Why it is Envy to protest against Starbucks moving its profits overseas?
It comes to one of two things.
Either the protesters like paying tax in which case they are free to pay tax, no one is stopping them in which case they should have no problem.
The protesters do not like paying tax and this is where envy comes in. The UK Uncut protesters are envious of Starbucks ability and/or knowledge which allows them to reduce their tax burden. The protesters would like to do the same thing and their protests are not about Starbucks reducing its tax burden but if they cannot do the same thing then neither should Starbucks.
Whatever their position they have no grounds for protesting at Starbucks. They do not have a leg to stand on.
The Daily Mail in the UK did an article on the matter in general, let me breakdown the article.
The Daily Mail article starts off by saying the actions of Starbucks is “immoral”.
Let us look at what the Daily Mail is saying here. They are saying it is immoral for Starbucks to move profits outside the country but it is moral for the government to take money from these companies against their will.
Why does the Daily Mail believe this?
The majority of the people in the UK believe taxation is essential to redistribute wealth to help people who need it. The goal being to make society more fair and balanced.
Okay, the goal seems sound but how to the actual mechanics of this wealth distribution work?
Imagine there is a millionaire, he has more money than he “needs”. And he lives next door to someone who does not have enough money to buy the food he needs.
The forced redistribution of wealth through taxation says the following.
It is okay for the starving person to put the millionaire in a cage for 5, 10, 25 years if the millionaire does not give the person that is starving the amount of money the person that is starving demands. And if the millionaire physically resists being thrown in a cage then it is okay for the millionaire to be killed.
Am I being too extreme is this example?
First of all I am talking about a millionaire living next to someone who is starving. That would be one of the best text-book examples of why forced redistribution of wealth through taxation is required. If you make the millionaire have less money then the case for forced redistribution of wealth by taxation diminishes. And likewise if you take the starving person and give him sufficient food and shelter then you are diminishing the case for taxation.
So is the example is too extreme up to this point? You could argue that it is, and that I am overstating the case for the need for taxation not diminishing it, so if I am being too extreme I am overstating the case for those that agree with taxation rather than the opposite.
Moving onto the cage analogy. If the millionaire refuses to give money to the starving person through taxation then the state will put him in a cage. This is not my opinion, it is a fact.
What about killing the millionaire, am I going too far?
If the millionaire decides he wants to resist being put in a cage he will be resisting arrest and depending on how vigorous his resistance is, he could well end up being murdered.
Am I going too far?
Perhaps, the millionaire will probably only be physically beaten but the possibility does exist that he could end up dead.
So is it immoral if the millionaire does not give the money? Perhaps.
Is it immoral if the millionaire is put in a cage and/or beaten and/or murdered because he did not give his money voluntarily? Definitely.
Let me put it another way.
Two children. One is starving the other has one hundred pounds. The child with one hundred pounds does not need the money, his parents buy everything he needs and wants. Would it be moral to force the child with one hundred pounds to give his money to the other child? Would it be moral for a stranger or anyone to physically force the child with one hundred pounds to give money to the other child? Do you think it would be correct for the parent of the starving child to physically take the money from the child with one hundred pounds? I would say no.
So given these two cases, why do people think the government is immune from these basic moral standards?
You could say “but the government is not a person”.
Okay, if you use businesses in the above examples instead of people does it change anything? I would say no.
You could say “but the government represents the majority of the people”.
Okay, going back to the above examples. Imagine that it were one thousand people starving instead of one, would you believe the numbers of people would make any difference to the moral dynamic of that situation?
If one thousand people physically assaulted the millionaire or one thousand people physically put the millionaire in a cage, would make the actions any more justified? Again, I would say no.
Going back to the situation of children. Would it be any more moral if one thousand children forced the one child with one hundred pounds to give his or her money to the group?
Again I would say no.
If anything the spectacle of one thousand people physically throwing the millionaire in jail or one thousand children mugging the one child would be even more immoral.
So why do people give the government immunity from such immoral actions as taxation?
The only answer I have is that people do not fully understand the implications of giving the government moral immunity. People do not understand or comprehend the actual mechanics that has to happen in order for compulsory taxation to be enforced.
In short the people who are thinking about protesting outside Starbucks need to understand taxation and what it means for them. If they are saying the government should have the right to tax Starbucks against the will of Starbucks they are also saying that the government has the right to take their money even if it is against their will.
By protesting against Starbucks the protesters are condoning a system with puts people in cages and/or physically assaults people in order to take their money. Is this the sort of world these people want to live in?
Is physically assaulting someone to get them to do what you want something that these people would teach to their children?
If the answers to these questions is no then the Starbucks protesters need to reassess their position. Is their problem with a business acting of its own free will or is their problem with the fact that they are not free to express their own free will?
Whichever is true their position is one of envy rather than morals.
Ron Paul, who finished in third place in the US 2012 presidential campaign summed up the morality of taxation much better than I have. Here is his farewell address to the US congress, the American equivalent of the House of Commons.