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And yet I still see people saying "no, how dare you compare government to a bunch of thieves?".

The DC local government is somewhat remarkable in how corrupt it is. It seems like every other day some major political player gets indicted for corruption of some sort.

DC is in some ways an anomaly; US citizens deliberately disenfranchised by the Federal Government. It's not surprising that they might be extravagantly corrupt.

And they should keep saying that. I agree that some portion of government operations are dubious. I believe the portion is pretty small. The people I know who work in government are there because they want to make a difference. They would be just as outraged by this as anybody. More so, really, because they see stuff like this as shaming public service everywhere.

I have no doubt that most low-ranking government employees believe they are doing good and I don't blame them. But it doesn't matter and it doesn't change the fact that they are involved in extracting money from people with a threat of force. If you can't convince people to finance something, whatever it is, and you still collect money from them, you are stealing.

Ah, maybe the difference is that I live in a democracy, where we vote for people who set budgets, and often vote directly on the taxes ourselves. So the only people threatened by force here are those who try to be free riders on the system that the people have jointly set up. It may be different where you are.

No difference. Why do US citizens have to pay for wars and killing a great number of innocent people in them, or Guantanamo, or NSA, or TSA... when the majority clearly opposes it? Democracy is a nice myth, which gives surfs a false feeling of satisfaction and control, obscuring the reality, which is that you are being robbed. "You can always leave", as has been noted before, is another myth: yes, spend 5-6 years on the paperwork and then leave to yet another democracy that's gonna steal from you.

Look, I understand you believe in the idea, but the harsh reality is that you are being tricked into obedience by your rulers/owners. My country is no different. The standards of living may be lower, but the fact remains: no government ever truly cares about its citizens. It's nice to think they do, though. But look at the incentives. There are none.

I certainly grant that things are not perfect here.

Regarding your particular questions, in May 2003, 79% of Americans thought the Iraq war was justified, so the majority clearly didn't oppose it. Most now believe it was a mistake. Only 41% of citizens agree with the president's plan to close Guantanamo. A majority of Americans think the TSA is doing a good job. I think the majority of Americans are wrong on all of these things, but they are undeniably popular opinions.

I, personally, am not being robbed. I am also not being tricked into obedience. Your insistence to the contrary, entirely ignorant of my actual situation, is arrogant foolishness. I've lived on four continents, and I'm quite happy with what I have here.

Could it be better? Sure. Is it at risk from powerful interests? Definitely, especially at the federal level. But I also see many causes for hope.

Fine, you feel you're not being robbed. I know quite a few people from the US who feel that taxes are theft. Granted you agree they have the freedom to believe in whatever they want, how do you justify the fact that if they don't pay taxes, they will go to prison (not right away, but eventually, if they decide to resist, even if peacefully) or have their property alienated? Democracy isn't the answer, because they don't believe in one. If you say they have to pay because they use services a government provides, then it's also very debatable: they certainly may not want to pay for some of them (military?) and surely they don't have any alternative because government monopolistic behavior prevents any competition in certain sectors of the economy. Saying they have this freedom to believe in whatever they want when they don't have the same freedom to act according to their beliefs is identical to not granting them any freedom at all.

I justify that by pointing out that they are free riders. There are surely people living on backwoods property that pay little to no tax, because they are effectively not part of our various collective enterprises. Godspeed to them.

But if people want to enjoy the benefits of living in a city, state, and country, to participate in an economy, those benefits come with obligations. Sure, they may not want to pay for things. But if they can't get others to agree that the government should not do those things, or at least should run them on a cost-recovery basis, then it's too bad.

They certainly have the freedom to move to someplace without effective government. E.g., Waziristan or Somalia. They will be much freer there. Of course, warlords will be free to rob or kill them, so it may not be entirely to their tastes, but then, we aren't guaranteed perfect choices, just the opportunity to make better ones.

As a side note: you feeling that you're not being robbed has nothing to do with what actually happens, which is extracting money by a threat of force. You may not think about it this way, but it becomes painfully obvious once someone refuses to pay. To me, the refusal to see this is akin to a Stockholm Syndrome. No offense though, I did not mean to discard your argument using this comparison. I may add this is what it looks like to me subjectively.

I understand you believe you have some magic power to judge my motivations and behaviors based on zero actual knowledge, a little theory, and a lot of arrogance. To which I say: have fun. Just don't expect me, or anybody, to take you seriously when you're doing that.

In a democracy, the government and the citizens are not different parties; they are citizens and their incentive is that they have to live here as well even after they're no longer in power. To say governments never care about their citizens is silly, a government is not one mind, it's a collection of said citizens.

Theoretically. In practice, as soon as you get power, you have very little incentive to serve those who elected you and all the incentives in the world to make money from special interest groups. You can't fix that with any number of new rules and legislation. Instead, think about this: why do you need some people sitting in a pathetic building ruling over you? Why do you think society cannot do without them and what is it that only governments can do, but people and companies can't?

> In practice, as soon as you get power, you have very little incentive to serve those who elected you and all the incentives in the world to make money from special interest groups.

Special interest groups are citizens teaming up to push their agenda, those are people who elected you. Special interest groups are not inherently bad nor are they automatically against the will of the electorate. Many are actually representing the electorate.

> Instead, think about this: why do you need some people sitting in a pathetic building ruling over you? Why do you think society cannot do without them and what is it that only governments can do, but people and companies can't?

There you go again treating government and people as if they're different things. You're presenting a false choice, it's not government rule vs freedom from it, it's government rule vs local warlord rule. Power abhors a vacuum and government is our solution to that problem, it's how we live civilly together. It's not nor will it ever be perfect as no human system is, but it's vastly preferable to the alternative.

The idea that people can live peacefully without a form of government is just silly, someone has to enforce rule of law and it can't be someone's private security force or the guy with the most goons wins every time. Either the people choose a government or someone will choose one for them, or decide to rule himself.

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