NOTE TO SELF, BASED ON QUAKER TESTIMONIES OF INTEGRITY, SIMPLICITY, PEACE, EQUALITY, AND COMMUNITY:

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.
2. Do what you say, say what you think, think what is true.
3. Subtract superfluities from your life, speech, desires and thoughts.
4. Don't initiate aggression against the persons or property of others, nor support people who do, including the people who "constitute" the government.
5. Respect life and natural law.
6. All people are endowed by their Creator with equal and inalienable rights to the earth and to the fruits of their own labor, and a "Citizen's Dividend" funded by a "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land and other natural resources would be the fairest way to protect these rights.

For supporting materials, see the Archive and the Recommended Reading and Videos section at the bottom of this page.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Progressive" libertarianism

In my stroll down blog commentary memory lane, I also came across the following two comments on posts at Reason's Hit & Run blog, which got high props from other commenters. These comments predate my discovery of Henry George and my present geoanarchism.

From Feb. 20, 2007:

"It's very heartening to hear progressive ideas about taxes getting a fair hearing and sympathetic ear among libertarians here (of which I count myself one -- i.e. reducing out-of-control government spending is the most fundamental way to reduce taxes). I would add that the "repeal the estate tax" component of the Bush tax cut plan in particular highlights its evil and regressive nature. (See Andrew Carnegie's The Gospel of Wealth for a prominent historical argument from a libertarian capitalist in favor of inheritance taxes.) We should indeed counter the typical liberal's neglect of property rights in favor of civil rights by emphasizing, as libertarians readily do, that liberty is in many essential ways tied to and dependent upon property, but we should in the same breath also recognize and emphasize that this tie is closer the less property an individual has. Confiscating $3k from somebody making $30k a year infringes on his liberty (by keeping him closer to the realm of need and necessity) more than confiscating $30k from somebody making $300k a year, and a hell of a lot more than confiscating $30k from somebody's $300k inheritance. I submit that if the government needs $30k for some legitimate purpose, it's better for the economy and for society if that $30k comes from one person's $300k inheritance than in $3k chunks from 10 people making $30k a year. A Prof. Graetz (or Gaetz) from Yale Law School is advocating something he calls "Back to the Future" (since it's similar to how Americans were taxed prior to WWII), which includes a $50k standard deduction for individuals ($100k for married couples), combined with a reasonable VAT (value added tax) on consumption. Exempt farm products from this consumption tax and retain (and better yet expand) a reformed estate or inheritance tax, and I think we'd be well on our way to a fair federal tax system. For the vast majority of Americans, April 15th would be just another day, and that can't not be a good thing."

From March 8, 2007:

"[quoting another commenter:] 'The biggest threat to libertarianism is that you guys don't seem to grasp that it's a philosophy that's only attractive to people who either have lots of money or expect to in the future.' Indeed, I think libertarians are prone to an amoral, Darwinist, "greed is good" attitude that they mistake for libertarianism itself. The principle of "ordered liberty," as conceived by the Founders, is premised on the idea that a virtuous citizenry, which honors the two Greatest Commandments, is essential to a free society. (Brookhiser's biography of Washington, Founding Father, makes this point well, that true self-government begins with each individual citizen's government of his own soul.) Libertarianism is the salutary rejection of all unnecessary government coercion, along with all other forms of unjust coercion. It's founded on the self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. We undercut that foundation, and make ourselves unappealing, when, in a misguided effort to demonstrate our libertarian bona fides, we talk and act like selfish hedonistic bastards or speak with disrespect and unconcern for the poor.I agree that government and government handouts are not the solution for the poor. But central to the libertarian concern, as it was to those who led the American Revolution, are taxes, and the justice or injustice of the coercive taking of property that they entail. Liberty is tied to property, but this tie is closer the less property an individual has. These truths support lower overall government spending and taxing, but also more "progressiveness" in the taxes we do have (e.g. in the form of a much higher standard income tax deduction, and the replacement of other sources of tax revenue with inheritance taxes, which are among the most progressive taxes of all). The Darwinists among us have a kneejerk reaction to progessive taxation, as it calls to mind the collectivist goal of redistribution. But this is not a matter of taking from the richer to give to the poorer, but of taking from the richer instead of the poorer. But alas, libertarian rhetoric typically obsesses with impediments in the way of the Randian superman, and not so much on the grievous assault on liberty that occurs each time the government confiscates big chunks of a working man's (or small businessman's) hard-earned labor. Democrats are known as advocates of the working man and as proponents of progressive taxation, but they don't want so much to reduce the tax burden on the poor and middle class as they want to tax the hell out of everybody, and then give bits and pieces back to the poor in the form of government handouts.Who's advocating a progressive libertarianism, which seems like it would appeal to a vast number of Americans, particularly Americans who vote? Pretty much nobody. Sounds like a wide-open opportunity for an ambitous political movement to me."