Tuesday, February 9, 2016

AntiBullshitMan Partially Endorses Pragmatarianism!

I just found a really nice Easter Egg!  A couple months ago AntiBullshitMan posted a great video about pragmatarianism...

Here's my response...


Audacious author here! heh. Not sure why it took me so long to discover this video!

I'd actually be THRILLED if we were given the freedom to allocate even as little as 1% of our taxes. I've mentioned this elsewhere... but not in the FAQ. The word "pragmatarianism" was in fact largely inspired by the pragmatic consequentialist Deng Xiaoping. He was all about gradualism. Millions of people were lifted out of poverty as a result of his gradual free-market reforms.

About the magic wand... noooooooo I wouldn't wave it! Watch "Milton Friedman on Libertarianism (Part 4 of 4)". The interviewer starts to ask him a hypothetical..."if you were dictator for a day" question and Friedman quickly interrupts him and says with great emphasis, "If we can't persuade the public that it's desirable to do these things, then we have no right to impose them even if we had the power to do it!" Friedman's response is priceless!

On the opposite spectrum is Murray Rothbard... "The abolitionist is a "button pusher" who would blister his thumb pushing a button that would abolish the State immediately, if such a button existed." Although, to be fair... unlike Friedman, Rothbard truly grasped the fundamental problem with government: a lack of consumer choice (individual valuation). Unfortunately, for some reason, he never publicly considered the idea of people choosing where their taxes go. His solution was to simply abolish the state. I decided that it was much safer to test the necessity of the state by allowing taxpayers to fund whichever parts of the state they felt were most necessary. Any parts of the state that were truly unnecessary would be defunded. Millions and millions of people spending their own money (aka a market) in the public sector, rather than one individual (ie Rothbard) or 500 individuals (ie congress), would determine the proper scope of the government.

Waving a wand or pushing a button to implement pragmatarianism would go against the very premise of pragmatarianism. Pragmatarianism is all about persuasion. As in, "if you want me to give more of my taxes to the DoD... then you're going to have to persuade me to do so." Solely relying on persuasion forces us to share our information... and this logically results in more information being processed. So maybe "persuasionism" would have been a better word? I suck at words.

Even though I'd be thrilled with 1% tax choice... I'm not quite sure how you'd determine whether the results were superior to the status quo. For example... even though we Americans have had the option to allocate $3 of our tax dollars to the presidential campaign fund... very few people choose to do so. How do we interpret these results?

Congress allocates $Y tax dollars to the presidential campaign fund
Consumers allocate $X tax dollars to the presidential campaign fund

Which answer is superior? Whose answer is more valuable?

In economics... the "optimal" answer is pretty straightforward. The optimal supply will perfectly match the demand. The conclusion (supply) follows from the premise (demand). Serving veggies to a vegetarian is optimal because the supply matches the demand. Serving meat to a vegetarian isn't optimal because there's a significant disparity between supply and demand.

So if we borrow from basic economics... then it would be pretty easy to determine whether the results are superior. By definition they would be superior! Except... if we already accept this definition... then gradualism isn't needed as a way to evaluate the results. We already know that the results would be superior. Of course... gradualism could be justified for plenty of other reasons!

Just like I didn't mention my support for even 1% tax choice in the FAQ... I also didn't mention my support for a global market for public goods. As in, taxpayers could shop in any country's public sector. As an American taxpayer... I would be free to shop in Canada's public sector. Would I even want to? Well... if the argument is that nobody would want to... then there's no reason to oppose it. If the argument is that every American is going to want to spend all their taxes in Canada's public sector... then I'd sure like to hear the reasoning! Maybe your Canadian public education is so good that it even made us Americans 500% smarter? Maybe your military is so powerful and wise that all the terrorists became florists? Maybe your healthcare is so good that it cured cancer and everything else? Maybe your environmental protection is so good that it cured global warming and brought back the Dodo bird from extinction? Maybe your space exploration is so good that we were able to visit other inhabited planets? Maybe your robotics research is so good that my best friend is a robot? I'm pretty sure that larger markets are better than smaller markets.

If we didn't have a global market for private goods... then you and I wouldn't be here trading with each other! Except... your video is actually a public good. So we do already sort of have a global market for public goods.... it's just not a very good one because taxpayers aren't free to spend their tax dollars on any of the public goods. We can't use our tax dollars to help bring valuable public goods to the attention of other taxpayers.

Thanks for the video! I really enjoyed it! I'd spend some tax dollars on it if I could! I'm going to share your video on my blog along with this response.

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