Saturday, August 2, 2014

No Choice But To Do The Right Thing

Context: Progress Depends on Freedom

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Are we really arguing that government institutions that retain their monopoly of power and which use any funding they receive to enact coercion on those who refuse to fund them as "Pareto optimal"? It isn't "more valuable" because the coerced are suffering a loss of value. - Jon Irenicus

It's optimal if the value gained by the consenting coerced is greater than the value lost by the unconsenting coerced.

Imagine if everybody but one person derives value from being coerced into contributing to the common good. In other words, everybody but one person voluntary gives their tax dollars to congress and the IRS. We can imagine that we'd suffer a major net loss of value if we eliminated congress and the IRS. One person would gain but 299,999,999 people would lose. Unless of course his gain would be greater than the total of their loss.

Pareto isn't about the morality of an endeavor...it's simply about maximizing value created. You didn't explain why pragmatarianism wouldn't result in the Pareto optimum.

Now, ordinarily someone who is robbed etc. has the option to seek restitution and defend themselves against the perpetrator. I guess if you're willing to acknowledge that this could well happen with a pragmatarian government, we're on the same page, but anarcho-capitalism certainly isn't depriving anyone of a "valuable" option who isn't themselves doing the same to others; it is depriving those individuals, the coercers, of that option... or at least removing the pretence that they are anything but criminals, who are to be dealt with in the usual manner. - Jon Irenicus

If I rob you, then I get to choose how I spend your money. If I don't get to choose how I spend your money...then why would I bother robbing you?

In a pragmatarian system...am I robbing you if I reach into my own pocket to pay for a 25% tax rate? Well...maybe? But wouldn't I also be robbing myself? I'm not paying coercers so that you have to contribute to the common good...I'm paying them so that WE have to contribute to the common good. What kind of robber has one gun pointed at you and one gun pointed at himself? "Let's give up 25% of our money...or else!!!"

Imagine that you really don't want to eat an entire bag of chips. But you lack the self control to stop eating the chips. So you tell your friend to take the bag of chips away from you after you've eaten 15 chips. Is he robbing you if he takes the bag away from you?

If I pay congress and the IRS...am I trying to rob you or am I trying to ensure that we both contribute?

You have to get inside the mentality of somebody who would willingly pay coercers...

"Given the choice, I'd choose to eat the entire bag of chips even though I really shouldn't. Maybe this is true of other people as well. Maybe they also lack the self control to give up momentary pleasure for future benefit. I think it's entirely possible so I will pay somebody to take the bag of chips away from US".

"Given the choice, I wouldn't contribute to the common good. Maybe this is true of other people as well. Maybe they also lack the self control to give up monetary pleasure for future benefit. I think it's entirely possible so I will pay somebody to force US to contribute to the common good."

In essence, the mentality is, "Let's have no choice but to do the right thing".

You might disagree with the mentality...but it's not unreasonable to want to avoid situations in which you might make the wrong choice. If you think that you might drink and drive...you give your keys to the host. That way if you do drink, then you won't have the choice to drive.

How many people are willing to pay congress and the IRS in order to avoid a situation in which they might not choose to contribute to collective goods? I don't know. But I'd really like to find out. Wouldn't you?

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It kinda feels like there's a linvoid here...

Linvoid = choosing to avoid a situation in which you might make the wrong choice

Friday, August 1, 2014

Is Anarcho-capitalism The Promised Land?

Context: Progress Depends on Freedom

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No, markets are considered efficient where there are voluntary transactions considered mutually beneficial ex ante. This does not concern coerced transactions, where a majority (or even a better capitalised minority) can afford to coerce others into doing its bidding, which is precisely why arbitration and security exist: to prevent and, where applicable, rectify coerced losses of welfare. More demand means you can potentially charge a higher price for your good or service, and not that a demand for coercing others into doing your bidding somehow magically leads to positive sum, Pareto-efficient outcomes. You're correct that departments for which there is greater demand will attract more resources under pragmatarianism, which I am not disputing, but if we're discussing the relative efficiency of this system versus full blown voluntaryism, the demand to initiate coercion against others is detrimental to the achievement of positive sum economic exchanges, as by definition the coerced will be forced to engage in (trans)actions which they would rather have not. - Jon Irenicus

As I've said over and over...I have absolutely no problem with the assumption that anarcho-capitalism is Pareto optimal and pragmatarianism is not.  But in order for this to have any sort of relevance...you have to explain why pragmatarianism wouldn't lead us to anarcho-capitalism.

Imagine we're at a train station.  You want to go to the promised land and so do I.  A train pulls into the station.  The conductor is the invisible hand.  I go to board the train and you tell me that it's not going to the promised land.  Ok, so where is it going?  Why wouldn't the invisible hand take us to the promised land?  Would it take us half way and then run out of steam?

Pragmatarianism would create a market in the public sector.  Just like in the private sector...consumers would exchange less valuable options for more valuable options.  Is congress a more or less valuable option?  Is the IRS a more or less valuable option?

What are your options?

1. You can say that these options are more valuable...but then this would mean that anarcho-capitalism is NOT Pareto optimal.  Why not?  Because it would be missing more valuable options.

2. You can say that these options are less valuable...but that consumers would choose them anyways.  If consumers consistently fail to choose more valuable options...then markets really wouldn't work.  People would choose to starve rather than buy food.

Do you have another option?  I don't see one.  If people are willing to spend their money on watermelons... then an outcome without watermelons really wouldn't be Pareto optimal.  If people are willing to spend their money on congress and the IRS...then an outcome without these options really wouldn't be Pareto optimal.

So in order for your point about pragmatarianism being a suboptimal outcome to have any relevance...you need to explain why this would continue to be the case.

I agree that the first day of pragmatarianism the outcome would be extremely suboptimal.  The options would still largely reflect the preferences of government planners rather than consumers.    But the second day...the outcome would be marginally more optimal.  Same thing with the third day...and the fourth day...and so on.  Why do you perceive that this trend wouldn't continue?  If each day the outcome becomes more optimal (because consumers choose more valuable options)...then why wouldn't the outcome eventually become optimal?

Going back to the train analogy.  Imagine we board the train conducted by the invisible hand.  Just as soon as we sit down you say...

Irenicus: Our location is extremely suboptimal
Xero: Well...yeah...we're still at the station

A second after we leave the station you say...

Irenicus: Our location is still very suboptimal
Xero: Well...yeah...we just left the station

An hour later you say...

Irenicus: We're going the wrong way.  The promised land is in the opposite direction.
Xero: How can we be going the wrong way when the conductor is the invisible hand?

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