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Thread: Hazlitt - Public works mean taxes

  1. #61

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    This is only the IRS, "taxpayer" end of that "dog" pictured here...

    How big is the OTHER end of that ugly thing, you know, where all those "loans" from the federal reserve fly out? It's many magnitudes bigger than mere taxes and the "taxpayer" has no way in Hell to get control of that sphincter!

    I think that's an important issue that needs to (also?) be addressed/included when discussing the OP issue whenever the term "taxpayer" is used.

    A few thousand feet away from my keyboard that I'm typing on, is a nearly completed $14,000,000 road improvement project (still underway). It will soon make driving much faster, smoother and safer for me and hundreds of thousands of other drivers (4 lane roadway becomes 6 lanes wide with huge 9 lane intersections!). It's all funded by the fiat money printing press, not "taxpayers". While most think it's "free" win-win money (where no actual windows or taxpayer's backs were even broken), many know there is indeed a price / consequence attached to it. Inflation and eventual collapse of the USD come to mind!

    Then, there is the even bigger, uglier MIC dark side; the hate generating, killbot creating death machine that essentially gets ALL its funding from the printing press (EFT's via mouse clicks). So far, other than a few buildings lost on 9/11/2001, most of the resulting broken windows are located in other far away countries, so far... The MSM propaganda machines all say we are helping those that hate us because of some crappy YouTube movie, and more taxes should come from the "rich" all the while the Creature from Jekyll Island is ignored (since the year 1910).

    I think the bigger questions of the day are: "Do taxpayer taxes even matter anymore now that they're hidden in the shadow of QE 1-2-3-4 and habitual budget deficit funding? Ultimately, does this buy more windows than it breaks in the long run or does it set us up for a crash at some point in the future?

    Do public work projects like a bridge, provide employment at the expense of employment in the private sector?

    I think the answer is no, not at all ...at first. More jobs are indeed created! Excess capacity (a bubble in constrution equipment and labor force size) will result because of the massive fiat funding!!! Prices will rise at some point because of inflation. Eventually, that inflation will impact everything, not just the public service project of the moment. At that point, maybe decades later, employment will react and contract.
    Last edited by FindLiberty; 11-16-2012 at 12:09 PM.



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  3. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by VBRonPaulFan View Post
    these things are inexplicably intertwined. the economy is the direct result of the actions people choose to take over the course of their life, and the results of it. the monetary compensation you receive from an employer for your work is a direct trade - you have given up a portion of your life in exchange for currency/goods that you need/want. you want to talk about the superficial economy, instead of asking why that economy is the way it is. you want to fiddle with the edges of a broken system, instead of offering to make the necessary systemic changes to fix the broken system.
    Exactly! This bears repeating...."you have given up a portion of your life in exchange for currency/goods that you need/want." Yet when I argue that a taxpayer should be able to give up a portion of their life in exchange for the public goods that they need/want...here's how you respond...

    Quote Originally Posted by VBRonPaulFan View Post
    there already is that ability - the voting booth. the fact that it is wholly underutilized is another discussion entirely.
    How much life do you have to exchange to cast a vote? How much life do you have to exchange to pay taxes? Prior to bringing up voting you referred to pragmatarianism as lobbying...

    Quote Originally Posted by VBRonPaulFan View Post
    that is probably the silliest thing i've seen someone post in this sub-forum in a LONG time. you can start with reading up on lobbying. also, part of a representative government is electing people who think like you and will be more... inclined to stump for funding or resources towards the things you want/believe in.
    Lobbying is where you spend money to try to influence the policies of government. Pragmatarianism is where you spend your taxes in the public sector just like how you spend your money in the private sector.

    In the private sector...you want to exchange the least amount of life for the most amount of private goods. And that's exactly what would happen in the public sector. You'd want to exchange the least amount of life for the most amount of public goods. That's why the key to abundance is having the freedom to choose who we exchange our lives with.
    Last edited by Xerographica; 11-17-2012 at 03:10 AM.

  4. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    RE: Tax Choice; The market is not merely consumers (taxpayers) making choices. Producers are also free to make choices.
    Of course!

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    Does this system allow govt. agencies the option to redirect their efforts to some other more profitable end?
    Govt agencies can spend their revenue however they like. If they spend their revenue in a way that benefits taxpayers...then taxpayers will give them more taxes. If they spend their revenue in a way that does not benefit taxpayers...then taxpayers will give them less taxes. Without this essential feedback mechanism...how can we ensure that govt agencies are not wasting our society's limited resources?

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    What if an individual chooses to offer the same product or service as the govt., will he be free to compete for tax dollars?
    Let's say that you put on some tights and a cape. And then you go flying around defending the country from all threats...would taxpayers choose to give as much taxes to the Dept of Defense?

    It is, of course, not desirable that anything should be done by funds derived from compulsory taxation, which is already sufficiently well done by individual liberality. - J.S. Mill
    What is "sufficiently" well done by individual liberty? I can't answer that question for the entire country...that's not how economics works. Economics would work if we gave each and every taxpayer the freedom to withhold their taxes from any government organizations. That's how we can truly discover exactly what is being "sufficiently" well done by the private sector.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    If this system works as Xerographica thinks it might, then how is it distinguishable from the free market?
    The market is simply a method of determining how society's limited resources should be used. It's a highly effective method which is why libertarians see value in shrinking the size of the public sector. However, I don't believe that our efforts to shrink the size of the public sector have been effective. That's why I advocate creating a market for public goods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    My point is that govt. is precisely that which excludes the free market.
    Our country has a mixed economy...we have a market economy in the private sector and a command economy in the public sector. What would happen if we had a market economy in the public sector? How could the consequences not be awesome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    Tax choice is merely a smokescreen, much like "Red Team" vs. "Blue Team" in elections.
    But what would happen to the "red team" vs "blue team" concept if we implemented pragmatarianism? Clearly there's no equivalent "team" concept in the private sector. I don't need to be on a team to go to the grocery store and purchase the private goods that I want/need/value. So the whole "team" concept would go right out the door in a pragmatarian system.
    Last edited by Xerographica; 11-16-2012 at 06:05 PM.

  5. #64

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    Responding in reverse order:

    Red vs Blue is cited to evoke the phony competition between the political parties. Stated differently, you want to stir up Ford vs. Chevy sentiment while prohibiting Toyota imports. Your tax choice merely sets up a fake market to entertain taxpayers and keep real competitors out.

    The difference between Market vs. Command economy is precisely the distinction. Slapping a "New Improved with Real Competition" label on the public sector does not imbue it with the qualities of the free market. Price calculation is still impossible and rational decisions cannot be made.

    The public sector cannot be reduced by political means such as you are advocating. Informing and educating the public is the only path that leads to a free market for ALL goods and services.

    Determining "sufficiently well done", in the absence of prices, is the playground of statists everywhere.

    I just got my cape back from the cleaners, so let's use a more concrete example. Suppose Underwriter Laboratories decides to make a move on the FDA. Do you really think the lobbyists and politicians would sit still while one of their own was run out of "business"?

    This is merely a reprise of the "good government" argument that has been used to befuddle voters for decades. Everything will be OK if only the right people (taxpayers in this case) make the decisions. Again this completely misses the total lack of any price information.

    It seems to me that you are so enamored of this idea (besotted really), that you simply are not thinking clearly. I could just as convincingly argue that if up was down, then we all could fly. The intersection of Market and Command is null no matter how awesome the consequences.
    Last edited by Len Larson; 11-16-2012 at 10:41 PM.

  6. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    Responding in reverse order:

    Red vs Blue is cited to evoke the phony competition between the political parties. Stated differently, you want to stir up Ford vs. Chevy sentiment while prohibiting Toyota imports. Your tax choice merely sets up a fake market to entertain taxpayers and keep real competitors out.
    If the superior producers are in the private sector...then won't taxpayers realize this and want to keep their money out of the public sector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    The difference between Market vs. Command economy is precisely the distinction. Slapping a "New Improved with Real Competition" label on the public sector does not imbue it with the qualities of the free market. Price calculation is still impossible and rational decisions cannot be made.
    Yup...there wouldn't be literal price tags on public goods. Then again...did you make a rational decision to respond to my post? If you did...then how did you do so? How about this...if I asked you to paypal me $500...would you be able to make a rational decision?

    Markets work because of the opportunity cost concept. The 10 minutes that you spend writing a response to this post cannot be spent doing other things that are important to you. The $10 you spend on a movie can't be spent on a sandwich. The $100 you donate to the Red Cross can't also be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. The $500 in taxes that you spend on public healthcare can't also be spent on public education.

    The trade-offs we have to make reveal our priorities...this helps to ensure that limited resources are put to their most productive/valuable uses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    The public sector cannot be reduced by political means such as you are advocating. Informing and educating the public is the only path that leads to a free market for ALL goods and services.
    Yup yup...that's what I'm doing here. I'm sacrificing my other priorities to help you, and whoever else reads this, to learn about the opportunity cost concept.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    Determining "sufficiently well done", in the absence of prices, is the playground of statists everywhere.
    "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." - Henry David Thoreau

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    I just got my cape back from the cleaners, so let's use a more concrete example. Suppose Underwriter Laboratories decides to make a move on the FDA. Do you really think the lobbyists and politicians would sit still while one of their own was run out of "business"?
    Paying taxes would be optional...so taxpayers could just give their taxes to congress. Do you think taxpayers would want the option to give their taxes to specific congresspeople? Maybe? If so...then politicians would be fighting each other for money. Would the FDA fight for money? Who knows? Some things are easy sales...and other things not so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    This is merely a reprise of the "good government" argument that has been used to befuddle voters for decades. Everything will be OK if only the right people (taxpayers in this case) make the decisions. Again this completely misses the total lack of any price information.
    Why shouldn't taxpayers be making the decisions? They are the ones who sacrificed to earn their money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    It seems to me that you are so enamored of this idea (besotted really), that you simply are not thinking clearly. I could just as convincingly argue that if up was down, then we all could fly. The intersection of Market and Command is null no matter how awesome the consequences.
    I am besotted with the idea! We'd be giving taxpayers the option to directly allocate their taxes. Each and every single one of them would decide whether congress can spend their taxes better than they can. What do you think will happen?

  7. #66

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    Thanks for taking the time to educate me and others here.
    Perhaps you could comment on this passage found at Mises: http://mises.org/rothbard/myth.pdf

    Quote Originally Posted by Rothbard
    Much the same thing has happened to the noble concept of neutral taxation. The idea that taxation, and therefore government's fiscal operation, should be neutral to the market—should not disturb the operations of the market nor divert it from its free course—is a noble but impossible one. As we have seen here, taxation can never be neutral to the market, and the impossibility of this dream is rooted in the very nature of taxation and government. Neutral taxation is merely a chimera. It is perhaps because of this impossibility that this concept, in the hands of the modern public-choice theorists and others, has so quickly become yet another device for ratifying the status quo of State power.

    We are forced, then, to the realization of crucial points from which free- market economists seem to have been fleeing as from the very plague. That neutral taxation is an oxymoron; that the free market and taxation are inherently incompatible; and therefore either the goal of neutrality must be forsaken, or else we must abandon the institution of taxation itself.

  8. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Larson View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to educate me and others here.
    Perhaps you could comment on this passage found at Mises: http://mises.org/rothbard/myth.pdf
    Here's my response...Rothbard's Blind Spot

  9. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xerographica View Post
    Therefore, paying taxes would not be voluntary...but people would be able to choose which public goods they wanted to help fund.
    Why can't it be voluntary? The IRS could give out certification of having paid your share, but no punishment other than public scorn if you don't.
    Stop the Looting and Start Prosecuting! Gold plated Tungsten IS Money!
    We Must Dissent A colher não existe.
    A government is just a body of people, notably, usually, ungoverned.

    "You mean this entire war started because The Empire dressed as the enemy? That's exactly what happened in the last major war! Our government is so stupid!"

  10. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wesker1982 View Post
    Either the free market, left alone, would also have invested in this selfsame enterprise, or it would not. If it would have, then the economy suffers, at the very least, from the “take” going to the intermediary bureaucracy. If not, and this is almost certain, then it follows immediately that the expenditure on E is a distortion of private utility on the market—that some other expenditure would have brought greater monetary returns. - Murray Rothbard
    You would look for cases where the market wouldn't build it even though the market would greatly benefit. If the market would build it anyway then its not a public good. Rothbard is basically begging the question here.

    Command economies can get things done in a hurry. This is why business are for the most part organised as command enterprises. They may not be as efficient as co-ops and partnerships or collectives, but they make it with speed and precision.

    Examples above of Carnegie building bridges, these are examples of exceptional concentration of wealth, and then command forces building things that a more normal market wouldn't build.
    Stop the Looting and Start Prosecuting! Gold plated Tungsten IS Money!
    We Must Dissent A colher não existe.
    A government is just a body of people, notably, usually, ungoverned.

    "You mean this entire war started because The Empire dressed as the enemy? That's exactly what happened in the last major war! Our government is so stupid!"

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