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Taxes

“A friend of mine had two sisters. One of those sisters was seriously hard-working: she was on the volleyball team, she had a job. She was conscientious; she did her homework. She was a really good girl.

And his other sister was… not.

She would stay out all night, she would party. She was one of the 30% of Americans who can proudly say that in the past year they have not read a single book…

Now, years later, for reasons that don’t really matter, I ran into them again. The good girl had gotten her accounting degree and she was still taking courses. She got up early, she went on business trips. She did all the stuff that is tough. She faced her fears, which you get when you go into business from a low-rent neighborhood — you get a bit of fraud-itis, which is the feeling ‘Well these people all know that I come from a terrible, welfare-based, single-mom household, right?’

She faced all those fears, she worked hard, she did a good job; and as a result, her income was going north. Seriously north. Like, she was close to six figures by the time she was 26 or 27.

Now her other sister had continued the party-girl lifestyle, and had dabbled in various mind altering substances, not including television. She hadn’t added one dime to her human capital. She hadn’t learned any skills. She was basically milking her looks, and being taken out by guys, and sooner or later, I’m sure would end up pregnant.

The good girl, who was making a lot of money, had worked really hard and had done what I would consider responsible, maybe even virtuous and good stuff with her life. Whereas the party girl had had a lot of fun.

And let’s not kid ourselves: that stuff is fun. Studying for an accounting degree versus going to a rave; if you’ve only got one day to live, you ain’t cracking the book on double entry bookkeeping, right? You’re going to go to the rave.

And you know what the terrible thing is in a democracy? You can tax money, but you can’t tax fun.

This is a very profound thing to understand. The sister who worked hard made $100,000 a year. That can be taxed. The fruits of her hard work and conscientiousness, that can be taxed.

All the fun her sister had, that can’t be taxed. You can’t swap that out.

Irresponsibility leaves nothing but fun memories. Responsibility leaves income that can be redistributed.

In a democracy, you can vote to take away the products of virtue. But you can never vote to take away the products of vice, of laziness, of indolence.”

__________

From the offbeat, eloquent, often misguided but always illuminating Stefan Molyneux, speaking in his podcast on Why Democracies Fail. You can find an easy introduction to Molyneux and his philosophy in his ($.99) book Everyday Anarchy.

More good riffs on the subject: