I noticed that Jeffrey Tucker commented on this Fee.org article by Robert Murphy... The Silk Road Back to Leviathan? So I shared a link to my recent blog entry... In Which Our Anarchist Hero Jeffrey Tucker Proves The Point Of Taxation. Tucker hasn't replied... yet... but a couple of other people replied. Here's my reply to their reply...
tehol and Bob_Robert... it's probably my fault but both you guys are missing the point by a million miles. Let me try again.
Imagine if Fee.org charged members $1 per/month... but members could choose which articles they spend their money on. For the sake of simplicity... let's imagine that this month there are only two articles....
1. The Silk Road Back to Leviathan? by Robert Murphy
2. How Markets Tell the Truth and Politics Tells Lies by Gary Galles
Let's also imagine that Fee.org has 50,000 members (the same number of facebook fans it has).
How would this month's $50,000 be divided between the two articles? You don't know the answer. I don't know the answer... nobody knows the answer.
If you've read Hayek, then you would know that information is dispersed. Each of us only has a piece of the puzzle. My piece of the puzzle is that I'd spend my $1 on Galles' article rather than on Murphy's article. This is because, from my perspective, Galles' article does a better job of revealing the Unseen.
The bug in Jeffrey Tucker's economics is that he believes that, just because these products (articles) aren't rivalrous, none of our pieces of the puzzle are necessary/important. Tucker believes that producers of liberty articles... such as Galles and Murphy... do not need our individual valuations in order to put society's limited resources to their most valuable uses.
But the fact of the matter is that Galles' article and Murphy's article aren't equally valuable. And it behooves consumers and producers alike to learn which article is more valuable.
The solution to this knowledge problem is really simple. Fee.org would charge its members a very reasonable monthly fee. Liberty.me already charges $5/month so there's no reason that Fee.org couldn't charge its members a buck or two a month.
This does not mean that Fee.org would have to exclude non-members from reading its articles... it just means that members would be given some special status/recognition/perks/props for their valuations/contributions. Liberty.me already does the same thing. The only difference is that Liberty.me doesn't give its members the freedom to allocate their monthly fees to the most valuable blog entries.
Can't Fee.org just rely on donations? Let's say that I only value Galles' article at $0.25 cents. In this case it's really not going to be worth it for me to take the time to track down Galles' paypal address and then log into my paypal account in order to send him $0.25 cents. There are too many steps in the process. The opportunity cost of the process exceeds my $0.25 cents worth of valuation.
But if, at the beginning of the year... I use paypal to deposit $12 into my Fee.org "bank account"... then... if Fee.org sets it up right... spending $0.25 cents on Galles' article would be as easy as giving a Youtube video a thumbs up. Kind of like how it's too easy to buy something on Amazon.
In essence, Fee.org would be creating a market within its website. They would be facilitating trades. They would be making it stupid easy for me and every other member to trade with Galles, Murphy, Tucker and anybody else who writes articles for this website. Fee.org would take its cut and pass the rest on to the intended recipients.
As far as I know, Fee.org would be the first website to try this (MMC + CC). If it worked (and why wouldn't it?)... then other websites, like Youtube and Netflix, would quickly follow suit. As a result, more and more people would wonder why we don't do the same thing with the government. If it's important to share our puzzle pieces on Fee.org articles and Youtube videos... then why isn't it important that we share our puzzle pieces on everything that the government does?