Monday, February 2, 2015

"I don't have the time"

My post at Rational Liberty... "I don't have the time"


Recently I got into a rather absurd/surreal e-mail discussion/debate with a libertarian on the topic of whether or not plants and animals have interests.

My argument was that mosquitoes harm my interest just like fleas harm a cat's interest just like aphids harm a rose's interest.  The evidence to support this is that we all react accordingly to these harms.  I'll swat at mosquitoes and a cat will scratch its fleas and a rose will respond in all sorts of ways...

Plant Talk

Despite the evidence, he continued on with his argument as if he hadn't even read the article that I shared with him.  When I brought this to his attention he admitted that he hadn't read it because he "didn't have the time".

Now of course I knew exactly what he meant when he said he didn't have the time.  We've all said the same thing countless times.

But rather than go with the implied meaning... I chose to go with the explicit meaning and I offered him condolences on his impending demise.  When somebody runs out of time it's only fitting to offer your condolences.

Perhaps you're wondering what in the world this has to do with pragmatic and practical ways that we can help advance liberty.  Well... here's my punchline...

Rather than saying, "I don't have the time", all of us who care about liberty should say, "the opportunity cost is too high".  The implied meaning is exactly the same but the explicit meaning of the latter expression has all sorts of positive externalities.

As I explained in my first self-post in this sub... Epiphytic Thinking... the problem we're up against is that people don't understand the logical benefits of consumer choice.  Improving on a very commonly used expression wouldn't solve this problem... but I think it could help chip away at it.  When you say that the opportunity cost is too high... you help advertise/promote the picture of you endeavoring to choose the most valuable option.

In my first self-post here I also encouraged all of you to start a blog if you didn't already have one.  So... have you done so?  If it because you don't have the time?  Or is it because the opportunity cost is too high?

If you do have a blog then please post it in a reply!

Speaking of's a really neat one that I recently found... Proprietism.  His recent post is really quite excellent... Two Things You’re Not Supposed to Know.  In it he highlights the problem with having our taxes automatically withheld from our paychecks.  The paper he cites is "Evolution of Federal Income Tax Withholding: The Machinery of Institutional Change" by Charlotte Twight

Just in case the opportunity cost of reading the entire paper is too high... I've picked out a few passages for you...

Here's one...
More recently (Wall Street Journal 1994), in conjunction with his proposal to replace the existing income tax with a flat tax, Representative Dick Armey (R., Texas) recommended elimination of withholding, calling it a "crucial, deceptive device" that has allowed government "to raise taxes to the current level without igniting a rebellion."
and another...
Indeed, the common practice of overwithholding associates the payment of taxes with an apparent financial benefit rather than cost, distorting taxpayers’ assessments of the actual costs and benefits of government activity.
and another...
Treasury Secretary Miller and Internal Revenue Commissioner Kurtz (U.S. House Hearings 1980: 34-35) averred the alternatives to withholding "would require millions of telephone calls, letters and visits, many involving small amounts of tax" which could "easily be regarded as harassment of small taxpayers" and could "generate massive taxpayer resentment and jeopardize our system of voluntary compliance."
and another...
Fear of taxpayer resistance was prevalent. One witness (U.S. House Hearings 1943:391) warned that, without withholding, “taxpayers will simply throw up their hands and in a defiant tone say, ‘Try and collect’.”
Pragmatarianism would solve the negative externalities of tax withholding.  If you're not sure how... then here's the tax choice FAQ.

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