Re: B280 - Universal Access to Educational Resources Bill 2010 (Second Reading)
I've added a bit more to my sentence. But yes, I generally do agree with some of your points. But the discussion should be centred upon to what extent libraries generally serve a purpose to the poor/society by offering equality of opportunity. It's justification as a necessity should be contingent upon that, rather than appeals to arguments that taxation is theft or otherwise illicit. So yes, libraries may not be helping the most disadvantaged in society - if they aren't, then I don't give a **** about them. I just protest at the Libertarian-centric objection to libraries. Our conclusions may be the same, but our reasoning differs.
Taxation can influence growth - true. But that's too simplistic. Government expenditure/investment can also facilitate growth. You have to look at both sides of the equation (both the initial taxation and the later spending). GDP per capita and growth figures aren't always the best ways to judge a country's economic and social health either. The benefits of growth may only be felt disproportionately. I don't mind marginally less growth so long as a welfare state is ensured (out of principle).
I don't see the policy of helping people at home or abroad as being mutually exclusively (I mean, sure, money is finite, but we can try to balance the two policies). We have the ability to influence UK politics. Sure, in some sort of utopia, I might have been able to break down all nation-states and their barriers and implement my perfect world government, but as things stand, it seems easier to affect the injustices in local communities.
Relative poverty also gets snubbed far too often. Adam Smith once talked about it being 'necessary' to purchase shoes in order to live in Edinburgh. Sure, it's not necessary to wear shoes in, say, Ghana; but as societies grow wealthier, it becomes more socially unacceptable to follow the habits of the poor. This does have meaningful consequences which can't be brushed aside (which, I admit, seems like an easy thing to do at first). If you're surrounded by wealthier and advantaged people (through a system of property rights) then the injustice and feelings of anger and woeful inadequacy become much stronger. One political philosopher advocated the view that a just distribution of property is an 'envy-free' distribution of property. I disagree with him, but I think there's a lot to be taken from his view. I'd feel less angry, upset and envious being homeless and sleeping on a beach in somewhere where it was socially acceptable. I would feel more embarrassed doing that in a society whose infrastructure and people had evolved.
But even if you reject that stance, if people have identified an objection to property rights and feel that people ought to share a bigger proportion of the wealth in the UK (via a social contract), then it follows that it's not illegitimate to implement a policy of wealth distribution in the UK. Sure, I want to advocate it elsewhere too (and, indeed, I do advocate state-aid in removing the debt of poverty-stricken countries), but it's surely still better to distribute wealth around the UK (to some extent) than to not distribute wealth at all (assuming you accept the argument in favour of wealth distribution in the first place). "Wealth-distribution" can mean something as small as the current taxation system - nothing more sinister than that.