Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Are you confident in congress's competence?


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Imagine if you needed brain surgery.  Would you ever seriously consider conducting the surgery yourself?  I think that most of us would choose to leave brain surgery to the brain surgeons.  There's little doubt that brain surgeons are uniquely and supremely qualified to conduct brain surgery.  Therefore, we put our brains in their hands.

Now imagine that you had the option to spend your taxes yourself (pragmatarianism FAQ).  Would you ever seriously consider choosing where your taxes go?  Or, would you choose to leave tax allocation to your elected representatives?  Do you think that congresspeople are uniquely and supremely qualified to spend your taxes?  Would you choose to put your taxes in their hands?

Nobody, that I know of, debates whether people should have the option to conduct brain surgery on themselves.  But ask somebody whether people should have the option to spend their taxes themselves and you might end up in a pretty big debate.  Why is that?

How many people would choose to shop for themselves in the public sector?  What percentage of the purse would they control?  Maybe 50%?  Taxpayers would spend half of the public funds themselves and congress would spend the other half?  Would people who wanted to shop for themselves in the public sector be more conservative?  Or liberal?  Rich... or poor?  Educated... or uneducated?  Would professionals shop for themselves or have congress shop for them?  Would brain surgeons choose to put their taxes into the hands of congress like congress chooses to put their brains into the hands of brain surgeons?

If you're worried about giving people the option to directly allocate their taxes... then you're worried about whether people are competent enough to recognize competence.  Except, the very premise of voting is that people are competent enough to recognize competence.  So if you trust voters to discern which candidates are the most supremely and uniquely qualified to spend their taxes... then it requires a bit of uh... flexibility... to twist around and argue that you don't trust taxpayers to discern whether or not congress is supremely and uniquely qualified to spend their taxes.

In a pragmatarian system there would be two main ways for the people to indicate that a politician is supremely and uniquely qualified to spend their taxes...

1. People could give the politician their vote
2. People could give the politician their taxes

If you trust the first way, then how could you possibly distrust the second way?

And if you don't trust the first way, then you should really want to have the option to directly allocate your taxes.  It would be the only way to keep your hard-earned taxes out of incompetent hands.

Nobody wants to put their brain into incompetent hands.  Why would it be any different with taxes?  It seems pretty straightforward that giving taxpayers the option to directly allocate their taxes would be the best way to minimize the amount of taxes that end up in incompetent hands.


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Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority. — Frédéric Bastiat, The Law 

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