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An interesting piece, thank you. As a practising Christian, I don't think I'm quite as downbeat on atheism as you are in your penultimate paragraph. But you're right to identify the risk. In your final paragraph, I was pondering in church only this Sunday that, yes, it is easy to mock religion for its violence. But it's lazy, unfair and frankly idiotic to do so. Atheists ignore religion's benefits and emphasise its problems, while ignoring science's problems and emphasising its benefits. One could, if one were so inclined, design a narrative of science as a discipline dedicated solely to violence, destruction and death.
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2013 on Religion in today's Britain at THE LAST DITCH
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"an individual is usually free to expend marginal effort - to work harder or to take a higher-paid job. This being so, he chooses to pay that 50%" One could use the same argument to "justify" woefully bad pay. "If you don't like it, don't do it". It's not really a moral argument, and it's the moral question I'm interested in. "a high marginal tax on high incomes can be seen as a form of insurance payment" Except it's an insurance payment to insure others; indeed those doing the paying are usually precluded from participating even if they do fall on hard times. You could apply that line of reasoning to "justify" any form of state intervention that serves to improve the lives of the many, even if it ends up (perhaps seriously) inconveniencing the few. I'm afraid I don't really buy this argument. Your arguments are interesting from an economic perspective but they don't answer the moral question. Clearly if the state were to put the top 1% of earners into slavery and force them to work for the state for nothing, this would be thoroughly immoral. That's economically equivalent to a 100% tax on their entire earnings. So if we can agree that that's "thoroughly immoral", by how much would you have to reduce the tax rate until the rate was moral?
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2011 on The morality of 50% at Stumbling and Mumbling
"For the left, what matters is not that companies pay tax, but that the rich do so." Come now, Chris. You *know* that the rich do pay tax. Humungous amounts of tax. It's only in the media that the rich don't pay tax. The obsession with eye-catching headlines like "rich boss pays less tax than his cleaner", even though it's patently misleading and untrue, means our tax policy making is held at only an infantile level, instead of the proper, adult debate we should be having.
Well, I too don't care much for hierarchy. A cat can look at a king and all that. But I have absolutely no doubt that many others do. Even the briefest of observations of other people should make that clear. Just look at people jostling to get off a train, for instance. Isn't this the whole basis of the Spirit Level and an implicit justification for basing redistributive benefits on median income rather than on what you need to merely survive?
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2010 on A squealing leftie writes at Stumbling and Mumbling
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Jul 23, 2010