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Tax Choice - A Strategy For the Occupy Movement

Xerographica

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In my last blog entry I considered how this discussion...fallibilism vs fairness...resulted in my banishment from the Bleeding Heart Libertarian website. Is there any way that I could have known that my comment would have resulted in my banishment? Nope. I thought that my comment would help reveal the true complexity of the problem. So at the time it seemed like a decent enough strategy. That's the thing...strategies and fallibilism go hand in hand.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to watch the Occupy Movement Strategy Forum on C-Span. I was watching another program on C-Span but when the Occupy program started I completely lost interest. So I went into my office to work but didn't turn the TV off. Some time later, while taking a bit of a mental break from work, my ears perked up when I heard a lady on the TV say...

Each of us has a finite number of resources. So where are you going to put your resources? Where are you going to put your time and your money? Are you going to put it into trying to elect somebody into this current system that's broken? Or are you going to put that into building something?
The opportunity cost concept!? That's one of my favorite concepts! So I sprinted into the TV room and was really surprised to discover that the Occupy program was still on. What a strange world. One day I'm banned from a libertarian website for arguing that resources should be efficiently allocated and then the next day I hear a leader of the Occupy Wall Street Movement making the same argument! What's going on here?

With great interest I sat down and watched the rest of the program. The forum, which was organized by the The San Francisco 99 Percent Coalition, included these four leaders on the panel...

1. Margaret Flowers - Made the opportunity cost argument
2. Rocky Anderson - Running for president in the Justice Party (support him on Americans Elect)
3. Tom Gallagher - Republicans must not win
4. David Welsh - Union leader, radical socialist

It was really kind of surprising just how much I agreed with Flowers. The strangeness didn't end there. A lady in the audience had this to say (not an exact quote)...

There's a 1% who is controlling us. We need justice. It reminds me of the situation in India when the British were in control. How did the Indians do it? How did they get rid of the British? They did it through Gandhi and his Salt March. You're all familiar with his Salt March? He found the one thing in India that they all had in common. They all had to pay a tax on salt. We are told to go out and organize...but around what? We need something to organize around. We need to find that one thing and boycott it to prove our strength...because we are the 99%.
The Salt March was an example of tax resistance and tax resistance is one of the primary objectives of tax choice. Then another lady in the audience offered this advice (not an exact quote)...

The first step in taking our power back is taking our money out of all the commercial banks and moving it into credit unions or community banks. Corporations didn't get big on their own...they got big because we pay them. So change your phone company...put your money where your heart is.
She literally said, "put your money where your heart is". Talk about confirmation bias! In the discussion that resulted in my banishment from the Bleeding Heart Libertarian website...fallibilism vs fairness...I twice made the argument that taxpayers should be allowed to put their taxes where their hearts are.

So what's going on here? Why are proponents of the Occupy Movement using my arguments? Or...am I using their arguments? Maybe this entire time I've unknowingly been a proponent of the Occupy Movement? Was I really occupying the Bleeding Heart Libertarian website?? When Matt Zwolinski banished me from his virtual space...maybe it was kind of like how police evict occupiers from actual spaces? Heh...too weird.

If I really have been a proponent of the Occupy Movement this entire time though...then why did the liberal Chris Bertram want to evict me from the Crooked Timber Liberal website? Why was the liberal John Holbo so resistant to my message? Here's a point that he made when we discussed whether people should be allowed to sell their votes....

So your counter-argument is really a counter-premise, like so: wealthy people are, in virtue of their wealth, inherently more deserving of wielding political power. Period. End of story. That’s fine, insofar as that makes clear where the rest of us get off the bus: namely, with this first step.
Here was my reply...

If you don't want to disproportionately empower the rich...then you can't just get off the bus. That's not where this story ends. You need to stay on the bus long enough to understand where your money is going and how it is being used. Like I said....that is the beauty of your pseudo-proposal. It doesn't allow you to dissociate yourself from the indirect consequences of your consumption decisions.
Tax choice is all about ethical consumerism. You can't give corporations the middle finger with one hand and then give them your money with the other hand.

Here are a few statistics that the moderator of the Occupy Movement Strategy forum, Rose Aguilar, shared...

1. It costs $38,500 to purchase one ticket to attend a fundraising dinner for Obama
2. The total cost of the election is estimated to be between $6 and $7 billion dollars
3. There are 7.5 million women living on less than $6,000 per year

So why not just boycott the elections? Gallagher was concerned that if liberals boycott the elections or vote for the Justice Party then Republicans would win the elections. But what if all the libertarians agreed to vote for Ron Paul? What if we all just agree to vote for Vermin Supreme?

What's interesting is just how many of Ron Paul's supporters are voluntaryists. It seems like the voluntaryists are trying to take power away from the government while Flowers is trying to take power away from the corporations. But according to Flowers, the corporations control the government.

If you watch this youtube video of the agorist John Bush....you'll get the sense that there is a huge ideological divide between his views and Flowers' views. Bush firmly believes that taxes are theft while Flowers firmly believes that the involuntary redistribution of wealth is justified. But around 20 minutes into Bush's video he starts offering practical suggestions that seem to have considerable overlap with Flowers' practical suggestions...

Here are some of the practical suggestions of Flowers...

1. cooperative businesses
2. cooperative banks
3. decentralized/green energy

Here are some of the practical suggestions of Bush...

1. cooperative schools
2. competing defense agencies
3. competing justice agencies

Here are some of the practical suggestions that they both suggest...?

1. sustainable food networks
2. competing currencies
3. shifting power to the people
4. "resisting the world that we don't want to live in and creating the world that we do want to live in" - Flowers
5. "educate yourself on how non-violent movement effect change" - Flowers
6. ???

There are plenty of technical terms to describe what John Bush is suggesting...

Agorism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Voluntaryism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Counter-economics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But what is the technical term to describe what Flowers is suggesting? It's not just ethical consumerism... maybe it's more along the lines of ethical productionism? What's so extremely fascinating is that she doesn't seem to advocate any practical suggestion that any libertarian would have any reason to oppose. None of her practical suggestions require any legislation to implement! Not only that...but she's basically advocating greater competition. How cool is that?

In my post on Libertarianism and the Free-rider problem I mentioned that I'd really enjoy watching Cait Lamberton and Jeffrey Miron sit down and discuss reasonable compromises. In this post I'm going to say that I'd really enjoy watching Margaret Flowers and John Bush sit down and discuss a mutually beneficial strategy.

The beauty of Flowers' strategy is that it is completely immune to even the best libertarian critiques of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Here are my notes/transcript from the forum...

9:45 - David Solnit - criticized the bank bail out...should have bailed out homeowners or the education system or...

14:00 - Aguilar - militarization of police forces, the lack of regulation on imported food. we need something new...the problem is money and politics

16:00 - Aguilar - tickets to Obama's fundraiser $38,500 / ticket... this election to cost between $6 and $7 billion dollars...7.5 million women live on less than $6,000/year

20:50 - Rocky - it's not just about electing the right people

23:50 - Rocky - people who make their money passively, sitting back

25:20 - Flowers - income inequality, other nations would be in violent revolution by now...people can't afford healthcare, college education...the real issues...the foreclosures, the lack of jobs...we can't look to leaders to solve our problems for us. we don't have time to elect the right person...we need to empower ourselves. leaderless vs leaderful

28:00 - Flowers - the opposition has had a long term strategy...corporatization of education, the media, the courts...think tanks like CATO...

28:15 - Flowers - there are solutions to every crisis we face in this country. But those solutions are being ignored in congress because they are not there to look at the evidence or to act on behalf of the public interest. They are there to reflect the interests of their corporate funders. So we need to shift the power, it needs to be intentional and strategic,

28:50 - Flowers - need to draw the nine pillars into the movement...the police force, the military, the civil servants, the religious institutions, NGOs, the media, business, workers and youth. need to create a system to replace the current one...a more participatory democracy through the democratizing of various institutions

30:00 - Gallagher - it's necessary to ensure that the Republicans do not win. it's not worth it to say..."a plague on both your houses".

31:25 - Gallagher - Right now we should have somebody running in the democratic primaries doing what Ron Paul's people are doing

31:55 - Gallagher - Foreign policy crimes of the current administration...6 countries have been bombed under the watch current administration Iraq, Afghanistan...

....read the rest of the notes/transcript (there's a 13,000 character limit) (can we get rid of the italics in quotes?)
 

Renae

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Uhm, so basically "Give us other peoples money we didn't earn, refuse to work hard for, and well... capitalism sucks"

Oh and "read my ****ty blog." Got it.
 

Xerographica

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Uhm, so basically "Give us other peoples money we didn't earn, refuse to work hard for, and well... capitalism sucks"
Can you please quote the actual portion of my post that gave you this impression?
 
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