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    (Original post by mfm89)
    Yes. Some things shouldnt be left to the free market. What would we be left with, the X factor. Anything better would be solely be the pleasure of the elites. You Libs can bugger off and live like that, I'll stick to having the BBC and free museums, ta
    The BBC isn't free (and nor are the museums, really, but the BBC isn't even funded by progressive taxation). It's also hilariously hypocritical that you frame an open plea to be given a way out of mass consumer culture like X Factor by an appeal to inequality.

    Thankyou for letting us bugger off, though (ie. we don't have to pay for your "free" museums). That's really all we want - we don't particularly care if you rob yourself to pay for your hobbies.
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    (Original post by favh)
    The BBC isn't free (and nor are the museums, really, but the BBC isn't even funded by progressive taxation). It's also hilariously hypocritical that you frame an open plea to be given a way out of mass consumer culture like X Factor by an appeal to inequality.

    Thankyou for letting us bugger off, though (ie. we don't have to pay for your "free" museums). That's really all we want - we don't particularly care if you rob yourself to pay for your hobbies.
    hehe, if only

    not entirely sure what you're getting at with your first point though
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    (Original post by favh)
    Pretty obviously yes, since there are many private streets and establishments in this country already that have street lighting.

    I don't think a claim that 'the government' knows better how to spend money than 'the people' can even be consistent - the government is made up of, chosen by and claims its authority derives from those same people. If you're too stupid to spend your own money, why aren't you too stupid to choose how the government will spend it?

    It becomes more problematic if you try to get out of this by claiming some standard of 'intelligence' or 'administrative competence' that qualifies someone for government (as well as having to get rid of democracy), because it's not clear how any such standard would be constructed. Most peoples' competing views on how money should be spent is based mostly on differening subjective preferences, not an objective standard. Deciding which is 'correct' is impossible.

    The only sensible way out of this, in my view, is to abandon the whole notion of how to "best" spend money and consider rather where it comes from, ie. individuals working to produce it. It seems fairly intuitively correct that people own the product of their labour, and that if they are forced to work for the benefit of others, they are being enslaved.


    Except, again, this is not really a meaningful thing to say. "Society" is not an entity that consumes arts, it is the network of relationships between particular individuals who make up the society. They are the ones gaining or losing, and I don't think it makes any sense to say that people can morally be forced to work to provide arts merely because some other people in society would like there to be arts. In the first place, those people would like that money to be spent on whatever else they were going to spend it on, rather than spending it on the arts themselves. Even if it is justifiable to expropriate people for the benefit of others (and as I said above, I really don't think it is), the two competing claims should cancel out anyway.
    Thank you, and well expressed. As I said, I don't take the view expressed, I just wanted to stimulate debate.

    Could I question you on what you just said though? How would you use this individualistic principle on something like health care? I mean, yes, our freedoms are being curtailed - but is that really such a problem considering the benefits it brings about?
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    (Original post by dodgyant)
    Thank you, and well expressed. As I said, I don't take the view expressed, I just wanted to stimulate debate.

    Could I question you on what you just said though? How would you use this individualistic principle on something like health care? I mean, yes, our freedoms are being curtailed - but is that really such a problem considering the benefits it brings about?
    As I said before, benefits to whom? Some people are benefited, others are harmed. Almost anything will harm and benefit some people (the slave trade, for instance, or armed robbery), so there has to be a way to decide what's acceptable and what isn't. I think that people have a right to ownership of their own body and by extention their labour. I don't think that this is something on which I can morally compromise.

    Of course, that's only about enforceable obligations. I'm entirely in favour of well directed charity, and I don't think that in a truly free society the burden placed on such charity would be unmanagably high.
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    (Original post by ashy)
    This will sum up every opinion past, present and future in this thread, and it's funnier too.

    Perfect!!!! My name is Sir Humphrey and I entirely agree with everything he said!
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    I searched, and could not find a thread that asked this question.

    Well, by Arts I mean industries such as Ballet, Opera, Dance, Theatre, Modern Art etc - which all receive a substantial subsidy from the Government.

    (Original post by dodgyant)
    main reason for this, of course, is the idea that these industries enhance 'our culture', and that without these subsidies the industries would falter and fail.
    It is less that they our enhance our culture, and more that they represents the quinteseential nature and foundation of our culture - indeed culture the world over. The history of Art (painted) and its need for preservation is perfectly commonsensical. It should be available to all.

    (Original post by dodgyant)
    , I believe that it is not right for the Government to specify an industry that should receive a subsidy, and choose this over another passtime.
    The necessity and preservation of the Arts has authority beyond mere Ministers. The Ministers of this country are only charged with acknowledging that which is perfectly reasonable and commonsensical: that the Arts need to be preserved at all costs.


    (Original post by dodgyant)
    example, although some may consider Ballet to be very enriching, I can name an equal number of people who consider a game of Football to be enriching.
    Football is commercial and doesn't require subsidies - the Arts also are something that should be universally participated in; football is something most emphatically not requiring universal participation and appreciation.

    (Original post by dodgyant)
    the only difference is, the people who like Football are willing and able to pay to sustain their hobby; why cannot the others do the same?
    The primary point is that the Arts should be made freely available to all (e.g., entrance to the National Gallery). If we effectively privatised these ventures they would become the preserve of the Elite - precisely what subsidy seeks to prevent. If you want to compare the importance of Football, to, say, Monet, then this conversation is the least of your trouble.

    (Original post by dodgyant)
    simply put, if people, by their own accord, are not going to visit these theatres, galleries and opera houses, and are not willing to spend their money on these industries - then who is the Government to say otherwise? If these activities were truly 'enriching', this would be recognised by people and thus not require a subsidy.
    Simply put, people are stupid, and this is why not all people realise the importance of the Arts. If we allowed the democratic majority to decide what counts as "culture" then we would quickly loose all sense of what culture actually is.

    (Original post by dodgyant)
    , I am not convinced that the Arts actually require a subsidy. Consider the US, for example. The Arts are not subsidised, and it doesn't seem to have had a detrimental effect; with artists such as Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Charlie Chaplin emerging. I would also question whether private investors would step up to the plate if there was no state intervention. Consider the Getty Gallery as an example, one of the world's most famous galleries, and one that is not state run.

    What do you think?
    I think this is entirely barbaric. Clearly you've not been to the Royal Opera House or The National Gallery if you're asking these questions.
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    I slightly agree - these things started out as fairly normal pleasures enjoyed, and therefore paid for, by people.. but I suppose they are a form of education - certainly historical - and it's socially important that people be educated
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    Culture does not need to be subsidised. If it is popular enough to deserve to survive, then it does. The only test of whether culture should live on, is whether enough people are willing to pay enough money to keep it alive.
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    (Original post by The_Octopus)
    Culture does not need to be subsidised. If it is popular enough to deserve to survive, then it does. The only test of whether culture should live on, is whether enough people are willing to pay enough money to keep it alive.
    That, sir, is emphatically absurd and nonsense at that. Culture, capital c, is and should never be at the mercy of market forces or popular opinion.

    All market forces demonstrate is that mediocrity will always prevail - which explains a lot about what we see on television to-day. If the State did not interfere and subsidise the beautiful Arts, it would be a travesty; places such as the opera houses and National Gallery etcetera would become the preserve of the elite in society.

    The point in subsidising the Arts is that they are recognised as two things - enduring and embedded within our cultural heritage; and understood to have a strict, social benefit - whether people are bright enough to realise it or not. The opera houses and the galleries are guardians of our cultural heritage and must never, ever be subject to market forces - they must always be presided over by experts within the field; otherwise they would start showing modern operas at the ROH.
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    (Original post by teenboy)
    That, sir, is emphatically absurd and nonsense at that. Culture, capital c, is and should never be at the mercy of market forces or popular opinion.

    All market forces demonstrate is that mediocrity will always prevail - which explains a lot about what we see on television to-day. If the State did not interfere and subsidise the beautiful Arts, it would be a travesty; places such as the opera houses and National Gallery etcetera would become the preserve of the elite in society.

    The point in subsidising the Arts is that they are recognised as two things - enduring and embedded within our cultural heritage; and understood to have a strict, social benefit - whether people are bright enough to realise it or not. The opera houses and the galleries are guardians of our cultural heritage and must never, ever be subject to market forces - they must always be presided over by experts within the field; otherwise they would start showing modern operas at the ROH.
    Culture should not be subject to market forces? Market forces give only mediocre products?

    Your arguments for subsidising the arts are that it will keep our cultural heritage, and that it has a "social benefit".

    While I agree that subsidising the arts maintains a cultural heritage, that is not why we pay our taxes. The poor should not have to pay tax so the government can spend it on maintaining the opera, even if it is our cultural heritage. You have to accept that some aspects of our culture will die out. Because culture changes. Our culture 500 years ago was different to today's, because some aspects died out, some remained, and new things appeared. All governed by market forces I might add.
    Do we miss aspects of our culture that died out 500 years ago? No, we do not. If people did think those aspects of our culture were so good, they would have been willing to pay so support them, just like they were willing to pay to support the aspects of their culture, 500 years ago, that remain today. Market forces have given us today's culture.

    Preserving culture has to be paid for by somebody. I think it should be paid for by the people who think it should be preserved. You think it should be paid for by the people who think it should be preserved, and also by the people who do not. I don't think that's very fair.

    As for this "social benefit" you're talking about, you're going to have to be more specific. How does the opera benefit society enough to justify paying taxes for it's upkeep? Why should someone who doesn't like the opera have to pay for the minority who do? Because that minority think that they are sophisticated, and intelligent, and that their opinion on art is correct, while everyone else should have to pay for the opera even if they "aren't bright enough" to realise that it is for their own good ultimately?

    Tell me, how exactly do you know whether or not your opinion on the opera is the one which the state should support? If market forces were given control, then we would see whether enough people like the opera to make it worth society paying for it. And perhaps if the poor didn't have to spend their taxes paying for the arts they didn't like, they would be able to afford to enjoy the arts they do like, whether or not they are to your taste.
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    This is a really poor and misguided argument. I will attempt to point out how and why but do bear in mind that I have Lady GAGA playing.

    (Original post by The_Octopus)
    Whilst I agree that subsidising the arts maintains a cultural heritage, that is not why we pay our taxes.
    Nonsense. Taxes have been collected since the time of Our Lord and Saviour; and they are precisely levied to facilitate government activity. The Arts Council is allocated sums in accordance with such government activity: in short, this is precisely why you pay your taxes, alongside other things.

    (Original post by The_Octopus)
    The poor should not have to pay tax so the government can spend it on maintaining the opera, even if it is our cultural heritage.
    Absolute rubbish. You're trying to adopt a sort of socialist stance here but I think you're massive confusing your terms. There is a world of difference between the materially poor and the mentally impoverished; your argument demonstrates that you're less concerned with the "less well off" in society, and more interested in stoking at class antagonisms. To suggest that the materially poor should be exempt from paying taxes because it indirectly benefits organisations which help support the Arts of this country is ridiculous and nonsensical. Furthermore there's a distinct air of inverse snobbery in your seeming conflation between the materially poor and mentally impoverished - briefly, you seem to suggest that those materially poor people will also be those ill educated people and people of "lower social status", and thus a levy upon such people to maintain the interest of me, the elite in society, is almost a form of theft. I think you're a little Marxist confused here.


    (Original post by The_Octopus)
    You have to accept that some aspects of our culture will die out. Because culture changes. Our culture 500 years ago was different to today's, because some aspects died out, some remained, and new things appeared. All governed by market forces I might add.
    Do we miss aspects of our culture that died out 500 years ago? No, we do not. If people did think those aspects of our culture were so good, they would have been willing to pay so support them, just like they were willing to pay to support the aspects of their culture, 500 years ago, that remain today. Market forces have given us today's culture.
    Sorry but none of this actually makes sense. Wagner's Tristan, a monument in musical history and something people like me adore, was first published 1865; it is being revived this September at the ROH. That's about 140 years ago. Cultural preservation is a simple fact and most enduring and wonderful things will and still are preserved to-day - like the works of Shakespeare or Monet ad infinitum.

    (Original post by The_Octopus)
    Preserving culture has to be paid for by somebody. I think it should be paid for by the people who think it should be preserved. You think it should be paid for by the people who think it should be preserved, and also by the people who do not. I don't think that's very fair.
    Oh this is just utter crap. I'm going to stop replying soon. Do you also think the NHS should be opt-in and that perhaps our armed forces should be opt-in? The mere idea of cutting all funding to the Arts and maintaining it solely on a charitable basis is just ... mind numbingly absurd! The simple fact is that the ROH makes roughly £2 for every £1 given in public subsidy - that it means it contributes more towards the economy than the Public do to it.

    (Original post by The_Octopus)
    As for this "social benefit" you're talking about, you're going to have to be more specific. How does the opera benefit society enough to justify paying taxes for it's upkeep? Why should someone who doesn't like the opera have to pay for the minority who do? Because that minority think that they are sophisticated, and intelligent, and that their opinion on art is correct, while everyone else should have to pay for the opera even if they "aren't bright enough" to realise that it is for their own good ultimately?

    Tell me, how exactly do you know whether or not your opinion on the opera is the one which the state should support? If market forces were given control, then we would see whether enough people like the opera to make it worth society paying for it. And perhaps if the poor didn't have to spend their taxes paying for the arts they didn't like, they would be able to afford to enjoy the arts they do like, whether or not they are to your taste.
    1. This is not about opera per se. The Arts Council funds many, many diverse projects, only some of which involve and include opera. Opera is a part of the established arts; it has a rich and wonderful history; it is recognised as one of the greatest art forms there is, and it is for this reason that it is funded and subsidised.

    2. I contribute towards the NHS in my taxes yet I never use it... should I therefore not have to pay for it? A systems of taxation whereby we only pay for what we want/ like/ use, simply does not work. It's not economical. The Arts are funded in order that they should be opened up to all and everybody - whether one enjoys them or not.

    3. Let's cut the s.hit here. Your sole argument is this: you're projecting some sort of class insecurity and mixing it with a little "poor victim" Marxism; you're assuming that all the materially poor in this country are also mentally stupid and prefer watching soaps, like Big Brother, and that the opera is something for elite people like me, and thus that levying taxes upon those feckless poor is theft; in this line of argument you're completely and recklessly ignoring the social benefits the arts have on people and what it is that they provide (which alongside other things is a deeper, richer appreciation of history, and an opportunity to explore different art forms and enjoy in the rewarding act of observing them first hand).

    Please have a decent argument if you're going to respond and don't give me any more class b.ollux.
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    (Original post by teenboy)
    Nonsense. Taxes have been collected since the time of Our Lord and Saviour; and they are precisely levied to facilitate government activity. The Arts Council is allocated sums in accordance with such government activity: in short, this is precisely why you pay your taxes, alongside other things.
    What I am saying is that the point of paying taxes is not to maintain cultural heritage. Think of it this way,-

    Either, society as a whole is willing to pay enough money to maintain a certain aspect of our cultural heritage, of which the opera is an example, but football is just a useful example, or, it is not.

    Now if society is willing to pay to maintain that culture, then I think a free market method is the best way of deciding who should pay to maintain that culture, and who should not. That way, people only have to pay for what they want. Only the people who want to pay to go to the opera, or to go to the football have to pay for it.

    However, what if society is not, as a whole, willing to pay to support an aspect of our cultural heritage? Then, according to my system, a free market one, that aspect of our cultural heritage would shrink until its costs are able to be supported by those who wish to see it. What the whole of society pays to keep this aspect of our heritage alive is now proportional to the extent to which we are willing to pay for it. Seems fair. Note that this also allows for innovation in that the only arbiter of whether an aspect of our culture is worthy of taking money from society, is whether society is willing to pay for it, which immediately allows new ideas to spring into our culture. A good thing.

    To use your example, "Wagner's Tristan, a monument in musical history and something people like me adore, was first published 1865", under my system, only people who adore Wagner's Tristan have to pay for it. Nobody else does. To me, this seems fair. You seem to be implying that I think only the upper class would enjoy the opera - this is not the case. And indeed, under a free market system, anybody can go to the opera, so long as they are willing to contribute to the cost the opera has upon society. In effect, they are both voting for society having to pay for the opera, and then splitting this cost fairly among those who want the opera to be there. This is efficient, fair, and incentivised all concerned to act efficiently and fairly.

    Under a subsidised system, everybody has to pay their taxes, which are slightly higher than under a free market system, and this money is then used by someone who was indirectly elected to their position by a minority of the population, to take this money and give it out to whatever aspects of our culture they see fit. This system is less efficient, less fair, in terms of democracy - how much someone thinks something is worth society paying to keep is no longer proportional to how much money that person is willing to pay to keep that aspect of culture.
    The arbiter of what society will pay for is no longer what society wants to pay for, but what certain individuals want society to pay for. People are no longer paying for things with their own money, but paying for things with somebody elses money.

    (Original post by teenboy)
    Absolute rubbish. You're trying to adopt a sort of socialist stance here but I think you're massive confusing your terms. There is a world of difference between the materially poor and the mentally impoverished; your argument demonstrates that you're less concerned with the "less well off" in society, and more interested in stoking at class antagonisms. To suggest that the materially poor should be exempt from paying taxes because it indirectly benefits organisations which help support the Arts of this country is ridiculous and nonsensical. Furthermore there's a distinct air of inverse snobbery in your seeming conflation between the materially poor and mentally impoverished - briefly, you seem to suggest that those materially poor people will also be those ill educated people and people of "lower social status", and thus a levy upon such people to maintain the interest of me, the elite in society, is almost a form of theft. I think you're a little Marxist confused here.
    Wait - wanting a free market approach to culture is socialism now? I would have to be one confused Marxist to want low taxes and a free market now wouldn't I.

    Class doesn't come into it for me. A free market system doesn't care about your class, only about your willingness to contribute to something you want to see maintained. Nor does a free market system care about what you call "metally impoverished" which I can only assume means people who, unlike you, would not like to pay to go to the opera, regardless of whether you think it is better than whatever they want to spend their money on.
    As for taxation being theft? Of course I don't think that. But I don't think taxation should be used to maintain the cultural status quo, when society as a whole is no longer willing to pay for something it once was willing to pay for.

    (Original post by teenboy)
    Sorry but none of this actually makes sense. Wagner's Tristan, a monument in musical history and something people like me adore, was first published 1865; it is being revived this September at the ROH. That's about 140 years ago. Cultural preservation is a simple fact and most enduring and wonderful things will and still are preserved to-day - like the works of Shakespeare or Monet ad infinitum.
    Cultural preservation happens, yes, but not in all aspects of our culture. Some parts of our culture as it was in 1865 still exist. But many do not. We don't spend much time thinking about the ones that do not, since they clearly weren't very good, and that is why they die out. Tristan, was good enough that people were willing to pay money to go and see it. And still do. That is why it is still here. People are willing to pay to see a play by Shakespeare, that is why it is still here. A free market approach to culture was what allowed the aspects of our cultural heritage we enjoy to be here today. Some will die out yes, but they will only be replaced, they can only be replaced by things society thinks are more worth the money, under a free market system. But under a subsidised system, society has to pay its money to keep the opera whether society as a whole thinks it is worth it or not. And so it can't afford to decide it prefers something else. And culture stagnates. The status quo remains. And if not enough people want the opera, to keep the opera in business, then it is unfair and immoral to make everyone pay to keep the opera in business.

    (Original post by teenboy)
    Oh this is just utter crap. I'm going to stop replying soon. Do you also think the NHS should be opt-in and that perhaps our armed forces should be opt-in? The mere idea of cutting all funding to the Arts and maintaining it solely on a charitable basis is just ... mind numbingly absurd! The simple fact is that the ROH makes roughly £2 for every £1 given in public subsidy - that it means it contributes more towards the economy than the Public do to it.
    DO I do not think the NHS or armed forces should be opt-in.
    For 2 reasons.
    The first is that how much someone requires the NHS is not something they choose, generally speaking. Therefore it is unfair to make people pay for the NHS, if the reason they need it is not reasonably their fault.
    The second is that the NHS and armed forces help everyone, and work more efficiently and more fairly when state run. The same cannto be said of culture.

    As for your point about the ROH, if it makes money then it doesn't even need to be subsidised at all! It would be fine without it. We don't even need to py our taxes for it, and we would all have a bit more money that some of us could spend on the increased ticket prices and others could spend however they like.

    (Original post by teenboy)
    1. This is not about opera per se. The Arts Council funds many, many diverse projects, only some of which involve and include opera. Opera is a part of the established arts; it has a rich and wonderful history; it is recognised as one of the greatest art forms there is, and it is for this reason that it is funded and subsidised.

    2. I contribute towards the NHS in my taxes yet I never use it... should I therefore not have to pay for it? A systems of taxation whereby we only pay for what we want/ like/ use, simply does not work. It's not economical. The Arts are funded in order that they should be opened up to all and everybody - whether one enjoys them or not.

    3. Let's cut the s.hit here. Your sole argument is this: you're projecting some sort of class insecurity and mixing it with a little "poor victim" Marxism; you're assuming that all the materially poor in this country are also mentally stupid and prefer watching soaps, like Big Brother, and that the opera is something for elite people like me, and thus that levying taxes upon those feckless poor is theft; in this line of argument you're completely and recklessly ignoring the social benefits the arts have on people and what it is that they provide (which alongside other things is a deeper, richer appreciation of history, and an opportunity to explore different art forms and enjoy in the rewarding act of observing them first hand).
    1. I know it's not about the opera that is only your example. There is no objective way of deciding what art is inherently better than other art and just because the opera is thought so by some people doesn't mean it is thought so by everyone.

    2. "The Arts are funded in order that they should be opened up to all and everybody - whether one enjoys them or not."

    On the contrary, the arts are paid for by everybody, whether one enjoys them or not. Someone who, under a free market system could not afford to go the opera, but can under a subsidised system is effectively taking money from someone who cannot afford to go to the opera and doesn't want to. Because the opera has been decided to be somehow better than whatever the second man wanted to spend his money on, and so it is worth taxing him to pay for the first man who is just as poor but according to you has better taste in art and so deserves the second man's money.

    3. [In this argument, the opera serves as an example of an art form or aspect of our cultural heritage which may not be albe to survive under a free market system]
    My sole argument has nothing to do with class. It has to do with the fact that your argument is based upon the fallacy that subsidising the arts provides some "social benefit" that the free market cannot supply (despite the fact we have already seen the free market could support the arts you deem more worthy). It is you who has equated the poor and those who do not enjoy the arts that you enjoy, not me. Of course some poor people want to go to the opera, and of course
    some poor people do not. I think that it is unfair to make those who do not want to go to the opera pay for those who do, just because the Arts Council say that the opera is inherently better than the things the other people want to spend their money on.
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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    We are talking about using tax money to pay for the arts, ostensibly in the hope that this will make it more available for poor people. Moreover, somebody here said that this was justified because poor people have a "right" to go to the ballet. They don't simple as that. Providing ballet for poor people requires the labour of others, dancers, theatre builders, and, in this case, taxpayers. You do not have a right that other people work to provide you with anything. If you had such a right, then they could have no right to refuse to work.
    You could apply that argument to pretty much everything the government does though. We have a right to police protection, and so thereofore police have no right to refuse to protect us. It's a problematic angle to argue from, in my view.
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    (Original post by HappinessHappening)
    You could apply that argument to pretty much everything the government does though.
    I can and would, yes.

    We have a right to police protection, and so thereofore police have no right to refuse to protect us.
    Legally I'm not sure that is correct. I know it is not in The US where courts have ruled a number of times that police don't have to protect you, and where various police forces openly tell people they do so at their discression.

    Morally, we do not have a right to police protection, since that would be a right to other people's labour, and we do not have a right that other people work for us whether they want to or not.
 
 
 
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