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What Is The Justification For Redistribution Of Income?

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The standard consequentialist argument in favour of the welfare state essentially says that the harm caused to rich people by taxation is outweighed by the benefit to poor people from government services. That’s probably wrong, but for the sake of argument let’s say it’s not and concede the idea that governments should redistribute resources. The question that redistributionists have failed to answer satisfyingly is, to whom should the resources be distributed?

The redistributionist argument may seem defensible if we look at one country alone – taking from the rich in Britain to give to the poor in Britain sounds good to a lot of people. But why do we only look at the poor in Britain? Compared to, say, the poor in Peru, they don’t seem to be so badly-off. The redistributionist logic would imply that money should be given to the worst-off, wherever they are. So, why give money to the poor in Britain rather than the very poor in Peru?

A redistributionist might say that a government’s job is to look after its own citizens. That argument, frequently made, has no real ethical basis. Unless the redistributionist believes that the value of, say, a Mancunian’s welfare is of greater importance than a Peruvian’s welfare, there is no outcomes-based argument for favouring the Mancunian over the Peruvian. Taking the redistributionist premise that governments can improve outcomes by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the only moral argument for spending tax money in Manchester rather than relatively-poorer Peru is based on implicit nationalism. How many redistributionists would admit to that? Yet it is the only logical justification for preferring a big welfare state in Britain to a lot of money being spent around the world.

Some would say that it would be politically impossible to implement this kind of redistributionism. Yes, it would, but that isn’t a convincing argument. Even the argument that overseas spending delivers less bang for the buck than domestic spending is highly dubious, and returns to the question of why redistribution supposedly works inside a country’s borders and not outside them.

This is a fundamental flaw in the redistributionist manifesto. The only intellectual justification for favouring people in Britain over people in Peru for government spending would be that British people are more deserving. This is implied by arguments for a welfare state. The libertarian alternative, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from this implicit nationalism. The outcomes we argue for treat people as equals: Free markets benefit everybody, wherever they are. I’ll choose that kind of egalitarianism over the narrowly nationalistic redistributionist egalitarianism any day.

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What is the argument for 6% interest rates on pretend money that lives in a computer?

There is none, of course.

Interest on essentially imaginary fiat money is a good deal more 're-distributionist' in nature than the still rather patchy welfare state.

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What is the argument for 6% interest rates on pretend money that lives in a computer?

There is none, of course.

Interest on essentially imaginary fiat money is a good deal more 're-distributionist' in nature than the still rather patchy welfare state.

Banks have rent to pay, staff to pay and shareholders that want returns, they also need to make sure that defaults are covered adequately ( don't laugh, I'm talking theory).

0% interest banking is an impossibility.

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"Starving children in Africa" is a good example of what happens when you try to base policy on extreme examples: you get bad policy.

Good policies aim to meet achievable goals with manageable costs. Ensuring that (almost) nobody in Britain is homeless or starving seems to fit those criteria.

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he standard consequentialist argument in favour of the welfare state essentially says that the harm caused to rich people by taxation is outweighed by the benefit to poor people from government services. That’s probably wrong, but for the sake of argument let’s say it’s not and concede the idea that governments should redistribute resources. The question that redistributionists have failed to answer satisfyingly is, to whom should the resources be distributed?

Not really - in reality the argument for a welfare state is that the harm caused to rich people by taxation is outweighed by the benefit to rich people that the poor don't slit their throats in the middle of the night.

The redistributionist argument may seem defensible if we look at one country alone – taking from the rich in Britain to give to the poor in Britain sounds good to a lot of people. But why do we only look at the poor in Britain? Compared to, say, the poor in Peru, they don’t seem to be so badly-off. The redistributionist logic would imply that money should be given to the worst-off, wherever they are. So, why give money to the poor in Britain rather than the very poor in Peru?

Straw man nonsense.

A redistributionist might say that a government’s job is to look after its own citizens. That argument, frequently made, has no real ethical basis. Unless the redistributionist believes that the value of, say, a Mancunian’s welfare is of greater importance than a Peruvian’s welfare, there is no outcomes-based argument for favouring the Mancunian over the Peruvian. Taking the redistributionist premise that governments can improve outcomes by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the only moral argument for spending tax money in Manchester rather than relatively-poorer Peru is based on implicit nationalism. How many redistributionists would admit to that? Yet it is the only logical justification for preferring a big welfare state in Britain to a lot of money being spent around the world.

What else is the government's job other than to look after its citizens? Why else would a government exist? What would be its purpose? Who else would the government look after? Complete nonsense of a point and nothing to do with 'redistribution'.

Some would say that it would be politically impossible to implement this kind of redistributionism. Yes, it would, but that isn’t a convincing argument. Even the argument that overseas spending delivers less bang for the buck than domestic spending is highly dubious, and returns to the question of why redistribution supposedly works inside a country’s borders and not outside them.

Repeating more nonsense - we don't live under a world government.

This is a fundamental flaw in the redistributionist manifesto. The only intellectual justification for favouring people in Britain over people in Peru for government spending would be that British people are more deserving. This is implied by arguments for a welfare state. The libertarian alternative, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from this implicit nationalism. The outcomes we argue for treat people as equals: Free markets benefit everybody, wherever they are. I’ll choose that kind of egalitarianism over the narrowly nationalistic redistributionist egalitarianism any day.

Nationalism straw man again. Let's get the terminology right in the first place - 'redistribution' is the preferred term of faux-libertarians because of all that it implies - that the rich earned every penny that they have, that the poor are poor by their own fault and money is stolen from one to give to the other.

I prefer 'distribution', where rentiers cannot cream off the productive in society and there is a genuinely free market, including a free market in labour.

The 'free' market of faux-libertarians unfortunately doesn't include the freedom to live independently of others, so people are forced to sell their labour or starve.

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0% interest banking is an impossibility.

Sure, but base money and government bonds paying 6% isn't banking - its taxpayers giving a gift to someone who hasn't done anything.

0% on money doesn't imply you can borrow it for that, it just implies you can't profit by merely possessing it.

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The free market leads to fascism - which history has shown is a bad thing. The problem is that in a free market wealth is not distributed in a normally distributed way. It has an extreme of distributions. So people do not just get a bit richer than other - but many times richer - millions/billions of times richer - often through no great skill or merit.

To understand the difference between something normally distributed and something extremely distributed Take 1000 people who are your friends or family - take their average height. Say 1.5m including children. Now take the tallest man in the world - the tallest in history according to google was 2.72m. Add this to your sample - the new average height is 1.5012m. The tallest man in the world is a blip in your sample

Now consider the wealth of the same 1000 people. Let's say your sample is all ages and the average wealth is about $100,000. Now take the richest man in the world - estimates differ but $50bn was one estimate for Gate's wealth. Add this to your sample. The combined wealth of your 1000 friends is massively smaller than this one persons wealth - the new average is over $50m. If we transfer the ratio of average wealth to average height - that would make someone 750km tall - they could lie their head down in Spain at night

It is this extreme nature of the distribution of wealth (noticed by Pareto) that causes gross inequalities. Now these inequalities are not in themselves a problem, but it is human nature to take advantage of them. So the hugely wealthy can effectively subvert democracies with their interest groups and lobbys and get those democracies to work in their interests instead. This is what we have seen in the US - free market to fascist economy in 300 years. An no one knows how to stop it.

One approach that has worked well so far is practised in Scandinavia - that answers your question.

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Cheapest rhetorical trick in the book - set up a straw man with holes in it, and knock it down. The original post is just so much redundant verbiage.

Redistributionism reflects a a deep human knowledge that life isn't fair - that those who start with more, on balance (with a small number of exceptions that prove the rule) will end up with considerably more than those who started with less, regardless of hard work or inate talent. It's a human impulse to fairness.

Formal policy responses take this impulse into account, and balance it with the other deep knowledge that the risk taking, entrepreneurial spirit that generates growth generally (again, with a small number of exceptions) comes from those who can afford to take some risks, have capital and connections and who received the knowledge and privileges that go with a better education.

The balance of these urges underlies all politics - where and how the line is drawn is the key policy dividing marker. It's as simple as that.

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"Starving children in Africa" is a good example of what happens when you try to base policy on extreme examples: you get bad policy.

Good policies aim to meet achievable goals with manageable costs. Ensuring that (almost) nobody in Britain is homeless or starving seems to fit those criteria.

Nobody starves or lives on the streets in Hong Kong, there is a very basic social security net there. The problem is the rent seekers who are leeching those who have not in the UK.

And the wider problem of non compensation for theft of land in the first place.

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Cheapest rhetorical trick in the book - set up a straw man with holes in it, and knock it down. The original post is just so much redundant verbiage.

Redistributionism reflects a a deep human knowledge that life isn't fair - that those who start with more, on balance (with a small number of exceptions that prove the rule) will end up with considerably more than those who started with less, regardless of hard work or inate talent. It's a human impulse to fairness.

Formal policy responses take this impulse into account, and balance it with the other deep knowledge that the risk taking, entrepreneurial spirit that generates growth generally (again, with a small number of exceptions) comes from those who can afford to take some risks, have capital and connections and who received the knowledge and privileges that go with a better education.

The balance of these urges underlies all politics - where and how the line is drawn is the key policy dividing marker. It's as simple as that.

Brilliantly worded post. All the key truths of human social behaviour are in there.

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Cheapest rhetorical trick in the book - set up a straw man with holes in it, and knock it down. The original post is just so much redundant verbiage.

Redistributionism reflects a deep human knowledge that life isn't fair - that those who start with more, on balance (with a small number of exceptions that prove the rule) will end up with considerably more than those who started with less, regardless of hard work or inate talent. It's a human impulse to fairness.

Formal policy responses take this impulse into account, and balance it with the other deep knowledge that the risk taking, entrepreneurial spirit that generates growth generally (again, with a small number of exceptions) comes from those who can afford to take some risks, have capital and connections and who received the knowledge and privileges that go with a better education.

The balance of these urges underlies all politics - where and how the line is drawn is the key policy dividing marker. It's as simple as that.

Life isn't fair - this is true.

How is a politician or an apparatchik deciding what constitutes "fair" better than what would otherwise be? If they are better at deciding what is fair - then they should distribute all of the income. The times this has been tried has ended up being even more "unfair" than the alternative.

If we all think that this is inherently unfair and want to do something about it - this renders the apparatus of distribution redundant as we will voluntarily do what is fair due to this deep human knowledge.

How is it more fair (or more moral) to take from one very rich person and give to another very rich person (on a global scale) rather than take from the rich and give to the poorest?

The essential point is that if redistribution is the right thing to do - we should redistribute to the poorest in the world, not the poorest in an arbitrarily drawn area of the globe.

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Life isn't fair - this is true.

How is a politician or an apparatchik deciding what constitutes "fair" better than what would otherwise be? If they are better at deciding what is fair - then they should distribute all of the income. The times this has been tried has ended up being even more "unfair" than the alternative.

If we all think that this is inherently unfair and want to do something about it - this renders the apparatus of distribution redundant as we will voluntarily do what is fair due to this deep human knowledge.

How is it more fair (or more moral) to take from one very rich person and give to another very rich person (on a global scale) rather than take from the rich and give to the poorest?

The essential point is that if redistribution is the right thing to do - we should redistribute to the poorest in the world, not the poorest in an arbitrarily drawn area of the globe.

The problem isn't global, it's local - the land issue. All inequality and the levers to perpetuate that inequality originate in how land is 'owned'.

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Life isn't fair - this is true.

How is a politician or an apparatchik deciding what constitutes "fair" better than what would otherwise be? If they are better at deciding what is fair - then they should distribute all of the income. The times this has been tried has ended up being even more "unfair" than the alternative.

If we all think that this is inherently unfair and want to do something about it - this renders the apparatus of distribution redundant as we will voluntarily do what is fair due to this deep human knowledge.

How is it more fair (or more moral) to take from one very rich person and give to another very rich person (on a global scale) rather than take from the rich and give to the poorest?

The essential point is that if redistribution is the right thing to do - we should redistribute to the poorest in the world, not the poorest in an arbitrarily drawn area of the globe.

Like it or not, the world is ordered according to bounded cultural/geographical/linguistic units that for convenience we call societies. These determine the basic shape of that society's structures of governance, which is a real, practical discipline.

Unless and until there is some notion of the world as a single society, the discourse you are trying to provoke is pointless navel gazing.

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Sure, but base money and government bonds paying 6% isn't banking - its taxpayers giving a gift to someone who hasn't done anything.

0% on money doesn't imply you can borrow it for that, it just implies you can't profit by merely possessing it.

That is utter rubbish.

Where did they get the 'money' to lend us in the first place?

Have sovereign wealth funds not 'earned' the money they then lend to us a 6% interest?

Most soverign wealth funds, as an example, have got their money from selling resources which they sold to others who have used these resources to generate wealth.

You are obviously a pretty intelligent person

But you are completely blinkered in your thinking on this issue IMO.

:blink:

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Like it or not, the world is ordered according to bounded cultural/geographical/linguistic units that for convenience we call societies. These determine the basic shape of that society's structures of governance, which is a real, practical discipline.

Unless and until there is some notion of the world as a single society, the discourse you are trying to provoke is pointless navel gazing.

I understand the practicl relities of WHY we have the system we do.

I am merely trying to point out that the basis of it is no longer morality and more one of convenience.

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The problem isn't global, it's local - the land issue. All inequality and the levers to perpetuate that inequality originate in how land is 'owned'.

But does dividing land equally between all the people lead to a better society?

I believe experience shows that it does not.

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The problem isn't global, it's local - the land issue. All inequality and the levers to perpetuate that inequality originate in how land is 'owned'.

Yes, I believe that the original askers for and campaigners toward the welfare state understood that their grandparents had been forced away from raw materials/land at gunpoint and wanted welfarism as a halfway house between getting the land back (not all that feasible because of the 80% population cull it would entail sorting the issues out) and the status quo.

We are seeing again the rise of arguments for restitution of the original crime now that the cash is running out for bread and circuses - land tax being one such scheme aimed at doing that. (Won't work, but that's the aim of it.)

One reason for a "property owning democracy" is it creates a legions of "my house is worth loads, I'm so glad I have given up the right to wander aorund the earth freely and not be a de facto slave" ******nuts who will defend the status quo.

Until the actual problem and issue is sorted - the violent imposition of arbitary rules by a minority - nothing can be fixed, the cycle will continue.

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But does dividing land equally between all the people lead to a better society?

I believe experience shows that it does not.

There shouldn't be any land, or rather violence should cease to be used to enforce the delusion that there is such a thing.

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when did we have the right to wander the earth freely?

even prehistoric man didn't have that.

Everyone has that - they always have had.

It can only be taken away.

Same with any of your innate abilities.

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But does dividing land equally between all the people lead to a better society?

I believe experience shows that it does not.

Dividing the land equally isn't being suggested, nor is it the only alternative to our current system.

Edited by shipbuilder

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That is utter rubbish.

Where did they get the 'money' to lend us in the first place?

A man or woman typed the money numbers into a computer, gave them to 'them' then they lent numbers to us.

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A man or woman typed the money numbers into a computer, gave them to 'them' then they lent numbers to us.

Of course someone who is enlightened can just email it back to them as repayment.

Sadly, critical thinking and self esteem are fairly rare these days.

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Yes, I believe that the original askers for and campaigners toward the welfare state understood that their grandparents had been forced away from raw materials/land at gunpoint and wanted welfarism as a halfway house between getting the land back (not all that feasible because of the 80% population cull it would entail sorting the issues out) and the status quo.

Indeed, and the right in law to withdraw labour is simply a poor substitute for being able to refuse an offer of work and go home to a home-grown meal.

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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