Microsoft Hatred FAQ

Terry Hancock hancock at
Mon Oct 24 17:38:01 CEST 2005

On Monday 24 October 2005 08:19 am, Roedy Green wrote:
> On Mon, 24 Oct 2005 12:35:13 GMT, axel at wrote,
> quoted or indirectly quoted someone who said :
> >I see that you cannot make a reasoned argument against the fact that
> >property in the form of houses is taxed in America.
> And what has his inability to do that to your satisfaction got to do
> with the price of eggs?

Funny you should ask that.  Taxation, mostly in the form of income tax
supports a system of farm subsidies in the United States, that pays
farmers for surplus product, thus artificially elevating the price of
several farm products, including milk, cheese, and (you guessed it) eggs.

The purpose of this (ostensibly anyway) is to keep family farmers in
business, because that is viewed as a social benefit in itself (I happen
to agree with this statement, even if it does mean I pay more for eggs --
though the price is still one of the lowest globally, because the US has
such a large natural surplus of agricultural products owing to arable
land and mostly good weather).

Of course it does produce one of the most notorious examples of wastage --
much of that surplus is allowed to rot (or at least this *was* true at one
time, I haven't fact-checked that in over a decade).  It has been proposed
that most of that food should instead go to foreign aid, or to programs
within the US for eliminating poverty. Certainly some of it does, I
have no idea what the current balance is, though.

The ability to do this, moreover represents the philosophical point
that the government "owns" the economy, in that it has the right,
representing the interests of the people, to pursue public good by
manipulating the economy. In other words, we do not believe in the
formal concept of a laissez faire economy, nor in the idea of "anarchic

People who do support the latter kind of idea frequently say that a
company should be "allowed to do anything to pursue profit, as long
as it isn't illegal".  But of course, they usually turn around and
say that "there is no natural law". The combination of the two philosophies
is nonsensical -- if law consists only of artificial constraints, then
there is no natural basis for arguing what the law "should" allow. Hence,
only the will of the people matters, which means any form of monopoly
restriction is entirely within the powers of a democratic government
to pursue.

Since this includes ANY economic system from "laissez faire capitalism"
to "pure communism", it has no persuasive power whatsoever, and should
be dropped.

If on the other hand, you believe (as I do), that State law is an
embodiment, backed up by State power, to implement the best approximation
we can manage of "natural law" (i.e. law as evident to at least a
consensus of human minds, albeit through transcendental rather than
empirical derivation), then there IS a basis for arguing what laws
"should" be.  But you can't make arguments about what law "should"
be if you don't acknowledge that law is measured against some external

This is of course, another result of the Human tendency to confuse
"NULL" with "ZERO".  The absence of an external system of evaluating
law, does not mean that all laws must be negated. It equates to having
no basis for prefering them to exist or not, and thus abdicating all
right to change them.  People who believe this really need, therefore,
to shut up.


Terry Hancock ( hancock at )
Anansi Spaceworks

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