Friday, September 13, 2013

Bushels Over Brilliance

Rainbows and Rivers wrote:  I think you may have misunderstood me. The money that would be distributed would be the money that is already collected in taxes. Since it is meant to be spent on behalf of the citizens of a country rather than on behalf of its taxpayers, you should have no problem including all the citizens' value preferences. After all, however successful a millionaire may be, there is no way he can know someone else's preferences, right? Or at least your own argument goes like that.

Xero wrote: Imagine that your preferences are a giant diamond with a billion different facets. A successful millionaire isn't successful because he knows all your facets...he's successful because he shines one of your facets better than anybody else does. That's why you choose him to give your money to.

So there he is shining one of your facets. But obviously he's not a alone. There are a billion other people all over your giant diamond and each one is focusing on shining the facet that you paid them to shine.

Shopping is the process by which you find the people who can shine one of your facets better than anybody else can. Right now you're shopping for economic discussion. And here I am trying to shine this particular facet of yours. But I'm completely oblivious to all your other facets. I have no idea whether you have an artichoke facet or a Paris Hilton facet.

But in the public sector...rather than having a billion representatives each focused on shining a different facet...you have one representative who is trying to shine all your facets. Given that the public sector is half our economy, it behooves us to understand which method is more productive/effective/efficient/valuable.

I think maybe the person closest to you might know quite a few of your facets...but nobody can know your facets better than you can. Nobody can know how you rank the importance of each of your facets. Therefore, everybody would be infinitely better off if taxpayers could choose where their taxes go. Even if you don't make enough money to pay taxes...you're still going to get infinitely better/accurate/customized/tailored representation from your billion representatives who do have to pay taxes.

If the artichoke farmer is one of your representatives then he's going to spend his taxes on the public goods inputs he needs to successfully output artichokes. If Hot Chip is one of your representatives then they are going to spend their taxes on the public goods inputs they need to successfully output awesome music.

The moral of the story is...shine on you crazy diamond. Don't let them put a bushel over your brilliance.

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