Wait a second . . . where is “the gov’t” getting it’s money from, and why is it spending it on things that people don’t value enough to buy them themselves?
Like they don’t pay for them now. Yep, all that stuff is free. :rolleyes:
I reiterate: If people aren’t, as individuals, willing to pay for certain things, then we should be questioning exactly how valuable they are to “society.” Society’s preferences, remember, are just the aggregate preferences of its individuals members.
I realize this is a complete hijack–sorry, Lib.–but do you really not see the irony here, Phil? This is where those stupid hypotheticals come into play, because the one thing y’all trumpet about a libertarian society is the freedom to keep your tax dollars away from undesired areas. I don’t want to pay for billion-dollar military boondoggles. We have a f*cked-up system now where educational funding is largely discretionary and military spending isn’t–hence, I have no say about how my dollars are spent. I thought the whole point of libertarianism is being able to spend money on the things you want to fund; so, given the chance, I wouldn’t pay for military excess. But I’m eminently peaceful and honest. Why, then, am I being stupid? Sounds completely rational to me–other people will be funding the military, so I’m free to spend my hard-earned money (after paying for my right to use the roads, hospitals, police, etc.) to help those less fortunate than me. How in the world are you going to hold me accountable for not funding defense? When Canada invades (heh), are you gonna provide them with a list of citizens who haven’t donated to the military and say, “They’re all yours, guys”? Then what’s to stop me from exercising my God-given right (according to you folk) to spend my money how I please?
Remember, I wasn’t asking what kind of military protection I would deserve. I was asking what kind of military protection I’d receive. Big difference.
But you want to be defended. Right? And, in fact, you want to be really defended. With the best there is to offer. You just don’t want to pay for it.
If you engage the Libertarian government to protect your rights, they charge you for that service. You pay voluntarily. Part of what they charge you goes to, when necessary, engage the services of a military. (No, there are no conscriptions. Yes, there are lots of companies manufacturing military hardware, because it is profitable to do so.) If enough people are willing to engage the government, they can afford quite a formidable fighting force. If enough people are not willing . . . well, they get what they pay for.
What you are really asking is, “How does a Libertarian system exclude freeloaders?” To which I respond, “How does the American system exclude freeloaders?”
If you engaged the services of the government, you are funding the military, too. If you don’t want to fund the military, you can choose not to engage the government, and provide for the protection of your rights on your own. Why, oh why, is this so abysmally difficult to understand? Keep, in mind that a Libertarian government cannot simply vote itself new powers and costly new projects whenever it wishes. It can do no more or no less than what is outlined in the contract between itself and its constituents.
I would support private libraries through donations of money and books. I would not support charging a fee for checking out a book, since I believe libraries should be accessable to everyone. Instead, the rich folks can pay for the upkeep and get bookshelves named after them.
I don’t get this at all; how is a person supposed to pay for their own defence, without the society as a whole doing it? How many of us actually have (or would have without taxes) the money to pay for our defence? So I fail to see how this benefits the guy who pays out lots for defence in a society full of people who don’t, or hurts the guy who pays out none in a society full of people who do. How on earth could you work this?
My god. I mean, I feel like I’m talking to a wall sometimes.
OK, let’s start from Square One. There is no United States. There is no eminent domain. We aren’t talking about how things work here, under a government that graciously allows you to live on its land until it needs it, and only takes nearly half your income for the privelege.
In a Libertarian context, the people who live in some given area have several choices.
–They can band together and provide for their own defense.
–They can do nothing at all to provide for their own defense.
–They can engage another entity, let’s call it “the government,” which promises to protect their rights. The services provided by the government are funded by the voluntary payments of those who engage it.
All those who engage the services of this government pay it. Period. Those who do not engage it, do not pay it. People are free to use its services or not, depending on their own conscience and desires.
Now, the situation you describe, “A guy who pays out a lot in a society where noone else does,” could happen, if one and exactly one person engaged the services of the government. In which case the government would not be able to afford much of a defense at all.
Now, here comes the kicker, and it’s in the form of a question: How long would you, Myrr21, continue to live among people who did nothing to provide for their defense? Personally, I would seek out people who were a little smarter than that.
What do we do about those people in the United States?
Again, what you’re asking is how a Libertarian context excludes freeloaders. It doesn’t. Neither does any other system. You may as well ask how to stop water from falling from the sky.
Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. The one thing y’all trumpet about a libertarian society is the freedom to keep what we now pay in tax dollars away from undesired areas.
No, I don’t want to pay for billion-dollar military boondoggles. I thought that’s what I said. I don’t want to plunk money down to buy a $75 toilet seat when I could be helping with someone’s education. I don’t want to be forced to fund a missile-defense initiative which is, in my opinion, not only worthless but dangerously counter-productive. Can I have your assurance that the money I pay for defense will only go towards essential military expenditures? Who decides what’s essential? Not the defense contractors themselves, surely.
How much do they charge me? No, I’m not asking for specifics, but who decides how much is an appropriate amount to be charged for national defense so that I’m “getting what I pay for”? What if I give $50 a year to the military? Not enough? What if I give $100? What does that buy me? You may think I’m being facetious here, but I’m not–companies manufacture military hardware, as you said, because it’s profitable for them to do so. How is that profit regulated? How is the money spent efficiently?
Here’s my point: you say that there aren’t any taxes in Libertaria. And when I contract with the libertarian government, they charge me for the service of national defense–a bill which, you say, I pay voluntarily. But what if I don’t? Am I in violation of my contract? That’s not very ‘voluntary.’ If I’m not in violation, then, who decides when I’ve given enough to be protected? And if I haven’t given enough, how do they make sure that I don’t get the benefits of the military force anyway?
Sure, there are freeloaders under the current system–but we’re all obligated to pay taxes which support, among other things, the national defense. And if we don’t pay–if we freeload–punitive measures can be applied. It doesn’t seem as if that kind of provision’s been made for a libertarian society: if charges for some contracted services are voluntary, you can’t really winnow out the freeloaders; and if payment for a national defense is required to be a libertarian citizen, then it’s just taxation under another name.
Like I said above; people are obligated to pay a lump sum each year which in turn provides for certain public services. If they don’t pay that sum, they can be jailed. Not pretty, but there you go. Now you can answer my question.
And the terms of the contract are decided by…who, exactly? And the terms of the contract are subject to change…how, exactly? These are fundamental questions. If I engage the services of the government, then I am being taxed to fund the military–there’s no other word for it. And if I choose not to engage the services of the government, yet live within the borders of the country, I receive the benefits of military protection. The system you are positing sometimes seems like no more than an attempt to stop paying taxes for social programs–certainly, the bureaucracy involved in implementing your system (in determining the applicability and amendability of the contract to each assenting citizen, in deciding how much each citizen should be charged for services and what particular services are to be funded, in regulating protection from coercion) is nearly as complex as the system today, with far fewer built-in protections for its citizens.
I never said they were free now. But nor will they be free then. And I’m not convinced that they’ll be cheaper, frankly. You’re acting as if relief from federal taxes will mean an abundance of extra money for each citizen–I’m just saying that we’ll still have to pay for the things we’re paying for now.
What, Phil? If there are people within your borders who haven’t contributed to the national defense (thinking, in the libertarian fashion, that they don’t want to spend their money that way), how are you going to single them out in the event that military deployment is needed? It’s a relatively simple question.
That’s demonstrably not true, unless you can–as I’ve said–show me how you make sure that free riders don’t receive the benefit of the military.
But we can’t start from Square One. This has been what I’ve been posting all along. There’s no blank slate here, Phil. There’s a context which already exists. Given the way things are now, and given the freedoms and protections to which most people have become accustomed, and given everything else about this crazy, imperfect society of ours, how will a libertarian society work?
We’re not talking about beginning anew on some desert island somewhere, and screening for peace and honesty. We’re not talking about, “What if we could just start over?” We’re talking 270 million people, poverty, hunger, cruelty, discrimination, inequality. Bloat, inefficency, and excess, yes–in the private sector as well as the public. Eminent domain exists–how do you plan to transition out of it? Will all those people who are buying up national parks have money left over to be as charitable as is needed? How do you deal with existing problems?
I brought up public libraries because they provide a pretty good snapshot of this debate. They’re acknowledged well nigh universally as a beneficial social institution–educate the masses, books available to everyone, who doesn’t want that? And they’d also be one of the first things to go in a libertarian society. And the proposed replacements? Well, the people who wanted libraries will pay to keep them running, and if they don’t, that means our priorities as a society are elsewhere. That’s great. The thing I love about the libertarian philosophy–even more than the practicality–is the long-term vision.
Here’s to a society where you get what you pay for. Here’s to a society where basic services become marketable commodities, and the social contract is only for those who can afford it. I’ll stick with what I’ve got, thanks.
Actually, the model exists for what’s being argued about in this thread – the subscription fire department and trash services. I saw these at work when I was a reporter in the 1970s. The model is pure libertarianism as I understand it. Those who wish to contract for the service pay a fee and receive the service when needed. (The fire departments put some sort of marker on the home so it can be quickly identified).
Of course, those who don’t pay for the service don’t get it. The trash then blows onto other, paying, properties. The fires don’t get put out – the fire department merely ensures that the flames don’t spread to paying clients. Occasionally people die, there’s a big hue and cry about it and a proposal to make the fire department tax-supported goes on the next ballot.
Are these models better or worse than the tax-supported universal access models? It’s your call.
How much is your contract for, Gad? You can answer the question yourself. How much is the contract for?
Jesus H. Christ–I’ll tell you what: You and Daniel can go off together and have loads of fun signing a bunch of contracts which entail your payment for services rendered, when you haven’t read them, don’t agree to the terms, and have no intention of paying. It seems like you both are into that, yet are dumbfounded when you are found in breach of contract. Why would you sign a contract to pay for something, something you don’t even know what it is, and then not pay? And then be surprised when the other signatory MAKES you pay? You and Daniel have BOTH advocated doing this, and I think it merits examination.
What was your contract for? Did you give that amount?
You and the other party (-ies) involved.
With the consent of both you and the other party (-ies) involved.
OK, maybe I’m missing something–Have you ever seen or signed a contract? This is so damned amazingly simple and rudimentary . . .
If you engage the services of Orkin to rid your home of pests, are you being taxed for it? (Your answer had better be “No.”)
There-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders-there-are-no-borders. Holy crap. How many times do I have to say it? There are no borders. The “borders” of Libertaria exist only to the extent that its citizens, signatories to an agreement between them and the government, own property.
Hypothetically, there is an island with one person. That person engages a Libertarian government. The “borders” of Libertaria are the borders of that person’s property.
Hypothetically, there is an island with two people. Person A engages a Libertarian government. Person B engages no government. The “borders” of Libertaria are the borders of Person A’s property. I am not going to explain it again, and if you insist on simply ignoring it and pretending I didn’t say it, I will see no further need to respond to you on this matter.
You can pay or not pay for whatever you want, Gad.
Gee, I guess you ignored Manny’s post, too, and he’s on your side. Apparently you aren’t in a position to be convinced no matter who offers evidence, which makes me curious as to why you discuss it at all?
You aren’t, just like we don’t now. When there is a military action against the United States, is the Army going to not protect the paid-under-the-table illegal immigrants?
Given the way things are now, it wouldn’t, because people are conditioned to believe that everything is free, the government is your friend, the government is more qualified than you are to make decisions, and the government intends to take care of you.
Boy, it sure terrifies you that people might want something other than what you think they should have, doesn’t it? God forbid people express their desires as individuals, or in the aggregate, and it doesn’t include what you feel is essential for their well-being. Oh! The poor, ignorant, misled people, who don’t know what they really want and need.
One question: Are all contracts between a citizen and his libertarian government the same? Or does everyone sign a different contract, depending on the services they desire?
I’m trying to follow your reasoning, Phil–I’m trying to see your reasoning, through the nastiness–and you keep changing it on me. Just this morning, you said:
I’m sorry if I mistook the phrase “you pay voluntarily” to actually mean that payment was voluntary. If what you meant was that once the contract is signed, payment is no longer voluntary, then you should have said this:
Totally different thing.
By the way…with no borders, you’ve just redoubled your national bureaucracy.
And of course you’re right: if most people don’t have the desire or ability to finance a system of private libraries, then clearly libraries are of no worth to the society. Oh, that’s not what you meant? Then you can dispense with the condescension. Critics of libertarianism aren’t nearly as mindless, dense, or simplistic as you make us out to be.
I’ll stay out of the broader issue of libertarianism in general, this being IMHO and not GD. On topic, I would gladly donate money, time, books, or whatever it took to support libraries, but I would not support a per-use fee for libraries. The great thing about libraries, and the reason I consider them worthy of my support, is that anyone can use them, for free. This can go a long way towards improving our society.
I thought the very definition of “contract” made the idea of both parties meeting the terms implicit, but I will try, in the future, to be clearer. I’m trying hard to think of a contract in which, after you sign it, you don’t actually have to meet its terms, but I cannot think of any. Nevertheless, I will try to be more specific.
What “national bureacracy”? There is no nation-state. And can you offer some evidence for that assertion, or are we taking each other’s words for it again?
As a matter of fact, that’s precisely what I meant, but most people don’t want to hear it. They want to believe that they are better qualified to make decisions than the people they’re making them for.
There’s an argument in economics called the “doctrine of revealed preferences.” What it says, boiled down to essentials, is that given that we cannot read people’s minds, what they value and want is what they actually buy. Given the whole basket of goods they have to choose from, and the opportunity cost and monetary cost of each, their preferences are revealed through the items they choose.
You keep speaking of “society” as if it were something other than the aggregate expression of its members. “Society” is not something separate. It doesn’t have preferences; only its members have preferences. It doesn’t have desires; only its members have desires.
You refer to “the desire or ability to finance a system of private libraries.” Desire and ability are two very, very different things, and we shouldn’t conflate them.
If people have the desire but not the ability, well, people are inventive and creative left to their own devices. I have confidence in their ability to seek solutions. If their solution is “forcibly take money from everybody to pay for it,” I cannot, morally, support such a decision. If their solution is, “Canvass for people willing to pay and/or for rich benefactors, then provide a no-fee lending system for all residents,” I can get behind that.
If people have the ability but not the desire, well, then, they don’t want the bloody things, regardless of whether you feel they have value. And you, as an individual, thinking human being, are free to undertake your own plan to provide them, or to convince others to help if you really believe they are valuable. You are not free to force others to comply with your plan
You know, I am not a sophisticated debater. I’ve been studying Libertarianism only a short time. I am offering the best explanations of which I am capable. But, dammit, when I feel I am being ganged up on, I’m going to get angry. Recently, I’ve felt ganged up on. If I have contributed more anger than explanation, I am sorry for that.
There’s also a fair amount of psychological research that suggests people often don’t make rational decisions, that we’re not good at accurately assessing risk, that we generally won’t forego an immediately available reward for a larger future reward, and numerous other less than efficient human tendencies.
It can be difficult to see the value of long term, intangible benefits like education and defense. It’s much easier to the value of a bigger tv. Maybe in some cases it doesn’t hurt to recognize our shortcomings and work around them. I may know what’s best for me, but I don’t always do what’s best for me. A fair amount of may paycheck goes into an ESPP and a 401k before I see it, because, given the chance, I my blow it on crap I don’t really need. Granted I’m still making a voluntary decision initially (unlike taxation), but ultimately this loss of control will serve me better (that’s the idea, anyway).
I’m not arguing our government knows what’s best for us, but I do believe that some endeavors are better served by a little distance from immediate individual concern, whatever specific form that may take.