Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why Is Your Partner Cheating on You?

The Analogy

For this analogy to work we have to assume that your partner is, for the most part, rational. This is because libertarians and anarcho-capitalists have to assume that taxpayers are, for the most part, rational...
Isn't that the central basis for the libertarian creed? The notion that educated free adults can be trusted with matches... not to mention their bank accounts and votes? If the masses are intrinsically stupid -- sheep -- then the paternalists are right and no future society of maximized freedom will ever be possible. - David Brin, Essences, Orcs and Civilization: The Case for a Cheerful Libertarianism
If you struggle with the idea that taxpayers (and your partners) are not sheep then please read this article by Paul Bonneau...The Problem With the 'People Are Idiots' Meme.

With that in mind...let's say that your woman...or cheating on you. If you want them to stop cheating on you then it's absolutely essential for you to understand exactly why it is that they are cheating on you.

Given that your partner is probably not a sheep, we cay say with relative certainty that your partner is cheating on you because you are failing to meet their needs in one or more areas. If you can accurately identify exactly how you are failing to meet their needs...then you will be in a much better position to understand exactly what you have to to do in order satisfy their needs. If you can adequately satisfy their needs then you would eliminate their motive to cheat on you.

This entire process requires effective communication with your partner. You have to ask your partner..."what needs of yours am I failing to meet?"
  • Am I not satisfying your physical needs?
  • Am I not satisfying your emotional needs?
  • Am I not listening to you enough?
  • Am I not spending enough time with you?
The challenge can't blame your partner for cheating. This is because your partner is, for the most part, not a sheep. That means that you have to be willing to honestly admit that you have inadequacies. If you're unwilling...or take an honest look at your inadequacies then you'll never be able to address them and your partner will continue to cheat.

If you want to completely eliminate the state...or reduce the heck out of the state...then you have to understand the needs of taxpayers. You can't just tell them over and over to stop cheating because cheating is wrong. Taxpayers aren't dumb...they aren't immoral...and they aren't sheep. So it's essential that you try and figure out why they are cheating. It's not that difficult...all you have to do is ask them..."which of your needs is the private sector not satisfying?"
  • Is the private sector not satisfying your needs for national defense?
  • Is the private sector not satisfying your needs for welfare?
  • Is the private sector not satisfying your needs for education?
  • Is the private sector not satisfying your needs for healthcare?
Allowing taxpayers to choose which government organizations receive their taxes would allow them to accurately and effectively communicate which of their needs are not being adequately met by the private sector. This information is priceless. Without it there's no way you'll be able to convince taxpayers to stop supporting the public sector.

The challenge is...this all depends on your ability to admit and acknowledge that the private sector is not perfect. Like every single one of has its shortcomings. Are you willing to take an honest look at these shortcomings? If you can do so...then you will be able to take the necessary steps to address these inadequacies, failings and shortcomings of the private sector.

Let's Prove We're Not Sheep

Ok, let's spend a little bit more time considering the communication aspect of this analogy...because...this is where all the goodness is at. In technical terms we can refer to this as "revealing preferences". Do any of you remember those oldish commercials where people were asked what they would do for a Klondike Bar? That's a perfect example of revealing preferences. "Random" people on the street were asked if they would cluck and dance like a chicken for a Klondike Bar. Would you be willing to give up your dignity for a Klondike Bar? If you answered "yes" then you would be revealing your preference for the momentary enjoyment of a Klondike Bar over your momentary loss of dignity.

The question of whether you would forgo your dignity for a Klondike Bar is, in technical terms, known as an opportunity cost decision. Everything we want has opportunity costs. All the time/money we spend on one thing we value cannot also be spent on other things we value. This forces us to prioritize how we spend our time/money. The opportunity cost concept, which is arguably the most important economic concept, was first developed by Bastiat in his epic essay...What is Seen and What is Not Seen. Opportunity cost decisions help ensure the efficient allocation of limited resources. In other words...they help ensure that people who really want Klondike Bars are the ones who receive them.

If you've already read Bastiat's essay then you will of course know that Bastiat was considering the opportunity costs of taxes. We all stand to benefit as a society from lower taxes because you spend your money better than the government can spend your money. Spending your money allows your unique preferences to help determine the most efficient allocation of limited resources. If you can't reveal your preferences for a Klondike Bar then we can't really be certain if you should really have one or not.

Perhaps you're asking yourself..."but if he's such a big fan of Bastiat, then why doesn't he advocate for lower taxes or no taxes?" The thing is...if you understand the opportunity cost concept then you'll understand that there's absolutely no need to argue for lower taxes. By allowing taxpayers to reveal their preferences in the public sector...we'll be able to see what is missing from the private sector. If taxpayers spend their taxes on government Klondike Bars...then we'll understand that there is a shortage...or absence of...private Klondike Bars. With this information you'd be able to start a private organization dedicated to supplying Klondike Bars.
When it is impossible to observe what individuals are willing to give up in order to get the public good, how can policymakers access how urgently they really want more or less of it, given the other possible uses of their money? There is a whole economic literature dealing with the willingness-to-pay methods and contingent valuation techniques to try and divine such preference in the absence of a market price doing so, but even the most optimistic proponets of such devices tend to concede that public goods will still most likley be underprovided or overprovided under government stewardship. - Patricia Kennett, Governance, globalization and public policy
When it comes to the efficient allocation of limited resources...we can't rely on voting. Voting is good for a lot of things...but efficiently allocating resources is not one of them. This is simply because there's a huge information disparity between 1) asking somebody if they want a Klondike Bar and 2) asking somebody what they would do for a Klondike Bar. Given that you're the only one that knows what you would do for a Klondike Bar...we can begin to understand why congress can't even come close to accurately answering the question of how our taxes should be spent. This leads us to Hayek's concept of partial knowledge. Here's a great passage from his epic essay on The Use of Knowledge in Society...
The problem is thus in no way solved if we can show that all the facts, if they were known to a single mind (as we hypothetically assume them to be given to the observing economist), would uniquely determine the solution; instead we must show how a solution is produced by the interactions of people each of whom possesses only partial knowledge. To assume all the knowledge to be given to a single mind in the same manner in which we assume it to be given to us as the explaining economists is to assume the problem away and to disregard everything that is important and significant in the real world. - Friedrich Hayek, The Use of Knowledge in Society
Part of the answer is in your hand, part of the answer is in my hand...and everybody's partial answers are in the invisible hand. If we truly want to answer the question of what the public sector should supply then all we need to do is to allow taxpayers to choose which government organizations receive their taxes.

Ok ok, so my cheaters analogy is far from perfect. But if anybody wants to criticize it then you might as well go ahead and criticize a few of my other analogies while you're at it...

Aikido, Dune and Taxes
The Real World - Pragmatarian Rules


When I posted this on the Ron Paul forums a member, AquaBuddha2010, twice asked me if there should be taxpayers..."You can know the answer by revealing what you believe at a fundamental level. Should there be taxpayers?"

This was my second response...

Do you think I'm God? That perhaps I've got the whole world in my hands? Do you know that song? I had to sing it all the time when I was growing up.

Not only do I not have the whole world in my hands...but I don't even have the United States in my hands...and I don't even have California in my hands...and I don't even have Southern California in my hands...and I don't even have Glendale in my hands...and I don't even have my neighborhood in my hands...and I don't even have my next door neighbors in my hands...

What's in my hands? My own unique but extremely limited perspective. Having served over in Afghanistan...where I witnessed people living without taxes...and having attended a public university which was partly paid for by the GI Bill...and having sat through way too many horror stories shared by my girlfriend who gets paid by taxpayers to give therapy to abused kids...then yeah...there should be taxpayers.

But given my awareness of how extremely limited my perspective is...then I'm very willing to concede that I might be wrong. The question is...why aren't you willing to concede that you might be wrong as well? Why aren't you willing to allow taxpayers to decide whether the public sector is indeed unnecessary?

Socialism failed because the people in charge were unable to admit that they might be wrong. If you can't admit that you might be wrong...then how are you any different?

1 comment:

  1. Xero,

    Your assumption is flawed - that is, there is something wrong with the free market in provisioning goods for people.

    The free market is the best possible provider of goods for people - but it is NOT the only way goods can be provisioned.

    Theft is a very profitable way to obtain goods for one's self, which is why it is often the choice of many people.

    It is merely risky. The victims often resist.

    To mitigate the risk of theft, it becomes beneficial to make such theft appear LEGITIMATE - thus, the thief becomes rightful and those that resist the thief are "in the wrong".

    If you then present a game - where everyone has a "chance" a winning more stolen loot then lost to theft - it becomes easy to see why many entertain the game - even if most are losers at it.

    As Bastiat quipped: Government is the fantasy that men can live off the effort of other men.