Over on the Ron Paul forums I started this thread...Is Christmas Coercion? My goal in starting the thread was to try and imagine the resource allocation disparity between a world with and without Christmas...in order to help try and imagine what the resource allocation disparity might be between pragmatarianism and anarcho-capitalism.
Nearly everybody who responded to the thread completely missed my point and instead tried to refute any possible coercive element of Christmas. Most of the comments were fairly predictable...except for the comments by wistfulthinker. His comments were extremely exceptional. In my opinion it is well worth it to sign up to the Ron Paul forums just to read his comments. You might not agree with his content...but personally it was like receiving a totally unexpected but very enjoyably ironic gift. It helps to read the entire thread to fully appreciate the irony.
Everybody is coerced/controlled by something/someone to some degree...right? Personally...I wish I didn't have to eat or sleep. But there are plenty of people that take great joy in eating and sleeping.
How many times in our life have we been coerced into doing something good? How many times in our life have we been coerced into doing something bad? "Peer pressure" generally has a negative connotation but traditions are nothing more than peer pressure amplified into social pressure. There's incredible pressure to conform...people who fail to conform in a bad way are considered deviants while people who fail to conform in a good way are considered nonconformists. Whether somebody is a deviant or nonconformist is subjective and relative though.
When it comes to the scope/responsibilities of government ...are you a deviant...or a conformist...or a nonconformist? Here's a bell curve diagram that represents society's views on what the government should or shouldn't do...
There's a continuum that ranges from people that believe the government should do everything (socialists) all the way to people that believe that the government shouldn't do anything (anarcho-capitalists). In between are liberals and libertarians. If you scroll down my entry on libertarianism you'll find a timeline of the perspectives of prominent libertarians on the proper scope of government.
Another way of thinking about the political ideology continuum is to organize the various ideologies based on their views on how pervasive the free-rider problem is...The Blind Men and the Scope of Government.
Do we really need the government to act like our parents? What type of parenting style should the government adhere to? Authoritarian parenting style...soft-paternalism parenting style...maternal parenting style...permissive parenting style?
It's entirely possible that anarcho-capitalists are correct that as a society we're grown up enough to stand on our own two feet. But can we ever truly know whether somebody is responsible enough to stand on their own two feet without completely withdrawing our support?
The kicker is that we know exactly how grown up we truly are as a society. The challenge is to understand that the answer is collectively known. The sum of our individual answers is the true answer. To arrive at the true answer we need to integrate our perspectives.
How can we integrate our perspectives? By allowing taxpayers to directly allocate their taxes. This will allow taxpayers to use their taxes to highlight the areas where we still have some growing up to do. Their tax allocation decisions will address the shortcomings of the private sector...AND...the shortcomings of the public sector.
Control is a very serious matter...but I strive not to take myself too seriously. With that in mind...
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: Oh, hi, Vanessa!
Vanessa: Dad, what are you doing?
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: Well I'll be honest I don't really understand
But I fell down this hill and I got glue on my hands
Now I got records on my fingers
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: Records on my fingers
I got records on my fingers and I just can't stop
Kids: Don't stop
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: I can't stop I got a platypus controlling me
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: I got a platypus controlling me
Now let me sum it up
It was a strange set of circumstances
Kids: Strange set of circumstances?
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: I fell down the hill, I got glue on my hands now I got records on my fingers
And I just can't stop
Kids: DON'T STOP DON'T STOP
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: Well I would if I was able
there's a platypus controlling me he's underneath the table
Kids: There's a platypus controlling him—WHAAAT?
Kid: Oh I get it, platypus is a metaphor for whatever is keeping you down
Kids: Corporations are a platypus
The government's a platypus
Your teacher is a platypus
Weird Kid: My teacher is a panda
Kids: Society's a platypus
My parents are a platypus
The media's a platypus
It's all just propaganda
We've all got platypus controlling us
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: No just me
Kids: We've all got platypus controlling us
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: I'd stop if I was able
Kids: We've all got platypus controlling us
Heinz Doofenshmirtz: I'm not speaking metaphorically
the platypus controlling me is underneath the table
Oh wait, no, he's gone!
Heyyy! There's no platypus controlling me...
There's no platypus controlling me!