Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Should the rich be subject to a wealth tax?

I frequently hear the sentiment that it is immoral for Governments to tax people. If people want their money to fund a health service, or to alleviate people's poverty and so on, then it should be voluntary. So, in the context of funding a health service, someone on Meta said:
"Forcing others to do things, even righteous things, is not morally sound. That is also basic common sense".
It seems to me, though, that this is confused thinking, perhaps deliberately so. Think of a rich person who is a socialist. He thinks society ought to be a great deal less unequal than it currently is. Now, he personally can give an appreciable amount of his money away and for no other rich person to do so. But, if he is giving away his money equally to millions of people, that won't make much of a dent in alleviating their poverty since his money, being spread out over so many impoverished people, will make little difference to any of their lives.  So it is fairly futile, all that happens is that he becomes that much poorer. So what he wants is for ideally all rich people to give a percentage of their wealth away, not just him alone.

Let's suppose many, if not most, rich people feel exactly the same way.  That is, they are not in favour of giving any substantial amount of their wealth away if they are the only ones doing so.  But they are in favour of giving a percentage of their wealth away should all other rich people do so too. In that case, by introducing some type of wealth tax, Governments would be forcing them to do what they want as a collective whole. 

There's a relevant article just been published today:

Millionaires call on governments worldwide to ‘tax us now’

It says:

The group, which also includes Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist who made an almost $1bn fortune from an early bet on Amazon, said an annual “wealth tax” on those with fortunes of more than $5m (£3.7m) could raise more than $2.52tr.

That would be enough, they said, to “lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty; make enough vaccines for the world and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for all the citizens of low and lower-middle-income countries (3.6 billion people).”

So rich individuals would be forced to pay this tax, but it is far from immoral since, first of all, it is consonant with what a number of rich people would actually prefer.  But, more importantly, it would alleviate a vast amount of hardship and suffering.  Indeed, I submit it is immoral not to have either a wealth tax or some other measure to help out the most impoverished. 

People might find my following blog post also of interest:

Is there a better alternative to capitalism?

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

What physicists claim exists can be doubted

Do our theories in physics mirror how reality really is? Physicists invoke a bewildering plethora of subatomic particles and sometimes even "strings", warped space-time, extra dimensions and so on to explain our observations of the world.  And, indeed, doing so can often accurately predict what we observe.  But look at the following gif.

In the gif we can see that the movement of the small black circles can be explained if we imagine they reside on the corners of moving invisible equilateral triangles, or alternatively on the corners of moving invisible squares, and so on. 

Invoking alternative, apparently incompatible, invisible mechanisms to explain what we observe can also be applied to the actual physical world.  Watch the short 3 minute video below.

If it's the case that distinct differing mechanisms can explain our observations, then this invites the question of whether any of these invisible mechanisms actually exist?  Perhaps they simply function as tools to enable us to predict and ultimately control the world?

On this issue theoretical physicist Mano Singham asks in "The Great Paradox of Science":

If extraterrestrial beings were to visit the Earth at some point, that would imply they possessed technology superior to ours. If we could communicate with them, would we find that the theories of science on which their technological prowess was based were the same or a close approximation to ours (as would be the case if the theories of science are true or approaching truth), or would we find them to be completely different, suggesting that there is no unique truth out there waiting to be discovered?

I think most probably that the aliens conception of reality would be very different from ours. It is my suspicion that it's not truth that physics is revealing, rather physics merely provides the means for improved engineering.  Hence, despite their usefulness, the theoretical entities conjured up by physicists, such as the various subatomic particles, do not have a literal existence.  

Indeed, I am inclined to think that what theoretical physicists allege exists and doesn't exist gets it precisely the wrong way around.  Hence, it seems to me that the various hypothetical entities employed in physics might well not literally exist.  Contrariwise, that colours, sounds, and odours do exist*. 

*I mean by the words 
colours, sounds, odours as we actually experience them so that the external world is literally coloured.  I intend to argue for this in a future blog post.

Often it's extremely hard to decide what is the rational thing to believe.

It's extraordinarily difficult for most of us to decide what the truth is on many contentious issues. Will we witness catastrophic clima...

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