Saturday, February 1, 2014

What About Voluntary Taxation? Also, Knockers vs Builders...Which One Are You?

Reply to:  What About Voluntary Taxation? Also, Knockers vs Builders...Which One Are You?

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Well...I'm a pragmatarian...so clearly I think voluntary taxation is inferior. That's probably not the best way to put it though.

The important thing to consider is that we don't know what the demand for compulsory taxation truly is. Just like we don't know what the demand for war truly is.

In a pragmatarian system, people would be free to choose which government organizations they gave their own tax dollars to. This would reveal what the actual demand for public goods truly is.

What would the demand for compulsory taxation be? In other words, how much money would the IRS receive? How many taxpayers would choose to give their own tax dollars to the IRS?

Why would people choose to give their own hard-earned tax dollars to the IRS? Perhaps they don't trust that you would voluntarily spend enough money on public goods.

If you thought that voluntary taxation is better than compulsory taxation...then you could try and persuade the heck out of everybody to boycott the IRS. You could go door to door and tell people about the NAP...you could buy billboard space to show people that compulsory taxation is morally wrong...you can buy radio ads telling people that Rothbard proved that compulsory taxation is theft. You could tell people whatever you thought necessary to persuade them to not give any of their tax dollars to the IRS.

The thing is...you would be trying to tear down the IRS without putting anything in its place. You would be a knocker rather than a builder. If you didn't want to be a knocker...and wanted to be a builder instead...you could create a non-profit organization that would use non-violent means to persuade people to voluntarily spend enough money on public goods. In other words, you could try and provide people with a better option...a viable alternative.

If the non-profit you helped build was able to demonstrate results...if it did somehow effectively persuade people to contribute more to the common good...then it stands to reason that taxpayers who demanded this service would stop giving their taxes to the IRS. The less money the IRS received...the less coercion it could engage in.

It's entirely possible though that if the IRS was losing enough money because of your non-profit...they would get the hint and switch to non-violent methods of persuading people to spend enough money on public goods. The beauty of the market is that it's driven by consumer sovereignty.

While on the subject of knockers though...a perfect example are all those "bleeding heart" liberals who want to tear down sweatshops. People choose to work in less than desirable conditions because it provides them with an option that's more desirable than the alternatives (subsistence agriculture, prostitution, etc). Liberals are knockers because they just want to tear down the best option that those workers have. If the liberals were builders then they would start their own air-conditioned factories which would give workers a more desirable option. This would create value rather than destroy it.

So knockers destroy best options while builders create better options. When libertarians and anarcho-capitalists advocate tearing the government down...then they are being knockers. That's why I'm no longer a libertarian. As a pragmatarian I want people to be free to shop for themselves in the public sector...this will give them the opportunity to build up the government organizations that they consider to be the best options. And if you believed that our best government options were undesirable...then you would be free to build up more desirable options.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting thoughts. One of the shortcomings we perceive about pragmatarianism is the model's inability to address the growing divide between the top 10% and the bottom, say, 20%.

    Voluntary taxation, on the other hand, if it is linked with individual suffrage, would not only deliver the benefits of pragmatarianism, it would also address the growing gap between the most able and least able in any given country and on the planet in general.

    If you are interested in a public debate, please let us know at ivtf dot org.

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  2. You have interesting thoughts too! I liked your video and shared it on the tax choice facebook page.

    One problem with your model is that it doesn't seem to take into account the division of labor between economics and politics. Let's take marijuana for example.

    Whether or not marijuana should be illegal is a matter of politics. Therefore, voting is appropriate to provide an answer. If the answer is "illegal"...then we have the question of how much of society's limited resources should be taken from other valuable uses in order to take marijuana off the streets. This is a matter of economics. Therefore, shopping is appropriate to provide an answer.

    In order to determine the optimal amount of funding for the war on marijuana...each and every taxpayer should be free to decide how much of their own money they take away from other uses they also value...public education, public healthcare, welfare, infrastructure, environmental protection and so on. Their freedom to choose how much of those valued goods they are willing to sacrifice...is the only way we can determine the optimal amount of society's limited resources that should be allocated towards hunting/prosecuting/incarcerating those who supply marijuana.

    We can't determine the optimal amount of funding for "z" if people aren't free to choose how much of "x" and "y" they are personally willing to sacrifice. This is how and why markets work.

    If we hope to determine the optimal amount of funding for the war on terror, the war on drugs and the war on poverty...then we have to create a market in the public sector. This will give taxpayers the freedom to shop for themselves.

    Regarding a public debate...like I said in the e-mail I sent you...I'm tentatively interested.

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