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> With government unable to pay police as much as they need or would like, police are confiscating their revenue directly from the populace.

Where does the author think the funding comes from in the normal situation? It's confiscated from the populace just the same. What is this elusive property of the government that makes it not a self-funding gang which is not present in any part of the government (e.g. police in this case) but present in the whole?




This 'elusive' property is the idea that taxes are an indirect method of funding the police (as it is re-proportioned via much bureaucracy), while seizures directly fund the policeman's wallet.

Obviously the latter is much more dangerous, because there's a self-reinforcing cycle where the police spend their entire time stealing, instead of doing their government-defined jobs.

Indirection is important. It allows someone to give you goals that are productive, otherwise you would just steal from your employer instead of working for them (so they would give you money).


Nice explanation. I'd never thought about the important role of indirection in productive employment.


From taxes, which although complex, are still well publicized and listed and it's easy to know how much you need to pay and when. You also (generally) pay these based on your income level.

That's completely different from have arbitrary amounts of cash confiscated from you at arbitrary times.


I think you're responding to an anti-government troll who is being deliberately obtuse about the difference between civil asset forfeiture vs tax collection. Unfortunately statements like theirs muddy the waters between something that most sane people find acceptable (government tax collection) vs something that most sane people find abhorrent once they know about it.


> something that most sane people find abhorrent once they know about it

Does it mean the lawmakers and higher-ups in the executive branch are not sane people?


No, it just means the priorities and incentives of their jobs are completely misaligned towards solving the problem.


In many cases, no they are not.


I think the question is legitimate. Why are sane people okay with having their property rights violated by taxation but not by confiscation?


Knock yourself out:

http://www.amazon.com/Anarchy-State-Utopia-Robert-Nozick/dp/...

http://www.amazon.com/A-Theory-Justice-John-Rawls/dp/0674000...

(Seriously, what kind of response are you expecting? There are so many assumptions built in to your question that you're basically asking for a summary of political philosophy).


> Why are sane people okay with having their property rights violated by taxation

Most people don't regard taxation as a violation of property rights.


"Property rights" aren't any natural rights. It's a societal agreement, and that agreement comes with strings attached. In your case you pay taxes, and your society holds everyone up to this bunch of collective agreements, including not taking away your property just willy-nilly (confiscation).


> In your case you pay taxes, and your society holds everyone up to this bunch of collective agreements, including not taking away your property just willy-nilly (confiscation).

Except that's...not happening, in one of the largest, and without doubt the most powerful, "democracies" in the world. Police do take away your property willy-nilly in the USA without trial.

Does this mean we get to stop paying taxes?


> Why are sane people okay with having their property rights violated by taxation but not by confiscation?

Because these people are not egotistical, anti-social assholes, but contribute their share to society instead.


Taxation in a democracy is inherently legitimate. And the reasoning behind it is explained clearly in Rousseau's Social Contract, although the idea goes back centuries. Simply stated, if you decide to continue living in a society, then you implicitly agree to abide by its rules. In most countries, the agreement means paying taxes set by elected representatives.


Rousseau's social contract, while a fine piece of work, would almost certainly advocate a monarchy for a state the size of America. Its use here seems to be an appeal to authority, which seems odd as there are no mentions to it anywhere within our governing documents, upon which a less spurious legitimacy is bestowed.

Beyond that, categorizing anything as "inherently legitimate" is fraught with peril. One could perhaps surmise that all things are legitimate within a democracy, but so long as the favors of the majority come at the expense of the minority, that claim is disputable.

Beyond that, I don't really know that Rousseau's contract would invalidate a North Korean government as it exists, and North Korean citizenship precludes the option of defection.

The biggest flaw I see with the assertion that "if you want to live here, you agree to pay taxes" is that there's no opt-out policy in America as it is. If you object to the taxation, and wish to opt out, your only path is expatriation, with its associated expatriation taxes.


I'd say that the tautology of what the system agrees is legitimate is what is legitimate (no less useful than gravity pulls things together because it pulls things together). Laws promoting racism were broken in the US, and the law-breakers were quickly recognized as legitimate. Perhaps some types of tax dodgers might be considered legitimate. The beauty of a democracy is that if you can convince enough people that something should be legitimate/illegitimate, they can make it so.

And yes "inherently legitimate" was a poor phrase to choose.

And I believe many founders leaned heavily on Rousseau's work. Hamilton and Madison particularly in the Federalist Papers.


> I'd say that the tautology of what the system agrees is legitimate is what is legitimate

And which is inherently fallacious, even going against Rousseau. Slavery as an institution was systemically agreed upon by the institution. There is no inherent legitimacy in violating the liberties of others, and while I agree that any such comparison is flawed, agreeing on slavery as an institution is no more or less legitimate due to populist demand than the insistence of taking some people's money and giving it to others.

Are there benefits? Undoubtedly; but even something mathematically proven as "good" (as if we could do such a thing) is not necessarily legitimate, however well founded the idea or the intent. That said, this is all philosophical, to be sure, but since we're waxing, may as well get fully waxed. (Don't ask me what that means, cause I have no idea.)

> And I believe many founders leaned heavily on Rousseau's work

No argument there.


The US is a Republic not a Democracy.


The constitution says the US is both a Republic and a Democracy.


Declaration of Independence and our constitution do not even mentioned the word "democracy".


Let's see... neither the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence explicitly use the word "republic" for the United States as a whole, so you should perhaps reconsider that argument.

Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, and Section 3, in their first paragraphs clearly define the legislative branch as a representative democracy.


The US Republic is a type of Democracy, but does not have direct democracy in that representatives are elected to represent the public.


"property rights" is an abstract concept that doesn't exist without government in the first place.


Indeed. Logical consistency would dictate that you should either be for both or against both, but not for one and against the other.

But humans are notorious for allowing emotional concerns, religious beliefs, and simple self-interest override logic.

Maybe they just don't like the reverse-lottery aspect of funding the government. Rather than a lucky person getting a windfall from the government, an unlucky person loses everything to it. You can avoid the lottery by not buying tickets, but the only way to avoid the anti-lottery is by not having anything to steal. For most people, that would be a pretty miserable existence.

People want to believe that their government exists to serve their interests. They may be more upset that the government is spoiling the illusion of fairness--that the government is doing all this publicly--than the fact that the government is doing it at all. Because as bad as they might have it now, if there is a rebellion, the new boss might, in fact, be worse than the old boss.


Would you be therefore fine with it if a local police department decided it's underfunded and went confiscating money in the neighborhood according to a pre-published plan and taking into account one's income level?


You also get to vote on increasing/decreasing police funding.


Though you should bear in mind that if you do vote to decrease police funding, they may respond by increasing forfeitures and enforcement of revenue-generating ordinances.

So now, instead of being able to drive 60 mph in a 55 mph zone without being molested, they swap out the signs for 45 mph, you get pulled over for driving 46 mph, the officer "smells marijuana" when you open your window, and you lose your car. You get the ticket thrown out because the limit was still 55, despite the change of signage, but the judge rules that the cops still have reasonable cause to stop you, search your car, and seize it, because you were still driving faster than what the signs said.

Of course, the same could happen if you vote to increase funding.

The police are servants of the legislature, not the citizenry. You can't fire or demote someone who doesn't work for you.


This is a pretty interesting point that i haven't though much about before.

I suppose one problem with confiscation vs. taxation involves incentives. Taxation incentivizes governments to create healthy economies to increase revenue whereas confiscation incentivizes police forces to violate property rights arbitrarily.

Another problem at present is there is much less oversight of confiscation than of taxation and maybe confiscation is less predictable than taxation.


That's a good point. Taxation is protection racket while stop-and-seize is armed robbery.


Distribution of violence makes the differences: taxes are applied to the majority and there's an established and predictable pattern for this way of wealth transfer from the populace to the government, while stop seizures apply to a very small group but in a much more impactful (for that group) way in an unpredictable manner.


I'm happy I live in a country that has taxes, because I like the improved quality of life that comes from having utilities and public services like streets and water. Civil forfeiture hurts the quality of life for everyone except the cops.


I believe it hurts quality of life for cops as well, in that it reduces their self-respect.


The difference is that the amount of taxes and how they're spent are determined by a legislative process by elected officials.


With governments you get to decide the makeup and leader of the gang.

Thats... quite a fundamental difference.


Within a specific form of government when it is properly running within a system with minimal corruption, you get to decide the makeup and leader of the government... in theory.

In practice, the average person has no say over who is ruling them.


The police in this instance is following the law made by leaders you've supposedly decided on.




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