While we can presumably agree in the abstract that if I normally beat you 10 times each morning, but then decide to only beat you 5 times today, that you are better off with the reduced beating, it's still wrong to view that as me actually helping you. I'm hurting you less.
That's still an absolutely horrible comparison. I have to wonder if you're deliberately picking these examples because you're substituting emotional impact ("Theft!", "Beatings!") for a realistic comparison because you know a real comparison wouldn't stand up or if it's because you honestly think your point is a rational one.
I wasn't the person who picked taxes as the one example to focus on though. If you recall, I gave several examples of liberals confusing positive vs negative effects. Failing to provide free health care is equated to denying access to care. Failing to fund ESC research is equated to banning stem cell research. Failing to provide as much funds for student loans is denying students and opportunity for an education. Hell. Simply opposing schemes to forgive those loans is labeled as doing so as well.
Like I keep saying, you're getting too caught up on the specific words used, and attempting to posit some kind of emotional action or something. That's not my intent. My intent is to get you to realize that liberals tend to not a difference between actions which reduce harm versus those which create help. Similarly, they tend to not see a difference between actions which fail to help and those which cause harm. It doesn't matter what sort of examples we use, or what labels we apply. That inability to differentiate between those sorts of things is a common trait I've observed among liberals. It's certainly a trait that you have shown consistently for years.
I suppose, assuming that you're sincerely making these comparisons, in your mindset paying taxes is a de facto "negative effect" akin to mugging and torture as opposed to being something that potentially provides for a number of positive benefits if properly administered. This brings us back to a point of having such different mindsets that it's not really worth debating and, in fact, ties right back into the "goverment as shadowy 'Other'" mindset I see so often in conservatives.
You're still missing the point. I'm not trying to create some emotional connection between "taxes" and "theft". I'm making the simple statement that in both cases, someone else takes something you own away from you. It's not about whether you or I or anyone else thinks one is justified or not. The core issue really is how we view those things and therefore make a decision about justification in the fist place. How can you decide what sort of actions are justified in the first place if you can't distinguish between positive and negative? If you can't determine a starting point (X is mine, Y is yours), but rather think in relative terms, then where is the base point? So on taxes, if you decide that the Clinton rates are the base we should use, then you can conclude that the rich have gotten richer because we weren't taxing them enough, so if we raise the taxes back, to that level, we're not hurting them, we're just removing an unfair advantage they've had. But if you decide that the Bush rates are the base, then everything is fine and the Clinton rates were too high and unfair. Also, if you raise the taxes back up to Clinton levels then you are harming the rich.
Isn't that completely arbitrary though? You are determining if something is harming someone, or merely removing undeserved help by setting an arbitrary point at which you think things should be. But that point could be anything you decide it to be. That makes it meaningless. I prefer that we set out baseline at what people actually have prior to *any* government involvement (within a given area anyway, since I don't want to be dragged into a side argument). If I earn X dollars, then those are mine. Every single dollar I pay in taxes is a dollar that was taken from me. That is always a negative effect. Any taxes I pay represents a negative effect on me. Period. Increasing those taxes increases the negative effect. Decreasing them decreases the negative effect. But those things don't ever represent some thing I'm gaining, much less gaining unfairly.
On the flip side, every benefit the government provides me is something that does help me. So when they build roads, that helps me. Schools help me. Police and fire help me. Food stamps, unemployment, disability, etc all help me (me being whomever is receiving them of course). If the government reduces the amount of funding for those things, it is not hurting me
. It's simply helping me less. You can't "take away my welfare". It was never mine to begin with. You cannot own something someone else has to constantly give you. I suppose that's getting a little bit off the point, but it's somewhat related. If you can't understand base concepts of property ownership, then I suppose you can't establish those base points, and then you can't really determine when someone is helping you or hurting you less, or if they are hurting you, or helping you less. And it just seems like the entire political left has been infected with an amazing amount of confusion regarding this issue. I can only assume this is so they will more easily accept social policies which they might otherwise reject. After all, it's much easier to argue for increased funding for something if you're convinced that you're hurting people if you don't.
And yes, I happen to think that this difference is one of the core differences between modern liberals and conservatives. It is at the heart of nearly every single political difference. Pick an issue and you'll find that somewhere in there is a liberal saying "if we don't do this, it hurts group X", and a conservative saying "if we do this, we'll be helping group X at the expense of group Y". And while there often is a lot of fair and reasonable debate which can be had in these issues, I've found they are often muddled simply because both groups are almost speaking different languages. The conservative is looking at costs versus benefits, while the liberal is looking at harm done by failing to act.