INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 2A

The post continues where INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1 left off. Please refer to PART 1 for links to the other posts.

Here we will consider the first of four questions.

Why is it moral for the government to tax us?

Why is it moral for the government to tax us? This is, oddly enough, not a question most of us give much thought. Our biggest expense is taxes, but most of us just accept that fact, pay our taxes, and try to get on with our lives. Some of us even make a virtue of paying taxes, holding it up as our contribution to a great society. Since we don’t have any choice in the matter, that is an odd sort of pride. However, there are more pragmatic views. Here is something Lysander Spooner wrote just after the Civil War.

For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.:

  1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a “government” (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against himself, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will.
  2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future.
  3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man’s money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so?  To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his money without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it.
  4. If a man wants “protection,” he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to “protect” him against his will.
  5. That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury.
  6. That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.

(from here)

Spooner obviously had a cynical view of government, and some classified him as an anarchist.  Since the man is long dead and not well-known, I won’t debate whether Spooner was an anarchist. The point here is that taxation does not require the consent of those taxed by the government, and not paying can have severe consequences. If we don’t pay, the authorities will come after us.

So about that question? Why is it moral for the government to tax us? What is the crucial issue? Let’s refer to an old post, PHILOSOPHICAL CONFUSION OVER ENDS AND MEANS. Here we considered the wisdom of that old proverb:

The end justifies the means. (see here and here)

As that old post explained, morality requires that the means be in accord with the end. Taxation looks an awful like stealing. How can such stealing be justified?

Here is an example of doing something wrong for an apparently high and noble purpose. Does it make sense to teach a child to tell the truth by lying about your own truthfulness?  No one should lie, right? And we don’t want to set a bad example. Yet if we lied to our children to hide our own dishonesty and then expected our children to be truthful, would it even work? No. We would eventually be found out, and our children would probably follow our bad example. Hopefully, the prospect of such a horror encourages us to be honest. That is, the proper way to teach others to honor the truth is to honor it with ones own conduct.

Lying to our children about our own dishonesty would in fact just compound the sinfulness of our lies. We would be telling our children two lies. We would be trying to deceive them into believing that we could be trusted to tell the truth and that we believed that honesty is actually important.

Still, when it serves its proper purpose, good government achieves an end which justifies the use of force to make everyone help pay for it.  What is that purpose? The founders explained the purpose of government in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, (from here)

We can debate what the Rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness might be. Nevertheless, it is clear that the founders wanted a government that would protect the People from being deprived of their Rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Why a government? For thousands of years men have created governments. Those government have done good things and bad things.  The good things governments have done include the maintenance of order, that is, the protection of life and property. The bad things include enforcing the stratification of societies with “elites” at the top and slave classes at the bottom.

For better or worse, government is something we know how to do, and the absence of government, anarchy leading to famine and disease, is worse than a bad government. Therefore, because some agency has to exercise the force required to maintain order and protect everyone’s rights, forcing everyone to pay taxes to maintain a good government is one of those cases where the means is in accord with the end and therefore justified.

That is, we simply do not know a better way.

What Is To Come?

Answering the first of those four questions took a bit more effort than I had hoped. So this became PART 2A, and I will try to answer the other three questions in PART2B.

Please refer to PART 1 for links to the other posts.

A PET PEEVE

United States Declaration of Independence (from here)

In response to a comment that irked me, I started to leave the following comment on a post I had enjoyed. Then I realized the pointlessness of picking on the author of that blog.

I enjoyed the post, but this comment touches upon a pet peeve. We Americans have a pronounced tendency to denigrate our fellow Americans. We love to say Americans have this failing or that failing. That strikes me as perverse, but it is what we have been taught to do. Yep! Other Americans — especially the masses — are so second-rate.

Why do we want to say such negative things about our own countrymen (Admittedly, I have done it. So I think I know)? When there are all sorts of Americans, who exactly are we talking about? When we denigrate our fellow Americans, what I think we are doing is denigrating a caricature, that thing of legend we call The Ugly American. And I think we do it in pride. We do it to prove our own outstanding tolerance by denigrating the intolerance of the stereotypical Ugly American. Yet is this not in fact a form of bias? Against our fellow Americans?

Sadly, when we denigrate our fellow Americans, we also denigrate Americanism, the philosophy that bound together the people who founded this country. For the sake of our children we need to step back and think about that. Should we be denigrating our own heritage?

When I look at the founding of our nation and the nature of our government, I see a people who once had a profound respect for the Bible and the God of the Bible. What I see tearing apart our country is not Americanism; it is Secularism. As Americans we have failed to pass on to our children the traditions of the people — the Christians — who risked all to found this nation.  Because we have given the matter so little thought, we are perverting our culture by slowly replacing our Christian heritage with a Secularist ideology that is replete with lies. Lies against any belief in God and against Christianity in particular.

Consider.  When first century Christians spread the Gospel, they engaged in a stubborn political as well as religious battle.  They actively spread the Gospel. At the same time they passively resisted the overwhelming power of the Roman Empire. Sometimes even at the cost of their lives they refused to worship the Emperor.

Those early Christians gave God’s authority in their lives precedence over the authority of government. This, giving God precedence over government, is Americanism. As the Declaration of Independence states, we have God-given, not government-given rights.

To whom do you give precedence in your life? Are you an American in the tradition that founded this nation, or are you a Secularist who denigrates the character of his fellow Americans? Think about it.

WHO IS THIS MAN? by JOHN ORTBERG — PART 1

who-is-this-manEven those who do not believe he was God must find the life of Jesus of Nazareth incongruous. Yet do they ever wonder? How did a mere man, a man unbelievers say was not God and never did anything, ever become the most famous man in history?  Well, the unbelievers are wrong. Jesus did quite a bit, and that is the point of John Ortberg‘s book, Who Is This Man?

In chapter 1, Ortberg begins his book by observing that Jesus did not become famous in any of the usual ways. He was not a conquering general of armies. He was a teacher, but not just a teacher. He was not particularly famous in His lifetime, but He left a church that grew and spread His Gospel.

Made In The Image Of God (Chapter 2)

We live in a nation — in a Christian culture — that believes that we were all made in the image of God. There was a time men did not believe any such thing. Some men, like the emperor or the king, claimed kinship with the gods, but rest of men? No. Some men were thus thought literally better than other men.

Until 2,000 years ago, when Jesus taught about the virtue of humility, the elites did not bridle their pride. In fact, except for those unfortunates at the bottom of the pecking order, most men thought it appropriate to “peck” upon those lower than themselves in the pecking order. Their justification was simple enough.

The king was divine, or semi-divine. The king was understood to be made in the image of the god who created him. Only the king was made in the image of god. This was the dividing line between the king and the rest of the human race. Peasants and slave were not made in the image of god; they were created by inferior gods. (from Chapter 2, page 25)

Jesus taught differently. He said there is only one God, and He made all of us in His image. Jesus destroyed any justification for a pecking order. In Jesus Christ we are all God’s children.

Colossians 3:5-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Because of Jesus, the men who wrote our Declaration of Independence added these words.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, (from here)

To be continued

WHERE DO THE CANDIDATES STAND WITH RESPECT TO OUR GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS? ELECTION 2016

United States Declaration of Independence (from here)
United States Declaration of Independence (from here)

What is Donald Trump’s signature issue? He wants to control our border. Hence it is no surprise PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL LAW: ‘Borderless’ or ‘Open Society’ = Lawless Or Tyranny

In response to your last to me Tom, Immigration policy IS federal government policy. Whether that policy is to open the flood gates and grant amnesty, or instead to build some hugely expensive giant wall down the (middle? our side? their side?) of the Reo Grande and over a thousand miles of rugged border and then set up a jackbooted deportation force to round up 11 or 12 million illegal families and send them on some sort of modern trail of tears south, either way, it has to be paid for by taxpayers and OUR federal government has to do it.

You expect the President to somehow solve the structural issues that are causing refugee problems in other countries, but wouldn’t that call for us to send taxpayer resources and/or the American people’s kids and grandkids to fight in these other countries? (continued here)

Tony, who wrote the comment above, demands that we must solve all the problems of the world before we send a “jackbooted deportation force” to control our border. Yes, Tony and other Democrats will tell you they are in favor of controlling the border; it is just that we must solve all the world’s problems of the first. Therefore, only Nazis and Indian-haters would demand that we control our borders.

Do we have to solve all the problems of the world first? Consider again The Parable of the Good Samaritan. What did that kind man do when he got home and went to bed?  Don’t you suppose he did what most of us do at night? He barred the door to his home. If he lived in a city or village, didn’t watchmen stay up at night to patrol the wall? Don’t policemen cruise through our neighborhoods all hours of the day? And what about those dreaded Roman legions? Did they not keep the barbarians at a distance? Didn’t those legions make a great effort to patrol the Mediterranean Sea and their vast network of roads to keep them safe for travel?

Should we try to solve all the problems in the world anyway? Seems like a nice thing to do, right? Not exactly. You and I have a responsibility to help our neighbor, but saving the world is not our government’s job. Why is giving all our problems — all the problems of the world — to one of our great leaders a fruitless endeavor? Who would we elect? No one is wise enough, good enough, or powerful enough to take on such a task. That is true even if he or she leads the government of the most powerful nation in the world.

Our government is not God. Our government is just composed of corruptible flesh and blood men and women. In fact, the more we expect from our government — the more we idolize it — the more we corrupt ourselves and our government, the more we deliver ourselves and our government into the hands of Satan.

Consider how Satan once tempted Jesus.

Matthew 4:8-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

Did Jesus say Satan could not do as he said? No, but He knew Satan lied, boasting he could give what only God has the power to give.

What does the Bible say about government? The Bible says government exists to punish evildoers (Romans 13:1-7). We, on the other hand, if we turn to Jesus, were made to glorify God by doing good works.

Ephesians 2:4-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Like Satan himself, boastful politicians will promise great things, but look to the past. Which times do we remember as being best, when we had men and women boasting of the great things they could do or when we had leaders who just sought to maintain law and order? What was the difference?

  • The boaster thinks charity consists of forcing people to obey their “generous” supreme leader.
  • Wiser leaders understand that charity requires a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), not a taxpayer.

Now compare the candidates. Which is most likely to respect and accept the limitations of government power?

ISSUE Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Limited Government: Government grows at the expense of our rights. Advocates tax simplification, getting rid of Obama’s numerous executive orders. Would repeal Obamacare. Approves of what Obama has done. Duh!
Immigration Control: Democrats are using immigration policy to import voters, voters who will vote themselves government benefits. Ending illegal immigration is his signature issue. Favors voter ID. Hillary Clinton declares war on Voter ID
Freedom of Religion: Religious freedom involves both the freedom to worship and the right to exercise our religious beliefs. Would fight to revoke legislation that prevents churches from participating in the political process.
Gun Rights: the right of self-defense. Trump wins NRA endorsement, blasts Clinton on gun stance at forum NRA exec says it is ‘a lie’ Clinton won’t take your guns
Judicial Restraint: the intent to appoint judges who strive to abide by the original intent expressed in the Constitution. Donald J. Trump Releases List of Potential United States Supreme Court Justices. Trump’s Supreme Court list: all conservative, some provocative Clinton’s court shortlist emerges. Her first pick would be someone Obama picked.
School Choice: the right of parents to control who educates their children and what their children are taught. Donald Trump Jr. Hits Home Run On Education. End Common Core. Nation’s largest teachers union endorses Clinton for president. The NEA is dead set against school choice (see here).

Want a laugh?  Clinton vs. Trump: The Best Argument For Limited Government Yet.

Other Views

Continued from: What Are God-Given Rights?