Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Memo To Zimbabwe: You're The Biggest Winner!!!

Reply to reply: The Demand For Defense?

Primary topic: People being free to spend their taxes in any country's public sector.

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Defence value is not as simple as adding up how many soldiers/guns/weapons person A likes to have for his country, then add how many person B likes, then person C, person D, etc. If everyone wanted 1 soldier then you may as well conscript the whole country (which is dumb), if everyone wanted zero soldiers (which is suicidal), then that's the best birthday present you'd give ISIS and all of America's enemies. Sure these are hyperbolic extremes, but they illustrate just unwieldy and nonsensical this model of yours is when applied to defence. - Connori Pilgrims

Uh, I think "we" got our units of measurement confused. Maybe it's my fault because I picked cigarettes? Demanding one cigarette isn't the same thing as demanding one solider. You consume a cigarette but you don't consume a solider. You can't pay the DoD and expect them to ship you a solider in a box. We're talking about a public good here. Demanding one cigarette is the same thing as demanding X amount of defense. I demand $5,000 dollars worth of defense... you demand $10,000 dollars worth of defense. If we were the only people in the country then the optimum amount of defense to supply would be $15,000 dollars worth of defense.

Of course, because we're talking about public goods, we can't all order defense on April 15. So it's necessary that people be free to shop in the public sector at anytime throughout the year. Extreme hawks would always want more defense... so they'd always be happy to spend their taxes on defense. Moderates will be happy to chip in once defense funding falls below a reasonable level. And extreme doves will never want to fund defense no matter how low its funding gets.

So we can imagine a bell curve. People on both extremes will never be happy with the amount of defense being supplied while the people in the middle will be more or less comfortable with the amount of defense being supplied. The "normal" people will have no trouble sleeping at night but the "deviants" will toss and turn worrying about the supply of defense. Just like I toss and turn worrying about the supply of pragmatarianism. Do you toss and turn worrying about the supply of pragmatarianism? No? You should.

To make a long story short... the optimal supply of defense is the amount that allows the maximum number of people to sleep soundly at night.

Why exactly are you a fan of people *not* having the freedom to shop in any country's private sector? 
*- I presume you meant that I was *not* a fan. - Connori Pilgrims

Eh? I was asking you to explain why you support people's freedom to shop in any country's private sector.

People have the choice to shop in any country's private sector - if that country is open to free trade at least. The worst thing that happens from that is I get cheap and shitty products that I must either exchange or replace. - Connori Pilgrims

This wasn't a very ringing endorsement of people's freedom to shop in any country's private sector. It seems like you can take it or leave it... which would explain why you're not such a fan of people being free to shop in any country's public sector.

"Shopping" for security abroad is little different from putting your life in the hands of mercenaries. History has clearly shown us that no nation state lasts long if reliant on mercenaries for its defence, because those mercenaries aren't loyal to you, but to money. Even if they don't turn against you because someone gave them a better offer, very recent history with Blackwater and modern PMCs has shown they are not much more efficient than the regular military in doing even rear-line security jobs and tasks, in fact they're largely unaccountable to third parties and prone to abuse and corruption just as much if not moreso than state forces. - Connori Pilgrims

Again... eh? If I, as an American taxpayer, could shop in Israel's public sector and allocate my tax dollars to their DoD... then I wouldn't come back to the US with an Israeli solider in my suitcase. Their DoD would simply take the money that I gave them and spend it on whatever they needed to better protect Israel. Why would I, as an American taxpayer, want to give my tax dollars to the Israeli defense department? I can guess... but you guess first. You're the one who's opposed to giving American taxpayers the option to shop in the public sector of other countries. Although... maybe you were opposed to it because you thought it meant buying mercenaries abroad. Which it really doesn't. But if you're opposed to American taxpayers shopping in their own public sector... then it would seem impossible for you to support them shopping in any country's public sector.

If you love Russian, Chinese or other foreign forces and trust them more than the US armed forces to protect you, then you have the option of immigrating out of the United States and to those countries. At least you're just affecting yourself by that. - Connori Pilgrims

I'd be a little surprised if you were unfamiliar with term "brain drain"...

There is another more obvious difference from 1914. The whole of the warring nations are engaged, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children. The fronts are everywhere. The trenches are dug in the towns and streets. Every village is fortified. Every road is barred. The front line runs through the factories. The workmen are soldiers with different weapons but the same courage. These are great and distinctive changes from what many of us saw in the struggle of a quarter of a century ago. There seems to be every reason to believe that this new kind of war is well suited to the genius and the resources of the British nation and the British Empire; and that, once we get properly equipped and properly started, a war of this kind will be more favorable to us than the somber mass slaughters of the Somme and Passchendaele. If it is a case of the whole nation fighting and suffering together, that ought to suit us, because we are the most united of all the nations, because we entered the war upon the national will and with our eyes open, and because we have been nurtured in freedom and individual responsibility and are the products, not of totalitarian uniformity, but of tolerance and variety. If all these qualities are turned, as they are being turned, to the arts of war, we may be able to show the enemy quite a lot of things that they have not thought of yet. Since the Germans drove the Jews out and lowered their technical standards, our science is definitely ahead of theirs. Our geographical position, the command of the sea, and the friendship of the United States enable us to draw resources from the whole world and to manufacture weapons of war of every kind, but especially of the superfine kinds, on a scale hitherto practiced only by Nazi Germany. - Winston Churchill

Why am I opposed to giving people that much power over public goods? Simple, because they are public goods. Goods that affect people other than myself. What others choose affects me, and in turn what I choose affects them. It would be one thing if everyone was enlightened enough to make such public goods choices with due consideration for the wellbeing of others, but I'm not about to put that hypothesis to the test, especially if it means getting the country I'm in screwed over. - Connori Pilgrims

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. - Adam Smith

You expect congress to make public goods choices with due consideration for my wellbeing. My wellbeing? In the private sector I have to spend so much time and energy going around telling producers what works for my wellbeing. I shop and shop and shop. For example, I go to the store and buy some artichokes. In doing so I tell Frank the farmer, "Hey! You correctly guessed that my wellbeing depends on artichokes! Thanks! Good lookin' out! Here's some money! Keep up the good work!"

Yet here you are telling me that congress can know what works for my wellbeing despite the fact that I've never once in my life shopped in the public sector. It boggles my mind. It blows my mind. It bears repeating with emphasis... congress can know what works for my wellbeing despite the fact that I've never once in my life shopped in the public sector. If you even suspect that this is true... then please... don't hide your insight under a bushel. Start a thread here, there and everywhere and say "Hey folks! Shopping is entirely redundant! It's entirely unnecessary for us to spend so much of our limited time and energy using our cash to communicate what works for our wellbeing."


If you could enforce your monopoly with coercive power and I was within a realm where you could easily enforce said monopoly, then that might be not ridiculous. Unfortunately, you do not have a monopoly over coercive power in this forum (only the Mods do). You have no power over me to enforce such a claim, nor I over you. So it is ridiculous. - Connori Pilgrims

You're really missing why it's ridiculous. I'm not sure how though. If what I'm selling is truly the best... then why should I mind if you shop around? If I do mind that you shop around... then it stands to reason that what I'm selling truly isn't the best.

The US government on the other hand can enforce its monopoly on force within its territory by arresting you and/or destroying any proxy force you shopped for abroad and brought to US soil without its consent. If I decided I wanted to bring into the US a battalion of Spetsnaz for my personal security or hell just because I want to you'd bet I'd I'd be investigated and probably deported or arrested. - Connori Pilgrims

Heh yeah... no. As I explained earlier in this post... you totally misunderstood. Whose fault is that? When I asked which country's military would be the biggest winner if taxpayers could spend their taxes in any country's public sector... and I answered...Zimbabwe!... then you imagined a bunch of American taxpayers returning from Zimbabwe with a bunch of mercenaries or Zimbabwean soldiers. Hehe. I'm chuckling out loud. What I imagined was a bunch of American taxpayers and French taxpayers and Australian taxpayers and Brazilian taxpayers all going to the Zimbabwean defense department website and making a big tax payment. It was just a bit of fun randomness to imagine that, out of all the militaries in the world, Zimbabwe's military would receive the most funding from foreign taxpayers. It begged the question of what, exactly, was so great about Zimbabwe's military? Why did so many taxpayers around the world want to help fund it? That's a good question right?

In reality... I really wouldn't bet that... of all the countries in the world... Zimbabwe's military would receive the most funding if most taxpayers in the world could spend their taxes in any country's public sector. I was hoping that you might provide a much more likely country... but you totally misunderstood the exercise. I'm sure it was my fault.

But it does stand to reason that... if most taxpayers around the world could shop in the public sectors of most countries... that one country's military would be the biggest winner. Which country would it be? And which country's military would be the biggest loser? Germany! Am I right? All two of the world wars were started by Germany. But of course the premise of pragmatarianism is that it wasn't the German people's fault... it was their planners' fault. But... still... I'm guessing that Germany's military wouldn't rank very high on most people's funding list. It might rank higher than Iran's military or North Korea's military. Would either of those two country's prevent foreign taxpayers from shopping in their public sector? Would they say... "No... you foreigners can't give your money to our military! We forbid it!"

How high on the list would Afghanistan's and Iraq's military be? Those would be pretty tricky. They are in a prime place to fight the terrorists... but there would certainly be worries that their governments might go back to being controlled by the extremists. Except... if you're the guy in charge of the Afghan or Iraqi army... are you going to really want to bite the hand that funds you? Oh... so I guess this is why it would make sense for Iran and North Korea to forbid foreigners from funding their militaries.

We often debate whether or not the US should be the world's police. We'd find the answer out pretty fast if most taxpayers around the world could shop in our public sector.

Right now you're not interested in knowing American taxpayers' answer to the question of whether America should be the world's police. Which means that you're not interested in knowing Canadian taxpayers' answer to the question of whether America should be the world's police. Which means that you're not interested in knowing Zimbabwean taxpayers' answer to the question of whether America should be the world's police. Which means that you're not interested in knowing Brazilian taxpayers' answers to the question of whether America should be the world's police. You're not interested in knowing any taxpayer's answer to the question of whether America should be the world's police.

You think that congress can come up with the most accurate answer to the question of whether America should be the world's police. You think that congress's answer to the question of whether America should be the world's police is going to be more accurate than the world's answer. This is because... not only can congress know what works for the wellbeing of every American.. congress can also know what works for the well being of every human. Right? Or wrong? If I'm wrong... then how could congress's answer be more accurate than the world's answer?

You think that congress can come up with the most accurate answer to the question of whether America should protect the world's biodiversity. You think that congress's answer to the question of whether America should protect the world's biodiversity is going to be more accurate than the world's answer. This is because... not only can congress know what works for the wellbeing of every American.. congress can know what works for the well being of every human. Right?

If taxpayers around the world could shop in the public sectors of most countries... I wonder which country's "EPA" would be the biggest winner? Zimbabwe's EPA!

If taxpayers around the world could shop in the public sectors of most countries... I wonder which country's "National Cancer Institute" would be the biggest winner? Zimbabwe's NCI!

Zimbabwe's DoD, EPA and NCI would be the biggest winners in the world! Maybe I should send Zimbabwe a memo to let them know.

Which brings us back to my point that you didn't understand... or agree with. If you're so certain that the US's DoD, EPA and NCI are the best in the world... then why would you mind if taxpayers had the freedom to shop around? Since you don't want taxpayers to have the freedom to shop around... it seems likely that you're under the impression that Zimbabwe's public goods truly are far better than the US's public goods.

I had avoided the questions previously for the simple reason that I have no exact numbers; as you've plainly stated I am not omniscient (and neither are you). - Connori Pilgrims

Oh, I don't need exact numbers. I know that you're assuming that at least some people would choose the option to directly allocate their taxes. Or else you wouldn't bother opposing an option that nobody would choose. And I know that you aren't assuming that everybody would choose the option to directly allocate their taxes. How could you possibly oppose an option that everybody would choose. This leaves you somewhere between nobody and everybody. I don't need to know exactly where... but it would help if you could hazard a guess.

We will need a social experiment, in your case one encompassing the whole US, to find out with certainty. Thing is, do you really want to find out? - Connori Pilgrims

Well... I'd certainly vote for it. Unless you manage to present a very convincing argument in that thread you're going to start.

I myself will admit that I am actually curious of the potential results of a pragmatarian experiment; but as I alluded to earlier I'm personally not yet at the stage where I would casually just toy with the lives of millions of people just to see if they can make proper, rational pragmatic choices without screwing over their fellow citizens. - Connori Pilgrims

See... this is exactly why it would help if you could provide some ballpark numbers regarding 1. what percentage of the population would choose the option to directly allocate their taxes and 2. what percentage of the purse that they would control.

And to be clear... unless you truly and strongly believe that shopping isn't necessary to inform producers of what works for our wellbeing... then you're already casually toying with people's lives. You're supporting a system for no good or real reason.

Saying that some treatment is working to manage some patient's illness is, in fact, toying with their life if you don't actually truly know with any degree of certainty that the treatment is doing more good than harm. Personally, I've searched and searched and searched and have found absolutely no evidence or logic to support the belief that the treatment is doing more good than harm. Everything that I've found leads me to the conclusion that the treatment is hurting more than helping.

Under Mao Zedong... the entire country was operated on the basis that it wasn't necessary for shopping to inform producers of what works for the people's wellbeing. What happened? Millions of people starved to death. Then, in 1978, Deng Xiaoping took over and began to implement market reforms. What happened? Millions of people were lifted out of poverty. Why? Because at least some of the country was operated on the basis that shopping is necessary to inform producers of what works for the people's wellbeing.

China gives us concrete evidence that...

1. preventing shopping does more harm than good
2. allowing shopping does more good than harm

If preventing shopping doesn't work at all... then why should we suspect that it partially works? We really shouldn't. If, in the absence of shopping, producers/planners can't get the supply of food right... then why in the world should we suspect that they'll be able to get the supply of defense right? German planners certainly didn't get the supply of defense right. Neither did Japanese planners. We won the war so it might seem like our planners got the supply of defense right. Same with the Korean war? And the Vietnam war? And the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the war on drugs? Or the war on poverty? If you're willing to bet our supply of food on your belief that producers don't need shoppers to get the supply right... then, and only then... will I believe that you're not currently toying with the lives of millions of people.

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