Friday, November 12, 2010

Department of Redundancy Department

In a few days my "English" friend will be visiting from England.  He's actually Welsh so he shakes his fist at me when I refer to him as "English"...and I shake my fist at him for a few reasons as well.  He's "visited" (where does "visit" end and "stay" begin?) several times before and it usually takes a bit of time for my ears to adjust to his Welsh accent.  However, I've since learned most of the different words and expressions that they use over there.

For example, over there they euphemistically say, "you've been made redundant" while over here we say, "you're fired".  Fans of the UK Office*  will of course recall the poignant scene where David Brent is Made Redundant.  In that scene, when David is confronted with redundancy, he says the following line with utmost sincerity, "I will try twice as hard, I really will.  I've been complacent, I'll turn this place around..."

Pragmatarianism is the single most effective way to eliminate government complacency.  Each and every tax payer would have the power to use their taxes to decide whether congress or any other government organization was redundant or complacent.  The democratic process on its own is not sufficient.

Here's what a liberal friend wrote to me a while back...
My ex works for the state department. She debriefs Hillary on the 5 or 6 countries in Africa that she represents in the areas of human rights and labor. This job consists of reading articles on the internet, facebooking and taking a 2 hour daily nap in the vacant office behind her cubicle. She makes $97,000 a year. And I've met some of her friends / coworkers. She's not alone in these habits. She also has friends in high government office downloading porn and sleeping with not only the people they are supposed to be regulating, but pretty much everyone else they meet. It's crazy. 
Maybe my liberal friend was inclined to exaggerate the situation because he was disgruntled with his ex?  I don't know...but we all have unique perspectives and insights.  It's why we all agree that two heads are better than one.  We should also all agree that, whether you are a liberal or libertarian, the government can produce the exact same levels of public goods using a lot less money.  Getting more bang for our buck is otherwise known as efficiency.

Interestingly enough, the State Department was one of the few cabinet departments that Milton Friedman said was necessary...Milton Friedman on Libertarianism.

In my last post, when I shared my justification for government, there were quite a few people that disagreed with my justification.  How crazy would it have been if everybody had agreed with my justification!?  It's really not a bad justification though.  We just work backwards from the premise that everybody would agree that an entirely redundant government would be entirely unjustified.  A partially redundant government would be partially justified and an entirely necessary government would be entirely justified.

What's necessary for you might not be necessary for me.  We don't purchase exactly the same private goods so it's highly unlikely that we would use our taxes to fund the exact same public goods.  There's no way that the visible hand (congress) can factor all the myriad of valuations and market signals that the invisible hand can.

A pragmatarian is somebody that is well aware that congress, in terms of tax allocation, can be made redundant.  Watch the video again of David Brent being made redundant and imagine the American public telling congress that they've been made redundant.

*I'm a fan of both the UK and American Office but, even though I can appreciate a decent amount of awkwardness, sometimes the UK version crosses the line into unbearable levels of awkwardness.

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