I enjoy it, you pay for it - the socialist mindset

An anonymous commenter nailed the nature of Slovenian socialist nostalgists on the Libertarian's forum (in Slovenian):
Borba proti "plehkemu" potrošništvu po mojih opažanjih borba nekaterih ljudi proti lastnemu demonu, ki bi ga lahko imenovali "slabe potrošniške" navade, zoper lastno odvisnost od potrošništva.

"Kritični intelektualci", ki sem jih spoznala jaz, imajo navado, da si plačajo počitnice na Maldivih, nato pa državo pljuvajo, ker ne morejo plačati kruha (sociale), ali pa bolj vsakdanji primer, ljudje si sprčakjo denar za frizerja, bencin, avto, zmanjka jim pa denarja za plačilo elektrike in stanarine, potem pa tulijo, da jim država ne zagotavlja "temeljnih" socialnih pravic. "Kritični intelektualci" zahtevajo od občine, da jim zgradi luksuzni stadion, potem pa javkajo, ko jim zasoli ceno (socialnega) vrtca. "Kritični intelektualci" volijo župane, ki jim gradijo in dajejo luksuzne knjižnice, ne gradijo pa vrtcev.

"Kritični intelektualci" se obnašajo kot triletni otroci, ki verjamejo v Božička in v njegovo denarnico oz. plačilno kartico, ki nima limita in čigar terjatve ni treba nikoli plačati, kritični intelektualci živijo v svetu, kjer ni prioritet, kjer ni odrekanja (varčevanja). Seveda pa potem sprevrženo zahtevajo, da so odrekanju (varčevanju) podvrženi drugi sodržavljani, še najraje na podlagi državne prisile. Drugi naj bodo tisti, ki naj skrbijo za okolje, ki naj ne bodo potrošniki, ki naj jim odpuščajo dolgove v katere so zapadli zaradi lastnih slabih potrošniških navad, ki jih pač maskirajo v lastne "socialne" pravice.

Sicer pa, kdor hodi v gore VE, da je tam vsaj na nekaterih področjih tak ferker kot v Sparu ob 11 dopoldne, ter da ni nobene razlike med preživljenjem časa v Sparovi štancuni, ali pa v zastoju pod zadnjim vzponom do Aljaževega doma. (kar je v bistvu dokaz, da "kritični intelektualci" ne hodijo v gore)

"Kritični intelektualci" so potrebni preprostega potrošniškega opismenjevanja.
In later comments on the same page, socialist nostalgist Boris J. posts about the supposed slavery of heteronomous work (where you do stuff that other people actually want) as opposed to autonomous work (the socialist ideal, where you do stuff that you want to do, but which no one else has a use for).

Socialists basically want to live in a world free of reality, and they want others to suffer and pay for it. They want everyone to be able to enjoy doing "autonomous work", the work that they like to do best. (Which for most people is, drinking and partying.) What they don't address is, who pays for this? Infrastructure is needed to survive the winter, infrastructure is needed to provide clothing, infrastructure is needed to provide medicine, as well as the beer and food and the sneakers. So who's going to support and maintain this infrastructure if everyone can just go and do "autonomous work" - which is, most of the time, drinking and partying?

Well, the other guy will - the guy who pays taxes!

Just as long as the socialist doesn't have to - or gets to pay less.

Comments

sobriquet said…
you don't pay any taxes, I suppose, living in a tax haven? and the raison d'etre of every tax haven being effective tax evasion for the rich and powerful, I suppose that you could not care less for the infrastructure that would allow us, socialist nostalgics - or everybody else, for that matter -, to go about our drinking and partying?

if you hate paying taxes, well, so be it. just don't peddle the stereotypes about some backward looking socialists when confronted with views that do not correspond to your naive concept of capitalism.

after all, you are living off the government largesse yourself, don't you? I mean without all the money the Fed is throwing from the helicopters to help America deal with its capitalist excesses, you would be in a tighter spot yourself, wouldn't you?
denis bider said…
"you don't pay any taxes, I suppose, living in a tax haven?"

Wrong. The purpose of my moving here is not to have to pay an income tax. I am happy to pay any consumption-based taxes that a government will levy, whether it be sales tax, VAT or tarriffs. I think a sales tax such as FairTax is an optimal way to raise government revenue.

Keep in mind that, until I spend my income, I have not actually used it. As long as I keep investing my money and turning it around, winning or losing, I'm not using it. I'm merely changing where it's at. It's only when I actually spend money that I get to enjoy it's benefits.

That's just one of the reasons why I think spending-based taxes are fair and income-based taxes aren't.

Furthermore, progressive income-based taxation is (1) jealousy-based and hence immoral, and (2) ineffective and hence stupid.

"and the raison d'etre of every tax haven being effective tax evasion for the rich and powerful, I suppose that you could not care less for the infrastructure that would allow us, socialist nostalgics - or everybody else, for that matter -, to go about our drinking and partying?"

You suppose wrong. I care about the necessary infrastructure being there. I don't necessarily espouse the view that the state is the best entity to manage such infrastructure. I do believe that the role of the state should be small and that the infrastructure should be privately managed. However, assuming the common infrastructure is managed by the state, I have no problem paying my share for it. However, the fair way for me to pay is through spending-based and not income-based taxes.

"if you hate paying taxes, well, so be it."

I don't hate paying taxes. I hate paying income-based taxes. I love paying spending-based taxes, because they're fair. I hate paying income-based taxes, because they aren't.

"just don't peddle the stereotypes about some backward looking socialists when confronted with views that do not correspond to your naive concept of capitalism."

Socialists in Slovenia tend to be backward-looking because they tend to be nostalgic about the olden days. I believe it is not my views of capitalism that are naive, but socialists views of humanity. Liberté, égalité, fraternité: that's what naive is.

"after all, you are living off the government largesse yourself, don't you? I mean without all the money the Fed is throwing from the helicopters to help America deal with its capitalist excesses, you would be in a tighter spot yourself, wouldn't you?"

What? Please elaborate on how the United States is funding me and my existence to an extent of which I have had thus far no awareness.
sobriquet said…
"Furthermore, progressive income-based taxation is (1) jealousy-based and hence immoral, and (2) ineffective and hence stupid."

That is only if you put zero value on the well-being of your fellow human beings, especially those that are not as well off as you are.
denis bider said…
"That is only if you put zero value on the well-being of your fellow human beings, especially those that are not as well off as you are."

That's a demogagical way of saying that, if persons A and B are given the same opportunities, and A wastes them but B works hard and achieves success, then the fruits of person B's efforts should be forcefully taken away and given to A in order to reward him for his "misfortune". That's is perverse.

Earlier I wrote that "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" is naive. To be more accurate, I don't think that the saying itself is what is naive. What is naive is the way it's commonly interpreted. I'm all in favor of Égalité, as long as it's Égalité of opportunity. But the way Égalité is commonly interpreted is as equality of outcome, which is unacceptable: people should be equal in terms of access to opportunity, but if some waste it and others do good things with it, it is perverse to take away from the latter in order to reward to the former.

Likewise, I'm all in favor of Fraternité to the extent that it means cooperation and a mutual assumption of good intentions from the outset. However, the kind of "Fraternité" that forces everyone to "share" with their "brother" who is "less fortunate" is evil and sinister. Fraternité should mean goodwill, not forced sharing of things one earned with those who didn't.

Socialists are generally statist thinkers in the sense that they consider only immediate circumstances as they see them, but do not contemplate the long-term effects of actions they propose to "improve" things. Socialism is narrow-sighted in that it doesn't consider the effects that income redistribution has on economic activity, and thus the impact on human welfare overall. They also tend to ignore the negative impacts of equal outcome policies on the evolutionary future of humanity. In their short-sightedness, they fail to recognize the reasonable doses of brutality that are necessary for the society's welfare; not arbitrary brutality, but the predictable, hard consequences for decisions that are reckless or incorrect. As they attempt to remove any and all brutal circumstance, they remove ever more incentives for people to be productive and induce them ever more to game the system instead, as well as encouraging people who have no decent work ethic to have children also lacking one. Something like this is happening in the Parisian suburbs, where social welfare at the same time keeps the unproductive immigrants alive, prevents them from working, and pays them to have children who are going to be criminals and exploiters, while those that want to work will be excluded from economic activity as well.

Socialism is the poisonous ideal of people who wish that the world was never brutal, completely ignoring that, sometimes, it just needs to be. When socialism is allowed to run its course, it ends up creating environments which are perverse, repressive and often more brutal than a fairer, functional environment would ever need to be.

That's why socialism is naive: while it attempts to cure the hardships encountered by some, it creates much bigger structural problems for everyone.
sobriquet said…
"if persons A and B are given the same opportunities, and A wastes them but B works hard and achieves success, then the fruits of person B's efforts should be forcefully taken away and given to A in order to reward him for his "misfortune".

that's a pretty primitive characterization of a progressive tax system, don't you think? i haven't heard of any tax system that has as its declared goal the equality of income.

on the other hand, one cannot attribute the economic success (i.e. wealth) of a particular person solely to his hard work. similarly, you cannot call me lazy just because you're wealthier than me.

in the real world, i.e. not on some island in the carribean, the governments have found that progressive tax system (as opposed to flat tax or even income tax abolition) is the best way to fund public social services and to guarantee the equality of opportunity. it is no wonder that social mobility is higher in those societies that provide public (as opposed to private) education and health services that are open to all. and yes, those countries that have greater social mobility also have steeper progression.
boris kolar said…
I don't think implementing sales tax is possible (or sensible) in Slovenia.

Example: two small neighbor countries A, and B, where A has sales tax (let's say it's in the form of VAT) and B has income tax. Let's say both countries implement effective 50% tax rate. Simply put, people could legally avoid taxes altogether by working in A and buying in B.

Country A: a retailer company buys product from country C for $100. Assuming that company wants $10 profit, company A must resell the product for $220 (because VAT is 100%).

Country B: a retailer company buys product from country C for $100 (and keep every invoice, of course). Assuming that company wants $10 profit, company B must resell the product for $120.

Clearly, country B has a big competitive advantage from income tax. Sales tax causes higher prices and sustaining higher prices requires economic isolation - therefore it's not a good idea to implement sales tax until neighbor countries do (or until a good import tax is implemented, which is bad for some business as well). Tourism would also suffer from sales taxes.

Don't get me wrong - I like sales tax idea, but I don't expect changes here in Europe anytime soon.
denis bider said…
Sobriquet: I don't think my characterization of the progressive tax system is primitive; I believe it is correct.

I do not believe that governments arrived at this system because "they found" that this is "the best way to fund public social services and to guarantee the equality of opportunity". I believe that politicians keep this system in place simply because it's popular. The reason it is popular is because the poorer (less educated, less economically experienced, less well-read) segments of society perceive it as "just". The reason they perceive it as "just" is because of wealth envy. These policies persists because the people don't want others to do better, which goes against common sense as well as all the evidence that income taxation, especially progressive, is bad for the economy, and thus bad for all of its participants.

You appear to be referring to the recent Sutton Trust report which claims that social mobility in Britain and the United States is lower than in Canada and the Nordic countries. This is just comparing socialist states with other socialist states. All of the countries compared by this report have progressive income tax systems. This report actually highlights that social mobility, and thus perhaps equality of opportunity, is dependent more on other policies than whether a country has a progressive income tax system, because all of these countries have progressive income-based taxation, and yet some do better in terms of equal opportunities, whereas others are doing worse.

I am all in favor of equal opportunity, but there's simply no reason why equal opportunity programmes, such as public education, must be funded with an income tax. The FairTax proposal shows that replacing the 5,100 pages of United States tax code with a simple 23% inclusive sales tax would collect the same amount of revenue. This means that you can fund the same amount of equal opportunity programmes with both taxing approaches; it's just that, with one approach, there is an efficient economic system, and with the other approach, there is not.

If you browse the FairTax website, you will find good arguments for why the same amount of revenue can be collected with the FairTax approach, and why this would result in a much more efficient economy. For one thing - there would be no IRS and no 5,100 pages of U.S. tax code. And still, the structure of the U.S. federal budget, including all economic opportunity programmes, could remain intact.

Now, I'm not saying that the structure of the U.S. federal budget as-is is in great shape now, either. The U.S. spend 50% of their federal budget on the military and war-related expenses. There's ample opportunity for more equal opportunity through better education by cutting the military share. But that has nothing to do with the way the taxes are collected, and it doesn't change the fact that taxes are much better collected with something like FairTax.
denis bider said…
Boris: Certainly, if sales-based taxation were introduced in Europe, it would have to be introduced in the entire European Union, or else the country introducing it would have to leave the EU.

Leaving the EU might be no bad thing on its own, except that a country that left the union would be exposed to populist hostilies from other EU countries, and possibly all kinds of restrictions.

So, yeah, it sounds like the income tax would best be replaced with a sales-tax-based system throughout the EU.
denis bider said…
This is except if a European Union country abolishes the income tax while keeping its VAT rate the same (or at least still bearable compared to VAT rates in neighboring countries).

By result, economic activity in such a state should flourish, and the government might be able to collect a similar amount of revenue, without the income tax at all.

And finally, if you somewhat optimize government spending, you might not need to collect the same amount of revenue at all.

So yeah, it may be feasible even for a European Union country that wishes to remain in the EU.

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