Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forced Rider Problem vs Free Rider Problem

Post over at the Libertarian reddit... Which problem is worse...forced riders or free riders?


My reply to Gordon Clark On Unionism


I created the Wikipedia page for the forced rider problem. It was butchered by the same idiots who got me banned from Wikipedia. One of the things they did was change the title from "Forced rider problem" to "Forced rider". They also removed the part about unions. Here's the original version...forced rider problem...with some relevant passages.

Check out the disparity in article traffic statistics between the forced rider problem article and the free-rider problem article...

Forced_rider has been viewed 166 times in the last 30 days
Free_rider_problem has been viewed 19,408 times in the last 30 days

How crazy is that?


The existence of Wikipedia means that clearly there are significant exceptions to the free rider problem.  But the fact that I was the only one developing not just the forced rider problem article but numerous other market articles means that the free-rider problem is a real problem.

If you're a libertarian...then chances are good that you want the government to do far less than it currently does.  But if you kick "public goods" over to the public sector...then yes, you eliminate the forced rider problem, but you risk subjecting the public goods to the free-rider problem.

If you're aware of the beneficial consequences of consumer choice...then you could make a convincing argument that a smaller quantity of an effective public good is superior to a larger quantity of a defective public good.  For example, a smaller supply of effective private education is superior to a larger supply of defective public education.  How effective could public education really be when the Wikipedia entry on the forced rider problem only received 166 visits in the past month?

But if you're aware of the beneficial consequences of consumer choice...then why not avoid the free-rider problem critique altogether by supporting tax choice?


Two comments at Of Free Riders and Forced Riders: America's Cup edition

Taxpayers are invited to allocate their taxes to various bits of it (probably in small increments continuously so as to avoid everyone dumping everything into their favourite programs). In that model, not unlike a kickstarter for the entire program of government expenditure, and in the present time, I strongly suspect that "the yacht race" would get its proposed funding without a single one of "your" tax dollars being contributed to it. - Michael Albert 
While I can perhaps fantasize about systems like the one you suggest (which also has problems), I simply hope that, at the margin, things like America's Cup could be flipped over to voluntary payment regimes. - Eric Crampton
[My reply to Albert]  Every tax dollar spent on a yacht race is a tax dollar that couldn't be spent on public healthcare. So I'm pretty sure that, in a pragmatarian system, insufficient demand breadth would remove a yacht race from the "menu".

What about football though? Would the average joe rather spend 1 tax dollar on subsidizing the popular pastime or on public healthcare? No idea. But at least he would have no choice but to internalize the cost.

It gets interesting when we imagine taxpayers being able to order from any country's "menu". How well subsidized would the World Cup be? Maybe more well subsidized than the Brazilian EPA? Personally, protecting the rainforest is a far more urgent priority than watching a ball get kicked back and forth.

[My reply to Crampton]  Oooooooo, I'd really love to read your in-depth analysis of those problems. For choice FAQ and tax choice economics.

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