Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Archive for September 2012

Paging All Vegetarian Supervillians

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It’s hard to convince people to stop eating meat by making them guilty for doing so (sure hasn’t worked on me yet). It would be a lot easier if instead they felt horrific physical illness after eating meat. It turns out this is a real possibility: tick-induced meat allergy is totally a thing. Just breed the little buggers and release them en masse in major cities. Its about the only way I can imagine, short of the invention of delicious super-cheap vat-grown “meat”, that most people will stop eating animals.

Written by James Bailey

September 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Is Paying Taxes Immoral?

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The US Government is a huge organization that performs many many actions. I think almost anyone could come up with something the government does that they don’t like. I think many people could come with something the government does that is downright evil: bomb Afghan farmers, imprison innocents, pass on money to even worse governments or groups.

Given this, I am surprised that I can’t recall a single person arguing that it is immoral to pay taxes. Sure, people will grumble about losing their money or about how the government will just waste it. But no one argues that you have a moral obligation to make sure that less of your money goes to evil purposes- whether by working so little (or giving away so much) you incur no tax obligation, finding every possible loophole, or simply illegally evading paying taxes. Why not? Do you not have blood on your hands for financing the government’s murders and other evil deeds?

I avoid the force of this argument by being (or aspiring to be) utilitarian. You have to average out all the effects of paying taxes to determine the morality of it. The government does many good things and very many morally neutral things to balance out the bad. Plus avoiding all taxes would be quite costly to me, and my utility counts too.

But many people don’t think this way. They refuse to flip the switch in the trolley problem. They boycott corporations for running sweatshops, or giving money to causes they don’t like, or various other perceived evils. Shouldn’t they think paying taxes is immoral, and do what they can to avoid it?

Written by James Bailey

September 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm