24 April 2009

Illegitimate Tea Parties -- Postscript

Listening to a caller to the Rush Limbaugh Show, hosted today by fellow Texan, Mark Davis, I'm reminded of a rather insidious line of reasoning which, supposedly, shows the illegitimacy of the tea parties. It goes like this, according to the aforementioned: The Tea Parties were not organized at the "grass-roots" level.

Let's assume that is the case. Therefore what, precisely? Well, ostensibly, therefore, they are illegitimate protests; and we can justly, and safely, ignore them.

Here's why I call it insidious. What we have here is an assertion about the organizers of, and the participants in, tea parties. We do not have a refutation of the proposition in support of which the tea parties were held. The tea parties were organized in support of the proposition that, as they put it, we are Taxed Enough Already. I've already mentioned Marie Cocco's attempt, in all fairness to her, one of the few attempts to deal with the proposition. But this line of reasoning is really a line of reasoning which would justify ignoring the protesters, a line of reasoning which would justify minimizing protesters' concerns without even having to refute the proposition.

Joe Schmo asserts P. In the course of discussing P, Joe says he is a grass-roots type of person. Someone antagonistic to Joe, someone who denies P, asserts that Joe is not a grass-roots type.

Here is the logic we're taking about:

1. Protesters assert P (i.e., P is true).
2. Joe is not a grass-roots type.
3. Therefore not-P (i.e., P is false).

Whether the organizing of the tea parties was grass-roots, is irrelevant to the question of whether anyone is taxed enough already.

There is another insidious line of reasoning in some criticisms of the tea parties. It goes like this. A recent Gallup poll found that only 46 percent of Americans say their taxes are too high. Fifty-two percent of those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 said their taxes were about right. This was reported on my evening news, right after their coverage of the tea parties, almost as if to say, "Since a majority of Americans believe that their taxes are about right, that must mean the protesters are wrong." Only a journalist could reason that way, I guess.

The insidious reasoning is that since a large number of Americans are relatively satisfied with their level of taxation, either (1) any protests of taxation are illegitimate and protesters should go along with, and share, the majority opinion, or (2) Americans are not being over-taxed, as tea partiers assert. (Vox populi vox dei. The voice of the majority is gospel.) The insidiousness is precisely this: it denies individuality. It denies to the individual the right to assign his own value to his own property.

It's also specious and tendentious reasoning. Let's take a group G, and examine its members' belief in a proposition P. Let's say a majority of those polled in group G believe P, and that a minority believe that not-P. The majority's belief that P means absolutely nothing to the truth value of P. Nothing whatsoever. Nada. Null. Not only that, but the majority's belief that P has no bearing on the minority's belief that not-P. It means nothing whatever to the minority that the majority believe that P. And for the minority's belief that not-P, the assertion that the majority believe that P is not a refutation: the majority's belief that P, tells us nothing -- absolutely nothing -- about the truth value of P.

So it is irrelevant to the question that 52 percent of Americans earning between $30,000 and $75,000 believe their taxes are about right. And this is important because this poll is reported as if it means that the tea partiers are not being over-taxed. Not only that, but 52 percent of Americans, each one of whom is free to value his tax dollars as he pleases cannot tell me how to value my tax dollars.

Anyone who thinks he's being over-taxed is absolutely correct. Yes, you read that correctly. And I wrote it correctly. If you think you are being over-taxed, then you are being over-taxed. For no one can dictate value to another, except for liberals who, as marxists (by and large), reject the subjective theory of value in favor of the labor theory of value (or some other intrinsic value theory) and do not mind dictating anything to anyone. But note, that assigning the value of a good to the labor involved in production is no less subjective than the subjectivity involved in the subjective theory of value. All we're really talking about in the labor theory of value is the subjective valuation by marxists, of labor over some other standard of valuation. And we are also talking about their imposition of that value upon others.

And that's the problem with Marie Cocco and her type. They believe there is some intrinsic, universally applicable value to all goods. Namely, their own; and, usually, the labor theory. They're sort of dictatorial like that. (It's for own our good.) But there isn't any intrinsic, universally applicable value to any good. If you believe you are over-taxed, then if liberty means anything (including the liberty to assign value to your own goods, including your own dollars), it means you are over-taxed. It's your money. You earned it. And you're free, or should be anyway, to value it as it suits you to do.

And this brings me to one thing with which I definitely agree with Rush Limbaugh about. Leftism is an assault on the individual. Nothing proves that better than when a leftist thoroughly denies an individual the right to determine the value of his own property, especially his money. Maybe I will get a tax cut this year. We'll see. But I'm not going to deny to my wealthy neighbor a right I fully claim for myself: the right to decide for himself the value of his money and whether he thinks too much of it is going into government coffers.

Having blogged twice on the tea parties, I do have this criticism of them. They focused too much on taxes. While I agree with the proposition that, on the whole, Americans pay too much in taxes (and I mean all taxes, at all levels), the real problem is spending. If more focus could have been devoted to spending, them some attention could have been given to inflation (i.e., increase in money supply). And inflation is important because, in addition to being a form of theft, that is where the federal government is going to get the money it doesn't get from taxes or borrowing. And the reason that fact is important is that inflation affects even those people who pay no federal income tax, especially those who live on fixed income, those who live on welfare, those who work for low wages. An increase in the money supply decreases the value, the purchasing power, of those dollars already in circulation (or deposit) at the time of the money supply increase.

But, given that there is still a relation between taxes and government spending, a "party" protesting taxes isn't a complete waste of time.

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James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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