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On the "rights" of Nature

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Felix
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Felix » May 16th, 2019, 2:34 am

GE Morton: "with respect to taxes, the relevant question is, are they (corporations) consuming more government services than they are paying for?"

Yes, that is the whole point. In many cases, they receive far more benefits than they pay out. For example, 60 of the most profitable U.S. Fortune 500 companies paid zero federal income taxes in 2018, including Molson-Coors, IBM, Amazon, General Motors, Chevron and Halliburton. On top of that, many of them also received tax subsidies to establish local plants or branches in various states, with the promise that they'd hire many local residents to work in them, a promise which they then often failed to keep. And multinational corporations also engage in other tax avoidance schemes such as transferring revenue to offshore shell companies, etc.

You might want to actually learn something about the subject you are opining on.....
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Greta
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Greta » May 16th, 2019, 8:01 pm

****

For those requiring tl:dr coverage for the stances presented by GE Morton in the OP, and since:

If you aim to preserve the environment, should you make the slightest mistake in your explanation or execution of policy then that must be criticised harshly and extensively.

However, if you are a corporation aiming to pay zero tax or get taxpayer handouts, go for it. Get what you can.

****

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Felix
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Felix » May 16th, 2019, 10:29 pm

It should be mentioned that the tax evasion by major corporations is only the tip of the social ship sinking iceberg. Here in the U.S., they have many other negative social effects. For example, Walmart builds a mega-store in a small city, often with the aid of the previously mentioned local tax subsidies. Since they can afford to buy consumer staples in massive quantities from international sources (much of their inventory comes from China), they can sell them at retail prices below even the wholesale prices of local small dealers. The result: many local small retailers and their suppliers are driven out of businesss.

On top of that, Walmart executives are paid millions of dollars a year, and yet the corp. does not pay the vast majority of it's workers a living wage, nor do they provide them with health/medical benefits. So when a Walmart employees becomes sick or injured, they must rely on Medicaid, which is the Federal/State medical service for those who cannot afford health insurance. That is, most of Walmart's full time employees could not survive without Federal welfare programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, et. al., services which, remember, Walmart Inc. avoids funding via the use of elaborate tax evasion strategies and political bribes.

I could give many more examples of the detrimental effects of overt and covert corporate graft, e.g., air and water pollution from their industrial processes, but suffice it to say that, all in all, many large corporations are more of a curse than a benefit to society, and Greta's characterization of them as "parasitic" could be an understatement, "predatory" may be a better adjective.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

GE Morton
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by GE Morton » May 17th, 2019, 11:20 am

Felix wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 2:34 am
GE Morton: "with respect to taxes, the relevant question is, are they (corporations) consuming more government services than they are paying for?"

Yes, that is the whole point. In many cases, they receive far more benefits than they pay out. For example, 60 of the most profitable U.S. Fortune 500 companies paid zero federal income taxes in 2018, including Molson-Coors, IBM, Amazon, General Motors, Chevron and Halliburton.
Well, first, Greta's accusation was unqualified and general: "However, corporations are already representing their own interests extremely well and don't hardly need naive ideologue time-wasters to champion their cause. Rest easy, the companies are doing fine, and dodging their tax contributions, and you rationalise their parasitism." That 60 out of (say) the Fortune 1000 largest companies paid no taxes last year doesn't validate that general accusation.

Here is how Amazon reduced its 2018 income tax bill to zero:

http://fortune.com/2019/02/14/amazon-do ... axes-2019/

You don't address the other side of the equation, i.e., what is the value of the government services they are receiving?

But I agree that US income tax laws often result in inequities. Amazon and the others you mention surely consume some government services, such as the benefits of national defense. They should be paying for that somehow. The problem is with the method of assessing taxes, i.e., on incomes. Revenues used to pay expenses are not income, as usually understood. Hence any sort of expense is deductible. In years when businesses have unusually high expenses, they may have no taxable income (Amazon paid substantial taxes in previous years). All of the deductions that Amazon claimed last year are standard, available to any taxpayer. The problem is that Amazon (and all other taxpayers) still benefit from certain government services, whether they have any income or not, and should be paying for it. That means we need a different basis for assessing taxes. Inequities are intrinsic to income taxes.

There are other problems with taxes on businesses --- any kind of tax --- which makes many politicians reluctant to impose them. First, all business taxes are ultimately paid by the consumers of the company's products. That tax burden is a production cost, like labor, rent, energy, etc., and will be reflected in the price of the product, making domestic products less competitive in the global marketplace. That means layoffs, plant closures, reduced GDP --- consequences no one wants.

Nonetheless, if a business benefits from government services it, and its customers, should be paying for them.

A second problem with corporate income taxes is double taxation --- the same income is taxed twice; once by the corporate tax, and again by the stockholders when they receive their dividend checks. The stockholders pay a reduced rate on their dividend income if the company paid income taxes (max 15%) but it is still taxed twice.
On top of that, many of them also received tax subsidies to establish local plants or branches in various states, with the promise that they'd hire many local residents to work in them, a promise which they then often failed to keep. And multinational corporations also engage in other tax avoidance schemes such as transferring revenue to offshore shell companies, etc.
I fully agree that any kind of subsidy for business --- or for anyone else (farmers, opera and dance companies, renters, Amtrak, local school districts and sewer/water utilities, etc.) --- is unjustifiable.
It should be mentioned that the tax evasion by major corporations is only the tip of the social ship sinking iceberg. Here in the U.S., they have many other negative social effects. For example, Walmart builds a mega-store in a small city, often with the aid of the previously mentioned local tax subsidies. Since they can afford to buy consumer staples in massive quantities from international sources (much of their inventory comes from China), they can sell them at retail prices below even the wholesale prices of local small dealers. The result: many local small retailers and their suppliers are driven out of businesss.
Yes, that is the way a free economy works. More efficient methods of producing and delivering a product or service constantly replace less efficient ones. But before you conclude that the "social effects" are negative, you need to factor in the advantages realized by consumers from the lower prices. When electric lights replaced oil lamps lampmakers went out of business and lamplighters and whalers lost their jobs. Should that innovation have been prohibited?
On top of that, Walmart executives are paid millions of dollars a year, and yet the corp. does not pay the vast majority of it's workers a living wage, nor do they provide them with health/medical benefits. So when a Walmart employees becomes sick or injured, they must rely on Medicaid, which is the Federal/State medical service for those who cannot afford health insurance. That is, most of Walmart's full time employees could not survive without Federal welfare programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, et. al., services which, remember, Walmart Inc. avoids funding via the use of elaborate tax evasion strategies and political bribes.
You have the cart before the horse. The only reason Walmart does not pay a "living wage" is because the government has volunteered to supplement that wage. If there was no Medicaid, no food stamps, etc., Walmart would pay a living wage --- because otherwise it would attract no employees.

Let's be clear --- employers are not responsible for their employees' welfare. They are not their mothers, their big brothers, their rich uncles, or their guardians. They have no duty to pay any more for labor than the market requires, just as with any other production factor they must buy. The employee is solely responsible for his own welfare, which means he must acquire skills and work habits that will allow him to earn a "living wage." But as long as long as the government is willing to subsidize his failure to do so he will have little incentive to acquire them.
. . . all in all, many large corporations are more of a curse than a benefit to society, and Greta's characterization of them as "parasitic" could be an understatement, "predatory" may be a better adjective.
Be sure you ask the customers for those corporations' products whether they share that opinion.

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Felix
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Felix » May 17th, 2019, 2:57 pm

GE Morton: "The only reason Walmart does not pay a "living wage" is because the government has volunteered to supplement that wage."

Volunteered? Social services such as Medicaid, food stamps, aid to dependant children, et. al., are paid for by the very taxes that Walmart is evading. These services were not meant to be used by irresponsible employers to take advantage of their employees.

"Let's be clear --- employers are not responsible for their employees' welfare."

Perhaps in the Dickensianian world you prefer to live in, but in a civilisedsociety, we think otherwise. We have found that fair labor compensation and health and safety regulations are necessary to protect workers from unscrupulous employers.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

GE Morton
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by GE Morton » May 17th, 2019, 7:00 pm

Felix wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 2:57 pm

Volunteered? Social services such as Medicaid, food stamps, aid to dependant children, et. al., are paid for by the very taxes that Walmart is evading.
Yes, volunteered. No one forced it to enact those free-lunch schemes.
These services were not meant to be used by irresponsible employers to take advantage of their employees.
Well, that leads us to your next point. For the employer to be charged with acting irresponsibly, you need to show he has that responsibility in the first place. In any bilateral transaction between two persons presumed to have equal status as moral agents both will be seeking to further his own interests, not those of the other party. That is the premise and basis of all contracts. The employer is no more responsible for the welfare of the employee than the employee is for the welfare of the employer, or than you are for the welfare of the many persons with whom you do business on a daily basis. Economic relationships between free, autonomous agents are voluntary, discretionary, and usually transitory. They continue only as long as both parties perceive them to be serving their interests.
Perhaps in the Dickensianian world you prefer to live in, but in a civilised society, we think otherwise.
Yes, many do think otherwise. They believe that the relationship between employers and employees is a paternalistic one, similar to that between parents and children. It isn't; that is a belief derived from the "organic model" of the structure of society, and has no rational basis. Civilized societies are not tribes, "teams," brotherhoods, "big happy families," giant communes, or collectives of any kind. They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who happen, by accident of birth, to share a common territory. Their members have no natural bonds, no shared personal histories, no common interests or goals, no overriding interest in one another's welfare, and no a priori obligations to one another. They are societies of strangers.
We have found that fair labor compensation and health and safety regulations are necessary to protect workers from unscrupulous employers.
Workplace safety regulations are justifiable. But the only "fair" labor compensation is that freely agreed upon between employer and employee.

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Greta
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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Greta » May 17th, 2019, 10:58 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:20 am
Felix wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 2:34 am
GE Morton: "with respect to taxes, the relevant question is, are they (corporations) consuming more government services than they are paying for?"

Yes, that is the whole point. In many cases, they receive far more benefits than they pay out. For example, 60 of the most profitable U.S. Fortune 500 companies paid zero federal income taxes in 2018, including Molson-Coors, IBM, Amazon, General Motors, Chevron and Halliburton.
Well, first, Greta's accusation was unqualified and general: "However, corporations are already representing their own interests extremely well and don't hardly need naive ideologue time-wasters to champion their cause. Rest easy, the companies are doing fine, and dodging their tax contributions, and you rationalise their parasitism." That 60 out of (say) the Fortune 1000 largest companies paid no taxes last year doesn't validate that general accusation.
In summary: Six percent of the very largest companies are massive freeloaders that need to start contributing.

We note that GE avoided mentioning those who paid less than their fair share.

That's manipulative. Just the "logic" of a politician, certainly not what you'd see from a philosophical thinker.

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by GE Morton » May 18th, 2019, 9:41 am

Greta wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:58 pm

We note that GE avoided mentioning those who paid less than their fair share.

That's manipulative. Just the "logic" of a politician, certainly not what you'd see from a philosophical thinker.
Before you can accuse a taxpayer of paying less than his fair share you have to define "fair share." I gave you my definition earlier --- a taxpayer's fair share is the share proportionate to the value of the government services from which he benefits. Though there are undoubtedly some businesses and "rich" taxpayers who pay less than that, most of them pay far more.

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by h_k_s » May 18th, 2019, 11:26 am

GE Morton wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 9:41 am
Greta wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:58 pm

We note that GE avoided mentioning those who paid less than their fair share.

That's manipulative. Just the "logic" of a politician, certainly not what you'd see from a philosophical thinker.
Before you can accuse a taxpayer of paying less than his fair share you have to define "fair share." I gave you my definition earlier --- a taxpayer's fair share is the share proportionate to the value of the government services from which he benefits. Though there are undoubtedly some businesses and "rich" taxpayers who pay less than that, most of them pay far more.
"Fair share" is a haunting and elusive concept in economics and in taxation.

Should a poor person be made into a starving person because of their obligation to someone else's concept of fair share? Doing so would be very hard to justify.

Adam Smith discusses this in his book "The Wealth Of Nations." In his terms, the King's revenue sources are only from those who have a surplus. The working poor cannot afford to pay taxes and be expected to survive. And if you tax the poor then you will make them extinct, after which time you will no longer have any workers nor a working class.

Food for thought.

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by h_k_s » May 18th, 2019, 11:31 am

Back to the rights of Nature --

I believe that Nature derives all its rights from the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and the rest of science.

Nature will probably survive anything that humans, ants, and termites, etc. do to it.

Like @Greta said, Nature is so expansive that it is not largely impacted by the organisms and micro-organisms on its face.

In the meantime we do need government regulation to make sure businesses and industries clean up their pollution. That is because their pollution can harm us people on the face of Nature. But Nature herself will prevail ultimately.

Economically speaking, pollution is a cost that if not borne by the polluters themselves becomes borne by the rest of society. And then the polluters profits become ill gotten gains.

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Greta » May 18th, 2019, 10:27 pm

GE, more weasel words to defend the indefensible. I don't know what you're moaning about. Almost the entire globe is now controlled by governments ranging from hard right to fascism. How much more dominance does your tribe require?

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by GE Morton » May 18th, 2019, 11:00 pm

Greta wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 10:27 pm
GE, more weasel words to defend the indefensible. I don't know what you're moaning about. Almost the entire globe is now controlled by governments ranging from hard right to fascism. How much more dominance does your tribe require?
Addressing the arguments is always more productive than ad hominems,, Greta. But of course, it is also more difficult. Perhaps you could answer that last question, i.e., What constitutes a "fair share," in your view?

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by GE Morton » May 18th, 2019, 11:12 pm

h_k_s wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 11:26 am

Should a poor person be made into a starving person because of their obligation to someone else's concept of fair share? Doing so would be very hard to justify.
Poor persons, just as rich persons, have obligations to pay their debts. However, under a rational tax system the tax owed by a poor person would be minimal.
Adam Smith discusses this in his book "The Wealth Of Nations." In his terms, the King's revenue sources are only from those who have a surplus. The working poor cannot afford to pay taxes and be expected to survive. And if you tax the poor then you will make them extinct, after which time you will no longer have any workers nor a working class.
That is incorrect. In Smith's view each citizen, rich or poor, has an obligation to pay for government to the extent he benefits from its services.

"“The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”

Wealth of Nations, Book V, Ch. 2

https://www.marxists.org/reference/arch ... 5/ch02b.ht

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by GE Morton » May 18th, 2019, 11:30 pm

h_k_s wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 11:31 am

I believe that Nature derives all its rights from the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and the rest of science.
Well, then you've apparently ignored the arguments in the OP. A "right" is a property applicable only to moral agents. Applying it to other things is a category mistake, like applying color words to numbers or flavor words to geometric figures.
In the meantime we do need government regulation to make sure businesses and industries clean up their pollution. That is because their pollution can harm us people on the face of Nature.
I agree we need to protect the environment (but not because Nature has "rights").
Economically speaking, pollution is a cost that if not borne by the polluters themselves becomes borne by the rest of society. And then the polluters profits become ill gotten gains.
The cost will be borne by the rest of society in any case. The costs to businesses to reduce pollution will be passed on to consumers in higher prices. But the health benefits may be worth that cost (though sometimes they may not).

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Re: On the "rights" of Nature

Post by Greta » May 19th, 2019, 3:20 am

GE Morton wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 11:00 pm
Greta wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 10:27 pm
GE, more weasel words to defend the indefensible. I don't know what you're moaning about. Almost the entire globe is now controlled by governments ranging from hard right to fascism. How much more dominance does your tribe require?
Addressing the arguments is always more productive than ad hominems,, Greta. But of course, it is also more difficult. Perhaps you could answer that last question, i.e., What constitutes a "fair share," in your view?
It's even easier to pollute a philosophy forum with blatant partisan politics. You have never once, attempted to be objective. You seem rather proud of your role as a propagandist, and pointing out your weasel words is not an ad hom - most objective observer would note the same about your poor response.

36% of multinats not paying ANY tax in Australia - is not paying a fair share for starters. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... aid-no-tax

If this many are paying nothing than many others are paying a far lower percentage of tax than average workers. I look forward to your next partisan anti-philosophical rationalisation.

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