Re: My WTF: Conservatives, Taxes and TortureHow it is justified:
Abortion is inflicted on innocent unborn children. The death penalty is inflicted on convicted murderers.
Taxes are inflicted on honest citizens. Torture is inflicted on foreign terrorists.
If you view things that way, there is no cognitive dissonance whatsoever, but they are thinking about it. They simply have different values.
Hmm... Except that the argument assumes that all persons who are executed under the death penalty are in fact guilty of the capital offenses of which they are charged. Conviction is not, in fact, proof of guilt, as The Innocence Project has demonstrated repeatedly.
The premise is both falsifiable and false by observation. Innocent people are put to death by force of the state (whether federal or state), which is morally equivalent - if not worse (i.e., at least abortion is a private act only condoned by the state, not actually executed by force) - to killing innocent unborn children. And, since we are but imperfect human beings and cannot avoid falsely convicting innocent people of capital crimes, then support of the death penalty means you support of the killing of innocent people, as well as actual murderers.
So, there IS cognitive dissonance, even if you don't do as my economics professors always urged: consider the secondary [and tertiary] effects.
Taxes are the price of governing relations amongst ourselves and of the privilege of citizenship (for corporations, the privilege of limited liability). They pay for the protection of life (not to mention private property), liberty and the right to pursue happiness, the enforcement of contracts & ref'ing of modern capitalism, the correction of negative externalities and other market failures detrimental to the public, the provision of social insurance, and investments in public infrastructure that support long-term productivity growth. Yes, some public spending is wasteful & inefficient, fraudulent or "pork". But, as I said earlier - we're not perfect, we're fallible human beings. Waste, fraud and pork does not invalidate the need for the vast bulk of legitimate federal spending, nor for allocating responsibility for taxes to pay for it. [Whether or to what extent taxes are necessary to pay for spending is a whole 'nother discussion; see L. Randall Wray's MMT blog series here.]
Taxes are not "inflicted", they are levied based on politically negotiated principles by elected representatives [although, given how taxes have flattened and lowered principally in favor of a small-but-wealthy minority clustered at the very top of the income ladder, you have to start wondering to what extent has regulatory capture of the government by corporatist plutocrats occurred?]. Moreover, they are levied on citizens generally, honest or not.
Torture is morally objectionable, whether its victim is actually a terrorist or not. The only possible defense that is even worth considering is the "greater good" argument. But, even here, the argument doesn't hold, as taking the long view and considering future generations that may be impacted by our decision to endorse state-sponsored torture; it is likely that there are far more people in future generations who will die as a result of radical jihadism fomented by American torture policies, than could be saved by torturing some terrorist into giving up the details of a mass attack in time to successfully intervene. There is not a shred of evidence to indicate that torture has saved a single American life; but, there is plenty suggesting many have been lost to the Abu Graibh and Waterboarding scandals.
Again, there is lots of "cognitive dissonance", if one simply thinks further than the first thought.
Lastly, I wonder what values they have that are different enough from mine to lead them to believe that torture can be condoned, while taxes are just this side of evil incarnate?