Friday, November 5, 2010

Political Ideology Diagrams

Here are a few diagrams I created to help illustrate that tenets can be used to help define where one political ideology ends and another political ideology begins.

The first political ideology Venn diagram depicts shared tenets while the second and third bell curve, public goods spectrum diagrams depict the scope of government.

The scope of government* should be determined by allowing taxpayers to directly allocate their individual taxes among the various government organizations.  For example, at anytime throughout the year you could visit the Environmental Protection Agency website and directly submit a tax payment.  This is known as pragmatarianism and/or tax choice.

Liberals believe that the government should do a lot more (have a broader scope) while conservatives and libertarians believe that the government should do a lot less (have a narrower scope).  In a tax choice system, if the Red Cross is more effective and efficient than FEMA then people who value disaster relief might not allocate any of their taxes to FEMA. This would narrow the scope of government.  Conversely, because private healthcare is so expensive perhaps more and more taxpayers might allocate their taxes to public healthcare.  The amount of money that public healthcare received would determine what percentage of the population qualified for coverage.  This would broaden the scope of government.  Allowing for a division of labor between taxpayers would reveal the proper scope of government.

One significant problem with the current system is that without allowing taxpayers to consider the opportunity costs of their taxes then there's no way for the government to know how to prioritize spending.  Somebody can say that they value defense, public healthcare, infrastructure, etc but the only way to accurately determine exactly how much they truly value infrastructure is by giving them the freedom to choose how much defense and public healthcare they would be willing to forgo in order to pay for more infrastructure.  Tax choice allows taxpayers to reveal their preferences which is the only way that public funds can be efficiently distributed among the various government organizations.

Pragmatarianism also solves the problem of government inefficiency.  Organizations in the private sector are forced to operate efficiently or they either lose customers (in the case of businesses) or they lose donors (in the case of non-profits).  Government organizations currently receive the same amount of money irrespective of how well they use it.  Without a strong incentive to operate efficiently they have become extremely inefficient.  With pragmatarianism, taxpayers would not willingly give their taxes to a government organization that would just waste their money.

*For a highly entertaining yet very informative historical perspective on the scope of government please see Herbert Spencer's comment at the end of my post on Absurdity-Spotting.

Here is the political ideology Venn diagram.  This diagram helps illustrate that libertarian socialism can more accurately be thought of as anarcho-socialism.


Here is the public goods spectrum / scope of government bell curve diagram.  On the far left the government would provide all the goods (socialism) and on the far right the market would provide all the goods (anarcho-capitalism).  As I mentioned above, allowing for a division of labor between taxpayers would reveal the ideal division of labor between the public and private sectors.  



Here is the same public goods spectrum / scope of government bell curve diagram.  The difference is that it depicts the liberal spectrum.  



Thanks to karmaisking for his suggestion to include control of money/banks on the diagrams!

9 comments:

  1. "Liberals believe that the government should do a lot more (have a broader scope) while conservatives and libertarians believe that the government should do a lot less (have a narrower scope)."

    I think this is naive. Most elected politicians think "their" government should do more, so Liberals and Conservatives (think Bush)believe that the government should do a lot more. libertarians are not yet proven, so we will wait and see.

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    1. Yes, this diagram is incomplete. I have met many people who call themselves "conservative", but then they like big government as long as it is spending money on things of which they approve, like the military, the war on some drugs etc.
      I think a far more useful diagram can be created that shows the spectrum being libertarianism and authoritarianism.

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    2. Doesn't the Venn diagram kinda convey the spectrum between anarcho-capitalism and authoritarianism (socialism)?

      While you're here...do you think that taxpayers should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes?

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  2. I didn't mean to post as Unknown - my moniker is Eselpee...

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  3. Eselpee, you're absolutely correct...but my argument is that taxpayers should be allowed to directly allocate their taxes. So my argument makes your correction largely irrelevant.

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    1. Hello,

      I've built a tool precisely for this purpose. http://votewithyourtaxes.com

      I would appreciate your feedback and collaboration if you are interested.

      Thanks,
      Sean

      Delete
    2. Awesome! I added your website to my list of recommended websites.

      You might consider adding a link to this article...Your Money, Your Choice...somewhere on your website. That's by far the single best argument that I've come across for allowing people to have more of a say regarding how their individual taxes are spent.

      You might also consider adding a blog to your website...that way myself and others can RSS subscribe to it in order to keep up to date on your progress. The content from your blog will also help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in that it will provide relevant text to help people find your website via google searches.

      Feel free to hit me up if you have any questions...ideas...or run across any other relevant websites regarding tax choice.

      Delete
  4. Maybe I'm reading something wrong, but there seems to be a disconnect between the top diagram and the bottom two charts. The top one properly recognizes that not all socialists are statists, while the bottom two seem to conflate socialism and statism.

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    1. The overly ambitious goals of these illustrations was to standardize the meaning of the terms in order to make communication more efficient.

      If you and I both based our terms on these diagrams...then when you said "socialist" I would know exactly what you were referring to. Same thing when you said "libertarian".

      If we didn't base our terms on these diagrams...then when you said "socialist" I would be forced to ask, "all government or no government?" When you said "libertarian" I would be forced to ask "some government or no government capitalism or no government socialism"?

      With this in mind...please don't say...

      1. "socialism" when you mean "anarcho-socialism"
      2. "libertarianism" when you mean "anarcho-capitalism"

      So...what term fits you best? Personally, I'm a pragmatarian.

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