Here are the ingredients for the very BEST salad dressing ever:
1. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
2. Extra virgin olive oil
3. Raw garlic (pressed)
4. Cayenne powder
5. Oregano flakes
6. Basil flakes
[DISCLAIMER - Please read]: By choosing to make and try this salad dressing, you are agreeing to absolve me of any and all liability and responsibility should your taste buds explode
As you can see, I didn't include any measurements. That's because my family has always approximated the appropriate amount of each ingredient to add.
I really love this salad dressing...but there's something that I love even more...economics. Why? Because it's really important for me to understand exactly why I'm 99.9% certain that if I went to my local grocery store right this second, I would be able to find all the ingredients that are necessary to make a salad dressing that would provide my friends, family and I with lots of joy, happiness, pleasure, benefit, utility and welfare.
Economics is the field of study that focuses on what can be done to try and ensure that we have all the "ingredients" that we need to maximize joy, happiness, pleasure, benefit, utility and welfare. The two main economic theories are the "market" theory and the "planned" or "command" theory.
Personally, the market theory makes far more sense to me than the "planned" theory. In fact, the "planned" theory makes so little sense that I prefer to refer to it as the "non sequitur" theory.
The market theory makes sense because...if I want to make the BEST salad dressing ever...I have the freedom to go to the store and exchange my money for the necessary ingredients. By giving my money to the cashier...I'm giving a "high five" to everybody responsible for making these products possible. My money gives them the incentive to continue using society's limited resources for my benefit. Except, clearly I'm not the only one who finds value in giving them positive feedback. The market works because it's the epitome of a group effort.
The non sequitur theory, on the other hand, makes no sense because, well, it's a non sequitur. If I go to the store, place all the necessary ingredients in my cart, and give my money to the cashier...my money...my "high five"...my positive feedback...my encouragement...my gratitude...my appreciation...my sacrifice...wouldn't go to the people responsible for producing the ingredients that I had placed in my cart...it would be redirected to the people responsible for producing fennel, bananas, tofu, plastic utensils and cheese whiz. As a result, there would be a disconnect between the demand (the premise) and the supply (the conclusion). The shelves would be overflowing with some ingredients/inputs and completely devoid of other ingredients/inputs.
Nearly all countries have mixed economies. A mixed economy is one where the private sector operates on the market theory while the public sector operates on the non sequitur theory. But do we really want the public sector to be a non sequitur economy? Why would you want to exchange your taxes for a bundle of public goods which does not even come close to matching your preferences? Why would we want the shelves to be overflowing with tanks but completely devoid of environmental protection?
In essence...economics is the study of why freedom matters. I think I know why freedom matters...which is why I want you to have the freedom to choose which government organizations you give your taxes to. I want you to have the freedom to choose whether you eliminate tanks from your "recipe" just like you have the freedom to choose whether you eliminate garlic from the recipe that I've shared with you. Should you eliminate garlic from the BEST salad dressing ever? No way! Should you have the freedom to do so? Absolutely.
Is my salad dressing truly the BEST ever? If it really is...then why would I hesitate allowing you to decide for yourself? Is your recipe for life truly the BEST ever? If you really believe it is...then why would you hesitate allowing taxpayers to decide for themselves?
Here are the three most common reasons why people hesitate:
Argument: People are too uninformed to make good decisions
Counter argument: If people are uninformed it's because they have a vanishingly small say how their taxes are spent. The technical term for this is rational ignorance.
Argument: "Important" government organizations would be underfunded.
Counter argument: How "important" a government organization is to society can only be revealed by our actions. The technical term for this is demonstrated preference.
Argument: It would be unfair because rich people would have more influence than poor people.
Counter argument: Given that nobody evenly distributes their money, a market economy in the public sector would be considerably more fair than the current non sequitur economy. The technical term for this is dollar voting.
Please make it a priority to understand why society's total welfare absolutely depends on you having the option not to "buy" things. If you don't like what I'm trying to "sell" to you...if you really don't "buy" it...then please, by all means, add me to your ignore list. But if you choose to do so...then your actions would be speaking louder than your words. Clearly you would value the freedom to place any government organization on your ignore list.
If you do decide to make it a priority to understand why your priorities should matter...then here are a couple of resources that might be of some interest. They aren't interesting because they are pro tax choice...on the contrary...their focus is primarily on the downside of having too many choices. But they are interesting because they assume that you have a firm grasp on why your freedom is important.
1. Here's a psychologist, Barry Schwartz, making an argument against having too many options...The Paradox of Choice. Not sure if you have to register to watch the video...but it's also available on Netflix. On the TED website you have the option to just read the transcript...but then you'd miss out on all the funny comic strips he shares.
2. Here's a paper...The Dark Side of Choice...by Simona Botti and Sheena S. Iyengar that offers a more in depth exploration of the same topic discussed by Barry Schwartz.
Both offer a lot of food for thought...so hopefully you'll take a look at them.
Is there really a BEST salad dressing? No way...and thank goodness. Life wouldn't be worth living if there wasn't room for improvement. So where's there room for improvement with my salad dressing? I have no idea. I've been too busy trying to find where there's room for improvement in my argument for your freedom.
Trying to find room for improvement is second nature to us. Not just us though...right next to me there's a cat on a blanket shifting around trying to find where there's room for improvement. The market works because we have the freedom to reward the people who've discovered exactly where there's room for improvement. Is there room for improvement in the public sector? Most definitely. So let's create a market in the public sector and give our taxes to whichever government organizations are doing the most to improve our lives.
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