01
Dec
11

All linky, no thinky: special issue on (my) confirmation bias

Here’s a bunch of links which I find viscerally, emotionally satisfying.  This of course means that you shouldn’t trust my judgement upon them to be objective… which, considered dispassionately, is a bug rather than a feature.  So in an effort to train myself to be less wrong about this stuff, I’ll provide a token nitpick with each link.  Hey, it’s a start.

——

First off, Jason Brennan goes wharrgarbl:

Unlike we libertarianish people, you people actually hold and have been holding significant political power in the US over the past 50 years. What have you done with this power? You’ve greased the corporatist machine every chance you’ve gotten. You’ve made things worse, not better. Our current problems are your fault. You need to stop.

[…]

Public choice predicted that the government programs you created with the goal of fixing problems would often instead exacerbate those problems. Well, the evidence is in. You were wrong and public choice theory was right. If you have any decency, it is time to admit you were wrong and change. Stop making things worse.

Token nitpick: This is a nice story if only libertarianish people and leftists exist (and Brennan makes a better than half-assed case for grouping Reagan — yeah, Reagan — on the “Left” side of the fence), but of course we’ve had decades upon decades of militant international triumphalism and screeching moralizing about drugs and immigrants from the Right.  (Leftist politicians have tended to play along, of course, because the Right has so poisoned public discourse that it’s impossible to be seen as a Serious Policy Thinker without demanding that scary brown people both foreign and domestic be shot in the face.  See also: Ron Paul.)  Public-choice theory predicts that trillion-dollar outlays on a gargantuan military, as well as the War On Drugs and the War On Terror, will be captured just as easily by corrupt and powerful interests.  Gosh, look what happened there!

——

Next, Sonic Charmer (whose blog I really ought to read more often) writes about inequality and unshared premises:

Geras appears to identify justice, and morality, with fairness. It’s not fair that (to use his example) some children are born into wealthier, and therefore more-advantaged, families than others – as I’m sure we’d all agree. Geras however goes on to call this unjust, equating it to a moralissue. I don’t.

[…] More concretely, if different children having childhoods of different wealth is immoral, the only moral outcome would be for all children to have exactly equal wealth. This means, in particular, that no single parent – not I, not you – should even be allowed to privilege his child in any way, with any advantage, as against any other child. It’s unjust and immoral.

Token nitpick: I’m told that when I was very young, I replied to the admonishment “Life’s not fair” with “But God wants it to be fair”.  And since religious expression is apparently a proxy for trustworthiness, you should prefer to trust Very Young Matt on this issue rather than Agnostic Blogger Matt.  Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

——

This one is really just an excuse to point and laugh:

Token nitpick: Well, if you’re an anarchist, then even small government is too much government.

——

Next we’re visited by one of my favourite hobby-horses:

Is too much salt bad for you?  That used to be the conventional wisdom, but more recent scientific research has suggested the emphasis on salt is misplaced.  No matter.  As Walter Olson notes, the Food and Drug Administration appears to be moving ahead with plans to force gradual reductions in the salt content of processed foods.

Token nitpick: Salt is a proxy here.  Maybe the FDA really has been keeping up with the literature and is convinced that people autoregulate their salt intakes.  By forcing processed food producers to reduce the salt content of their meals, the FDA is trying to make processed food less appealing, and push people towards a healthier, bacon-rich, paleo diet.  In modern bloodless-technocrat parlance: it’s a nudge, not a shove.

——

Here’s Tyler Cowen on the moral (in)equivalence of Germany and the European Periphery:

He begins his entirely-speculative polemic (note: I’m not claiming that Tyler believes this, and neither is he) thus:

1. When it comes to default, there is no moral equivalence of debtor and creditor.  The debtor is the one breaking the agreement and breaking his word.

2. When it comes to debt, the periphery countries simply don’t want to pay up.  Their national wealth is many times their gdp and thus much much greater than their debts, even for Greece.  It’s amazing how many people won’t come out and utter or recognize this simple truth.  Italy for instance doesn’t have to make a huge fiscal adjustment.

Token nitpick: Fraud is still coercion, which undermines the moral relationship between defaulting debtor and creditor.  It’s not difficult to argue that the Eurozone is a fraud perpetrated on the member nations by the collusion of their own technocratic leaders.  Of course, it’s not the leaders who’re being asked to pawn their wealth in point 2. above, but the defrauded citizenry.  In other words, the argument makes a false public claim on private wealth.

——

Finally, David at Popehat writes about subsidies for the Humanities:

The issue, as always, is the legitimacy and scope of state subsidization. What stake does the government have, in behalf of its citizens, in perpetuating the production of puppeteers (taken as a proxy for the entire class of overrepresented, underemployable domains of interest)?

[…]

The pursuit of a culture of literary salons is not a path orthogonal to hard-nosed capitalism; when successful, it’s a symptom or index of thriving capitalism. And although taking the risk when times are lean may be ill advised, the humanistic goal of chasing a cultural dream isn’t inherently wrong or risible. To the contrary, the humanistic goal is the point not only of the risk, but of capitalism itself, rightly construed.

Token nitpick: Liberty and free exchange are (historically speaking) the product of “a culture of literary salons”, in which broad sweeping questions about the nature of justice and the betterment of humankind can freely be discussed, and in which a fearless examination of common wisdom can occur without threat of subversion or suppression by prevailing opinion.  All of this is clearly the product of the Humanities, which is why (as an inveterate computing scientist) I write all of my posts on obscure technical topics in computer graphics and occasionally World of Warcraft.  If only I’d taken more English Lit courses I might have an interest in politics, and you, Dear Reader, wouldn’t have to suffer through so many posts on the glories of the Singular Value Decomposition.

(The SVD really is glorious, by the way.)

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17 Responses to “All linky, no thinky: special issue on (my) confirmation bias”


  1. 1 Woof
    December 1, 2011 at 11:54

    On the last one, are you sure you can show where modern academic humanities studies have anything much to do with the kind of salons that midwifed the Enlightenment?

    Women’s Studies, for example: If all the women’s studies departments were thrown in a giant bag, to eat each other like mad rats, could the idea of liberty long flourish in their absence after the squeals died down? I submit that it would find a way to rub along somehow. But I’m prepared to be shown to be mistaken.

    • December 1, 2011 at 12:06

      On the last one, are you sure you can show where modern academic humanities studies have anything much to do with the kind of salons that midwifed the Enlightenment?

      I have it on the very best authority: That of the people who argue on the internet that the humanities are invaluable. I’m sure they’d never lead me astray: after all, they have humanities degrees which taught them how to live an examined life, and I’m just a narrowly-educated blinkered nerd.

  2. 3 Not always wrong
    December 1, 2011 at 22:24

    Don’t know how into this grey colorless nook of web… I was watching Youtube, and arguing with some tool who thought Justin Beiber was not talented… But I have thoroughly enjoyed it anyway….

  3. December 9, 2011 at 16:43

    Awareness of one’s own confirmation bias is admirable. Given that you’re aware of your confirmation bias…what are your thoughts on allowing taxpayers to directly allocate their taxes?

    • December 9, 2011 at 16:50

      Given how poorly most people understand the budget (for example, vastly overestimating the amount of money that gets spent on foreign aid), I’d expect it to be a disaster. Maybe an instructive one, though! After a couple years of direct allocation, maybe people would be much better-educated in what gummint actually spends money on.

      Also, the bond markets would shit bricks, and that would be amusing to watch.

      I like the idea of putting some measure of voluntary allocation, as well as a voluntary overpayment (for those rich folks who complain that their taxes are too low), on the form, though. If nothing else, it gets rid of the ideas as rhetorical crutches and puts them out in the real world.

      • December 9, 2011 at 17:06

        But if people overestimated the amount of money that gets spent on foreign aid…would they try and reduplicate their overestimation…or would they allocate their taxes in order to try and address shortages of the public goods that they valued?

        How can we know the true value of a public good without allowing taxpayers to choose whether or not they “purchase” that public good? In other words…how can we truly “know” what the budget should be if we do not know people’s true values? The only way to know people’s true values is by giving them the opportunity to put their money where their mouths are. This would force them to consider the opportunity costs of their tax allocation decisions.

        In terms of funding…logistically I imagine it working just like the non-profit sector. Except…taxpayers wouldn’t have a choice whether they paid taxes. They would just have a choice which government organizations they gave their taxes to. They would also have the option to just give their taxes to congress.

        • December 9, 2011 at 17:26

          I was using “overestimated foreign aid budget” as a generic placeholder for ignorance. My issue is that people just don’t know what the government spends on various things, or what the government’s obligations are (for example in the case of debt interest service payments).

          I like the idea in principle: if I’m going to be taxed, I’d rather my tax dollars be spent on homeless shelters than on “public relations tour” junkets and crates full of Tasers. But — again, like donations to charity — there’s no working price system in place to give people some idea of how to allocate their money. (For example, the vast majority of donations to “big-tent” charities like United Way go towards administrative overhead. I imagine the same is true of most entitlement programmes.)

          For this to work, I think we’d need to establish a drastically different tax system: some sort of a clearing-house for government agencies to submit bids and taxpayers to fund them, maybe. It sounds impossibly complex off the bat, but the internet might reduce the coordination problem to manageable levels. I mean, maybe I’m a hardcore environmentalist and want to support the EPA. If the EPA uses my money to fund an investigation into raw sewage dumping along the Mississippi River, I’m probably happy with that; if they use the money to pay the fuel bill for Bono’s private jet as he hops around to another Live Earth concert, I’m likely to be less pleased.

          One idea I’ve toyed with writing up in the past is forbidding the government from spending tax revenue on anything but debt service payments. For them to fund anything else, from building a new aircraft carrier to paying the Senate’s salaries to handing out food stamps, they’d have to issue a run of bonds to fund the programme. If enough people approve and buy those bonds, well, there you go. That lets you distinguish between different levels of commitment: maybe I like homeless shelters well enough to buy “shelter bonds” at 0.5%, but you’d need to go up to 3.5% to get me to spring for “we need another couple thousand JDAMs” bonds.

          • December 10, 2011 at 04:07

            Perhaps it helps to think of the blind men and the elephant. Their goal was to try and figure out what it was that they were touching. Obviously they couldn’t accomplish this by averaging their perspectives….and they couldn’t accomplish this by voting on whose perspective was correct. The only way they could figure out what it was that they were touching was by adding up all their unique perspectives.

            When it comes to the public sector our goal is to figure out the efficient allocation of public goods. That’s our elephant. That’s the picture that we’re trying to piece together. In order form a picture we currently use a “personal shopper” method by voting on representatives. The representatives then argue with each other over the “correct” allocation of public goods.

            The method that I’m advocating is for each and every taxpayer to add their unique perspectives to the picture by directly allocating their individual taxes. This would reveal their true values.

            The question then becomes…what is the public goods allocation disparity between A) 538 congresspeople allocating other people’s money and B) millions and millions of taxpayers directly allocating their own hard earned taxes?

            You and I have access to different information and we have different values. No two people in the US have the same information/values. How accurate could the current picture be if it only represents the information and values of 538 people? Admittedly those 538 have access to plenty of information via lobbyists but there’s only so much information that they can effectively process and evaluate.

            • December 10, 2011 at 11:55

              The method that I’m advocating is for each and every taxpayer to add their unique perspectives to the picture by directly allocating their individual taxes. This would reveal their true values.

              I understand that, and I think it’s a laudable goal. The problem I have with the system you’ve proposed — not the goal, just the implementation — is that there’s no direct feedback. It’s basically the same problem we have with Congress, but in reverse: Congress (in theory!) knows a lot about what the federal system needs in order to work, but only gets vague little jolts of public opinion (unique perspectives and true values) every two years, whereas taxpayers know a lot about their own situations but know very little about the needs of federal infrastructure.

              I think that if all tax revenue was distributed this way, we’d find out very quickly that most taxpayers know very little about the consequences of the different parts of the federal budget. Furthermore, I don’t think many of them would bother to educate themselves: they’d use tax allocation to express their values at a mood-affiliation level. Defence hawks would allocate their taxes to the DoD and VA, environmentalists would allocate to the EPA, and so on — not because they think it’s best for the DoD or EPA to take up 100% of tax revenues, but because they like being the kind of person who strongly supports one or the other.

              Then in a year or two a whole bunch of hydro dams and nuclear plants start failing, because nobody likes being the kind of person who strongly supports the DoE. Social Security cheques stop going out, because far too many people believe that the trust fund is actually liquid and thus nobody allocates to the SSA. Or federal borrowing increases tremendously to cover those obligations, while a bunch of well-liked branches of government suddenly run huge surpluses.

              As you said, this is a public goods problem, and as such we should be trying to get closer to a Coasian bargaining solution. To do that, we need to (among other things) reduce transaction costs. You rightly point out that electing a “personal shopper” every two years and having 538 of them try to agree on tax allocation is an enormously costly transaction. I claim that this is partly due to the lack of clear and timely feedback (“Rep. Jones said he’d cut my taxes, but taxes went up while he was in office. Now he says that wasn’t his fault, and I should vote for him again so he can fight for lower taxes. Is he lying?”).

              Direct tax allocation cuts out the middle-man problem, but the lack of clear and timely feedback remains — and now we have an enormous coordination problem. Fortunately, we have a tool that does very well at providing feedback and solving coordination problems: prices. Get prices into tax allocation, and we can find out what people value enough to sacrifice other things to get, versus what they only claim to value when that claim doesn’t cost them anything.

              Basically I’m applying Bryan Caplan’s arguments about voting from The Myth of the Rational Voter to the tax-allocation problem.

              • December 10, 2011 at 15:49

                The point of forcing taxpayers to consider the opportunity costs of their tax allocation decisions is to identify the best possible use of public funds. Our goal is to maximize the return on our investment. You’re saying that congress can pick the winners and losers better than consumers could. But if this isn’t the case in the for-profit sector or the non-profit sector…why would it be the case in the public sector? If the public decides that the DOE is a loser then who are we to disagree? Maybe it was because some people were willing to forgo funding the DOE because they care more about cancer research. Or maybe because they’ve invested private money into some new form of renewable energy and they want to decrease the supply of government energy.

                What the public sector supplies should be determined by public demand. If there is no demand for something then the public sector should not be supplying it.

                What feedback would congress have access to that the consumers of public goods would not have access to? An interesting statistic is that 1 out of 6 Americans is employed in a company that receives some form of federal funding. Perhaps given that their livelihoods depended on government funding they might take an interest in ensuring that the public was well aware of their value to society.

                Prices are not needed because opportunity costs are applicable whenever you spend your time or money. So if you donate to UNICEF you intuitively understand that the money you donated cannot be spent on any other of the other causes you value. If I tell you to read every single entry in my blog you would automatically consider the opportunity costs of the time required to do so. Surely there are “better” things you could be doing with your time? I can’t know that…only you can know that.

                By failing to integrate your, and everybody else’s, opportunity costs into the distribution of public goods we’re producing an extremely inefficient allocation of public goods. We think it’s perhaps not so bad because so much stuff “works” but it defies everything we know about economics to believe that 538 congresspeople could allocate taxes as efficiently as 150 million taxpayers could.

                The problem with applying Caplan’s argument in this situation is were not dealing with voters here…we’re dealing with taxpayers. Voters are forced into irrationality because they are given the option to have their cake and eat it too. Do you want less taxes? Yes! Do you want more public goods? Yes! Congress is only too happy to try oblige them and we end up in debt. Taxpayers, on the other hand, would have to make hard decisions because they only have a limited out of money to spend. Of course, I guarantee their willingness to spend would increase if they were directly responsible for funding the public goods that they valued.

                Hmmm…you managed to create a link…but there’s no preview…so I’m going to gamble that html works in these things. Here are a couple essays that are fundamental to understanding pragmatarianism… Bastiat’s essay on opportunity costs and Hayek’s essay on partial knowledge.

                Generally Austrian economists use those two concepts to advocate for a severe reduction in the scope of government. My spin is to try and use those two concepts to produce the most efficient allocation of public goods possible. That way I don’t have to debate the tax rate or the technical definition of a public goods. It was quite fascinating to discover that a liberal Ph.D. had come to nearly the same conclusion…Your Money, Your Choice.

            • December 10, 2011 at 17:31

              The point of forcing taxpayers to consider the opportunity costs of their tax allocation decisions is to identify the best possible use of public funds.

              Sounds great!

              What indicators do taxpayers have about those opportunity costs in your proposed system? If there are actual prices attached, I’m happy; if there’s just a big list of agencies, with no indication of what those agencies are going to do with the money, then I’m less happy.

              You’re saying that congress can pick the winners and losers better than consumers could.

              Not at all! I certainly don’t intend to say that. Can you point out where I said something like that? I think you’ve misinterpreted my argument, which means I’m not being as clear as I’d like.

              We need to clear this up before I address any more details. If you think I’m advocating for congressional control of public goods allocation, you’re arguing against a very different position than the one I think I’m presenting.

              • December 10, 2011 at 18:09

                If I do not observe any shortages of the public goods that I value…then chances are pretty good that I would just give my taxes to congress. People who would choose to directly allocate their taxes would only do so in order to try and address shortages of the public goods that they value.

                The trick is to understand that the public sector is the sum of everybody’s pet project. Just like we see a donor division of labor in the non-profit sector we’d also see a taxpayer division of labor in the public sector. The environmentalists are the best ones to judge how effectively the EPA is spending their money…the hawks are the best ones to judge how effectively the DOD is spending their money…the liberals are the best ones to judge how effective the social safety net is…this retired agriculture bureaucrat is the best to judge how effectively the Dept of Agriculture is spending his money and this Keynesian economist is the best to judge…well…

                This comment of yours…”Then in a year or two a whole bunch of hydro dams and nuclear plants start failing, because nobody likes being the kind of person who strongly supports the DoE.”….is what gave me the impression that you trusted the allocation decisions of congress more than you would trust the allocation decisions of taxpayers. If you trust the allocation decisions of taxpayers then you wouldn’t see anything wrong with the DOE receiving considerably less funding.

            • December 10, 2011 at 18:39

              Sorry about your comments not showing up right away; apparently the links have convinced WordPress that you’re a dirty rotten spammer or something.

              his comment of yours…”Then in a year or two a whole bunch of hydro dams and nuclear plants start failing, because nobody likes being the kind of person who strongly supports the DoE.”….is what gave me the impression that you trusted the allocation decisions of congress more than you would trust the allocation decisions of taxpayers. If you trust the allocation decisions of taxpayers then you wouldn’t see anything wrong with the DOE receiving considerably less funding.

              That’s not quite what you claimed above — you suggested that I trusted congress to “pick winners and losers”. In this case, yeah, I think congress would do a less bad job of allocating funding for electrical generation — because tax rates aren’t tied to electricity prices, and the connection between the DoE and J. Random Taxpayer’s electricity bill isn’t obvious. Hell, it’s not even congress doing the allocation: they just throw a bunch of money at the DoE and expect that some of it will go towards maintaining nuke plants. On the other hand, the Solyndra debacle makes the opposite point: in that case, consumers would have done a better job of “picking winners and losers”. Note that taxpayers allocating money to the DoE have no control over whether that money gets spent on infrastructure maintenance or boondoggles like the Solyndra loan guarantees.

              In both cases, I think a freed market with actual prices attached would do a better job than any kind of tax allocation.

              If I do not observe any shortages of the public goods that I value…then chances are pretty good that I would just give my taxes to congress. People who would choose to directly allocate their taxes would only do so in order to try and address shortages of the public goods that they value.

              This is where I bring Caplan’s argument in. I make two claims:

              1. The tax base is large enough that any individual taxpayer (we’ll ignore corporate taxes for the moment) can rationally expect that their tax allocation won’t make a noticeable difference.

              2. Because their tax allocations “don’t matter” (as above), taxpayers are free to make tax allocations based on group affiliations — “I’m a national-security hawk, so I allocate my taxes to the DoD” or “I’m an environmentalist, so I allocate my taxes to the EPA”.

              With that in mind, I think Caplan’s arguments about rational ignorance and instrumental voting apply. It costs a taxpayer essentially nothing to allocate based on ideology, even if the aggregate allocation turns out to be disastrous.

              It also doesn’t help that many taxpayers seem to be ignorant about exactly what constitutes a publicly funded good or service (“Keep your government hands off of my Medicare!”).

              I’m fully on board with your observations about local information, partial knowledge, and the inability of congress to solve the economic calculation problem even just as far as allocating tax revenue goes. However, I don’t think it’s sufficient to say “we’ll let everyone allocate their taxes the way they want; that way we’ll take advantage of local information”. Basically, I don’t think the opportunity cost of “if I give 20% of my taxes to the DoD, I’ll have less available to give to the EPA” is sufficient to inform those decisions: I think a full price system is necessary. Otherwise you run into the rational-ignorance problem I mentioned above.

              • December 10, 2011 at 20:31

                Just because I don’t understand the connection between the DoE and my tax rate…that means that the DoE should be the winner?

                Right…taxpayers would have no control how the DoE spent their taxes…but if the energy enthusiasts weren’t happy with how the DoE was spending their money then their tax allocation decisions would reflect their lack of satisfaction. What would the DoE do if they were drastically losing funding? Hold a fundraiser? Ask energy enthusiasts for their feedback? Perhaps they would allow energy enthusiasts to indicate how they want their taxes spent? Or maybe they reconsider their errr…it’s been a while…is the term I’m looking for horizontal/vertical integration?

                Taxpayers would have three funding levels to choose from. The top level…which would be congress…the middle level….which would be the cabinet departments…and then the bottom level…which would be the individual organizations. For example…you could give your taxes to congress or the DoD or the Army. Or you could give your taxes to the DoE or UCLA.

                A freed market with actual prices attached? Are you assuming that for-profit rather than non-profit organizations would take over the supply of “pseudo” public goods?

                Regarding Caplan’s arguments you’re assuming that political ideologies would have the same meaning/relevance that they currently do. If I can directly allocate my taxes then I certainly would have less motivation to join a political party.

                How could the aggregate allocation turn out to be disastrous? How would a taxpayer division of labor turn out to be disastrous? How does somebody’s drop in the bucket donation to Haiti result in disaster? How does somebody’s donation to the Red Cross result in disaster?

                A “disaster” could originate in any sector of the public sector. But each group of taxpayers responsible for monitoring their sector would start shouting and waving their arms at the very first hint of disaster. If a sector of the public sector doesn’t have any watchdogs then it shouldn’t be a public sector.

            • December 10, 2011 at 21:06

              Just because I don’t understand the connection between the DoE and my tax rate…that means that the DoE should be the winner?

              This is the part where I realize that you aren’t actually interested in what I have to say, and are just out to pick a fight with me. How did you get from “I think the DoE’s job would be better done by a free energy market” to “I think the DoE should be the winner”? Dammit, I agree with you about the coordination/partial information problem inherent in letting congress build the budget!

              A freed market with actual prices attached? Are you assuming that for-profit rather than non-profit organizations would take over the supply of “pseudo” public goods?

              Yep. It says “anarchocapitalist” right up there at the top of the page.

              Regarding Caplan’s arguments you’re assuming that political ideologies would have the same meaning/relevance that they currently do. If I can directly allocate my taxes then I certainly would have less motivation to join a political party.

              Nope. I said nothing about politics, and an extra-special nothing about political parties. I’m just talking about group affiliation and rational ignorance.

              How could the aggregate allocation turn out to be disastrous?

              Easy: Nobody allocates to debt-service payments in the first year. (Or maybe it’s just Megan McArdle and Greg Mankiw — same deal.) The US, which is the world’s largest issuer of AAA-rated securities, suddenly defaults.

              Or are you suggesting that 15% or so of the nation’s taxpayers would choose to allocate to debt-service payments? That’s another extraordinary claim, especially in light of the debt ceiling fuckup this summer.

              How does somebody’s drop in the bucket donation to Haiti result in disaster? How does somebody’s donation to the Red Cross result in disaster?

              How did you get from “aggregate” at the start of the paragraph I’m quoting to individual “drop in the bucket” donations two sentences later?

              But each group of taxpayers responsible for monitoring their sector would start shouting and waving their arms at the very first hint of disaster.

              Where do you get these groups of taxpayers with separate responsibilities? This is the first time you’ve introduced the concept. I thought we were letting people allocate taxes based on “people’s true values”.

              • December 11, 2011 at 00:33

                Ok, here’s where the confusion is. You said…”In this case, yeah, I think congress would do a less bad job of allocating funding for electrical generation — because tax rates aren’t tied to electricity prices, and the connection between the DoE and J. Random Taxpayer’s electricity bill isn’t obvious.”

                But if you want the private sector to provide energy…then why would you care if taxpayers did not allocate sufficient funding to the DoE? If the demand for energy stays the same…but the public sector fails to supply adequate levels of energy…then wouldn’t the private sector eventually step in to meet the demand?

                Anarcho-capitalism…huh. We probably have some more confusion here because I’ve never heard any anarcho-capitalist theories that did not include a thriving and robust non-profit sector.

                Regarding your debt-service disaster example. In a pragmatarian system we wouldn’t be adding to the debt like we currently are…plus our GDP would likely get a boost…and I’m pretty sure that there are enough responsible taxpayers who would find value in paying down our debt.

                Taxpayers with separate responsibilities is the same thing as the taxpayer division of labor concept I discussed and you discussed when you mentioned hawks and environmentalists.

                Rothbard drooled over a button that he could push to entirely destroy the state in one fell swoop. If the state is entirely unnecessary though…then each part of the state is also entirely unnecessary. This is why we should allow each and every taxpayer to use their own, individual, hard-earned taxes to indicate which parts of the state are entirely unnecessary. If consumers do not purchase unnecessary private goods…then why would they “purchase” unnecessary public goods?


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