rest of your comment doesn't appear to have anything to do with the taxation question of the OP, but a lot to do with your perception of how much wealth someone should be allowed to have.

          GA

          1. Will Apse profile image88
            Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Anyone who believes that taxation is theft obviously believes that their government is entirely alien and they have no control over it.

            In other words, for them, this stuff about governments being democratic is just a sham.

            If that is the case, the question becomes, who does the government serve?

            So the issue of wealth and power is entirely relevant.

            1. GA Anderson profile image83
              GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Have you encountered anyone in this forum that believes taxation is theft? Or are you talking about the comments that discuss unnecessary taxation could be viewed as "legalized theft?"

              How do you feel about taxes that are designed for social engineering, like soda taxes? Are they as equally valid as our taxes that support government functions?

              GA

              1. Will Apse profile image88
                Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                Taxes have many functions. Mostly they are used to facilitate economic growth but one of their roles is certainly social engineering. The British destroyed the power of their aristocracy with inheritance tax, quite deliberately. It was a class which had no role in capitalist society and it had to go one way or another.

                It took a hundred years but the alternative was the blood-soaked French approach of cutting off heads. Not appealing.

                Essentially, taxes, tax relief and public spending are ways that democratic governments use to enhance the upside of market forces and mitigate the downside.

                1. GA Anderson profile image83
                  GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  This just must be an incomplete response Will, because you didn't give me anything to disagree with. Now what the hell do we do, trade numbers and pledge to a future lunch date?

                  GA

          2. PhoenixV profile image80
            PhoenixVposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            It seems easy to talk about giving other peoples money away. I wonder how easy it would be to talk about giving their money away.

      2. Nathanville profile image89
        Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Thanks GA for your reasoned and constructive response.  I wasn’t aware that American welfare to the poor included free mobile phones (cell phones); which isn’t done in Britain.  Although the British welfare system does try to ensure the poor don’t live in poverty so that they can (if they so wish) choose to buy their own mobile phones from their ‘disposable income’; which is good for the local economy e.g. boost spending which helps to create economic growth and employment.

        Although tax on landowners to pay for the welfare of the poor wasn’t first introduced in Britain until 1598; a comprehensive tax system on every free person in England owning livestock, property or land (to raise funds for the King) was first introduced with the Doomsday Book of 1086.  So the concept of people paying taxes according to their wealth has existed in Britain for almost 1,000 years.  The Doomsday Book was a comprehensive record of all property, livestock and land throughout England, compiled so that everyone could be taxed according to their wealth. 

        Domesday Book:  https://youtu.be/VqmRL3Ls1Fg

        Raising a hypothetical question:-

        With genealogy being an interest of mine, one of my distant relatives (a tenuous link by marriage) benefitted from the poor laws as follows:-

        From the records of the ‘Overseers of the Poor', in the village of Pitminster, Somerset, England, in 1686 Sarah Bradbeare (1664-1719) was arrested and appeared before the ‘Quarter sessions’ (a court of law held once every three months) summoned to name the father of her illegitimate child, so that the father could be made responsible for her upkeep and the upkeep of her new born son.

        She refused to reveal the father, so instead (from the taxes of the wealthy) the Parish paid for her legal fees, clothing and food for her, bedding for her including linen and woollen, and paid for her boarding costs for accommodation (as she homeless).

        She was summoned to court again in 1691 and in 1696 for the birth of further illegitimate children; each time refusing to reveal the names of the fathers.

        From the Parish records she was paid up to £4 ($5) a year in welfare until she finally got married in 1715; at that time anyone with an annual income of £10 (£13) would be quite wealthy, so the $5 she got annually was quite significant.

        My question is: - what would have happened with a single mother in a similar situation prior to the introduction of taxes in America in 1913?

        1. GA Anderson profile image83
          GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          I think we are veering a bit off topic Nathanville. Or at least into specifics that weren't intended in my responses.

          To compare or justify various social welfare programs or mechanisms - beyond examples that illustrate they exist, would turn this "legalized theft" taxation topic into an uncontrollable Hydra.

          My original comments on this thread were that America's tax structure is progressive, and that the wealthy do pay the bulk of our country's tax income...

          ... and that American's are a compassionate and giving people, but there are limits, (individually determined), beyond which it is valid to describe as taxation that amounts to "legalized theft."

          I don't mean to be 'a wet blanket' by refusing to see the value of comparing the details of how one nation treats single moms vs. another, I just don't see it as profitable to the topic conversation.

          But, it is a cool rainy Saturday morning here, so... it's a cup of hot coffee and the forums for me.

          Still think America's wealthy aren't taxed progressively? Or that almost half of Americans pay no income tax isn't proof that the wealthy do pay the government's bills?

          GA

          1. Nathanville profile image89
            Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Hi GA, I don’t think we are veering off topic.  Some people in this forum firmly believe that taxation for welfare benefits is theft. 

            To quote from W………, 2 days ago:-

            “But it becomes theft when those taxes are used to benefit individuals rather than society”

            In response to those threads I, and another, have been trying to stress that in the eyes of the British, taxes for the benefit of the individuals is not theft; reinforcing the point by highlighting that taxing the wealthy to pay welfare to the poor has existed in Britain since 1598 (over 400 years).

            Yes, I understand that the American tax structure on income is progressive, and the wealthy do pay the bulk of it; which is essentially the same as the UK and most industrialised countries. 

            Likewise (if I’ve understood your last point correctly); as with the world over, unlike taxation on income, the wealthy aren’t taxed progressively on their wealth (many indirect taxes are regressive).  Although I do agree that this it isn’t necessarily proof that the wealthy don’t pay a fair share of the government bills, many Brits would feel that the rich don’t pay enough?  This last point is another question which (although I have my own opinions) I haven’t actually done any detailed research and analysis on this point, so I’m not in a position to give an informed view.

            As regards the question of whether taxation can be described legalised theft when benefit payments go beyond certain limits is a question of cultural attitudes.  The British ethos is that everyone in today’s modern society should be able to enjoy an acceptable standard of living, and ideally no one should just survive in poverty; and if that means the wealthy pay more tax, then so be it.

            I think it’s because the British welfare system (including the NHS), and free education for all under 19 etc., is far more liberalised in Britain, we do see the attitudes of some Americans as ‘harsh’.

            The one tax which the British people do consider to be legalised theft is the ‘Poll Tax:-

            •    The first attempt to introduce a Poll Tax in Britain was in 1377, which contributed to the Peasants revolt in 1381 and the abolition of the Poll Tax; although little else changed to improve the lives of the poor until 1598.

            •    The latest attempt to introduce the Poll Tax in Britain was by a Conservative (Capitalist) Government in 1990, which led to massive riots across the country and 30% of the population refusing to pay it.  So this unfair tax was abolished within two years, and the Prime Minister resigned.

            Peasants Revolt in 1381 England against the Poll Tax:  https://youtu.be/Ey-R8lh9LoA

            Poll Tax Riots London 1990: https://youtu.be/FRj2K0ulD8Q

            1. GA Anderson profile image83
              GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Hi nathanville,

              Apparently I didn't interpret the wilderness statement you quoted as you obviously did. Perhaps that is because of past interactions with him that led me to an understanding of what he meant - because as a stand-alone quote, without the context of the rest of his comment, or our past conversations, I can certainly see it to say exactly what it appears to say. But I will leave that to Wilderness to address.

              As to the rest of your comment, neither of us need to do a lot of research, because what we are discussing are opinions of cultural differences. We have already established that our different perspectives are primarily based on our different cultural mores, so now the profit for both of us is in the discussion of the 'whys.'

              Link exchanges and statistical battles of 'my data is better than your data', and dissection of the minutia of a point aren't, (as you might say), 'my cup of tea'. Those efforts do have value as validation of a perspective, but our conversations, (at least as I have perceived them), haven't been in the nature of who is right, but are rather more basic discussions of what our different perspectives are,  and what are the foundations of those differences. Folks don't need research and statistics for those type of discussions. In my opinion, these discussions are much more productive.

              So, with that long-winded caveat, I can jump back to a part of your comment that I think illustrates one difference in our perspectives.

              Yo said, " The British ethos is that everyone in today’s modern society should be able to enjoy an acceptable standard of living, and ideally no one should just survive in poverty;"

              My American perspective would replace your "able to enjoy" with "have the opportunity to." My perspective is that I will freely offer a helping hand to any that need it. I will gladly pay taxes for welfare support programs to help someone improve their life, or climb out of a hole of misfortune, but if that helping hand is to be handcuffed to the needy or unfortunate, then that is a different matter. That hand won't be so freely offered.

              My American perspective says that our society doesn't owe someone an enjoyable life, just the opportunity, and the help, to achieve an enjoyable life.

              On another point, it seems we both may be confused as to what the other meant. Regarding taxes other than income taxes, were you saying that Brits might think the wealthy should pay more for stuff that is indirectly taxed? Like sales taxes, and things like that? Oh my, I hope that isn't what you meant.

              As usual, I have been long-winded, but it takes few words more to agree with your view on Poll Taxes. A society that would accept a poll tax is a society that is not in control of its destiny.

              GA

              1. Nathanville profile image89
                Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                Hi GA.  I get your point that you would rather discuss our opinions on who’s right than our different perspectives because of cultural differences.

                The reasons I’ve tried to be less confrontational are that:

                •    It can be counterproductive if it gets to emotive, and

                •    Who is right is a matter of cultural perspective

                Firstly, if I thought or felt the American perspective was more moral and just then we wouldn’t be having these discussions.

                Obviously from my cultural and social upbringing I consider the British views to be more moral, but then it’s not for me to judge.  The Americans have chosen their way and it’s up to them to choose their path.

                Your observation of the British “able to enjoy" with American "have the opportunity to.” is very astute; it is the basis of the difference between American and British humour.  The inherent psyche of British people is to see ourselves in the first instance as failures.  So we can more easily relate to the needy and unfortunate and by being handcuffed to them then we can more easily lead them out of poverty. 

                This video shows this fundamental difference between the British and Americans:  Stephen Fry on American vs British Comedy https://youtu.be/8k2AbqTBxao

                When I see other people struggling to survive in society my instinctive thoughts are:-

                “But for the grace of luck there go I”

                As a British person I don’t feel my fortune is due to my efforts alone, I feel fortunate that I had a good education and was able to get a good job and buy my own home.  Things could so easily have worked out differently.  I might not have done so well at school, I might have landed a different job and ended up redundant, and then struggled to find another job; and if I had taken a slightly different path in life I might have ended up in a council house rather than owning my own property.  In this respect I feel I have been very fortunate in life.  So when I meet people less well off than me I give them moral support and encouragement; and likewise, people better off than me give me moral support and encouragement.

                I agree; I often get a distinct impression that we misunderstand each other’s comments (partly because of the cultural differences).  No I didn’t mean that indirect taxes should be progressive e.g. sales tax; I think most people recognise they should be regressive.  What I meant is that a high percentage of the British population would prefer to pay a lower % on regressive indirect taxes and (to compensate) more on direct progressive taxes e.g. income.  In this respect in British politics, the Conservatives (Republican) when in power prefer to lower direct taxes and increase indirect taxes.  While, when Labour are in power (or when the Liberal Democrats hold the balance of power) they have a preference to increase direct taxes rather than indirect taxes.

                So in conclusion, in answer to your primary questions, “the whys”; British people generally don’t have the ‘self-confidence’ that they can be ‘President’, the British people feel that if they do aspire to anything then life is going to ‘knock them down’; and in that respect, if they have the welfare state to fall back on as a safety net then they feel more confident in trying to better their lot.

                1. GA Anderson profile image83
                  GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  You misunderstood at least one point nathanville. It is opinions and perspectives that I prefer to discuss, but in our case - on this topic, it is not to engage in a challenge to see who is right. It is to understand each other's perspectives and consider if our perspectives are valid. (yes, I know that sounds like determining who's right, but I mean it to pertain to the foundations of our perspectives),

                  We will end up either agreeing - or not, and maybe even persuading the other to alter a point of perspective based on new understandings, but in any case, my intention is not to be confrontational in the manner of declaring I am right and you are wrong - again, at least not on this topic.

                  So... You comic link was a good one that made the point clearly, as you also have succeeded in doing in this response.

                  My impression, now, is that on the basics; the pragmatism of progressive taxation, helping our fellow man as an obligation of being part of a society, (and just normal human compassion), and what we expect our governments to provide for us - Americans and the British are very similar. But it is the growth of the expansion of those basic concepts where we diverge.

                  I think your comic video link used a good illustration - American optimism as portrayed by the book store's self-help section, vs. British fatalism, as in the dominion of the Empire and the safety of being taken care of.

                  I think the finish of your above comment, from the link forward, is an excellent summation of our cultural differences. You will lead the unfortunate to a better life, handcuffed to them, I will point them to a better life, and push like hell with all appropriate help measures. You will accept that if they still won't do it for themselves - you will have to do it for them. I will not. If they won't make the effort to make use of the tools offered, (yes, that includes different tools for ones that can't use some tools), then their life will be of their own making.

                  The non-secularly adjusted form of your nod to good fortune is;
                  "... and there, but for the grace of God, go I."

                  It's been a great discussion nathanville, I do think your cultural perspective is wrong, but only because it doesn't fit my American cultural perspective, not as is 2+2=5 type of wrong. That we appear to culturally agree on the basics is not a point that I would have initially considered. But it is now an understanding that will color my further thoughts regarding the European preference for a welfare state environment.

                  I still think your way inhibits individual and national growth and achievement, but at least now I better understand the mindset behind it.

                  GA

                  1. Nathanville profile image89
                    Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    Hi GA, yep I fully agree with everything you said, word for word (a great summery), except for a couple of small points in the last two paragraphs:-

                    •    “I do think your cultural perspective is wrong, but only because it doesn't fit my American cultural perspective”.

                    From my perspective it’s the other way round, but that’s to be expected.  Each society has chosen its own ethics; whether those ethics in America is more moral or less moral than in Britain is another (personal) question. 

                    •    “I still think your way inhibits individual and national growth and achievement”. 

                    As regards national growth, we are the 5th wealthiest nation in the world (GDP).  Our welfare system doesn’t inhibit national growth and achievement.   Britain has a good track record for innovation; below are just four examples from the 1000s of major British achievements that continue to this day:-

                    •    The origins of the Trade Union movement in the world began in Britain in the 17th century.

                    •    The world’s Agricultural Revolution began in Britain at the turn of the 18th century.

                    •    The world’s Industrial Revolution started in England at the end of the 19th century.

                    •    The invention of the TV in 1926 by John Baird (Scottish engineer).

                    Historically, just focusing on steam; the world’s first commercial steam-powered device was developed by Thomas Savery (English inventor) in 1698.  The first practical steam engine was designed by Thomas Newcomen (English inventor) in 1712.  The world’s first locomotive railway journey was made in England by Richard Trevithick in 1804. 

                    The list of innovators throughout British history is almost endless, two of my favourites being:-

                    •    Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859); because he transformed Bristol (where I live) to make it what it is today e.g. rail, road and shipping.

                    •    Sir Richard Branson (a British self-made multi-billion owning over 400 companies); because (for me) he’s transformed the broadband Internet, landline phone service and cable TV in Britain for the benefit of users that rivals all competitors e.g. broadband speeds of over 200Mbs (with plans in the pipe line for up to 300Mbs), and commissioning to have the TiVo box adapted for the British market to record up to six TV programmes simultaneously; with the new TiVo boxes currently being rolled out to all existing users this year ‘free of charge’.

                    Innovation is Great Britain: https://youtu.be/PXsZ6IV0dLM

                    Whether it inhibits the individual’s growth and achievement is dependent on the individual.  But I do know where you’re coming from; it’s a political argument that’s not uncommon in Britain (a person’s viewpoint predominantly being dependent on their politics).

                    In my view, if a person wants to make something of their life in Britain the opportunities are there.  The key factors include self-motivation, education and experience.  Self-motivation is often linked to how oppressed a person feels, how stressed they are with life and their level of self-confidence etc.  In Britain, a supportive welfare state helps to make a person feel less stressed and oppressed; and encouragement from society can help to raise their self-confidence. 

                    Given that unemployment in the UK and the USA is currently the same (4.7%), the different levels of welfare in Britain and America has little real impact on unemployment levels e.g. significantly more Brits don’t stay on the dole just because it might be a little cushier in the UK. 

                    Years ago when we decided to move from a two bedroom terrace house to a three bedroom semi-detached house we had a choice of either buying a posh house in West Bristol and live amongst the snobs or a cheap house in East Bristol and live in a more deprived area.  We chose the latter because (although I’m technically lower middle class) I feel more comfortable living amongst the working class. 

                    In the time we’ve lived here we’ve given moral support and encouragement to several of our friends, who had the misfortune of being unemployed for years, to either take on voluntary work, gain experience and self-confidence and then go on to find employment or, get a job by getting qualifications from college that’s relevant to the market place.

                    As regards the latter (I don’t know what it’s like in America) but in Britain mature adults who are looking for a career change, or are unemployed and looking to get qualifications to get a job, can go back to college cheaply (unlike universities in Britain, colleges are financed and run by local government).  Although prices are dependent on the type and length of course, typically a year’s course at college for an adult who can afford to pay is about $300, and discounted if the person is unemployed or on a low income; so it is affordable for all.

                    As of April 2017, UK ranked 7th highest in the world for the number of billionaires, and 3rd in the world for the highest number of millionaires. 

                    My favourite British Aristocrat is the hereditary peer ‘Lord Bath’, which if you watch this video you might guess why:-  https://youtu.be/9GCfWdY-IQQ

                    Finally, from our discussions, I too am beginning to better understand the mind-set of Americans.

        2. Quilligrapher profile image90
          Quilligrapherposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Good day, Nathanville. I have been enjoying your dialog with GA.

          Contrary to what you have been told, the welfare system in America does not include free mobile phones. I thought you might be interested in knowing the facts, a little historical background, and a couple of related links so you can verify the truth for yourself.

          Providing telephone access to every family in America, particularly the poor, has long been public policy in the USA. It was a mandate first carried out by The American Telephone and Telegraph Company. AT&T broke up in 1984. A year later, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Lifeline Program to “provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services."  {1}

          This policy later became law in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and in the 1997 Universal Service Order, Section 8 that established the framework for the eligibility criteria, discount rate, and basic services that are in effect today. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) was created by the FCC as a not-for-profit corporation to administer Lifeline funds.
           
          The USAC’s Lifeline program provides a monthly discount of $9.25 to just one member of a needy, means-tested American family. Eligible applicants can purchase either a landline, a mobile service, or an internet connection from one of many commercial service providers that are authorized to accept the Lifeline subsidy voucher. {2}

          Despite what you may hear from the myth merchants, the U.S. government neither provides Americans with free cell phones nor does it guarantee payment for any goods or services purchased by eligible Lifeline consumers.

          The Lifeline Rules and Rights are on The Universal Service Administrative Company website. They are brief and a quick read. {3} A section about “free” cell phones doesn’t exist because free phones are not included in the government’s program!

          Some, not all, of the authorized Lifeline cellular service providers choose to offer “free cellphones” as part of their pitch to attract Lifeline customers. This promotional gimmick, however, is a sales ploy that is not a feature of the government’s Lifeline program. The FCC makes this fact clear when it specifies, “All providers who choose to provide devices to their consumers must provide devices that are WI-Fi enabled by December 1, 2016.
          Providers who choose to provide devices to their consumers must offer devices that are equipped with hot-spot functionality…"
          {1}

          Advertisements hawking “free government cell phones” are common and quite misleading. One website states, “You can get your free mobile phone and service from dozens of Lifeline companies in 49 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico,” but goes on to say, “The companies usually buy these refurbished phones in bulk, and you never know which make or model you will receive. While a few companies offer newer smartphones such as Androids, many will send a basic feature phone. If you feel that you must have the most up-to-date technology, such as an iPhone, the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phone program may not be a good match for you.” {4}

          The bottom line? The U.S. government does not participate, directly or indirectly, in any offers to provide “free” cell phones. The Lifeline program only provides $9.25 a month in financial assistance that is applied toward the consumer’s total bill. The cell phones are actually bought and paid for by each individual Lifeline service vendor, some of whom are willing to give them away “free” to entice new customers.     

          There is another oddity about this myth that goes beyond the false claims of a free government phone. Some companies advertise free Lifeline Assistance “Obama phones.” The program, however, was established more than a decade before President Obama’s election. It all keeps the myth alive.

          Have a great day, Nathanville, and thanks for your interesting comments.
          http://s2.hubimg.com/u/6919429.jpg
          {1} https://www.fcc.gov/general/lifeline-pr … rs#devices
          {2} http://federalsafetynet.com/lifeline-obama-phone.html
          {3} http://www.universalservice.org/ls/
          {4} http://www.freegovernmentcellphones.net/

          1. Nathanville profile image89
            Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Thanks Quilliprapher for your informative and interesting information.
            Providing phone access to everyone has never been a consideration in the UK.  Prior to the 1970s few people had a phone.  It wasn’t considered an issue because there was always a ‘Pubic Telephone’ box within a short walking distance of every household; even in the villages.

            We had a telephone at that time because my father ran a business, but none of my friends did.  There were so few household phones at that time that our phone number was just 3-digiets.  Emergency call were free (as they are now) and if you didn’t have the money to make the call you could always ask the operator to request from the person you wanted to call whether they would accept the charge.

            From the early 1970s everyone wanted their own telephone, rich and poor, so the question of subsidy never rose; and these days everyone (including the poor) seems to be able to afford their own personal mobiles.

            The current big issue is Internet connection in rural areas.   There’s no problem in the cities or towns because years ago Virgin Media laid optic fibre cables down just about every street, so anyone who subscribes to them have access to broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps, soon to be 300Mbps. 

            Those who subscribe to SKY (Satellite TV) or one of the other competitors to Virgin Media (Cable TV) have to use the old BT (British Telecom) copper wire telephone lines for their broadband, which is about 30Mbps at best; albeit BT (British Telecom) is in the process of upgrading their copper wire to optic fibre.  Competitors to Virgin Media offering Broadband have to pay BT for the use of their lines.

            In contrast, in the countryside (population of 5.3 million) where it’s not commercially viable to upgrade to fibre optic, there is only the old BT copper wire; so broadband speeds in those areas are typically only 2Mbps, 8Mbps at best.

            It’s in this context that the Government has commissioned BT to provide optic fibre to at least 95% of the population by April 2018.  However, at no point do the poor get any subsidies from the government because they seem to be able to afford the subscriptions for Broadband anyway; so there isn’t the need for State support.

            Government's superfast broadband rollout to Rural Areas: https://youtu.be/sawQl8_YwLc

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Is BT being paid by the government to run fiber optic cable to rural areas?  If so, will internet rates be high enough to recoup that cost and return it to government coffers?  If not, then rural areas are most definitely getting an internet subsidy; the amount it cost to provide fiber to them.

              1. Nathanville profile image89
                Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                It is a subsidy (a modest one of only £1.7 billion), although BT have so far had to return £257 million of that back to the government because broadband has proved more commercially profitable in rural areas than first thought. 

                So far nearly 4 million of the 5.3 million living in remote rural areas have been connected to high speed broadband. 

                The issue is one of people living in urban areas enjoy high speed broadband up to 200Mbps because it has proved portable for companies like Virgin Media to invest in the infrastructure and for BT to upgrade its system to fibre optics so that other competitors can use the BT lines to offer choice. 

                Whereas it’s not commercially viable to invest in the infrastructure to extend optic fibre to the remote areas of Britain where broadband speeds are typically only 2Mbps e.g. not enough return on investment to make a profit within the short or medium term.

                Therefore, as BT is a private commercial company who needs to make a profit to survive the only way they can be expected to lay optic fibres to remote communities is if they are compensated for the costs of the initial investment.

                The Conservative (Capitalist) Government in the UK feel that it is in the ‘National Interest’ that everyone has access to high speed broadband e.g. it’s good for business and the economy in the long run.  Therefore the Government sees it as an investment for the future of Britian; the 95% target by the end of 2017 being the first big step.

                In rural communities where the investment does give a profitable return to BT in the short term there is a payback clause in the scheme e.g. why BT have had to return £257 million of the subsidy to the Government to date.

                It’s an innovative way of solving a social problem, which as an American, who doesn’t believe in helping the less abled at tax payer’s expense, you no doubt disagree with.

                1. wilderness profile image95
                  wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  Then those 4 million people have had their internet improvements subsidized to the tune of 425 pounds each.  Because they choose to live in rural areas but still want what those in higher density areas pay for themselves, but without paying for it, those in cities have footed the bill FOR them.

                  And this seems reasonable?  You're right - not to me.  Here, we subsidize rural dwellers for their electric lines, at least to some degree.  They still have to pay the cost of getting from the nearest line to the house, and it can be considerable.  But then, providing electricity is a little different from improving an existing internet connection!  Especially as we won't allow them to build a structure for permanent housing without electricity.

                  Interestingly, some cities have such a high percentage of internet users that they have contracted with suppliers to provide it for free to anyone that wants.  Paid for by taxes, of course, and those relative few that don't take advantage of the plan are subsidizing those that do.

                2. Nathanville profile image89
                  Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  Wilderness, In the UK the population was 65.1 million in 2015 of which 18.8% were under working age and therefore not likely to pay much in the way of taxes e.g. only tax on spending their pocket money (indirect tax).

                  So (excluding children) in 2015 there were about 53,382,000 people in the UK with disposable income, and therefore subject to pay tax on their income and or spending; which as a straightforward per head is a nominal sum of £27 each as a one off payment.   And as BT is likely to have to pay more back to the Government under the ‘payback’ scheme, as more of the optic fibre rollout proves commercially profitable (in the short term), then this figure will drop even further.

                  Firstly, as the amounts of money is so small, you are making a very petty argument that’s hardly worthy of a response.

                  Secondly, the 5.3 million people living in rural areas are 8.41% of the population.  So to give them access to high speed broadband makes perfect economic sense as a significant percentage of commerce is now conducted via the Internet e.g. online shopping, banking, business transactions etc. 

                  Therefore it’s not brain surgery to recognise that the increased commercial activity brought about in rural areas will add to Britain’s economic growth and the extra wealth generated by activity from the rural areas will ultimately mean additional tax revenue for the Government that eventually offsets the initial £1.7 billion investment in the broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

                  Thirdly, having got optic fibre to the rural communities, it opens up a new market for BT and its competitors to offer broadband packages to 5.3 million potential customers; which invariably will increase their customer base and therefore profits; and extra profits means extra tax revenue for the Government.

                  This video sums up the importance of villages to the British economy and the key role broadband plays:  The British village revival https://youtu.be/ABMBVgbPnuk

          2. GA Anderson profile image83
            GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Well done Quill, when I must stand corrected, it is nice to have it done so eloquently.

            You are correct, that the government provides and pays for cell phones for the poor is a myth. Since I am certain that welfare program recipients are able to get free cell phones, you can imagine my confusion when faced with your well-researched facts.

            But just to set the stage for what comes next; here is my "free cell phone statement:

            "...Free cell phones for the poor is a reality..." permalink

            Standing alone that statement is still factually correct, but that is a weak defense because taken in context - it does imply what you refuted.

            As it turns out, my small effort in propagating that myth was an honest mistake, so maybe the "Myth Merchant" label might be a little harsh - in my case at least.

            It seems that just expanding on your linked references might offer a more clear picture of how our poor and welfare recipients are able to get free cell phones. 

            As you quoted, those free cell phones are available almost nationwide:
            "“You can get your free mobile phone and service from dozens of Lifeline companies in 49 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico,”
            *(the later part - dealing with the type of phones provided isn't necessary to the point)

            Just a quick Google list for Free cell phones shows the mass of companies, (as you noted), that offer this benefit.

            So it is not the government that provides the phones, but the companies that do are participating in a government sponsored program.

            Here are the qualifications that determine eligibility for a free phone:
            "The Lifeline program is available to eligible consumers in selected states and territories. Actual requirements vary by state, but in general to qualify for Lifeline, subscribers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines, or participate in one of the following assistance programs:

            - Medicaid
            - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Food Stamps
            - Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
            - Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
            - Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit

            Some states have additional eligibility under the following Tribal programs:
            - Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
            - Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
            - Tribal Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard)
            - Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)


            As you can see, the 135% poverty baseline criteria covers the "poor," and the welfare program participation criteria covers the implied "welfare recipients" part.

            To address who pays for these free phones, your research also pointed in the right direction. It is the Universal Service Fund, (USF), a part of that government-sponsored program - The Universal Service Company, (which was created by your referenced Universal Service Order),  that pays the provider companies, and technically it is the major telecommunications companies that pay into that fund. But we all know it doesn't stop there. Those large companies pass on those fund costs to their customers in the form of a USF surcharge included on everyone's cell phone bill.

            It doesn't seem much of a stretch to conclude that since the USF cost for the fund, which pays the providers of those free cell phones,  is passed on to custumers - it is taxpayers that are footing the bill for those free cell phones.

            So, while I do stand corrected that the free cell phones are not directly from a government welfare program, I still think the reality is that American taxpayers are paying for those free cell phones for the poor through the funding of a government-sponsored entity.

            Your facts were correct, (but perhaps not the statement that the government isn't even indirectly involved); as implied, my statement was wrong. But... the reality of who gets the free phones, and who pays for them - I believe my statement is still valid. In both technical and contextual meanings.

            GA

  10. PhoenixV profile image80
    PhoenixVposted 4 months ago

    Bob left the gyms back door unlocked and 20 million people slipped in and now Alice cant even use the excercise bike.

  11. PhoenixV profile image80
    PhoenixVposted 4 months ago

    Recently, Alice learned that her Gym fees were being used to aid in the buying of weapons for drug cartels, rebel groups and assorted terrorists. There has been some talk at the Zumba class that gym fees are being used to overthrow other gyms on the other side of the globe.

    Alice, now believes it may be a moral duty to withhold fees and feels the Gym is in breach. This has been cause for much consternation for Alice and has deeply moved her to the core of her very being, even to the pit of her stomach. Her countenance and confidence in the gym have fallen to the floor, as well as her kale breakfast smoothie.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Alice has several options.  Educate herself, probably by becoming one of the governing group, into just why those "bad" things are happening - she might change her mind.  Leave the gym and everything she has built a life around.  Start a revolution to "take back" her gym.  Hire Trump to do it for her. big_smile

  12. Will Apse profile image88
    Will Apseposted 4 months ago

    I doubt that US lawmakers will crumble before the laffernomics onslaught easily. But this is a taste of what it could mean:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 … c-disaster

    https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/13532023_f1024.jpg

    A couple of quotes:

    "Kansas is broke"

    “We are a cautionary tale. It sounds great, everybody gets a tax cut and it’ll balance – but it just doesn’t work,”

    ‘The cuts have been so deep we may never get back to where we were.'

  13. ahorseback profile image48
    ahorsebackposted 4 months ago

    I don't know what the overall importance of "free cell" phones matters  at all , In a world of welfare entitlements  that includes layer upon layer of other multiple benefits ,    I remember talking about the occurring of generational welfare back as far as the seventies and   welfare allowances has increased just as the population has increased .    " The idea that taxes are theft " ?  Well in a way they are , just like the welfare benefits , layers upon layers of taxes  , they only increase in quantity and  percentage too.     Seen any taxes drop lately where you live  ?

  14. Will Apse profile image88
    Will Apseposted 4 months ago

    Don't know about Bob and Alice but here are some stats concerning US poverty:

    More than a third of those who live in poverty are children. More than 15.5 million children lived in poverty in 2014.
    About 13 percent of those living in poverty are senior citizens or retired.
    A quarter of those who live in poverty are in the labor force—that is, working or seeking employment.
    A tenth of those in poverty are disabled.
    Eight percent of those living in poverty are caregivers, meaning that they report caring for children or family

    https://www.brookings.edu/research/who- … ed-states/

    Nearly 50 million are below the poverty line. And it has been getting harder to overcome each economic downturn, for a long time:

    https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/13534922.jpg

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

      Sad that so many children are in poverty (more on that later); that the caregivers responsible for them are failing so badly is inexcusable.  It also means that the rest of society must take up the slack, IMO.

      But the others - why is that considered MY responsibility?  Because the elderly spent their income rather than saving it means I am now responsibility for their wants?  That those workers that do not earn enough to support themselves, and refuse to improve their skills, means it is MY responsibility to provide support?  I must disagree - should I choose to do so that's fine, but it is not the right of anyone at all to force me to support those people.

      Poverty - it's been interesting in my 65 years to watch as the "poverty" line grows every year.  What was luxury for much of my life is not necessity, and something I must somehow supply for those that want it but don't want to pay for it.  That "official poverty line" is, IMO, crap.

      1. Will Apse profile image88
        Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        Poverty on this scale is mostly down to low wages and inadequate social planning.

        Most of the poor have been victims their entire lives and you are blaming them for being born into the wrong family, the wrong school district, with the wrong IQ, the wrong set of illnesses/injuries or simply for being recipients of experiences that would make a failure of any of us.

        How the people lucky enough to be born into the right environment treat the poor is a measure of their moral stature, understanding of what human life is all about and their core values.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          How does "blaming them" come out of refusing to take responsibility for their lives?  How does living my own life become "blaming them"? 

          I agree how treatment of the poor reflects on us all.  So does the decision to play Robin Hood, taking from one what they have worked a lifetime for  to give it to another.

          Another thing I find interesting is those people that find the plight of the poor something they wish to "fix"...and instead of doing it themselves will force someone else to do it FOR them.  All while refusing to even mention the ethics of the use of that force.  While pretending they have an innate "right" to take what others have to use for their own purposes.  And while pretending that a long term solution is to simply feed those that don't feed themselves instead of teaching them how to do it without help and letting them decide whether to work and eat or starve.

          Did you know that in the US over half of the kids in foster homes, supported by society, will never graduate high school?  So we continue the same failed program, ensuring that we will forever support them as they grow older.  That's the root of the large majority of our charity; blame the producers for the failure of others and require them to provide support for everyone.

          Our welfare system is broken, and the only thing we know to do is throw money at those people that don't support themselves, crying that we have to because they don't know how to lead their own lives.

          1. Misfit Chick profile image92
            Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Our welfare system is broken because the GOP and people like you refuse to believe that people really need help. The system has always been nothing but the most basic 'bandaid' - too short of money & resources to actually make a difference, so all that happens is that things get worse.

            Get over your 'we're forcing you' idea - what a drama queen crock! Most people don't think about donating to charities that help people out; and there is nothing wrong with insisting that my fellow citizens of this country HELP me do what is needed for ALL of us - whether you see the direct results or indirect ones, shouldn't matter.

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              No, our welfare system is broken because Democrats know only one thing - throw money at problems in short term "help" without regard to cost or long term affects.

              Yes, there IS something wrong with demanding that what others have worked for be given to you instead.  It's called "theft", legal or not, and there is something most definitely wrong with it.  IMO - you obviously find it right and proper to take what others have because a third party wants what they cannot buy for themselves.

          2. Will Apse profile image88
            Will Apseposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Seems to me you are blaming a lot people for needing a little help.

            And it is not just the people who are helped who benefit. A society that does what it reasonably can for those born into one nightmare or another feels much better about itself.

            I reckon the US is in need of serious dose of feeling better about itself. The UK too.

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Explain, please, how I "blamed" anyone at all?  Except those that have decided that what I've worked for is actually theirs for the taking?  You seem to be confused, thinking that because some else made poor decisions or for some other reason can't support themselves that I am to blame.  I'm not.

              YOU may get a great feeling from helping others (I know I do), but that is not a reason to steal in order to get that feeling.

              Will, the problem (in the US) is not that we don't give enough; it is that what we DO give we too often give to the wrong people and what DOES go to the right people serves only to lock them into a lifetime of dependency.  I can give just too many personal observations of that to think that they are all exceptions; that the charity we give out is intended to help.  We trust our politicians to help those in need, but instead they lock them into the generosity provided by those politicians (and paid for by us).

          3. Nathanville profile image89
            Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            So what are you saying Wilderness; that because half of children in foster homes in America will never graduate from school and will end up forever being supported by welfare, that the problem should be resolved by not giving them welfare and that they should be allowed to die in poverty?

            That sounds like a bleak future to me, allowing tens of millions of American citizens to starve to death or die of diseases first.

            The welfare system in Britain is far from perfect and we do have poverty, but our system does at least try to limit the impact of poverty and give everyone the opportunities and support to better themselves while at the same time limiting deprivation; we are a more caring society, and America could be too, it has the resources.

            Being poor in Britain isn’t as cushy as you might think, it’s so easy to become destitute if you let things get on top of you; usually either people who turn to drink or drugs because of depression, or people who slip into destitution because of drink/drugs, or because of mental illness, or because they fall on hard times e.g. they lose their job, their marriage breaks up, they lose their home, and end up homeless.  These are the people who slip through what’s called the safety net in Britain, and for such people there are various schemes and programmes (some charity based and some government funded) that aim to pick up the pieces and rebuild people’s lives.  It can’t help everyone, but I have known people who have gone from being completely homeless with no income or government support, and drowning their sorrows in drinks or drugs, to being rehabilitated, being given assistance in finding accommodation, and employment, and to become self-sufficient again.

            If you are poor in Britain, you are means tested for you benefits (which is always stressful), and some of that means testing can be tough.  However, there are always incentives and encouragement for the poor e.g. low paid and unemployed to better themselves, including further education (which is either free or cheap for all), a tax structure to ensure those on low paid are better off than being on the dole (tax credits), and for the unemployed, ‘job seekers allowance’.  Plus the new incentive launched in 2011 of ‘StartUp Britain’ which has proved very successful.

            You think it’s a crime for tax payers to support the poor but apart from the humanitarian aspect; it’s also good for the economy, which ultimately benefits the tax payer.  For example, with the poor having more disposable income it gives them more spending power in the high street, which means more sales and profits for local shops and businesses; who in turn need to employ more people to meet the increased demand.  More employed people working means less unemployed to pay welfare to, and at the same time more tax revenue for the Government. 

            Most people in Britain (and I’m sure in America too) want to work, but it’s not always easy to find employment, or people find it difficult to work because of disabilities.  Few people are lazy, and being poor isn’t being lazy, its hard work; you should try it sometime.   

            Fortunately, I’ve never been poor, and I’d never want to be either; but that didn’t cause me any concern that (before I took early retirement) a proportion of my taxes paid for welfare.  As far as I was concerned I was glad to be paying those taxes because not only is it a humanitarian thing to do but also it’s an ‘insurance’ that if I or any of my fellow citizens fall on hard times we have a safety net against abject poverty.

            Social Welfare Programs Actually Don't Destroy Economy:  https://youtu.be/dk1nn0F1jC4

      2. Misfit Chick profile image92
        Misfit Chickposted 4 months ago in reply to this

        You've seen the poverty line continue to grow as you've also watched the basic population grow. Everything grows along with a population - both good & bad things, especially when bad decisions are being made while it is growing.

        Your view is incredibly short-sided, narrow-minded and so far out of whack from reality - its really quite amazing. I think people like you should be required to participate at a homeless shelter for a couple days, and actually look them in the eye while they tell their stories. That might do something to adjust your perspective, or at least bring some balance to it.

        People like Alice don't generally choose to not improve themselves when they are capable; and if she's got a couple kids on top of things - that alone limits her options. Plus, even if she gets additional education, she (as a single mother) is likely to get a job that won't cover everything she needs for both herself and her kids - even with landing a top-notch job in her field.

        While she may eventually get there, her kids will probably be almost grown by that time - and she will still need help to get both herself & them to that place. I've told you this before and you refuse to believe me - MANY homeless people (or almost homeless people) HAVE JOBS. Some of them even have educations - like my neighbor (who is supposedly always on the verge of becoming homeless) who used to be an english teacher.

        You can justify any view you want with piles of reason & logic. That is both their power and their flaw - while the same thing can be done with the opposing side. The GROWING problem of homelessness & poverty may not seem like a very big deal in your little part of the country; but it is a very big deal within the cities - and the cities are hosting MANY people who MIGRATE from little slivers of country like where you are from.

        We've made many really good arguments that you refuse to consider - and again, three-quarters of this country are on the 'we need to do something' side of things. I mean, jeez - the gargantuan issue with just homeless veterans alone should be something that concerns you, even if you are so sure that someone like Alice is just 'lazy'. I suppose you view homeless vets as being lazy, too - instead of discarded.

        This country WASTES all kinds of money on stupid sh*t like giving big corporations big tax breaks that would help pay for some of the stuff this country needs. Perhaps you should worry about those things more and save this one issue for last - since it involves life, death and quality of life for us all. Really, there are other things you could work on improving before ATTACKING this one issue - especially since we can all look at what other countries are doing and can see how much better things generally are for them across the board.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          You misunderstand the meaning of the growing poverty line.  It isn't that there are more in need (indisputable) but that what we consider "poverty" was considered "luxury" not very long ago.  What I did without as a young man is now considered absolutely essential for life, and that's beyond reason.

          Then teach Alice a new job - one that will provide her needs.  Provide the job if necessary.  But whatever you do, DO NOT simply give money - that serves no long term purpose except to buy votes for politicians.

          Yes, you've provided many arguments for helping others.  What you have NOT done is provide any ethical reasoning that what others earn actually belongs to you because you feel your cause is just.  Instead you've refused to discuss that aspect of socialism at all, just assuming it to be true.

          Big corporations - when you can explain why a business pays taxes, then gives what is left to the owners whereupon they pay taxes again on the same earnings, when you are willing to remove those "tax breaks" designed for social engineering projects and leave those owners with a reasonable total tax rate...then you can complain that big business doesn't pay their share.  Everybody complains about those tax breaks, but no one actually lists any - because they are nearly all for the "good of the country, state or city?  It's the same problem all over, just with a different victim - what others have earned actually belongs to you (for your "just" cause) and you want more of it.

        2. Nathanville profile image89
          Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

          Wilderness, Sweden is renowned for having the most comprehensive welfare system in the world, yet they are a thriving economy.

          I stumbled across this video while giving my previous response to you:-

          Why An American in Sweden LOVES Paying His Taxes:  https://youtu.be/-ZOHXxQsdQE

          The one thing that struck me from watching the video (if I understood it correctly) is that all American citizens have to make out their own tax returns?

          FYI:  Neither I or my wife (or most of our friends) have ever made out a tax return in the whole of our lives.  In Britain we have what’s known as PAYE (Pay As You Earn).  It’s where the tax man makes the calculations for you so that your taxes are automatically deducted from your pay before you get paid.

          My son is self-employed (Professional Photographer), so he does have to make his own tax return, but most of the work is done for him by Inland Revenue.  So all he has to do is go on line (log into the Inland Revenue website) once a year and quickly fill in a few simple boxes e.g. total income and expenditure for his business etc., which takes less than half an hour.  In Britain Inland Revenue are savvy enough to know the difference between a genuine claim and a false claim (relevant to the profession), and will only generally ask for supporting evidence if they are suspicious. 

          So far because his is a new business, his profits are small, so to help him while he builds up his business base (which is growing annually), rather than taxing him on his profits the government gives him ‘working tax credits’ e.g. the government pay him £1,960 ($2,500) per year until his business is earning him enough for him to be self-supporting.

          The other point relevant to the video, is the top marginal rate for tax in the UK is only 45%; which apparently according to the video is a lot less than it has been in the USA in the past.  I don't know what the current top bracket tax rate is in America?

          1. wilderness profile image95
            wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Americans do their own taxes, yes.  Many hire it done, a few do it on paper, but I think most go online and fill out the forms there.  Takes me about 30 minutes, mostly filling out personal information (name, address, income, dependents, etc.)  Not an onerous task, in other words.  Business is a different story, though, with a great many man hours going into even small business tax forms..

            It's nice that strangers donate to your son's business, via the tax code.  We do the same - if you don't pay taxes we'll pay you instead.  Over here it's called EIC - Earned Income Credit - although for the life of me I can't figure out where the "earned" comes from. 

            Top tax rate in the US is 39.6%.  Plus 7.5% FICA (15% if self employed).  Plus state income and sales taxes.  Plus county and city sales tax.  Plus property tax.  Plus personal property tax.  Plus gas tax.  Plus alcohol tax.  Plus a hundred other taxes.  But I think you will find that the total tax burden in the UK is much greater than in the us - that government spending, as a percentage of GDP per capita, is considerably larger even though your military spending is about half what ours is.

          2. Nathanville profile image89
            Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

            Hi Wilderness, thanks for a frank reply, which I do appreciate.

            For the UK the equivalent to your FICA is NI, which is only 2% for the top 5% of wage earners and a flat rate 12% on income for everyone else.  So whereas most people would pay up to 32% on their income tax (including NI), on a sliding scale; because the wealthiest 5% only pay 2% NI, they only pay 47%, compared to America’s 39.6% plus 7.5% (47.1% total).  So for the top 5% earners in the UK the direct tax is almost identical to what top tax payers pay in the USA.

            In the UK your ‘property tax’ is called ‘Rates’; how much a business or individual pays is dependent on the value of the property.  For businesses local government gives relief on business rates (property tax) for:-

            •    Small business rate relief
            •    Rural rate relief
            •    Charitable rate relief
            •    Enterprise Zone relief e.g. where a city wants to attract new businesses.
            •    Hardship relief.

            The local government will give hardship relief on business rates (property tax) where:-

            •    The business would be in financial difficulties without it, or
            •    Giving hardship relief to the business is in the interests of local people.

            I pay rates (property tax) because I own my own home, and based on the value of my property (a three bedroom semi-detached house) I pay about $2,000 per year.

            Of the other taxes (indirect taxes) we pay significantly more on petrel (gas) than in America because its government policy to discourage private car usage, and to use public transport instead; but unlike America we do have a sophisticated integrated public transport system; so petrol is about $7.75 a gallon in the UK.  Albeit British cars are much smaller than American cars, so average miles per gallon on a modern car is more than 60mpg; although, 100% electric cars are becoming increasingly popular, and they are very cheap to run.

            What you call Sales tax, we call VAT, which is 20% (although there is an extensive list of items exempt from VAT, including most food products); nevertheless it is a lot higher than in the maximum 7.25% in the USA, and like all other indirect taxes (including tax on petrol) it hits the lowest paid the hardest. 

            There is also a high tax on alcohol and tobacco because they are products the government want to discourage people from buying; although, in spite of that you can still buy four packs (four half pints of beer) from the supermarket very cheaply because they sale the beer with a small profit margin to increase turnover.

            Other than mentioned above, there isn’t much else in the way of taxes in the UK that affects everyday living.  So yes, we might pay more in the way of taxes in the UK, the greater burden (when indirect taxes are included) being on the poorest e.g. those who benefit the most from the welfare system. 

            Nevertheless, I prefer paying more taxes because of the benefits it brings e.g. free education, free healthcare, State Pension etc.  For example when I was paying taxes on my income (before I took early retirement) I was much happier paying the $1,418 in tax to cover the cost of the NHS (Healthcare) rather than the $10,000’s in medical insurance, co-pays and medical bills.  In the UK healthcare is free to all at the point of use, there are no co-pays e.g. no fees to see the GP or specialist (even prescriptions are free to most people) and no medical bills, not even for operations or having a baby.  So the $1,418 I was paying on my wages as a tax payer was good value for money for a free healthcare service at the point of use for all.  And now I’m retired and not paying any direct taxes on earnings I still get full free healthcare (with no hidden charges or added expenses) when I want it.

            At least with our tax system fewer people live in abject poverty than in America and most people enjoy a high standard of living with less financial stresses because of the benefits the social and welfare system brings.

            Below are two videos of Americans who have chosen to live in England:-

            American Living In London:   https://youtu.be/2NvsGQscmKI?t=2m43s

            Why I Left America To Live In England:    https://youtu.be/Ro4mUtv0vz8?t=40s

            1. wilderness profile image95
              wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              In the US, that FICA only applies to the first $117,000, so ends when $7254 has been paid.  Your property tax is double mine (3 bed, detached in suburbia), but equal to the neighboring state...which makes up for no sales tax with higher property taxes.  In addition, there is no income tax (state or federal) on the first 20,000 for couples, meaning the poor pay nothing but sales tax, and most states exempt such things as food.  Instead of paying taxes they get a "refund" of what was never paid.

              I actually doubt that a lower percentage of people live in "abject poverty" than in the US.  While that description is bandied about with abandon, the only people in those straits are those that choose to be there - the people that choose to be homeless, refuse to accept charity, etc.  Mental illness plays a big part, IMO.  On the other hand the average family of 4 can receive upwards of $40,000 per year between work and welfare, and that's not "abject poverty".  Nor is there a "high standard of living" compared to the US - some of the things I value most aren't available there, or are quite rare.

              At the bottom it comes down to attitude and what is desired.  You like having a nanny to watch over you and make sure you're doing fine - I value independence and personal responsibility.  Nothing new there! smile

            2. Nathanville profile image89
              Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

              Thanks Wilderness, for the clarity over the taxes in America.  It sounds as if you are suggesting most people on low and middle income families in the USA get the same level (or more) of social and welfare State benefits as they do in the UK?

              You also seem to be suggesting the very poor are well cared for in the USA, which isn’t what I hear from other Americans or from what’s on the web (not that you can believe everything you read on the Internet).

              For clarity, there’s no income tax for an individual on the first £11,500 ($15,000) they earn, so for a couple it would be $30,000; compared to the $20,000 you mentioned for a couple in the USA.  So likewise people on low pay or unemployed in Britain only pay the indirect taxes as in America.  And as you mentioned for America, people on less than $15,000 in the UK also get tax credits.

              In any event, I would dispute your claim that British people don’t have a high standard of living compared to the USA. 

              And what things don’t we get in the UK that you value most in the USA?

              Yes I agree it is very much down to attitude and what is desired; and also perspective.  Yes we do have a nanny state watching over us, and yes I do like it.  However, I also have my independence and personal responsibility.  On Independence, the government has never told me how to live my life, I’ve made my own choices and it’s been my responsibility.

              The higher living standard in the UK is obvious.  For example:-

              •    How much does it cost you and your family in medical insurance, co-pays and medical bills each year in America? 

              •    And what happens when you get older; does your medical insurance stay the same or does it rise the older you get? 

              In the UK it’s all paid for through income taxes; so from my net income its one expense that I do not have (or have to worry about now or in the future).  Therefore, the money I save on not having medical bills, co-pays or the cost of medical insurance can be used on luxury items such as our 50 inch plasma TV, the 7.1 surround sound system, and three weeks holiday a year in Britain and across Europe, plus all the day trips and evenings out socialising, or going to the theatre or for a meal etc.  What else do I want or need in life. 

              I guess medical bills, co-pays and medical insurance accounts for a considerable slice of American’s spending costs, especially if they have a long term illness or as they get older?  It’s one expense Brits don’t have.

              To me the most important thing is Quality of Life; something which seems more easily achieved by the average person in the UK, more so than it is for many in the USA.

              These videos say it all: - In both videos the high cost of healthcare is the big killer; something that doesn’t exist in the UK because Healthcare is free to all at the point of use.

              USA seniors live in Poverty and can’t afford Medicare: https://youtu.be/ot7Ovj5_B9Y
              Old and Poor: America's forgotten:  https://youtu.be/Y9zImCUEHaA

              1. GA Anderson profile image83
                GA Andersonposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                It took you awhile nathanville, but I think you have finally found a weak link in the "personal responsibility" argument, re: social safety net needs, that will be hard to defend within the true context of reality.

                Of course you will get the arguments of 'principled' conviction in the one-size fits all rationalizations, but that doesn't carry much weight in my perspective that a society that doesn't respect its elders is less than it should be.

                I think that most of us folks that refuse to be handcuffed to an able-bodied needy person, wouldn't think twice about willingly offering to handcuff ourselves to a needy child that can't help themselves. This particular member of  "Us folks" feels the same responsibility for our elderly.

                So it will be illuminating to see what comes.

                ps. I am not forgetting that I am one of those folks that offer my own "principled convictions" arguments regarding many of these 'welfare state' conversations, but I do hold exceptions for children and elderly. So shoot me.

                GA

                1. wilderness profile image95
                  wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  "The higher living standard in the UK is obvious"

                  Only if YOU get to pick what is important.  I own a large motorhome and get great enjoyment in camping.  I didn't see even one in my 3 weeks in Scotland whereas this time of year you can't drive 50 miles here without spotting a dozen or more.  I enjoy visiting the outdoors, and although I can no longer do it I used to hike for days without seeing another person.  Not in the UK.  I enjoy driving, but not on the tiny, crowded roads in the UK.  I enjoy my home - probably half again the size of what I saw on our trip, and it isn't large at all in the US.  While I very much enjoyed our visit, the UK is not somewhere I would enjoy living - too crowded and too restrictive. 

                  You enjoy your "free" health care and your vast transit system, but they are not for me.  I have the TV and surround sound and when I was working I had 5 weeks paid vacation + 2 weeks of holidays.  Theater doesn't appeal to me (neither live nor movies) and I can drive for 2,000 miles one way should I wish.  Or go into Canada or Mexico.

                  The point is that the things you appreciate and enjoy I either have or I can use but don't add to my quality of life.  Different strokes for different folks, where there is no right and no wrong.  Just differences, most likely from growing up with them.

                2. Nathanville profile image89
                  Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  GA, I don’t understand your point (presumably because Americans have a different perspective) e.g. I don’t see any link between personal responsibility and social safety net.

                  What do you think we do in Britain, contact everyone that needs help and automatically give it to them; and then expect them not to work?

                  We have a fairly generous social and welfare system, as does virtually every other free democratic country in the world except for America; so if America’s view is right then the rest of the world is wrong.

                  That level of social care helps to raise the living standards and quality of life across society so that not only are the poor and low paid better off but so is the middle class.  It also helps to reduce poverty and because it increases ‘disposable income’ for those who are most likely to spend, more money is spent in the economy which creates more wealth that benefits businesses, creates employment and generates economic growth which leads to increased tax revenue; standard economics.

                  Of course the low paid and unemployment has personal responsibility; where we chose to buy our house is right in the middle of a council housing estate so a high proportion of our neighbours and friends are either on low pay or unemployed.  So I know from first-hand what personal responsibilities they have.   

                  Generally, the people who live around us don’t choose to live in poverty, first they get what welfare benefits they can to have a respectable standard of living, and then overtime they do what they can to better their lives.  Usually it’s either by doing voluntary work, or getting part time work if they have medical problems or if they are a single mum bringing up kids; some take further education to get qualifications and then a job, either at college (which is cheap, and discounted for those on benefit), or even go to university as a mature student; or even ‘Open University’, which is affordable to all, and is tailored to meet the needs of the individual.

                  There are various schemes and benefits that help and encourage the unemployed to get back into full time employment e.g. tax credits and job seekers allowance etc., but it is up to the individual to take the personal responsibility to do that; and from my experience, people who are able to work want to work, so most people do take the responsibility to help themselves. 

                  A life on the doll isn’t a free ride, in the UK if you don’t work at least 36 years of your life you don’t get the State Pension, and you don’t get the opportunity to build up any other pensions.  So you are then forever on the minimal of benefits, which can make for a tough life; albeit you still have free healthcare (NHS), even in old age when most people are in most need of it.

                  For those who can’t help themselves, which is only a very small percentage of the population, then in Britain, as in most free countries in the world (except America) there is the safety net to help reduce the risk of them falling into abject poverty. 

                  In this respect, in 2010 the Liberal Democrats, as part of the coalition Government with the Conservatives, pushed through a policy change that laid the foundations for local governments (responsible for social care) to create joined-up services with the NHS (for healthcare).  In the early 1990s British Governments discovered the importance of ‘Empowerment’, so rather than some bureaucratic system being setup it’s been left to each local government and the NHS in that region to explore the best ways to create joined-up services, and to share their experiences with the other regions so that everyone benefits from the learned knowledge. 

                  ‘Joined-up services’ isn’t for the benefit of everyone.  It’s a system to prevent duplication of social and health care for those who need a lot of dedicated care e.g. the elderly who are infirm, severely disabled people or people with chronic illnesses (which could happen to anyone).   

                  At the moment, because it’s a new scheme, the benefits are patchy across the country (steep learning curve) but improvements to the system is constantly being made as different regions learn from their mistakes and the successes of other regions.

                  This video (well worth watching) is the success story of South Tyneside in implementing ‘Joined Up Services’.  My wife who works part time in Admin for the NHS is involved in a similar scheme being implemented in Bristol.

                  A Joined Up Story:  https://youtu.be/HHbotBrOhiI

                3. Nathanville profile image89
                  Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                  Yep Wilderness, a close friend of ours had an RV for about five years because he used to make frequent trips to Denmark to see relatives, and wanted the freedom of the road in doing so.  He’s since sold it because he only generally goes to France and Belgium these days.

                  Yes, motorhomes isn’t popular across Europe, but it doesn’t mean people can’t and don’t buy them.  Most people in Europe who want to travel in the way you describe prefer something more like the old Volkswagen camper van. 

                  You obviously don’t know Britain as well as you think.  If you stick to the tourist spots then of course you’ll meet people.  If you want isolation then there are plenty of places across the whole of the UK that’s well isolated.  Due to the greenbelt policy 93% of the UK is countryside; 12.7% of the UK is woodland.

                  As a kid I lived in the Cotswolds, and often as a kid I would walk all day exploring the hills without seeing a single person.  Just a few years ago I took my son back to where I used to live and it hasn’t changed in all that time, still the quiet tranquil village that it was when I was young.

                  Besides, because of the greenbelt policy e.g. no urban sprawl, even though I live in the suburbs of Bristol I’m only five minutes’ walk from the countryside, and many a time in the past I’ve taken quite strolls there. 

                  Also, if you like walking and want the beauty of the countryside the mountainous areas of Scotland, Ireland and Wales are very tranquil; and as a tourist, so is the Lake District in north west England or the Norfolk Broads in South West England.  On our holiday to Northern Ireland a few years ago we spent a day in the Moore Mountains, which was very isolated. 

                  Yep, we do have tiny roads; with some being crowded, especially if you stick to the main routes.  However, if you venture out into the country side you can drive for hours without seeing another car; it’s called the scenic route.  When we travel in England we always use the scenic routes, the roads are only wide enough for one vehicle, even though its two way traffic, but the speed limit is 60mph so we can get around quite efficiently. 

                  In contrast, unlike America, Europe does have a comprehensive joined up public transport system that makes it easy to travel anywhere in Britain or across Europe without the need to be dependent on the car. 

                  If you want to stick to big roads we do have a motorway network covering most of Britain; we’ll use the motorway to get from Bristol to Yorkshire then divert to the quite country roads for the last leg of our journey to enjoy the countryside.

                  Most Brits happen to like the tiny country roads because (for us) it makes driving enjoyable e.g. more interesting to enjoy the scenery rather than just put your foot to ‘the peddle’ and drive.

                  Yep British homes are small by American standards, but unlike many American homes they are solid built and will last centuries e.g. brick and mortar (not timber frame) with clay tiles or slate tiles (not the felt tiles so common in America).  I don’t have an issue in living in a small home.  When we first married we could only afford a two bedroom terraced house, but when we decided to move up the property ladder one of our options was to buy a larger home in a more rural location.  However, we decided on a smaller three bedroom semi-detached house in the suburbs. 

                  If you have the money there are plenty of large and very large houses in Britain, even in the more upmarket areas of any city, town or village.  Some wealthy people take this option, others don’t, it’s their personal choice; and it was a choice we had when we move up the property ladder but we chose to live in a smaller house out of choice.

                  Your perspective that Britain is too crowded is based on a trip where you obviously stuck to the tourist routes and didn’t bother exploring the more remote parts of Britain; which is never too far away because Britain is a small country. 

                  If you ever visit Cornwall, the Eden Project (built and funded by charity, not government funded) is a must see.  The Eden Project is as an educational charity and social enterprise project that cost £140 ($180) million to build. It now employs over 400 people and since its construction in 2001 has contributed £1.7 ($2.2) billion to the local economy.

                  Eden Project: an overview https://youtu.be/f8unx8-pZxg

                  If you want to pay for your health that is up to you. 

                  Also, we do drive 1,000 of miles ourselves; America doesn’t have a monopoly.  Each summer we take a 1,500 mile round trip from Bristol to southern France, for a two week holiday; my wife does all the driving.  And while there, as well as sunning ourselves on the beaches, sightseeing and shopping in the open air markets, we also do a lot of driving in the locality to explore that part of France.  We could go further if we wanted to; some people do e.g. going from France and on into Spain is popular; but we like southern France as a holiday destination.

                  1. wilderness profile image95
                    wildernessposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    LOL  I don't know the UK at all!  Three weeks of touring, on a bus or train, will not give a true feeling for anything.  We did that intentionally - it was the people, and how they live, that we were interested in, not the beautiful countryside.  That trip was not about nature, but about culture and way of life.  Days spent walking Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Train and bus to small villages.  Hostels, bed and breakfast's.  Small pubs.  History, from castles to Hadrian's wall.  Walking through an active sheep ranch to visit an old abbey.  Your history fascinates me - it's ancient!  In the western US a building that has stood for 100 years is old - to visit ruins that are 2,000 years old is something outside our experience.

                    That trip is one of the top, if not the top, trip we've taken, but it in no way gave us an understanding of the UK.  I get more from talking to you and others on the web when it comes to that.  We did go through Lake Country, with a few stops - beautiful country, but everything is covered with farms!  When I travel to visit my mother, 160 miles, outside of the small valley's there isn't a farm or home to be seen.  Empty country, mountainous, and while it isn't as pretty as Lake Country it has it's own majesty.  Your stone walls are fascinating to me (couldn't figure out what they were from the air), but they're everywhere!  Mans construction, everywhere we looked, instead of miles and miles of nature. 

                    RV's - of course they are available there, it's just that no one buys them.  Of my 5 siblings, four have an RV and so does my son.  The are always 3 or 4 parked in my neighborhood during the summer (hidden away in storage during winter).  There are 3 dealerships within 5 miles of me, all with hundreds for sale.  It's a major business in the states, but I didn't see any at all in those 3 weeks in the UK.

                    Urban sprawl: I like suburbia.  Can't stand the anthills of city life, but still close enough to participate in what a city has to offer.  To each their own - one sister is in Portland Or. (pop 600,000 with likely triple that in bedroom communities) and wouldn't go anywhere else. 

                    Not much into long drives; I've driven the width of this country several times, although always in a hurry, and it isn't much fun.  One day perhaps I'll pack up the motorhome and do it again, but it's expensive that way and there is so much to do and see within 1,000 miles of home.

                    I'll just add that your greenbelt policy and woodland gave me a giggle.  US definitions: "countryside" means mile after mile after mile without homes - nothing but a road or, in the wilderness areas, a trail.  The US has 65,000,000 acres of "wilderness" areas; areas where there are no roads and no motor vehicles of any type are allowed to enter - that's more than the entire UK!  Woodlands - outside of the central grassland plains, most of the US is wooded.  I think this is a part of the problem - just as I have a hard time comprehending the depth of your history you have a hard time comprehending the size and "wildness" of the US.  The peaceful ranches and farms of your beautiful country do not exist here - instead it remains wild public land with a few cows grazing a tiny percentage of it.

                    *edit* will add that my impression was that the UK has a much lower home ownership rate than the US.  3 minutes research says that is not true, that we are nearly identical.   Just an example of how far off impressions can be!

                  2. Nathanville profile image89
                    Nathanvilleposted 4 months ago in reply to this

                    Actually, wilderness, I said “you don’t know Britain as well as you think”; the fact that you thought I said “…don't know the UK at all”, is the dangers of scan reading.

                    However, your reply filled in a few more gaps e.g. I learn more about America from these forums than I ever could by trying to read about it from the web or watching some documentary on TV; they always give a blinkered view.

                    I was interested to read how you’re not much into long drives e.g. always in a hurry as its not much fun when you drive the width of the country.  In contrast my wife loves driving long distances in Britain and Europe (long distance to us anyway).  When in France, driving down from Calais to Bordeaux for example (867 miles) we don’t use their toll roads, we use their free motorways. 

                    The two reasons being:-

                    •    It avoids paying the tolls, and

                    *        The toll roads are monotonous and boring, just straight featureless roads from north to south.

                    Whereas, the free motorways go through the French countryside, which is very scenic, and also through all the towns and villages. 

                    So we take our time and meandering our way down south, stopping at the various towns and villages to explore them when we take a rest bite.  It makes for a very relaxing journey.

                    I know exactly what you mean in your last paragraph.  Britain is America in miniature, we have the forests, open plains and urban areas, and much that America has (apart from dangerous wild animals) but it’s all on a smaller scale.  When I think of Britain up against the size of America I often think of the American film (2008) Horton Hears a Who!

                    The beauty of living on a much smaller scale is that from Bristol (where I live) we’re just 168 miles away from Snowdonia National Park, which (although a miniature of the mountain ranges in America) is breath-taking to see:-

                    Snowdonia National Park, Wales: -  https://youtu.be/RWNFiizgPbc?t=12s

  15. ahorseback profile image48
    ahorsebackposted 4 months ago

    You [we ] all know people who live on the system of welfare in America ,  psychologically speaking  it is well known that in the  human nature factor of social -economic cause and effect  that  the more 'comfortable'  some get  in  life the more increasingly 'comfortable' they want to become - free entitlement   breeds  free entitlement .

    I just love it  when some people here start comparing one country to another ,  there are no other countries so comparable to America as to equate population ,  income ,  poverty , or for that matter , economy styles  and tax rates or origins and   type of government ,  for instance , Canada has what -one tenth the population of America  , its a little foolish to compare them to us .

    Venezuela is a socialist failure , is it then okay to compare them to say Norway ?  Or Russia  was a communist failure ,  is it then that  China a communist failure ?

  16. ahorseback profile image48
    ahorsebackposted 4 months ago

    Oh man , where to begin , first   the hospital costs  you quote , for America , are probably a little low ,  second , nothing is ever free !

    Someone has to pay for even the British "free " system of health care , Ill bet your taxes to the government are approaching or exceeding 50 % ?   while America- 40 % of incomes.

    Another fallacy  that bothers me every time I engage the controversy is that "the elderly " are the reason for higher costs of a health care system . while its partially true in that they may use it more , you cannot forget that they have paid more for what they do use by a lifetime of taxes , fee's , policies and workplace  participation .

    The young , up to age twenty six  and even higher at times haven't seriously even engaged in the reality of a workforce  enough to participate say nothing about" paying their fair share " of a history of covered health -care as the elderly have .   Its  all a very complicated comparison 

    As to health care --Wishing for "free "  doesn't make it free , someone else always pays.
    To deny that is dreaming .

  17. Misfit Chick profile image92
    Misfit Chickposted 3 months ago

    You are not talking about me. Can you grasp the concept of 'flexibility'? That's what I've been preaching - bitpartisan flexibility, inclusion & moderation. That isn't an extremist view. It is the view IN BETWEEN your extremist view and the extremist views of 'the left'. Big difference.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 3 months ago in reply to this

      OK - let's be flexible.  Let's discuss the morals and ramifications of stealing from somebody because you decide that you have a better use for what they own than they do, and you think your cause is just.  I'll begin:

      It is difficult to grasp the morality of anyone deciding that because another person doesn't do "enough" for the poor (as decided by the the "taker") that they have a moral right to take whatever they wish from them.  All while declaring that they can't afford to help the poor themselves, because it would mean a loss of what they've come to enjoy.

      Can you explain how that works, the reasoning that allows such convoluted thinking as to conclude that one has the "right" to decide for other people how they should behave, to the point that they will steal what others have in order to further their own, personal goal...because that goal should be shared by everyone without regard to any (non-financial) results?  A strong believer in the Golden Rule and in the concept of personal ownership, I have a hard time following the "logic" - can you help me follow the trail of reasoning?

      Or will you once again elect to ignore the topic in the pretense it is about poor people?

    2. Nathanville profile image89
      Nathanvilleposted 3 months ago in reply to this

      Wilderness, to start with it’s not theft.  You might think it’s wrong that those who can better afford it pay more e.g. you would prefer a flat rate fee across the board, or everyone pays for their own costs?  However, civilised societies don’t work like that; those with broader shoulders take the greater burden.   If it’s just survival of the fittest you’re looking for then that sounds rather un-humanitarian to me.

      Besides, the health of the nation shouldn’t be a commodity, like buying a car or house; it’s a benefit to the whole of the community, like roads and national defence etc.  So its funding should be treated as such; whether that is through a more equitable and cheaper single payer insurance system, or by taxes.

      I only know the British system, and I defend it because it works for Britain.  Whereas, Misfit Chick is looking for an American way, incorporating bipartisan flexibility, which to me sounds a very level-headed approach to a complex problem.  As nothing is ever perfect, and there will always be disagreements, surely rather than the American health service stagnating (as it seems to be) then the only sensible way forward would be to find common ground on which to compromise so that America can move forward as a nation; and not be divided.

      As an American, do you and your wife get cheap healthcare for life, or do the insurances get more expensive as you get older?

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 3 months ago in reply to this

        Nathan you (and Misfit) are stuck on doing for others what's right (in your opinion), but the topic is about taxing beyond any need of the country.  Forcing others to purchase what they cannot and will not benefit from.

        And along the way you (and Misfit) continue to apply labels and wants to me - labels and wants that you have no information to back them with because I haven't given you any.  I have steadfastly discussed the morality (is it theft?) to take from someone, for which nothing is given in return...not whether it is right or wrong to help others.  That is the subject for another thread (doubt you will get much disagreement), not this one.

        With that refusal to discuss the morality of taking without returning anything, you (and Misfit) either don't want to talk about it because it somehow ruins the concept of charity and altruism (it doesn't) or because you actually think you have a right to steal from others - take without permission - simply because you have a better use for that money in your opinion.  If that is the case, all I can say is that I'm glad I'm not your neighbor!

        As an American, I've paid my whole life for a health insurance plan that kicks in when I turn 65 (it's called Medicare, as opposed to Medicaid, which is help for the poor).  My wife's costs are still climbing as she has not reached that age - she is still of a "working age" and expected to care for herself.  That she voluntarily retired and left the work force doesn't change that, any more than building a home in a flood plain should change the responsibility for that decision.

  18. ahorseback profile image48
    ahorsebackposted 3 months ago

    My tiny very liberal state of Vermont entire state budget  this year $   5. 7 Billion , on  Brietbard Radio it was announced that  the estimated Vermont single payer health insurance would cost ,  $  4 Billion a year to maintain ,   I can't wait to see how this works , I thought it was an interestingly multiplier ----California's estimated  single payer healthcare  $ 400 Billion , ...............

    I wonder exactly what announcing a single payer for California would do to illegal immigration numbers ,
    , I think the entirety of  South America and Antarctica itself would line up at the border !    All the more reason to fight this monstrosity tooth and nail.

    1. Quilligrapher profile image90
      Quilligrapherposted 3 months ago in reply to this

      To tell the truth, Breitbart reported, “the single-payer system would cost California taxpayers an estimated $40 billion,” not $400 Billion as claimed in the post above.  {1}

      At approximately $1000 average cost per year for each California resident, this estimate is far, far less than the premiums being charged today for health-care insurance. {2}
      http://s2.hubimg.com/u/6919429.jpg
      {1} www.breitbart.com/california/2017/02/28 … ealthcare/
      {2} https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/06,00

 
working