Monday, November 23, 2009

Taxation, and Social Contracts.

I have stated in the past that taxes are inherently a form of theft, and social contracts are a bunch of bullshit. After thinking on it further, I was wrong.

Let's start with taxes. If you are an anarchist, you believe all government is bad, and all taxation is theft (you cannot run a government without some form of taxation). Many people believe libertarians are anarchists. Some are. Most aren't. I am not; I believe government has a legitimate function; to protect your rights from others, and protect others' rights from you.

The place where taxation becomes theft is when it involves taking your money for the purpose of giving to others. What's the difference, you ask?

Well, first you have to understand what I mean by rights. We have come to associate "rights" with "needs" or even "desires" as in "I have a right to food, shelter, basic medical care, TV, affordable transportation, etc." These are needs, or desires. I do not believe on any respect that they are rights. All rights are freedoms *from* something, not something being given to you for free.

You have a right not to have your things stolen.
You have a right not to be forced into slavery.
You have a right not to be cheated or lied to in business.

I could go on, but these are rights to *not* have things done to you. And that is what government should be there to do. Defense of the borders? Good role. Policing the streets? Good role. A system of courts to administer justice, and jails to house the lawbreakers? Good role. These are all legitimate. And they require taxes.

So no, I don't think taxation is inherently theft. But when it comes to government providing goods and services, then yes. I think it is always theft. Every time. And any government program which involves providing goods and services is funded by theft.

Are all government programs bad things? By no means. I love the space program. I drive on our highways. That doesn't change the fact that I believe they are illegitimate, funded by theft, and should never have been administered by the government. I also believe that the free market (were we to have one) would provide much, much better.

Even the government programs that you love, that I love, if they provide goods or services - even these the most statist among us would admit are hopelessly inefficient, bloated, and poorly run. Government by its very nature is wasteful, since it spends money not its own, generally on people not its own. There is no and can be no incentive to provide efficiently.

So what percentage of our taxes is theft? I don't know; I'd have to
A) analyze our budget exceedingly closely, and
B) trust that the numbers provided are accurate
and neither of those seems like a winning use of my time. But on a guess, I'd say probably 95% of our tax dollars are theft, taking money from one person, then giving it to somebody else, after taking a cut.

When the mob does that, it's despicable. When the government does that, it's somehow supposed to be better. Not in my opinion.

But just because taxes are generally theft, or usually theft, or almost always theft, doesn't mean it's ALWAYS theft, or even inherently so. Where the money is used makes a difference in legitimacy.

So, that takes us to social contracts.

Now, here it's a matter of terminology. Most people use "social contract" to mean something that is accepted by society, and is considered okay because of majority rule. I reject that. The majority is usually wrong. And when I find myself in the majority of almost anything, it makes me immediately question whether I know enough to have a valid opinion.

People will use the term "social contract" to signify a vague thing that allows them to get whatever they want, or feel is just. Nowhere do they have a copy of this social contract. Nowhere can they define this social contract. But they'll use it to push for Universal Health Care, Gun Control, Prayer in Schools, banning Gay Marriage, or any other pet cause they believe either has a majority behind it, or that they believe is a moral imperative.

Again, I reject this. If you cannot show me a contract that I have agreed to live by, it does not exist. If there is nothing spelled out in black and white that I have agreed to, it does not exist.

So what social contract do I believe in? For there is one. I have agreed to it. I have sworn to uphold it. I have studied it extensively. I think it is one of the finest contracts ever devised. It is called the Constitution of the United States of America. By living in this country, I agree to live by its constitution. It is not vague. It does not permit the fickle wind of public opinion to change its fundamental principles.

If this country were to return to the social contract signed on September 17, 1787, we would once again take our place as the champions of freedom that we once were. We could return to the prosperity that freedom brings. And we would be freed of most of the theft that our government currently engages in.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Updated Classical Music List

So I've been away a bit longer than I intended. The reasons are

A) My computer crashed. Again. But I think I've solved the problem this time (though I'm now in the process of re-installing all the programs I use, plus trying to recover all the files... AAAAARRRRGGHHHH!!!!)

B) I'm buying a house. And that takes a good bit of time.

Anyway, I've been given some great suggestions, and I'm adding a lot of them here. Not all, though. The purpose behind this list is not to collect the best classical music, the most beautiful, the most moving, etc. It's to compile a list of the most famous works (famous by music, not by title). Works that people have probably heard at least once, if they have any exposure to classical music.

For that reason, I'm leaving out one of my favorite composers, and this might lead to a fist-fight with my brother-in-law Ed (I hope not; he'd kick my ass). But I can't think of any Mahler pieces that non-music snobs would recognize. Which is a shame. I don't know - feel free to weigh in on this one, maybe I just need some more voices. Other than the ones in my head. Shut up, Lews Therin!

Anyway, the idea is that if somebody wanted to kinda get a feel for the most mainstream of classical works, this would be the list to go to. We have lists like this for popular music in the dueling pianos world - Brown Eyed Girl, Hotel California, etc.

So here goes round number two.

Prelude in C, Well-Tempered Clavier book one
Air on a G String
Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello
Toccata and Fugue in Dm

Fur Elise
Piano Sonata No. 8 in Cm, Op. 13, (the Pathétique Sonata)
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C#m, Op. 27, No. 2, (the "Moonlight" Sonata) - first movement
Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb, Op. 73 (the "Emperor Concerto")
Symphony No. 5 in Cm, Op. 67
Symphony No. 9 in Dm, Op. 125

West Side Story

Nocturne in Eb, Op. 9, No. 2
Waltz Op. 64, No. 2 in C#m
Scherzo No. 2 in Bbm, Op. 31
Fantaisie-Impromptu in C#m

Clair de Lune

Slavonic Dances, Op. 46 and Op. 72
Symphony No. 9 in E, "From the New World" (Op. 95, B. 178), (New World Symphony)
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191

Requiem in Dm, Op. 48

Ave Maria

Suite from Peer Gynt
Piano Concerto in Am, Op. 16

Water Music

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
Liebestraum (No. 3)

"To a Wild Rose" Op. 51, No. 1

Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K 331, last movement (Rondo alla Turca)
Sonata in C, K 545, first movement
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467
Le nozze di Figaro
Die Zauberflöte
Serenade No. 13 for strings in G, K. 525, (Eine kleine Nachtmusik)
Requiem Mass in D minor K. 626
Don Giovanni
Ave Verum Corpus

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

Prelude in C#m
Piano Concerto No. 2 in Cm, Op. 18
Piano Concerto No. 3 in Dm, Op. 30
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in Am, opus 43

William Tell Overture
The Barber of Seville

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78

Gymnopedie No. 1

Six Moments musicaux, D. 780 Op. 94

The Nutcracker
The Year 1812, Festival overture in Eb, Op. 49 (1812 Overture)
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bbm, Op. 23

Ride of the Valkyries

I swear I thought of a dozen more over the last two weeks, but I didn't write them down.

Anyway, I'm having fun with this, and it's making me listen to some great music again, which I should do more often.