Ethics Discussion

Is it ethical to pay a vendor in cash in order to get a substantial discount (e.g. 25%) even when one has a pretty good guess the vendor is accepting the cash and giving the discount in order to cheat on taxes and perhaps other laws?  Ignore the business reliability questions this raises (e.g. if one thinks the vendor is cheating Uncle Sam, doesn't this make it more likely he will also cheat me?).   Just pure ethics -- how responsible might one be for this vendor's illegal actions, and if one is, how sure would one have to be that the vendor has illegal intentions for this responsibility to cut in.


  1. Michael Stack:

    I think it depends on what you mean by "other laws". If you thought they were going to commit crimes against people or property, you have a stronger ethical obligation than if the company is simply having less of their money taken by the state.

    Assuming you don't think folks had an obligation to report runaway slaves in the early 1800's, I don't think you have any obligation to worry about whether this company is subverting tax law.

  2. The_Big_W:

    Cash in the US is considered as "legal tender for all debts private and public".

    Perfectly acceptable for paying any bill of any kind.

  3. Artemis:

    Really this is no different from buying speakers that you know, or have a strong reason to believe, are stolen.

    If you actively seek to benefit from someone breaking the law then you are complicit and carry some burden of the guilt ethically (even if not legally -- though often that is true as well). A 25% discount is substantial and likely gives this vendor an advantage over other vendors. So in addition to breaking the law, they are competing in a way I would find unethical. One could make an ethical argument for "I disagree with this tax so I refuse to pay it and only buy from similar scofflaws", however the more superior ethical position would be "I only buy from similar scofflaws, but refuse to accept any personal gain for my civil disobedience". Civil disobedience for personal gain is dangerous ethical ground.

    The "runaway slave" analogy given below has two problems. 1 - Refusing to obey a law for moral/ethical reasons is different then refusing to obey one for personal gain. 2 - Someone who refused to report runaway slaves was likely not personally benefiting from it. A better (though not perfect) analogy would be "Is it ethical to employ runaway slaves for 25% below the minimum wage in exchange for not reporting them". I suspect that the commenter might not be so eager to defend that position.

  4. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    I consider taxes part of the price we pay for a civilized society -- and by extension, willingly paying every cent of tax legally owed (albeit not one cent more) part of the price each of us pays for being a civilized person.

    (Speaking of slaves, we all know how the Civil War and subsequent Civil Rights enforcement have been funded...taxes.)

    After reading your question, I did some quick research. I see a few reasons for offering discounts in general.

    As for the particular form of payment, there is an understandable reason to encourage customers to pay with something other than a credit card -- namely, the interchange fees. (Next question: Is the merchant violating their contract with the credit card processor by offering non-credit card discounts?)

    But why not offer equally favorable terms for paper checks, then? Yes, a check has to be, well, checked and maybe a driver's license or similar ID needs to be asked for. On the other hand, checks typically don't get stolen (or, above a certain total amount, attract police or banking attention) or need change made for them, and just a glance is all it takes to verify you got the right amount.

    So if a merchant offered a discount for cash and cash alone -- unless they also had an across the board "no checks" policy -- I would indeed start wondering if they were trying to evade taxes.

    And if so, yeah I would also wonder whom else they cheat. Some folks just think it's different when it's the gummint, just as some people shoplift from, say, Wal-Mart but they'd never consider stealing directly from their neighbor. ("They're so big and rich they'll never miss it.") Other people just steal from anyone they can get away with, laws and morals be damned.

  5. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    No one's disputing that. The question here is when a merchant specifically encourages paying in cash, do they have evil motives? They just might.

  6. Stephen_Macklin:

    You and the vendor have agreed on a price and payment for goods or services. That is the extent of your involvement in the transaction. What he does or does not do with the proceeds of of his half of the exchange is not your responsibility.

    Secondarily, if it is a tax advantage for the vendor to discount 25% on cash transaction, the problem is the tax code.

  7. randian:

    I'm not a tax investigator and I don't want to be one. So long as I am correctly reporting my side of the transaction I don't see how I would have any legal liability for their tax evasion, if indeed they are doing so. Were I paying cash I would want to make certain I can document what I'm getting for my money, otherwise my cash payments start looking like money laundering.

  8. morganovich:

    agreed. what someone chooses to do when filing their own taxes is none of my concern. i would certainly look to avoid doing business with vendors for a variety of ethical reasons including if i thought they stole the product, used slave labor, or even if they donated 20% of profits to support pro marxist curricula in elementary schools, but paying taxes just does not pop up on my radar screen of things to care about any more than i would refrain from ordering pizza if i thought the delivery guys exceeded the speed limit.

    i think a lot of this comes down to how one feels about the ethical obligation to pay taxes. personally, i do not feel that, for example, setting up a company in X fashion in order to avoid taxes is in any way unethical. i would not even consider not using the products of google or apple because they have done tax inversions.

    how is taking cash and not reporting it any ethically different? it's legally different, but legalism and ethics are not synonymous.

    many laws over time have been unethical. one could certainly posit that conscientious objection to such laws and a conscious failure to follow them (like reporting runaway slaves) could actually be the only ethical act when faced with such laws.

    if one generally believes coercive taxation by threat of force to be unethical and unjust, then actually seeking out such folks that wish to be paid in cash to avoid taxes might be justifiable and ethical as the rendering of assistance to those seeking to defend their own rights.

  9. Artemis:

    Lawful and ethical are not the same thing and they are not synonymous. One can be lawfully unethical or ethically unlawful.

    Paying taxes does not make one civilized. - I wonder if Jeffrey Deutsch would consider "willingly paying every cent of tax legally owed" a sign of how civilized he is if congress passed and Trump signed a $100 surtax on internet blog comments? Or perhaps the poll tax? Did paying the poll tax make white voters civilized? Were those who could not afford the poll tax therefore uncivilized? I guess that makes a pretty simple moral high ground, if one is willing to overlook all those through history who were crushed and oppressed by various wrongful tax schemes.

    Blindly obeying law does not a civilized society make. But implying that those who disagree are ignorant and stupid with such phrases as "gummint" does a sense of righteous self satisfaction and superiority make.

  10. The_Big_W:

    Yes, they may have evil motives. But they are setting the price and you are buying the service. Cash is an acceptable form of payment. The discount is their to proffer and yours to accept. The aspect of trying to read their mind with respect to legal obligations they have that are not yours, its essentially "buying trouble".

    Now it is noted in another post that if they are selling stolen property and you know it, you may be complicit. However, from what is implied in the question, that does not appear to be part of the issue (i.e. the question is, what if they are asking for cash in order to welch on their taxes).

    Ironically, I think the more dangerous trend is that of requiring all transactions to be by credit or debit card. This would allow the government via the banks to be able to track ALL monetary transactions. Conversely from this example there are potential transactions between parties that should not at all be subject to taxation. Getting rid of cash destroys this kind of freedom of interaction between people and will be a very dangerous thing when it finally does happen.

  11. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    You are correct: What is legal is not always morally right, and vice versa.

    However, whether or not you agree the law is right, I feel it's only right and decent to obey the law. It's a matter of respect for your fellow citizens who (1) do agree with the law and (2) willingly also obey the laws they don't agree with but you do.

    So yes, I feel that obedience is a virtue. If you feel a certain law or tax is wrong, protest it through the many means available in a free society like this one.

    There are exceptions -- but as Ayn Rand pointed out, we can't build ethics on lifeboat questions. For example, we have a contingency plan for if -- despite a large and diverse citizenry with all the protections of free speech, free press and private property -- both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed a blog comment tax and President Trump signed it into law. It's called the First Amendment and the Federal court system.

    And yes, I do look down on folks who equate every law they disagree with -- including for personal gain -- with the worst possible laws like the Fugitive Slave Act. You did a great job shredding Michael Stack's fallacy.

    Keep in mind my phrase "some folks". We all know there are indeed certain people who are that ignorant, and my term "gummint" is aimed at them. "Intelligent opposition" is neither an oxymoron nor a redundancy.

    As for poll taxes -- I agree with them. I would have no problem assessing each voting citizen a small per capita tax. I think a republic, to survive, needs an educated and serious electorate.

    Yes, poll taxes -- like, say, literacy tests for voting -- have been abused in the past. For that matter, so have fire hoses and police dogs during that shameful period in our history. Abusus non tollit usum.

    (Speaking of said shameful period, you will recall that Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr and their comrades were not the only ones who saw a sharp distinction between legality and morality. Lester Maddox, Orval Faubus and others also placed their morality above the law -- in this case, above the lawful orders of the Federal courts. Civil disobedience can point in any direction.)

  12. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Secondarily, if it is a tax advantage for the vendor to discount 25% on cash transaction, the problem is the tax code."

    The problem is that it isn't a legal advantage. It's not that the tax code advantages cash transactions, but that cash transactions are untraceable. With checks and CC transactions there are all sorts of banking records created outside of the control of the business that allow the government to prove that a business was under-reporting revenue from those sources.

    In other words, a business operating on a cash basis can cheat on it's taxes by under-reporting revenue and faces much less risk of being caught.

  13. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Is the merchant violating their contract with the credit card processor by offering non-credit card discounts?"

    There are several challenges to the legality of such provisions winding their way through the courts. At least one is being backed by the CFPB.

  14. Matthew Slyfield:

    "A 25% discount is substantial and likely gives this vendor an advantage
    over other vendors. So in addition to breaking the law, they are
    competing in a way I would find unethical."

    In what universe is offering customers a better price an unethical form of competition?

  15. Bistro:

    Does this apply to gas stations that give a discount on gasoline prices if paid in cash instead of credit card? Are they all thought criminals too?

  16. Stephen_Macklin:

    A vendor who is willing to offer a discount for cash in order to avoid taxes is not going to offer a discount greater than the tax burden on the transaction. If discounting a transaction 25% costs the vendor less than the taxes on the full transaction, i.e. the tax on the full amount is greater than 25%, I maintain that the problem is the tax code.

  17. Bistro:

    Let me provide some more history and context, it was legal and therfore morally acceptable to round up jews for the germans?
    'cause, you know? They were just obeying the law.

  18. morganovich:

    However, whether or not you agree the law is right, I feel it's only right and decent to obey the law. It's a matter of respect for your fellow citizens who (1) do agree with the law and (2) willingly also obey the laws they don't agree with but you do.

    i think this is an extremely problematic position. it presumes the laws are ethical and decent. "obedience is a virtue" is even more fraught.

    we CAN build ethics on the rights of the individual and the avoidance of the use of coercive force.

    keep in mind that a tax where if you do not pay, you simply do not get services is VERY different than one where of you do not pay, armed people come to your home and kidnap you.

    the fact that this happening is popular does not make it ethical. i think you are very much misreading and selectively quoting ayn rand.

    she was very much in favor of escaping the coercive yoke of a regulatory and tax driven state and entering into only consent driven transactions.

    you seem to be mistaking legalism for morality and ignoring the role that civil disobedience played in ending several of the abhorrent practices you cite. you seem to be missing a key distinction:

    there is a difference between civil disobedience to defend the rights of individuals and civil disobedience to take those rights.

    rosa parks and lester maddox are not the same thing. she fought for rights, he fought against them.

    she wished to be free of coercive diktat and he wished to impose it.

    you appear to be equating a desire for liberty with a desire to subjugate and calling them equivalent.

    that is not a tenable view. it could support any form of tyranny and legalism.

  19. morganovich:

    consider this:

    google and apple have (legally) taken dramatic actions to greatly reduce their tax liability. is this unethical? is supporting a mortgage interest tax deduction or a child tax credit?

    if tax avoidance is ethical (and i'll bet you like most of us avail yourself of it) then we're really just talking about whether it is ethical to not just avoid but to evade taxes. the only real difference is legalism and popularity.

    i think you will have a very difficult time defending either approach from an ethical standpoint.

    i also think you will find it very difficult to argue for the forcible taking of property from the unwilling under threat of imprisonment and seizure from any sort of first principles.

    sure, we can use appeal to common practice or appeals to legalism, but those are both forms of logical fallacy.

    i'm curious, how would you define as just and ethical the state taking property by force from those who did not agree to such a deal?

  20. The_Big_W:

    On a side note, I can't think very many questions that would be better than this one at determining - How libertarian is my blog audience?

  21. jimc5499:

    I'd say no. Credit cards charge vendors a percentage of the sale.

  22. morganovich:

    "Really this is no different from buying speakers that you know, or have a strong reason to believe, are stolen."

    actually, i think it is dramatically different. to steal speakers is to violate the rights of the victim. it it to take, without permission, the property of another.

    note that that last phrase is also a perfectly accurate description of taxing an unwilling payer and enforcing such with a threat of force.

    that's armed robbery, not just burglary. it's a far more serious crime in the eyes of the law. yet you seek to excuse the armed robber, blame the burglar, and equate he who would avoid the armed robber by going home by stealth with being the robber himself?

    your logical framework has a significant flaw in in it.

    you presumed the "legal = ethical" identity. that is not a valid claim, so the rest of your derivations are all falsified. the idea that civil disobedience for personal gain is dangerous ground or that you somehow owe any benefit you get from it to society is both false and orthogonal. you are again presuming legalism. your runaway slave example is easily demolished. what about the slave running away in the first place? that is personal gain. does that somehow cloud his act? it was personal gain for blacks to oppose jim crow laws. does this cast shade on the movement? it was personal gain to oppose taxation without representation and revolt from the British crown.

    by your logic, the whole us revolution was "dangerous ethical ground". the idea that benefit is what this pivots on is absurd. it pivots on supporting rights versus supporting coercion.

    your final example is not at all analogous and riddled with flaws. first off, it implies extortion which is coercive, so the whole analogy is blown right there. second, it posits that a minimum wage is a just practice. it isn't. it's a taking of rights by force, again a coercive act.

    the actually relevant analogy would be: would it be ethical to employ a runaway slave who was willing to work for less than prevailing wages if you paid him in cash and did not report the transaction.

    my answer to that question would be a resounding yes,

    the fact that it benefits both me and him is irrelevant to the ethics.

  23. marque2:

    It depends why the price is being offered at a lower value. Is it because you use slave labor, stolen goods, tax avoidance and certain other issues, then it isn't ethical, no matter how libertarian you are.

  24. marque2:

    Government will get on your butt, if you engage in "contracts" that are wildly suspicious, or if you should have known is a scam. If you are paying cash under the table, in some back alley, while getting goods of dubious origin out of a stolen pick up truck - even though the other person "did all the wrong" other than your cash paying part, you could find yourself in jail.

  25. Ken in NH:

    If you have good reason to believe they are doing something illegal (i.e. they ask you to not report it) then I would walk away. On the other hand, if they are providing documentation (receipts, invoices, &c) then I do not see the problem. If they are then under reporting income or breaking other laws that is their problem and they are stupid for leaving a paper trail.

  26. ReallyOldOne:

    Hi old Coyote. Good to see you post again and such an interesting couple of questions.
    First is it ethical to get.......based on a "pretty good guess". The last time I checked, I am not God, so unless I am double damn sure about something it it only my opinion.
    I always insist on an itemized invoice and paid receipt. If I got both, the vendor is either a fool or is not doing cash to avoid taxes, or likely any other illegal activity. My invoice/paid receipt rule applies to cash, CC or check transactions.
    If the vendor refused to provide an itemized invoice and a paid receipt I would assume nefarious behavior and decline to be a party to the transaction. There could be tax fraud, or a myriad other illegal reasons a vendor will not invoice or provide a paid receipt and I do not want to be part of that.
    With the invoice and paid receipt I would be good to go and what vendors do after that is their business. One other red line I wouldn't cross; if the vendor actually told me it was a tax dodge. I will also pass on commenting on how smart it is to deal with such a person/company.
    Thanks again for such an interesting ethics question that produced all the hilarious angels dancing on the head of a pin comments. Best belly laughs I have had in days.

  27. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    Well yes, the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is obeying the law. And that makes all the difference.

    Two to three decades ago -- while I was in college and graduate school -- I continually attacked the forcible taking of property from the unwilling, under threat of imprisonment and seizure, from first principles.

    Then I learned that first principles aren't everything. For one thing, as David Friedman (Milton Friedman's son) pointed out, only in a few easy cases can you reach libertarian conclusions from first principles.

    For example, everyone has a right not to have potentially poisonous gases pumped near them right? Does that you don't get to breathe (or at least exhale) without their consent? Or, everyone has a right not to have someone else play Russian roulette with them without their consent? No matter how many chambers are in the gun right? Does that mean everyone gets a veto on planes flying overhead and cars driving nearby, because of the crash risk?

    Freedom is often a question of who is free to do what, with what predictable costs and benefits, to whom. As Richard Epstein has pointed out, many questions that seem to be matters of basic principle really have a strong empirical component. That means that which kind of freedom we allow to whom to do what depends on the facts on the ground: tastes, technology and history among other things.

    For example, it's a long standing principle of law that if someone sends you something you didn't ask for, you get to treat it as a gift. Well, that principle long pre-dates cable and satellite TV. Do you get to build or buy a decoder and "take" the cable signals that you didn't ask for, but penetrate your property nonetheless? No, because allowing that kind of freedom would in effect deny the freedom of cable and satellite TV companies to offer paid programming and the freedom of subscribers to get it if they pay for it.

    Bottom line: Yes, in some situations it's a clear matter of coercion vs. freedom. Most of those situations are described in criminal law (and the laws of intentional torts).

    But most of the time, everyone's interfering with everyone else's freedom. There are so many ways we get into each other's hair -- if you have a significant Economics background, check out A. Allan Schmid's Property, Power and Public Choice.

    The best we can do is:

    (1) Eliminate inefficient restrictions on freedom (restrictions that don't gain us anything else, such as security or equality)

    (2) See how different policies produce different levels of freedom compares to other values

    (3) Agree to preserve some basic rights on a Constitutional level (freedom of speech, freedom of the press, due process, etc) -- understanding that even basic Constitutional rights are not absolute

    (4) Earnestly negotiate with our fellow citizens -- most of whom, rightly or wrongly, do not consider freedom to be the only value (keep in mind that values, like anything else, are subject to diminishing marginal utility)

    (5) Sign and seal the social contract: Agree to obey all the laws, including those you disagree with, in return for your fellow citizens doing the same.

  28. Thane_Eichenauer:

    Since when are third parties responsible for sleuthing motives of potential tax compliance?

  29. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    Ah yes, Godwin's Law. The last -- in some cases the first -- refuge of those who oppose a law and want to disobey it.

    Think of it as like seat belts. The vast majority of times, seat belts save lives.

    There have been cases where seat belts have killed by preventing someone's escape in time. But those cases are very rare.

    So it is with laws.

    You want history and context? OK, guess how the Germans came to pick Nazism and the Italians accepted fascism? Hint: You might have heard the phrase "gets the trains running on time". That literally mattered to many Italians, as a sample of government gone disorderly.

    The Weimar Republic, especially in its last years, was disorderly indeed. People routinely got beaten up and even killed for their politics. And many judges and other officials, who disliked the liberal (post-Imperial) Weimar Republic, stood by and let it happen.

    Germans got sick of it and voted for the ones who could deliver order -- the Nazis.

    (By the way, that's how al-Qaeda made headway in Somalia. It had been the poster child for anarchy since 1991, and people will support pretty much any government over anarchy. Including the Islamic Courts.)

    This is still a relatively free country because it can be. And it can be because most people willingly obey the laws -- yes, including the ones they don't like -- without having to be forced to do so. Willing obedience is a substitute for the police state.

    Whereas if people in general feel free to pick and choose which rules they'll obey, past a certain point we'll need a Hitler or a Mussolini -- complete with all the tools of totalitarianism -- to keep us all in line.

  30. Vangel:

    Yes. It is moral and ethical to reduce the looting by the government.

  31. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    Rights, liberty, coercion and subjugation.

    Defined how? Blank-out.

    Defined by whom? Blank-out.

    How do you feel about the Civil Rights Act of 1964? It's the crowning glory of the (US) civil rights movement.

    It also violated the rights of private owners to decide whom to do business with (and the rights of states and localities to decide those matters themselves). Unfortunately, when those rights were exercised according to long-established patterns (ie, many hotels and other public accommodations gave black people inferior accommodations or just refused to serve them at all), that added up to a system of second class citizenship for black people -- de facto even if not de jure.

    That's another freedom issue by the way. Certain things are OK when done once in a while by a few people, but very bad when many people consistently do them year in and year out.

  32. Jeffrey Deutsch:

    Good to know -- thank you!

    If and when one of the legal challenges succeeds, then we can be better assured that cash discounts are legitimate.

  33. Matthew Slyfield:

    1. The crime wouldn't be the cash discount, it would be the tax evasion. Tax evasion isn't thought crime, it's real crime.

    2. Discounts are generally legitimate, however, if a business operates strictly case only, accepting neither checks nor credit/debit cards that can be a bit suspicious.

  34. Matthew Slyfield:

    1. Business don't pay taxes on individual transactions. Sales/Vat taxes are supposed to be paid by the buyer. The tax doesn't come out of the business pocket.

    2. Business are taxed on net income, but that's collected quarterly or annually like personal income taxes. While the federal business tax rate is 39% and states add their own corporate income taxes on top of that, the tax is on net income, not gross revenue, so there isn't any kind of direct relationship to individual transaction amounts.

    3. Credit card transaction fees which would be the biggest legitimate motive for a cash discount are under 5% so that can't explain a 25% cash discount either.

    4. There are other possible motives for wanting untraceable transactions beyond tax evasion, most of which would involve other forms of illegality

  35. Matthew Slyfield:

    Using, slave labor, stolen goods, tax avoidance or other potentially illegal methods to reduce costs are unethical. That can't make offering a lower price in and of itself unethical.

  36. Matthew Slyfield:

    Using, slave labor, stolen goods, tax avoidance or other potentially illegal methods to reduce costs are unethical. That can't make offering a lower price in and of itself unethical.

  37. Agammamon:

    1. I don't believe that cheating on your taxes is unethical.

    2. I'm kinda iffy on whether or not cheating on your taxes is *ethical* though.

    With that said - it is illegal. And if you know, or *should know* (ie, reasonable person in your situation knows what's really going on) then you knew you were abetting an illegal act.

    So, in light of #2 above, if you think you have a moral duty to pay as little gelt to the people who are going to turn around and spend it on endless wars and oppression - then no, you're not acting unethically in that situation.

  38. regularjoeski:

    If his cost is more than 35.9% of the original bid it may not be tax evasion. A 25% discount for cash may be to get the buyer to move without transaction costs, esp if the seller does not trust that the buyer is solvent. It could be a negotiation move, ie seeing if you are serious. If you balk at the discount you were wasting his time. Maybe you insist on paying full price because you are sure it was a trap, got you. There are multiple game theory reasons to make the offer, only one is tax evasion. FWIW if you offer cash you never get a 25% discount, if you do you are still overpaying.

  39. marque2:

    Sorry, one and the same.

  40. me:

    Not at all - the way the responsibility flows is that this is up to their side.

    Now, granted - this is a serious flaw in tax law (nobody should ever pay taxes on income or gains, as they are prone to reporting games, instead have people pay a transaction tax and you'll get a much improved system).

  41. Mercury:

    Are we to assume that everything illegal is also unethical? If so, there is less and less ethical activity allowed every year.

    Cash is the common man's all-purpose privilege...which I suppose one abuses at one's own risk.

    Not all of us are in a position to trade favors for sex, dump pre-IPO private equity into offshore accounts, exercise soft power for personal gain through our charitable foundations, elude serious consequences for criminal behavior, leverage our celebrity for luxury goods and services or pull various strings to unwrap ourselves from government red tape.

  42. Heresiarch:

    In ethical terms, you're not at all responsible for his actions, legal or otherwise. If it were malum in se, like buying goods you were pretty sure were stolen, or if you had a pretty good idea he or she was going to victimize someone who probably can't take care of his own affairs, I could see the logic, and often agree, but this seems more like malum prohibitum, and the government can take care of its own interests. If they're so worried about tax evasion, they can pass a law barring cash payments, or something.

  43. marque2:

    Tax avoidance may or may not be ethical. First lets assume the avoidance is legal avoidance, as opposed to illegal tax scams. So, how about this scenario. Google uses lobbyists to get the government to create a program to give a massive subsidy in the form of a tax break for doing some PC eco thing - like the massive solar panels Google recently put up? I think I have seen you decry that type of activity on another economic blog that you frequent. Google is taking the people's money for a nonsensical project in order to save themselve's taxes.

  44. marque2:

    You have been arguing well - in most of your posts here. But please note that Godwin's law has its own problems and generally should be ignored. There are definite things that NAZI Germany did that we can learn from, and legitimately compare to today's life situations. and just by calling Godwin to discredit the argument, you are yourself engaged in fallacious arguments. I think Godwin applies more to frustrated, not well thought out uses of NAZI imagery. As in "Oh yeah, well you are just as bad as the NAZI's!" or "I don't care, Trump is a NAZI!"

    Your history lesson is also a bit problematic. Wiemar didn't have any money - what little money German's had was sucked away by repatriation expenses. They couldn't afford to stop crime, it wasn't from abandonment of principle. The crime was really NAZI/Communists, killing each other and terrorizing Germans. NAZI's also did not win the German election, they came in second place and used trickery to take control of parliament, when parliament was bombed by - I believe the NAZIs.

  45. marque2:

    Having less money taken by the state is stealing from all of us. Interesting notion that it is bad to commit crimes against one individual's property, but it is lovely to steal from all 300 million Americans. Ah libertarians ...

  46. Heresiarch:

    Then the IRS needs to complain to Congress and get them to change the law. Except, y'know, political Hell to pay, and all that.

  47. Heresiarch:

    This merely incentivizes the proponents of more taxes to rationalize new and expanded definitions of "civilized". I think we could pay a lot less in taxes and still be perfectly civilized by world-historical standards.

  48. Heresiarch:

    That's no kind of an answer. You could use that sort of logic to justify anything. "Are you gay and getting married and you only have 19 bakeries who will bake your cake, where everyone else has 20? Ooo, you're a second-class citizen! That justifies us taking over the economic lives of the bakers! But don't worry, I'm sure they and all the other people we screwed won't band together and elect people we consider awful, like, oh, let's take an insane example like Donald Trump. Nope, not gonna happen. We forced all of them together with people they don't like and don't want to be with, but they'll get over it, because that always works to create a loving, cohesive country."

  49. Heresiarch:

    How on earth can you argue in favor of Rosa Parks and almost in the same breath say, "Whereas if people in general feel free to pick and choose which rules they'll obey, past a certain point we'll need a Hitler or a Mussolini -- complete with all the tools of totalitarianism -- to keep us all in line"? What was she doing if not picking and choosing which rules she'll obey? What might one say, "Oh, she was part of something that got mythologized as "the Civil Rights Movement", so that one doesn't count as a violation of society and the Rule of Law"?