Friday, August 03, 2007

1 Sam 8

First of all, Geoff, I am not arguing that anarchy or "people's courts" are good or bad. In fact my argument depends on the legitimacy of "people's courts". Read what I wrote:

As long as men pursue things in common there will be disputes and disagreements...[An offende party] at least may seek to have the dispute resolved in his favor. For this he seeks an outside party whom Person Y and Person X will both agree to obey, and they have the outside party judge the matter.

Often, to expedite justice or fairness (so that the common purpose can be better pursued), societies (be they fraternities, cults, families, businesses, etc.) will set up a process or processes to resolve these differences through the judgment of an authority. However, in order to ensure that justice and fairness will be done in the society, the authority making the judgment will need some compulsory power in case (1) one of the persons involved refuses to participate, or (2) people involved refuse to comply to the judgment. In fraternities and business, for example, an authority might have someone fired for not participating or complying.

I clearly argue the ligitimacy of private arbitration, but I also point out obvious weaknesses in private arbitration, weaknesses you have not addressed and weaknesses that make it reasonable to establish a civil authority in a society with coersive powers to brimg matters to judgment and see judgments exucuted.


Now, you wrote: Found an excellent article that shows there is no contradiction between anarchy and Scripture.

I haven't looked at it, but I am not arguing that anarchy is against the Bible.

In this section I am arguing your position that 1 Sam 8 "Says as much" as "taxation, 'eminent domain' property seizures, and conscription are immoral means and ends of...governments."

It doesn't. Samuel says such and such will happen if they establish a King. He implies that these are things the Isrealites should not want. He implies that establishing a King would create a society worse than the one they alreacy had.

However, Samuel was speaking to the people of a tribal-oriented theocracy. Tribal-oriented theocracy was the system they had. You instead are arguing for a libertarian society.

Samuel was a prophet. He does not specify whether these bad consequences of a kingship necessarily happen, or will only conditionally happen (remember Job and "Nineva will be destroyed" - prophet words are not always absolute). Furthermore, even if these things will happen, he does not specify whether they will happen by nature or they will happen as a particular punishment from God (remember, God punished the Pharoah not by nature but by unnatural plagues for his hardness of heart). Furthermore, even if these things will happen by nature, is it because of the nature of all governments, because of the nature of monarchy, or because of the nature of monarchy in that particular setting?

Samuel said that if the Isrealites change their society, creating a monarchy (which is a particular form of civil government), then such and such bad things happen. You say it is clear that such and such bad things happen in any civil government. This does not follow. You can't say that because *person Q said in a particular instance that if a particular R does S, creating a particular T (which is a particular type of U), then it will lead to in this instance to Z,* then Z is a quality of U. Z is at best a quality of this particular T.

Furthermore, on the point of taxation (which is the only one of the "bad powers" that I have tried to justify so far - and even there I have only tried to justify taxation for a particular end (i.e. providing a ligitimate and established civil authority (the possible existance of which I have only positted, not demonstrated) with a recompense for services rendered)), I have said merely said that it is reasonable to establish (if its establishment is possible) a civil authority to judge disputes - an authority with the power of coersion to bring suits to judgment when one party wants them judged and the other party does not, and the power of coersion to see judgments executed - and that a system of taxation is a reasonable means to raise money to pay the judge for his services. Let me make myself very clear:

*I have not said that the system of taxation needs to be or ought to be coersive taxation*

You seem to argue that because I posited a system of taxation, I am arguing for a system of coersive based taxation. I have not said anything of a coercive taxation system. For purposes of this argument I am considering "any system in which people have an obligation to pay a civil authority for his support" a "system of taxation". (Note that I have not even said that all people must have this obligation.) Now it is my understanding that in the time of the Isrealite Judges, the people had an obligation to pay for the support of their priests (the system of tithes). It is my understanding that these priests exerciced not only the power of the priesthood, but also civil power (such as the power to judge disputes). It is my understanding that the priests had certain punishments they could levy on those who impeded judgment in matters that someone brought to them, and they had the power to punish people if they did not execute the judgments. If this is the case, then the people were obligated to pay for the support of a person charged with exercizing civil authority. If this is the case then 1 Sam 8 does not apply to my argument hereto ennunciated (an argument in favor of taxation), because the "evil power (of taxation)" that you say Samuel associates with the new, wicked government, is not necessarily the taxation sytem that my argument has proposed. In fact, if I am correct, then the sort of taxation that I have defended thus far was a taxation system in established for the Isrealites by Divine command! (see Lev. 27:30, Deut 14:22, Num 18:21).

A couple more notes:

"I don't see why I should have to pay for services I might never use."

I will discuss this in my next post.

"As it is, who today can afford to effectively get his lawsuit heard?"

I am not defending the system as it is today.

"And in criminal cases, I think the fact that a government judge, prosecutor and public defender are all being paid by the same employer and are required to prosecute/judge (some)unjust laws made by the government has a real potential to "color their judgment" in its own right."

I have said nothing of criminal cases thus far, and again I am not necessarily defending the system as it is today.

"Andy, as a believer in the free market, I don't see how you can say that a greater accountability for actions and higher efficiency is possible in a tax-dollar funded monopoly on arbitration services, as opposed to market services."

I have not argued that the establishment of a civil authority is the best/most accountable/most efficient solution. I have argued that it was a reasonable solution because a private system of arbitration has no obvious solution for two situations: the situation in which one party refuses to resolve a dispute because he has the advantage as long as the dispute is unresolves, and the situation in which the party who recieves the bad side of the judgment refuses to execute the judgment. A civil authority (if it is possible to establish one) has an obvious solution: the criminal charge of contempt of court. (I might also point out that in the contemporary circumstances, the reason why private arbitration such a good option is not only because it is more cost efficient and such and such, but also because the parties still have the option if things go bad to take the matter before the civil authority. In otherwords, it is good presently in part because civil judgment is never a precluded option, as you would have it in your society. I would try to settle the matter first myself, but if I wasn't able to and they had actually wronged me, you can bet that civil authority is where I turn to see justice done).

"Not only that, but the premise that "everyone benefits either directly or indirectly from the justice system/police, so it is reasonable to tax people to support it" is indefensible."

I have not posited nor defended such a premise. I have not said that everyone benefits from a justice system with coercive powers. I have only said that if a legitimate one can be established, then anyone might find themselves in a circumstance in which they need to appear before the judge. I argued that a system in which the parties before him are directly responsible for his material well being, they mey be situations in which bad judges allow that to color his judgment. Thus, a system to pay the judge independent of the parties is reasonable, and (since anyone might sometime come before a judge) a system of taxation was reasonable.

"I could be providing a valuable service to the community, by cleaning up garbage from the roadsides, or shoveling driveways for free, but I couldn't force anyone to pay me for my services."

I have not posited or defended any alledged power to force people to pay for services rendered. Once again, I have not said that the taxation system need be or ought to be coersive. (The Isrealites had a non-coersive obligation to pay for their civil authority).

"Why? They didn't ASK for me to do it!"

I will respond more to this argument in my next post.

5 comments:

Geoff said...
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Geoff said...
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Geoff said...

You say that the system for funding the justice system is not necessarily a "coercive tax." There is no such thing as a "voluntary tax."

Andy: [from a former post] "Thus I believe that a system of taxation, in which money is collected from members of society (provided that the tax is not depriving someone of their bare necessities) is a reasonable alternative."

Taxation is always and ultimately backed up by force or threat thereof, by definition. Anything else is a free-will contribution, such as what you make at Church. You're free to leave the Church at any time and still reside in a particular area. You will pay taxes or else.

Do you support A)Taxation and/or B) Contributions as a valid means of collecting money?

I didn't put the anarchy thing in there just for you. It was more for those who appeared to be on the borderline of calling me a heretic.

Andy: "Samuel was a prophet. He does not specify whether these bad consequences of a kingship necessarily happen, or will only conditionally happen (remember Job and "Nineva will be destroyed" - prophet words are not always absolute)"

The Ninevites repented. Had they not, they would've been toast. When Samuel was warning the Jews, they still had the ability to repent, an opportunity they declined.

Andy: "However, in order to ensure that justice and fairness will be done in the society, the authority making the judgment will need some compulsory power..."

And nothing prevents private justice businesses from wielding such coercive power. If someone had been the victim of a serious theft or aggression, violence may be called for. If someone refused to participate, there would likely be violence in either a private or public law system. But in such a case, the victim could reclaim a just amount of restitution through his own actions. Again, the libertarian legal system isn't utopia. It's only hundreds of percent better than what we have now.

I'm only opposed to central coercive government that takes property and freedom from people unjustly, and where other people decide what they can do with your money. We seem to be mostly in agreement on these points of "coercion." The use of force to restore property is not outside the realm of acceptability, to me. The use of force to maintain an organization which uses force to restore property is.

This a priori use of force for taxation to establish and maintain such a system is the only thing I have a problem with. That, and the lack of choice in judges that the two men could agree on.

Andy: "Furthermore, even if these things will happen by nature, is it because of the nature of all governments, because of the nature of monarchy, or because of the nature of monarchy in that particular setting?"

It seemed pretty clear: "This is the manner of king that shall rule over you." It was a dirty laundry list of "What every taxational government in the history of the world has ever done."

Andy: "You can't say that because *person Q said in a particular instance that if a particular R does S, creating a particular T (which is a particular type of U), then it will lead to in this instance to Z,* then Z is a quality of U. Z is at best a quality of this particular T."

Samuel is telling not telling the people "This is the manner of king that will rule over you, [as a particular situation.]" He's saying, "This is what taxational kings do to their subjects: if you are subjects, it will happen to you, too."

It is evident from reading Samuel's words that this is "the manner" of every taxation-based government that has ever existed. Samuel could have said that to the French at the time of Louis XIV, to the Germans in 1932, before Hitler, or the people of the American Colonies, when drafting the constitution. (But obviously, to a lesser extent, because a Constitutional Republic is more in line with human nature.) Each time Samuel said this, to each people, his words would have been just as true.

That tithing system that God established was for the Jews, if they wanted to be Jews. Not humans, if they wanted to remain humans. The Jews had a way out. If we want to be Catholic, we have to pay our dues. But there is no physical force involved in enforcing the tithe. It's an ecclesial law, ultimately enforced by God

Deuteronomy 14:29 says the incentive for paying the tithe was that "The Lord thy God may bless thee in all the works of thy hands that thou shalt do."

It doesn't say, "Take heed, lest in hearing you fail to understand. If you do not pay this tithe, the Lord shall surely send down his stormtroopers from on high, and they shall smite thee into the dust with rifle butts, together with the members of thy household, from the oldest even unto the youngest. And thy livestock, in like manner, shall they shall stomp into the dust, even unto the last kitten."

"Taxation" is coercive by its essence. It doesn't matter if you pay taxes without being actively threatened. The threat of violence is still there. When you are forced to pay for services you didn't want, it is coercion. "That," as a learned colleague says, "is not God's way."

richard said...

One idea that might help in this discussion is the unitary/monopoly nature of the state. From an ethical point of view that is important because it turns motivations on their heads. Bread is good, being forced to buy this bread from this seller is a problem.

Andy Bodoh said...

"You say that the system for funding the justice system is not necessarily a "coercive tax." There is no such thing as a "voluntary tax.""

Tithing is a the very least (strictly speaking), a tax-like system. I did a quick search on the web today to see what Google had to offer. Some considered tithes a tax-system, others just a tax-like system. It does not really matter. If I am using "tax system" loosly, then I have at least defined it clearly and sharply. For the purposes of my argument, all I need to say is that an "established obligation to pay for the support of civil authority" is reasonable if a ligitimate civil authority can be established who judges disputes. In the case of tithes the obligation is a religious and moral obligation. There can be something similar in society too. Granted, tithes are a "free-will contribution", if you use that term loosly. (After all, if I had to choose between 10% of my wealth and going to Hell, I would consider it a hefty obligation to tithe, even if it was not backed up by civil "force".) It is at least conceivable that a "free-willed taxation system" can exist in civil society that satisfies what you call "free willed contribution" and I call "taxation system". If tithes are used to support civil authority, then that is one such.

"Do you support A)Taxation and/or B) Contributions as a valid means of collecting money?"

I have not rejected coercive taxation at this point in my argument. That issue is still open. My argument simply says(if a civil authority can be established) that some system of taxation ("established obligaton to pay for support of a civil leader") may be reasonable (if it does not violate other moral principles). If I have not expressed it like this thus far, it is because I thought this was implicit in the structure of the logical argument.

""However, in order to ensure that justice and fairness will be done in the society, the authority making the judgment will need some compulsory power..."

And nothing prevents private justice businesses from wielding such coercive power."


Look specifically at what I am saying. I am saying that the coercive powers the civil authority (if he can be established) can exercise is the power to bring issues to judgment when one party wants it judged and the other party does not, and then the force to do what it can to see its judgments executed if one party resists it. Are you granting that a private party has the ability to make judgments and enforce judgments when one of the parties of the dispute have not consented to having the matter judged by that private party? If so, tell me more about this system. If I tell this private judge that you took my car , will this private judge be able to tell you "Unless you appear before me and allow me to judge the matter, I will use force to seize property from you and give it to Andy in recompense for you taking his car. If you resist that I will throw you in jail (my private jail of course). If you appear before me and then resist a judgment against you, I will treat you as if you had not appeared before me"? Is this what your "coersive private justice business" would do?

"I'm only opposed to central coercive government that takes property and freedom from people unjustly"

First of all, how do you define "central coercive government". You have thrown this term out there (I haven't) and I would like to know specifically and clearly what type of thing exactly you are opposed to. Secondly, you say "I only oppose X that takes poperty and freedom from people unjustly". What do you mean by this? What is the minimum that would be required "just" taking of property?

If I have read you correctly thus far, the minimum for a just claim to take property is "consent of the one deprived of the property" or "a high claim (such as starvation in the case of food) by the one taking the property". Unjust taking of freedom would appear to be taking it without "consent of the one deprived of the freedom" unless the person has committed a crime in which he renounces his right to that freedom.

Now, in the case of the criminal (in the libertarian sense), I ask you who has the right to judge first of all whether the action was criminal, and secondly what is the appropriate punishment for criminal acts?

Earlier on this point you said:
In the case of a criminal who commits a crime, society (or the individual; not the government itself, which, as you know, may not have the best interest of the people in mind) perceives that a punishment is just. The punishment imposed is not just merely because someone who was chosen by a numerical majority has imposed it."

The idea that society can percieve anything is in conflict with your position that "society is not a volitional entity." So, what is the procedure by which a criminal is judged and sentenced in a libertarian society? What is the procedure by which a judge is appointed to consider claims of criminal conduct or to sentence? Why does the judge in the dispute have a right to say "This man, based on the evidence, is guilty" or "This man, based on a finding of guilt, is subject to punishment X"? If society is not a volitional entity (and I frankly agree that it is not), then how does "society percieve what punishment is just"?

Lastly:
Samuel is telling not telling the people "This is the manner of king that will rule over you, [as a particular situation.]" He's saying, "This is what taxational kings do to their subjects: if you are subjects, it will happen to you, too."

I see one man in a particular circumstance telling a particular people what will happen in their particular society if they do a particular act. I don't see a universal statement about governments:

"This will be the right of the king that shall reign over you."