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ruveyn
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19 Apr 2012, 6:05 am

marshall wrote:
If this country didn't rob the rich to pay for WWII we'd probably be speaking German, Japanese, or worse shipped away to die if we happened to not be born with the "approved" racial lineage and features. Thank God the rich were willing to be robbed. But providing the poor and destitute with a social safety net is a much less worthy endeavor than blasting the crap out of certain aggressive countries so they don't get the idea that they can take over a large part of the world at our expense. Less worthy I suppose because it doesn't involve killing and violence, those values that oh-so-macho-conservative males tend to love despite constantly whining about maybe 5% of their tax dollars going to help some people who might otherwise be homeless and destitute due to a disability or whatever else.


I would be happy to pay 5 percent to protect the other 95 percent. When taxes approach 50 percent (or more) it is time for a revolution.

ruveyn



visagrunt
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19 Apr 2012, 4:18 pm

We are conflating many ideas here, and potentially misdirecting ourselves, as a result.

First, we must ask the question about the nature of government. In the United Kingdom and in Canada, the legal theory of government is patently clear--the Crown is a legal entity from which government authority flows, and in which government can hold property. The Crown is limited by Parliament, to whom the Crown's ministers are answerable and from whom Ministers must obtain supply.

Under this theory, Mrs. Thatcher was (at least from a legal perspective) wholly and completely wrong. The moment that money is lawfully diverted from the earner to HM Treasury (or the Receiver General for Canada, or whatever institution prevails in the realm concerned) the money ceases to be the property of the earner, and becomes the property of the Crown.

Now, in a Republican state, the theory of state is different. But I suggest that at the end of the day the legal answer is no different. Congress has created a system of law under which money is diverted from the earner to the US Treasury. Congress has enacted law that says that money is no longer the property of the earner, and is now the property of the US Treasury (or, more generally, of the United States).

From a legal perspective, then, I suggest that it is wholly wrong to claim that government is spending "taxpayers' money." That money stopped being taxpayers' money the moment that it was lawfully remitted.

However, there are other lenses through which to analyse this. Legal scholars will point to the question of whether a fiduciary responsibility exists--and if it does whether a beneficial interest remains. For my part I think it is a nonsensical attempt to put layer equitable principles of trust onto a non-trust circumstance, but the argument exists, nonetheless.

The stronger argument is the policy argument. Given that government must raise revenue through the means at its disposal (whether through tax, excise, customs, seizure, monetary policy or participation in the marketplace) it follows that it is a proper political (i.e. policy) question to inquire into how government raises revenue, how much it raises, and the uses to which it puts that money.

But that doesn't make it taxpayer money. All that it means is that taxpayers have a legitimate political interest in that money.


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--James