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In this lesson we need to address an issue that is driving us mad. Every time we go to a debate, they keep throwing the term “society” in our face: It’s for the good of society, it is social justice, it is socially justifiable, it is a social need…. And we always ask the same question: who exactly is this “society” you talk about? And we always get the same idiotic answer: a blank stare or an outright lie.

So, please, don’t talk to us about society!

The problem with the term “society” is that it cannot be properly defined, and politicians know it and exploit this. If we look at the dictionary, we get:

  • an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.
  • a body of individuals living as members of a community; community.
  • the body of human beings generally, associated or viewed as members of a community: the evolution of human society.
  • a highly structured system of human organization for large-scale community living that normally furnishes protection, continuity, security, and a national identity for its members: American society.
  • such a system characterized by its dominant economic class or form: middle-class society; industrial society.

 Which would seem reasonable. However...

The issue we take with the term “society” when used by politicians is that they implicitly change its meaning to the following:

  • A group of people benefiting equally from something
  • A closed or specific group of people

Let’s analyze each one of them.

 

EQUAL BENEFITS

Politicians always jump on the equality horse when they wish to deliver manure. This is their first reaction. It is so because we have been brainwashed since the French revolution (equality, fraternity and liberty) that we are somehow all equal. This would apparently be a good thing.

Never mind that what the French meant by “equality” was: no privileged classes based on monarchical principles. They meant equality under the law. They did not mean financial equality, or housing equality or alimentary equality or any other equality whatsoever, which is precisely what politicians imply.

All politicians want to achieve equality through taxation. If we tax rich people more, we can then distribute their excessive riches to poor people and so we can increase “social equality”.  We have seen in Taxed to death No just into slavery and in Those Bastards - The Rich People why this argument is manure; but it works because everybody is thinking the same: Me! Me! Me!

This type of equality is, of course, nonsense.

First off, it is simply not achievable. Just imagine what would happen if we all had to live in the same model of house, wear the same clothing, having the same car, going to the same job, and so on… Does this seem like something doable? It is patently ridiculous!

Secondly, we have the problem that we all have different needs and wishes at different times and for different reasons, and will take different decisions about them. There isn’t a single human being on the planet that is identical to another one. The notion that somehow we need to be “equal” or aspire to equality in some physical respect is beyond ridiculous. It is plain idiotic.

Then we have the notion that somehow we have to be financially equal or at least to aspire to it. But then again, we are all greedy. We always want more. Let’s say that as a government we institute a process whereby we don’t provide any more goods and services to anyone and simply sent them a check. Would that contribute to our financial equality? Of course not! Today the check may mean a lot to Andrea. Tomorrow, as Andrea gets used to her new lifestyle, the check will start to look patently insufficient. And what do we do then? Sent her another check? Ahh… but we can’t do this because this would make Andrea’s financial status higher than others and then she would not be financially equal. However, at the same time, she is not feeling equal. Actually she is feeling poorer and wishes more money to be equal to others that saved and prospered. This is the basic principle of greed and it will never allow people to be content with their financial status. Which means that they will never be content with being financially equal to everybody else. Even communists learned this lesson the hard way. They ended up offering financial incentives and bonuses to people delivering goods and services that mattered, just to prevent their system from collapsing. 

To solve this greed problem, we are presented with the magical “means testing” principle coming to the rescue! You see, dear reader, equality can be achieved by granting more money to the needy and less to the better off. Seems reasonable. Until one looks under the hood. To begin with, it does not solve the greed problem, and then some. It creates a new issue.

Let’s take two people starting with the same capital. One of them studies, works hard an starts a small business. His standard of living increases. The second one has a good time and then falls into poverty. Means testing implies that we send a small check to the former and a large one to the latter. This is so because we want to “equalize” wealth.

There is, of course, a tiny flaw. The first person worked his bottom off to be in a better financial position than the second one. Because of this, we are punishing the first and rewarding the second. The moral of the story? Do nothing and the state will support you. Is this principle something you can agree with? Of course not!

Then we have the “poor” argument. In any group of people the distribution of wealth will resemble a Gaussian curve. For those of you who are not statisticians, let’s just say that in this group  you will find most of the people in the middle class, with a few very rich and a few very poor. The latter may simply lack the skills to elevate themselves from their economic level. Not their fault at all. In street parlance: shit happens. It does! For real!

So, the argument for equality goes as follows: It is not their fault if they live in such poverty side-by-side with ultra-rich people. As a “society” we can’t tolerate this. Tax the rich and give to the poor. The Robing (noticed the joke here?) Hood principle.

Seems reasonable right? There is one small problem with this argument. You (and politicians) never look at the absolute level of poverty, which happens to matter.

We are always given a ratio. Poor people earn 1000 times less than rich people. Therefore it is fair to tax the rich and pass it to the poor.

What is never analyzed is the numerical value of “very poor”.  In a rich country, “very poor” may mean renting a one room flat. In a poor country may mean sleeping in a cardboard box on the street. Both countries have the same poor to rich ratio, yet, there is a vast difference.

So before we decide if the Robing Hood principle is good or bad, we need to take a look at one more thing. The improvement to the quality of life achieved by not taxing the rich.

It so happens that if we don’t tax rich people (or anybody) the standard of living for all (rich and poor) will rise to a level where life becomes tolerable and manageable even for “very poor” people. The Robing Hood principle is always bad because the alternative produces not only better results, but widespread better results.

Lastly, we are thrown in our face the issue of “other” very poor people. How about Africa? They even lack running water. How about the shanty towns of Latin America? They have nothing. They are “society” too, we are told, and therefore we need to apply the Robing Hood principle. This issue is addressed in the topic below.

In Summary:

The term “society” implying some sort of physical equality is an idiotic concept. It works when we speak of rights under the law or freedom of religion simply because they are non-physical issues. But politicians are always looking to extract money from us and use the term “society” in its physical meaning, which is nonsense.

 

A CLOSED GROUP OF PEOPLE

When we embarked in this diatribe (rambling, if you wish), we said that we can never get the people debating us, to pin down with precision who “society” is. How convenient.

So let’s do our own thinking and see if we can reach a conclusion.

For this task, we will need two tools: a precise definition of society and a means to test our definition.

As means, we choose taxation simply because it is universal and the most dear item in any politician’s wish list.

Definition #1: “society” is the whole of world population.

If this is true, why is that taxation systems are not global in nature? It only makes sense. If we want to benefit the whole of society and we are part of this society, we should be able to achieve global taxation consensus so we are all equally taxed. This would only be fair. Alas, it would seem that this definition of society does not work, because each country has their own taxation rules. So this definition is untrue.

 

Definition #2: “society” is the whole of a country’s population.

This seems to make sense, until we realize that our taxes are being spent outside the country who is paying them. Think foreign aid, or military bases or UN payments or WHO payments, or disaster aid packages, peace keeping, and so on. This is a contradiction. Why would our society be forced to give tax money to something which is not defined as our society?

In addition, if “society” is the whole of a country’s population, why is that different taxes apply to different regions? Think, federal, provincial, state, region, municipal, city, town and the endless zoo of taxes that are determined by political divisions. There aren’t two divisions with the same taxes anywhere in a country. For example, no matter which country you go to, you won’t find two towns with the exact same taxes.

And what about federal taxes, aren’t they the same for every person in a country? Excluding those privileged not-so-few (natives, excluded by mutual agreement, special economic developmental areas, special industries, special time frames, and so on) then yes, they all pay the same. Wouldn’t this imply that a valid definition for “society” is everybody in a country?

No. Two reasons. The first is tax benefits distribution. Even though we all pay the same federal taxes, they are not distributed evenly. Again, pick any country anywhere in the planet and you won’t find two political divisions being benefited by the exact same federal payments. For example, no two provinces receive the exact same amount of federal money. The second is that all politicians use the term “society”, but none of them represents the country as a whole! So they apply a definition designed for the entire population of a country to the geographic area they represent, which is a totally invalid practice.

So,  this definition does not work either.

Definition #3: “society” is all the people in a country where they are entitled to the same benefits. We touched on this subject from a federal perspective in the Definition #2 above, so we won’t repeat this argument.

We will focus instead on the concept of equal benefits. Let’s take health care, for example. Most “enlightened” countries have some sort of socialized health-care system. If you are sick, you are entitled to the same standard of care as anybody else. Seems that we found our definition, alas it is not true.

When we say “entitled” it is the same word politicians use but we really mean it. Let’s take two people Franziska and Joaquim. By some sort of coincidence, they both need the very exact same hip replacement surgery and they made their requests at the same time. But Franziska lives in a poor state while Joaquim lives in a rich state. Theoretically, they should be receiving their operations at the same time and receiving the same standard of care. But the waiting time for Franziska is 9 months while Joaquim’s is 3 weeks.  Franziska will be operated in a hospital which is 150 km away from her farm while Joaqim’s hospital is 11 blocks away. Franziska’s surgeon will be the only specialist for the entire region while Joaquim’s surgeon is part of a rotating team of specialists. Does this seem to you that they are receiving the same “entitlement”? Of course not!

We could perform this test with any other “societal” benefits you care to name: schools, road, civic centers, libraries, etc. You won’t be able to find two that are exactly the same in any corner of any one country you care to look into.

So this definition does not work either.

Definition #4: “society” is the group of people in a political division that have the same beliefs or culture.

Well, the first part, the religious part, is patently untrue. No political division (federal, provincial, state, region, municipal, etc.) is composed of 100% people with the same beliefs. If you take any such region, you will find that religious beliefs are one of the most heterogeneous (mixed) beliefs there is. They all pay different taxes and receive different support or lack of thereof. So this part of the definition is not true.

How about culture? Exactly same problem.  The entire definition is bogus.

 

WHY THE TERM SOCIETY WON’T EVER WORK

We could go on and on with many other definitions, but they would all come back as untrue. The reason is simple. The political definition of “society” is not based on reality, but on the necessity to create the illusion of fairness. Fairness buys votes, reality does not.

Any and all definitions of “society” fall apart because at the most basic we are all different. Therefore the only true definition of society is the society of one: everybody by themselves. We are all unique and therefore we are a society on our own. Unfortunately, this reality is highly inconvenient for politicians which then re-define the term “society” to behave as a magic trick. It symbolizes whatever the politicians wish it to symbolize according to their immediate needs.

It is a meaningless term. It does not exist. It is not rooted in reality and it will never be.

Now you know. The message is clear: there is no society.

Whenever you hear politicians speaking about it, your horse manure detector should go off!

It's your choice. Believe it or not (just don't come back to us crying - we told you so).

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

 

 

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